Our Blog

Conversations on Faithfulness

main image

Happy Anniversary Central! Isn’t it amazing and humbling to reflect on 175 years of God’s faithfulness to our church?

As the anniversary date approached this spring, the Family Ministries Team and I started thinking about how to include our kids in this church-wide celebration. As we brainstormed, we recognized this as a great discipleship opportunity for all of us. We started thinking about how we, as a church body, are intentionally trying to communicate Central’s long history in a way that glorifies God and proclaims Him as the lone hero of it. This God-glorified telling doesn’t come naturally to us, does it? Our tendency is to attribute God’s faithfulness to something we’ve done, or some pastor we’ve had, or in light of some resource we’ve acquired.

But when we look closer, it’s clear we have no business celebrating 175 years, do we? This church, like all other churches, is filled with and lead by sinners saved by grace alone who don’t deserve 175 days, hours, or even seconds of God’s favor.

How do we give our kids this vision? How do we help them see God’s gracious work in their own lives? How do we train the next generation to tell their stories in a way that glorifies God?

First, let's give them practice. Let’s encourage them to share the moments that make up their days really listen when they do. Let’s gently and patiently guide their testimonies so they point to God’s bigger Story. Second, let's train gratitude.  Let’s open their eyes to new mercies every morning and amazing grace every night.  Let’s acknowledge life’s hardships, but frame them with thankfulness and God’s provision.

All year long, we’d like to give our kids an opportunity to practice sharing their personal stories with humility and gratitude. Sunday school leaders nominated students in their class who might be up for this challenge and we’ve chosen some of these for recording.  We’ll share these recordings throughout this anniversary year.

But this is only the beginning, isn’t it?

For our kids to be better God-tellers than we are, we must be willing to walk with them in this learning. In our own narratives, may we let them close enough to see our clumsy erasing of our own goodness while adding shadows of God’s greatness.  May every child get a safe, front row seat to true repentance, thankfulness, and humility.  And may our kids hear so many of our stories that they learn that God’s faithfulness is expressed in unlimited and unique ways.

Episode 7: Sam #3's Story

Episode 6: Sarah's Story

Episode 5: Sam #2's Story

Episode 4: Lizzie's Story

Episode 3: Sam's Story

Episode 2: Jackson's Story

Episode 1: Noelle's Story

Posted by Karen Brown with 1 Comments

Harvest Family Spotlight - Tamang Family

Dhan and Chandra Tamang (and Suk, Dhan’s mother) were born in the country of Bhutan.   Located north of Myanmar and Bangladesh, on the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and is governed as a Buddhist theocracy. 

In 1988, Bhutan launched a national policy demanding that everyone adhere completely to Buddhist traditions, mandating that all citizens of Bhutan become one in language, dress and faith.  Violent protests and ethnic antagonism broke out, and thousands of Bhutan’s Nepalese residents fled to Nepal.  Among those fleeing were Dhan, Chandra, and Suk, who for the next 18 years, found themselves permanently entrenched in a refugee camp.  Conditions in the refugee camp were hardly even basic, and often inadequate.  They lived in bamboo shacks and used outdoor latrines; malnutrition and disease were overwhelming issues in the camps; food was provided by UNHCR.  It was in the refugee camp that Dhan and Chandra Tamang were married and had their first son, Dinesh. 

In 2007, the Tamangs applied for refugee status in the US. They were processed through the International Organization for Migration and landed in St Louis in June 2009.  They knew minimal English when they arrived and Dhan was provided a job, but he soon realized that language was a major obstacle to providing for his family.  Through the International Institute of St Louis, Dhan received some ESL (English as a Second Language) training while they lived in an apartment close to the Institute.  It was challenging to have ESL training and work at the same time. They had to pay back their travel expenses and begin paying for their rent and utilities within 6 months of arrival.

Some time soon after, Central hosted a Thanksgiving worship service and meal to which many Nepali refugees were invited, with transportation provided from New City Fellowship South by Dwight McKinney and Central members.  It was at that Thanksgiving worship and meal that many refugee families were met and contacts were made for future gardening.  The Tamangs were one of those families. 

