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Christ for Veterans and Their Families

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Christ for Veterans and Their Families — LCMS Ministry of the Armed Forces, $27,750

Christ for Veterans and Their Families

By Chaplain Craig Muehler, Director, LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
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Christie Steffans, LWML Missouri District President, presents a check for $27,750 to LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces Chaplain Craig Muehler, director. Photo courtesy of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod/Frank Kohn

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We are so grateful for the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and its commitment and outreach to all military-connected people. Because of LWML’s faithful mite offerings, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces was able to hold a National Operation Barnabas conference, “Christ for Veterans and Their Families,” in St. Louis on March 15 and 16, 2018.

The purpose of the conference was to share ideas, promote networking, and expand Operation Barnabas ministries into more congregations and districts. Participants represented 20 LCMS districts as well as LWML members working in their congregations. The benefit will grow as participants return home and share with others how we can better care for and support these special people.

Just as Barnabas was St. Paul’s supportive companion on his missionary journeys, Operation Barnabas offers resources to help congregations care for all military-connected people — within their congregations and out in their communities — through intentional outreach.

About 330 of the Synod’s 6,000 congregations are active in the 10-year-old Operation Barnabas program. We would like to see every Synod congregation involved in sharing the veteran-friendly message: “Your service to our nation was honorable, you did your duty and we respect that, you’re welcome here — no matter what you’ve been through — and God loves you and sent Jesus for you.”

One of the main speakers was Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch (U.S. Army, retired), an LCMS Lutheran who wasn’t baptized until he was 32. Lynch, author of Work Hard, Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action, spoke of his journey from a religion-free upbringing to his military service to actively sharing his faith in Jesus Christ.

Angela Cook, RN, suicide prevention coordinator for the St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center, shared a resounding theme: “Suicide prevention is everybody’s business.” If someone only took the time to listen to a hurting veteran — “and that person could be you … just caring is very important” — more lives might be saved, she said. Cook shared statistics pertaining to the United States: suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; someone attempts suicide every 35 seconds; and veterans account for 18 percent (some 20 per day) of the 42,000 deaths by suicide annually.

Chaplain Rev. Dr. Gary Danielsen, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, called ministries to military families and veterans a “mission field” with “tremendous opportunities for outreach.” Most of those who have served in the military, particularly in combat, tend to trust and confide most readily in others who have served, Danielsen noted. “Many veterans like to tell their story, many are afraid to tell their story,” and, perhaps most important, “many need to tell their story,” he said.

The need to connect with those who are hurting is overwhelming. Numerous ideas to help congregations reach out with Christ to veterans and their families were shared by the Rev. Dr. Michael Morehouse, a 23-year U.S. Army veteran and pastor of Catalina Lutheran Church in Catalina, Arizona, one of the first congregations to start an Operation Barnabas ministry.

The magnitude of benefits from this conference will continue as Christ’s love is shown to our military veterans and their families. We look forward to how God will work through the conference participants, reaching out with Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Summer 2018 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

You are Making an Impact – Grant #16

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Education Loan Repayment Assistance Grants — MinistryFocus; $25,000 partially paid

nullOn behalf of MinistryFocus, Rev. Ken Krueger accepted a $12,500 check presented by LWML President Patti Ross as a partial installment of $100,000 for LWML Mission Grant #16 — Education Loan Repayment Assistance Grant.

Have you ever been burdened with the challenge of paying your bills, especially financial loan repayments? Then you will certainly appreciate the impact you’re making through this grant!

Most of our called workers leave the seminary and our Concordia(s) with large loan debts. YOU ARE MAKING AN IMPACT for called workers of the LCMS in the United States and around the world! How? $12,500 of the $100,000 grant for Education Loan Repayment Assistance, Grant #16, has been paid to provide $2,500 per qualified called worker to help reduce their financial loan burden. This grant is helping Ministry Focus, a Recognized Service Organization (RSO), award loan repayment assistance grants to 23 rostered church workers of the LCMS for 2018. One recipient shared: “Your support eases our family’s burden as we seek to serve the Lord. Your care for the daily lives of those in the ministry is especially appreciated. Your faith and hope in the Lord strengthens my own faith, and I rejoice in the unity we have in Christ’s many gifts.

Another recipient said: “It does my heart good to know that there are others who know the prayer and discernment which goes into the process of embarking on a career change into the ministry; especially when that change will probably not be a lucrative one. Your partnership in this area loosens the grip of the day to day pressures on our finances to allow us to begin looking past today to what might be possible tomorrow. That is a sight we haven’t had the luxury of viewing for the 12 years I’ve been in ministry.”

