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THE

LUTHERAN L AYMAN

November - December 2014

Your Partner in HIS Mission!

STRIKE while the

IRON is HOT

By Kenneth Klaus

The picture is that of my father, Richard Klaus, a blacksmith who worked in downtown Chicago. He was demonstrating the fine art of “striking while the iron is hot.” see page 3

Bridge Your Gap

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Messages for Teens

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Stress of Ferguson

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Christmas Theatre

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Refugee Care

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in Russia

Lutheran Hour Ministries 660 Mason Ridge Center Drive St. Louis, Missouri 63141-8557

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Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


speaking up

by Rev. Gregory Seltz Speaker of The Lutheran Hour

Bridge Your G

od doesn’t wait for us to be worthy of His grace. He comes, He lives, He dies, and He rises again so that we might be reconciled to Him. By God’s grace, He builds bridges of His blessing to bring His mercy to each one of us, whether in simple towns or hamlets, or even the greatest metropolises of our modern world. Why? God is just like that. Did you ever hear about the organization that builds footbridges in Africa? It’s called “Bridging the Gap Africa.” The effort is based on the simple fact that most people in rural Africa walk everywhere they go. Families that live in the bush will spend an average of 72 hours each week walking places. This is the way of life, and it serves the families well except for one complication: rivers. When the rains come and when the animals roam, rivers become dangerous and impassable. Rivers become barriers to food, healthcare, livelihoods, and education. So Bridging the Gap Africa builds footbridges. They estimate that 600 lives are saved each year by providing access from one place to another! In the first century, God began to work at bridging the spiritual “gap” by opening up access to the Good News of salvation for all people through Jesus Christ. Yes, God bridged the gap even to you and me. At this very moment you are discovering that God loves you, that He cares about you, that He paid the price to give you a fresh beginning, a restored hope. God bridged the gap—and with that transformation, God was poised to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to places no one ever thought it could penetrate. This is an eternal message. Today, will you let God build that same bridge of His grace and renewal into your life? His forgiveness of sin, His gift of faith in His grace; that is the

L AYMAN

Gap transformation that is here for you today. All of us have our ways, our routines, our habits, our beliefs. We try to keep things in order, but what happens when things get bigger than we can control, as they always do? The Apostle Paul said it this way: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19). Sometimes God bridges gaps in the lives of others through suffering and trial. Your first reaction to difficulty or hardship in life may be complaint, negativity, or grumbling. But it might be better to look deeper into your difficulty and ask, “What does this mean? What might God accomplish through this?” You can be assured that God who endured the cross for you and me will always work to accomplish something in the midst of struggle. So, will He draw you closer? Will He give you insight? Will He provide a platform for you to bless others? Will He allow you to see how He heals you and walks with you? God is in the bridge-building business of blessing you and through you to bless others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen has even come to us; to you, to me. Dear friend, God has built a bridge of the Gospel into your life. I pray that you are never the same! n

Hear Rev. Gregory Seltz on The Lutheran Hour and online at www.lhm.org!

The Lutheran

Request free bulletin inserts and offering envelopes at lhm.org/lhmsunday or by calling 1-800-876-9880.

Vol. 85, No. 6 November-December 2014

Dr. Gerald Perschbacher (LL.D.), Editor • Andrea Thompson, Layout Subscription: $5. Printed bi-monthly. Send color photos for use. Photos sent to the paper may not be returned. Lutheran Hour Ministries, The Lutheran Hour, Bringing Christ to the Nations, BCTN, By Kids...For Kids, JCPlayZone, Life...revised, Living for Tomorrow, This is the Life, On Main Street, Ayer, Hoy y Siempre, Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones, Esta Es La Vida, Para el Camino, Woman to Woman, Family Time, Teacher to Teacher, Reaching Out and The Hoffmann Society are ® registered marks, or SM service marks. The Puzzle Club is a service mark and trademark of Int’l LLL. Copyright 2014, Int’l LLL

Bringing Christ to the Nations — and the Nations to the Church

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Attention Churches:

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Watch your mailbox for a promo packet in November!


Then the burly guy turned to his Christian seatmate and pleaded, “Can you show me how to be saved?” In less time than it takes to tell, the believer snapped his head forward, folded his hands and earnestly prayed, “Lord if this is a man with whom I am to share the Savior, please give me a sign!” It was a critical opportunity which passed, a hot iron which remained unstruck.

STRIKE

while the

IRON is HOT

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) The archives of The Lutheran Hour tell us that the broadcast’s simple, soul-saving message of the Gospel has touched Christian listeners. Their letters share how these believers long to have family members, friends and business associates share their faith in the risen Redeemer. Pick any decade and you will hear concerned Christians asking:

from page 1

“You can pound on the steel all you want, but if it isn’t the right temperature, all your pounding will be for nothing.” He explained, “You can pound on the steel all you want, but if it isn’t the right temperature, all your pounding will be for nothing.” The same principle can often apply to our reaching out to lost souls. Let me give you an example of what I mean. John Harper was 17 years old when he began to preach and, at the same time, founded a church. In 1912, Harper accepted the call to serve as preacher at the prestigious Moody Church in Chicago. He and his 6-year-old daughter, Annie, boarded the Titanic in Southampton. After the ship struck an iceberg, Harper got his little girl into a lifeboat and kissed her goodbye. Instead of joining her, he went up and down the deck yelling, “Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!” Survivors report that Harper talked about Jesus to anyone who would listen. Harper’s sharing of the Savior continued in the water as he gave his life vest to a man who said he didn’t know the Christ. His final moments were related four years later at a religious rally in Hamilton, Ontario. There a man got up and shared, “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and

he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’— and shortly after he went down. There, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.” The man was one of only a few people picked out the water by the lifeboats that fateful night. John Harper was a preacher who understood the concept of “striking while the iron is hot.” He understood that the Holy Spirit can accomplish much when a hearer of the Gospel is at a critical moment in his life. Compare John Harper’s story with what I hope is a fictional story of a man who regularly prayed: “Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who he is.” One day that man was on a bus when a big, burly fellow sat next to him. The bus was nearly empty but this guy squished himself in, next to our praying friend. Uncomfortable at the invasion of his space, the Christian waited for the bus to stop so he could make a quick exit. But before the bus reached the next corner, the big guy broke into tears and began to sob. His tears were accompanied by a shouted question. With his eyes looking toward the ceiling of the bus, and the heavens above, the man called out, “I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody please tell me how to be saved?”

Critical Passages for Critical Moments (cut out and carry with you) God’s view of sinners is in:

Ecclesiastes 7:20 “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Romans 6:23 tells us sinners we can expect only one thing: “For the wages of sin is death…” 1 Timothy 2:4-6 gives us hope when it says: God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” Acts 4:12 says we can be saved only through Jesus: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 1 John 1:7 tells what happens with faith in Jesus: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Ephesians 2:8 reminds us that God, not good deeds, saves sinners: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God….” In John 14:6, Jesus reminds us that He changes our eternity. “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In John 10:10, Jesus reminds us He changes our present life as well as eternity: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” But Jesus also changes our present. Romans 8:39 reminds us: when we are saved, nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How to become a Christian?

Acts 2:38 tells us: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” n The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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• “When our son got married and moved away he also moved away from his Savior. We have talked about his need for the Lord so often that now he threatens to stop all contact with us if we mention Jesus again. What should we do?” • “Our daughter has three children and none of them have been baptized or have ever been in church. We feel terrible. When we ask her to follow up on their religious instruction she says, ‘I don’t want to ram religion down their throats.’ Can you help us?” • “My husband is a good man and a good provider, but he is also an unbeliever. It bothers me that I will not see him in heaven. Can you give me any advice?”

STRIKE

while the

IRON is HOT from previous page

Every speaker has received such requests and all have understood the concern, the caring, the desire of our listeners to see a change in the temporal and eternal lives of lost loved ones. Speakers of The Lutheran Hour understand because we know, every time the radio program goes out over the air, some listeners hear the story of salvation for the first time—while for others it will be the last time they will ever be told the story of Jesus’ sacrifice which brings salvation. That is why every sermon and every broadcast is accompanied by a prayer that the Lord will bring about a change in the hearts of the lost. That also means, for us, every broadcast is a critical event during which we must strike while the iron is hot.

The Critical Event for the Believer For believers, a critical event comes when the Holy Spirit prepares an unbeliever’s heart so it is ready to respond to the Savior’s story of salvation. A critical event is that moment in time when a doubter’s normally cold heart is ready to be shaped, even as red-hot iron is ready to be shaped by the blacksmith’s hammer. It is imperative that we realize the Lord is the One who determines the timing of any critical event. The work of the Christian is to be prepared for that unknown hour where his witness will be most effective. The narratives of Peter and Cornelius, Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, Paul and the jailer at Philippi, Paul’s message to the Areopagus of Athens all remind us that the unbeliever is not an inconvenient interruption in the schedule of our lives. 4

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

On the contrary, these people are keeping a Divine appointment and we, the Savior’s representatives, have been entrusted with a heaven-sent opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. That’s just another way of saying Jesus wants us to be caring, compassionate, and courageous when we respond to an unbeliever’s hurting heart. As St. Paul said to the Christians of Corinth: “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” In other words, we who know Christ must be ready to strike when the iron of an unbeliever’s heart is hot; we must be on watch for their critical moment when it is placed before us. Yes, God’s witnesses must always be on watch. Sadly, and all too often, such opportunities are missed. As proof, let me ask, “Have you ever had the death of a family member or friend come upon you unexpectedly? As you think back, do you wish you could replay your last visit or phone call with that individual? Is your memory still pained by the inconsequential things you said to that person and the many loving things which had been left unsaid? Are you still haunted because you didn’t strike at that moment when the opportunity was presented?” Most of us are pained by the memory of such missed opportunities. Now, before this article goes any further, you need to know, in the Savior there is forgiveness and peace

for our sins of omission and commission. Because of Jesus’ blood-bought forgiveness you should not be troubled about unmade witnesses of the past. No, we should not be troubled, but we should also strive to make sure we are prepared for future sharing opportunities. By God’s grace critical moments to share the Savior may come again. The favorable time, the day of salvation is not necessarily a one-time event. The Holy Spirit is constantly heating hearts so believers can strike while the iron is hot. Statistics bear that out. A decade ago, pollster Thom Rainer discovered, “Ninety-six percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited.”1 Since that figure was first published, that percentage has shrunk. It has shrunk, but not dramatically. When the iron is hot, unbelievers are still ready for an invitation to meet their Savior. Although the experienced evangelist, St. Peter, didn’t have access to Mr. Rainer’s statistics, by inspiration he wrote: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15. Please do not let the simplicity of that verse cause you to overlook or underestimate the truths which the Lord is trying to convey here. Amongst those truths would be: 1. Critical opportunities to witness do not often come to Christians who keep their faith hidden. It stands to reason that the lost will not ask a believer about the “hope that is in you,” if he has never given any indication that he has hope, forgiveness, salvation, or Jesus. In other words, being ready for the critical opportunity means Christians must live, speak, and act like Christians all of the time. Early on in the church’s history, Tertullian commented that the Romans were amazed by the believers and often would comment, “See how they love one another and are ready to die for each other.”2 The witness of www.churchcentral.com/news/survey-finds-manyunchurched-would-come-to-church-if-invited-2/ 2. www.tertullian.org/quotes.htm 1.


