By Beth Guckenberger
“I’m hungry!” The cries for more food were ringing in Edgar’s ears. He heard those words from more than fifty different voices every day at the children’s home in Mexico. He was the director. He wanted to provide for all the children. But it was November—it was starting to get cold. He needed to pay for heat. And he was running out of money—the people who used to give money to the home had stopped giving. It was a hard time for everyone.
As the sun rose that morning, the light shining through a gate created shadow bars across the hallway where Edgar was walking. He was reminded of the story of Joseph in prison that he had taught some of the children not long ago. How God had not forgotten Joseph, even though others did, and how Joseph eventually became God’s tool to save thousands of people from starving.
“Should we use our remaining money for heat, blankets, or food?” Edgar wondered aloud.
Edgar could have picked up the phone and called us. Our ministry would have brought some food over for the evening meal—an emergency kit of beans and rice, and eggs, oil, and tortillas. But something in his heart knew that neither he nor the children should feel dependent on people. It wasn’t pride that stopped him that day from calling us, but more of a fear that the children were putting people on a pedestal fit only for the King—the giver of all good gifts.
The afternoon rolled on and it was nearing the next mealtime. His own stomach growling, Edgar knew it was time to ask God—together with the children—for what he had planned for them. Saying a silent prayer, he stood up and called for the children to join him in the comedor [dining room].
The kids gathered around the table, curious why there weren’t any plates set out. Edgar started, “We don’t have anything to eat for dinner tonight.” One of the youngest, a boy named Joel, looked around with big eyes, checking to see if anyone else thought Tio [uncle] Edgar might be joking. He continued, “But this is what we know—you are the children of the Most High King and you are not forgotten. So let’s pray and ask the King for your dinner.”
“Dear Lord, we thank you for your numerous blessings on these children and on this home. We humbly ask that you would provide a meal to us tonight . . . .” And on he went, when suddenly he was interrupted by Joel.
“Tio,” he started out slowly, “are you serious? Are we really praying for God to bring us dinner?” Joel looked at him incredulously “What kind of food does God deliver?”
Edgar, always looking for a moment to teach the children, seized this chance. “Joel, God loves you and you are his child. Yes, we are asking him for your dinner. He’s your Father and he wants you to know he sees you. It’s his pleasure to want to lavish his riches on you. It is he who owns the cattle on a thousand hills—every part of creation belongs to him. So let’s just see what he will deliver to us.”
They bowed their heads and all began to pray again, when Joel, unable to sit still through this prayer, interrupted Edgar once more. “Do you think . . . will the Lord bring us . . . meat?”
To a boy whose diet was mainly beans and rice, tortillas and hot dogs, real meat seemed like a mighty request. Edgar took a deep breath—fifty pairs of eyes were on him. “You can ask for anything in the Lord’s name.”
So they bowed their heads again, praying for dinner and meat in Jesus’ name. But while the other heads were still bowed, Joel shoved his hand into the air, not able to stand it any longer and asked, “Tio, what kind of meat does God bring you? What can I ask for? How do I pray?”
Meanwhile . . .
On this same afternoon, my phone was ringing.
“Beth? It’s me—Carlos. Remember? I represent the meat company. We are here at a big meat convention, trying to attract some new restaurant business. All my orders have been placed, and now I’m just going to discard the samples, which have been thawing all day. There are lots of others selling, like me. Can you use some meat if I round it up?”
“Of course, Carlos! Thanks for thinking of us.”
My husband, Todd, called me an hour later. “Beth, there’s so much meat we’ve collected. We’ll need to drop this off tonight at the children’s homes.”
Because It Matters
When I called the children’s home to report on the coming food donation, Edgar seemed strangely not surprised.
“Hey Edgar, it’s Beth. I just wanted to check and see if you were home. Todd is on his way over with a food donation for you.”
There was a pause on the other end of the phone. “Beth, do you know what kind of donation it is?” Edgar asked calmly.
“It’s some kind of meat,” I answered. “I’m not totally sure of all the details. Just wanted to make sure you would be around.”
“You don’t know anything about it?”
A bit exasperated, I tried to get off the phone—I had several other calls to make. “Edgar, I know he wanted me to check and see if you had room in your freezer. Do you?”
“Yes, I do. But would you mind terribly finding out what kind of meat it is and then calling us back?” he asked hesitantly.
“What do you mean, ‘What kind of meat?’ It’s meat, Edgar—it’s food. Why should it matter?”
“Well, Beth, it does matter. Would you mind calling me back when you know?”
The Best Money Can Buy
So I called. “Todd, this is kind of an odd question, but do you know what kind of meat it is? Edgar wants to know.”
“Beth, you won’t believe it! It’s the best meat money can buy—steaks and incredible cuts of beef and pork. There’s filet mignon, sirloin, New York strip . . . The homes are going to love it.”
The King Delivers
“Praise God!” Edgar breathed into the phone, after hearing my report about the meat. I couldn’t help but notice how relieved he sounded. He asked me to hold for a moment. He was covering the phone, but I could easily hear him shouting out to someone, “God is on his way over with your meat!”
There was an explosion of voices—the children, erupting into cheers. I wondered what all the noise was about. It was almost as if they had been planning to have a party.
Edgar got back on the phone. “Oh, Beth, remember this day, we are not forgotten!”
It wasn‘t until later that I heard the whole story, about how they had run out of food earlier in the day. About the celebration that night in their house, and how it kept the kids up past their usual bedtime. About the wonderful dinner they had, and how delicious the food was. About the thanks they gave for the King who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and was generous enough to share the best of what he had with his children.
And about four-year-old Joel and his hunger for answers.
Those children prayed that day with the faith of a mustard seed. (Do you know what the faith of a four-year-old orphan looks like? It‘s pretty small.) They prayed, and the mountain moved. And it’s still moving.
Calling on God
When I find myself in a difficult position, like the kind Edgar purposely put himself in, my tendency is to call out to people first, instead of God. And do you know what you get when you call out to people?
You get beans and rice and eggs and oil and tortillas—which at first seems filling, but actually, it’s pretty cheap.
With God, you get steak.
This true story is an excerpt from Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), part of the Storyweaver series.
Beth Guckenberger is the co-executive director of Back2Back Ministries.