A shiny new engine, asked by the dolls and toys to help, replied, "I pull the likes of you? I am a passenger engine. Indeed not!"
A big engine, stopped by the toy clown waving a flag, said, "I am a freight engine. I am a very important engine indeed. I won't pull the likes of you!"
A rusty old engine replied: "I am so tired. I must rest. I can not. I can not. I can not."
A very little engine was asked next by the dolls and toys and saw the tears in their eyes before replying, "I'm not very big, but I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."
"Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. 'I think I can — I think I can — I think I can — I think I can — I think I can — I think I can — I think I can.'"
We all know the ending of the story. "'Hurray, hurray,' cried the funny little clown and all the dolls and toys. 'The good little boys and girls in the city will be happy because you helped us, kind, little blue engine.' And the little blue engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain. 'I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.'"
There are plenty of churches who behave much as the engines in the story. There are people all around who desperately need to hear the hope only God's church can offer. What would they do?
There is the shiny new church that says to people in need: "I'm too busy paying for my new building! I cannot help you."
There are large mega churches who reply: "I'm too busy with my own ministries. I cannot."
Then, there are far too many established churches caught up in their own struggle to simply pay the bills who say: "I'm too tired and discouraged to help you!"
There was one very little church, however, which had once been vibrant and full of life, but was now struggling. On a typical Sunday morning there would only be ten or twelve people but they prayed about the needs of their community and two from their church joined a year-long intensive Bible study. During one class both people felt the need to open their very little church to an after-school ministry for local school children: "With God's help," they said, "I think I can — I think I can — I think I can?"
Within a few weeks, thirty children were being dropped off at the same, very little church where they would be greeted with cookies and begin an hour and a half of fun, music, games and a Bible study. Over the next few months and years, some of those children along with their parents began attending this same little church.
"With God's help: I think I can — I think I can — I think I can."
"With God's help: I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!"
A new year-long Bible study is started, but this time the very little church now has its own class full of people who are looking for answers and seeking ways to serve God. One woman in the class persuades her whole family into joining the Bible study, while another woman begins teaching youth in the Sunday school. A couple living together repents and asks to be married in the same little church.
"With God's help: I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!!"
"Hurray, hurray," cries this preacher and people everywhere as this very little church, now much bigger should be smiling as she puffs steadily on in service of God.
And God replies: "Well done, good and faithful servant."
The little church says: "With God's help, we thought we could — we thought we could — we thought we could!!" With God's help, you can too!