Five things Friday roundup: Unsung heroes

Jennie Wintermote’s daughter sketches the boyhood statue of George Washington Carver at George Washington Carver National Monument, June 2024. — Jennie Wintermote
Last week our family arrived home from a whirlwind of a trip throughout southeast Kansas and western Missouri. As I swiped through the pictures on my phone, I was struck by the theme of unsung heroes visible in the pictorial history of our adventures. We visited sites that honor heroes and challenge us to be heroes today. I thought of Hebrews 11 and the great heroes of faith who listened to God’s calling and changed the world. May we too listen to God and act in faith for the healing of all that is broken by sin.
1. Little House on the Prairie site
In Independence, Kan., we were paying our admission and getting oriented to the site when we clearly heard the language used to talk about the Ingalls family as “squatting,” rather than “homesteading” or “living” on the land belonging to Native Americans. Can we be brave enough to remember and retell the truth of history? To lament the times and ways we have fallen short of Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves? 
2. Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes
I shared with our 7-year-old the story of Irena Sendler risking her life to save Jewish children during World War II and to preserve their birth names. At the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kan., I was reminded that the merciful, like Irena Sendler, who is included in the museum, will be shown mercy.  How do we faithfully follow Christ regardless of the notice of those around us?
3. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
We climbed “Bloody Hill” at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield near Republic, Mo., and read about a family with young children who took shelter in their root cellar during the battle there. I was heartbroken over the violence and destruction that impacted generations, recognizing that the very earth continued to tell this story as bullets and other remnants were found in these fields for over 100 years after the battle. I was reminded of the peacemakers who will be called children of God and our call to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.
4. Laura and Almanzo Wilder’s farmhouse on Rocky Ridge
As we climbed the stairs to Laura and Almanzo Wilder’s farmhouse on Rocky Ridge in Mansfield, Mo., I found myself thinking of the ways storytelling can impact others. The stories we tell of our own families and our faith heritage can inspire generations of those who come after us. In the same way my Russian Mennonite ancestors sought freedom to practice their faith in Kansas and made many sacrifices as they immigrated and started a new life, I am called to consider the ways I might need to sacrifice to live faithfully. Let us not forget to tell our stories of our lives and of our faith. Let us not forget how those stories are a part of God’s bigger story told in the Bible and continuing to today.
5. George Washington Carver National Monument
As we walked through the peaceful woods at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Mo., we stopped at a sign quoting Carver as saying, “All my life I have risen regularly at four o’clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God.” What a life of discipline and dedication. His entire life was in the service of caring for the earth and others as he pioneered uses of peanuts and other natural resources for the good of all. His story of being born into slavery, his faith and his love of others truly make him a hero. May we all learn about heroes like George Washington Carver and others whose stories are not always told.
Having arrived back home, I am left with a deep sense of gratitude for the ways that God can use the events of our daily lives to challenge us to be unsung heroes in our households, our congregations and our communities. What does it mean to share our stories? To boldly speak the truth – both the beautiful and the ugly parts of our stories? What does it mean to work hard and to love our neighbor as ourselves? What does it mean to be a peacemaker? May God grant us the wisdom to see and the courage to act.

Jennie Wintermote

Jennie Wintermote splits her day-time hours between the Western District Conference Resource Library in North Newton, Kansas and Anabaptist World. Read More

Anabaptist World

Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement. We seek to inform, inspire and Read More

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