these believers caused the Romans to ask, “What do they have that I don’t?” It is the same today. 2. The critical opportunity must always begin with respect and reverence for the Redeemer who sacrificed Himself to save us. If we let our question, (“What will they think of me?”) or our fear, (“I don’t want to offend anyone”) rule our hearts and take center stage, any witness we make will be a timid and tentative thing—if it happens at all. 3. Christians should ALWAYS BE READY to speak of the hope they have. When the heart of an unbeliever is hot and ready to hear of Jesus, we dare not hem, haw, and say, “I can’t answer your question. Would you like me to see if you can get an appointment with my pastor next week?” Remember what St. Paul said: “Now is the favorable time; Now is the day of salvation.” 4. Remember, the critical moment comes when an unbeliever is ready to hear… not when you are prepared to speak. The good blacksmith must wait upon the iron to be heated; he must patiently hold his hammer until the metal is ready to receive his attention. 5. Lastly, and this is important, St. Peter reminds us that our presentation of the Savior should be done with “gentleness and respect.” You probably will not produce a positive or a desired reaction if you grab someone by the shirt or blouse and scream: “If you don’t want to burn forever in hell, you’d better change, you dirty, rotten little sinner!” Far better to thank the Lord for the critical opportunity which has been presented and say a prayer asking the Lord to direct your words so this lost soul may be brought to the Redeemer.

The Critical Event for the Unbeliever Eight decades of voluntary support for The Lutheran Hour has shown Christ’s people have a great desire to see lost souls brought to the Christ. During that same period of time, countless heartfelt letters and emails have told us many of you have a great yearning to see the Holy Spirit move a specific and beloved soul into the Savior’s family of faith. (see 1 Timothy 5:8) Most of the time those letters have been written after a believer has faithfully, and methodically, tried a combination of presentations which includes, but are not limited to: discussion, invitation, bribery, argument, nagging and begging. Your letters come to us filled and overflowing with frustration, sorrow and sadness. You reluctantly admit that your witness, as well as the Holy Spirit’s call to faith, have been rejected. Even worse, now you have been told: “You’d best keep your religious opinions to yourself.” Yours is a most difficult position. On the one hand you wish to share the Savior with a very special person in your life. For you, the fear of hell is real and you are prepared to do all which is necessary to help your dear one escape eternal punishment. On the other hand, you recognize that if contact is severed, so is the opportunity to witness. What can you do?

The answer you need is in 1 Peter. There we are told to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you …” In light of that passage, let me ask, “Are you prepared to share the Savior?” I already know your “Yes!” answer. The next question is, “Has this person about whom you are concerned asked you to explain your faith?” No doubt you will answer that question by saying: “No, they haven’t and you doubt if they ever will.” Dear friend, if that is your answer, you are probably wrong. This world is a sinful place and no one can escape its consequences—including your unbelieving friends and family members. It is precisely when they are helpless and at the end of their rope, that the Holy Spirit often can do His best and most effective work. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln admitted: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” That sentiment has been echoed by many military personnel who maintain, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Still, you don’t have to be a President or a battlescarred veteran to be stressed out by the sad and sorry situations brought about by sin. Years ago, Doctors Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe visited with 7,000 people concerning the positive and negative stressful situations they had experienced. (See accompanying item at the end of this article). The study found that those folks who had undergone the most stress in a given year were the ones most likely to become ill. In short, they found human minds and bodies were connected. As Christians we can take this study further. That’s because we know the Triune God has given us a body, a mind AND a soul. These three are affected when critical moments of life take us to a crossroad. By that I mean critical moments force us to rethink, re-evaluate, and reconsider our past positions. Paraphrasing the position of the survey’s physicians, we might say, “Folks who have experienced the most stress are the ones most ready to hear about the Savior Who helps those who labor and are heavy laden. Look to the story of Job and you will see this principle being borne out with clarity. Listen to Joseph who, talking to his brothers who had sold him into slavery, shared his discovery: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20). Christians remain ready to explain their faith because they realize, when a critical event touches a person, the Holy Spirit can do wonderful things. A critical moment can offer us an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. At these critical moments, a word of witness, respectfully offered, can reach and save a heart which is normally closed. And that, my friends, is just what God wants and what we are praying for. n Rev. Dr. Kenneth Klaus is Emeritus Speaker of The Lutheran Hour and usually is heard once a month on the program. For details about how you can hear the program and to check broadcast topics, go to www.lhm.org.

The and Rahe scale A Holmes List Of Critical Events Total the events which happened to you in the last year. Check your score at the end of the test.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

S T NKOINT VEN A R P E 100 73 65 63 63 53 50 47 45 45

11

44

12 13

40 40

14

39

15 39 16 38 17 37 18 36 19

35

20 21

31 30

22

29

23 24 25

29 29 28

26

26

27

26

28

25

29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

24 23 20 20 20 19 19 18 17 16

39

15

40 15 41 13 42 12 43 11

Death of a spouse Divorce Marital separation Detention in jail or other institution Death of close family member Major personal injury or illness Marriage Being fired at work Marital reconciliation Retirement from work Major change in the health or behavior of a family member Pregnancy Sex difficulty Gaining a new family member through birth, adoption or remarriage Major business readjustments Major change in financial state Death of close friend Change to a different line of work Major increase in the number of arguments with spouse Taking on a mortgage Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan Major change in responsibilities at work (promotion, demotion, transfer) Son or daughter leaving home In-laws trouble Outstanding personal achievement Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home Going back to school Major change in living condition (building, remodeling or deterioration of home) Revision of personal habits Troubles with supervisor, boss, or superiors Major change in working hours or conditions Change in residence Change to a new school Major change in type or amount of recreation Major change in church activities Major change in social activities Purchase of a car or other big purchase Major change in sleeping habits Major change in the number of family get-togethers Major change in eating habits Vacation Christmas or holiday observances Minor violations of the law (traffic tickets)

This point system tries to predict probabilities, not make prophecies. People who score between 100-199 have a very mild risk of developing physical illness in the next year. People who score between 200-299 have a more moderate risk of developing physical illness in the next 12 months. People who score 300 or more have a strong risk of developing physical illness in the next 12 months. n

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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Five14 Devotions:

t i H t a h t s e g a s s Me s n e Tee h t r fo t e g r a T E

ach week subscribers to five14’s online devotions receive an e-mail message on Monday penned by one of several five14 volunteer writers. These messages address everything from the hardships and drama in our lives to finding spiritual strength and speaking the truth in love. To step behind the scenes a bit, devotion writers Jessica Bordeleau, Annie Hutchison, and Todd Liefer agreed to answer a few questions on the messages they write and why they enjoy doing it. Each was initially asked to write these devotions by Sarah Guldalian, producer/manager for five14, and each author devotes significant time to ministry, aside from this task. Beyond writing devotions, Bordeleau consults with LCMS Young Adult Ministry, LCMS Lutheran Youth Fellowship, and LHM’s MISSION U School of Witnessing. Liefer is associate pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wentzville, Missouri. Hutchison works with five14’s devotion writers, obtains their submissions, submits them to LHM for doctrinal review, and uploads them to the website. To get an idea of the tone and focus of five14’s devotions, check out the brief excerpts that follow in red: “When you feel like your efforts to share the love of Christ are useless, remember the soldiers at the cross. The timing seemed to be delayed; the disciples may never have even known that those at the foot of the cross finally believed, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is the soldiers eventually did believe. God doesn’t promise we will see the impact of our

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The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

witness; He just calls us to be faithful and give it”—from “Delayed Timing.” Here’s what five14’s contributing writers had to say about preparing devotional messages. Preparing a devotion can be tough. How do you decide on topics and the way you express your thoughts? Liefer: “Sometimes, after serving with youth in my congregation, some teenrelated issue will be weighing on my heart. So, in a devotion, I’ll take that real-life issue and share what God says about it. At other times, a great story or verse from the Bible comes to mind, and I think this is too great not to share. Youth have to know about this!” Hutchison: “I write about whatever is on my mind/heart. If there is a certain issue in my own life, it is usually turned into a devotion because that’s where my thoughts have been. Honestly, I don’t put a lot of thought into how I’m going to get my point across. I just follow a basic outline of introduction, a couple paragraphs on the main points, and a conclusion.” Bordeleau: “When writing devotions, I always begin with prayer. I pray God would give me insight into the struggles teens face and the ways I can encourage them in God’s Word. It’s my goal to clearly communicate the Gospel of Christ in a way that resonates with teens. I want them to know our Heavenly Father longs to help them through the difficulties of teenage life and use them right now, right where they are. It’s my goal to share the immediacy and power of God’s love in each devotion.”

“I w an t th em to kn ow ou r He av en ly Fa th er lo ng s to he lp th em th ro ug h th e di ff ic ul tie s of te en ag e lif e an d us e th em ri gh t no w , ri gh t w he re th ey ar e.”

