'Oil' spreads over mission to Gulf Coast


By Rev. Larry Haggard
Guest Columnist

In 2 Kings 4:1-7 is an account of a prophet’s widow who was being harassed by her husband’s creditors. It seems the creditors wanted her to give them her sons to be sold to pay her husband’s debts. She implored Elisha to help. The only thing she had of any value was a jar of oil. Elisha told her to go to her neighbors and borrow all the pots and pans she could, take them home, fill them with the oil from the jar, take the oil and sell it and pay off the creditors.

She did as she was instructed, and she and her sons began to fill all the pots and pans with the oil from the jar. When the last pot was full of oil, the oil in the jar ran out. She had enough oil to sell to pay off the debts and still have some left over to live on.

Our Winston County-Starkville District mission trip to the Gulf Coast was proof that God is still in the multiplication business. This idea of the mission trip started in our Winston County clergy get-togethers. At first, it was just the preachers that were going on the trip, then God multiplied the number to include our laity, then the district heard about it and God multiplied the number again. We wound up with about 20 people who went to the coast to do God’s work.

We wanted to take some money with us to help buy supplies so we started taking up special offerings, including at our county-wide spring and fall rallies. We had about $2,300 from these offerings. Then Rev. Mike Childs found $2,000 from another source. Other people and churches heard about it, and they sent money. Then each member of the mission team kicked in some money to help pay for their food and expenses while there.

We arrived at Heritage UMC in D’Iberville not knowing what to expect. What we found was a nice, newly constructed mission team dormitory complete with bathrooms, showers, a kitchen and a large dining area. This unit was built just for volunteers.

During our week, we rewired one house, hung 160 sheets of sheetrock in another, did some sheetrock mudding and sanding in another and put insulation in two more houses.

We bought all the electrical supplies for the one house, three new hot water heaters, one handicapped commode, a $2,000 ice machine for Heritage for the volunteers to use, a portable table saw and a portable chop saw for future volunteers to take on the jobs.

The multiplication part came in when every time we took money from our treasurer to buy supplies and equipment, and she would recount the money. It seemed like the amount would not decrease. People kept giving her money. When we got through with all the purchases, we still had $420 left over which we gave to Heritage UMC to use for expenses for future volunteers.

Oh, and the oil jar is still not empty. When we got back home, we continued receiving money from people who did not get their offering to us before we left. We’re in the process of sending that money to Heritage UMC for them to use in future mission projects.

Our little jar of oil started out with a handful of preachers who wanted to make a little difference in the lives of a few people. We wound up with 20 or so hard workers. Our little jar of oil started out with a small offering. We wound up with about $7,000 spent on supplies and equipment and gifts to Heritage UMC. Little is much when God is in it. It was just proven once again. Thanks be to God.

Haggard is pastor of the Louisville South Circuit in the Starkville District.