Faith is a powerful thing. In the right hands and used the right way, religious faith is the ultimate conduit of good. In the wrong hands, it can be twisted and contorted into something evil. Wars have been fought for all the wrong reasons in the name of one group or another’s faith for centuries, and probably always will be.

Faith doesn’t always have to be grounded in religion; one can have faith simply in the good intentions of their fellow man or just in fate itself. However, having faith generally has a religious connotation.

Either way, faith can lead to great things. And I have seen that in action lately as that faith in God has led to a movement of sorts for an injured teenager. Riley Sprowl, whom you have read about in these pages, was badly injured in an accident on Dec. 12 and suffered paralysis. Nearly overnight, Pray for Riley signage popped up around town, in windows and on cars. That faith in God and the healing power of prayer sparked a movement to keep a badly-injured young man in the community’s prayers. The effect has been strong; the public has responded and a fundraiser was held on Saturday to help raise much-needed money for the Sprowl family in its time of need.

T-shirts and wrist bands are being sold by Angela and Paul Anderson with all proceeds going to the Sprowl family. On the rubber wrist bands for sale, it says "Pray for Riley" on one side and "Isaiah 41:10" on the other. Seeing these led me to think about how faith affects our daily lives.

To be clear, you don’t have to be especially religious – or religious at all for that matter – to have faith. Faith can be a simple matter of believing in God or some all-powerful deity, or just fate itself. But no matter what, faith can be tested. In my years as a writer I have seen too much tragedy, but so many times I have seen people hold on to that faith no matter how bad things have gotten. And it amazes me every time. I guess my faith – fortunately – hasn’t been tested just yet, but I hope I hold up as well as those I’ve seen – including the Sprowls – have held up.

Maybe because they’re smaller communities than I’ve covered in the past – I don’t know – but the faithful seem especially strong from Melissa to Howe and in between. For such small communities, the number of people involved in charitable projects seems abnormally high, and that’s a very good thing. From Great Days of Service to Van Alstyne’s Kids Eat Free, the faith-driven charity work is seemingly non-stop. I have been and continue to be impressed.

The cynical among us may scoff at the notion of blind faith, of not being able to scientifically corroborate what one believes to be true. Whatever side of the fence you reside on, however, there can be no disputing that a true believer can often times serve to accomplish great things. Just ask those praying for Riley Sprowl if that faith can be shaken.