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Story of the Week 2017

B ir t h in g k it s d e li ve r c a re t o P N G s is t e r s IGT by MA RG AR ET VO

www.lca.org.au

LAST UPDATED: NOVEMBER 2017


STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2017

B ir t h in g k it s d e li ve r c a re t o P N G s is t e rs

by M ARGA RE T VO IG T

It is difficult to imagine giving birth to a baby in any setting other than a sterile hospital with a well-equipped labour ward. This is far from the experience of most women in rural and remote Papua New Guinea (PNG). Often the best that pregnant women in these places can hope for is to be near a centre where a village midwife or nurse from Lutheran Health Services (LHS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) is stationed. Women who live in remote places are often not able to have their babies in hospital and maternal and child mortality is quite high. Births may take place in thatched houses, on dirt floors, or in a setting with dirty walls and floors, possibly on slat beds. It is in these situations that birthing kits, lovingly prepared by Lutheran women around Australia, bring the gift of hope and life to newborns and their mothers. Lutheran Women of Australia (LWA) has always supported women in PNG, especially in health. During the many years I was a nurse and nurse educator there, this support was evident, and continues today through the birthing kit program. The idea for the program was presented at the LWA convention in Sydney in 2003. Village midwives had been trained in PNG for several years, but were given nothing to help deliver babies.

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Midwives and teachers at the Lutheran School of Nursing, where I taught, saw the need to help village midwives assist births. Since then thousands of kits have been sent. They are used to help give women a clean, safe delivery. The kits are a small way in which Australian women can help the women of PNG and show they care for their sisters in a neighbouring country. They include plastic and linen squares to provide a clean delivery area, disposable gloves, a scalpel blade, cloth nappies and soap, along with a tract with Bible verses in Pidgin English. Made by women’s fellowship groups across Australia, the kits are packed into cartons by Joan and Kevin Koster, then sent by LCA International Mission to Lae, PNG. Some kits made in Queensland are sent from Brisbane to Madang. If you would like to contribute a birthing kit or donate to this program, please contact LCA International Mission at lcaim@lca.org.au, 08 8267 7334 or www.lcamission.org.au

The full story appears in the November edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2017

LCA campaigns against

DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE by IA N RENTSCH

The LCA’s new Campaign for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence will carry the tagline Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts. The campaign, which was developed in response to a resolution passed at the 2015 General Synod, aims to build awareness within the church of the prevalence of family and domestic violence, as well as to train members in supporting victims of abuse and challenging those who use violence. The synod resolution called for a church-wide effort to address family violence within the LCA through measures such as resources, education, and providing pastoral care to the victim-survivors and perpetrators of abuse. As a result, the LCA commissioned the campaign. A working group, comprising lay members Colleen Fitzpatrick, Libby Jewson, Jacqui Kelly, Helen Lockwood, Angela Mayer, Stephen Rudolph, Peter Schirmer, and pastors Keith Stiller and James Winderlich, has overseen its development. The words ‘Hidden Hurts’ highlight that we too often have not acknowledged the reality of domestic violence in our congregations, and have not always given the victims of abuse the support and care they have needed. ‘Healing Hearts’ reminds us that we are empowered by Christ’s grace to appropriately support victims of abuse and challenge those who use violence.

Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts aims to: • make everyone in the LCA aware of the scourge of domestic violence and its impact not only on victims, but also on families and church communities • give to members, through training and information, the confidence to challenge people who use violence; and to give victims the support and care they need; • encourage all of us to demonstrate that there is a better way to live as God’s forgiven people. The Lutheran Laypeople’s League and Lutheran Services Queensland have funded the campaign (including its coordination), providing training and producing a website and promotional material. The website will include information about domestic and family violence; training for pastors, church workers and congregations; available support services; and scriptural and theological elements affirming the gospel message and the equality of men and women. Visit the website at www.preventDFV.lca.org.au and complete the online survey on attitudes towards to domestic violence. The full story appears in the November edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2017

The by H ELEN BER I NGEN

Arthur Schuster’s God-given gift of organising surfaced on his family farm at Yerong Creek near Wagga, New South Wales, when he was about 10 years old. He organised the local youth to clean sugar bags full of stamps to raise money for missions. Recently at the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) New South Wales District Convention, Arthur’s gift was acknowledged with a presentation recognising 51 years of service on district finance committees. Over the years, he has been a member of many church and community committees. He served on the church council for Immanuel Lutheran Church Woden Valley, Canberra, for 29 years. Arthur is now a member at Canberra’s Tuggeranong congregation, where he has just finished eight years as secretary.

raised around $400,000 for LCA International Mission programs since it began in 1938. In the past three years, he has collected about 40 kg of stamps, including 5.5 kg from one person alone! He has sourced thousands of dollars in unstamped stamps and once received $1200 of new stamps. Along with money raised through their sale, blessings have included a witnessing opportunity through prayer shared with a generous benefactor. Arthur has been blessed with good health and just wants to, ‘keep doing what he’s doing’. What he is doing also includes serving coffee on Sundays and at church garage sales to fundraise for missions, and helping at the breakfast club at a local primary school.

