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July 2019

depressed young woman

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (Psalm 46:1–3).

You may know of someone or have loved ones that are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or even self-destructive behaviors. Sadly, the addicted are not the only victims of their behavior. Oftentimes entire families are adversely affected. The suffering can be multiplied many times over. Our first thoughts are of total helplessness – what can we possibly do to help? Fortunately there are many organizations and resources to aid both the addict and their loved ones. By educating yourself you may be able to provide much-needed direction. And, by lifting these hurting souls up in prayer you are doing the best possible thing.

Following are some resources that provide treatment and counseling for addicts as well as support for their loved ones.

Addiction Support Groups:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
     
  • Al-Anon and Alateen provide help and hope for families and friends of alcoholics. Groups are located in cities across the globe. Meetings take place in person, on the phone and online, making it convenient and accessible for just about anyone. Individuals affected by alcoholism, whether it be related to a parent, sibling, close relative or friend, are welcome to take part in Al-Anon group meetings. While some Al-Anon members have loved ones who are currently in treatment, others attend meetings to get advice on how to live with someone who has yet to seek help.
     
  • Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain, or addiction of any kind. Many of the addiction issues that Celebrate Recovery deals with include alcohol addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction, sexual addiction and food addiction. They also deal with eating disorders, love and relationship addiction, co-dependency, and anger to name a few.
     
  • Lutheran Social Services has local organizations in several cities around the country, many of which provide mental health services that include treatment for addiction. An example can be found at Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. You can do an internet search for “Lutheran Social Services” to find an organization in your area.

Helpful Articles:

Mercy in Action:

  • Familiarize yourself with the services available in your local area. Make a list of nearby A.A., Al-Anon or Celebrate Recovery programs.
     
  • Invite someone from a local substance abuse program to speak at your church. Ask them to particularly address how your congregation can aid those in the recovery process. You may also want to ask about inviting a recovering addict to come and speak. Also, if the program or facility has material needs, host a “shower” or supply drive.
     
  • Identify anyone in your congregation who may be affected by a loved one’s addiction. Ask what you can do to help. There might be financial strains or child care issues which the congregation can address. Just be sensitive about confidentiality concerns and always ask permission before involving others.
     
  • Consider hosting A.A. or Celebrate Recovery meetings at your church. If your church doesn’t have the resources to host meetings, perhaps you can reach out to an existing host church and offer assistance.
     
  • Engage in youth programs geared toward addiction prevention. Reference the NIH article above. Also search for youth mentoring programs in your area.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:28).

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).

A Prayer as You Plan:

Heavenly Father we thank you for the many blessings you bestow on us and we thank you that our help comes from you. We pray for those in our lives who are addicted to drugs or alcohol that they would overcome these additions, that they would fix their eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. And, dear Father, please use us as instruments of healing as we minister to our brothers and sisters. To you be the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

June 2019

depressed young woman

At an LWML retreat, the guest speaker stopped to make a point about an issue which many people deal with, “If you have been, or if you know of someone who has been a victim of domestic violence, raise your hand.” The room was silent and even though no one spoke you could sense the tension that settled into the room. “Now, turn around and look around you.” Almost every hand was raised. That was a startling realization for the audience. We were not alone in our grief and pain, as people silently reflected on personal experiences they or someone they loved had experienced. This is one topic that most people don’t talk about because they are broken, ashamed, afraid, or full of hopelessness. The emotions that a person grapples with in these situations are daunting. The elephant was now in the room, and the speaker confronted it. It was a journey worth taking and everyone came away with new awareness. Let’s take that journey together.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!  Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!  For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge (Psalm 31:1-4).

