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Pastor Marty Lewis & Mary Keen

One of my fondest memories growing up was of a sweet elderly lady named Mary Keen at Trinity Baptist in Middletown, Ohio. Every now and then my pastor, Joe Lewis, and his son, Marty Lewis, would have her sing a song in church. Often she sang the song, ‘The Great Speckled Bird”, acapella. It wasn’t always her voiced that moved us… it was her passion and love for Jesus.

When I left for Bible College, she wrote me a nice letter to encourage me in the ministry. I kept that handwritten letter in my Bible for many years.

One year our church had our annual missions conference. We were encouraged to make an annual financial pledge to worldwide missions. Since Mary was on a fixed income and too old to get a job it was assumed that she couldn’t give much.

But as Mary prayed to God about her contribution to world-wide missions, the amount the Lord laid on her heart was quite a bit. There was no way she could give that kind of money. I have no idea how much it was, but she couldn’t do it on her own. God would have to help her.

So Mary came up with an idea. It was October and the leaves were falling from the trees. So, she got out her leaf rake and decided to go up and down her street and offered to rake her neighbors leaves for a contribution.

I’m sure as she knocked on the first door, the people inside were amazed at her offer. But how could they turn away an 80 year old woman? So they let her rake the leaves. And once she started raking, who could sit on the couch and let her work? So, the family all came out and helped her. Then the family gave her a generous amount for her work.

It wasn’t long before she raised her entire missions pledge. Pastor Lewis shared her story with our church and several pastors, including Dr. John Rawlings of Landmark Baptist of Cincinnati. Dr. John told her story around the country as an encouragement for missions.

This story has always been a reminder to me not to focus on what I can’t do, but recognize what I can do and do it. Mary certainly had physical and financial limitations. But she did not let her limitations limit God.

A small rock in the hands of David killed a great giant. The small lunch of a little boy fed over 5,000 people. Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. An offering of two small coins given by a poor widow was more than all the contributions of the rich.

Never underestimate what your small contribution can do for God and others. Don’t let your limitations limit God.

“Do not despise small beginnings…” (Zechariah 4:10).

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

You can also read some of my similar articles: Giving – It’s not the size that counts, Please give to missions, 10 reasons to give to missions, 4 keys to getting old, 3 things you can learn from a mustard seed, She did what she could.

*Special thanks to Jeremy Brewer’s permission to use his picture of Marty Lewis and Mary Keen.