The Tamangs say that Christians welcomed them immediately by providing basic necessities and visiting their family in their home, even when they had nothing.  Volunteers with the Harvest ministry visited weekly and spent hours gardening together, continued with tea in the winter months, and shared food, as well as a Genesis Bible study about Adam and Eve in the garden.  Sara, Marjorie, Liz, and Deb became part of the family, celebrating births, birthdays, 4th of Julys, and more.  Dhan states, “we became a family”.

Since then, their children have come consistently to Backyard Bible club and Kid’s Night out. They know the Gospel message and can recite it, although at present continue to be Hindu. Gratefully, seeds have been planted and God’s word does not come back to Him void. 

Dhan and Chandra Tamang live in Affton, with their 3 boys, Dinesh, Deepesh and Diwas, and mother Suk.

If you would like to learn more about Harvest and hear how you can get involved in this local outreach ministry, please join us on Saturday, May 4, from 10am-12pm for a special meeting/training event.

Joyful Waiting

As the saying goes in St. Louis, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait.” We have seen some dramatic examples of that this winter, haven’t we? From below zero to the mid-60s in a matter of days, it has been quite the roller coaster this year. Personally, I’m pretty much done with winter. I am ready for spring to be ushered in, when barren trees become lush and when chirping birds return. I am ready for baseball season, for barbecues, and for pleasant (sans-winter coat) walks in the neighborhood with my family.

 Our recent sermon series in Philippians has me thinking a lot about the age to come. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” As much as we want to speed up the arrival of the renewal of springtime, how much more is the return of Jesus worth offering the yearning of our hearts! The inescapable pain and death of this present life will be purified as we see the Creation restored in ways that we can only imagine. No more cancer. No more failing marriages. No more scarcity. Those sins that so often beset me will no longer plaster me with shame and fear. We will live as God intended us to live, finally.

 So what are we to do in the winter of life if Jesus does not return tomorrow, or in our lifetime? The season of Lent begins in early March this year, and while we do not formally observe it, I think it is a wonderful season to reflect on this question of waiting. With our eyes toward Easter, waiting expectantly to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, how might we warm our hearts during these final days of winter?

 Gratitude. One of the greatest challenges of our lives in this present age is that it is polluted by darkness. The darkness of death, of sickness, and of our sin. It is hard to see rightly in the dark. But if the Lord would give us eyes to see, we would see light penetrating the darkness, even now. Where are you seeing light in your life or in the lives of others, and how can you show gratitude for it? Like a 60-degree day in the dead of winter, gratitude can revive our souls in powerful ways. It allows us to see God at work, even in the midst of pain. It encourages those around us, and gives them strength to carry on through their own trials.

 Repentance. The effects of the fall and of our sin are very real, and pervasive in all the earth. As we wait for Jesus to return, it can be tempting to see the problem as exclusively “out there.” No doubt, there are myriad problems “out there.” But let’s not kid ourselves…there are many problems right here at home, in my heart and in yours. When we repent of our sins with hearts flooded by his powerful and renewing grace, to God and to one another, sunshine comes bursting into the frozen tundra of our lives in profound ways, thawing our hardened hearts and restoring our broken relationships. The enemy of our souls does not want us to repent, because he knows how powerful it is to overcome his evil plans to destroy us. What might you repent of in the days ahead, and how might God use that to breathe restoration into the world through you?

Encouragement. There is no escaping the reality of this present darkness, unfortunately. A stiff upper lip is not going to cut it when real pain and struggle come to winter in our lives. I have the privilege of walking with so many of you through your struggles – struggles that are exceedingly painful for you and for those that you love. In the midst of our struggles, we need to be encouraging one another with the certain hope that Jesus is reigning at the right hand of the throne of God, and he is coming again. When we are down, we need fellow believers in our lives to point us back to this certain hope as we walk together through our pain. Encouraging one another in this way gives us the strength to continue to run the race set before us. 

 As we enter into the month of March (and the end of winter, in theory), we ask the age-old question: will it come in like a lion, and go out like a lamb? And don’t even get me started on our furry little friend, Punxsutawney Phil. I’m pretty sure he didn’t see his shadow this year. Spring feels like a long time coming, and regardless of our favorite cultural superstitions I think we can all agree on that. Within our yearning for springtime we can hear an echo of our yearning for the age to come and Jesus’ triumphant return. Let’s reflect on that glorious truth together in these coming days with gratitude, repentance and encouragement.

Posted by Clay Smith with 8 Comments

12345678910 ... 1920