Five14 devotion writers left to right: Jessica Bordeleau, Annie Hutchison, and Todd Liefer


“As a people belonging to God, we have been called to serve, shining the light and love of Jesus Christ into a dark world, which needs to hear of the forgiveness and peace only He can bring. As you go through this week, look for ways to show and share the wonderful light of Jesus Christ with those around you. We do this so the world will see His love; we do this because we are His ambassadors in this world”—from “Called out of Darkness.” Considering the small bit of copy you have to work with, what are the most important things you try to include in each devotion? Hutchison: “The audience we’re going for doesn’t want a long, complicated devotion. This is supposed to be a shorter, to-the-point version. I try to type it out like I’m talking to someone, in easy, casual language so the message doesn’t get lost. The most important thing I try to include in each devotion is a message of Jesus’ acceptance. It comes in many forms, but it is what people need to know—that they’re accepted even with their flaws.” Liefer: “There definitely isn’t room for fluff! The key is to connect quickly with teens—right from the opening sentence. Then, each devotion leads teens into a story, character, or verse from the Bible. By the end of the devotion, the most important thing to communicate is that Christ has victory over sin and death—a victory that wins us forgiveness and certain hope.” “Are you a snooze button hitter? I confess that I am. Recently, I had the opportunity to sleep in, but I set my alarm for my regular time, thinking I would get up and get an early start to the day. But did I get up? No. … Our struggle with sin in this life is much like this sleepy struggle. It’s a battle! We have been saved (justification) through the saving work of Jesus, and we receive the gift of faith He offers, but we are still battling with our “old nature” (sinful self) that creeps up on a daily basis”—from “Sleepy Sanctification.”

“Satan is a real downer, right? He tells you you’re weak, that nobody loves you, and you’ll never be good enough. He tempts your weaknesses, fills your mind with lies, and makes you feel empty. When I’m feeling Satan’s presence creeping into my life, I say, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ I know it might sound a little weird, but it helps! … The Gospel gives us unwavering confidence to know that any frightful, damning accusation Satan throws our way is repulsed by the verdict secured by Jesus’ body and shed blood given to each of us by His authoritative Word and Sacraments. It is because of Jesus we have the ultimate victory over Satan—both now and through eternity”—from “Get behind Me, Satan!” As you can see, these devotions deliver insight and godly assistance in a big way. As these writers well know, life for teens in the 21st century is substantially different than it was even 10 or 15 years ago. With the globalization of communication comes benefits, but there’s a host of pressures teens face today as a result. And life’s uncertainties, already problematic for young adults, are only magnified by the lens of widespread social media use, instant telecommunications, and non-stop news feeds. Into such a world, Christ-centered devotions—long used by many as a spiritual resource for strengthening the faith of believers—are powerful and useful tools to educate and edify. It is in this spirit that five14 devotions are written and offered freely to the five14 community. Five14 at www.whatsfive14.com is more than devotions. The website features videos of teens giving faith-witnessing pointers—“Tips for Sharing,” personal stories, and music clips. There you’ll read what five14 is all about (check out Matthew 5:14 for the rationale), meet the five14 team, find promo materials, watch the five-part video series that trains teens to share Christ, and browse all the cool merchandise that’s available. n

What, in your opinion, do the most effective devotionals offer their readers? Bordeleau: “The five14 program offers teens spiritual support and encouragement as they reach out to their peers with the love of Christ. I love sharing God’s love with teens! Teens face all kinds of hardships and struggles. They feel incredible amounts of stress and pressure from their peers, teachers, coaches, employers, families, and even their own mirrors. They need Christian mentors to support them and walk alongside them on their journey of faith.” Liefer: “The most effective devotionals don’t ignore the real-life, messy world our youth live in. When you bring up real issues, you can offer Christ’s love as a real solution.” Hutchison: “I think a great devotion is crazy-powerful. It can give someone the drive to make changes in their life that will strengthen their relationship with God. One day at a time, people are rejuvenated to live more like Jesus would want them to.” For Liefer’s pastoral ministry, preparing devotions for five14 has had some additional benefits too: “Being a writer for five14 has helped sharpen my weekly preaching. Writing these devotions is a constant reminder that youth are a vibrant part of the church. It can be easy for preachers to miss this audience and focus only on adults, parents and grandparents. But when I preach on Sundays, I strive to deliver messages that communicate to youth as well as adults.”

THIS GENERATION CRAVES

AUTHENTICITY. INTENSITY. RESULTS. FIVE14’S TRAINING WORKSHOPS

EQUIP YOUTH TO SHARE THE AUTHENTIC TRUTH – THE GOSPEL - WITH INTENSITY.

READY FOR RESULTS? FACEBOOK.COM/FIVE14

WHATSFIVE14.TUMBLR.COM

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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The Stress of Ferguson and the

Impact of Witnessing

A

ugust 10, 2014, was not a quiet evening in St. Louis, Mo. A young man named Michael Brown had been shot the day before by a police officer and died on the street. The event triggered unrest that resulted in marches, demonstrations, and social commentary throughout the United States. There was no doubt people were hurting. “We are Michael Brown, I am Michael Brown, we all are Michael Brown.” That quote appeared in newsprint days later. The person added, “We can’t understand why it happened but just know it will pull us together as a community.” The topic was “the stuff of sermons” across the metropolitan area and far beyond. Questions were raised. Tempers rose. Cool thinking was encouraged. But how did the impact of God’s Word enter the scenario? Chaplain William T. Simmons of suburban St. Louis County was amid the activity in his role not only as a pastor of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. “As a St. Louis County Police chaplain, I had been to Ferguson a number of times…. I was keenly aware of the tsunamic outpouring of outrage… . My awareness was heightened by my son and daughterin-law, both of whom are St. Louis County police officers. They were on 84 hour weeks for three weeks, as were officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis Municipal Police, the FBI, and the National Guard. They witnessed first-hand the outrage, the grief, the frustration stemming from issues. “How was the church to respond?” asks Simmons. “The Lutheran Church rightly distinguishes between the kingdom of the right—the church of Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of the left—earthly governments and nations. But understanding such a distinction does not absolve us from engaging in the thorny issues endemic to the kingdom of the left. Which brings me back to the quote, ‘We all are Michael Brown.’ “There is a deeper meaning than cultural identi-

fication implicit in this statement. There is the call to personal identification…the commendation of the Samaritan and the command of Jesus compels us” to share the Good News. “This means knowing people and the needs, fears, hopes, and ideals they harbor.” By God’s grace, this accentuates the application of the Good News in Christ as being paramount. The Good News should be shared by “a humble Christian who would be a neighbor to others in need. How to be that neighbor depends on where we go and who we are. For me it has been as a St. Louis County police chaplain.” Simmons explains that police chaplaincy focuses on being rooted in God’s good work. Officers are counseled “in their personal needs as they internally process the stuff of police work, and especially the bad stuff they encounter as they serve and protect.” It was tiring work for a chaplain. “Between August 10 and 26, there were 19 of us chaplains who logged more than 307 hours of service in Ferguson and the Emergency Operations Center…just a short distance from the burned out Quik Trip store which was the epicenter of the conflict. We engaged the officers in conversation, helped them process what they were doing and seeing, prayed with them privately and, at roll call and in general, provided a spiritual response to a traumatic situation.” What did they say? Simmons provides insights. There was realization: “God is still present. His promise to provide and protect is not restrained by human conflict.” There was assurance: “He curbs evil and confines the advances of the evil one. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’” There was protection: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Out of the depths I cry to You…O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If You,

O LORD, should mark iniquities… who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness….” Simmons adds, “Jesus identifies with us by becoming one of us. He identifies with us in our distress and our grief, in our fear and our failure, ultimately in our sin and shame. The message of the cross is the depth of His love and the distance he would go in that identification. The cross is His affirmation of what God holds dearest among all things dear: He desires mercy…. Jesus demonstrates this foremost attitude of mercy.” Ultimately, “Jesus demonstrated the mercy of God perfectly by ascending the cross. What does the cross mean? God releases us, frees us, absolves us from the punishment our sins deserve. The meaning of the cross and the power of pardon is forgiveness. God forgives us our sins for Jesus’ sake. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions…. “This is a model for us, as we forgive…and it is the only foundation upon which to build any lasting peace.” At times the hurt is unintentional. “Regardless… we are compelled to forgive. As we say in The Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ It means to not rehearse the offense again and again, but to relinquish the right to bring it up again. That’s what forgiveness means. We are to work at it, regularly and deliberately. God demonstrates it perfectly. “It is the only long lasting solution….” n Thanks for Dr. Gerald Perschbacher’s assistance with this article.

What was it like to bring the Word of God to the situation in Ferguson?

God’s Word Amid the Rubble and Rumble

O

n August 12 a rotating schedule of chaplains was instituted with a pair of two stressfully long two-hour blocks beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing through 11 p.m. Some extended beyond their assigned time slots. Chaplains were rotated to keep them focused and fresh. No one knew how long or intense the situation could become, so protective gear was worn by chaplains. They walked among officers who had downtime. This offered a good opportunity to talk one-on-one. A central issue was frustration. Shifts during a two-week time frame ran to 12 hours per day! No days off…practically continuous stress and hard work for two weeks. Chaplains regularly were asked to offer a prayer before roll call. They also responded to requests for one-on-one prayer. For some, spiritual nourishment was more necessary than eating or drinking. Families felt the stress and strain, too, as their loved ones continued the routine. Some still feel it. n

You can order or download a free copy of a Project Connect booklet that deals with forgiveness at www.lhm.org or call 1-800-876-9880. 8

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014


In 1960, the ministry of Dr. Walter A. Maier was honored by a portrait painting which was dedicated and placed in the Lutheran Laymen’s League’s chapel. Shown from left: (front) Hulda Maier (wife of WAM); behind her, Rev. Oswald Hoffmann, then-Speaker of The Lutheran Hour; and Dr. Walter A. Schur, chair of the Lutheran Hour Operating Committee.