Domestic violence may originate in family and intimate relationships. The abuse may be psychological, physical, emotional, sexual, economic, or neglect. The abuse may include name calling and putdowns. It might include isolating a person from his or her family and friends or refusing to allow him or her to get a job. It might entail financial abuse, such as withholding money or demanding that the other person account for every dollar spent. Threatening loved ones is a common form of abuse, including threatening to harm or kill the victim, their children, their parents, their friends or even pets. Threats can sometimes include a threat to commit suicide. Victims of abuse suffer intensely and experience emotional problems that will endure long past the end of the violence. Children in homes where domestic violence is present are more likely to be abused, and even if not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavioral problems. (Quoted from LCMS Social Issues – Domestic Violence)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

Many times victims feel like it is their fault. They feel that God has abandoned them because of their sin. Abuse is not God’s punishment for an individual’s sin. No one deserves to be abused. Jesus endured the punishment in our place. He paid the price in full, once and for all.

What can you do if you discover an abusive situation?

  • Pray for guidance from our Heavenly Father.
  • Listen to the victim and assure the individual that it is not their fault and that it is not God’s will.
  • Suggest resources within your community that can provide a safe haven for them such as counseling programs and support groups.
  • Find resources that will aid in educating you and others about domestic violence and abuse.

Here are some helpful resources:

Mercy in Action

  • Create a list of local help organizations in your community.
  • Contact your local domestic abuse, safe house or family advocacy center to find out their needs, e.g. quilts, hygiene kits, teddy bears, baby items, gift cards, etc. Have a collection drive for some of these items. Have the director come and speak to your local, zone, or district LWML.
  • Volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, women’s resource center, or family advocacy center.
  • Get involved with one of the specific resources mentioned above.
  • Hold a community information event using the above resources to educate others about domestic violence and abuse. Plan a fun run or other interactive activities to raise awareness.

My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love (Psalm 31:15-16).

A Prayer as You Plan:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon us. Provide us opportunities to be able to share these gifts with others. Help us in this broken world to stand up for those who are abused or neglected. Help us recognize those who are in need of your love, strength, and guidance through abusive situations. Lead them to those who can advocate for them, and those who can share Jesus’ love and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ with them. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

May 2019

flood waters

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

What do we do when disaster strikes? No matter when or where disaster strikes, we should pray for the victims and those who come to their aid.

And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great (Job 2:13).

What else can we do? Fortunately, the LCMS has an extremely well-developed disaster response framework that enables us to provide support for those in need. Take some time to visit the LCMS Disaster Response web page and you will find resources such as:

  • Assistance request forms for members of your congregation or community,
  • Articles on the impact of volunteering that show how Lutherans are offering love and hope to disaster victims,
  • Information about Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) training,
  • A FEMA brochure explaining how to donate or volunteer successfully,
  • Worship resources and Bible studies; and
  • Links to helpful online resources that address a variety of topics including coping with disaster and connecting with survivors.

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37).

Mercy in Action:

  • The article, In midst of flood heartaches, Lutherans offer help, hope references that financial donations are very helpful, since they can be put toward cleanup, rebuilding and other, more immediate, needs. Donations can be made online using this link or directly to a specific LCMS District Disaster Response website.
     
  • Assemble flood relief buckets for distribution in areas plagued by flooding. This link takes you to a document that explains what goes in the buckets and how they are used. Consider having a “flood bucket assembly party” using these ideas:
    • Solicit local businesses for supplies (5-gallon buckets, cleaning supplies, etc.)
    • Use Thrivent Action Team funds to cover shipping costs
    • Invite a local disaster response representative to talk about what exactly happens when a home or business floods and what the clean-up process is like
    • Engage the youth group in the assembly process
    • Bless the completed buckets praying that they will be a blessing to the recipients
       
  • Assemble disaster response survival kits as a community outreach project. This link goes to a document describing what should be in a survival kit.
    • Work with disaster response agencies in your community to identify potential recipients such as the elderly, residents of public housing, etc. These agencies may also be able to assist with distribution of the kits.
    • Consider partnering with other local churches in order to maximize the number of kits assembled.
    • Solicit local businesses for supplies or use Thrivent Action Team funds to purchase them.
    • Involve the entire congregation in the assembly process.
    • Pray over the completed kits prior to distribution. Also pray for the recipients.

Additional Resources:

  • Lutheran World Relief was chartered in 1945 by a council of eight Lutheran church bodies to provide relief to Lutherans in post-World War II Europe. Since then LWR has provided quilts and kits around the world in addition to providing services related to agriculture and the environment.
     
