Great Things Come in Small Packages

by Mark Mueller, Director of Development

God’s Word teaches us great truths. One truth it teaches is that great things come in small packages. For example, Mary, a twelve-year-old girl was of no prominence or importance to the world, yet she was chosen to birth the Son of God. Jesus was born in a small way, in a stable outside a remote, insignificant village. Amid a stable, the Savior enters the world. The disciples would be considered small people (fisherman and tax collectors) and of no relative import. They were not leaders, credentialed or people of status. These 12 transformed the world through the work of the Holy Spirit. Moses lacked the linguistic skills to talk with Pharaoh, but God chose him to lead the people out of bondage. Moses led more than a million people into the desert with no plan of where they were moving. On and on these stories are told in the Bible. God has a way of putting immense value on something small and seemingly insignificant.

In mid-April of this year, I journeyed to meet with some churches and individual donors in Georgia. My second visit of the first day is one that I will never forget. It was the day I met Penny Parker.

Penny has been a follower of Jesus Christ for many decades. She has been a mission advocate for years having traveled to many parts of the world, most notably Iran. Current Outreach database records indicated that Penny was 98 years old and living in public housing in the Atlanta area. I wanted to visit with her because she had been faithfully supporting the work of The Outreach Foundation for years. Quite naturally, having never met her I did not know what I would find.

When I arrived at her high-rise apartment complex, I noticed the 1960s décor. The waiting area had couches covered in clear plastic. Tired-looking, dust-ridden artificial flowers filled a vase on one of the tables. The deep, green carpet had worn thin in high-traffic spots.

It was into this environment that a wind blew through the entryway when I was attempting to find where Penny lived. Suddenly, in the hallway, an older woman carrying freshly cut flowers and groceries arrived. Penny had walked off the church bus from the grocery store. She was all of 4 feet 6 inches tall. I had heard the name Penny shouted in the hallway. I thought, “Could this be Penny Parker?” I introduced myself and said, “Are you Penny Parker?” Penny replied, “I am. I am sorry to have kept you waiting, Mark. Please come up to my apartment where we can talk.”

Penny was a whirlwind of sorts, talking, hugging, and commenting with anyone about everything.

When we arrived at her apartment she asked me to sit down on the couch. Pushing away the open tube of “Bengay” on the sofa, I found my place and preceded to have a 90-minute conversation with this vibrant woman of faith. Her recall of The Outreach Foundation, Marilyn Borst, Iran, and global mission was better than mine, 30+ years her junior. As we talked it was as if we were related. Frankly, I had wished we were.

Soon we were on to Penny’s ballroom dancing videos. At 98 she had been recently recognized for her command of six ballroom dances. The video showed a vibrant 30-year-old male whisking Penny around the dance floor. Penny never missed a step.

Next, we were talking about her mission trips and experiences in the various churches of Atlanta. Penny had incredible recall and an opinion about everything. She was refreshing and filled with life.

When I left Penny’s apartment that day, I paused to give God thanks for a special blessing. Too often, I have all these ideas floating around in my head about visits, time, travel, etc. This day it is was good for me to let God navigate the joy of visiting with a force of nature, a woman of no more than 90 pounds named Penny Parker.

Great things do come in small packages!