Walk the Talk

March 8th, 2012


 

 

 

And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

From my first time ever at Grace I have always thought of the people as humble. Even in the congre­ga­tional singing, no one stood out, all singing together as one voice. The people at Grace observe their faith by serving, in other words, “Walking the talk.” The ELCA cares about justice throughout the world and Grace is a part of that mission. At Grace you will discover helpful servants who walk humbly with their God.

Susan Senn


St. Joe’s

March 4th, 2012

I love that Grace is in service to others whether in our local community, in other states or across the globe and that we are teaching our youth the value of helping others and living as Christ taught.  While my daughter Katie was in confir­mation, her class served at a St. Joe’s meal site.  While the parents provided the food, it was the youth who served the meal.  As the people came to the kitchen asking for seconds, they didn’t want to make eye-contact with the kids or even speak very loud.  I watched the kids ask questions and talk with the individuals without any judgment and how the people responded with louder voices, eye contact and smiles.  The inter­action was marvelous – I was so proud of all of the youth that night as they were truly behaving as Christ and showing how we are taught to love one another.

Cindy Savely


Living Faith

March 1st, 2012

James 2:14–17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is faith? In the same way, faith by itself is dead, if it is not accom­panied by action.

I suspect that most Christians struggle from time-to-time about the status of their faith. I happen to be one of them, but I also feel that my faith has become stronger because of James 2. I first came by this Bible passage in an unusual way. It happened to be at a time in my life when I was asking myself many questions about my faith and not getting many answers. I was reading the QC Times newspaper one morning while eating breakfast and like every morning I passed over Bill Wundram’s column (I never cared for his column and therefore, never read it). However, my peripheral vision spotted a statement in his column in very bold print. It read: James 2: Faith without action is dead.

I didn’t quite understand its meaning, but I was compelled to look into it. I think that James 2 was telling me that faith alone, if it is not manifesting itself by action (deeds), is idle or useless and shows no sign of life. Faith will do no one any good if it is not exercised. We must work out our faith to be fruitful and useful.

I concluded that God’s desire for me is to have a life that has a purpose. A life that challenges me to accomplish something for his kingdom and not just take up space. My discovering James 2 was another mysterious way that God provides answers to difficult questions that can’t be found in any book. I’m convinced that James 2 jump-started my faith journey.

Bud Johnson

 


Faith Changes Everything

March 1st, 2011

By Hannah Campbell

This article first appeared in the publi­cation “In His Grip”, a publi­cation for youth in congre­gations of the South­eastern Iowa Synod.

Guatemala had everything one could hope for in a mission trip-lots of sun, dirt, and smiles.  Most impor­tantly it had a lesson-an eye-opening, heart-filling, faith-growing, bubble-blowing lesson.  It taught me that faith can change everything and thanks be to God for that.

When I stepped off the plane in Guatemala City, it was like stepping into another world.  The airport was dark and small.  Everything seemed small-the streets, the buildings, even the people.  I saw a lot of things I never expected to see.  There were beautiful green mountains with patchworks of farms going up the side.  Cows were everywhere, crossing the road and grazing in cornfields.

There were things so “American” it shocked me.  SUV’s were driving down the tiny streets, past McDonalds and huge hotels.  They weren’t too far from houses made of mud and tin.  They weren’t too far from fire stations run by volunteers, with only one working truck and ambulance.  Those who couldn’t afford “private hospitals” had to rely on these volunteers.  That’s a lot of people.

Many people didn’t have running water.  The village where the Grace team worked, Las Rosas, used wells.  The emergency room in the public hospital was packed, while loved ones waited outside.  (There was no room inside for relatives to stay, so many just slept and waited outside until the patient got better.)  Most kids had to work at a very young age, so continuing their education for very long would be impossible.

Yet, for everything the people of Guatemala didn’t have, they did have an abundance of spirit.  Someone always gave a wave and a smile, even to a perfect stranger.  It seemed to be cultural to make the most of what they did have, including faith.

The faith of the people of Dios con Nosotros and Emmanuel was amazing to say the least.  It wasn’t just something to have, it was a way to live.  Hundreds packed the not-so-big chapel of Emmanuel weekly, even though this could mean a long and difficult journey.  Outside of church, members gathered in their hometowns for prayer and worship.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about Guatemalan faith was how willing people were to share it.

When members of the Grace team went to Emmanuel to meet and sing with their members, we were embraced as brothers and sisters, literally embraced, as “hermanas” and “hermanos.”  It had never hit me until just then, but we are.  We had never met, didn’t know a thing about each other, didn’t even speak the same language, yet we were family.  I knew we were family, on in Christ’s love.

The same sense of family and unity followed the team to the work site in Las Rosas.  I could hardly understand a word the members of Dios con Nosotros said, and I’m sure they could hardly understand me.  However, that didn’t stop us from shoveling sand and dirt, swinging pick-axes, and just plain working together.  We even played together.  The kids were shy at first, but once the bubbles came out, so did they.  Before anyone knew it, memories were being made and good times were being had, sharing the spirit of joy.

No matter what we were doing, I felt connected.  I think that must be what the Holy Spirit feel like.  I think I’ve grown a lot in my faith.  Faith is a blessing, something that only gets stronger with each test.  It’s a blessing to share it, because that’s what makes strangers family.  It’s a way of life, something to live by and celebrate, not just have.  It makes a heart grateful and everything enough.

Faith changes everything.