The

Big Day was

Coming! By Gerald Perschbacher

D

avid’s phone call to the editor of this paper came out of the blue. “It’s important that a new set of readers becomes aware of Dr. Walter A. Maier and how he was like a modern Apostle Paul in getting the Gospel to the whole world as best he could through radio.” The call was not a total surprise. That’s because David Lah has been known and appreciated as the type of person who shows up for all types of church events, the debuts of Christian movies, worshipful activities, and social fellowships. His enduring love always remained with the Good News of Christ and the need to share it. Before anyone sent out a news release or made a special announcement, David knew that January 11, 2015, will mark the 65th year since the passing of the 56-year-old Maier, affectionately called WAM even to this day. Such was his influence and impact. David made the point that the book “A Man Spoke, a World Listened” was a proper title, even more than half a century after the 411 page book was printed. WAM’s young son, Paul, authored the tome. Older son Walter sanctioned it. “Dr. Paul Maier is coming to my church,” said David as his tone rose in excitement. He wanted to be prepared for that big event. For WAM, it seemed each radio broadcast was his own “big event.” Each was an opportunity to share Christ crucified and risen. From the first broadcast of The Lutheran Hour in October of 1930, WAM met every broadcasting commitment possible until a heart attack restricted him to bed late in December of 1949. Still ringing in the hearts and minds of listeners was his recent broadcast in which he explained true joy. “If you have no true peace in your heart but only fear and worry; if you have not yet learned to know what unselfish love is, don’t let the day close without having God bless you with the gift of (His) grace.” WAM always promoted the Good News of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior

for the world. WAM’s son Paul estimated that his father had delivered roughly 2 ½ million words in his 16 ½ years of speaking on The Lutheran Hour. The elder churchman wanted to share more, but his time was running short. At times like that, the memory of listeners and perhaps even that of WAM himself may have wandered to an earlier time in late 1930 as these words of his had been emitted from radio sets: “Even if you cannot analyze the incomprehensible mercy of Christ, you can believe it. Even if you cannot explain Christ, you can believe it…you can feel His abiding, pervading presence and His salvation….” Almost as suddenly as birth, WAM realized his entry through the heavenly portal. Much of “If you have no true the religious world mourned—but not as those peace in your heart without hope of the Resurrection. but only fear and Still, the dream of WAM did not die. The worry; if you have Lutheran Hour continued through succeeding not yet learned to speakers up to the present, each eloquent in his know what unselfish own way and Christ-centered as necessary. David didn’t know it when we talked by phone, love is, don’t let the but he would pass through that same portal the day close without next day, his Big Day. Yet, his encouragement having God bless remains lively and active as we heed the challenge you with the gift of to take the Gospel forward to new generations. (His) grace.” David had his way, in the end. Memorials were directed toward The Lutheran Hour. n Dr. Perschbacher is editor of The Lutheran Layman.

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

9


tribulation

By Brad Neathery

When we don’t know where to turn in a desperate situation, it’s not always easy to allow Christ to work in our lives. This story is an example of how the Lord shares His unbelievable grace through Lutheran Hour Ministries.

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or years, Norma* lived what many would call a normal life. She and her husband, Douglas, spent their entire married life in a small Midwestern town with their family and friends. Then unexpected medical news rocked their comfortable life. One day Norma went to the doctor complaining of headaches. Her doctor ordered a CAT scan and told Norma that she had a baseball-sized tumor in her brain. A few nights later in a dream, she heard, “Do not be afraid; you’ll get through this—but you will have much tribulation.” She wondered.

Removal, then the Aftermath

Regardless of age, tribulations arise! 10

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Norma scheduled a date to have the tumor removed surgically. The night before the surgery, Norma checked into the hospital. After her family went home, her doctor came to make sure she was ready for the operation. The kind doctor was unable to assure Norma that she would survive the surgery. The operation was extremely delicate. It was possible she would not survive. When Norma’s doctor left, she broke down in tears. Lost in despair, she did not notice a nurse enter the room. The nurse asked why she was crying and, when Norma told her, the nurse prayed with her offering reassurance that she would be all right. Looking back, Norma believes the nurse was sent at that dark moment to bring the Lord’s comfort when it was needed most. God brought Norma through that operation, and the tumor was successfully removed. But the tribulation in her life had only started. Two weeks after Norma’s surgery, Brian (her youngest son) was diagnosed with leukemia. Adding more worry to this news—her son was newly married and his first child was on the

way. Members of the family were tested for a bone marrow transplant, but no matches were found. Eventually, the doctors accepted that Brian could only be treated with chemotherapy. As everyone who has been close to someone with cancer can attest, the stress of Brian’s treatment was overwhelming. As his chemo progressed, Brian developed a fungus that took his eye and spleen. His health issues were so severe that Brian spent most of the year in the hospital with only a few intermittent days and weeks at home.

Brian’s Problems were Followed by More

As Brian’s struggles continued, the pain and stress weakened his pregnant wife’s health as well. She began to develop complications and their child had to be delivered prematurely for the safety of baby and mother. Brian’s wife and newborn daughter then were in different hospitals, separated during this agonizing time. So many things were going against Norma’s family; it was hard to find hope. One day in the middle of Brian’s ordeal, Norma screamed to her husband that she would never go to church again if their son died. Douglas knew they couldn’t turn their backs on God, and he told her they wouldn’t make it without Him. In times of trial, Douglas always said, “You think you’re bad off, but there is always someone worse.” Douglas’ belief that you can’t get lost in your circumstances was how he encouraged Norma and their family that they would get through this trial as well. The family did get through it. Brian’s cancer went into remission. His wife and their newborn baby daughter, Sophie, came through


everything in good health. Today, Sophie is studying to be a nurse to help the sick and hurting. Brian’s doctor told Norma that her son received all the medical assistance he could, but ultimately, God was part of the healing. Even the doctor acknowledged that it was nothing short of a miracle.

Additional Losses

Though they had been through so much, Norma’s family continued to go through tribulation. They lost a niece in a car accident. She lost her brother after a massive stroke and a 3½ year period that followed in which he was unable to speak. In the midst of this, Norma experienced a loss that was even more devastating. On the day of her birthday, Douglas spent the afternoon mowing their lawn. After he finished, he came inside to clean up since the family was going to celebrate Norma’s birthday that evening. As the family began to arrive, Norma went upstairs to check on Douglas. In their bedroom she made the heartbreaking discovery that Douglas had suffered an unexpected heart attack and went home to the Lord. Twenty-two years passed since Norma’s dream. By this point, she had experienced more tribulation than many people could handle. Now, once again, she began to experience health issues of her own.

Seizures on Top of Everything

She began to have seizures. Her doctor warned Norma that she may be experiencing the beginning symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Her doctor placed her on medicine to reduce their occurrence, but the increased dosage caused Norma to experience strong side effects. She began to shake uncontrollably and, to her great shame, she even began to feel suicidal at times. Norma didn’t want her grandchildren to see her take the easy way out through suicide, but the thoughts became oppressive. One night, she wrote a suicide note and considered how she might end her life. At this point, she received a call—from Lutheran Hour Ministries. The caller contacted Norma to thank her for a recent gift, but she

could tell Norma was upset. She asked why. Norma shared her pain with the caller. The caller from LHM trusted God to provide words of support and encouragement to Norma. The two women prayed together over the phone. Soon after, Norma tore up her suicide note and called her daughterin-law about seeing a new doctor. Astoundingly, the doctor discovered that what Norma really needed was a major change in her prescription. Thankfully, she found quick relief from the debilitating side effects.

A Different Caller

In the spring of 2014, a different caller from Lutheran Hour Ministries contacted Norma to thank her for making another donation. During that call and a subsequent conversation, Norma blessed Lutheran Hour Ministries by sharing her story. Norma’s story is full of pain, but it is full of God’s grace as well. It is proof that God works through us even in the worst of times. Today she is able to say that “God has certainly blessed me through it all.” The day that Norma told us her story, we asked if she sees her family often. Norma said, “Yes, I’ll see them this weekend in church.” Please don’t miss the significance of this final point. Norma and her family have been through trials that would test the faith of any person, but they still attend the same Lutheran church together every weekend. Norma and her family have supported Lutheran Hour Ministries for years. Douglas always believed that “you give and you’ll never miss it.” Norma agrees. “It’s still true and I remember that when I give,” she states. Lutheran Hour Ministries is humbled that God allowed us to be a part of this amazing story. We rejoice for all the ways that He works through blessings and tribulation. Your prayerful financial support of Lutheran Hour Ministries makes the ongoing witness possible. n

Prepare for Christ’s coming with Advent devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries!

In Home for the Holidays, Rev. Wayne Palmer takes you on a nostalgic ride back to Christmases past.

De Nazaret a Belén (From Nazareth to Bethlehem), by Rev. Vern Gundermann, chronicles Mary and Joseph’s journey for Spanish-speaking audiences.

* Note: Names in this story have been changed to protect identities.

Brad Neathery serves as assistant director of Ministry Advancement for Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Download a FREE copy for personal reflection, print as an outreach tool, or listen to an audio version at WWW.LHM.ORG/ADVENT today! The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

11


2014

Christmas Theatre in Russia:

Christmas READING LIST: What Is

Christmas?

What Is Christmas?

By Greg Koenig

S

It’s About the

affair s the bright and cheery Christmas isn’t alway a family s. Can it be merry for found in songs or movie tion, and unemployment, aliena struggling through h-Missouri en by Lutheran Churc Writt ? illness al termin mas? conveys Palmer, What Is Christ Synod Pastor Wayne lt time of a complicated and difficu s, how this season can be through hurt feeling ng worki es famili of a the year. For the oncoming death n —eve nships strained relatio can be a trying time. loved one—Christmas Christmas, narrative from the first Providing Scriptural to Himself God has reconciled man Palmer conveys how gives us hope when love His how and through His Son members. The family with ctions re-establishing conne impossible mas are often those best things about Christ ed love, spent together, renew to put a price on—time . birth of our Savior brings and the true joy the

