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Meet Our Missions – LERT – Lutheran Emergency Response Team

Learn about LERT, one of the missions the English District supports.

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By Rev. Ted Laesch, Chapel of the Cross – Lutheran, St Louis, MO

 Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33)

You don’t have to look far to see it, feel it, experience it: tribulation. Broken relationships, sicknesses, tragedy, financial difficulties, disease, death — there is no shortage of tribulation in this world. And it comes to all of us. Jesus did not say that you might have tribulation. He didn’t say that you will probably have tribulation. He said, you will have tribulation.

But lest we run and hide, cry and complain, lose hope and give in to despair from the impending tribulation that we will undoubtedly undergo, hear what else Jesus has to say:

“…But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

No matter the trouble, no matter the hurt, no matter the pain, no matter the tribulation, we have the blessed assurance that Jesus has won the victory — He has overcome the devil. He has overcome sin. He has overcome death. He has overcome the world. And in those times of tribulation — as we go through crises and disasters and tragedies — He gives comfort and peace.  And often, He gives that comfort and peace through brothers and sisters in Christ. He gives that comfort and peace through you. Take heart! He says. I have overcome the world.

Last fall, Chapel of the Cross, through a generous grant from the English District and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, received a disaster trailer outfitted with tools and equipment necessary to help those in our community who are going through tribulation brought on by a natural disaster. A Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) was also trained and continues to train to be ready to share that comfort and peace of Christ with their ministry of presence and cleaning and clearing and fixing and caring and loving. The LERT team is one way God says to His people: Take heart! I love you. I care for you. You are my special children. And remember, I have overcome the world.”

If you would like to know more about Chapel’s LERT group and serving God and His people in this way, please contact Chapel’s LERT Team Captain: Ken Kreitner (314-741-3559).

Do you have a mission or ministry experience you would like to share? If so, you, too, could be a guest blogger for the English District. For consideration, please send an email to Lynne Cobb, Communications Coordinator for the English District LCMS at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

CLICK HERE to give to missions supported by the English District.

 

 

More than Memory Lane

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Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

By Augusta R. Mennell

Campus ministry touches the lives of students, whether they attend college locally or thousands of miles from home. Through meals, a listening ear, socializing and Bible study, bonds are created. Often the ministry plants seeds of faith. Sometimes the seeds bloom, and other times they need a little extra care to take root. Here’s a story about a student – years after graduation – and how Campus Ministry continues its mission.

This summer Chulsoon, a Korean alumnus of Slippery Rock University, PA, brought his wife, daughter, and son to see where he had gone to college and to see the Lutheran Student Center he had often visited. He thought it was going to be a trip down memory lane, but I believe that God intended it to be an opportunity for him to once again hear the Gospel that he had heard for several years during our many discussions.

Soon after coming into the All Saints building, Chulsoon and his wife asked if I would like to hear their children sing a song in Korean that they had memorized in church. The children sang beautifully and were very proud of their music, which sounded like a Psalm. It was very evident that Chulsoon’s wife and his children are Christians.

Chulsoon described his life. He owns a successful school that teaches English to Korean children. It even prepares college-age students to come to study in America. Chulsoon said he works at the school seven days a week. He is pleased to be so successful, but he intimated that he is tired of doing the same old work day-in and day-out. He claimed that he did not have time for church.

Out of the blue, Chulsoon’s wife stated, as a matter-of-fact, that “he is not a Christian.” I saw tears come into her eyes as she said this. Her words shook me and shocked me. I thought Chulsoon would be angry with her for being so outspoken. Her statement was very blunt. Amazingly, he admitted that he was not a Christian. He said that he does not believe because there are “too many hypocrites in the church.” He added that too many people in his wife’s church try too much to pressure him into coming to worship.

So here we were, right back where we began when Chulsoon was a student, eight to ten years ago. Once more we talked about faith. This visit for Chulsoon was turning out to be more than a trip down memory lane. For us, it was another opportunity to share God’s love with Chulsoon, who did listen willingly. We suggested to him that Christians realize that we all are hypocrites, all of us, and that is why we go to church: to receive God’s gift of forgiveness. We again talked about mistakes we Christians make when we try to evangelize our friends and neighbors. We suggested that we need to invite others to church in a loving way, not with a hectoring manner. Attempting to strong-arm a person into belief in Jesus never works. Perhaps Chulsoon could tell his wife’s fellow believers that.

