The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Lessons in grace and courage

Every spring when not producing videos for the ELCA, I can be found coaching Little League baseball in suburban Chicago. This year’s team featured 14 boys aged 9 to 12. It’s a great opportunity to combine a love for the game with the joy of helping young men learn about teamwork, victory and defeat.

We met Dennis at a night shelter for children in northern Uganda.
I’ve just returned from northern Uganda, where I recorded footage for an ELCA documentary set to air on NBC in fall 2007. Northern Uganda is torn apart by 20 years of war, child abduction and terror. More than 300,000 people live in crowded, makeshift camps, “protected” by government soldiers they often fear more than the rebels.

As part of the story, we visited a children’s night shelter. More than 500 boys and girls aged 7 to 16 enter the fenced camp to sleep on concrete floors. The dormitories are sterile but safe. No dinner or breakfast is served. The camp is divided, one side for boys and one for girls. It’s a program run by the Church of Uganda, a part of the Anglican Communion and a partner with the Lutheran World Federation. Inside the shelter the children are safe both from abduction by rebels and from violence in the crowded camps.

One night before bedtime, we met Dennis, a 12-year-old leader in the camp. He is also head boy at the local public school. His bright smile and raspy voice won me over.

When asked if the boys would sing us a song, Dennis broke into a Christian hymn, his strong, clear voice leading the group. “Singing makes me happy,” one of the boys said. “When I’m hungry I sing.” The combination of grace and incredible suffering overwhelmed me.

Next spring I’ll be back on the diamond, coaching baseball. As the season unfolds, I’ll carry the memory of Dennis and his friends. The grace and courage of those boys made a lasting impression. I’ll also do my best to coach with those ideas in mind and pass them on to the kids on my team.

This week's front page features:

'Not science': Judge John E. Jones. Lutheran tells about his history-making, intelligent design decision. (Photo at right.)

Going green with bananas in Costa Rica: Lutherans support growers.

Pumpkins aplenty: Wisconsin congregation's vegetables stock food bank.

Bob's 'Duct Tape Bible': Its wear shows the power of the word.

Also: Worship book tells our story.

Also: Focus on evangelism.

Also: Balance.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann writes about worsening conditions in Darfur, Sudan.

Elizabeth Hunter blogs about Bible gardens.

Amber Leberman writes about Christian music and the Bored-Again Christian podcast.

Julie Sevig urges blog-readers to see the movie “Jesus Camp.”

Daniel Lehmann (right) writes about attending the Bach at Saint Peter’s Festival in Midtown Manhattan.

Sonia Solomonson blogs about the importance of forgiveness.

Check out our blog (and leave a comment) > > >

Discuss the October issue of The Lutheran:

Join the hearty conversation about The Lutheran magazine's coverage of evolution and intelligent design in our discussion forums.

Or tell us what you thought of other articles in the October issue.

Join the discussion > > >

Share your evangelism tips:

Reader George C. Weirick challenged the staff of The Lutheran: "Tell us about programs that work, or unusual or new evangelism methods."

Send us your tips via e-mail, with a brief description (two or three paragraphs), along with contact information for those wanting more background.

The staff will review submissions and start publishing the best as a regular item on the “Currents” pages.

Or respond online > > >

Last chance! Take our 2007 topics survey:

Sunday, Oct. 15, is the deadline for you to help us decide the topics for The Lutheran’s cover stories in 2007.

Tell us which 10 topics you’re most interested to read about in The Lutheran. Results will appear in the January issue.

Take the survey > > >

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February issue


Embracing diversity