The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:
I was only 22 years old at the time. After getting married, we moved 500 miles away so that I could attend graduate school. Toward the end of that first year of school, my wife was struck with an unknown illness. She was hospitalized from Mother’s Day to Labor Day, almost four months. During that time, she went through countless tests and a variety of experimental treatments. Nothing seemed to help.
My family and friends were too far away to help. I had not yet found a church home. Not only was I overwhelmed with my new circumstances in life, but I also felt very alone. The burden of juggling school, work, daily visits to the hospital and an unknown future was beginning to take its toll. Although the voices of encouragement were saying, “Be strong, hang in there, it will all be OK,” I was very afraid and tired.
It was at this low point that I got introduced to a whole new understanding of comfort and strength. Another pastor introduced me to the “grace of God.” As a young, immature, self-sufficient student, grace was something new for me. Grace is when God does something good for you that you cannot do for yourself. God surrounded me with people who helped and cared. Grace. God filled my mind and heart with assurance that my wife would get better. Grace. God even provided some unexpected resources through my wife’s company that helped pay the hospital bills. Grace.
The day we came home from the hospital and our lives returned to normal, I became a firm believer in the grace of God. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change.” (Psalm 46:1-2)
— Send email to Tom Brady at email@example.com.
The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:
I was a pastor’s kid, and our house was adjacent to the church property; the lines of demarcation were blurred, at best. In fact, our home was often used for church activities. This created unique challenges and opportunities for my siblings and me. We used the church’s backyard as our baseball and football fields. The neighborhood kids loved us! One summer, we experienced the joys of dirt piles in the church’s backyard. I never really knew why they were there, but we sure had a lot of fun playing on them. The church’s expanse was our playground.
However, the downside in all this was a marked loss of privacy. Church folk often forgot that our house was also our home. People would enter our home unannounced at times. These intrusions sometimes sent us scrambling as we left the shower to dress in our rooms. At other times, people would forget that we, as a family, needed some space.
We were typical children who often left our toys in the backyard. My mom tells me that one Sunday morning she looked out in our yard and saw a lady dressed in her Sunday best, putting our toys in the garbage can. Apparently this woman felt that she needed to teach the preacher’s kids a lesson about tidiness. After church, my mother simply went to the garbage cans, removed the toys, and went on with her life.
While I’m certain that this incident was difficult to deal with, my mom did not become bitter. She determined that this lady’s actions would not become her own bad attitude.
The fact that our family loves the church is a tribute to parents who taught us that Jesus loves broken people,and calls us to do the same.
— Send e-mail to Nate Rovenstine at firstname.lastname@example.org.