Pastor’s Corner

See you in Guatemala!

On October 8-15, 2016, I will be serving in Guatemala with a team of volunteers from Cross.  We are partnering with an organization called Groundwork Guatemala to reach otherwise unreachable people in the mountain villages outside Guatemala City.  The rest of this corner is dedicated to the people and ministries that will be serving to bring hope and truth to people in greatest need and most easily forgotten.

Why Guatemala?  This is a great question, to which the only answer is—because God has led us there.  The Missions Committee here at Cross and I have been praying and actively searching for a regular mission partner to “go and serve” with ever since Adulam in Peru ceased to be an option.  Groundwork Guatemala is an established ministry that empowers native Guatemalan people to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their own people.  Americans come to provide ministry support and serve as guest teachers.

Where? Outside Guatemala city there are several small poor villages where there is great need.  People and children have homes with no plumbing and/or electricity.  Many will scavenge landfills for food or clothing for their families or to sell for money.  This money will go to pay for their children to go to school.  School is free through about 5th grade but books, uniforms and other items are not provided.  As a result Guatemalan on average has only 4 years of schooling and is the least literate of all central American nations.

What will we do?  The team from cross will travel to a new village each day.  These will be the  same villages Groundwork Guatemala visits every week at the same day and time.  We will share a bible story, sing songs and pray with the adults and children.  Each day we will also visit the homes of people in these communities to pray with them or for them, to share the good news with them, or to hear their story of spiritual journey.

Groundwork Guatemala will continue to visit these villages and care for these people each week.  It is extremely important that there is ministry to follow up with the work Cross will do there.  Also, if we desire, we can go back every year and see how God is continuing to work there.  Andy Winkelman, our team leader from Cross, will be visiting for the fourth time! He has established relationships with missionaries and students alike.

How can you Help? Please pray for the safe travel of all the members on the team and for our families we will leave behind.  Pray that there will be no issues with customs, passports, luggage or anything else!  The cost is $900 per missionary, if you are led to help you can mark your gift “Guatemala” and it will go to offset these costs.  Consider going “next time”, assuming God continues to lead in this direction as He has so far—we will be looking for people to go next year and continue the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ with this exciting ministry.

Anything Else? Yes!  Check out Facebook and search for Groundwork Guatemala.  They post almost daily what each missionary team that comes down is doing.  Watch the week of October 8-15 and you’ll likely see some of us and hear about How God is working in us and through us to proclaim His Good News to All Nations!

His Servant & Yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Prayer and Support

Many families experience trials in our congregation, and we work hard to care for them all. We typically don’t make these concerns “public” but seek that help in smaller communities and with families they know within the congregation.  What I am going to share with you is a larger, more ongoing concern, and it is with one of our mission partners.  Jason Steffenson is a “son of the congregation” and has been attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  He is one of two former Cross Lutheran School students who were enrolled in the seminary.

Jason is married to Anna, and they have two children, Johanes and Immanuel. This is Jason’s third year at the seminary, and he was participating in the Vicarage program.  Vicarage is a one year internship for those training to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  Jason and his family have been serving at Trinity Lutheran Church in Centralia, Illinois.

On June 19, Jason fell and hit his head, causing a debilitating concussion. He received prompt medical attention, but the results of the impact have left him unable to perform even routine daily functions.  Since he cannot work or drive and has been experiencing seizures, he had to take a leave of absence from the seminary and his vicarage while they wait to get in to see even more medical specialists in neurology and traumatic brain injury.

This leave of absence causes many hardships for the family. As an example, they have been living in the house the church provided while on vicarage.  Thankfully the congregation has agreed to let them stay for six months while they pray and hope for healing.  Jason is no longer a student and therefore cannot receive the grants and loans that they had received because of Jason’s student status.

As you can see, this has been going on for three months already and as of now will be extended at least another six months.  We felt it was time to invoke the prayers and support of the entire congregation and the community of the Christian faith.  Please pray and ask God, the Great Physician, to show mercy to His servant, Jason, and the entire family.  Pray for strength for Anna as she cares for the two young children and Jason and attempts to also earn an income for the family.

If you would like to help in other ways, feel free to send a card to them at 10411 Shattuc Road, Centralia, IL 62801. If you would like more details, please visit Cross’ Facebook page:

You could also visit Anna’s Etsy page where she displays her wonderful creations: This would be a great way to find a gift for someone you love and support a great family.

You could also visit their GoFundMe page to offer encouragement and a gift to help them offset expenses:

Thank you, family of faith at Cross and for all who offer intercession on behalf of this family and ALL who suffer. Until Christ returns to restore all things we bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the will of God.  “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

creationIt is finally here, the first week of our walk through the Bible called His Story.  We are beginning at the beginning in a book called Genesis and a story about the Creation of all things that are seen and things that are unseen.  A story that says it all was completed in six mornings and six evenings, six sunrises and sunsets, six things we call days.

Holding to this assertion immediately causes people to think you believe in myths and legends.  They think it akin to Aesop’s fables with talking animals and explanations about why animals have long necks.  If you believe in six literal days people assume you also believe garden gnomes children’s toys come alive when you aren’t looking.  Why is this?  Why has the world decided that this Biblical truth is the one we should abandon? That this literal truth is one that requires us to adjust our expectations of what God can do?