The visit with Chulsoon and his family ended on a good note. They left feeling cared about, no matter what happens next. All Saints will pray that the Holy Spirit will help Chulsoon to open his heart to God. We said goodbye with tears on our faces, not knowing when we will ever meet again, but believing that seeds of friendship and faith have been planted. It was more than a walk down memory lane, it was a gift from the Lord to Chulsoon and his family.

Our goal for the coming school year remains the same as ever. We will open our hearts and church to all the Chulsoons who come to the Lutheran Student Center. We feel it is a privilege to share the Gospel with students. Please pray for our work here.

Augusta R. Mennell is the Campus Ministry Director at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock, PA. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

 

Share Hope: A Report on LYF Training

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By Megan Uderian

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

This is a passage that I continually thought about while at the Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) training in St. Louis, MO, March 15-18. I was blessed with the opportunity to go last year as I learned a lot about and grew in my faith. This year’s training was called “Share Hope” and based off of Ephesians 4:15: “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” I learned ways in which I can talk to others about my faith and share God’s truth with gentleness and respect.

I feel that the Executive Team, along with Jessica Bordeleau, did a really good job of teaching the material to the participants and being there for us offering guidance and support. One concept that they used to teach the content was the comparison of the boxing gloves versus the blanket. When talking to others or confronting them about something will you use boxing gloves or a blanket?

It was an interesting experience also due to the fact that I was the only Canadian there. I got to learn more about Americans and their culture and meet many new people. We were together at the Pallottine Renewal Center for four days, so I definitely was given the opportunity to make friends. Even from last year, it’s been proven that these friendships can last even while people are in different states – and a different country in my case.

Overall, the training not only helped me grow in my faith, but it helped me grow as a person as well. My worldview – a word that was explored at the training – has broadened. It will take time to internally process all that I got from the training, but I know for sure that it was a unique experience, and I am very grateful to God for having had the opportunity.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Megan Uderian is the representative for the English District for Lutheran Youth Fellowship. She is a member of St. Luke, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

 

Baptized in faith

By Rev. Derek Mathers

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On a Sunday in March, 22 individuals were baptized into the family of God at the Church of St. Luke – Lutheran in Toronto, Ontario – an English District congregation of the LCMS. The individuals are Persians from Iran and they are facing the altar so they cannot be identified outside the congregation – which shares their concern for family members still living in Iran who might be in danger because they have converted to Christianity. Mr. Daryoush Bahrami, Servant leader of the Persian Fellowship, and Pastor Derek Mathers, are facing the camera.

How does it happen that 127 adults and children have come to be baptized at St. Luke over the past three years? One testimony unfolds like this.

Imagine going on vacation to another country overseas for a couple of months with your family. While travelling and seeing the sights, you receive news from friends and family that security officers of your home country’s government have entered your home on the suspicion that you have become a follower of Jesus. In their search, the officers find the only Bible you own – a gift from the leader of the underground Christian fellowship you are attending once a month. Now you and your family are facing prison if you return to your home.

You apply for refugee status in the country you are visiting. You attend a Christian congregation which has a fellowship group that speaks in your language. You can hear God’s Word openly and freely without fear every week. God’s Spirit draws you closer to Jesus Christ and you ask the question, can I be baptized? Following instruction, together with 21 others, you receive God’s grace through baptism amidst sounds of celebration and clapping. You are anointed with oil, receive salt on your tongue, and a new cross is placed around your neck. You have received the gift of new life. But the question remains, will you be allowed to stay in this country?”

Of the 127 baptized people at St. Luke, some are now citizens of Canada and many are in the process of waiting for a judgement from the Refugee Board of Canada. For a few, this process has been going on for three years. It is our prayer that these few will soon be citizens – and they have our continued support.

Rev. Mathers is the Assistant to the Bishop/Mission Executive of the English District Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

 

Meet our Missions – Bethesda AIMS

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Meet our Missions – Asian Indian Ministry-Chicago (Bethesda AIMS)

By: Rev. Shadrach Katari, Missionary

Twenty years ago in this winter season, the Asian Indian Ministry (AIM) was started by Bethesda Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL, with the blessing of Bishop David Ritt and with the support of the English District LCMS. A small core group was started to proclaim the Gospel to both Christians and non-Christians of India on the north side of Chicago.  We proceeded with multiple programs and projects to build up this ministry – to identify the needs of Asian Indians who come to the USA as immigrants, especially new immigrants.

