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Epic Fail

What seemed to me to be an epic fail, or at least a miscalculation, was actually part of God’s plan.

The distribution process of our Bible study materials to third world and developing countries used to be the basic print, pack and ship method.  Over the last several years, due to increased shipping costs, unreliable deliveries and other factors, we have had to cease shipping to foreign countries. It just no longer works.  Today we can send the Bible studies anywhere in the world with the push of a button.  Our current methodology is digital distribution, and this left me with an elephant-sized problem.

Probably because we never saw the change coming, we continued to print Bible studies in Spanish, and therein lies the problem.  I had 5.2 tons of Spanish language Bible studies in various titles, shrink wrapped in bundles of 25, sitting on shelves in our headquarters in Orland California, and no way to distribute them.  That is a lot of Bible studies at an estimated value of a quarter of a million dollars, just sitting there.  Some had been on the shelves for over 10 years, and they had become my responsibility.  It was a disturbing problem that I struggled with for years.

What was even more disturbing to me was the reality that people are hungry for the Word of God, and leaders crave discipleship materials in order to feed their flocks; particularly in underprivileged areas of the world.  I couldn’t figure out a way to get these 125,000 Bible studies off the shelf and into the hands of leaders who could distribute them to the hungry.

But God had a plan and a time.

I was in need of a carpenter to do some tasks at my house, so I hired a stranger and the work began.  During the work, I found out that this carpenter was a Christian who was connected to a church (Bayside) that traveled to a poor, rural area of Mexico annually for a missions outreach.  It’s a huge event - a thousand people make the trip in order to make a difference in the lives of the people of Mexico.  It turns out that Bayside is connected to dozens of pastors and churches in Mexico who desperately need, but have no access to, Spanish Bible study curriculum.  Each year Bayside takes manpower and building materials, but no discipleship tools.  This year would be different.

God set His plan in motion.

Within three weeks of my first conversation with the carpenter about Mexico and the Bible studies, it was determined that Bayside Church could distribute them to pastors, churches and leaders in Mexico.  We had a short window in which to make this happen.  Immediately, we packed up eight pallets of Bible Studies, loaded them on a U-Haul truck, then repackaged them in boxes, put them in mini-vans, cargo trailers and pickup trucks and got them to Mexico. They were in the hands of those who would get them to the spiritually hungry people.

What seemed like an epic fail, an impossible task, and a problem that had no solution, was not a problem at all.

I love the story of the feeding of the five thousand.  In John chapter 6:  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

It’s interesting that Jesus presents the problem to Philip.  It’s a big problem Philip is faced with; thousands of hungry people coming towards you and you have no money or resources with which to provide a solution, but read further.

 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Now I get it; it was just a test for Philip.  It wasn’t up to Philip to come up with the winning game plan or strategy.  Why? Because the Lord already had in mind what He was going to do.

Sometimes I think it would be awesome if the Lord let me in on what He has in mind.  I’m sure it would eliminate some second-guessing and doubt, but then how would my faith build? I would miss out on the wonderment of the miracles our Lord has planned.