There are all kinds of tools for reaching people who have no access to the gospel. Imagine reaching people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ that are living in Houston, a city with nearly 4,500 churches.
What tools do we have for such a missional challenge? Fishes and Loaves is one of those tools.
Missionary Margie Randall has created a ministry called Fishes and Loaves to reach the Bhutanese refugees who have come to Houston, and through this ministry, she shares the gospel.
The mission of Loaves & Fishes is to feed the hungry, cover those without clothes and welcome refugees from Bhutan into a new life in the United States, one that is free from oppression, fear and deprivation. As a Christian group, they seek to offer the water of life to those who thirst for the love of Christ and follow the example of Jesus who fed the multitudes from five fish and a few loaves of bread.
Loaves and Fishes uses hunger funds that are provided by Texas Baptists to serve the Bhutanese families. The hunger funds provide an opportunity for them to share the gospel.
Previously a missionary with the International Mission Board, Margie returned to Houston a few years ago to find a need to help the Bhutanese.
“One morning while I was in Thailand, I asked God what He wanted me to pray about and I clearly heard the word ‘Bhutan,’” Margie said. “After looking up information on Bhutan, I began sporadically praying for the country and its king. Over time, God put such a love for that country and its people on my heart that I tried to arrange to go there with a mission organization, but the opportunity never materialized. Something always seemed to prevent me from going.”
During her years as a missionary, she had been impressed to pray for the people of Bhutan although she knew no Bhutanese people at the time and even had to look the country up on the map. Upon her return to Houston, she was delighted to find that God had brought the Bhutanese people to her.
“A call came in September 2008 that turned out to be God’s answer to my prayers for Bhutan, but not in the way I had expected,” Margie said. “A friend phoned to say that Bhutanese people were living in Houston. I felt such excitement! I was never allowed to go to the Bhutanese, but that was because God saw fit to bring them to me. And I had no idea why they were here; I was just glad they were. God had begun preparing my heart, and filling it with love for the Bhutanese people that morning I prayed in Thailand.”
Soon after she discovered the group of Bhutanese, Margie also began working with other refugee groups in the city. One day, she was talking with a police officer at an apartment complex where many of the refugees live and she learned many were selling dugs just to help their families survive. She even met a young girl who was forced into prostitution by her family to help with the needs her family has. One day, she took some friends who also helped with ministry at aparmtnet complexes to visit with an apartment missionary.
“As we sat in my car and they chatted about ministry, I watched in horror as a young African girl, probably four or five years old and wearing a dress twice her size, climbed into the dumpster,” she said. “At first, I thought she was playing a game. Then I realized she was trying to help feed her family. She had found some bottles and cans and began throwing them out, calling out to other children to help her. My mind flashed back to days in Thailand and how people in the slums worked to make money by finding ‘treasures’ in the trash bins. Their only other alternatives were selling drugs or selling their bodies.”
Later that day, Margie saw an older woman rummaging through the same dumpster for food. She had some groceries in the back of her car and gave them to the lady. The lady seemed delighted by the gesture.
“These experiences softened my heart toward refugees of all nationalities,” Margie siad. “When I discovered that the Bhutanese people had needs, I could not bear the thought of them becoming desperate enough to dig in dumpsters. I vowed not to let that happen.”
Friends of Margie began to give her donations of clothing, which she took to the Bhutanese once as week as she stopped to visit them at their apartments. Soon the Lord led her to take a leap of faith and quit her job to help the Bhutanese fulltime.
Soon after quitting her job, her church agreed to partner with her in ministry so that she could for Loaves and Fishes. Friends began offering financial support for her efforts and then she was able to partner with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
“Hundreds of people have been helped with donations of food, blankets, clothing for every season, emergency food, medicine, transportation – to and from – the many hospital and doctor visits, and more,” Margie said. “My greatest pleasure has been to help children, giving them school shoes, backpacks and school supplies. Another huge blessing has been to work with a great group of volunteers, and to see how God is touching their hearts.”
Margie now is affectionately known as “Mom” to many of the Bhutanese refugees living in Southwest Houston. And through the food, clothing, love and support Margie and the volunteers have poured into this poor group of people, they have seen several choose to follow Christ. During a recent Sunday, the Canaan Bhutanese Church celebrated the new birth of several refuges to whom they had been ministering.
“The last Sunday in January, seven people were ‘reborn’ and passed from darkness to light at the Canaan Bhutanese church,” she said. “The next Sunday, two more people accepted the free gift of eternal life. The most recent two were in the group the Sunday before who heard about the four spiritual laws and the story of the woman at the well. They then decided to come to church to accept the free offer of ‘living water.’”
Nine Bhutanese in all became Christ followers within two weeks of that meeting.
“Salvation is always a process and I know that many, many people along the way have prayed, sown seeds of God’s Word, watered seeds, etc. and I was fortunate enough to be there to see the fruit of their labors,” Margie said.
Margie realizes the significance of practicing the ministry of compassion, helping the Bhutanese with physical needs like food and clothing so that they can see the hope Christ offers.
“There is no doubt that Loaves and Fishes has made a profound impact in the lives of the Bhutanese Community. Two fish and five loaves of bread is still more than enough for the Lord to feed the multitude.”
Compiled by: Rickie Bradshaw, Church Consultant for Union Baptist Association