March 5, 2007

Faith with Feet
Pastor George Van Alstine

During my first pastorate in Massachusetts, our church was very close to Camp Tispaquin, a complex of simple cabins and rustic meeting and dining areas that had been built over the years by the New England Baptist Conference churches. Tispaquin Pond was named after a Native American tribal group that may have encountered the Pilgrims.

Much of the construction at the camp during its early years had been done by the Swedish Baptist pastors who wanted to provide a memorable spiritual experience for the young people of their churches, and a good deal of the maintenance was still being done by some of the old guard pastors when I was there. Since our church was one of the nearest to the camp, I usually made their workdays and was able to get to know this passing breed of Swedish-American pioneer pastors on a non-clerical level.

We had a lot of fun. Since these guys were all from the generation before me, they were quite encouraged to see a younger minister get involved. Pastor Harry Aronson called me “Der Fliegender Hollanderâ€? (“The Flying Dutchmanâ€?), and one time said through his thick accent, “Van Alstine, you are a benediction!â€? That&rs quo;s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

One work day, during a coffee break, a few of these guys got to reminiscing about past experiences at Camp Tispaquin. One of their stories has stuck with me.

“You remember that time the sink broke in the kitchen? It was the Saturday before camp was to open, and we didn’t know what we were going to do. Of course, we got down on our knees and prayed about it. It was a good prayer meeting. We were all calling out to God, thanking him for all the blessings people had received at Tispaquin and asking him for one more gift of his love—a new sink for the kitchen.â€?

“Yah. And you remember when we got done praying, we looked around and said, ‘Where is Einar Gustafson?’ He had disappeared while we were praying. And while we were trying to figure it out, here comes Einar’s old truck put-put up the road from town.â€?

“Yah. And in the back of his truck was a brand new sink—the answer to our prayers.â€?

“Yah, good old Einar. He worked hard, but he didn’t like to pray much.â€?

“God sure answers prayer, doesn’t he?â€?

“Yah. Sure.â€?


Well, I never met Einar Gustafson, but I’ve really liked him ever since I heard that story.

Sometimes we agonize in prayer, when we could solve the problem pretty simply by taking action ourselves.

I call Einar’s example “Faith with Feet.â€?