My First AA Meeting Shines with Hope

March 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

It’s not every day I attend an AA meeting. After I picked up a young lady at the rehab facility for her off-campus day outing, I discovered our first stop was—the AA meeting. I drove about 10 minutes to a white building, tucked near a park, on a dead-end street. Women and men, young and old walked inside taking a seat, some greeting others, while some simply took a seat.

I sat next to my friend on the wall, and I heard the testimony of Tim, a nice looking middle aged man, who spoke of his journey of alcohol and its hold on his life. He shared the victories in his life without the drink, and his discovery of ice tea at restaurants instead of beer. His new philosophy—keep it simple and take it one day at a time—with God at his side.

Larry spoke of attending his son’s high school football game, and going there sober, and of knowing he was going to remember the night with a clear head. He cheered his son on at the game and was confident he’d go to the next game.

Arturo lost everything a few years ago, and he spoke of his divorce and how that personal chapter sent him into despair. He thought, living without the woman he loved was not possible, so one night he ended up on the highway, got arrested and spent some time in a mental facility. He’s taking his recovery seriously, says he’s still lonely, but he is trusting in God with his life, and living in the present, and he’s staying focused and finding support from friends.

Britney shared how she spends a lot of time in the Bible processing what God says, and she mentioned she knows it involves surrendering her all to God, but she’s not quite there yet. She was quick to say she loves God and is working on becoming the woman she was meant to be.

Cliff shared his heart while sitting in his wheel chair. He’s an older man who leans on the group spiritually and emotionally, and is hanging on to his day, always looking for answers.

As I sat there in the room, I noticed a common thread—our need for love, our need for Jesus to be a part of our lives (even when we don’t know this), and how the heart of the broken and bruised is not only found in AA meetings—it’s all around, because we all hurt or feel lost or find ourselves lonely from time to time.

As simple as God’s love is, this bridge of hope can seem so far to the wandering heart. In reality the Lord is near the broken hearted, and in Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

On that morning, I found rest with some friends, and somehow, I needed them more than they’ll ever know. I never expected to cry—I never expected to feel the love—I never expected to find such hope; but when Jesus is at the meeting—grace and mercy rise up and take the front seat of our heart.

Standing for the Wrong Thing

February 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

This example of a young and energetic American missionary who went to Venezuela for his first term reminds me of how we may sit through church services not understanding or even trying to comprehend the message.

This missionary did try to understand by taking the time to learn the language, but he didn’t really get it. On his first day in Venezuela, he was late for church. He walked inside and slipped down the aisle to the only pew with a seat—on the front row.

During the service, he struggled to understand the message so he decided to pick someone near him to imitate. This way, everyone would think he knew the language.

The man sitting next to Mr. Missionary became the best choice and he started mimicking every action.

When the congregation worshiped and sang the missionary peeked at his neighbor’s

hymnal to see the page number. When the man stood up to pray, yes, the young missionary stood up too. When the man sat down, Mr. Missionary copied the move.

This makes me wonder how much we pay attention in church. After all, we do speak the same language don’t we? We should understand our preacher, right? But do we go into remote and forget to listen?

We stand. Sing. Sit down. Turn the page in our hymnals. We open our Bible. We mark the place with our finger. We look up and make eye contact with our preacher. We appear to understand.

We even use a yellow marker on scriptures. We nod in agreement. And we say amen at all the right places. But I must ask. What did your pastor preach on last Sunday? Now I’m meddling, back to Mr. Missionary.

He sat on the pew and tried to look just like that man. Do we do the same? Are we simply trying our best to look like everyone else?

Next, in this service the preacher gave announcements. Everyone clapped at something the pastor said, so Mr. Missionary joined in clapping his hands too. Then the preacher said some words that were even more confusing and the man next to the missionary stood up. So Mr. Missionary stood up too.

Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation, even a few people gasped, and a few fingers pointed at the two men—the only two standing. Mr. Missionary looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down.

After the service, the preacher shook hands with everyone as they left. He stretched out his hand to greet the missionary and spoke in English, “I take it you don’t speak Spanish?”

The missionary replied, “No, I don’t. Is it that obvious?”

“Well, yes. I announced that a family in our church had a new baby boy, and I asked the proud father to stand up. Seems there’s some discussion on who the father is now.”

As usual I see a lesson in this story because many of us attend church. We love to sing. We have our Bibles. But do we listen?

If you are imitating a person, be careful because before you know it—when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing up when you should remain seated.

So this Sunday if you are happy to remain an imitator then sit in the pew beside someone and copy him or her, clap and stand at random.

