Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Monday, February 23
Read Genesis 49

The archers fiercely attacked him; they shot at him and pressed him hard. Yet his bow remained taut, and his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, by the God of your father, who will help you … (vv 23-24)


Prior to his death, Jacob — patriarch of Israel — called his 12 sons together. Each son was responsible for his own tribe, and Jacob shared his final thoughts with each of them. He blessed Joseph as his fruitful son. Joseph put his life in the hands of God and was rewarded. Hence Joseph was named the fruitful branch because of his dependence on the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. Joseph’s dependence on God led to his success.

A central Kansas hero also had a deep faith in God and was a fruitful servant — Father Emil Kapaun of the Pilsen community. Father Kapaun served as a chaplain in both World War II and the Korean Conflict. Men in his unit became prisoners of war when captured near the China border.

Father Kapaun helped shore up morale among the prisoners by serving them and his God. He mediated disputes, dug latrines, gave away his food allotment and stole coffee and tea from the guards to comfort his fellow soldiers. Too weak to stand on his own, he was carried and supported by the North Korean guards as he gave Easter sunrise services on March 25, 1951. He gave until he had nothing left to give. He died a hero as a Korean POW and was given numerous awards, including the Medal of Honor.

Father Kapaun’s story was relayed by the surviving men of the Pyoktong North Korean prison camp where he ministered as a servant of Christ. May God guide us and teach us to be good stewards of all that is God’s and, like Father Kapaun, to be fruitful in service to others.

Richard McDiffett

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