Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Flanders Field

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

On Flanders battlefield Christmas Eve 1914 German, French and British troops facing each other, were settling in for the night when a German soldier began to sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” Others joined in. When they had finished the British and French responded with other Christmas carols.
The men from both sides left their trenches, met in the middle, shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared family pictures. Christmas Day soccer games were held. A combined worship service was held to bury the dead from both sides.
The generals were not pleased. Troops who know each others’ names and share family stories are less likely to want to kill each other. War seems to require a nameless, faceless enemy.
After that magical Christmas truce the troops spent a few days simply firing aimlessly into the sky. Then the war turned back to earnest and continued for three more years.
Yet the story of that Christmas Eve lingers – a night when the angels really did sing of peace on earth.
As technology in our global village zooms in on our impoverished neighbors we begin to sense the vulnerability of people in the Developing World. Personal computers and Facebook are providing faces and names to some of our new global friends struggling with extreme poverty. People who know each others’ names are less likely to shrug off the needs of impoverished neighbors. Poverty will disappear when it becomes a priority to the western world.
We are beginning to grasp the fact that all the people on earth compose God’s family. All major religions include concepts of love for one another. As Christians in mission, Emerging Mission Ministries is developing and supporting mission solutions that build on those aspects of love to alleviate global poverty.
When the right time came, God sent a son and a woman gave birth to him. God’s son obeyed the law so he could set us free from the law and we could become God’s children. Now that we are God’s children, God has sent the spirit of the son into our hearts. Galatians 4:4-6

Minot Mission

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

We went. We saw. We prayed. We worshiped. We cried. We lent a hand.

We were two teams. The first departed Southwest District Friday morning 12 August. The team received overnight accommodations from Lydia Zion UMC in Jordan , Minnesota. After a breakfast feast provided by the Rev Larry and Vicky Kasten we arrived in Minot, North Dakota on Saturday evening 13 August and were welcomed into the home of our hostess from Faith UMC, Kara Gross. The team worshiped with the Faith UMC congregation at the home of their sister church Vincent UMC on Sunday morning. After worship we met Judy Roed, the UMCOR project coordinator, who introduced us to the owners of the homes we were to assist. The house of Mr. Rhodes had been underwater up to the roof. The house of Mr. Silseth had suffered flood damage up 3 feet on the main floor walls. The team only worked at the Rhodes residence for one day as asbestos was detected to be present in the ceiling. The team decided to concentrate efforts at the Silseth house. The team finished its work and departed North Dakota on Friday.

Team #2 departed Southwest District Monday morning 22 August and arrived at the Gross home 22 hours later having driven straight through. On Tuesday morning we met with the project coordinator and Mr Ortiz the home owner. The Ortiz house had been under water up to the ceiling. We mucked out the basement and the first floor up to the ceiling. The team completed its work on Friday and departed Minot on Friday afternoon. Their trip to Lydia Zion had an extra surprise with the Southwest District’s UMCOR trailer getting a flat tire along the way. After a restful night, the Kastens greeted them with a good morning breakfast prior to their departure for Indiana.

We saw the aftermath of the Souris River flood that left over 4000 homes, many businesses, and churches in need of flood recovery assistance. Many homes and perhaps Faith UMC suffered extensive damage beyond repair. Teams from churches and charitable organizations are working together in hopes of getting survivors back into their homes before winter. Winters are extremely severe and come early in North Dakota.

We worked alongside the home owners. It isn’t hard to love people who have lost everything. They were so thankful for us. Their appreciation of us increased our faith. They became a part of us. Something very unforgettable happens when you help someone carry once valuable possessions to the curbside amidst the debris. Priceless treasures from spouses, parents, and children buried in a pile of useless clutter along the roadside awaiting the coming trash compactor to be taken forever away.

 Jesus asks his followers to teach others to observe his teachings. He only gave us two. Love God and love one another. Our responses to people in need reflect our love for God.

 

 

Minot Mission

Friday, July 29th, 2011

In response to an urgent priority appeal from Bishop Coyner, UMCOR, The Dakota Conference, and Faith UMC in Minot, North Dakota, we are planning a flood recovery work team to begin work in Minot, North Dakota on 15 August. 

