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Faith in America: Your stories

Hoopersville United Methodist Church organist Teena Gorrow walks to services Sunday Nov. 21, 2004. (AP Photo/ Matt Houston)
Hoopersville United Methodist Church organist Teena Gorrow walks to services Sunday Nov. 21, 2004. (AP Photo/ Matt Houston)Matt Houston / AP file

Your Assignment: Faith in America  Faith is a uniquely personal experience yet it has been part of a very public dialogue in recent days.  MSNBC readers respond how faith shaped has shaped their personal or public life? (We are no longer taking submissions on this topic.)

Your reports:
Having been raised in the Episcopal church, I was taught how to have a relationship with God. I was taught the power of prayer and told that God loved me. Faith is not something you can see. Faith believes in higher power, that God watches over us always. I believe the most amazing religious experience I witnessed was after my mom's stroke. Three days in a coma, my priest came to give her communion. I explained the situation and that she would not be able to participate in the Eucharist. He said he would perform the service anyway and then maybe I would benefit from it. Before he finished the service, my mom had awakened and began saying Amen at the end of each prayer. After days of prayers and believing we had already lost her, she came back. She recovered and lived another wonderful 13 years. This was a blessing I will never forget. God is with us when we are happy. God feels our pain when we suffer. And I believe God is with us to take us home the moment we leave this life. Through my relationship with God I am living a blessed life, for which I am eternally grateful. I pray my kids know this same kind of faith in their lives. —Cathy Steele, Mill Valley, Calif.

My prayers reach out in faith to touch the lives of families who have lost one of their children, God has pulled me up from my knees many times, not able to stand or wanting to communicate with friends or family when I was so heart broken. If it were not for my faith in God I would not have been able to make it.  My Son of 19 graduated from High School in 1996 and was in an automobile accident, and died from head injuries. There is nothing you can't handle as long as you have faith in God and putting all your adversities in his hands. God is still molding me each and everyday with what you have to go through with daily stress. He always lets me know that he is here. I thank my God with every beat of my heart, that those that I am praying for are being renewed with a new perspective on life and know that he is in complete control.      —Diane Alexander

Faith in itself is a useless tool. I say this with the understanding that after much wasted time hoping, that the tragic events in my life would somehow turn and dissolve from my simply willing it.  Faith takes on the form of blind assurance, it embodies this idea that you don’t know what, when, or why; it just will, which is fine if your not a human being! Now faith in a God is infinitely different, faith in God takes a real, exact, desire and knowledge of whom God is in order to spring about a faith in him. I happen to know this God personally, which is why I can live a life of "faith", because I know him, and he knows me, we have been through the storms in life together and he has never left me. That is how I can live a life of faith, trust, hope (I will never leave you nor forsake you...) This God does not enforce religion, or rules for his own sake or merit, but for our common good. What a thought that perhaps there was a God that just wanted an opportunity to know you and love you. If we cant have faith in that, then why have faith at all. —Jordan H, Lakeport, Calif.

God is my strong tower, and my refuge, he has proven time and time again how awesome and mighty his works are, and how he is faithful to his children. Two years ago, my husband and I were searching for a house, it almost seemed like we would never ever get the house that we were dreaming of. We went through a lot of frustration during that time, but we stayed focus on God's word. One day while I was at work, a gentleman walked in and without knowing me, came up to me and told me that he knew I was a woman of faith, and that god wanted me to know that there was something that I was praying for that was going to be done. Approximately 13-days later, our deal on our house closed and we got the keys to our new house. My husband and I are strong believers in prayer and we praise god for his faithfulness to us. —T. Morales, Lorain, OH