  • Lutheran Church Charities is a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the LCMS. In addition to providing disaster response training, the organization has multiple comfort dog ministries.
     
  • Orphan Grain Train is another RSO of the LCMS. They aid in shipments and cooperate with Lutheran Hour Ministries, LCMS World Missions, LCMS World Relief and other Christian ministries. OGT shares personnel and material resources with needy people in America and around the world. OGT volunteers gather donations of clothing, medical supplies, food, Christian literature and other aid to meet real needs.
     
  • State and local resources are available throughout the United States. To find agencies near you, try an internet search using the name of your state or city followed by the terms “disaster response” or “emergency management”.

Did you know?

Through LCMS Disaster Response, local congregations, and the generosity of people of the LCMS, victims of disaster are finding hope. They are blessed through your contributions to the relief efforts whether they are prayers, monetary donations, mission service activities, or volunteering. All are a result of God’s great love for His people.

A Prayer as You Plan:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We praise and thank you, for your immeasurable love and gifts that you provide for us. Grant us comfort and guidance in the wake of disaster. Help us to share your love and compassion with those who find themselves in disastrous situations. Lead us to action and help us to give hope and healing to those in the midst of chaos. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 3:12-13).

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

April 2019

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“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord,” (Jeremiah 30:17).

Raising a child or adult with an intellectual disability can be a daunting and an exhausting task. There are many appointments to keep. Finding and funding the needed support services can easily overwhelm families. Family members must cope with the daily stress of seeing their loved one struggle.

Ideas for family members who have loved ones with a disability:

  • Encourage family members to connect with community support groups. Within each person’s community, there is a variety of programs and services available. Many of these services are designed to assist people with disabilities. Some of these services are specifically intended for families and other caregivers. The particular array of services available in any given community varies widely. Support coordination specialists (case managers) ensure service recipients receive the proper mix of services. Encourage your loved one to contact their local county services office to locate these services.
     
  • Encourage loved ones to seek out respite services that may be available in their community. These services are available to caregivers of intellectually disabled citizens. Respite services give families a chance to take a break from their daily care responsibilities. It is very helpful and refreshing for family members to take some time off. Most respite programs are provided through national organizations. The most well-known organizations are The Arc and the Easter Seal Society. Services may also be available through schools, churches, and other non-profit groups. Families are usually allotted up to four weeks of free respite services each year.

Ways that you can help:

  • Donate your time and do respite care for a member of your congregation or someone you know in your community that has a loved one with a disability.
     
  • Seek out organizations that work with the disabled in your community that you could partner with.
     
  • Donate to your state Special Olympics or volunteer your time working with the athletes.
  • Hold a special event in your community to bring awareness about your local organizations that offer services for those with disabilities.
    • Publicize your event in your church bulletin and local newspaper.
    • Personally invite family members from your church or community who have precious ones with a disability.
    • Be sure to hold your event in a location where restrooms and water fountains are handicap accessible. The location should be in a one level building or a building that has an elevator. Make sure if you have anyone who is blind to find a building that has braille written on the walls.
    • Be sure to hire an interpreter if you have anyone who is deaf.
    • Apply for Thrivent Action Team monies to help support your event and bring recognition to your local organizations.

Other resources:

A Prayer as You Plan:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for creating us and choosing us to be your dear children. We pray for those special people in our churches and communities who have great needs or disabilities. We especially pray for their families and caregivers as they care for them, may you grant them strength and patience during this difficult time. Please encourage us to help those with disabilities and to see the opportunities you give us to help those who are suffering with an illness. In Jesus precious name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

March 2019

Sharing Jesus’ Love in Action – All Are Prisoners of Sin

March 2019 Mission Service Activity

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened (Acts 16:25-26).

Why is prison ministry important? Lives that had no hope can have hope. The main purpose of Prison Ministry is to share the Gospel of Jesus with others. The Holy Spirit through prayer will prepare and guide you to deliver God's word to all inmates unconditionally.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:16-17). 

