In 2007, the illustrated children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could” was awarded “Teachers Top 100 Books for Children” honor by the National Education Association. This book was first published in 1930 in the United States by Plat and Munck. Much earlier, in 1906, under the title “Thinking One Can,” it was published in “Wellspring for Young People,” a Sunday School publication.
This book had an impact on my life. Its central theme of optimism and hard work came to me through the voice of my mother. As a very little girl, I looked forward to hearing my mother, with her gifted and dramatic reading skills, telling me the story of a very long train that must go over a high mountain. Larger engines were asked to pull the train, but all refused.
Finally, a very tiny engine came along and offered to try to pull the long train over the tall mountain. When I heard my mother telling about the little engine who chugged, claiming “I think I can, I think I can,” I was so excited! Chugging harder and harder, the little engine finally reached the top, exclaiming “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
Oh my, I loved that story!
Facing difficult obstacles over the years, I have so often thought of the little engine, remembering its determination, hope and dedication.
It has been a privilege for me to live among the spirit of the “little engine that could” at the Suisun Fairfield Congregational Church. As interim pastor for the past three years, I have served this tiny congregation. They are amazing in their determination, hope and dedication to serve our God, despite their very small size. This little multicultural Anglo-Samoan congregation chugs on and on, serving food to the hungry, worshiping together in joyful spirit, word and song.
Spontaneity would be their hallmark, action springs from their hearts without belabored committee meetings and complicated infrastructure. Their simplicity enables heartfelt caring and community, following the call of Jesus to “follow me.” They believe they can . . . indeed they “think they can” and they can! The Christ spirit abounds at Suisun Fairfield Congregational Church.
Serving as an interim pastor, as I have done for so many years, is a blessing. Transition times are marked by uncertainty. Yet with open, optimistic hearts and “I think I can” attitudes, this uncertainty provides a fertile ground for new ideas and indeed community.
I have been privileged to share these transitions with many congregations. The temporary nature of interim ministry means, by definition, that it will not be permanent. And so it ends, as it will for me at Suisun Fairfield Congregational Church at the end of this month.
This “little church that could” – can – and with their optimism and determination, their spirit will go on, blessing the many they serve.
The Rev. Lee Cruise is the pastor at Suisun Fairfield Congregational Church in Suisun City. She can be reached at email@example.com.