The Miracle and Challenge of Faith
Psalm 9: 9-20
MARK 4: 35-41

All I Need is a Miracle … is the title of a hit song from 1985 by Mike and Mechanics.  No, it’s not a song of faith but when I was struggling this week to determine what to say … how to initiate a sermon series focused on miracles during a week when I knew what God needed me to say; words that were far removed from miracles it was a song that struck home and then last night a cartoon was posted by a friend who is a member of St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City.

Friends … miracles happen in every corner of God’s world every single day.  This week … this church and many of you here were little miracles to Daniel age 14, Karl age 2, James age 14, Amni age 1 ½, and their parents.   This church family was a little miracle to Christina Mendez and her daughter Arianna age 3 … sons Asante age 8 and Julian age 7 even though our efforts to keep her safe here in New Jersey failed we provided some new miracle possibilities in her destination city of Raleigh North Carolina.

We heard the words from the Psalms …

“The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed … a safe place in difficult times.  Those who know Your name trust you … and you and you and you … because You have not abandoned any who seek the Lord. Sing praises to the Lord!”

The cartoon from my friend is on our church’s Facebook page and today’s miracle that I am going to share is one that I have shared before it is a reminder that we need to grasp today in light of what has been happening in our nation.


The cartoon is simple … it shows the back of our nation’s Statue of Liberty as she walks hand in hand with a little girl with black hair dressed in a pink top.  On Miss Liberty’s back are the words WE SHOULD ALL CARE.  Miss Liberty’s torch is still ablaze in the cartoon … it makes some of us remember the words that since 1885 have greeted anyone who has come into New York Harbor greeted by this special gift from the people of France to the United States … the Statue of Liberty.  The words from poet Emma Lazarus … I know you have heard them and some of you can say them by heart;

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”


Now, an image of a young girl holding the Statue of Liberty’s hand with the statement WE SHOULD ALL CARE emblazoned on the back of Miss Liberty’s jacket … not very objectionable, right?  Well, immediately someone jumped on it to declare that we can’t care for everyone … that those illegals … friends, those vile sub-human creatures crossing our borders some sneaking across and some arriving seeking asylum … THOSE ANIMALS who we have been told all commit vile crimes and more than likely extrude a stench that no good solid American should breathe … they should not be cared for let  their children get ripped from the safety of their parents’ arms.  WHO CARES? Not me! That was the implication of the message posted to my Facebook by a young man …


And, then there was a story in THE NEWS this week.  Not an ALT FACT story … not an obscure story from nowhere but a real life experience that involves friends; people I used to work with … showing the heart of the ministry I worked for at Jericho Road Community Health Center … they believe at Jericho Road, which perhaps you can understand since their name comes from the one man … who unlike the powerful religious leader and unlike the cynic who wanted nothing to do with the injured and beaten man on the Jericho Road fully willing to let a living human being suffer just because it was none of his personal business … the one man; the Good Samaritan crossed that road …. Cared for that man.

Did I mention the Mike and Mechanics’ song?  I think I did … All I Need is a Miracle … the song goes on

All I Need is a Miracle; All I need is YOU!


Well right now in Buffalo New York at Vive, a word which means life … Vive a shelter for men, women and children who have arrived as refugees and asylum seekers unable to go home because they would be tortured, turned into sex slaves, recruited into gangs or killed by their governments or the criminal elements that control the streets of their homeland … individuals who had heard about Lady Liberty … about a nation that had on display these words ….

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Right now at Jericho Road there is a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  She had escaped from the evil in her homeland seeking safety; along with her husband and her FOUR YEAR OLD DAUGHTER … Arianna who was here this week will soon be 4, Karl is 2 years away from that age … Amni 2 ½ years away … for Julian age 4 is 3 years behind …. So, this woman, her husband and their FOUR YEAR OLD daughter knew the rules … the laws of our nation that allow individuals and families to seek asylum at our borders … for decades that meant being allowed to enter and live temporarily in the United States while hearings were set up … that is some of the work that Jericho Road does … but that was the past … at the border ICE agents in black suits with helmets and automatic weapons took her husband away to an unknown destination handcuffed … their four year old daughter was taken away by these armed men suited for war … and the woman was waved in to find her way without her husband and without their four year old daughter.  She made it to Buffalo New York and Jericho Road … last week after months of the unknown Jericho staff found her husband … he is being held in an ICE prison encampment in Texas as an illegal refugee even though he, his wife and their 4 year old arrived following the laws of our nation seeking asylum … the woman was allowed one telephone call last week with him.  As for the four year old daughter …. ICE is not allowing contact with either parent.  The precious child of God and of parents fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo a place where they were at risk of torture or death is being held at an ICE warehouse in Illinois.  Since the parents had no proof that their daughter is their daughter other than her impassioned screams for mommy … ICE is refusing to allow contact even though the three came to our borders as a family … you see, when you are fleeing a nation that is threatening your life you often forget to ask that government for your child’s birth certificate before leaving.


