The Bible study sessions in January/February 2020 issue of Gather remind us that God calls us all to a vocation. For some this means service in the church; for others this means faithfully loving and serving our neighbors in our careers, in our communities or homes. We asked you, Gather readers, to share how God has called you to do God’s work in the world. Here are several of your stories.
I have always appreciated Martin Luther’s acknowledgement that we can be called to serve God outside of traditional ministries. Luther said that vocation is primarily directed toward our neighbors, not to God. I felt this throughout my 25 years as a public librarian, helping people of all ages and backgrounds find the resources and information they needed for a fulfilling life. In return, the technology and communication skills I learned in my vocation paid benefits back to my church. What a great plan to maximize Christian service!
—Nancy Agafitei, Hosanna Lutheran Church, Houston
When I was an undergraduate student at California Lutheran University, my education professor, Dr. Allen O. Leland, said to me, “If you major in education, I could give you a teaching assistantship to help you pay for your schooling.” I told him, “I don’t want to be a teacher,” to which he replied, “It doesn’t matter. Wherever you live, there will always be a need for teachers.” So I double majored in biology and elementary education, but went on to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in entomology. I was determined to save the world through the biological control of insects. But it is funny how God had other plans for my life. I met my husband at Washington State University and got my my “Mrs.” instead of my Ph.D. Everywhere we have lived, there were no jobs for entomologists, but I always got a teaching job. After 42 years in education, I finally retired. God knew I was called to be a teacher, to bring love and meaning to the lives of the hundreds of students who passed through my classrooms. Thank you, Dr. Leland!
—Linda Endow Hall, Trinity Lutheran Church, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Moving can be difficult, physically and emotionally; and I experienced both while moving to the St. Louis area in 2014. At the Women of the ELCA Triennial Gathering in 2014, I heard Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, speak. Her passion and concern for helping women who had survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction was contagious. These traumatized women needed to relearn how to trust, make friends and function in everyday situations. This was especially challenging after moving to a new city and home, filled with strangers. Though I’d never experienced anything like what these women have been through, I could certainly relate to the difficulty of acclimating to a city and home.
I learned that Magdalene St. Louis (later renamed Bravely) had a similar mission, and it would be a great volunteer opportunity. Some friends and I began assembling welcome baskets with sheets, towels, lotion and shampoo for their new residents. We also started monthly “Breaking Bread” gatherings and cooking classes that provide meals and generate joy-filled, loving conversations and friendships.
—Vicki Haugen, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Manchester, Missouri
This article is excerpted from the January/February 2020 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.