A weekly digital publication called FaithBit:

FaithBITs will be: emailed on Friday mornings, archived on this page, available on our social media channels and printed and available at the Welcome Desk.

July 26, 2019


Camp Noah Team 2019

Transformed in Port Aransas

Reflection by Bridget Zillmer

My sister Annie wanted me to visit her in Corpus Christi, TX where she often vacationed because she loved the beauty of the area and the genuine people.  I never got there prior her passing in 2016.

The 2019 Camp Noah mission trip assigned our Immanuel team to go to Port Aransas, Texas which is a town that neighbors Corpus Christi. Port Aransas was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the community is in recovery to once again be a beautiful tourist destination.

Our team of 12 Immanuel volunteers, like Jesus’ 12 disciples, clearly witnessed God’s work daily.  I felt my sister’s spirit as the week unfolded.  I met a fantastic young teen who connected with his brother through choosing the same blanket his brother chose - he did not know at the time that he was choosing the same pattern! (All Camp Noah participants receive a fleece blanket as part of the camp curriculum.) The two brothers sang the country music song “Strong” at the end of the camp to express their resolve to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.  They bonded so closely just like my sister and me.

Bridget's Quote

I met a retired adult artist who lost everything except a pair of sandals in the hurricane.  She shared her palm pod painting with me. She reminded me of my sister, who was also an artist.  After hearing the children process their storm stories, the Community Site Leader decided to coordinate an adult retreat so that adults could tell and process their stories as part of their recovery process.  The local student leaders decided formed an on-going youth group after spending the week with the Immanuel team. 

My heart was filled with JOY to see God’s plans unfold. “The Lord who guided me with strength and made my way safe” Psalm 18:32. It is through their courageous stories and unconditional love and resiliency in the midst of life’s challenges that I, too, have been transformed and began to understand why my sister loved this area so much.

July 19, 2019


Chloe's group

A life-changing week

Reflection by Chloe Thompson

June of 2019, I went on a life-changing trip. I traveled across the country with 28 members of our congregation, six being adults, to Logan, West Virginia. Some of these people, I had never spoken a word to before this trip.

I spent my week working with children from the community and providing them the love and care they so desperately wanted. You never realize how much a hug can do for a child until you see for yourself. The children were not always the best behaved, but I can honestly say, every single one of them had such a big heart and just wanted to be loved. We played games, taught the children about God and how he is their “powerful protector,” and along the way, I made some incredible friends.

Chloe's quote

On this trip, I met some of my best friends, and I became closer with friends as well. Every aspect of this trip was incredible, whether it be the mountains we woke up to every morning, the car rides where we sang High School Musical so loud I don’t know how Martin didn’t go deaf, or the experiences I had with the people around me.

I can honestly say this trip changed my life and I saw God everywhere in that little town. If you are in grade 9-12 and wondering if you should go on this trip, do it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it changed my life, you will not regret it.

July 12, 2019


Thank you note

Generations of Generosity

Reflection by Pastor Angela Fairbanks Jacobson

Have you ever received a thank you note for something that happened 50 years ago?  You have now.  Early this summer an elderly man drove from New Prague to Immanuel to hand-deliver this thank you note to “the people of Immanuel”: 

“That was a lot of money back then,” Don told me.  He wanted to be sure this message got into safe hands.  Because it changed his life.  Never underestimate the transformative power of generosity.  “Forever thankful”… to God be the glory!


Angela - Generosity quote

July 5, 2019


Kelly on Kili

Step by Step You’ll Lead Me

Reflection by Kelly Kautz

In the below zero temps in January I hiked each day with my husband, Paul. We hiked up & down the hills of Richard T. Anderson Park to prepare our bodies for summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro. My worry was breathing - I was concerned about not having enough air to breathe when we climbed from 15,300 feet to 19,341 feet at the top of Africa.

To prepare for the higher altitudes with less oxygen, I practiced breathing in deeply through my nose as we hiked up the steep hills in Eden Prairie. I also sang a song to myself to distract my mind during the difficult ascents and to help me pace myself.


Kelly's quote - step by step

On February 14, 2019, we slowly began our summit in the dark with the wind gusting around us. It didn’t take long to notice the lack of oxygen. My breathing became shallow and I began to panic. And then my body remembered what I had practiced in January. I slowed my breathing, took deep breaths through my nose, and sang to myself as I walked - step by step. We climbed for seven hours. My brain was calm, my body was strong. I don’t know how many repetitions I sang, but I continued to sing until we were at the top.

In life I face countless summits. Knowing that God is leading me each step of the way strengthens me and keeps me calm. I will follow Him all of my days.

Watch and listen to the song “Step by Step” by Rich Mullins.

