Growing in Christ through a Lutheran Church

Liz Johnson, Gift Planner

growing-in-christ
L to R:  Joanie Norden Dorothy Zander, Thomas Jackson, Wayne Norden, and Judy Hohne from Advent Lutheran Church.

When one meets Thomas Jackson, one senses immediately his energy, determination, and gratitude for his journey with the Lord, regardless of the obstacles in his path along the way. For Thomas, a military veteran, there have been many obstacles. The musical band Rascal Flatts sings a song called “Bless the Broken Road” that could be a line from Mr. Jackson’s testimony: “I got lost a time or two, wiped my brow and kept pushing through, I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you.”

As a military veteran, he has experienced some hard times in finding his place back in a different environment. He has been determined to fulfill his God-given potential by using the initiative the Lord has planted in his heart to succeed. After many challenges, such as unemployment and a lack of a support system, God provided a conduit to help in a lost world.

It was a job fair sponsored by Near Northwest Management District in Houston in partnership with Advent Lutheran that lit a fire of hope in him. Remembering that new start, Thomas says, “I saw flyers announcing the job fair at Goodwill, Workforce Houston, and other places that made me think I needed to register for this opportunity.” At the job fair in early spring last year, he met several Advent business-people. He explains, “The job fair was the start of a change in my life, not just because of job opportunities, but because I met members of Advent who were genuinely concerned about me. They were caring human beings—Christ followers who reached out to me on a new level.” Thomas was invited to worship on Sunday morning and his relationship with Advent grew from there. He is in church on Sunday mornings ready to worship.

Between deliveries for businesses associated with members in the congregation and part-time work through congregation members, he gained confidence in his own abilities and began to earn trade certificates that demonstrated his skill for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning business.

As his confidence grew, so did his trust for the Lord. The congregation continued to reach out in a wide-variety of ways – each one a special blessing to Thomas.

Pastor Larry Beck of Advent wrote a character reference letter for his portfolio and the referrals continued to come. On December 22, 1915, Mr. Jackson took his boldest step yet and went before the Houston City Council to speak on behalf of those individuals committed to becoming gainfully employed. “I was prepared, yet anxious, but God gave me an inter-peace to represent myself. I wanted to plead my case and the case of others who need open doors to the work.”

Thomas now has a temporary job with the Houston Public Works Department. He works each day, living out his love for Christ by being there, on time and ready to work. “An approved worker is not afraid,” it says in 2 Timothy 2:15 “rightly dividing the word of truth.” And that is exactly what Thomas Jackson is doing. He is moving forward as the Lord opens doors, growing him spiritually while he grows as a productive employee ready for the next step. “I do not regret any of my trials because I know with each one I have become a stronger person of God for the future. God is blessing me each and every day; I am grateful for God’s hand upon me and for all the support I have received at Advent. I believe Advent to be an action-oriented church that lives out its calling on behalf of Christ, reaching out to others. I am so happy that they reached out to me.

If you know someone in need of employment and God lays on your heart a possible connection, please reach out with the love. Your efforts may make a tremendous difference in the life of an individual or family. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “as Christ loves others” is a resounding theme we can all pursue.