At our family reunions there is a lot of laughter, a lot of silliness, and also a lot of deep conversations. It seems normal to us, but most everyone is an active Christian (they take it seriously). There are three free church pastors, a presbyterian pastor, a chaplain, a doctor-missionary to kenya, a lot of schoolteachers, an official in govt who oversees some of the 15Billion in AIDs relief from the US to Africa, an ethics officer from a major corp, a number of farmers, some nurses, some doctors, and a variety of other people. But its not really about what their professions are– what really makes the family strong is what motivates them– whatever they are doing, for most of my relatives at this reunion, they are trying to live their life for God.
Most of these people are, as I said, active believers. And we all come together because we are either descendents of, or married to a descendent of, AG Gustafson, my great-grandpa who came from Sweden in the 1800s.
AG was not a Christian when he came to the US, but became one during a revival in young years here. I sometimes wonder what our family would be like if he had not become a Christian– I suppose a lot of decisions would have been made differently than they were– its impossible to know how things would have turned out. All my siblings met their spouse through the church-related college they went to. My parents met at a bible camp in the 30s. I grew up in a family which read the Bible each morning as we sat down for breakfast. We still do that often when I am home, and there is nothing I like better than hearing my fathers prayers. That might seem folksy to some, but there are virtually no broken homes in our extended family, and I think there is a correlation.
Its pretty easy when you come from this kind of background to take it for granted. I think if you don’t come from this kind of background its hard to understand. The thing that strikes me is that AG Gustafson did not come from this kind of tradition– he started it. I just hope that I am able somehow to continue that family tradition, and times like this with family help me feel more devoted to that goal. The strength of our family ties and family love is the result of a lot of different family members decisions to live their lives for something other than themselves– namely, Christ. Our family is far from perfect, but I am thankful for it. –Andy Gustafson
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