Monday, June 22, 2009

Hans Grapje

For the third year, our church is embarking this week on our annual "Volunteers In Mission" trip ... right here in Flint, Michigan.

During this one week "mission trip," we repair, paint, and remodel homes for needy neighborhood residents who cannot afford to do it themselves. Last year we re-roofed, painted, replaced stairs, repaired decks, painted porches and rails, and fixed several plumbing problems ... all for free as a physical expression of our love for Christ and his commandment to "feed His sheep."

This year my wife and daughter are on the mission. Each year the number of people helping out has grown as the mission has become more popular and well-known. I believe they expect between 40 and 60 people to be working this week. Most of the team stays right at the church for the entire week - just as they would if they left town for a mission trip - and that helps build camaraderie, as well as broadening and deepening the experience for everyone.

That's my wife, modeling the tee shirt, by the way.

I love the Scripture verse the team picked for this trip: Hebrews 3:4 ... "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything."


Hans Grapje was raised in a Catholic school in The Hague and, as a young man, aspired to become a priest, but was drafted into the Army during World War II and spent two years co-piloting aircraft until his plane was shot down in 1943 and he lost his left arm.

Captain Grapje spent the rest of the war as a chaplain, giving spiritual aid to soldiers, both Allied and enemy. After the war, he finally did become a priest, serving as a missionary in Africa, and even piloted his own plane - despite his handicap - bringing aid and spiritual succor to villages across the continent.

In 1997, Father Grapje was serving in Zimbabwe when an explosion in a silver mine caused a cave-in. Grapje went down into the mine to administer last rites to those too severely injured to move. While there, another shaft collapsed, and he was buried alive for three days, suffered multiple injuries, and lost his right eye.

While trapped, the high silver content in the air that had become exposed as the walls collapsed gave him purpura, a life-long condition characterized by purple skin blotches.

Although Father Grapje's exploits eventually were responsible for elevating him to Archbishop and then Cardinal, church leaders everywhere agreed that despite all his wonderful accomplishments and humanitarian service, he would never ascend to the Papacy.

Because no one wants a one-eyed, one-armed, flying purple Papal leader.

[with groaning thanks to Pastor Tim's Cybersalt Digest]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: We'll look at a Greek word today. "Homos" means "same." It was expanded to "homilos" which meant a crowd, or a group of similar people. From there it became "homolein," which was to be together in the company of a group of people with the same attributes. Then it turned into "homilia," which means instruction. We know it as the word "homily," which is an instructive discourse. Most contemporary meanings also seem to indicate that it's a short discourse. Shorter, say, than a sermon.


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