Or try this. Sit up front. Listen with your heart. Take notes. Apply the message to your daily walk—because John 8:47 reminds me that whoever belongs to God hears what God says.

Just be you, it’s better than imitating others—it frees you to sit on the pew of life with understanding, and you’ll clap at the right time. You’re the only you—there is, fearfully made and wonderfully loved by God. Beside, you don’t want to get caught standing for the wrong thing, now do you?

Refuge in the Storm

December 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe    –

When a tornado warning comes over my television, I gather up personal items and disappear to my bathroom. Some of my friends tend to make fun of me when they hear that I run for cover, and they laugh at the way I gather up belongings and pack them into the tub, but after the tornadoes I’ve heard about this year in Alabama and Missouri, I’m convinced more than ever to run and hide during storms.

I’ll continue to grab blankets and pillows to protect my head, my laptop, my back up drive, my schnauzer Macy, my Bible, two or three candles (lighting them prior to the electricity going out), my purse, eye glasses, and a flashlight.

Once I’m in the tub, I keep myself posted on the weather with updates on my cell phone, but it since it takes only a few minutes until I get bored, I’m ready to snap pictures of my dog as she sleeps on the quilt at the other end of the tub. She’s spent too many nights with me during storms and considers this a place to nap.

On my most recent visit to the tub a hail storm pounded the roof on my house and the winds ripped off branches from the trees in the back yard. And although my husband teased me, he joined me in the hall bathroom after sirens sounded off.

Our night ended with hail damage to both our vehicles and to the roof, but when I listened to the survivor stories in Alabama and those is Joplin, Missouri I found myself grateful and saddened—all at the same time.

A young lady described her night of terror, as she stepped back into her bathtub, the only remaining spot in her house. She folded up, got down on her knees, tucked her head in and said she had held onto the side of the tub.

Many people only had piles of debris in the places where homes once sat and block after block of houses lay splintered in massive heaps of rubble.

A man told his story, of how he too had crawled into the tub, taking his two dogs with him. At one point the suction pulled his pets into the air. They were flying above the man’s head and moving away from him.

The only thing that saved his dogs—he had them on leashes.

One man told of a donut truck flying through his living room. Another man got hit in the head by a Jeep.

A father cried as he looked for his six year old son, and yes, they found the boy alive some time later.

I saw a photo of a man holding a paper sack with these words: The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9.

Another photo showed a cross in a yard and choir robes in a destroyed church were unharmed in a closet.

Another photo showed a man as he flipped through a damaged photo album and diesel trucks were tossed into piles along the road, they looked like Tinker toys.

People hugged, many with their hands covering their mouths, and groups stood in the street shaking their heads. A man cuddled his cat. A dog looked for his owner.

Then I saw a photo of a Bible, a black leather one and it was sitting on debris.

A teenager walked around with an American flag draped over his shoulders.

Storms are scary, no matter if you hide from them in the tub or ride them out in the closet, and talk about fear—when deadly storms rush in, there’s not much a person can do—but hold on and pray.

And the next time I’m headed to the tub, I’m putting a leash on my dog so she won’t get away from me if the suction pulls on her. Maybe I’ll put a leash on my hubby too.

Speaking of leashes, this reminds me of how God’s leash of love is extended to us. He is ready to hold onto the broken hearted; those who are trying to recover and move on after devastating storms.

So let’s pray for the hurting—lift them up, lend a hand if you can because these folks need God’s hope. And to make it through to the next day, I pray God is their refuge in these hard times, and they find refuge in His love.

Children’s Book Leads Ladies to Jesus

October 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe   –

Do you wonder if you are making a difference? Or have you asked how certain events will impact the future for others?

Ten year ago, I wrote a story about a dog named Schade who tasted the foot of Jesus after he followed the shepherds to the manger. The premise for the book was based on Psalm 34:8 taste and see that the Lord is good.

In my original manuscript this stray dog becomes Jesus’ first pet—only much like the story which got tucked away inside of a box, we often feel like strays in life, wondering if we matter.

Encouraged by a series of events last year, I wanted to bring my story out of the archives, and I wanted to look at reworking the tale, to see what I might do with the poor lost dog that never made it into a storybook.

As I dusted off the pages, an amazing journey took place and Schade who seemed lonely was given a new friend, Priscilla, a sheep with an annoying personality trait of talking too much. She also thought she was called to do a makeover on Schade. He was her new project.

It’s like I heard Schade and Priscilla talking in my head, the playful way Priscilla would speak to Schade, and then in return I’d hear this gruff sounding dog sneeze at being allergic to Priscilla as he tried to run her off, to get her out and away from brushing his tail.

