Today I got a message from one of my friends in Haiti. His name is Wilson. He is about 19 years old. He had been elated for the last few months because his aunt in New York City said she would bring him to New York to go to college.
Wilson’s parents do not have money to send him to college. He graduated from High School last year, and now he teaches computer classes at his church for free and helps high school students with their assignments. Like many young adults in Haiti he struggles to find a job. There just aren’t many jobs available in Haiti. Some young adults make things like necklaces or paintings to sell to missionary teams. Some work on building a church or home for a few months, but then they are unemployed again. Some try to sell drinks or produce at the market. Some fix motorcycles but it’s not full time. There are very few full-time jobs available in Haiti.
Wilson was so excited when his aunt first told him that he could come to the U.S. because he wants to be a doctor or work with computers. He is very smart and is very good at English. He knew coming to the U.S. meant he would get an education from a very good university and that would increase his chance of staying in the U.S. and getting a good job.
But today his aunt told him that she can’t afford to bring him to the U.S. She just can’t do it. Wilson was devastated. With tears Wilson said to me, “I don’t know what I’m going to do Pastor. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wake up every day without a way to provide for myself. My parents can’t help me and my two little brothers. I know God is with me. He is the beginning and the end. He is the alpha and the omega. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He is the Way.”
Wilson faces every day not knowing where his meals will come from for that day. Wilson faces the daily struggle of having huge dreams and not having the resources to pursue any of them. Wilson faces the daily challenge of not being able to provide for himself even as a young man AND YET he trusts God. He turns to God. He believes God will provide a way. He doesn’t know the way that God will provide but he trusts that God will provide the way. Daily he sees people living in poverty, not being able to send their kids to school because they don’t have the tuition money, not being able to feed their children enough, not being able to provide adequately for themselves or for their families AND YET he trusts God. He believes God will make a way.
Do you have a faith like that? Could your faith survive that kind of daily trial?
Saint Paul told us in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When we trust in God, we will overflow with hope. When we trust in God when things don’t go our way, we receive joy and peace and hope that comes supernaturally from our Heavenly Father. When we trust in God, it keeps us from feeling defeated or hopeless. There is always hope with God.
May we keep trusting in HIM,
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Do any of you feel like you're losing your kids to their smart phones?
Maybe you feel like your kids have a stronger relationship with their phone than with you.
I don't know about you, but I have said many times, "I would love to just get rid of my kids' phones." But part of the problem is we love our phones too, don't we?
How many of us can't watch a TV show or a movie anymore without looking at our phone during the show?
How many of us take out our phone the second there's a lul in a conversation even with our own children?
How many of us have our favorite social media app or news app or game on our phone and look at it more times per day than we care to admit?
Schawn and I have always taught our children that people are more important than things. We've always said that God wants us to spend time investing in people and relationships more than accomplishing or consuming for own desires.
So how do we help our families and ourselves invest in people instead of consuming on our phone? Here's a few things we're trying to do at our house.
1. When we are able to eat together, phones are not allowed at the table.
2. When someone walks in the house, they need to have a conversation with those in the house and not just put their head into their phone.
3. For kids 15 and under we've always had a time limit for amount of gaming per day.
4. We're working on keeping our phones away while we're watching a movie or TV show together. It's surprising how much you interact as a family during a show when the phones are away and how much we don't interact when our phones are out.
There's nothing sinful about being on the phone a lot. But it can lead to sinfulness, and it can create loneliness, separation and disconnection in relationships when our phone is our best friend.
What did Jesus say the two greatest Commandments are? Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
Our smartphones really cannot help us do either one of those things very well. Let's put down our smartphones and ask our kids to put down their smartphones and let's give more than one word answers to the question, "How was your day today?" It's going to help our relationships grow stronger, it's going to help our families grow healthier, and it's going to help our marriages grow deeper as well.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says “5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
God never intended on the passing on of the faith to be done only at church through Sunday School or Confirmation or VBS. He wanted parents to pass on the faith at home. There was no Sunday school or youth ministries until the 1800s. In many places still, where Christianity is the strongest, like in parts of Africa, there still is no youth ministries. Why is Christianity so strong there?? Partly because parents are living and teaching the faith at home. They rely on God for everything that they have, for their very survival, and their kids do too.
How can you pass on your faith?
What ideas do you have for passing on the faith at home? What challenges do you have for passing on the faith? Comment below.
May God use each one of us to influence the next generation to love God with their heart, soul, mind and strength.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt