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Pastor’s Corner Pastor Mark Keefer, pastor, Chapel Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa

September 6, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
I have memories of my elementary school days of returning after summer vacation and having the teacher assign a written paper to us with the title – “What did I do on my summer vacation?” I do not know if teachers still expect their students to recall their summer adventures, but in tribute to several teachers of my youth I offer this reflection on the past three months since writing to you: What a summer! It was hot. I sweated a lot. I went swimming in our town’s new pool. I mowed the yard. I played with friends and family. I grieved the loss of innocent lives. I heard stories that people come from other countries merely to wreak havoc and death in our country. I found that hard to fathom. Just like my ancestors, I thought people from other countries came to this country to establish a future and a hope for the generations that would follow. So, there was something else I did this summer. A life-long desire was fulfilled when I went with a team of volunteers on a mission trip to Belize, Central America. Upon arrival in Belize, I gave thanks for the overwhelming heat and humidity that Iowa had provided in June and July, as we stepped off the plane that same heat and humidity smacked us right in the face. It was in that climate that we worked at an institute for deaf children. Since the children were gone for summer break, it gave our team the chance to work unencumbered at doing a lot of painting. The school now enjoys a fresh face lift inside and out of its dorms and classrooms. We accomplished a lot at the school and on some afternoons we would visit surrounding homes and villages. We had the opportunity to fulfill a scripture verse from 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you, but also our very lives because we cared for you so much.” We went with the purpose of doing a good thing for those who live in a country not as affluent as ours. I have been asked since returning, “What did you get out of this mission trip?” While we took a Bible scripture with us as our theme, what came home with me was a different verse. It came from a 10yr old boy who had no idea how his words were reflective of a verse from the letter of James, Jesus’ half-brother. You see, in Belize, after completing a 6th grade level of education, most kids get a job. I asked the boy what job awaited him, and he replied that he had no job yet but, “God will provide.” If I may borrow from the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, ‘my heart was strangely warmed’ when I heard his confidence. My thoughts echoed back to my/your children and grandchildren who have had little awareness of the great opportunities they have in a country that is great by any standard. What verse in James did I hear in that young boys comment? James 2:5 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who believe in him?” The young boy who lives in what this country would identify as poverty, lives with a faith that this country seems to give only lip service to. His words and confidence will endure in my heart for the remainder of my life. His words also remind me why I am in constant prayer for this country, praying that this great country can live by the tenets of ‘In God we Trust’ that is so frequently quoted but not often enough exhibited. Well, that is how I spent my summer. How was yours? If you would like to develop that confidence and assurance in your future as that young boy has, return to worship and the scriptures to study how God has a future and a hope for you, as well. See you in worship.


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