Baptized in faith

By Rev. Derek Mathers


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


What is there to do?


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

“Who is my “Nextdoor” neighbor?”

“And who is my neighbor?”


By Tom Kuwazaki, Morning Star Lutheran Church, Lakeside, CA

In Luke 10:25, a lawyer started asking Jesus questions and in Luke 10:29, to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus then starts to share with the lawyer the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10:36-37, Jesus shares, 36““Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””

Today many people live in fear and we are given a solution for that in 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…”  By loving our neighbors as Christ Jesus has loved us, we are instruments of His Love.

There are many ways of building relationships with our neighbors to help them experience Christ’s love and one of those ways that has been helpful to us at Morning Star Lutheran Church in Lakeside, CA is the use of a smartphone app call “Nextdoor.”  So far, we have been able to help a family that had financial needs, give resources that helped a person with his job, and just meet up with others for a cup of coffee. In essence, we have been given a great opportunity to show “mercy/grace” to a neighborhood that has not known the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The following is an excerpt from about the service their app provides. I would like to encourage you to consider using this app as another way of reaching out to a lost people.

Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free.

Thousands of neighborhoods are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.

People are using Nextdoor to:

  • Quickly get the word out about a break-in
  • Organize a Neighborhood Watch Group
  • Track down a trustworthy babysitter
  • Find out who does the best paint job in town
  • Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog
  • Find a new home for an outgrown bike
  • Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name

Nextdoor’s mission is to provide a trusted platform where neighbors work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for helping us to fulfill the Great Commission that you have given us to reach out to those who know not the greatness of your Love and Mercy!

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