SAM Wessels (age 10) Meets PRESIDENT OBAMA

September 6, 2012

Sam Wessels speaks in to the ear of President Barak Omama as the Prssident bends down to hear Sam’s message in behalf of all people with Autism. (Photo by Lin Wessels)

Sam Wessels (grandson of Joyce and Norman Wessels of FPC, Luverne, MN),  spoke to President Barack Obama on Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

The lives of Sam’s parents, Lin and Mark Wessels, were forever changed when Sam was born 10 years ago. As new parents they faced the usual challenges, but in Sam’s second year a pattern of autism to emerge. They began educating themselves and Sam about coping with his gifts and challenges.  Now in recent years, they are learning to campaign to effect change on behalf of all families affected by autism.

The article link below “SAM – Advocating in America for Autism” shares Lin’s account of the people and elected leaders that Sam has met across the USA.

Lin describes the unlikely events that led up to Sam’s Presidential conversation days ago and the moment the President offered a ‘listening ear’ to a 10 year old American:

Once he reached us, I instructed Sam, “Tell the president what you have to say.” Sam began to speak. There were a lot of people. It was busy. It was loud. The president leaned closer, completely engaged in what Sam had to say to him. To say I was impressed in his sincerity in hearing Sam’s message would not serve the moment due justice. I was in absolute awe at the amount of time he spent with this one child. Sam told his president his name and age.

Sam Wessels meets and greets President Barak Obama in Sioux city on Saturday.

He made sure President Obama knew he was honored to meet him. He then asked President Obama if he would  please join him in standing up for people with autism. He further explained that he himself stands up for people with autism because he has autism, and although he is able to speak for himself, too many people with autism are not and someone needs to stand up for them as well. The President’s reply? “Sam, I will gladly stand up with you for people with autism. As a matter of fact, I had already planned to stand up for those who have autism. Autism is an enormous issue and I have a plan.” He thanked Sam for his courage in standing up for something he cares about as well as for taking the time to come and see him in person to deliver his message face to face.

For more on this event and Sam’s efforts on behalf of others, read Lin’s article below:

CLICK HERE for – SAM-Advocating in America for Autism

Our congratulations and prayers go out

  • To Sam Wessels in his “stand-up” efforts.
  • To Lin and Mark Wessels for love they give their couragous son.
  • To all the families of children and adults affected by Autism.

OTHER Stories on Sam Wessels and Autism:

  1. Sam Wessels – Autism Light #152
  2. Nine-year-old autistic boy grills GOP candidates
  3. Sam Wessels: Autism Movie Plays a Part in 2012 US Presidential Election
  4. Click HERE for FACTS on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) 

“LOVE LISTENS” ~ Pastor Dan Leininger

September 1, 2012

Visitation Pastor’s Notes


One advantage of growing older is that my faith seems to get simpler. (Or maybe my mind is getting simpler, whichever…). “Simpler” means that I don’t get as lost in the details as I once did. The basic understandings that I have about God feed my soul daily, even in the tough times. They help keep my soul, and restore my life. One of these basics is that “God is Good.”


I remember being invited many years ago to be a guest speak at an annual meeting of Baptist churches in Maryland. I flew to Baltimore and was driven to a beautiful retreat setting on the Chesapeake Bay. As the people gathered there, they obviously represented a diverse mixture of urban, suburban, inner city, black, white, Hispanic congregations. An inner-city choir of black congregations sang hymns and spirituals. It was Wonderful!

When one of the black pastors would speak, he would say, “God is Good!” And the black folk would respond,“All the time!” After the second time, even we white folks were doing it. By the end of the evening I noticed some of our good German Baptists were joining in. Ever since, I cannot say or hear “God is Good”without adding, “All the time.”Just remembering that time and those words, still feels “Wonderful.” I smile as I write.