Social Activities:  In the beginning of this ministry, with the help of the core group and other supporters, we helped the new immigrants to find food, temporary shelters and helped them to find jobs, whether they were Christians or Hindus or Muslims.  We built a good relationship with the people and invited them to attend our Sunday worship which is in our own language, Telugu.

Small Bible Groups:  While we are helping, we are giving them Gospel tracts and New Testaments and preach the Gospel.  We invite them to the small Bible studies at their neighborhood homes. Many people show up at home gatherings to spend time with us. Occasionally, we meet at homes for birthday celebrations and home functions and other general activities, like picnics and sports and games.

Gospel Meetings and Concerts:  We also took things a step further by inviting people for Gospel meetings and concerts on a larger scale to preach the Gospel to non-Christians.  Three times a year, in the summer and fall, we conduct these meetings at Bethesda or in other Chicago suburbs. Many people come and receive blessings, and we pray for healing for the sick and needy.

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Sunday Worship:  Every Sunday, our worship is in the Telugu language – and sometimes in English – at 6:30 p.m. at Bethesda in Chicago. Members from all over Chicago and the suburbs come to attend and to worship the Lord with us.  Many times, we see new immigrants come as visitors and receive blessings. Most of our members are scattered all over the Chicago area because of their jobs.  Now we have more than 100 members and visitors that attend Sunday worship and small Bible study groups.

Evangelism:  We strongly believe evangelism is a very important aspect in our ministry to reach the non-believers. A group of our church members has taken this task seriously, and goes to grocery stores and fast-food restaurants to find Indian workers, giving them Gospel tracts and talking with them in person. When on the street doing our evangelical work, we face big opposition from the Hindu fundamental groups and Muslim extremists.  But the Word of God is powerful and we do not back down from the evangelical work.

We are so grateful to our present Bishop, Rev. Hardy and Mission Executive, Rev. Mathers, for their help and support.  Our hope is to grow together with the Bethesda English congregation and be co-leaders with the church.

To learn more about Bethesda AIMS, email Rev. Katari at katari06@hotmail.com, join their group on Facebook, or visit their website.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

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Reminding us it’s worth it – Thank you, Robin!

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By Augusta R. Mennell

What a wonderful, inspiring, encouraging letter. It came from Robin, who lives in Massachusetts. Her son Moses is a student at Grove City College and attends worship and student meals at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center, Slippery Rock, PA. Robin wrote saying how thankful she is that this LCMS campus ministry is here in Slippery Rock for her family. She wrote, “My husband still talks about the sermon Reverend Loree preached at the August service that (he) attended,” when he brought his son Moses to Grove City College.

This letter is especially meaningful because it addresses a question campus ministry often faces: Is it worthwhile? Sometimes, ministry to young students seems to bear fruit, but other times not so much. Sometimes seeds are planted but don’t seem to bear fruit, since we don’t see baptisms. This letter from Robin, who is an active LCMS layperson, inspires campus ministry to go on planting seeds. After all, what is the option?

Robin wrote that she and her husband, Herb, are thankful that someone shared the Gospel with them. She described their lives before Christ as being in darkness with no joy. Now they are filled with the satisfaction of sharing the Gospel in rural western Massachusetts.

She wrote, “We have been very blessed in our recent contacts with college students,” and continued, “We hosted eight Iranian students on Christmas Day. We had truly wonderful conversation with them, in which I was able to share how the Lord led me to give Moses his name, and to share other ways he has guided us. One student asked her what the differences between Islam and Christianity were. Herb has studied Islam and frequently memorizes and meditates on the Bible, so he was ready, willing and able to answer.”

Robin went on to describe their Christmas party with Malaysian students and the ESL (English as a second language) class they hold for students from Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Sudan. Their joy in sharing the Gospel is inspiring. Robin and her family are not counting the number of students they see becoming Christians. They just plant seeds and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

What does this have to do with campus ministry? Why is it so inspiring? Because it reminds those of us in campus ministry that although it might seem easier to stop doing ministry to students because they don’t often asked to be baptized, it is still very worthwhile! There is joy in sharing Jesus. There is little joy in just concentrating on those who already know. This attitude is not joy-filled and is not a satisfying option. All Saints will continue to work to reach students.

