Blog: 29 March 2020

Sunday, March 29


Building wooden boats at UrbanPromise involves a lot of sanding—wood, fiberglass and epoxy. For the kids, it’s their least favorite part of the build. Tedious, time consuming and dusty. Tiny, harmful irritating particles fill the air.

So every student in the shop must wear a high quality, industrial N95 face mask to protect their lungs—the same kind of masks needed by our front line healthcare workers dealing with the coronavirus.

“We had 160 brand new masks in our storage closest,” revealed Tommy Calisterio, our BoatWorks Director. “I contacted a friend at Cooper Hospital. They desperately needed masks for their front line workers.”

Wait a minute? A small, grassroots, community-based non-profit that has literally lived hand to mouth for 32 years—made a donation to a local hospital with hundreds of millions in assets?  Yes! Tuesday to be exact. Cases of brand new masks were delivered. They will save lives.

“What is in your hands?”  asks the Lord of Moses.

You remember Moses?  He was that reluctant leader in Exodus who never feels worthy of the challenge to which God has called him. A flawed man, full of self-doubt and excuses—gladly passing off responsibility to the next guy in line.

Moses looks down at his hands.  He sees nothing at first glance. Just some blistered fingers and calloused palms belonging to a fugitive shepherd. But he looks again.  An old worn stick?  That can’t be of any significance!

“Throw it on the ground,” says the Lord. A decision confronts Moses. Is he hallucinating? Does he respond? Walk away? Ignore? Laugh?

Moses obeys and throws it to the ground. To his utter surprise the stick becomes a snake.  And this stick—now in the hands of a man who opens his heart to the possibilities and direction of God—becomes an instrument used to liberate a burdened and oppressed people.

My fellow urban minister Bob Lupton writes:  “And so it has been down through history—God using the ordinary assets of ordinary men and women to accomplish divine purposes.” Bob is spot on. It’s the boy with the fish and the loaves. The widow with a few coins...

What is in your hands?  A stick?  An N95 mask? A skill you’ve forgotten about? A spiritual gift? A cell phone?

This past week I’ve challenged the UrbanPromise community to ask this very question. For many of us it’s been a week of re-inventing, re-tooling, re-purposing. Two weeks ago we had lots of assets in our hands—clearly defined job descriptions, physical classrooms, chemistry equipment, child care, transportation, sold out fundraising events. Many of these assets are now gone.

Should our team just pack it in?  Give up?  Lament about the good old days? I don’t believe so. It’s not God’s way. God is always about doing a new thing.

So our teachers and staff are discovering new assets in their hands—and are witnessing God using these overlooked, forgotten assets to feed our community, educate our children, and connect with our families in deeply purposeful ways. 

How about you?  What’s in your hand needing to be discovered and released for God’s purpose this week.....

Forward in hope—

Bruce Main


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