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

LYF participants

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 – PLM

Meet our Missions
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.

PLM photo

 

Meet our Missions – Bethany Liberian Mission

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This month in our “Meet our Missions” series, we are highlighting Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, a mission congregation of the English District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

By Rev. Fred Gerlach, Pastor, Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church

In 2001, Bethany Lutheran Church became a home congregation to Liberians who were displaced by the Liberian Civil war. This brutal conflict not only crippled this nation-child of American democracy, but divided families by driving people from their homes and their communities into refugee camps located outside of Liberia. Bethany was an active partner with Lutheran Immigrant Services in helping these immigrants relocate and settle in the Trenton, New Jersey area. Bethany continues to actively serve this community and other socially-challenged members of our community. Our primary objective is to educate Liberian immigrants and others to be Confessional Lutheran in understanding of scripture and worship.

Catechizing adults and children from this community has challenges in that American English does not always equate to Liberian English. On Sunday morning, we teach very deliberately to assure that we are properly communicating the Gospel. This year, we have supplied Lutheran Worship hymnals to all of the families of the congregation. Using the Lutheran Worship Hymnals teaches our Liberian families not only the faith, but it is also a reading tool. This produces several benefits:

  1. It teaches the faith and how Lutherans worship.
  2. It helps them understand the Bible.
  3. It teaches and improves their reading skills.
  4. It gives them a guide on how to pray.
  5. It teaches the hymns.

Bethany addresses many issues in our community and not just for the Liberian community. While we are a part of the city of Trenton, though we are not in the heart of the city, we have people from local group homes and the homeless who regularly visit our congregation. We serve these individuals through food, meals, transportation to church and other needs. Many of our Liberians live in the city, which like many urban centers, needs to manage crime, gangs, drug abuse and economic issues. Our grant aids this mission and congregation providing human care such as food, medicine and counseling. Many of our immigrants are the working poor because they lack education and training required for higher paying jobs. Often, we assist families with paying for rent, utilities, medical bills and other basic needs. Last summer, a Liberian woman and mother of three children needed an extensive surgery that required her to miss six weeks of work. Her disability insurance could not support the family, so Bethany helped her with mortgage payment assistance and transportation to therapy.

An important part of our mission is the support of our children. The children need assistance in a number of areas, such as tutoring, school supplies and being in a safe environment to play and socialize. In August of 2016, we supplied 61 children with backpacks and school supplies. We had two elementary school teachers give advice to parents (mostly single mothers) on how to help children with homework and how to communicate with the child’s teacher. We have a book and breakfast program each quarter for about 25 children, where they come to have something light to eat and they get to choose a book to take home and read. Each child is encouraged to write a story to bring home and read to their parents and family.  Many of the kids would love more activities, but we are limited with our volunteers.

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Every year we help 8-10 Liberian families with meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, on a weekly basis, we help Liberians, the homeless and shut-ins with bread, pastries and various household items. We also sponsor health events where nurses from the local hospitals come and take blood pressure and blood tests to check for diabetes. This year we held a mammogram check for the community. The event was sponsored by Princeton Hospital and we offered rides so people could participate.

There are many social events we engage in to reach out to the community, including the Ewing Drug and Alcohol Alliance, Woman’s Place (shelter for abused women), and Trenton Rescue Center. Our congregation is a caring and Christ-centered church. Our treasure is the people we serve, and our partners in the English District and our sister congregations of this district share in the work of this mission to ensure our ability to serve this community. Without the support of these partners, we would not be able to serve the community to such an extensive way.

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.

What is there to do?

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By Vicki Helmling

This article first appeared in Grace English Lutheran School’s weekly newsletter. It has been reprinted with permission.

“What is there to do?”

I hear that a lot with the kiddos in my room. I’m often amazed, since they have school work to keep them busy. What they really seem to be saying is that they don’t want to do what is being required of them.

Are we this way?

How often do we say we want to help, but we want to do this on our own terms. We question those we are offering to help – are they deserving of our help. We put conditions on the help we give them.

Right now, we are seeing the need to help many people in many different places in our nation as well as around the world.

The children of Grace English School are helping others in a very basic way – they are collecting coins: pennies, nickels, and dimes during the month of September. The children don’t question if the two schools we will be helping (one in Florida and one in Texas) are deserving of our help. They haven’t asked if these schools have checked out all the possible other resources. The students just bring in their coins and know they are helping their neighbors as Christ commanded them to do in the story of the Good Samaritan.

The children of Grace are thrilled to be able to bring in their coins. So far, they have brought in $99.80 to help the hurricane victims in Florida and Texas.

The children understand Christ’s words from Matthew 25:35-40. They understand they don’t need to know the people in need; they understand they don’t need to know the needs of the people; they understand; they know there are people in need and they are willing to help – willing to help out of the love they have for their LORD and Savior.

Can and will we do the same?

Vicki Helmling is the school administrator at Grace English Lutheran School in Chicago, IL.  Do you have a 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.

Meet our Missions – Holy Cross Lutheran

Learn about the ministry and mission of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Student Ministry, Toledo, OH.

Helping hands
The crew from University Lutheran Chapel in Ann Arbor, MI, came to lend a helping hand.

This month, our “Meet our Missions” introduces the missions and ministries of Holy Cross Lutheran, Toledo, OH.

By Rev. Peter M. Burfeind

Originally we were simply a campus ministry, but through our group “Engineers in Christ” – a “high-tech” service group – we’ve done service work not only in the Appalachia but also in Toledo’s inner city, less than two miles from the college campus. We’ve built handicap ramps, renovated rooms, and constructed playground equipment, to just name a few things. Through this service work, we’ve made connections in the inner city community and we are currently working on renovating a dilapidated house to become a “mission house” for various ministries, including Word and Sacrament ministry.

We also have a connection to a jobs retraining program for robotics maintenance and programming.  We’ve touched quite a few lives through this ministry.  As we help people connect to the hope of a good, secure job, we are able to reach out to them and their children with the Gospel. Currently, we need help getting this mission house complete. We have a tight budget, but also need professional and trades help.  This mission can be a wonderful blessing – I’ve seen the fruits already at this early stage – but we risk getting bogged down in just getting it up and running.

Meanwhile, the students in our campus ministry are blessed by such work as well. Students are at a transitional period in their lives, and many are falling away from the faith in these critical years.  Our weekly services, Bible Studies, and Engineers in Christ group provides an opportunity to address many of the challenges of today’s world.  This year, we’re beginning to see the first of our students  – those who were with us when we began – graduate. These are young men and women who have matured in Christian faith and leadership, and they will be a blessing to their future congregations.

Learn more about Holy Cross Lutheran’s ministry by visiting their website.

Follow their mission on their Facebook page.

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 donate to missions supported by the English District LCMS.

BBQ and jobs fair
Members of the community join us for a BBQ and jobs fair.