Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." —1 Thessalonians 5:11
God came to me as Veronica. She spoke not one word and skittered away from me when I smiled, as if I had cooties. But as we began to climb the mountain, she scooped my big hand into her little one, walking fast and sure-footed up the steep rocky slope. When I tired, she held my hand, determined to get me to the top. At the summit, she stood near just to be with me. When it was time to descend, she grabbed my hand, and again I found myself traveling more swiftly than had I been alone.
We are unlikely walking companions: she Catholic, poor, little. Me protestant, not poor, and big. She is indigenous and I am not. People in these categories are killing each other here. Veronica picked the "enemy" to accompany, to give a helping hand. So I say it was God that took my hand through Veronica. And God wants me to take another's hand and pull them to the top and back down again, so that we can call more for the next trip.
Vondelle (Delle) McCormick Ecumenical Ministries
I stop by the hospital every day to bring Cecilia food and baby supplies. Cecilia brought her own blanket, pillow, sheets and mattress. Today, roaches crawl over the bread on her lunch plate. A strong fellowship unites the six women who, with their premie babies, share this ward. They look out for each other, share food from home, and pass the time together. Even in difficult places, God brings strength and support to those who need it.
Christian Health Association
I did not feel like singing "Heaven is a wonderful place" when 8-year-old Sandile died. But the children of St. Thomas' Home reminded me that comfort comes when we place our trust in God. The children bounced back quickly—soon playing and experiencing the joy of life. It has taken both the death of one child and the delight of other children to remind me of the childlike qualities I too often suppress, to remind me of the power of an unshakable faith, and to reawaken my own joy and assurance.
Global Mission Intern
At the college's Gospel Hour we gather, sometimes 60 strong, to sing and praise. I share a message using drama and illustrations. Although the missionary English teachers' primary responsibility is teaching English, the Gospel Hour gives us an opportunity to share our faith outside of the classroom. The result of our teamwork has been a wonderful spirit of cooperation, unity and harmony among us.
When two pastors working in rural communities asked me to join them, my heart burned. This weekend I will accompany them to a village. God has placed in my heart a deep desire to reach the unreached with the gospel. I suggested I might sow seed (money) into this ministry and the pastor reminded me he doesn't want my money, he wants my help. I am honored to be able to use my life in this way, as a partner in mission.
Christian Council of Ghana
A young Samoan student had just heard that her brother in Samoa had died suddenly. I said in a semi-whisper, half-jokingly, "Somebody close the door and please don't tell the university authorities, but we're going to pray!"
Here I am in a secular university, in the most secular country in the world, where Christian students are afraid to identify themselves as such, and I suggest prayer! Yet, almost everyone in the room prayed for this grieving classmate, and the prayers were moving beyond description. This was one of those moments of grace which carries us forward to a new place, where barriers fall, taboos shatter, and God's light breaks forth to brightly illuminate the world in a new way.
University of Otago
Elizabeth (7) and Rebecca (5), each line up with their 60 classmates, learn French and Hindi, love their teachers, and laugh and play with their new friends. Perhaps the most profound experience of settling into shared life in India has been the enrollment of our daughters in the local Indian school where they are the only children of non-Indian descent. The children of several of our faculty colleagues attend this school and the common experience has translated into shared experiences and concerns for the adults as well.
Mary Schaller Blaufuss
United Theological College