The

Christmas Journey

Savior

are memories of Christmas For many, childhood hed time , deep snow, and cheris magical—bright lights the passage Sometimes, however, with family members. elusive, and and t distan ries memo of time makes those recapture to le possib it’s whether leaves one wondering mas. the wonder of Christ this: reader the asks r Palme t, Concluding the bookle Wherever yourself this Christmas?” “Where do you find that God’s the reader is reminded and that place might be, wound every can heal gift of love in Jesus Christ relationship. repair every broken

ong. Dance. Vivid colors. Giant puppets. A festival atmosphere with audience participation and, at the center, a baby in a manger. These are the sights and sounds of Christmas, an annual production presented through a unique artistic partnership and supported by Lutheran Hour Ministries—Russia. Religious celebrations of Christmas were strongly discouraged across Russia before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But now Christmas officially is part of Russia’s annual 10-day new year observance, allowing Russian believers to bring the Christ of Christmas to neighbors in powerful ways. LHM—Russia maximizes the opportunity with two special elements. Element #1: Mr. Pezho’s Wandering Dolls Theatre is a drama troupe based in St. Petersburg. Pezho presents “carnival theatre”—performances that incorporate masks, characters on stilts, garish costumes, outsized props, motion, dance, and pantomime to amuse and entertain the troupe’s audiences. Element #2: Otava Yo is a group of musicians who play Russian folk music. The band’s performances are quirky and fun—one reason Otava Yo is a hit whenever they partner with the LHM center to present an outreach event such as a celebration of Maslenitsa, Russia’s annual pancake festival. Since Russians focus the Christmas celebration on Epiphany in January each year, financial and promotional support from LHM—Russia augments the effort. The Pezho theatre troupe and Otava Yo combine to present the Christmas pageant at Grand Canyon, one of St. Petersburg’s largest shopping malls. The focus of the show is a nativity scene featuring colorful, larger-than-life cutout figures. Costumed actors perform skits and dances that tell the story of Jesus’ birth. The minstrels of Otava Yo punctuate the performance with familiar Christmasseason hymns and folk tunes that the audience can join in singing. Christmas never strays from its primary message: Christ the Savior is born. “Performers depict the most significant event in all of history in an easy-to-understand way,” says LHM—Russia Director Igor Savich. “The merriness of the performance only intensifies how good this Good News is.” Hundreds enjoy the production. “It’s a very joyous performance in the interactive style of the open-air festivals that are customary in Russia,” says Savich. “The actors interact with children and their parents throughout the performance—and even bring audience members up to join them in khorovods (circle dances that include choral singing). At the conclusion of the show, families come onstage, chat with actors, and get an up-close look at scenery and props.” As actors and audience members mingle, the ministry center’s staff and volunteers distribute brochures and invite people to learn about the Bible through Lutheran Hour Ministries’ video-based online courses. Learn more about LHM—Russia’s Christmas activities—which also include production of a seasonal booklet about angels and a special outreach to orphans and neglected children. Visit lhmrussia.wordpress.com! n

6BE133

63141-8557 r Dr. • St. Louis, MO 660 Mason Ridge Cente 1-800-876-9880 • www.lhm.org

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The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Now you can purchase 20 copies of What Is Christmas? booklets for $10 (plus S&H) and receive 5 FREE copies of The Christmas Journey! Order online at LHM.ORG/CHRISTMAS. Use promo code: LMCHRISTMAS14.

Or call 1-800-876-9880.

Hurry! Offer ends 12 /31 /14!


Long-term Blessing:

A Church’s Partnership with the Guatemala Ministry Center By Greg Koenig

onthemove

H

ave you wondered what it would be like to be involved in an International Ministries Partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries through one of its ministry centers around the world? You can get a clear picture by studying the six-year relationship with Concordia Lutheran Church in Pullman, Washington. Concordia’s Ann Summerson leads a campus ministry that serves two area schools—Washington State University in Pullman and the University of Idaho just across the state line in Moscow. In 2008, Lutheran Hour Ministries—Guatemala hosted an International Volunteer Team of students from Concordia who traveled to the city of Puerto Barrios to support the ministry of Cristo el Salvador (Christ the Savior) Lutheran Church. The student group worked on two outreach projects, helping improve a Lutheran Community Center and holding a vacation Bible school event for local children. Now, six years later, the partnership of Concordia, Cristo el Salvador

Lutheran Church in Puerto Barrios, and Lutheran Hour Ministries—Guatemala is stronger than ever—and growing. Subsequent Volunteer Trips have included not only students but also non-student members of Concordia. In 2010, the congregation also welcomed LHM—Guatemala Director Rebeca De Franco and Cristo el Salvador’s Pastor Byron Paz to Pullman for a special visit. In the years between volunteer trips, the congregation’s members have provided hundreds of witnessing-bead bracelets to help the Guatemala center’s staff and volunteers share the Gospel. Summerson adds, “Since 2010, Concordia congregation members and students have also made it possible for 23 children, preschool through junior high, to attend the Lutheran school by sending sponsorship support. What a privilege to offer a future for these families!” A group of 17 from Concordia, Pullman, traveled to Guatemala in March 2014—the congregation’s fourth International Volunteer Trip!

by Kurt Buchholz Executive Director Lutheran Hour Ministries

Opportunities to Walk in the Best Footsteps

R

ecently I hosted 200 people on a trip through Martin Luther’s Germany. At one level the highlights for me were the beautiful scenery, historic tours, wonderful food, and good German beer. At another level I relished the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Luther, relive the Reformation accounts, meditate on the deep messages shared though our daily devotions which were lovingly penned by our speaker emeritus, Rev. Ken Klaus, and to be a part of the live audience as Speaker Rev. Gregory Seltz recorded a Reformation sermon for The Lutheran Hour. This was truly a “bucket-list” opportunity. For most that would be enough. However, I was blessed by yet another level of experiences. These centered on God’s people with whom I traveled. It was clear to see that they were of one heart, the heart of Christ. Even more, these were people who embraced a common passion for Bringing Christ to the Nations—and the Nations to the Church. Through our conversations and fellowship a new level of meaning came into this experience. As we look back at the Reformation, we see how

God used individuals and communities of believers to carry forth His will for the church. What is this telling us about ourselves? What does it say about our communities of faith and the mission and ministry of LHM today as we strive to bring the Word and Witness of Christ to those who have not heard? We experienced the bold personal sacrifice of individuals and we walked the rooms, hallways, and streets where communities of believers came together in faith to protect and advocate against those who would end the Reformation. And we asked ourselves: In what ways is God calling us to make this same stand today? The message we received was clear. Lutherans in North America want to see us go, go, go—not for their sake or to serve their own needs but to shape a future for our church where we are effectively reaching the lost in our communities. This includes our own children, grandchildren, and future generations. They want to see us DOING it, not just talking about it. Lutheran Hour Ministries, led by the passion of its dedicated members, is restless in keeping our eyes on the future, continually challenging ourselves to be

The volunteers continued work on the Community Center project and again presented VBS’s for local children. “The group also donated a new computer for us to use with our internet service,” says LHM— Guatemala’s Rebeca De Franco, “as well as a beautiful travel guitar—the first instrument we have received to help form a musical group! God bless our brothers and sisters in Jesus from Concordia!” “God is doing amazing things in Guatemala through the work of some truly amazing people!” says Summerson. “Please continue to pray for the ministry in Puerto Barrios, Pastor Paz, and Rebeca De Franco and Lutheran Hour Ministries!” Is the Spirit calling you into an International Ministries Partnership with LHM? To learn more about building dynamic mission relationships through this exciting program, visit www.lhm.org/partner. n Greg Koenig is part of LHM’s corporate communications team.

building capacity to take advantage of new opportunities to broaden the reach of the Gospel. Personally, the 200 fellow travelers encouraged and validated my resolve to see the work of LHM expand in the future! Many of the conversations we had centered around three areas of shared passion: Reaching younger audiences of unbelievers through new mass media platforms as well as a large investment in online digital evangelism; a large increase in our international reach; and focused investments in supporting the Church to be better resourced for outreach and evangelism. God has already blessed LHM with success in these areas, and we believe it is time to take that success to a much larger scale. I look forward to continuing these conversations with you as I travel and invite you to be with LHM next year as we host the Lands of the Bible Cruise September 28-October 11 (www.lhm.org/Biblecruise). This is not just one of those bucket-list educational tours. Instead, there will be an opportunity for us to spend quality time discussing our shared heritage and what that means for our ministry today and in the future. n

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

13


Illegal Immigrant Children: An Opportunity for the Gospel

By Greg Koenig

I

t’s a serious movement that can affect you directly or indirectly. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from October 1, 2013, to September 3, 2014, more than 66,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the United States’ southwest border. All things considered, perhaps that initially doesn’t sound particularly dramatic. After all, during the 1990s, more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants crossed the southwest border into the country every year. Although U.S. border control strategies have reduced the total significantly, the number of illegal aliens returned to their countries of origin in 2013 was more than 420,000. So what is it that is worth special notice? For one thing, the 66,000 immigrants are children typically between the ages of 12 and 17, but many as young as 5 years old. For another, they’re unaccompanied— traveling alone or with other children, on foot, in passenger vans, even riding precariously atop the cars of a U.S.bound Mexican freight train sometimes called “La Bestia” (The Beast). For yet another, the current number—which continues to grow—is nearly double the total for the preceding year. The total has risen sharply each year since 2011, when it was just over 16,000. The phenomenon has even acquired a name as it has unfolded: immigration officials and the media are calling it “the surge.” Early statistics tracking the surge show the majority of these children coming from Mexico, but there has been a steady increase from the

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The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Central American “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In 2014, the proportions are almost equivalent, with the most children coming from Honduras.

Where are They? Because of agreements the United States has with its contiguous neighbors Mexico and Canada, most Mexican children are immediately returned to Mexico after a brief screening. For children from non-contiguous countries of origin, the process is more complex. They are placed in a standard deportation process through immigration court: after they are apprehended, they are transferred within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement and then placed in temporary shelters to await their court hearings. The average length of time a child is detained in a shelter is 35 days. If a child has family members in the United States, as is often the case, the Office of Refugee Resettlement will attempt to release custody of the child to those relatives or to individual/ organizational sponsors. Upon release, a child is expected to enroll in a U.S. school.

Why the Surge? There has been speculation that existing immigration agreements and relaxation of deportation policy have contributed to the increase in the numbers of children coming to the United States. However, this does not account for the fact that children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are also leaving their countries and

crossing illegally into Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, and Costa Rica. Recent studies suggest that the reasons have nothing to do with policies or politics. In one study made by the United Nations High Council on Refugees, 404 unaccompanied children from the four countries were interviewed. Reasons the children gave for coming to the U.S. included extreme poverty in the country of origin versus the hope for better opportunity, exploitation by human traffickers (a concern almost unique to Mexican children), and the intention to reunite with a relative already in the U.S. But the primary reason the majority of these children gave for their flight to the United States was violence— particularly the escalating violence connected with gangs and the drug trade, but also domestic violence (although fewer girls than boys are coming to the United States, most of the girls who are apprehended also are likely to be fleeing sexual violence). Because of this, the immigration cases of these children become still more complex. In the document titled 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees as amended by the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, a person who can be defined as a refugee is guaranteed international protection from being returned to a dangerous situation (or “refoulement”). Thus immigration courts are having to determine whether many of the children coming from these four countries in Latin America are eligible for refugee status.


