I've been composing the eSpirit for the last two years plus. I enjoy putting it together and try to make it look attractive so that people might be more drawn to it, to be more pleasing to the eye. But of course, most importantly, I want people to READ the eSpirit. To learn about the great events going on in and around the synod and then share the news and participate in these opportunities. I also hope they read the stories about how other congregations are carrying out God's Work. Our Hands. Or how they are being church together, and working with other congregations to share the Good News of the Gospel; or how they're opening doors to other people or organizations.
But week after week, I wonder if anyone is even reading the eSpirit. I often hear comments like, I didn't hear or know about that event, yet it was in the eSpirit for at least two weeks. We hear complaints when something isn't right, spelled wrong or was left out. I often wonder, is the eSpirit being read, is it being shared with congregations, does it do what it was intended to do? Not often do I hear anything positive!
On July 3rd, as I opened my inbox there was an email entitled Hello. It was from a name that I was not familiar with, however I still clicked on it, it opened up and began with a greeting and introduction. I took the time to read through the entire email. By the time I was done, my heart was moved. Here is what the email said:
My name is Gary Gjerstad. I'm a member of First Lutheran Church in Britt and reside in Britt.
I'm so appreciative that our church sends out the newsletter you put out so beautifully. I should mention, that I'm totally blind, & have been that way since birth. What's awesome about getting this newsletter, is that it's loaded with information as it relates to the Western Iowa Synod. For me, I'm able to hear the newsletter in full; because of special jaws software that I have on the computer.
To type you this message, I can type it. With my previous computer, it would say the letters as I type. With this one, it will simply say the word, once it is typed and I've pushed the spacebar. It merely shows that while sight may be nice, it's not always essential.
I'm glad that I took time to do some outreach with you, in terms of thanking you for such a meaningful outlet. I appreciate this more than you'll ever realize. What you're doing in a very real sense, is carrying out the great commission which Jesus commanded his disciples. This is a wonderful resource to keep informed as to what's happening. I wish you well. Thanks again.
I had to write Gary back and thank him for his kind words and let him know that I truly appreciated his email. This was the start of a several email exchange over the next few days. I was intrigued by Gary's emails and how he shared his love and passion for Christ in his posts. Gary's emails inspired me and I thought, maybe the sharing of his story could inspire others. So I asked him if he would be willing to write for a blog; after prayerful consideration he agreed and we were both anxious to get started.
So I introduce to you, Gary Gjerstad, my new friend that I haven't met yet!!
I hope you are moved and intrigued by Gary's story as much as I have been.
Lynn Egesdal, Deacon
Communication Coordinator for WIS