Minister’s Message: The little church that could

It is said that compassion is sympathy with helpful action

By Roger Holl

When my wife Melissa and I started Sterling Grace Community Church, we never conceived of the impact it would have on people’s lives. It is a church plant of VisionAlaska and meets in Sterling. The comment we hear is that people love the church because we teach the Bible and not something else. So much of the Bible is counter-intuitive to the way we humans think. Yet, when we give, we become blessed. When we pray, prayers are answered. When we love and care about others, they are enriched. We then feel the depth of God’s love. We begin to understand the depth of the abundant life Christ promised us.

Over a year ago, an African pastor and director of an impoverished orphanage saw one of my YouTube presentations and contacted me. I soon learned of his rural African congregation in Kenya of 125 people. They meet in a corrugated metal building held up by a wood frame. He and his congregants saw starving little children on the streets. The people of his church sold their cows and built a long mud house with a dirt floor to house 41 orphans.

The children range in age from toddlers to 15 years old. Each of the older ones has great hope for careers as doctors, nurses, pastors, teachers or pilots. The Sterling Grace Community Church stepped in. I coach this pastor often online. Our church provided funds for a water well, so the children do not have to walk for two hours every night to bring back water for the orphanage from a muddy river. Our church bought the adults Bibles in Swahili and the children school books and Bibles in English. The children were suffering from famine, so we leased farmland and bought seed and fertilizer. We bought some clothing and more food.

Today, we are raising funds for an inexpensive brick girl’s dormitory that will be better than the mud house they live in. I am so impressed with this young pastor and his love and compassion for starving orphans. Something else is happening. The traditional enemy of these people is the nearby Masai Tribe. Perhaps you have heard of Masai warriors. But some come to his church and see what God is doing. Now VisionAlaska has helped them acquire land for a new Masai church and Bible Institute for training regional church leaders.

Where do we get compassion? It is said that compassion is sympathy with helpful action. Jesus Christ told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but believers are characterized by fruit of the Spirit as they change and grow deeper in the love of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” Galatians 5:22-23. When we see people in need, God wants us to show our love, peace, endurance, kindness, and goodness.

Whether it is in Africa, Florida or Alaska, let us show our kindness and faithfulness to others in need.

Roger Holl, D.Min. is pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. The church meets Sunday mornings at 10:30 am at the Sterling Senior Center. All ages are welcome.

More in Life

Promotional image via the Performing Arts Society
Saturday concert puts jazz, attitude on stage

Lohmeyer is a former local music teacher

The author holds a copy of Greta Thunberg’s, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference,” inside the Peninsula Clarion building on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Thunberg speeches pack a punch

“No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference” is a compilation of 16 essays given by the climate activist

White chocolate cranberry cake is served with fresh cranberries. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Hard-to-ruin cranberry cake

This white chocolate cranberry cake is easy to make and hard to ruin — perfect for my students aged 3, 6, 7 and 7.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: It’s March

March is the trickster month, probably why we see so much raven activity these days

After Pres. Woodrow Wilson commuted his death sentence to life in prison, William Dempsey (inmate #3572) was delivered from Alaska to the federal penitentiary on McNeil Island, Wash. These were his intake photos. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks archives)
A Nexus of Lives and Lies: The William Dempsey story — Part 7

The opening line of Dempsey’s first letter to Bunnell — dated March 19, 1926 — got right to the point

Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel in “The Last of Us.” (Photo courtesy HBO)
On the Screen: ‘The Last of Us’ perfectly adapts a masterpiece

HBO unquestionably knew they had a hit on their hands

Chocolate cake is topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A cake topped with love (and white chocolate cream cheese)

He loved the frosting so much he said he never wants anything else on his cake

In 1914, Pres. Woodrow Wilson appointed Charles Bunnell to be the judge of the Federal District Court for the Third and Fourth divisions of the Alaska Territory. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks archives)
A Nexus of Lives and Lies: The William Dempsey story — Part 6

Prosecution lawyers were fortunate to have a fallback plan: witnesses to the crime.

The author displays her daily vitamin, three yellowish clear bubbles of Vitamin D, and 20 mg of Paxil. (Photo by Meredith Harber/Minister’s Message)
Minister’s Message: Accepting all parts of your story of growth

I started taking Paxil almost six years ago, after a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression

Most Read