The Immigrant-Children Crisis and the Church

LCMS’ Office of National Mission has enabled LSSS to open an emergency shelter in the south Texas city of McAllen and also provide many of the children with Spanish-language Bibles and devotional materials. LSSS is also exploring additional facilities in San Antonio and Houston. While organizations such as LIRS and its partners

acceptable vs. dangerous behavior.” LHM—Nicaragua reaches some 8,000 school children with the Project JOEL message. Project JOEL has been shown to have a positive, stabilizing impact where it has been implemented. LHM—Panama Director Edilberto Mendez reports, “Campuses where Project JOEL is presented have

are at work implementing effective interventions for Central American children who have crossed into the United States, Lutheran Hour Ministries provides a More recently, beginning in 2001, LIRS, Lutheran program that positively impacts children south of the social services agencies along with Lutheran border: Project JOEL. congregations across the country played a major role “JOEL” stands for JOvenes con Espiritu Libre—Youth in providing care and resettlement services for a good with a Free Spirit. The project, implemented by LHM number of the unaccompanied Sudanese refugee centers in Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and several children who came to be known as the “Lost Boys.” countries in South America, is a values-education And today Lutherans are making a difference in program that reinforces for children and teens the the care of unaccompanied children coming from importance of healthy life choices, careful decisionLatin America. According to a recent making, and honorable vocation. report from the LCMS, more than 45 The Project JOEL curriculum is “Do not forget to LIRS partner agencies are providing rooted in Scripture, but public care and services for more than show hospitality schools and other authorities have 14,000 of these children or their embraced it enthusiastically. to strangers, for family members or U.S. sponsors. “We actually coordinate with by so doing some the police for some Project JOEL One of those agencies is Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS), people have shown presentations,” says Ricardo which anticipates serving as many as hospitality to angels Arguello, director of LHM— 6,000 migrant children through July Nicaragua. “We go together to without knowing it” schools to talk to youth about 31, 2015. A $100,000 grant from The

seen reductions in dropout rates, improved academic performance and great openness among students to healthy lifestyle choices.” Project JOEL presentations reach roughly 10,000 students in Panama’s public and Christian schools. Twenty-four percent of the unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. are from Guatemala, where extreme poverty goes hand in hand with societal and domestic violence. The values taught through Project JOEL are especially critical here, says LHM—Guatemala Director Rebeca de Franco. “In every Project JOEL lesson, children are encouraged to rely on God for the wisdom to make good choices for their lives,” says de Franco, whose ministry reaches approximately 3,600 Guatemalan elementary and middle school children with the positive messages of Project JOEL. “We know many children are growing up alone because both their parents must work all day,” de Franco adds. “These children need spiritual support; Project JOEL helps give them that support from God’s Word—and this offers them the kind of hope they might not learn about anywhere else.”

The Church’s response begins with two simple realities. First, Scripture admonishes believers to show kindness toward immigrants—for example: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Second, wherever the Lutheran Church has been established in the Western Hemisphere, it has been an immigrant church. Historically these two realities have played out, at least in part, in empathy toward other immigrants in both word and deed. Immigrants Among Us, a 2012 publication of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Commission on Theology and Church Relations, points out, “Immigrants are, quite simply, neighbors. As neighbors, immigrants fall under the law of God, which calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves” (page 11). It goes on: “The remembrance of the LCMS’s own immigrant past, including the fears and prejudices endured by many of our Lutheran fathers and mothers in the faith upon arrival to the United States, should help us to foster a charitable disposition towards immigrants today” (page 19). Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), a pan-Lutheran organization, was founded in 1939 and has served as a defender and advocate of immigrants and refugees for more than seven decades. According to LIRS, when one out of every six Lutherans in the world was displaced after World War Two, “Lutherans across the United States opened their homes, churches, and communities to assist tens of thousands of migrants and their families as they started over” (Lutherans and Immigration Reform FAQ, 2012, http://lirs.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ LUTHERAN-IMMIGRATION-AND-REFUGEE-SERVICEFAQS.pdf).

(Hebrews 13:2).

see page 17 The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

15


Down with

‘Bullying’

How does LHM fit with you?

A

sk this question to Ed Tiefenbach of Canada, and he has a ready response. “’A little oasis of love amongst all the other displays’ is how one visitor described the LHM outreach booth at the fair,” said Ed. He is talking about the Regina Queen City Ex (expo) in Saskatchewan. The ministry is an outreach project of the LHM– Wascana Zone (see volunteer photo top left). He continued: “We met a midway worker who is unable to attend church on Sundays. There was a vendor who knows little about our God and whose family lives in China. These were two of the many people that stopped by to pick up LHM materials. It was one of the largest responses in years to the materials that were displayed. Many visitors could not believe the materials including the New Testaments and Bibles were all free for the asking.” LHM was a good “fit” for those who received the material. LHM has been a very good fit for many years at the event, as Ed explains it. This year was no exception. Above photos show other venues for use. “A major emphasis this year was the subject of bullying. The response to the children’s LHM booklet ‘The Bully’ was overwhelming. An adult pamphlet was also available. The Children’s Prayer book is always a popular item.” So you see, LHM covers topics not only for children but also for adults and grandparents who wish to advance in

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The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

their understanding of the Christian faith and who want to nurture the next generation. One verse in “The Bully” booklet typifies the direction: “I will call to Jesus, Whom I love and care and praise. He saves me from my enemies, Protects me through my days.” LHM has been a strong producer and supplier of material for events of this nature. It is done in line with the mandate of the International Lutheran Laymen’s League in Bringing Christ to the Nations—and the Nations to the Church via an informed and enabled laity equipped to participate in the work of the Church. As such, countless pastors appreciate and encourage the use of LHM materials. At the event in Canada, other booklets were in demand. “Project Connect booklets on depression, stress, anger, prayer, angels, death, along with ‘Why Do Bad Things Happen’ and ‘Reasons to Believe’ were popular again this year.” A variety of visitors to the booth had lost a member of their family through suicide. Others had relatives who had attempted suicide. Pastor Irwin Pudrycki was one of the 35 LHM volunteers who noticed.

“People with specific needs are more likely to stop and avail themselves of our materials,” he said. The “Surviving a Loved One’s Suicide” booklet was available. He saw how many people from various denominations just stop to say “thank you” for being a witness at the fair. Whether at a fair booth, on an exhibit table, or at a display for a special one-time event, LHM has been providing a wide range of material to the clergy and laity in their forward walk of witness for the Savior. By God’s grace, it is volunteers and supporters “who make this Christ-centered ministry possible,” Ed admits. “Please pray for the visitors that were touched by this outreach. Pray that they will find comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ.” To explore more ideas, go online at www.lhm.org and discover YOUR options! n

LHM covers topics not only for children but also for adults and grandparents who wish to advance in their understanding of the Christian faith and who want to nurture the next generation.


Illegal Immigrant Children: from page 15

An Opportunity for the Gospel

Are We Prepared? There will never be a better time for U.S. Lutherans to educate themselves about this issue, because we may be nearing a critical moment. As the situation develops, involved Lutheran social service agencies will need additional resources—including the specialized services of immigration-law professionals, Spanish-speaking counselors and Spanish-language interpreters. As the situation develops further, Spanish-speaking congregations may discover opportunities to minister to those immigrants who are allowed to stay in the U.S. In addition, Lutheran Hour Ministries’ international ministry centers will continue to need prayer and financial support to exert a positive influence on children in their home communities through Project JOEL, which provides an even greater benefit than values education for Latin American children: the message that Jesus died and rose so that by the work of the Holy Spirit they, too, can know the Savior and belong to Him forever. “…In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15). Find out more online at www.lhm.org and explore the International options. n Greg Koenig is a member of Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Corporate Communications team.

Silveira Now

Director of Uruguay Ministry Center

M

aria Gabriela Silveira is the new director of Lutheran Hour Ministries—Uruguay. She was officially installed on Saturday, Sept. 6, at San Pablo Lutheran Church, Montevideo, where she is a member. A native of Montevideo, Gabriela has a TESOL/ESL certificate (Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages/English as a Second Language) and is completing a university degree in organizational communication. She is engaged and will be married in February. Gabriela learned Lutheran doctrine while a student at San Pablo Lutheran School in Montevideo. In 2010 Gabriela joined the staff of the LHM ministry center, which is known in Uruguay as Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones (Christ for All Nations). Officials of Lutheran Hour Ministries are excited that Gabriela has accepted this leadership role and invite readers to join in praying for her plus the staff and volunteers of the Uruguay ministry center. For more about Gabriela and the work of Lutheran Hour Ministries—Uruguay, visit lhmuruguay.wordpress.com. n

LHM—Latvia’s “Practical Family” Sports Day event is designed simply to bring low-income families together to enjoy each other’s company and have some fun. Lutheran Hour Ministries includes a time for devotion and also provides clothing or other helpful supplies.

Kids have a great time playing games, expressing themselves creatively, and learning about God’s love at LHM—Latvia’s PandaMania VBS-style events.

Online Mission Trip:

Outreach in a European Culture By Greg Koenig

M

ore than 110 Lutheran schools have already registered for Lutheran Hour Ministries’ 2015 Online Mission Trip, to be held during National Lutheran Schools Week, January 26-29. The event is the fourth virtual mission adventure offered by Lutheran Hour Ministries. Since 2012, LHM has also made Online Mission Trip visits to Paraguay, Thailand, and Kenya. “A mission trip to Latvia may pose a challenge for some children in Lutheran schools,” says Rev. Peter Kirby, Lutheran Hour Ministries’ regional director for Europe and Jamaica. “We often develop preconceived notions, even stereotypes, of how the people we serve in international missions will look or live—and in general, Latvians defy those notions. They look like many others with European ancestry. They live in modern cities or small towns that have a lot in common with the communities we live in. They dress a lot like us. Many use the same kinds of technology that we use every day. But beneath what we see, Latvians have

deep social and spiritual needs—needs that cry out for the love and mercy of God, which we can share.” Latvia’s economy is showing signs of shaking off the effects of the worldwide financial crisis that began in 2008, but there is still considerable progress to be made. In 2008, one-in-five Latvians was unemployed; today about one-in-eight are jobless—a modest improvement. However, while many Latvians with means seek employment outside Latvia, the poor do not have this option and often remain trapped in poverty inside Latvia. Nearly three generations of communist atheism rendered Latvia a spiritual wasteland, and as it continues to emerge from the communist era, many Latvians are discovering a deep spiritual hunger. Statistics suggest Christianity is growing in Latvia, and Lutheran Hour Ministries is working with Latvia’s largest Christian group (the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia) to reach out to people, especially poor families. see page 19

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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LHM—Lebanon staff member Mark Rahme distributes aid packages to refugees in a camp community. According to Director Fadi Khairallah, in their initial visits, the ministry center staff labeled LHM packages Lutheran Relief because the term Relief is recognizable to the majority of people.

