By Kristi Evans
Like many of you I sit in the pew on Sunday morning, I enjoy the sermon and am encouraged as I start my week, but as the week goes on the stuff of everyday life starts weighing me down. Whether it’s my day to day job at Purdue, the kids or even strength of the dollar versus the British Pound, these distractions start to drown out the promise the Jesus has for each of us. This is where the small groups I have participated in through Trinity have helped guide me on my journey.
This past winter I had the pleasure of hosting a small group supper club in my home. Once a month a group of women, many of whom have sat in the pews next to me for years, came together and developed friendships, beyond what we are able to during the church hour. We have met together, dined, participated in a bible study, shared our experiences, prayed and grown together as children of God. The bonds we form in the small group experience help us become a stronger church, so we are able to go beyond the walls of our buildings and share the promise with those outside our walls.
Church doesn’t only happen on Sunday, we have to find ways of experiencing church throughout the week. I encourage you to join a Trinity group and invite a coworker or friend. It’s only through growth in our relationships that we grow as Christians; growth in our relationship with God, growth in our relationships with one another and growth in relationship with our community.
Read Pastor Tracey’s sermon, “Travel Light” here.
By Doug Hartline
About a month before I turned twenty-three I left home for the first time and moved twelve hours from home to Lafayette to begin graduate school. Though this is not typical for a person of my age, growing up in a family where my parents only ever lived 2 hours from home, to say this was an adjustment is an understatement. I lived in a small two room apartment roughly two and a half miles from campus. I moved out without a car, sparse amounts of belongings, and just under $5,000 to my name. I didn’t know anyone in town but I knew that this was going to be a great experience for me.
About a week after I moved out here I got a text message from a girl named Talia whom I had met a few days before while working our way through a practice recitation guide. The message read simply, “You seemed nice we are going to Sargent Preston’s tonight do you want to come?” Not knowing many people in town or what to expect I sent back just “Yes, but I will need a ride,” to which the response was, “Someone will come get you when it is time.” As promised about 7 pm my phone rang. It was another stranger who said her name was Olivia and she was outside my apartment to take me to Sargent Preston’s. Around our table sat six including myself; they were Mark, Ashlin, Olivia, Talia, and Colby – none of whom I had known prior to that night aside from their faces (with the exception of Talia). Our time was a spirited one with lots of discussion of all topics from home life to research. As the night drew to a close and we drank our last sips of beer and paid our tabs I felt a small smile cross my face. I said goodnight closing with “tonight I met my Purdue Family” a comment which was met with laughter but somehow I still knew was true.
So what happened to my Purdue family? Mark and Ashlin started dating and left the group soon after. I see them from time to time and know that they are happy. Colby would go on to join the same lab as me, and despite a rough start we would become very close. Through conversations with Colby about our faith I was encouraged to seek a deeper relationship with God. Olivia, who is present for most of our adventures, helped me find the apartment that I am living in now and even came along to help with the purchase of my first car. Talia also went on to join my lab. She commonly would give me a ride home if it was raining or I missed my bus before I had a car. Talia was also known for her words of encouragement and attending nearly all of our adventures as well.
Since those early days the family has gotten a little bigger, we still joke around, fight, make-up, and love each other. My father always said when we were growing up “family is the most important thing” and I think that this is true. Family is a bond that goes well beyond blood and circumstance and is not limited by our shared DNA but rather by the sharing of hearts and lives and caring for one another.
Read Pastor Tracey's sermon, "Hearts and Minds That Come Together," here.
By Mary Jo Risk
It was a week before Christmas, 2015. I had dropped my car off at the garage. They said it would be ready in about 4 to 5 hours. I finished my Christmas shopping and then walked to Starbucks. I ordered coffee and sat at a table by myself playing Words with Friends for about an hour. I glanced at my phone… still one to two hours to wait.
A man walked by, looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and said “hello.” He sat at the table next to me and we began to talk. First we talked about cars and the pros and cons of spending money on maintenance.
It was interesting the way our conversation evolved from cars to more personal beliefs and political observations. I remarked that I did not believe it was the job of the government to take care of all our needs. I could tell he didn’t agree with my conservative view. He was much younger than I and had not lived during the time when there was no government assistance. My family was poor having lost their home during the depression and my dad lost his job too. Some families lost their homes and had to put their children in orphanages because they could not take care of them. Some families even lived in tents in Murdock Park.
I was the youngest of six kids. My dad had a job in a factory and we had a house to live in. We lived near a railroad. Often people would stop at the back door of our house and ask for some food. My mother had a loving heart so she would always give them something to eat even though we did not have an abundance of food. My mom was thrifty. She took in laundry of Purdue students to supplement the family income. Back then the men all wore white shirts and dressed professionally. Most were veterans from World War II with help from the government on the GI Bill. I always believed that this government program was a wonderful way to “pay back” veterans who survived the war as they fought for our freedom. I had two brothers and one sister who served in World War II. They all benefited from the GI Bill. This was one government program that affected my family so I thought it was necessary!! Hmmmm!
I could tell that this African-American gentleman believed that the government should provide more support for poor families. His view was an eye opener for me and it illustrated how little I knew about the struggles of some African American families. He presented a different perspective than I had been aware of. Most people do not want to receive charity, but if they do not have a job and have a family to care for, it is very difficult.
We talked about the fear that people have of others not like themselves in skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender orientation, etc. Too often we prejudge these different groups and have fears about them because we do not know them.
Talking with this man that I just met opened my eyes to a need in myself to step out of my comfort zone and to reach out to others to try to get to know them; to try to understand their needs and to learn how I might be a disciple for Christ to share my life with others.
I am thankful that I have new eyes to see and love to share.
Read Pastor Tracey's sermon at: http://www.trinitylafayette.org/sermons/story-tellers
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