AUBURN – The Little Engine That Could is an illustrated children’s book about a small railroad engine built for pulling a few cars on and off the sidetracks. One day the little engine was waiting for the next call when a long freight train needed a large engine in the railroad yard to take it over a steep hill.
No large engines were available so the little engine volunteered for the job. The little engine struggled to get the long freight train over the hill, but kept repeating, “I think I can; I think I can.” With great effort the little engine reached the top of the hill and as it was going down the other side it said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
It is a child’s story, but even adults can find it inspiring and challenging. Sometimes God uses small things to accomplish great purposes. This is the day of the megachurch and it is certainly true that many people are impressed with size. If something is small and rather obscure, we have the idea that it is not important. But if it is big and visible, we conclude it is very important.
We must remember that God used a stuttering Moses to lead Israel out of bondage. He used a teenage shepherd boy to slay a giant. He used Gideon and 300 men to defeat the huge army of Midian. He took a little boy’s lunch and fed a multitude. In Zechariah 4:10 God warns us about “despising the day of small things.”
First Baptist Church of Auburn is not a large church. In fact, it is small in size and numbers, but this congregation has demonstrated that a small church can do significant things.
Hurricane Irma brought devastation and destruction to Florida and Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in all 159 counties and ordered a mandatory evacuation along parts of the coast. The storm left more than 1 million without power and wrought havoc across much of the state.
Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Units were dispatched to the areas most noticeably impacted by the hurricane and sprang into action. North Georgia also had to deal with the wrath of Irma. In the aftermath of the storm, a call was received at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board from a lady in distress. The woman lived alone, was recovering from surgery, and desperate for help. A tree had fallen on her house and although she was not a Baptist she turned to the Baptist Mission Board for help.
Since all of Disaster Relief units were engaged in caring for the needs of those impacted by the storm in the southern part of the state, Ricky Thrasher, Baptist state missionary in Community Missions and Disaster Response, called Auburn’s First Baptist Church to see if they could respond to the woman’s need.
Chris Parkin, the pastor of the Auburn church, surveyed the situation and noted that the tree had broken part of the woman’s roof. It had then fallen to the side but was suspended by long branches over her two fences.
On Sunday morning the pastor called for volunteers to respond to the need and six individuals made themselves available. Scott Jackson of the American Patriot Tree Service, a friend of the church’s ministry, was contacted by Chaplain Terry Buice, a member of the Auburn church, to do some of the work the men of the church were not equipped to do. The tree service took down the fallen tree using ropes and other equipment at no cost.
Then the men from the church, along with two men from Barnabas Ministries, cut up the tree, disposed of the wood, and repaired the fence. The work accomplished by the men from the church and tree service saved the woman the deductible cost on her insurance policy and the money she would have had to pay for the repair work.
Parkin commented, “The woman was not particularly interested in a lot of conversation, probably due to pain of the recent surgery, but after the work was accomplished she showed sincere gratitude. She even offered to provide some crafts she had for our children’s ministries to enjoy.
“I am convinced that all churches, mega or small, have the responsibility of earning the right to be heard. The Bible says, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see you good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’
“We are a small congregation, but not too small to do what we are able to do,” the Auburn pastor continued. “The love of God takes many forms – sometimes that love is demonstrated through a chainsaw. The men – and one woman – who did the labor did it with joy and proved, one more time, that it is more happy/blessed to give than to receive.
“Our hope is that this small labor will one day open the door for a Gospel presentation.”