­LHM & LCMS Forge Refugee Care

Partnership L

utheran Hour Ministries is gearing up to increase its Lebanon ministry center’s holistic outreach among families and individuals displaced by the ongoing violence in Syria. An exciting new partnership with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) will help boost LHM—Lebanon’s capacity for refugee care. Speaking at the 2014 LCMS National Disaster Response Conference on September 22, LHM— Lebanon Director Fadi Khairallah led off with a case study on LHM’s care for Syrian refugees: “More than 1.3 million Syrians have crossed from Syria into Lebanon, whose current population is just 4.4 million. It’s a population increase of 30 percent; to put this in perspective, imagine 80 million refugees entering the United States in a relatively short time. “We realize that if our ministry center were to try to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians coming to Lebanon, our resources would be quickly consumed and our capacity depleted. We cannot respond on the scale that the United Nations or the World Food Program does,” Khairallah told a roomful of conference-goers in Fort Wayne, Ind. “But we can reach out effectively to many of the camps in small border communities, where we can get to know the refugee families personally and target specific needs for food, medicine and hygiene supplies. In so doing, we are helping ease the suffering of hundreds—and discovering opportunities to share our faith and Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Gospel materials.” As LHM’s partner in Gospel-driven compassionate outreach, The LCMS has

Photos by Greg Koenig

By Greg Koenig

provided a financial gift that will enable the ministry center to expand and extend its services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. “What this partnership means is more targeted needs efficiently served, more comfort and stability delivered in the name of Jesus, more relationships built, and more conversations about the love and mercy of God,” said LHM Executive Director Kurt Buchholz. “We can’t predict when life in Syria will become stable again; nor can we predict what the Syrians in Lebanon might decide to do once stability is restored. But while they are in Lebanon we can do what Jesus commends in Matthew 25 when He says, ‘I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me.’ We can bring help, healing, and hope. We are very excited that LCMS has asked to join in our efforts in this part of the world.” To learn more about Lutheran Hour Ministries’ work in the Middle East, visit lhmlebanon.wordpress.com. n

Partners in Gospel-fueled refugee care: LHM’s International Ministries Director Dr. Douglas Rutt, left, next to Lebanon Director Fadi Khairallah, and (at right) Africa-Middle East Regional Director Eric Gates met with LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison at the Synod’s 2014 National Disaster Response Conference in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Feb. 1, 2015: Save the Date for LHM Sunday T

oday we stand at a historic crossroads. Many people around the world have come to believe that they don’t need God or don’t even think He exists. The need for bold proclamation of Christ’s love has never been greater. As Christians we have been “Called…Loved…SENT” to faithfully and joyfully share the Gospel truth with our friends and neighbors who are lost and hurting. Learn about LHM’s long and respected history of providing outreach tools that work in concert with its Gospel proclamation activities when your church celebrates LHM Sunday on Feb. 1, 2015 (or any Sunday that is most appropriate for your congregation to celebrate the blessings of LHM). These outreach tools serve as the catalyst for partnering with the laity to embolden them to be missionaries in their own communities. n

For more information about Lutheran Hour Ministries Sunday, call 1-800-876-9880 or visit www.lhm.org/lhmsunday. See page 2 for more details about LHM Sunday materials. 18

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014


Third Try for

L

GRAND PRIZe Winner!

HM’s sixth annual Men’s NetWork North American Fishing Tournament came to an end on Sept. 7 with 209 guys—70 being new to this year’s tournament—trying their hand at landing a winning catch. Of the anglers participating, there were 67 different weekly winners who hauled in the likes of northern pike, musky, walleye, channel cat, salmon, bluegill, largemouth, crappie, and more. A $15 registration fee was all it took to get fishermen in the running. By the end of the contest anglers took home 220 gift cards from Bass Pro Shops worth $10 apiece. Over the course of the tournament, Dave Galloway and Mike MacDowell hauled in the most winning catches, tying at 13. Close on their heels were Chris Hansell and Jim Rohe who tied for third, with 11 each. Rohe’s 11 weekly wins weren’t the end of his story, however. For the third-year contestant this was the year his name was randomly pulled from our lucky minnow bucket to receive a $500 Grand Prize gift card. When news of his financial lunker arrived, Rohe was humbled by

By Paul Schreiber

his unexpected win: “I’m just a little numb to say the least. Other than the weekly winnings, I’ve never won anything of this magnitude. Praise the Lord! Thanks, again, for all of the work you and your team of associates put in to making this tournament go. Blessings on your continued ministry to the kingdom of God through Lutheran Hour Ministries,” he said. Rohe, a retired schoolteacher of 40 years, nearly all of which was at Zion Lutheran Church and School in Bethalto, Illinois, gave credit where credit was due. “I thank Bruce Wurdeman for getting me in on this,” adding that it was the former LHM executive director who encouraged him to sign up for the tourney. After speaking with his wife, Rohe said the couple is possibly planning on using the dollars to fund a road trip out west to visit their daughter and her husband in Nebraska. He did mention there might be a little fishing along the way, too. Spoken like a true fisherman. Congratulations, Jim! n Paul Schreiber is on the staff of LHM as senior editor for the United States Ministries division.

Online Mission Trip:

Outreach in a European Culture

from page 17

One of Lutheran Hour Ministries—Latvia’s most popular family-oriented programs is called “Practical Family.” The program offers a half-day-long sports and games event whose concept is simple: bring parents and children together so they can enjoy a time of team achievement and fun. “The family is God’s institution for human beings,” says ministry center Director Artis Purins, “and ‘Practical Family’ is designed to help strengthen it. You don’t need a lot of money to be together with your children; you don’t need a longer vacation or better weather to smile, to talk to your kids or to hug your wife!” Each day of fun begins with devotions led by a local pastor and concludes with treats and a gift of clothing or sports equipment. Another of LHM—Latvia’s popular programs is PandaMania, a one- or two-day VBS-style children’s event, which the LHM staff and volunteers host at a school or local church. “PandaMania is the place where children can hear God’s word in the way they can understand it,” says Artis. “It’s the place where Jesus becomes a good Friend that they can rely on!” Lutheran schools participating in Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Online Mission Trip to Latvia will have an opportunity to support LHM—Latvia’s outreach with their chapel offerings. Registration runs through January 9, 2015. Visit www.lhm.org/onlinemissiontrips to learn more and sign up! n Greg Koenig is an important part of the LHM corporate communications team.

new Kid-Friendly Booklet Teaches Little Ones about Prayer “Hi there! Welcome! Glad you’re here. We’re going to learn to pray. This might be your first time, And you’re not sure what to say.”

S

o starts the opening of Learning to Pray, a colorful, mini-booklet full of rhymes and original artwork that gets kids thinking about prayer and what it means to talk with God. With artwork by Masaru Horie and text by Suzie Sallee, coordinator of witness tools for LHM, this handy gem will be a great giveaway in Sunday school, the classroom, or even as a stocking stuffer at Christmas. Here are some samples of the prayers included: “How about a morning prayer To start your day off right: Jesus, thank You for today, And be my shining light! Amen.” “When you come to dinner, Gather round and take your seat. Lord, we thank You for this food That You give us to eat. Amen.” “Jesus, You’re the One I love. I’ll sing Your praise with joy. Help me share Your love and care, With every girl and boy. Amen.” Created in the tradition of The Easter Story, The Bully, The Christmas Journey, and Sharing Your Faith, these little conversations with God are ideal for kids to use when they want to speak with their Heavenly Father, but might not have the words to say. Here children will find a colorful story reminding them God is always available, even as it encourages them to pray. A selection of prayer poems at the end gives kids a track to run on when speaking to God. “Thank You for the world so sweet. Thank You for the food we eat. Thank You for the birds that sing. Thank You God for everything. Amen.” n

To order Learning to Pray, go to LHM’s storefront at www.lhmgift.org/storefront. There you can order a pack of 25 booklets for $6, plus S&H, just in time for the holidays. You can also check out the other kid-friendly mini-booklets LHM has available. The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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(Left): Monrovia-area youth take a break from an LHM-organized soccer event to learn how to raise awareness about Ebola and prevent its spread. (Middle): LHM—

Liberia Director Alphonsus Claimett gives a presentation on preventing the spread of Ebola. (Right): One way to raise awareness: LHM—Liberia drapes an informative banner across the front of its vehicle on visits to schools and communities.