Your mites are making an impact! Please continue with your prayers and mites for our grant recipients as we continue with God’s help to share the love of Christ with each other and the world.

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For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Spreading the Gospel Worldwide

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Lutheran Children’s Books for Families Worldwide — Lutheran Heritage Foundation, $100,000

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Ethiopian Lutheran school children with Bible storybooks

Spreading the Gospel Worldwide

By Jennifer Bagnell, Public Relations Director of LHF, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
 

As a Lutheran woman, how many times have you used a child’s Bible storybook? 

Perhaps you had a book about Jesus you loved as a child, or maybe you have sweet memories of reading Bible stories to your own children as you tucked them into bed. Maybe you’ve been a Sunday School or Lutheran day school teacher, and you’ve used Bible storybooks to teach your young charges the faith.

However, countless women around the globe have never been so fortunate. To many, a Bible storybook is an unaffordable luxury or isn't available in their language at all.

Through an LWML Mission Grant to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), this situation is changing! 
At the 2017 convention, delegates voted to provide $100,000 to LHF for translating, publishing, and distributing Lutheran Bible storybooks for children and families worldwide. 

“It’s difficult to express the enormous impact this Mission Grant will have on spreading the Gospel,” reflected LHF’s executive director, Rev. Matthew Heise. “We know that Scripture tells us to raise up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it. LHF is deeply thankful to the LWML that, with this Mission Grant, literally tens of thousands of children will be able to read and learn about their Savior, Jesus.”

One of the first storybooks is A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, a colorfully-illustrated book of 60 Old and New Testament stories. It has been recently translated into the Farsi language, spoken in Iran. Although it’s very 
difficult to get Christian materials into Iran, “God has a way of opening doors for His children,” Rev. Heise shared.

In 2015, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe, including over 100,000 immigrants from Iran. When they settled in countries like Germany and Denmark, Lutheran churches and missionaries saw a great opportunity to introduce those living in the darkness of Islam to the light of Jesus Christ.

“The biggest challenge is the language,” explained Rev. Hugo Gevers, a Lutheran pastor in Leipzig, Germany. “How do you teach people who don’t know your language at all?” Once the 5,000+ copies of book are printed, they will be given free of charge to the Farsi-speaking families.

“What we’ve seen with this book, time and again, is that we translate and publish the book mainly for children,” reflected Rev. Heise. “But what we didn’t expect is how many adults would pick up this little book and start to read, and how it would lead to them asking more questions about who this Jesus is.” 

In the coming months, LHF will continue to translate several more publications for new and growing Lutheran churches in Africa, Asia, and Europe. For many recipients — most of whom come from Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist backgrounds — the stories of God’s love bring peace and comfort.

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David (right) and Rev. Hugo Gevers

This has proven true for David, LHF’s lead Farsi translator of A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. David grew up in a Muslim family in Iran, but after fleeing to Germany a few years ago, God led him to Rev. Gevers in Leipzig.

“I think of when Jesus was with his followers, and they said, ‘Hey Jesus, your mother is outside.’ But Jesus told them, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’” David said. “Now I’m here in Germany. I have no family here. But my pastor is my father, and all who read this book and believe, they are my brothers and my sisters.” 

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Spring 2018 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Mercy in the Midst of the Storm

2013–2015 Mission Grant: Disaster Reponse Center in Dominican Republic — LCMS Disaster Response, $100,000 paid in full

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Seminarians walk to class greeted by Junior (see page 28 of Winter 2017 LWQ) at Concordia Reformer Mercy Center and Lutheran Seminary. Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

Mercy in the Midst of the Storm

By Rev Dr. Ross Johnson, Director Disaster Response LCMS Office of National Mission, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
Hurricane Irma put the recently completed Disaster Response Center in the Dominican Republic, to its first test. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the ladies of the LWML, the solid, reinforced concrete edifice is centrally located in a fertile valley, protected on all sides by mountains. Deadly hurricanes and earthquakes target the Caribbean on a regular basis, making this an ideal location for the multipurpose facility. The Regional Office for LCMS Latin American Missions, located just six miles away, serves not only as the nerve center of mission work in Latin America, but also as the command center for disaster relief.

Thanks be to God that Hurricane Irma was much less destructive than anyone imagined. However, preparation for this storm provided the perfect opportunity for a trial run, an opportunity to formulate a plan and execute it, while under the real life duress of an impending category five hurricane — the most powerful ever to come out of the Atlantic. 

Hand-in-hand the Body of Christ in the Dominican Republic worked. People from different countries, languages, abilities, ages, and skin colors came together with joy to accomplish the task at hand. Indeed, the intensity and camaraderie was something most people never see in a lifetime.