Before beginning a prison ministry, commit yourself to the will of God, become His servant, rely heavily on the Holy Spirit’s guidance through prayer, then respond to His direction by beautifully reflecting His grace, mercy and love.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them,
and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body
(Hebrews 13:3).

Reaching Out in the Community

  • Research the primary reasons for incarceration in your area as well as programs or agencies that may address the root cause. Raise funds for one or more of these resources by holding a fundraiser at your church.
    • Invite a speaker to educate the congregation about specific issues in your community.
    • Proceeds may be given directly to a local resource or they can be used to purchase necessary items such as teaching materials, Bibles, personal hygiene items, etc.
  • Seek out an alternative sentencing or community corrections program in your area.
    • If not fully government-funded, the program may need personal hygiene items, Bibles, or any number of things that your group could collect and deliver.
    • The program may need volunteers to help in the areas of literacy, English as a second language, or GED preparation.
  • Identify families who may need a helping hand, especially if the primary breadwinner is the one who is incarcerated.
    • Ask them what they need most – babysitting, daycare, meals, etc. and then find a way to address some of those needs.
    • Help them find resources to help with daycare, continuing education for themselves, etc.
  • Learn about mentoring programs in your area, particularly those geared toward children with an incarcerated parent. Programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters will match adults and children with similar interests. They also do regular check-ins with all involved (child, mentor, and parent).

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law,
imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed
(Galatians 3:23).

Around the Districts:

Here are some mission projects in LWML districts which support prison ministries or which provide resources for children at risk:

  • Northern Illinois (also supported by Iowa East, Louisiana-Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, and Washington-Alaska) - Reaching Visually Impaired Inmates (Lutheran Braille Workers)
  • Pacific Southwest - Giving Hope to Children in Need Using a Planetarium – Teaching disadvantaged youth about Biblical creation.
  • South Wisconsin - Shelter My Sheep-Free at Last Ministry - Continue to provide support of spiritual care, mentoring inside and outside of prison walls
  • Southern Illinois - Shared Prison & Jail Ministry in Southern Illinois District LCMS

Additional Resources:

  • LCMS Prison Ministry – As part of the LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry (SPM), the Prison Ministry has Prison Ministry Coordinators in each LCMS district. The ministry also produces resources such as a brochure, a handbook, and a terrific devotion booklet for prisoners titled “Prisoner’s Reflections: Meditations for Prisoners”.

    NOTE: One of our mission grants for this biennium supports a Prison and Jail Ministry Synod-wide Conference in 2018! So, keep those mites coming!!!

  • Prison Fellowship – Founded in 1976 by Charles (Chuck) Colson, former White House Council, this ministry has a multitude of resources for bringing the Gospel message to prisoners and their families. The Angel Tree project is an outgrowth of this ministry and not only provides Christmas gifts to children of incarcerated parents but also provides resources for ministering to families throughout the year.
     
  • Community Corrections Programs – According to this Office of Justice (OJP) website: “Community corrections are sanctions imposed on convicted adults or adjudicated juveniles that occur in a residential or community setting outside of jail or prison. The sanctions are enforced by agencies or courts with legal authority over the adult or juvenile offenders.” You may find this website to be somewhat overwhelming in its abundance of information but it’s a great way to educate yourself about programs that might exist in your area.
     
  • Foundation of Hope – Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this organization focuses on the continuum of support through pre-release and aftercare programs. The pre-release program addresses themes such as anger management, life skills, and parenting. The aftercare program matches the inmate with a mentor who provides encouragement and practical advice in addition to attending regular support group meetings.

And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
And he said to him,
"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise"
(Luke 23:42-43).

A Prayer as You Plan:

Dear God, please help us remember those who are incarcerated, that they are your children. We ask for guidance to find ways to be servants to these brothers and sisters in our community. Father, keep us mindful of the families who suffer when a loved one is removed from them and to find ways to reach out and support them, especially the children involved. We each are sinful in our own ways and deserve eternal punishment. We praise and thank You for your boundless grace and mercy. Please Father; help us to extend that grace and mercy to those who are in prison. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

February 2019

February Mission Service Activity

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint
(Isaiah 40:31).

