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


Meet our Missions – Bethesda AIMS


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.


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, 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



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

Picture1 Thank you robin

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



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

PLM photo


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.



“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 

Meet our Missions – Bethany Liberian Mission


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.


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

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