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fade.”  Isaiah 58:11

June 28, 2019


Bill Middeke

Riding to help the sick

Reflection by Bill Middeke

Kent is my best friend from Air Force days.  He’s Uncle Kent to our children.  On a Sunday evening in December of 1990, he woke us up to tell us he had “it.”  “It?”  “I’M HIV+.”  I remember thinking “What do we put on the quilt?”  I’m happy to say he is still with us.

Fast forward to November of 1998. I went to a friary in St. Paul to sign up for the Twin Cities-Wisconsin-Chicago AIDS Ride.  Kent lives in Chicago and I decided to ride my bicycle to see him and raise funds for HIV/AIDS agencies along the way.  I wasn’t sure I could ride the 6 days, 500 miles to Chicago.  Nor was I sure I could raise the required $2,300 for the seven agencies that would benefit from the Ride.  However, I knew I had to try.

Therefore, I bought a new bicycle, started training and, on July 12, 1999, was at the Minneapolis Convention Center to start the Ride along with another 1775 riders.  I thought it would be a one-time thing. 

I remember a lot about that first ride: Evacuating camp at 2:00 in the morning due to an approaching storm cell.  Riding in a thunderstorm down Lasalle Boulevard in Chicago.  Waiting in the sun in 90+ degree temps for the ferry to take us across Lake Wisconsin.  Riding the 12 miles from the Illinois state line to the next camp where there was an AIDS ribbon or poster on almost every telephone pole.  Seeing AIDS ribbons on the fence of the cemetery I rode by.  The fire department in Madison using their hook and ladder truck to spray us with water to cool us down.  I also remember doing a lot of talking to God.  But, I‘ll have to admit, a lot of it was things like “why is it so hot?” or “why does it have to rain?” or “I need some help getting up this hill!”

Bill's quote

There is one thing I remember more than anything else.  It was on “Day 4,” the “Hill Day.”  Think, “The Dells” area.  It was late in the day.  I was miserably hot and tired from climbing hills.  I was cursing Kent for being HIV+ and asking God and myself why I was doing this.  Well, God answers prayers.  I heard, “On your left,” the signal from another rider that I was going to be passed.  When the rider passed me, I saw the orange pennant on the back of his bicycle.  It was a sign that he self-identified as being HIV+.  I then read the back of his jersey:  “I can do this because of people like you!”  OMG, that’s why!  It’s hard to ride a bicycle when you are crying.

I’m proud to say I rode every mile of the Ride.  I was hooked.  This summer will be 21st year of riding and 36th charity bike ride.

I feel I have been blessed by God with a good set of lungs and a strong pair of legs.  The parable of the sheep and goats tells me I’m to help the sick, feed the hungry, and house the homeless.  The charity bike rides are how I do it.  I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met on my journey.  I’m thankful for all of the people, many of them from Immanuel, who have donated to my rides.  I’m looking forward to my charity ride this summer.

Archive of the current year

July 26, 2019:Transformed in Port Aransas by Bridget Zillmer
July 19, 2019: A Life-Changing Week by Chloe Thompson
July 12, 2019: Generations of Generosity by Pastor Angela
July 5, 2019: Step by Step You’ll Lead Me by Kelly Kautz
June 28, 2019: Riding to Help the Sick by Bill Middeke
June 21, 2019: Walking in Community by Kari Totall
June 14, 2019: Our High-Tech God by Deb Garvey
June 7, 2019, Community of Faith by Andy Vergeront
May 31, 2019, God Helps us Do Hard Things by Alisson Rasmussen
May 24, 2019, Gifts from the Heart by Martin Rathjen
May 19, Three Takeaways from Tanzania by Kim Rathjen
May 10, 2019, Wanna Play the Worry Game? by Janell Weum
May 4, #holyweekhumor by Pastor Angela
April 26, Running Has Become My Prayer Time by Clark Weyrauch
April 19, Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Lisa Ross
April 12, The Faces of God by Bev Osekowsky
April 5, A Stranger Welcomed by Gary Thrasher
March 29, Transformed by Kelly Kautz
March 22, Trusting in God by Sophie Flom
March 15, Modern Day Burning Bushes by Kelly Meyer
March 8, Seek and You Will Find by Jerry Martin
March 1, Panoja by Pastor Angela
February 25, Even Those of Us with Few Talents by Ruth Lunde
February 15, Recipients of Compassion
February 8, A Solid Foundation by Jerry Martin
January 30, Snow (Transformational Seasons) by Josh Kautz
January 25, A Meaningful Way to spend Christmas Day by Terrie Falkenstein
January 18, Miracles Happen Every Day! by Mary Ellen Anderson
January 11, Take a Hike! by Dave Nieting
January 4, Camping with Grandkids by Karen Nelson

Archived FaithBITs from Previous Years


I’m new


Immanuel Lutheran Church © 2017

A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America