This children’s book took on new life; the banter between best friends jumped from the pages.

Then, I needed an illustrator and through another series of events I hired Ron Wheeler to draw my characters. He captured them exactly as I’d pictured and the book became a 32-page tale of tasting the goodness of God and discovering the makeover of the heart—comes from Jesus.

On May 11, 2011 the books arrived, and I took a copy to the Recovery Center where I hold Sunday morning church service. I shared the tale with my ladies, to take them to Ezekiel 34 in the Bible and how God is like our shepherd and how he is looking for the stray sheep.

By sharing this story from my book and then by using God’s Word to match our hearts with the love Jesus has for the stray, well—the altar call at the end of the service changed my own heart.

C-girl, one of the ladies in recovery came up to me, and she wanted to give her heart to the Lord. I prayed with her, our tears mixed with joy and she was spiritually renewed. Then, in a move that I credit to the working of the Holy Spirit, some 20 ladies also gave their hearts to Jesus as they wanted to make sure they were God’s kid, his child, that they were a part of the family.

I have only one thing to say about this entire story about Schade and his best friend Priscilla—the Lord is after the stray in all of us.

Never underestimate how God can use a story, how God can touch a life, how Jesus loves us—too much—to forget about us. He’ll never toss our life story away, or tuck it away in a box. He’s ready to bind our hearts with hope and give us a tasty life with Him, and it’s all about God’s timing!

Friends for Life

September 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

Manuela sat across the lobby from me at work. She was a temperamental argumentative type of person (not with me) so many folks didn’t even try to get to know her. Most just stayed out of her way.

Our friendship took place in California (when I was in my 20s) at a fast-paced bank near the airport, close to the beach. With all the people and traffic it was easy to get lost in a crowd, but for whatever reason I liked Manuela.

I was drawn to her, and yes, she was quirky and different—didn’t fit the mold, kind of like me. We took our 15-minute breaks and lunches on a set schedule, and with short spurts together for snacks and meals, she and I became friends during our time in the kitchen.

Eventually, we started to eat lunch outside the office, strolling through beach city boutiques followed by our grabbing sandwiches. We laughed, talked and bonded, becoming closer each day.

At first we lived near each other, I lived in a condo, and she lived around the corner in a brand new house, thus her desire to look inside shops, especially those which had rugs and house décor.

Toward the end of our first year as friends, I moved inland buying a home about an hour from work. Putting in for a transfer, I drove back and forth to the office, waiting to hear about my re-assignment.

Finally it came through, and I said goodbye to everyone at the bank, while making preparations to start at another branch office.

I realized I had not given Manuela my new phone number, so I jotted it down for her. I only had a land line, but I knew that I wanted to keep our friendship alive; I didn’t want the distance to keep us apart.

On the very day I wrote down the digits on a piece of paper, I had no idea that a sequence of numbers would lead to another sequence filled with pain, horror, death and murder.

For on that day—after the phone number exchange—tragedy rolled in like a tsunami hitting the beach. It changed everything, especially in regard to my faith and how I lived it out.

On Saturday morning, my phone rang; the sound on the ringer beeping, so I answered it. The voice on the phone said words which tore at my heart, as a horrible piece of news shocked my world.

Why couldn’t it be a dream? Why her? Who would do such a thing? Murder? Not to my friend? This couldn’t be happening.

The nightmare turned into a wave of suffocation, much like a rip tide of despair and it pulled me under. I had so many questions, and I was overwhelmed with sadness, doubt and tears, trying to sort through the details.

For you see, someone had gone into Manuela’s house at her back door. A serial killer left her for dead. But at one point, she must have been struggling to live, holding on, because she grabbed the piece of paper with my phone number on it.

She had held the number in her palm. Had she tried to call me? Would she have lived if I’d gotten the call? Did she even get to dial one digit?

Manuela’s death became one of the saddest days in my life, because I never once shared my faith with her. I never once talked about God’s love for her. I didn’t even know what she believed about God.

This weighed on my heart, because we could have been friends for life, ready for an eternal shopping spree in heaven.

Life rushes in, and it can be taken away in the blink of an eye, before the night gives way to the next sunrise.

So for all the Manuelas who are lost in a crowd—for anyone wandering around in the boutique of life—God is looking for you. He’s the hope for your life. You matter. You are important. He holds you in His palm even if you think He’s forgotten your phone number.

That’s good news because the Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

So dial His number. Check in. And stay awhile. God wants to be friends for life.

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