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 – 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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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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Meet our Missions – Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSSSW), one of the many missions supported by the English District.

 

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“A population that does not take care of the elderly and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” – Pope Francis

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSSSW), one of the many missions supported by the English District.

“I came so that you may have life and live it more abundantly.” – John 10:10

Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest was started in 1970 by a group of congregations in Arizona asking, “How can we care for one another?” Motivated by God’s love for the world, today they serve over 60,000 people annually in Arizona; stabilizing lives during times of crisis, building self-reliant foundations where all people can fulfill their basic needs, and preserving dignity and respect for our most fragile populations that include older adults, people with developmental disabilities, refugees who are courageously rebuilding their lives and those who have encountered bumps in life and are seeking resources, hope and compassion.

One of their core ministries is in-home care. If you have ever cared for an aging or ill family member, you know how difficult it can be. It’s hard to see somebody that you love slip away. But the aid of a good home care provider, which your generosity supports, can ease the burden. As one of the only non-profits in Arizona that provides in-home care, they carry out this work with Christ’s mercy and compassion. There are 2,500 older adults currently on waiting lists for services.

Here is just one example of the LSS-SW making a difference:

“Richard’s life changed one day when we dropped a bottle on the ground and realized that he couldn’t reach it. “I was filled with a new kind of fear. I realized that I was getting older and needed help. I didn’t know what to do.” Richard now receives LSS-SW home care a few times each month, and says “Getting home-bound is not as frightening as it once was. My caregiver, Lana, makes me feel like I am not stuck all by myself. Somebody cares.”” 

To learn more about LSS-SW, follow them 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. 

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.

Meet our Missions – Lutheran Student Fellowship (LCMS) – Pittsburgh

In this edition of Meet our Missions, read about the student ministry at Lutheran Student Fellowship (LCMS) in Pittsburgh, PA.

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By Rev. Eric R. Andræ, Campus Pastor, Lutheran Student Fellowship (LCMS)/First Trinity Church

So what exactly does Lutheran Student Fellowship (LCMS) – Pittsburgh do? Below is an example of the student ministry that not only touches lives, but changes lives.

Queen (not her real name), a former University of Pittsburgh graduate student from China, was an atheist when she arrived here. After we met at an on-campus Graduate Student Orientation Fair, she started attending worship and was aided in her understanding by the simple structure and uniformity of the Lutheran liturgy; she also found that the people at First Trinity “care for each one’s life, thinking, problems. So more and more students visit this church and stay because we have found our home in both physical sense and spiritual sense.”  On Christmas Eve, Queen was baptized!

The Lutheran Student Fellowship reaches out to college students on several campuses in the Pittsburgh, PA area, such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Point Park University, Duquesne University, and others. Here is a sample of the programs available to students:

  • The second Saturday of each month, students get together for a meal and games or a movie or a pit-fire, etc.
  • Each Wednesday they study God’s Word and break bread together, with supper at 7:30 p.m.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered.
  • Sometimes rides are provided to church or other events.
  • Sunday Divine Service, daily morning prayer, mid-week evening prayer.
  • Local and international mission and service projects.
  • International Student Ministry (ISM).
  • And so much more!

Pastor Eric R. Andræ (S.T.M., Lic.) is the ISM Director and Chaplain. Because he holds a dual citizenship, he can relate and identify with the international community.

Making students feel welcome is a priority in this ministry, as well as meeting their needs. (See this article in Lutherans Engage.) For more information, feel free to contact Rev. Eric R. Andræ at LCMS Campus Ministry at First Trinity Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA. Call (412) 683-4121, visit their web site, http://lsfpgh.com/, and like them on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/LSFofPGH/

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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.