The following information comes from Rev Debra Ball-Kilbourne pastor of flood ravaged Faith UMC in Minot:

 “Work teams are very much needed, particularly those who come self-contained because housing is at a premium. Schools, camps, churches were all impacted in this flood and there are no motel rooms–survivors are in them. However, we have a large farm in Max (somewhat close to Minot), owned by the Trustee Chair of Faith, where we have an open invitation to house self- contained teams working either on homes or our church. You would find it quite easy to commute to and from Max.

 Snow falls early in this part of the world and people will soon be ill from our flood conditions once cooler weather sets; please come as soon as possible, John. We have more than 4,000 homes and Faith Church that need to be gutted. Most teams come and work during the week days and travel on the week ends. Five days of hard work is about what a team can really do; but if you want to stay longer we will surely welcome you. Tetanus and Hepatitis A shots should be up-to-date before coming. Bring tools with you, such as hammers, crow bars, good, filtered masks, gloves (include surgical gloves to wear inside work gloves), work boots, and long pants. This is very dirty work.”

 We do have to be badged. There is a way to take an online course and get a temporary badge in order to work alongside someone that has been through the training.

 Pastors, please publicize this urgent mission appeal in your church newsletters and bulletins.

 If you are interested in serving on this flood recovery team please contact John Windell at windelljohn@yahoo.com or 812-499-3849 or 812-536-2332.

 

Advent 2

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

        She was a young twenty-something Native American. We were told to watch out for her. She was suspected of pan handling personal items from other volunteer-in-mission work teams.

        In chapter 11 the Isianic writer relates a radical scene of future peace. Leopards, goats, wolves, and lambs relaxing together as life-long friends. Lions and cattle enjoying a feast of nutritious straw. Children and snakes playing together in total fear abandonment. It reads like a page out of a make-believe story book.

        One of the Advent themes is hope. The prophet is describing a day of hope. A righteous hope that redefines fairness and justice in terms beyond comprehension.

        Our team was rebuilding a burned out Community Center at Shiprock near Four Corners. She quietly joined our team meetings. We invited her to eat with us. Meal times are always spiritual occasions with mission work teams. She was invited to join our devotions and discussions. She began to express her doubts and questions about faith. As the weeks came to a close she had become one of us, part of our team.

        Grace is amazing! The peaceful scene among former enemies posed by Isaiah seems like fantasy running amuck. The change affected by grace in the lives of people is no less dramatic. The entire message from God through Advent/Christmas is summed up as, “I forgive you.” She was there as we were departing, with a gentle smile, exchanging her address for ours. I’ll not soon forget her. We shared Christian love with hope and peace and watched as faith began to germinate.

        What is your hope for this Advent?

November – Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Among the special happenings in November we observe All Saints Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, National Bible Week, and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  When I was a youngster it was Christmas.  Easter easily passed up Christmas early in my Christian life.  It seems to me, that among all the special days on our calendar, a day set aside to give thanks to our loving compassionate God surpasses them all.  For these days of November the posts on this blog will focus on our Thanksgiving celebration.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches we will consider those things for which we are most thankful.  We will hear again the faith stories of Pilgrims and wonder at their resilience and benevolent relations with the Native Americans.  We will recall historical lessons about Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday.  We will express thanks for freedoms, abundant harvests, and countless blessings for family and faith.

Those of you who cherish Bible stories will like this pleasant little story abourt Zacchaeus.  Luke 19 includes the account of a small insignificant looking tax collector who climbed a tree so he could see Jesus.  As a result, Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house, restored his self respect, and announced that salvation had come to his soul.

The story has it that when Zacchaeus was an old man he still dwelt in Jericho.  Every morning at sunrise he went out for a walk and came back with a calm happy composure, regardless of his mood when he left.  After his morning walk he was ready to begin his day’s work with kindness and joy. 

His wife wondered where he went on those walks, but he never spoke to her about the matter.  So being curious, the way wives are, she followed him one morning.  He went straight to the tree from which he had first seen Jesus.  Taking a large urn to a nearby spring, he filled it with water, carried it to the tree, and poured it around the roots.  He pulled up all the weeds around the tree.  Then he loked up among the branches where he sat that day when he first met Jesus.  A new light of peace and contentment came into his eyes.  He turned away with a smile of gratitude and returned ready to do his daily work. 

Zacchaeus knew the importance of keeping the spirit of that unusual experience alive, and to do so he tried to keep the tree alive.  So it is with us.  We never forget the difference God has made in our lives through the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus.

Expressing Thanksgiving for the gift of grace and forgiveness renews our faith and sustains a spirit of renewal.