May/June 2010 - Vol. 40...

Transgenerational? You Bet!.

By Van and Janet Vandagriff

In our 55-plus years of marriage, our family has moved many times, but two of those moves were especially significant. In 1965, we moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Malawi in southeast Africa for three years; and in 1976, we moved to Ann Arbor to be a part of the Word of God community. 

The culture in Africa put us in a situation that unified us as a family, so that we came into community life in Ann Arbor as a “unit.” Our commitment to one another as family expanded and grew to become a broader commitment to our brothers and sisters in community.  From being a family unit amidst a new and different culture in Africa, we found ourselves becoming part of a bulwark that involved not only our family and our brothers and sisters, but others who were just coming into community life. 

Through the teachings of the community and through serving others, we have experienced ourselves becoming stronger as individuals, as a family, as members of Word of Life, and as a part of a bulwark for others. And it has been a source of great joy for us to watch our family plunge enthusiastically into community life! 

There is so much strength to be gained from living one’s daily life with other committed Christians. 

But there is extraordinary strength to be had from knowing that we – our children and their spouses, our grandchildren, and, in our case, our great grandchildren – are living out the Christian life precisely where God wants us to be!

[Van and Janet Vandagriff are members of Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan] 

Rooted Together in God's Word
by Jeanne Kun

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord's property, in his inheritance.
- Sirach 24:12

For the past forty years my life has been rooted in this people, a people among whom I have found a home. It has also been among this people that I have put roots down more and more deeply in God's word, making my home in God’s word and letting it find a home in me. I often think of this as "making God's word my own" – not only reading Scripture, but taking in God's word in all the ways it comes to us, loving it, embracing it, pondering it, allowing myself to be molded and taught by it, obeying it, speaking it and sharing it with others, holding it in the front of my mind. And in the community I have been surrounded by brothers and sisters trying, together, to make God's word "our own" – our guide, our way of thinking, our way of life. Over the years, gradually but steadily, it has been shaping us, building us up, transforming us, taking deeper and deeper root in us. Let's continue to allow God's word to  "find, in all its richness, a home with us" (Colossians 3:16, JB).

[Jeanne Kun is a senior woman leader in Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan and President of Bethany Association.] 

Putting God at the Center
by Sue Cummins

As a teenager I had a close relationship with the Lord. I wanted to live for God and to help others know his love. I was very moved by the words from John 15:13, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." I asked God to give me opportunities to lay down my life for others. I longed to share my life with people who put God at the center of their lives. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was longing for and praying for Christian community. God heard my prayers and brought me into Christian community when I was 20 years old. 

As I look back over 40 years of life in community, I am grateful to God for his faithfulness and love.  He gave me a group of people who love him and who loved me. More importantly, he gave me a place to love, and many opportunities to lay down my life for others. Christian community has provided me a context in which to live out my life as a disciple of Christ.  

As a woman living single for the Lord, I am encouraged by those who share the same vocation, but I am also encouraged and called on to greater holiness by the dedicated married couples who share their lives with me in community. Seeing them face trials and temptations with courage and perseverance gives me the courage to persevere. Their children bring me joy. I am grateful to my brothers and sisters for responding to God's call. I am grateful to the Lord for giving us the grace to commit our lives to one another. May we never take this great gift for granted!

Go to next page > Calling Out the Best in Us in Christ, by Bob Bell

Reflections from Founding Members of Covenant Community

These reflections are written by members of the Sword of the Spirit who were there from the beginnings in 1970 and have lived for 40 years in covenant community: 

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