Stories of Faith

An Open Letter to the Congregation from Rick Saf

In a couple of short weeks, I will be attending my last regular Sunday service with all of you here and I just wanted to take a few minutes to express my gratitude to all of you.

For the past year, I have had the privilege of worshiping with all of you here at Journey Lutheran.  It was August 11th of last year when I first walked in the door…..completely broken and lost.  To be honest, I had not attended church in years, and it showed in my personal life. Which led me to where I am today.

I am thankful that my friend Pat and I drove by this beautiful church only a couple of days before because I truly believe that God was speaking to me…..to come back to him and this is the place He chose for me. While I have attended a number of churches in my life, I had never been so blessed to attend one that is so welcoming and inclusive.  You took a stranger from a far away place and made him feel included and cared for.

It was this very place that He decided to rebuild me not only as a person, but as a Christian….a Christ Follower. In just 12 months I have read and learned more from the Bible than I had in the 47 years previous.  That is in large part to all of you, what you represent to the community, the area, and around the world.

The selfless giving of time, money, and materials from all of you impressed me so very much.  You genuinely care about your church, your neighbors, and people world wide.  The good works done by the people of this church helped turn around my backwards thinking from years before. You have all inspired me to give even more of my time and talents to worthy causes than what I have done in the past.  For that I would like to say thank you.

I came here in part last year because I had nowhere else to go. I just lost the woman that I had waited 40 years for to marry. The one I loved so very much to a divorce I didn’t want. I thought that it was the end of the world for me because she meant everything to me. I came back to God because He blessed me with her for over 9 years and I knew I needed His help.  He was the only one who could help me.

Slowly but surely I have gained some of my strength and confidence back, but I still have a ways to go. But because of my renewed faith in my Lord Jesus Christ I know that I can make it.  As it says in Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Much of that strength came from being with all of you her.

In closing I would like to thank three very special people from this church who reached out to me when I needed a helping hand the most.  To them I will be eternally grateful and pay forward the incredible kindness that they have provided me.

Marcy Firl – You may be the unofficial ‘hugger’ of Journey Lutheran Church, but you ‘officially’ give the best hugs ever.  You saw a man in great pain one Sunday morning, you came over and introduced yourself to me and gave me a hug.  Somehow you knew just what I needed that day and so many other Sundays thereafter. Thank you so much for all of the encouraging words over the past year and all of the kindness that you have shown me.

Alice Pyka  – I remember the first Sunday you sat down next to me at fellowship last November. You saw the sadness in my eyes and you asked what was wrong. You befriended someone that had only one friend in this new place he was in. You listened, you shared, you comforted, and you encouraged me. All of the visits, all of the phone calls, all of the lunches together, all of the walks….you made me feel worthy of friendship again. You always say to me that you wish you could do more to help when your friendship is all that I need. Words will never be able to convey the gratitude I feel for what you have done. God bless you for everything.

Pastor Steve – As I said earlier, I have been to many churches over the years but never to one where I found a Pastor with the heart of this man. For the past calendar year, he has met with me each week to help counsel me spiritually as I have gone through the desert.  The incredible amount of time and effort that he has invested in me astounds me each time I think about it.  Pastor Steve has taught me so very much not only about the Bible, but about living a pleasing Christian life.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to help me through this.  And thank you for baptizing me September 29th of last year.  It really set me on my way for my new ‘journey’.  You are a blessing to this church and congregation and Journey Lutheran is very fortunate to have you here.

This is not goodbye as I truly plan to make treks down here from the Twin Cities as often as I can to worship with all of you.  It has been a privilege and an honor to be a part of this wonderful church.  You have much to be pleased and proud of.

God Bless all of you!!
Rick Saf