Supplies were hauled in by the van load. Water, rice, canned meat, sugar, oatmeal, dry beans, hygiene supplies, and other items were packaged and prepared for mass distribution following the hurricane. Hours passed in the ninety-plus degree heat. Electric fans would have been a welcomed luxury, but cooling came only from sweat soaked shirts and gulped bottles of water.

Near the end of the day, as energy was waning and hands were faltering, the singing began. Throughout the building, the sounds of happy voices singing praises to our God rang out loudly and clearly. The joyful sounds could be heard until the last of the supplies were packed safely away or loaded and hauled to other mission sites nearby. As the hurricane approached the island, the Disaster Response Center was made available for anyone in the community who needed assistance or shelter from the storm.

This, the first of many coming disaster preparations, would not have been possible were it not for this structure, large enough for massive preparation, while also solid and secure enough to be a shelter in the storm. We thank God for the dear ladies of the LWML for providing such a facility, so that God’s goodness and mercy could be shared with those in Latin America. Indeed, so we might also teach others what we do as the Body of Christ: we show love to our neighbor.

Concordia the Reformer Mercy Center and Seminary also serves as a center for training deaconesses for human care and mercy ministry. More than 100 women across Latin America are enrolled in deaconess classes, many of whom receive training here. In addition, on September 11th, the first class of seminarians attended the opening chapel service in this facility. We pray these students will become faithful shepherds.

Dedication of Concordia the Reformer Mercy Center and Seminary was held on October 1, 2017. No doubt, future generations of faithful pastors and deaconesses, and the people they serve, will look back and say, “Thank God for the forward-looking, generous, and godly women of the LWML.” Indeed, each little mite, lovingly collected, and each prayer spoken in faith, was blessed by Our Father, who does all things well. 

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Winter 2017 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Update on Current Missionary Need

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Current Missionary Need — LCMS International Mission; $100,000 fully paid

nullPeople are lining up in droves to learn about Jesus, they are devoted and faithful. Their numbers are climbing daily. Who will we send to teach them?

NATIONAL LWML TREASURER, THE HONORABLE MARILYN SCHROEDER COMES TO MISSION CENTRAL TO PRESENT AN AMAZING MIRACLE:

Yes, Miracles keep on happening at the Lord's Mission Central! That's what happened on the afternoon of December 5th, 2017!!

We were blessed to have the Honorable Missionary Marilyn Schroeder come to Mission Central with the VERY FIRST National LWML Grant that was given in conjunction with the National LWML Convention in 2017!  In her hand was the very first check given this year for the grants awarded, and she presented this amazing MIRACLE to Old Missionary Gary Thies and Rev. Brent Smith, Co-workers at Mission Central in the amount of $100,000.00!!!  Every penny of this gift will be given to help support ten (10) of our LCMS missionaries! 

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Here you see Treasurer Schroeder with our Boss here at Mission Central and also as she is presenting the check and also the agreements that will be used in the support of these missionaries for the Lord Jesus! 

 

Those 10 missionaries will each receive $10,000.00 and those missionaries are:

  • Alexandria Rappe — going to Thailand
  • Shara Osiro — serving in Kenya
  • Alyssa Anders — serving in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Krista Young — serving in Kenya
  • Rev. Gary and Stephanie Schulte — Serving in Togo
  • Rev. Shauen Trump & Family — Serving in Kenya
  • Rev. Charles Ferry & Family — Serving as Asia Area Director
  • Rev. Carl Hanson & Family — Serving in Hong Kong, who spoke at the National LWML convention with his dear wife, and they brought the house down!
  • Rev. Mark Rabe & Family — Serving in Ethiopia
  • Rev. Eddie Hosch & Family — Serving in Peru

What a blessing this will be for these dear missionaries, as this is truly the greatest Christmas Gift that could have been delivered.

— Mission Central

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Providing Hope for Detroit update

2015–2017 Mission Grant: Providing Hope for Detroit — Acts 2 Enterprise, $100,000 fully paid

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Acts 2 Enterprise of the Michigan District has continued its strategy of holistic outreach through 6 components: Kingdom activity, leadership development, facilitating resources, engaging communities, implementing transformative systems and collaborating and partnering with community stakeholders.

A2E expanded its outreach activity to include back to school supplies through Lutheran churches in Detroit and Pontiac by providing 250 back packs to community residents in Fall 2016. The work of leadership development for local and regional leaders was facilitated through the Fall 2016 Urban Institute. The theme was Transformed to Transform which provided training on principles and strategies for personal and corporate transformation to effectively engage the community.

