Sunday, April 20, 2008

Agents of Grace

In his sermon this morning, Pastor George talked about people who have been agents of God's grace in our own lives, those whose influence has brought us to this point in our lives.

I immediately thought of Pastor Terry Stoltenow, pastor of the First Baptist Church, where I attended during my years living with the folks in Hebron. Pastor Terry realized that I was basically friendless in our church. Oh, I was friendly with most all the kids, but we never did anything together. Nothing outside of school activities.

Another problem was that I was the only one in my grade at our church. Yeah. It was small. And because they always grouped two grades together for Sunday School, this meant that I was always the oldest or youngest in my class.

Pastor Terry decided to help me, and got me attending youth retreats in our region. Our church was so tiny and really lacked other interested in such activities, so the bus from either Dickinson from the west or Bismarck from the east, depending on where the retreat was, would stop and pick me up. And at camps and retreats I had so. much. fun. I met kids that didn't already think I was a nerd, and kept in touch with those friends via honest-to-goodness letters during the time between events. The other youth pastors befriended me and showed me that Christians could have fun, too, and even act pretty darn crazy. It was pretty thrilling to me, a kid who hadn't even realized there were such a thing as youth pastors.

I also re-dedicated my life to Christ at one of those retreats, the Snowball Retreat at Bismarck Baptist. I realized that although I had been living my life according to Christian morality, I hadn't been doing it because of love for Christ. I decided there that my focus would be on Him, and I would stop just going through life passively. I found my voice.

I started counseling at Crystal Springs Baptist Camp, and those couple of summers were some of the most fun of my life. I met more friends, some of them lifelong, and also began being comfortable talking to others about my faith. As a side benefit, my enjoyment of the role of counselor added to my determination to become a teacher.

Pastor Terry is always one of the first to come to mind whenever I think of people who have helped me on my path of faith. And also, when I hear this ridiculously sappy tear-jerker song, which thankfully isn't often. The only thing worse than an overly sentimental song is one that rings true.

Who has been one of your agents of grace?


Noel said...

I had two trains of thought at that point in the sermon. For someone with immediate impact, it was one of my Boys Brigade leaders, Vern H.

Longer term, it was some of my ancestors who came to America and where Christians and set up churches for pioneers and children of pioneers.

Jenifleur-de-lis said...

Hi Lyz,

I went to Crystal Springs Summer Camp...sheesh, what year was that? It had to be the summer of 96 or 97. It was a lot of fun! Maybe you were there too? I also grew up in Bismarck and went to First Baptist Church and to Camp Bentley near Drake, ND. Small world, huh?

By the've been tagged :) I did this fun game/survey thing on my blog. If you don't want to play, that is ok. I just wanted to list your blog because it is one I enjoy visiting :)