Do these people who demand that a six day creation is an impossibility for God also demand we abandon our belief in a virgin birth?  In a parting of the Red Sea?  Disregard the pausing of the sun or the feeding of the five thousand?  What do they say we must do with water turning into wine or the ten plagues sent over Egypt?  For 40 years the people of Israel ate bread that came down from heaven every night, and Noah built an ark to survive a flood.   Are you aware that Jesus healed people of leprosy, chronic bleeding and demon possession?  That fish filled the nets in a few moments of trusting, that a Roman soldier’s ear was cut off and that Jesus calmed storms and He and Peter walked on water ?

Maybe I am carrying on a little bit but I hope it is helpful to illustrate the point.  The Christian faith is based on the truth that a man was dead for three days in a guarded tomb and came back to life.  He walked among the people for 40 days and then ascended into heaven on a cloud.  You know that is scientifically impossible right?!?   That after three days without breathing a person can’t come back to life.  The cells that comprise the body would all die individually much less lose the ability to work together.

Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against a dead man reviving, there isn’t one witness, one historian, one shred of evidence that says it didn’t happen.    But, nobody picks on this fact because there were witnesses.   Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people saw it with their own eyes,  Jews, Gentiles, Apostles,  rich, poor, learned and fools all of them saw it with their own eyes.  Makes me realize why unbelievers and atheists work so hard to convince you that creation took millions of years.  It’s the only chance they got, because it’s the only miracle recorded in scripture that didn’t have witnesses.    Well it did have a witness, but who wants to believe His Story?

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30,31

His servant and your,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Growing in Faith Together

As we launch this new fall season I wanted to share some new resources we have available for you and your families or small groups to help you continue to mature as Disciples of Jesus Christ that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love Our Neighbors.

New in 2016:

Sermon Based Bible Studies are now available!  Each week you will be able to download or view on your e-device a Bible study that takes the sermon for the week and goes more in depth.  It is also intended to spur on conversation about how you are living out the biblical truths in your own lives and families.  You can find these studies on our website,, under Sermon Series or on the HisCross app in your app store!

His Story – This 32 week walk through the Bible is broken down into several shorter segments so you can make shorter commitments as different times of the year allow.  We urge you to go “all the way through” the Bible with one another at Cross as His Story guides Our Story every day.  This is also intended to help you be more comfortable having authentic spiritual conversations with the spiritually curious people God puts in your path; maybe even invite them to go through the sermon study with you at lunch!

Right Now Media – This is one of the best kept secrets at Cross!  It’s a free “Netflix” type library of Christian movies, Bible studies, sermons and children’s shows.  All this requires is an electronic device with an Internet connection and your free password.  Find out how to access this amazing free resource for ANY AGE at; click on the Right Now Media icon.

Parent Cue App – This is a free app that will send parents cues to start great spiritual conversations and activities with your children.  It also coordinates with the topics in Children’s Ministry at Cross so those conversations won’t seem to be coming out of the blue.  Search Parent Cue in your app store.

I pray these resources will be a blessing to you as well as the family of faith at Cross. If you would like to get connected to others to Grow in Faith Together with other believers, please contact the church office and we will help you find a Community Group (ministry team/Bible study) that will be blessed to have you be a part of it.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

His Story is a 32 week walk through major sections of the Bible. The initial idea for this series is loosely based on a book called The Story, where the Bible has been rewritten into a narrative format. While this type of Bible rewrite has a place, Pastor Matt and I (Erik) thought it best for everyone to actually read their Bible rather than a story interpreted by others. To hear God speak in His own voice is a powerful blessing. Anything you learn and jot down will be written in your Bible for later reference not in some other book. You will gain confidence as your read your own Bible and this gift will last with you forever.

When some people think of the Bible what comes to mind is sanitized stories for children. We forget that the Bible is a real book, about real people, dealing with real sins. At times, their lives were a complete mess. But God’s story through the entirety of Scripture is a story of salvation; how God saved His people despite the mess. The Bible doesn’t whitewash the heroes of faith. It doesn’t erase the things that they did. Rather we share in a story where those sins are put right out in the open for us to read; so the world can know the seriousness of sin, but even more importantly, the unbelievable grace of a God who would sacrifice His Son to cover that sin.

Maybe we have some knowledge of these heroes of faith, but we struggle in connecting one story to another. In reality, all of the stories of the Bible come together to tell of God’s great plan of salvation for all of humanity. It was a plan that begun with Adam and Eve; it and was carried through the Patriarchs to David; it’s echoed and foreshadowed in the words of the prophets. Finally we see all the pieces fit into place in the story of Jesus the Christ, God’s very own Son.

But the story isn’t clean. It isn’t tidy. It’s a story that’s full of gossips, doubters, betrayers, murders and adulterers. God doesn’t approve of these things – he hates all sin – but this is a remarkable story of a God who can take even sinful people and work a miracle in them. It’s the story of a God who loves humanity even though they fall into sin. It’s the story of a God who goes to the cross for sinful man. It’s the story of a God who comes to you even today with open arms. God’s story is your story.

What we hope for all of you is that you would take God’s story to heart. But don’t do it alone! The best way to grow in this story is through community. Gather each week in worship as Pastors Matt and Erik explore a piece of God’s story. Read a bit of God’s Story from the Scripture each day. We have a reading plan to help you be prepared for Sundays. And take part in a community group, where you can dive even deeper into the story and share how God’s story intersects your own. We hope you enjoy this journey together and that all of us grow in faith together as Disciples of Jesus Christ here at Cross.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss