Van and Janet Vandagriff
In our 55-plus years of marriage, our family has
moved many times, but two of those moves were especially significant. In
1965, we moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Malawi in southeast Africa
for three years; and in 1976, we moved to Ann Arbor to be a part of the
Word of God community.
The culture in Africa put us in a situation that
unified us as a family, so that we came into community life in Ann Arbor
as a “unit.” Our commitment to one another as family expanded and grew
to become a broader commitment to our brothers and sisters in community.
From being a family unit amidst a new and different culture in Africa,
we found ourselves becoming part of a bulwark that involved not only our
family and our brothers and sisters, but others who were just coming into
Through the teachings of the community and through
serving others, we have experienced ourselves becoming stronger as individuals,
as a family, as members of Word of Life, and as a part of a bulwark for
others. And it has been a source of great joy for us to watch our family
plunge enthusiastically into community life!
There is so much strength to be gained from living
one’s daily life with other committed Christians.
But there is extraordinary strength to be had
from knowing that we – our children and their spouses, our grandchildren,
and, in our case, our great grandchildren – are living out the Christian
life precisely where God wants us to be!
and Janet Vandagriff are members of Word
of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan]
Together in God's Word
have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord's property, in his
For the past forty years my life has been rooted
in this people, a people among whom I have found a home. It has also been
among this people that I have put roots down more and more deeply in God's
word, making my home in God’s word and letting it find a home in me. I
often think of this as "making God's word my own" – not only reading Scripture,
but taking in God's word in all the ways it comes to us, loving it, embracing
it, pondering it, allowing myself to be molded and taught by it, obeying
it, speaking it and sharing it with others, holding it in the front of
my mind. And in the community I have been surrounded by brothers and sisters
trying, together, to make God's word "our own" – our guide, our way of
thinking, our way of life. Over the years, gradually but steadily, it has
been shaping us, building us up, transforming us, taking deeper and deeper
root in us. Let's continue to allow God's word to "find, in all its
richness, a home with us" (Colossians 3:16, JB).
Kun is a senior woman leader in Word
of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan and President of Bethany
God at the Center
As a teenager
I had a close relationship with the Lord. I wanted to live for God and
to help others know his love. I was very moved by the words from John 15:13,
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."
I asked God to give me opportunities to lay down my life for others. I
longed to share my life with people who put God at the center of their
lives. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was longing for and praying
for Christian community. God heard my prayers and brought me into Christian
community when I was 20 years old.
As I look back
over 40 years of life in community, I am grateful to God for his faithfulness
and love. He gave me a group of people who love him and who loved
me. More importantly, he gave me a place to love, and many opportunities
to lay down my life for others. Christian community has provided me a context
in which to live out my life as a disciple of Christ.
As a woman
living single for the Lord, I am encouraged by those who share the same
vocation, but I am also encouraged and called on to greater holiness by
the dedicated married couples who share their lives with me in community.
Seeing them face trials and temptations with courage and perseverance gives
me the courage to persevere. Their children bring me joy. I am grateful
to my brothers and sisters for responding to God's call. I am grateful
to the Lord for giving us the grace to commit our lives to one another.
May we never take this great gift for granted!
to next page > Calling
Out the Best in Us in Christ, by Bob Bell