Friday, 21 February 2014

A Tale of Two Brothers

Back in Pasadena, California in the late 50’s two brothers called Dick and Maurice had quite a novel business idea. Noticing the rapid expansion of car ownership and the increasingly frenetic pace of life they dreamt up the idea of a ‘drive in’ restaurant.  Drive–in, park and waiters and waitresses would come to your car, take your order, and swiftly deliver it on proper plates with proper napkins.  Eventually, the real plates and napkins gave way to disposables and one of their suppliers one day suggested this was such a good idea they could maybe expand a bit and then franchise out the idea, calling the chain by their surname.

“Really?” said the brothers, “why on earth would anybody want to go to a restaurant called McDonalds?” I think the idea did kind of catch on, don’t you? I have eaten in McDonalds in many different places – in Europe and the USA and in Australia.  I’ve had their 1 Euro coffee being dwarfed by the Rock of Gibraltar and their burgers in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House.  The Golden arches are everywhere, towering above the crowd and instantly recognisable, offering hope and sustenance to a hungry generation.  And I’ve thought about Dick and Maurice.  Who could believe it – something which started so small could become so huge, mega, global?  The mighty name – the powerful symbol – the universal brand.

Never underestimate how small things can become large things, how the smallest of ideas or thoughts have the potential to become life changers.  “Do not despise the day of small things” says the scriptures in Zechariah 4 v 10.

Maybe a George Verwer thinking of doing a small mission trip to Mexico (now the global mission agency OM) or later, with the idea of buying an old ship to cross the oceans with the gospel message (Logos, Doulos and Logos Hope).

Maybe a Hudson Taylor with a sincere desire to evangelise China (Now the worldwide OMF).

Maybe an Amy Carmichael with a desire to reach mill girls in north Belfast with the gospel (now the Welcome Hall).

Maybe a handful of people who looked up the road in the 1950’s and saw population growth in a small village nearby and thought it might be a good place for gospel witness (now Newtownbreda Baptist Church)

The worldwide church started with handful of people, including 2 rather awkward brothers. How could it ever spread beyond the small streets of Jerusalem to the regions beyond? Today across the world, in large cathedrals and small hovels, people bow in adoration and worship of the King of Kings, taking a small piece of bread and a small swallow of wine in remembrance of him.  Despite the aggressive tactics of the secular God-haters, the gospel moves forward and grows and the glorious symbol of the cross towers above the crowd and offers hope and real sustenance to all who embrace its purpose.  Eat your heart out, Dick and Maurice

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