For over 50 years, Grace Lutheran Church has been a part of the Upland community. We were here when most of the neighborhood was still citrus trees. We were here when California was booming and lots of people were moving west. We were here during the recent recession and housing market crash. Though a lot’s changed since Grace Lutheran Church began, our mission has stayed the same: Seeing lives changed by God, Father, + Son and Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy our site and invite you to visit our faith family sometime soon!
A recent article about how one of our members lives out his life of faith as a police officer:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are called the Four Evangelists. The word evangelist means, “messenger with good news”. The four Gospel writers are not the only evangelists—the church is full of them! Below is the story of one of our evangelists at Grace Lutheran Church, a witness to the way Jesus works in our lives [The following story contains mature themes]:
Rich probably wouldn’t describe himself as an evangelist, a messenger who brings good news. For the past 13 years he’s been a police officer for a southern California police department. On most days delivering good news isn’t part of the job description. In fact, there’s enough bad news that becoming jaded is a real occupational hazard.
For the last two years, since his family was baptized and he affirmed his baptism, Rich has been coming to Grace Lutheran Church. For Rich, part of the journey of faith has meant considering what it means to live out the baptized life where he works. What follows is a story of God using Rich to be an evangelist, a bringer of Good News.
I was backing up another officer on a call. I roll up and there’s this guy, total gangster, sitting on the curb. He was all tatted up and was on parole for robbery. I start some small talk and he tells me he had just gotten out of prison the day before and wouldn’t be surprised if he went back. I asked him why? He said he found out his cousin, who was like a sister, had been raped by a guy and he wanted to kill him. I told him he didn’t want to do that, that we would catch him and he’d end up back in prison. We talked some more and I asked him if he believed in God? He said he hadn’t really thought about it. We talked about what it meant to believe and to pray.
The primary officer came up and said he was free to go. As I turned around to leave, he said, “Hey, can I ask you something?” I stopped and said, “Sure.” He said, “Do you really think God would forgive me for everything I’ve done?” I told him, “Yes. Believe and pray. God will take care of you.” His eyes started to tear up. Then I told him, “Let God take care of this other stuff, too. He’ll take care of your cousin and the guy who did this to her. That guy will have to answer for that.”
With that I went back to my car and everyone left. I’ll probably never see him again. To be honest, I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. Gangsters like him represent the worst of what we see every day—people who care only for themselves and have no regard for anybody else. I wonder what he did when he left?
Thanks for your story, Rich. While we may not think of ourselves as evangelists this is a great story of how God uses us to share the Good News of Christ, the hope for forgiveness and a future that is different than our past. Considering the circumstances, is there anyone else God could have used to share news with this man?