One student, Isuri, came to say a final goodbye. She has become family. She has helped with student meals, attended a few church services, and often came to talk about life. Clearly she loves and admires her Buddhist parents who are her role models. They are sensitive, affectionate, and hard-working people. Isuri brought them to visit in our home. When her parents left to return to Sri Lanka, they asked us to stand with their daughter after they left. They trust us to care for her, even though they have heard us say that we believe that Jesus is the meaning of life. Isuri has been at ASLC for three years, but prefers to be Buddhist. Does this mean that campus ministry wasted its time? No! Seeds are planted. The story is not concluded yet; it is not yet the ninth inning or the last quarter of the game. For Isuri, it is still the first inning. We were not asked to grow the seeds, just to plant them. This we did, with all the love possible. As Robin’s letter reminds campus ministry, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, Robin, for your letter. It is a great reminder that we should share the Gospel on campus; that we should enjoy doing it; that we should let the Holy Spirit do His work. And yes, please tell your story one day. It will inspire us, too.

Augusta R. Mennell is the Campus Ministry Director at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock, PA. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

 

 

Meet our Missions – Voice of Faith

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Voice of Faith, a ministry of Faith Lutheran, Naples, FL, is one of the missions supported by the English District LCMS.

The outreach is twofold. First, they bring Christian congregations an awareness of the vast growth of Islam in the country and its effects on our churches. They strive to teach the truth about other religions and to train Christians to reach out into the community with love, acceptance and respect for those of other faiths. At the same time, Voice of Faith endeavors to keep youth in the Church by preparing them to become stronger Christians.

The second part of the ministry is to “reach out to men and women of Eastern Religions and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Many of them were unable to learn of Jesus Christ and the Gospel’s message in their native lands. In the United States, we have the freedom to share this Good News with them.”

Not only are they sharing the Gospel with nonbelievers, but they are also helping the ones who are leaving the Church by marriage or other relationships with nonbelievers.

Voice of Faith utilizes different ways to reach the community. Each week, Voice of Faith hosts a Bible study via Skype. But the most popular program is their Sewing Circle.

“Our Sewing Circle is becoming a social platform for many non-believing women and a great opportunity for us to share Christ in the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami areas. We are planning to start our second Sewing Circle in Orlando by April 2018, as a lot of need is arising there.” In Muslim circles, Orlando is considered a “second Dearborn” (MI) because the Muslim population is growing there. “We need a lot of prayers and support to start our second branch there.”

During this past holiday season, Voice of Faith held a very well-attended Thanksgiving celebration, where they thanked God for the blessings they receive in freedom. The event started with a Bible study, singing hymns and then a dinner after service.

For Christmas, the Voice of Faith Sewing Circle held two celebrations because their numbers are growing as more women are becoming involved.

“We are praying that God will open many doors of opportunity for us as we move on with new plans of mission.” Each month, the newsletter shares the outreach efforts, from Baptisms to counseling those looking at an interfaith marriage.

To learn more about Voice of Faith, visit their website and follow on Facebook.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

Meet our Missions – PLM

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Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries (PLM), one of the many missions supported by the English District.

By: Rev. Robert Kieselowsky, Executive Director; Pastor: St. John Lutheran, Springfield, PA and Logos Lutheran, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries (PLM) proclaims the Gospel of Christ where it has not previously been established by the LCMS.  Its mission church, Logos Lutheran, meets at the intersection of millions of lives in the heart of the city. It is the first ever LCMS congregation in the urban core of Philadelphia.

Center City Philadelphia continues to grow quickly as young people move back into the city to study and work, making it the most densely-populated area outside of Manhattan, NY. Christ comes to where people are—and Philadelphia is a city where countless people have never clearly heard God’s promises in Christ. These treasures must be shared with the souls of the city.

We chose the name Logos Lutheran from John 1:14:  “The Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Our mission is to proclaim liberty found in the Logos, the Word, to the people of the city.  This happens through our weekly services where Christ abides in His Word and sacraments, with personal pastoral care, and in weekly Bible studies for area university students.

To learn more about PLM, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or visit their website.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org.

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