Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Many years ago I worked for the Loess Hills Area Education Agency as a Tobacco Prevention Specialist. The key word being “prevention.” My responsibilities included going to elementary schools in the area to talk to the youth about the health risks of using tobacco products. Now, more than ever, health professionals realize the importance of preventative health care, being proactive.
The results of being proactive, taking an active role in advance to deal with an expected problem, can be seen everyday in our airport terminals. As a response to the 9-11 tragedy, airport security has been tightened. Almost immediately following the Boston Marathon tragedy, people called for more surveillance cameras, a greater police presence, and tighter restrictions for public spaces. And for people whose job it is to keep our nation safe, this would be an understandable reaction.
But what about us? What is our reaction to this horrific attack on innocent people, the loss of lives and life altering injuries? Of course we are deeply saddened, heart broken, and filled with compassion for all affected by this tragedy. Most of us are probably at a loss to understand how anyone could intentionally cause such harm to innocent men, women, and children. Maybe we are filled with anger at the ones who committed this crime. Maybe our sense of security has been threatened.
Yet even in the midst of our sadness, confusion, anger, and fear we are called to remember who we have decided to put our trust in. As followers of Jesus Christ, we put our trust in our Lord and seek to follow him. So we pray and we pray and we pray. We pray for all those affected by the bombing. As the scriptures teach us to do, we pray continually.
And then we love. We do what Jesus did best. He loved. We love our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our church family, people of different races and nationalities. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love. Surely we have to believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about. If we want to be proactive in dealing with the violence and hatred in the world, if we want to change the world, it has to begin within our own hearts. We have to let the love of God fill us up to overflowing so we have no choice but to share that overflowing love with others.
Admittedly it can be difficult to see how loving our neighbors can change the world. It seems like such a passive thing to do. Yet the reality is loving one another is often times anything but passive. Loving one another requires patience and courage and strength and self sacrifice. Think about Jesus' love for us.
His act of love saved the world.
And All God's Children Said,
At one time in my life I was employed by an Area Education Agency as a Mentor Coordinator. My main responsibility was to recruit caring adults to mentor young people. It was while I was employed at the AEA that I first heard about the 40 Developmental Assets. Young people who have these assets are more likely to grow up to be healthy, caring, and responsible adults. One of the assets is, “Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.” Studies have revealed that young people who actively engage in a faith community on a regular basis are rewarded with reduced likelihood of life problems and risky behaviors and stand to improve their odds of a happier, healthier and longer life.
A Christian education does make a difference in the lives of young people. Studies show the sooner the Christian influence begins the greater the chances that it will make a positive difference in a child’s life. According to a Barna Group Study nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%). A child’s faith is impacted by their parents, other relatives and friends, their peers, and youth ministries (such as Sunday School, Youth Group, Vacation Bible School).
We are very blessed in this congregation to have people who give of their time, talents, and resources to teach our young people about our Lord and Savior. What they do for our young people, in the name of Jesus, is priceless! We are thankful for these dedicated folks.
Soon it will be time for Vacation Bible School. This year it will be held at our church June 10-14 in the evenings. As always, a lot of hands are needed in order to provide this ministry to the children in this community and surrounding area. I encourage you to contact Pam Ehmke or Kristy Rieken (co-chairs of Education Committee) to see how you can be of help.
Thank you for all you do in the name of Jesus!
And All God’s Children said,
“Amen!” Pastor Karen
Pastor Kim Dewey