The Words of the Yakawich Family

Signs In Our Communities Point To Optimism For Future

Mike Yakawich
March 17, 2007
Published In The Billings Gazette

Recently, I was visiting my son's high school and noticed a banner hanging up in the school's library.

It stated, "Focus on the Positive."

I thought, "What a great statement."

This made me think. As I look into my children's eyes, I contemplated about the future of the world. In spite of the realities we see or read about daily, there is room to be optimistic. I believe that we are facing the dawning of a new era. There will emerge an era of peace and prosperity.

Of course, there is much evidence to be pessimistic. There is much need for concern both on the world front and in our own background. Indeed, we face drug issues, racial problems, family breakdown and much other social strife.

One is justified to be a pessimist. It is an important time for us to roll up our sleeves and seek out how we can improve ourselves, our family, community, state and nation. It is a good time to live for the sake of others.

There is a case for hope. I see what people are doing for the good of our community, and I applaud it. I see what people are doing in their neighborhood task forces, and there is evidence of hope.

I see amazing people working with Billings Promise, United Way and so many civic-minded organizations, and their work gives us hope.

In the churches and the schools, there are dedicated preachers and teachers concerned for their congregations and their pupils. Public leaders giving of their time and effort to improve our city, county and state is commendable and noticeable.

I believe we are entering a new time, a turning point.

Perhaps, could I be accused of being too optimistic? Yet, I do remain very hopeful.

It was in a conversation with my father that this hope became more evident. My father fought in World War II in the Pacific against the Japanese. My wife is Japanese. Today, they are good friends. They are a real and tangible evidence of peace in our time. It, indeed, begins in the family.

There is a rich culture at the border of our town as inside our town. The American Indians have taught me many things of family, culture and nature. Attending the powwows, hand games and learning about smudging and their history provide keen insights into our daily life. They have been my teachers and my friends. We are fortunate to live here in the West.

Worshipping with the local Muslim leader in prayer expresses to me that there is only one God. We call him many names, but, indeed, there is only one.

Even in our small community, the diversity of faiths, cultures, creeds and races is rich. Sitting down for breakfast within the Buddhist community is inspiring. Their patient and deep meditative approach to life has much to teach someone like me rushing from job to family, church to community to neighborhood activities.

Let us look around at who we are. We are "One Family Under God." Yes, we have many differences. Go ahead and ask my wife how different I am! Yet, we have so much in common as well.

Even in traveling to Asia or Europe or the Middle East, or driving from Roscoe to Bainville to Box Elder to Wyola, we share so much in common. In all these ways I remain hopeful that we can overcome our differences, our distrust, and our conflicts.

We can actually build the kingdom.

As Jesus said, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Perhaps, the dawning of a little bit more heaven on this Earth is not that far away.

The Rev. Mike Yakawich is pastor of the Family Church in Billings.
The Faith and Values column appears regularly in the Saturday Life section of The Billings Gazette.
Pastors, ethicists, educators or other experts who would like to write a column about faith, ethics or values for the section, should contact: Susan Olp; Billings Gazette; 401 N. Broadway; Billings, MT 59101.

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