A2E celebrated its 4th soft skill training graduation in Spring 2016 and will begin its next class September 2017. The purpose of this eight week session is to provide a Christ Centered curriculum which provides a vocational inventory, conflict resolution skills, resume writing, job search skills and interview skills to adults 18 years and over in the community.

A2E has extended its summer sports camp outreach to engage youth in the community to a 4th site located in Benton Harbor, in conjunction with Trinity Saint Joseph, where there is no Lutheran presence. The objective of the sports camp is to position churches to engage the unchurched youth through a weeklong free sports camp. The camp incorporates sports such as flag football, lacrosse, golf, cheerleading, soccer, and marital arts. The camp has a theme and a bible verse which the participants are shared to memorize. There is a time for “coaches” to sit down with participants and have a devotional time. The goal is to extend the presence of the body of Christ and to build relationships with both the participants and their parents. It is from these endeavors that our desire is to discover more insight into the lives of the residents.

One of the most exciting new endeavors which has begun with three churches in Detroit is the development of a student ministry for the congregations. Congregational leaders who are passionate about establishing a faith formation tract for children and youth have been meeting together since March 2017. These congregations will not be able to afford a full time paid youth worker so a process is in place to raise up the leaders in the congregations to facilitate this generational ministry.  The leaders are trained to provide a pedagogical path for students who will live out their faith intentionally and purposely in their home, school and community. September will be the kickoff for this student ministry to begin in the city of Detroit.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Update on Deaconess Training

2015–2017 Mission Grant: Deaconess Training — LCMS support for International Partner Churches, $90,000 fully paid

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The purpose of this grant was to provide training support for Deaconess students in both Office of National Mission field ($40,000) as well as Office of International Mission field ($50,000).

The Deaconess “as a servant of God” shares the good news with those whom God brings. She teaches children in Sunday School, adult bible study, witness within the community, the poor, the needy and underprivileged.

For domestic purposes, grant funding provided educational and financial support for students at our Lutheran Seminaries and institutions.

  • For the Fiscal year 2016-2017, a Deaconess Internship was awarded to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Cincinnati for a St. Louis student. In this position, a Deaconess will serve the homeless and working poor, build relationships through trust, and provide spiritual care and provide works of mercy.
  • Wollaston Lutheran Church in Quincy, MA also will be blessed with a Deaconess Intern (from Ft. Wayne) serving with priorities on Ethnic Chinese Evangelism, Nursery/Preschool Family Outreach and Children & Youth Ministry.
  • Each of the 3 new freshmen deaconess students at CUC received a copy of Grace upon Grace authored by John Kleinig.

LCMS international partner churches also benefit from support for Deaconess students. Some of these countries have seminaries and others do not. However, Deaconess education is vital and there is a thirst for learning Lutheran theology.

  • The Lutheran Seminary for the Lutheran Church of Philippines will have 3 freshman students who will receive a monthly stipend to cover expenses such as board, tuition, school supplies, and transportation during the academic year 2016-17. The ten advanced course deaconess students will each receive a transportation stipend.
  • The Lutheran Seminary of LCP: The next advanced deaconess class is scheduled April 24-May 5, 2017. Rev. Dr. Detlev Schultz teaches on “Mission from the Cross,” to the deaconess and seminarian students. Deaconess Rao teaches on “World Religions,” for deaconess students only. The deaconess students continue to receive stipend for transportation, food, and office supplies.
  • In April, the very first Deaconess program was introduced at the Lutheran church of Lithuania {ELCL}. Twenty participants received stipends for this introductory, intensive 4 day class.
  • Plans are being developed to continue the class in October 2017 on Lutheran Lutheranism 101 for ELCL deaconess class.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia – President Amos, Rev. Arthur Zogar, and Rev. Simon Dapaye will teach three courses for the ten Liberian deaconess students. The class is scheduled April 1-13, 2017.
  • Sixteen Nigerian Deaconess students received support for board, lodging, school supplies and textbooks last August.
  • Plans are being developed to continue the studies. The next course is schedule in August 2017. Students will continue to receive the support.
  • Encouraging and supporting Deaconess Eva Rickman, missionary in Hong Kong for women and children ministry. Plans are to initiate deaconess program.

In addition to the student scholarship support, theological textbooks were provided for a particular subject as per the curriculum. CTCR handouts were also provided as supplements for the particular topic/subject. (See the PDF below for specifics.)

Implementing the deaconess training programs enables the women to study, learn, understand in preparation for them to share and teach. It builds the Church’s capacity as women leaders to serve women of the church. They understand God’s Word and the roles that God designed.

— Mary Hamilton, LCMS Grants Manager

Read or print the FULL report with pictures.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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