Clergy Corner: Family stories of great faith in God

Photo courtesy of Hemet Valley Christian Church
Dr. Richard Puls is senior pastor at Hemet Valley Christian Church.

■ Dr. Richard Puls / Contributed

My wife, Beth, is currently researching her family history using one of the genealogy sites. So far, she has gone back into the 17th century on her father’s side of the family tree. She already knew that she was related to Ethan Allen, and she found several relatives who lived in Vermont. She also has a great-great-great-great-grandfather who died in the confederate military prison in Andersonville, Georgia during the American Civil War. That information was a little surprising since her father’s family lived in the southern states. She assumed that they would have been sympathetic to the confederate cause.
Even before beginning this research, Beth knew that her maternal grandparents were Christian missionaries to Japan prior to World War II. They left Japan on a Red Cross ship after hostilities broke out with China. During the war, Beth’s grandparents worked among those of Japanese ancestry in the United States, who were forced to live in relocation centers, such as Manzanar. After World War II ended, her grandfather was the first Protestant missionary to re-enter Japan. Eventually, her grandparents settled on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and planted about 10 churches on the island.
Our children know this story and many others about our ancestors. Beth and I are collecting and beginning to record more of these stories in our family histories to share with our children and our 12 grandchildren. One of our treasured possessions is a prayer journal written by Beth’s grandmother, Shirley. It’s a simple spiral notebook with line after line of prayer requests she made for one year. Each of the lines is crossed out, with God’s answer to the prayer written above it and the date the answer came. There is page after page and line after line of answered prayer. If we ever need a boost to our faith in God, we can read this prayer journal and literally see God in action.
Psalm 78:1-4, says, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (ESV).
As adults, we have the privilege of sharing our family stories with others, especially with our children, grandchildren, and even our great-grandchildren. It’s especially important that we share the ways in which God has blessed, guided, and restored our families through both good and difficult times. Our spiritual heritage is one of the most important possessions that we can pass to future generations.
As grandparents, we are the guardians of our family narrative. One of the ways to be a fabulous grandparent is to take opportunities to enrich the lives of our grandchildren with these family stories of great faith in God. There are many other ways that you can be a fabulous grandparent, which we will gladly share with you at our Senior Workshop at 10 a.m. on May 4 at Hemet Valley Christian Church, 330 S. Franklin St., Hemet.


Dr. Richard Puls is the senior pastor at Hemet Valley Christian Church, located at 330 S. Franklin Street, Hemet. Dr. Puls has more than 30 years of pastoral experience. He received his bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministries from Hope International University, a master’s degree in Christian education from Grace Graduate School, a second master’s degree in counseling psychology at Pepperdine University and a doctorate in psychology at American Behavioral Studies Institute. As a therapist, he has counseled hundreds of individuals and couples, spoken on topics of change and growth, led seminars on psychological issues, and taught graduate courses on therapy.

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