However, at some moments life does not feel “good.” We do not smile. We may even be deaf to the hymns or spirituals. The troubles, losses, and worries do not give any peace, or calm, or comfort. Instead, we just get more reminders of our pain than we need. The empty chair, the empty house, the empty feeling inside, virtually everything seems to remind us of the pain. At such moments, life may not feel good anymore.


One of the many ways that the Bible reminds that God is Good are its reminders of how God “listens.”

  • God hears the cry of the poor, “I will hear for I am compassionate”(Exodus 22:27).

  • God hears the cry of his people in slavery (Exodus 6:5). (I hear their groaning… I remember my covenant…).

  • With irony the Psalmist asks, “He who planted the ear, shall he not hear?”(Psalm 94:9).

  • With faith he affirms “God you do see trouble and grief” (Psalm 10:14).

  • With hope he pleads “Record my lament, list my tears on your scroll; put my tears in your wineskins.” (Psalm 56:8). (I never thought of God as having wineskins, or of turning tears into Vintage production … humm. )

The Biblical writers clearly describe God as listening to both the unpleasant and seemingly trivial.


God seems as interested in our doubts as our sense of faith. God takes our doubts seriously. God seeks to understand our struggles no matter how large or small, how enormous or how trivial they may seem to ourselves or others. It is as if God knows that what is a stepping stone in one person’s path, may just be a stumbling stone for another person. What one blunders over; another takes in stride.

God also hears the genuineness in our sorrows and laments. God does not judge on the basis of the distortions that may plague our minds. God gives no condemnation for the shame, or the rage, or even the pathology that may be within us. To be a tender“Abba” kind of Father is to honor the intent of one’s children’s hearts rather than their level of skill or maturity.

So even prayers that start with, “God, I can’t pray …, God, I am too angry to pray …, God, I don’t know how to pray …” are all music in the ears of our “Abba Father.” God knows that begging his presence, exercises more muscles of faith than fleeing or hiding.

But even when we DO flee and hide,God still wants to know where we are.(“Adam … where are you?” Genesis 3:9). Because God made us free creatures, he wants to know us, our worries, our choices, our hopes, our disappointments, our grief’s. The central facts seem to be that God wants to know us, warts and all. God wants to love us. Therefore, God listens to us. THAT is LISTENING LOVE!


So … Listen, Love, and Pray,

Pastor Dan Leininger

Visitation Pastor

THANKS ~ Pastor Terry Morse

September 1, 2012

Dear Friends:

What a wonderful day Sunday was! I am most grateful to you, a loving and caring congregation. The Coffee Fellowship was just perfect. All the amazing cards, gifts, and notes will stay with me for a long time.

The First Presbyterian Church of Luverne family will always be an important part of my family. I was truly surprised to have our son Eric and daughter Alyssa fly in for the celebration. While I was sorry that their families could not join them in the trip, it was unique to have just the four of us together again. They both came at great sacrifice and with much love.

Martha and I have loved our time here in Luverne and it is home to us now. We will look forward to running into you from time to time on a friendship basis. The change from Pastor to friend is relatively easy for me. I pray that it will be for you all as well.

I would like to personally thank every one on the staff (especially the Rev. Dr. Dan Leininger), the Session, the Board of Deacons, the Youth leaders, the Christian Education leaders and teachers (youth club and Sunday school), the music leaders and providers and the choirs, all the committee people and every member of the congregation. I desire to thank all of you by name, but I am afraid that I might miss an important name. Luverne is an exceptional community and Martha and I thank God that our Lord has leaded us to this exceptional community and Church.

We are excited about our trip to Amtrak to Glacier and Seattle that we will begin on September 11, 2012. You made this possible with the 40th year of ordination party and gift. We will think of you all as we enjoy the wonders of God’s breathtaking creation.

It is obvious that our Lord has magnificent things ahead for the First Presbyterian Church of Luverne and I pray that our God will bless each one of you in your future. Our God does fantastic things in our lives and the life of our community and world. Let us “let go of the branch” and trust our God. God will provide and bless now and forever.

With love and appreciation,

Pastor Terry Morse


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