Feeding the Homeless in Malaysia: The Day the Fish Multiplied
Disgusted, I looked down into the sink to see dozens of beady eyes staring back at me. My pride told me I was above this task and I wrinkled my nose in disgust. When I first saw the fish, I hopefully picked up a head of cabbage to chop - but to no avail - I was told the fish needed to be finished first.
This month in Malaysia, we’ve been working at several ministries - one of our favorites being a kitchen serving the homeless on the island of Penang. The characters we’ve met over rice and curry prep are already etched into our hearts - gentle Uncle Ben, who pours his love into each plate that leaves the kitchen. John John - always smiling with a heart of gold - and our Warrior Princess, a 80 year old lady who comes into the center every single time it’s open to volunteer her time. And who could forget Timmy - the homeless man I talk to after lunch, who isn’t a Christian yet, but is so close - who tells me hard stories of life living on the streets in Malaysia but leaves with peace in his heart.
Back to the fish - I was starting to be overwhelmed with the amount of fish I needed to prepare. Chop off their heads, at an angle so you also pull out their hearts - for someone who doesn’t like to eat fish in the first place, it was the stuff of nightmares. I walked to the bathroom, eyes stinging, and took my time carefully washing my hands - anything to get away from the task at hand.
“Lord, I understand you’re trying to humble me through this task. I know even Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. He was a carpenter - I’m sure he did many menial jobs during that time. I know you’re trying to teach me something through this - and I can do it. I just ask you to send someone to help me. I can’t get through it alone.” All my other teammates were assigned to different duties other than the kitchen that day - and even the Malaysians Uncle Ben asked to help me wrinkled their noses in disgust before slowly backing away from the fishy sink.
But the Lord answered my prayer! In walked Prema - a beautiful friend I’d made earlier in the month. She asked if I needed help, and I readily agreed. Now gutting fish turned into a thing of joy - fish jokes made way for giggles and uproarious laughter as we worked on our task, that seemed to keep going and going. There were so many fish!
Finally, after four bags of fish heads were taken away and several hundred fish had been gutted, Prema said, “We’re almost done! Check the sink!” A check revealed that there were only about ten fish left in the sink. We can knock that out in no time! But as we finished those fish and I reached my hand back in the sink, I was shocked to find the sink FULL of fish. Where were they coming from? Again and again, the sink seemed to empty of fish, then - miraculously - fill itself up.
“This sounds familiar” - Prema said - “Multiplying fish!” I couldn’t believe my own eyes but that’s exactly what was happening. At the end of the day, we gutted close to one thousand fish. Each person in the homeless shelter was able to eat as many fish as they wanted - many came back for seconds and thirds. We were all praising Jesus with big smiles and full bellies. And even after that feast - we still had a huge bowlful left over and were able to share the blessing with another homeless shelter in town. I can’t even believe the story even as I type it. I’m so thankful the Lord took my prideful hands and used me to perform His miracle.