Thankful to Serve

Written by Cheryl Broetje, President and Cofounder

John Sein (NELA Middle Schooler) took this photo of Karen, Nataly (Middle Schooler), Kaitlin, and Jesenia during their passion project time with Broetje Family Trust Communications team. Nataly and John Sein are using their gifts and talents to design and write a student led newsletter.

Broetje Family Trust emerged as the result of the sale of Broetje Orchards in 2019. Our gratitude for all the families who came over the years to help breathe life into a vision God first planted in Ralph’s heart when he was still a youth, inspired the creation of this Trust, intended as a legacy to continue on with the mission of bearing fruit that will last. Our goal is to nurture and increase in the number of engaged residents who live in flourishing communities as they take care of each other, including the land that supports life in that place. As our teams tended the orchard together, the trees showed their gratitude back to us through the bearing of abundant crops of fruit. The really amazing thing was that almost every year, such abundant crops of fruit were produced that we had enough to take care of our needs and enough left over to share with people in other places, who found themselves also passing through seasons of scarcity, loss and suffering. In 2 Cor. 1: 3-4, Paul tells us that the Lord comforts us in times of need so that we may comfort others as we have been comforted.

One way we do that is through NELA, a K-8 school and initiative of the Trust. This fall, Middle-schoolers are studying justice while preparing to become future advocates for justice in the world, starting with the places they live and work. Many of these students (and staff as well) have come through extremely challenging circumstances in their own lives, so they know how important it is to give back to others in need now. In turn, they challenge and inspire staff across the Trust by speaking out against such injustice as wars, famine, chronic poverty, race and gender bias, and natural disasters that appear to threaten the lives of those who find themselves caught up in the chaos.

Our NELA students are given opportunities to explore future vocations to service. It takes seeing, listening, caring adults who offer opportunities to practice in community with others. These communities of practice come with built-in opportunities to practice compassion and caring from the heart for one another, including the giving and receiving of confession and forgiveness. Without that, it is hard to feel grateful enough to afford the sharing of priceless, unique gifts that each of us has been chosen to steward with those who have offended us, whether knowingly or unconsciously. I Cor. 4:7 tells us that everything we have has been given to us, not by our achievement but as the recipients of grace and mercy – unmerited favor.

This year I am very grateful that God chose to plant me in the work of the Trust. I get an up-front opportunity to witness people who choose to give themselves daily as Spirit carriers; to serve, inspire and help people grow, while keeping eyes out for the one sitting on the sidelines, perhaps about to give up. Even when it’s been a bad day, when we let each other down, it is life-giving to watch folks show up to try again the next day with hope in their hearts and faith that somehow all shall be well, though we know nothing of it. So, we keep planting new seeds destined to produce life-giving fruit that will last even though we may not see the budding of new life soon…or ever. On those days we must trust in the Lord to be our peace.

During this season of Thanksgiving, who or what issue might the Spirit be asking you to offer up as your sacrifice of praise to God in return for such love? There are lives everywhere, hanging in the balance.

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