February is the month people share their love with others. Here are a number of ways to show your love and support for the elderly and shut-ins in your community.

Ideas to help support the elderly and shut-ins:

  • Take a group of women and visit some of the elderly at a nursing home, veterans home, or shut-ins in their homes.
  • Bring Mustard Seed Devotions such as Comfort from the Psalms , How Lord?, Joyful, Joyful, and Living in Joy. Some can be purchased in large print. Encourage them to share the Mustard Seeds with other residents and their caregivers.
  • Bring Portals of Prayer that they can share with their neighbors. You can purchase them from CPH or give any leftovers you may have from your church. These are also available in Spanish and large print.
  • Bookmarks or tracts can be given out during Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
  • Create bookmarks, or make treats with a message attached that you can hand out for holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Veteran’s Day. Encourage the person you visit to share these with other residents.
  • Plan an event at a nursing home such as bringing a youth choir or orchestra from your Lutheran or public school.
  • Have your local LWML plan a tea or other event for the nursing residents.

Things to do while you are visiting:

  1. Sing hymns from the Lutheran Service Book.
  2. Share a devotion with them.
  3. Read a Christian book with them and discuss it.  Check out CPH for books such as Joyfully Aging, where readers gain insight on the limitless opportunities to witness their faith to others and live vibrant, grace-filled lives.
  4. Pray together. Pray for the church, each other and your families, disasters, worries, etc.
  5. Play cards, a board game or put a puzzle together.
  6. Bring your pet to share with them but make sure you call ahead to see if the nursing home will allow pets.
  7. Give them a massage or a manicure.
  8. Eat a meal or snack with them or take them out for ice cream. Make sure you clear this with the staff before doing so. Some may have dietary restrictions.
  9. Remember them on holidays and their birthday with treats or a small gift.
  10. Visit them after Sunday service to share the church bulletin, newsletter, and that Sunday’s Gospel message. Talk with them about upcoming events at church to keep them informed.
  11. Bring old photos that you have taken at church and talk about them.
  12. Take them for a walk to the chapel or community room.

Mission servant event idea:

  1. Make a photo album (84 cents) and label it “God’s Promises”. Decorate covers with printed cardstock. Inside all the pages include Bible verses, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Nicene Creed. Slide pages into the photo album.
  2. Make adult clothing protectors and give them as gifts.
  3. Make a lap blanket.

Resources - There are countless videos and web-sites on how to make adult clothing protectors and lap blankets. Here are just a few:

Other Resources - Please check out the Shut-In and Nursing Home Kit on the Gospel Outreach webpage.

A Prayer as you Plan:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you for the opportunities you give us to help and encourage those who are aging and are unable to do things that they have always loved to do. We pray for those who are no longer able to live in their homes and are now living in nursing homes or assisted living. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit and spend time with the aging and to share your word and love with them. Amen.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing
 (I Thessalonians 5:11).

The Gospel Outreach Committee would love to hear about and share your mission service activities! Please contact us through the LWML email at depgo@lwml.org. Thank you!

View past Mission Service Activities

2019 Calendar

Looking for Mission Service Activities in advance?

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Here's a year's worth of simple mission service activities, laid out in one document for ease of use. Print and display the calendar of activities, and mark them off as you do them.

Sharing Jesus' Love Through Action 2019 — A Year's Worth of Mission Service Activities PDF 

 

Get Started with the May Ideas

Nurturing Faith in Christ

Prepare for attending the next LWML or district convention by spending time meditating on the theme verse. Uplift the officers in prayer as they prepare to lead the convention. And, pray for the delegates as they contemplate their voting choices.

Making Our Faith Meaningful

This is the time of year for tornados and floods. Consider collecting items needed in emergency response situations such as quilts and blankets. Review the LCMS Disaster Response page for other ways to help. EXTRA CREDIT: Invite an emergency response representative to speak at your church to educate members on how to prepare and/or serve.

Sharing Encouragement

Sign up for a short term mission trip to a domestic natural disaster site. Or, become a Red Cross volunteer.

View the 2018 calendar
View more Mission Service Activities

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