Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Safe Place

This year, the Fourth of July was a special day for my family. My younger brother, Mike, has been in the Army and serving as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery for the last three years. His time of service has come to an end, so the fourth was his last walk at the tomb. My parents, aunt, uncle, cousins and their spouses were all able to participate in watching Mike honor these fallen soldiers one last time. But for Mike, one of his greatest opportunities to show respect occurred on Memorial Day.
While instructing a group of four people in the wreath-laying ceremony, Mike noticed the one lady wore a button with a picture of her Marine son who died in Iraq. Throughout the ceremony the woman sobbed. After they were done and returned to a secluded place, Mike asked the lady if he could give her a hug. The tightness with which she clung to him caused him to weep. After all, he’s told our mom many times that he does this for the mothers who have to watch their children go off to war and then never seen them again.
While my own mother is able to see her son on a regular basis and hasn’t had to watch him go to war, she has seen him walk away and not yet come back spiritually. Mike was the preschooler who hated going to Sunday school. In an effort to help him willingly enter his class at four years old, my parents started teaching Mike’s class. My parents’ involvement allowed his early years to be full of good memories at church. But as he reached his teens, church no longer felt like a safe place. He was teased and unwelcome. So much so, at the age of sixteen he decided he no longer believed in God. Throughout high school his hair color and mood changed several times, and he couldn’t bring himself to say he loved our family. But we kept praying. Now twenty-three, he still doesn’t believe, but our relationship with him has been restored. In fact, yesterday he finished our phone conversation with “I love you.”
I know there are Michael Steiners in our ministry. Remembering his experience drives me to want to make sure your children always feel safe within the walls of Morning Star. Whether that safety is found physically in the way we staff our classes or found emotionally in the level of acceptance and love they feel, my prayer is that our kids are safe. And that safety they sense here is transferred to their relationship with Jesus, Who’s love never fails.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Jill. Mike continues to be a motivator...he was for me to "do" children's ministry for the kids who don't want to be there and now a new generation under you. Miracles do happen and the story isn't finished yet. It will be fun to see the next chapter!

Robyn said...

Jill's Mom,

Jill continues to be a blessing to me, and an encourager and instructor to me as a new Children's Ministry Director. Your influence on her is reaching Morning Star and future generations there, but North Albany Community Church is also better off because of your influence in the lives of your kids. Thanks for raising Jill to be so wonderful and such a godly young women. She is and has been a great example to far more people than you may ever know. Thanks Jill, and Jill's mom for your faithfulness and encouragement! Your influences reach far beyond the wall's of your churches!


Richmond said...

Jan & Jill

What a great blessing to have Mike back in a relationship with the family. Reading your post brought tear to my eyes as I remembered Jan sharing her heart ache while she was in Albany.

May God continue to bless and work miracles in Mike and the
Steiner family.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments Robyn and Brett...they reach all the way to Annapolis, MD. and it is truly and encouragement and a blessing to this OLD mom to see how God touches the generations! God bless you both in your ministries!
Jan Steiner

Sony Style USA