LHM counters the ebola

epidemic in liberia

By Greg Koenig

I

t is called the “largest outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in history” by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers believe that in December 2013, the most severe and deadly known strain of the Ebola virus passed from the body of a dead animal—probably a fruit bat—into the system of a toddler in the West African country of Guinea. It spread through family members, then health care workers, making its way to the capital of Guéckédou— and then across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; one infected Liberian carried it to Nigeria, where a minor outbreak occurred and was quickly contained. The CDC reports that by Oct.1 there have been an estimated 6,500 cases of Ebola and more than 3,000 deaths. Part of the virus’ spread has been due to urban legend: when more and more Guineans were going into isolation facilities run by westerners in strange-looking protective garb and then not coming back out, it was rumored

20

that the medical experts were harvesting patients’ organs and limbs. As a result, many who had been infected began avoiding health care centers and unwittingly transmitting the disease in secret. Another factor in Ebola’s spread is that it looks like other diseases familiar to West Africans, particularly malaria. “In its early stages, the symptoms of Ebola are similar to the symptoms of malaria— headache, weakness, muscle aches, stomach upset, and diarrhea,” explained Rev. Samuel Navoh of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia during a recent visit to the United States. “What is different is the hemorrhaging—bruising or bleeding—that Ebola causes in its later stages. By the time people notice this, however, it is often too late.” The nation of Liberia has been hardest hit, with more than 3,400 reported cases and more than 1,800 deaths. It is also the only affected country where Lutheran Hour

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Ministries has an outreach center. of Hope radio program, which is “Our country is experiencing broadcast across the country on dark times,” wrote LHM—Liberia the national network, has included Director Alphonsus Claimett in messages about Ebola and featured August. “July saw the virus taking Dr. Mosaka P. Fallah of Liberia’s more lives than the two previous Ministry of Health and Social months.” More recently, Claimett Welfare, who advised listeners reported that Liberia’s government, about how to avoid infection. in order to conserve resources, In schools and at public events began rationing electrical power. such as film shows and kickball and Now even important health centers soccer tournaments, the ministry may be limited to just four hours has provided education, flyers, of electricity per day. On top of and posters aimed at preventing all this, Liberia is rated by the U.S. the transmission of Ebola. Most Department of State as one of the recently, according to the center’s poorest nations of the world. Facebook page, LHM—Liberia But Lutheran Hour Ministries— mobilized a team of 25 volunteers Liberia is not just sitting idle. and traveled to Margibi (just east of To keep operating even when Monrovia) on an evangelism and electricity is off, Claimett has Ebola sensitization campaign. purchased a generator. Since LHM officials ask for readers prevention is one of the best to pray for the people of Liberia, ways to contain Sierra Leone, also Guinea— the disease, the and for the courageous ministry center is work of the LHM—Liberia involved in raising “Our country is ministry center. To learn awareness about more about the center’s experiencing Ebola. The center’s efforts, visit lhmliberia. dark times.” weekly Words wordpress.com. n


Easy to Get, Easy to Read, the MNW E-newsletter

I

nterested in staying up to date on what’s happening at the Men’s NetWork? If so, we’ve got just the ticket: “Man Stuff,” the MNW weekly e-newsletter. Each Tuesday night it rolls off our “cyber-presses” here at Lutheran Hour Ministries and heads straight to the e-mailboxes of some 14,000-plus subscribers. In it you’ll get the scoop on original, video Bible study releases, prize contests, opportunities to grab some exceptionally cool MNW merchandise, free topical booklet offers, in-depth outreach ideas, funny stuff, and more. Recent readers heard about the MNW’s WEAR in the World photo contest, which is a chance to take home an Oxford shirt by submitting a qualifying picture. They heard about LHM’s excellent online sermon series produced in the Mediterranean, “Footsteps of Paul: Footprints of Grace.” They heard about a Project Connect booklet offer, The Mormons: Who They Are, What They Believe, which is a companion piece to the excellent Bible study of the same name. By the way, the booklet is FREE— to those who register on the MNW site. What a deal! Among the ministry resources offered, each issue

highlights new men’s groups that have registered on the MNW and are now taking advantage of the materials we provide. For instance, a recent issue featured the Celebration Men’s Group from Saint Johns, Florida; Trinity Lutheran’s Tuesday Morning Men’s Study from Islip, New York; and St. Paul’s Men’s Bible Study from Evansville, Indiana. Also announced each week are upcoming events being held round the country that are open to everyone. For instance, Concordia Lutheran

Church in Louisville, Kentucky, sent out invites to its “Monthly Breakfast and Bible study, along with a Habitat for Humanity Build” project; two days later the church followed this up with its “First Annual Chili Cookoff.” Yum! For those in the Fargo, North Dakota, area, St. Andrew Lutheran Church hosted a visit from Rev. Gregory Seltz, the Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, who addressed a “Family Outreach Event” there. Each week a thought-provoking blog is added too from a guest writer. Recent entries have tackled subjects such as illegal roughing off the field by NFL players; religious and ethnic persecution and the use of terror; the end-game of parental discipline; and the signs of suicide. Readers are invited to share their comments on the blog. The MNW e-newsletter has, by most all accounts, made Tuesday evenings a whole lot better for its growing legion of fans. Getting it is easy and reading it’s a breeze. To get your very own copy, just go to the Men’s NetWork’s website at www. lhm.org/men, click on “Startin’ Up” at the top of the page, drop down to “Subscribe to Man Stuff,” and fill in a few, quick bits of information. While you’re there, take a moment to register too. This gives you complete access and downloading capabilities for dozens of resources that are available only on the website. To register, go to the “Why Register?” and, again, fill in a few boxes. n

This Christmas,

give the gospel! Lutheran Hour Ministries Online Giving Catalog www.lhmgift.org/catalog

Give a gift AND RAISE YOUR INCOME?

Would you like to: Support Gospel ministry and receive fixed payments for your life – and the life of a loved one? A Charitable Gift Annuity may be right for you! Contact Adam Eggemeyer for more information at 1-800-876-9880 or lhm-gift@lhm.org. The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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march 2014 -

Students and memb ers of Concordia Lutheran Church, Pullman, Wash. serve with LHM—Guatemala.

june 2014 -

A seven-member Intern ational Volunteer Team from Christ Lutheran Church, Brooksville, Fla. serves with LHM’s Pan ama ministry center.

Concordia volunteers team up to mix concrete for their ongoing project to help improve a community center in the Puerto Barrios area.

Concordia team members lead an energetic song during a VBS activity. What you don’t see: some two hundred uniformed school children mirroring the group’s actions.

Look closely and you’ll spot the Christ, Brooksville team peeking out from the center of this happy group of Panamanian VBS kids. (Look for the lime green shirts.)

Concordia, Pullman team member and “Luz Rojo, Luz Verde” (Red Light, Green Light) leader Rick Leary developed a following. Some followers preferred to ride on his shoulders.

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A team of volunteers from Christ Lutheran Church, Brooksville, Fla. served with LHM—Panama in June 2014. It was the first time the congregation had sent out a mission trip group!

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

Paint, paint, paint! The volunteer team from Brooksville spent a couple of warm, muggy days painting walls, walkways, fenceposts, signs—even trees!


july 2014 -

LHM—Pan ama welcomed an Intern ational Volunteer Team from Amazin g Grace Lutheran Church, Oxford, Fla.

july 2014 -

An Intern ational Volunteer Team from Faith Lutheran Church in Grand Blanc, Mich. returned to Guatemala to serve the community of Santiago Za mora.

Enthused by their International Volunteer experience in 2012, the team from Faith in Grand Blanc, Mich. came back in July 2014—ready to serve and renew friendships they had made in the village of Santiago Zamora.

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Steve Rockey made friends with kids like Ruth at the VBS the group led.

What’s missing in this picture? If you said “A roof,” you’re right. The Grand Blanc team fixed that; in four days the space had a shiny new roof of corrugated metal.

Team member Jessica Rockey helps give the ministry center a fresh coat of paint.

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church’s team of ten servants, ready for an LHM mission adventure in Panama.

Faith, Grand Blanc team members helped provide a Project JOEL presentation for a high school group near Guatemala City. At the conclusion of the trip, the high schoolers expressed their thanks for the team’s time and friendship.

Thank you for volunteering! The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

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Where the People Are: Project Connect in Action W

e’ve heard some good stories at Lutheran Hour Ministries about the real estate where some LHM Project Connect booklet displays have been placed. Besides church narthexes and outside the front door of the pastor’s office, places like automotive dealerships, hospital waiting rooms, dentist offices, food pantries, transportation terminals, bus depots, off-campus learning centers, and nursing offices are all prime locations for getting these topical texts into the public’s hands. Perhaps you can add more! We can. Another one is a public restroom— specifically, public restrooms in Paducah, Kentucky, located near the city’s downtown retail and entertainment area. It’s there that Roger Belter, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Paducah, saw a perfectly sensible opportunity to maximize the outreach potential of Project Connect booklets. Here’s what 70-year-old Belter had to say: “In retirement I wanted to discover a personal niche and witness and to be Holy “To put it simply, Spirit led. As the apostle Paul was led in mission amongst the religious circles, the Project Connect the affluent, privileged and the naysayers, I felt the same spiritual nudge to reach booklet ministry is out to secular society and the pop culture. I felt the need to do more outreach ‘the best thing since in the community, meeting the public halfway with their personal concerns or sliced bread,’” bread’” even connect with the spiritual ‘curiosity seekers’ for the truth and grace found in our loving Triune God. The Project Connect booklets portray this best through says Roger Belter effective, sensitive writers. of Paducah, Ky. “My ‘public square’ is located at the downtown Paducah public restrooms/ information center, which is an active social setting. The public restroom facilities are accommodated with a sizable information board with multiple slots in the lobby area. For a year and a half now in weekly monitoring my Project Connect slot, I am observing that the user-friendly PC booklets are being picked out from all the other reading materials regularly. Obviously, they’re targeted for the recipient or a friend(s) of the recipient with a saving need. CAN EXPLORE S T N E D U T S YOUR Sometimes I find myself competing with other religious faiths, and theirs THROUGH THE appear to be stagnant. I print our church website address on the back of my PC booklets. “Currently, I rotate placement in an information slot with these titles: The Great Deceiver, Prayer: When You Don’t Know What To Say, Comebacks: How To Get Back Up After Life Knocks You Down, Stressed But Connected, Living With True Confidence, and Your Place In God’s Plan. All these are frequently picked out based on substance and appeal. I have no doubt the booklet The Great Deceiver will draw attention due to the negative culture in today’s society fed 24/7 by the media news. “I order in rotation and select from various subjects at LHM headquarters to include both female- and male-specific topics. When you promote a new booklet, I take advantage of the bonus offers. I place three at a time (about every other week) with a subject feature to eliminate waste and to be cost-effective throughout the year. I’ve also had opportunity to hand a few to individuals in conversation. “To put it simply, the Project Connect booklets ministry is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ (or to paraphrase, since Communion bread),” Belter said. Project Connect from Lutheran Hour Ministries has Christ-centered texts in both English and Spanish. Many of these titles will soon be available in audio versions too. Handy, easy-to-use display racks are available for convenient display in locations only limited by your imagination. To learn more about these excellent, portable resources, go to www.lhm.org/ projectconnect for all the details. n

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Thanks to Paul Schreiber of the LHM staff for conducting this interview. 24

The Lutheran Layman November-December 2014

The Lutheran Layman  

November - December 2014

The Lutheran Layman  

November - December 2014