My miracle story is one I have told before … but today I bring this hammer with me.  It is about one of the first individuals I met after arriving at Jericho Road to serve as their director of Development and Communication.  She too came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo … but before she left her government officials gifted her with a forever reminder of where she came from … THEY HAMMERED HER HANDS INTO PULP … the healed image of which I will never forget EVER. <<HAMMER BOARD>>

The images you are viewing are children I met, laughed with, hugged, and treasured while working at Jericho Road.  They are refugee children … asylum children … they come from the Sudan, Nigeria, the Congo, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, and other nations from around the world where governments torture their people … under every single past Administration Republican and Democratic these children were allowed entry into our country and were not separated from their mom or their dad.  Their parents sensed the words of Miss Liberty were true … they thought that the people of this land called the United States “all cared” even if a significant percentage of us didn’t … that changed under our current Administration and we now have a four year old psychologically traumatized who has not seen nor heard from mommy or daddy in months while she sits in a warehouse with children she does not know …. Siblings taken from their parents by ICE have not been allowed to hug each other … pregnant moms separated from their husbands not allowed an embrace by representatives of our government … hard working men and women taken away without one last kiss and shipped back to the places where torture awaits and for some to a land they never lived in as adults and where they know no one because they arrived in our nation as children.

Those children I played with, laughed with, hugged and treasured under the current enforcement policies would be in warehouses or perhaps in tent cities on remote military bases …. I didn’t mention but the 4 year old more than likely believes her mom and dad are dead because in her home country when uniformed men with guns take adults away … the adults are never heard from again … they are tortured and at times shot … I saw the tortured hands …

Now, the miracle … that woman whose hands were beaten to a pulp … she looked into my eyes with joy as my eyes kept looking at her hands … she told me,

The LORD GOD has blessed me by providing me with this place in America where I am safe … I am so blessed by God and soon will be joining with family members in Toronto to start my new life.  I praise God and thank God that there is such a place …”

I will never forget her, her words or her hands because she had been beaten but there as we sat in two chairs just us she was praising God for a place where she was safe in difficult times. She had experienced A MIRACLE!


Friends, God does not set up borders … God does not create human rules because God is much bigger than that.  God does not teach humanity to take children from their parents and keep them separated from one another.  Our Attorney General attempted to use God’s Word to box God in but the few verses he used to basically put God’s people into a place where they are to obey human law under any human leadership … verses also used in the 1930’s to encourage church going people to accept what was happening around them but like those in the 1930’s, he too failed to finish sharing Paul’s lesson from Romans … just a few verses later.

“Don’t be in debt to anyone, except EXCEPT for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.”

WE are loved by God … those who understand Jesus Christ and how Jesus is God’s love gift to humanity; we know Jesus lesson to His disciples

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

…and knowing God’s grace and love and saving power through Jesus Christ whose message resonates in our Gospels … no Christian man, woman nor child would ever do anything intentional to harm a neighbor much less a child either physically nor psychologically nor would we endorse torturing anyone … and friends, in God’s eye every single person in the world is our neighbor because we are God’s first and I pray today that God is first in your heart and mind.


And, we are the Lord’s representatives on earth … in our Gospel reading Jesus tells us

“Why are you afraid, don’t you have faith?”

Some Christians are fearful if they stand up against oppression or against the politics of friends and family or stand up to offer safe haven to those who are at risk … some people attending Christian churches this morning worship their politics and political leaders first before being willing to serve as God’s representatives on earth thinking that the politics of our times matter more than God’s call for action that impacts eternity.

Pray for that little four year old girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has not been allowed to know about her parents much less hear their voices or see them for months just because her parents didn’t bring proof of relationship when they escaped the Congo.  Pray for all the children who are in camps run by our government that remind us of global history’s black and white photo’s; PRAY that the paperwork exists that can find where we are housing their parents so that they can be reunited as a families.

Join me tonight in Cherry Hill for the candlelight vigil noted in the bulletin.

We continue to declare we are people of faith … we are Christians … they will know that we are Christians by our love … but our love needs to extend to all of our neighbors not just a select few; not to those our political party says are ok but to all if we are truly representing Jesus Christ not the world. And, absolutely no Christian would ever brag about not caring … not caring for others because we do care because Jesus taught us to!

Back in the Seventies,  Barry Manilow sang a song and some of his lyrics reminded me of what we are to believe … we are called to be different from the world … we are called to follow God’s directives as clearly stated by Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, and even in the greatest storms we have nothing to fear … at the end of the day … we can be the light of Jesus Christ to the world making disciples for God if we hold these words  as directions …

The people, they should all look the same (yes, the same); Oh, only the names have been changed … I’m tellin’ you what I believe.  It’s a miracle! A true, blue spectacle, the miracle is you!”

Be God’s miracle … stand up for justice; demonstrate to those who do not have God nor Christ in their hearts that you represent THE LORD’s SAFE PLACE for the OPPRESSED … a SAFE PLACE in DIFFICULT TIMES!   And, that you are using your faith to change the world … miracles are happening every day and you might be responsible for one or more of them for someone else.


Watch a video of today’s worship service:


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