Newsletter – July 2021: Manna From Heaven

Manna from Heaven

When God provided bread from heaven for the Israelites wandering in the desert, they looked at it and said ‘what is it’?  

Exodus 16

14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat."

Manna sounds like the Hebrew for What is it? 

I was recently on the Anna Maria Island beach off the coast of Florida, just south of Tampa.  As my wife and I walked along the beach, we saw something in the water. (Look at the photo below carefully, at first glance you may not notice there is a large black object floating in the water.) "What is it?" Since we had just been reading the passage in Exodus, it immediately reminded me of the experience the Israelites had with manna. It is funny that eventually we saw it come up to the surface for air and realized it was a manatee (pretty close to manna?). 

My wife and I walked along the beach for half an hour and the manatee swam at the same slow pace as we walked.  As it came near, everyone on the beach stopped what they were doing and started to point.  Half of the people called their kids to get out of the water and get away from it, because they were afraid and didn’t know what it was. The other half of the people grabbed all their kids and started to wade out to it, because they wanted to see this thing even though they didn’t know what it was.  I was among those that waded out to draw closer to this amazing creature that God had created.  (This is a photo of what I saw taken a few years earlier at an aquarium where neither the animal nor the photographer were injured in the capturing of this image.

When God provided the bread of heaven for the Israelites, they said ‘What is it?’  When people saw the black object swimming by the beach, they said ‘What is it?  When people see the hand of God or the grace of God or hospitality to strangers, they often say ‘What is it?’

Last month we asked you to pray to God for the situation at the OSU campus.  We had reserved the ballroom in the student union for an event the first day of classes on August 24, but the OSU covid guidelines restricted us to have a max of 10 students in the room which holds over 1,000.  We asked you to pray, and you prayed.

At the end of last week, we got a note from OSU saying that all covid restrictions were removed for events this fall. What is it? It looks like the grace of God and the provision of God.  

But there are still uncertainties and unanswered questions.  Therefore, we ask that you continue to pray for clarity and wisdom as we plan this and other fall events at OSU and other area campuses. We are still asking God to provide:

  • VISAs and travel arrangements for many students,  
  • vaccines to be available to more people around the world,
  • connections to new and returning students  

Please join us, as we prepare to serve students this fall. We don’t know what it will look like, but we expect there to be a rush of students looking to engage with local volunteers like you.

--Phil (IFI Columbus Area Director)