These are stories shared with us by participants in our Faith Encouragement workshops and programs. Through the years, our hearts have been touched again and again by these very personal stories of faith, shared by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Just click on the tab below to read each story.
We stepped into the Alzheimer ward as the Deacon whispered, “She has been here for some time, and probably won’t respond to you. And her husband has recently had a stroke and is in a similar condition. I’ve asked the staff to bring them both here. They were both active in Faith Alive many years ago. I thought, perhaps…”
The woman was wheeled in first. No recognition that we were even there. Next her husband, on a flat gurney. Head propped up.
Slowly he tilted his head, stared blankly at me, and then shifted his gaze to his wife just as she turned her head toward him. Slight movement of their hands, then arms as they reached to each other while the nurses pushed the two side by side. They took each other’s hands and looked deep within each other. No sound.
I pulled up a stool and sat. I whispered that I was a visitor from their church, and that their church family sent me to tell them how much they were loved. They sat soundless, staring deep into each other, holding hands. I told them that I was part of the Faith Alive ministry and I wondered if they remembered the saints of those early years, Fred Gore, Elmore Hudgeons.. They smiled, never taking their eyes off each other. Holding hands.
“Oh, those songs we sang,” I recalled, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,” I sang in a whisper. And they both joined me in song! Raised voices, “Down in my heart, down in my heart.” The husband kicked off the second verse as his wife smiled and joined him, “And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack, sit on a tack…”
We then sang together quietly, “Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah.” Then silence as they continued to look into each other. No need to speak. I gave thanks, for their love for one another, their loving church, and our special time together. The Deacon asked if they could remain together for a time, and so we left, reflecting on truly a moment closest with Christ..
It seems to me that whenever I am about to do something powerful in my Christian life, something or someone puts up a road block. I’ve also learned that if I keep my eyes open and look, I will find a small bit of encouragement that will get me through those times of doubt and discouragement. I can give you an example.
Our first Faith Alive at our home church, Holy Trinity, was a powerful and motivating weekend for my wife and me. We decided, after much prayer and discussion, to volunteer to be team members. We signed up and were looking forward to our first assignment at a small church in South Carolina.
We love traveling and camping. We travel in our motor home and stay at nearby campgrounds.
While I was getting the camper ready for travel to SC, I began to doubt that this was what we should be doing. As I pulled away from the area in our yard where we keep our camper, I noticed my riding lawn mower would be visible from the street. So I hopped on the mower to move it. Unfortunately, I had left it in high gear and full throttle the last time I had ridden it. It took off, reared up and ran into and over the plastic pipes of our well system, smashing them.
I was really mad and frustrated, mostly at myself, and told myself that it was a sign that we shouldn’t go to SC. In fact, I had a lot to do that afternoon to get ready, and repairing the water system was not on my schedule. I was ready to call it off. Quit.
But I went to the hardware store to get the fittings to repair the water system. As I drove, I prayed for guidance on what I should do.
I found all the parts and checked out. My change was exactly twenty-five cents, and the cashier handed me a quarter. She probably said "Have a nice day," but I was still mad and didn’t hear it. On my way out the door, I looked at the quarter. It was a state quarter. I turned it over, and it said South Carolina. And I laughed! I knew then that all was okay. I had been under attack, but asking for help dispelled the attack and my anger and frustration.
I want to share a story about my friend Andy Dekaney. Andy and I would have lunch together weekly. One time he told me he had just come from the Doctor’s and was told he had inoperable cancer. He said, “You know one of two things will happen… either God will grant a miracle and I will be cured or I will be face to face with Jesus…. I WIN either way.” I swallowed hard and started to examine my own faith… was it strong enough for me to make such a statement under similar circumstances? Through prayer and fellowship I believe my faith has grown to be that strong. Andy was in good spirits. He died. He is face to face with Jesus. I can’t think of a better place to be.
- Pete Postma
Yesterday afternoon when I arrived at the St Jude's for Cranny's funeral 30 minutes early, the church was already full and I headed to the parish house with the overflow crowd. During the reading of the Gospel, Fr. Bob's microphone malfunctioned so we could no longer hear what was being said in the church. So instead of listening to the sermon, people began to stand up and share memories they had of Cranny. There is one I want to relay to you that speaks directly to who Cranny was when he shared this earthly life with us. A lady stood up with tears in her eyes and talked of when she first encountered Jesus through Cranny. She didn't say how that happened--Faith Alive, Cursillo, or at the grocery store--only that it did. As a "baby Christian" she could just take little steps in her walk toward her Lord, and the gap seemed to wide to cross.
"Cranny was the bridge for me that made it possible to meet Jesus." I can't think of any simpler explanation of his life than that he was a bridge and a mirror for many of us to get to and to see the face of our Lord.
I first met Cranny nine and a half years ago when Katie and I were serving on our first Cursillo team. Cranny was the camp coordinator for that weekend and the rector, Sunny Walker, asked him if he wanted to say anything to the team at the first meeting. Cranny stood up and told us that we may encounter people who would have special needs on the weekend, or would be more difficult than others to deal with. They may have physical problems and need a wheel chair or require special food. Some may be unhappy to be there and uncooperative. He asked us to hope and pray that God may send such people to Cursillo #140 because they would give us the chance to go above and beyond any expectation they could have,and by meeting any and every challenge with a smile, we would have a chance to give them a small taste of just how much Jesus loves them.
For Cranny, those were not just words, but the way he lived his life. Not only did he try to live a life of grace, a living sacrifice to God; but he also chose to see God in all those he met. He brought out the best in me because he could see in me the person God wanted me to become. I don't know if I can live up to the high standard Cranny set, but with God all things are possible.
We lost a great Christian hero this week, but his life's work lives on in all of us who were lucky enough to call Cranny Boensch "friend and brother."
Your grieving friend and fellow worker for Christ,