I'm a single, self employed Mom who believed a man who said he would rennovate a 10,000 square foot building so I could move my business.  6 weeks and $15,000 later I had no building and was slowly losing my business.  A friend and I decided to go forward on faith and finish the project ourselves.  It was that or go bankrupt and lose everything I had worked so hard for.  Every day we asked God if we should go forward or walk away.  Every day we were given signs to continue.  It was covered several times by the newspapers in our area because the story was so moving.  We called ourselves Thelma and Louise Construction Co.!  $85,000 later, and with help from many different sources opened up through faith, my shop opened.  I have struggled since in paying bills, I had to sell my home and move to a trailer.  I lost my health insurance, but I gave it over to God to guide me in the right direction.  I thank God every day for opening up this source of supporting myself,  for bringing the unemployed workers to complete the job and showing me how other people are forced or choose to live, for bringing the people into my life that have walked through this past year.  I don't believe God does all this for you.  I believe he gave us all a brain to do it ourselves.  We just have to ask for the help and tools to do it instead of wishing for things or demanding things or wondering why we aren't as successful or pretty or as smart as someone else.  Just ask, and be open to the answer!  That's what Let Go and Let God means! — Barb Stevens

You know, I read some of these reports and questions on faith, and I realize that many people have little understanding of "faith."  Faith itself has no power.  It is not my faith that helps me in times of trouble, nor is it my faith grants me a better life/afterlife.  It is the object of my faith, Jesus Christ, that is the sustainer and savior.  Take this as an example.   A few years ago, I had moved to a new city, where I knew only a couple of people.  I felt as though this move was one in which God had a purpose for me.  The words I found in Isaiah 43:19 were my guide, "See, I am doing a new thing... I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  However, after months of loneliness, my "desert" seemed to be permanent.  It wasn't my faith that carried me through, but only God.  I believed Him to be who He says He is, and I take Him at His word.  True to that, He provided me with some of the greatest friends of my life.  It's not about faith... but instead it's about the object of the faith... Jesus Christ, the risen Savior.
Kyle, Knoxville, Tenn.

There are so many of U.S. military families- that are exercising tremendous amounts of faith right now. It is the only thing we have. We are helpless to stop our loved-ones from going to war. We are helpless to change the government’s policies that would bring our loved-ones home. We are not hopeless, however. We know that God controls and protects what happens to them. We know that prayer is pleasing to God and that it pleases Him to answer our petitions. We know through the many stories of miracles that have come back to us through our military that God is with them. And He loves them more than our government does. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." We know. And we are stronger for knowing. Faith is the victory. — Tamara A., Richmond, Ky.

Deployments like this change the soldier in ways that are both possitive and negative.  It also changes their loved ones. This war,  it's not just the soldier physically in danger, the dangers of families falling apart because the long deployments become to hard.  It's little children not seeing a parent for a long period of time, and not only does that soldier have to adapt to living back with a family, the differences between war and their homes, but often a child who at best is skiddish at who that parent is suppose to be. I make no excuses.  Ask most military deployed or still here at home, and they will tell you they are sworn to their duty.  They evaluated the risks and took them based on love, support and honor. My husband is a soldier, Army to be exact.  He is on a long deployment.  I do not worry that he will come home, because I do not have control over his destiny.  I focus instead on keeping the children possitive, and trying to keep myself very busy. As an Army wife I have a tough job.  I have to believe in a military system right now, that is governed by someone in which I do not believe in.  This all boils down to faith.  Faith in God, faith in my soldier, and faith in the soldiers who have sworn to help protect each other. I am proud of every member of our service, but my hats off to all spouses and children who are adjusting with out their soldiers. — Jeanine L., Fort Stewart, GA

If one is going to argue that only God can make the choice to release Mrs. Shiavo, it seems he has made that choice.  Having her hooked up to machines to keep her alive, seems to me, to be going against what the All Mighty has decided.  I don't recall feeding tubes being used by God, ever. —Stephen, Tallahassee

Isn't the core issue here how death-a-phobic humanity is?  Do the people who claim to believe in God and heaven, and who claim to believe Terri will be in heaven with God if she passes, want her to remain here in her condition instead because they believe this is better for her?  Do they honestly believe her 14 years of living like this has been better for her than the heaven they claim to believe in?   Is this how faith works?  —Mary, St. Petersburg, Fla.

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