In everything, he says he has been guided by the ‘I was a farmer and didn’t have any great education, sentiment of his most loved hymn, Jesus loves me but I like organising things – it was my gift from God’, this I know and his favourite Bible verse – John 3:16 Arthur explains. ‘I’ve always been organising things.’ For more information about Stamps for Missions contact National Project Director As a youth, he was president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia’s Luther League in NSW, Peter Nitschke at pmnitschke@bigpond.com or on 08 8365 7717. which blessed him with many lifelong friendships. Workwise, he has been a jack-of-all-trades, from farming to painting houses and selling firewood. A move to Canberra in 1975, with wife Modesta and their three sons, led to a photography and video business, and a job as a driving instructor. Now retired, Arthur has rekindled his support for the LCA’s Stamps for Mission program, which has

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The full story appears in the November edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2017

‘GRANNY, I’M SCARED

to go home’

‘I don’t want to go home.’ Those words haunt me. I still hear them as our two grandchildren left us to return to a house of abuse. Our daughter Sarah married an alcoholic. After 10 years of physical abuse, the marriage ended. We didn’t know about the violence because Sarah projected that everything was okay. Soon after, David moved in. Our grandson Jack was eight and granddaughter Sophie was six. Thinking back, often when I rang Sarah the call was cut short because of screaming or crying. If Sarah wasn’t nearby, David attacked the children. We arranged to pick them up from school weekly, helped with homework and stayed until Sarah finished work. During one of these times, David arrived home first, and Sophie asked me, ‘Could you please stay a while?’ This was when we realised something was wrong. It was a shock. Jack was repeatedly being hit and forced into his room. Sophie’s way of coping was to keep out of David’s way. We told Sarah what the children said, how David was hitting them, using foul language, and frightening them. Sarah told David and things got worse for Jack and Sophie. We started having them stay with us more often. Each time they left, the words ‘I don’t want to go home’ echoed in my head and I cried.

I took notes of what Jack and Sophie told us. David would say things like ‘tell anyone and I will rip your head off’ or ‘if I had my way I would throw you under a bus’. Two years ago the school counsellor contacted us as our grandchildren were too frightened to go home. They stayed with us for eight months before deciding to return home. Because the state Department for Child Protection eventually became involved, David is now careful not to touch the children. But they are constantly harassed and reminded he wants them out of his life. Our grandchildren are amazing young people, now 18 and 16. There is no sign of the anger, hatred and violence they have experienced. We try to fill their lives with love and encouragement. We pray for them every day. And, above all, we thank God for his guidance through this traumatic time. Call 000 if anyone is in immediate danger 1800RESPECT – family violence & sexual assault counselling 1800 737 732 Lifeline – crisis support for domestic abuse and family violence 131 114 The full story appears in the November edition of

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STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2017

A ‘JOINT WITNESS’ Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations

On 31 October, LCA Bishop John Henderson and Archbishop Christopher Prowse of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will sign a joint statement issued to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The statement says that while much has changed in the world – and the church – since the time of Martin Luther, ‘the effects of the Reformation endure’. It says there are three elements to the commemoration of the anniversary: ‘We are deeply aware of the past and of the damage that was a consequence of conflict and division; we thank God for the healing of the relationship between Catholics and Lutherans that has taken place in recent decades and for the impetus for unity that we share; and we look forward to walking a common path in the future, witnessing together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.’ The statement will be signed during a day of events under the theme ‘Together in Hope’, to be held in Adelaide. Bishop Henderson says the joint statement is an important commitment between the Catholic and Lutheran churches in Australia to continue to work positively together for the sake of the gospel.

nothing less than Jesus would expect of us. This statement is built on 40 years of solid dialogue, challenging dialogue, between the LCA and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. So if we can’t say something positive after 40 years, why would we be having the relationship? ‘And I think it’s important to realise that the Catholic Church is graciously acknowledging the importance of the Reformation and that the Christianity that we hold, in common. ‘While we continue to have differences, things that will separate us, we believe in the same Saviour and we’re all justified by faith and that’s Lutheran and Catholics alike.’ The ‘Together in Hope’ program will also include a morning prayer service at Bethlehem Lutheran Church; Reformation history presentations; an ecumenical lunch; a commemorative tree planting; a Luther movie screening; a concert; an evening prayer service at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral; a Lutheran–Roman Catholic Dialogue presentation and a reception and dinner. See www.50500.lca.org.au for more details and a link to the joint statement. The full story appears in the October edition of

‘It’s important for all Christians in the modern Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. world to find their common voice and their common Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. witness to the gospel’, he says. ‘I think that’s To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2017

by CH R IS M ATE R NE

Prayer with friends A REAL BLESSI N G

More than 50 lay workers came together for the LCA Lay Worker Conference in Queensland last month, under the theme Faith WALK Faith TALK. It was a truly intergenerational event with attendees aged from 21 to 81 years. Prayer ministry at the conference for and by lay workers brought real joy to many. Spending time with others also provided an opportunity to share fears, hopes, dreams and successes with people who understand the challenges many lay workers face. Building networks across the LCA will also strengthen ministries, as people make personal connections with those doing amazing work. Each morning of the gathering began with worship and singing The conference opened with worship led by Queensland District Bishop Paul Smith, while LCA Bishop John Henderson led the closing worship, during which lay workers were commissioned for service. Keynote speaker Dave Benson shared how to walk in faith by thinking about ‘What on earth am I here for?’ and how it is important to remember our primary calling is to God and our secondary calling is to how we fulfil our calling to God – not the other way around! That way we can point people to Jesus while staying fresh in our faith. Participants also heard from Grow Ministries, New and Renewing Churches and Australian Lutheran College’s Grassroots Training.

What they said about the conference ‘As a part-time lay worker, I was unsure if I would be able to slot into the Lay Worker Conference for a single day. But I was warmly welcomed, included in small group discussions, and learned a lot from the speakers. I loved the opportunity to meet the Church Worker Support team, to concentrate on forward planning for my ministry area, and to talk with people in the same ministries. I came away feeling refreshed, inspired and strongly supported.’

Rachael Stelzer Redeemer Lutheran College and Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Rochedale Queensland ‘The Lay Worker Conference was the most nurturing and incredible experience I could have hoped for. To put faces to names, create new networks, discover resources, learn from others AND come out feeling refreshed and ready to go was just a blessing! I’m so grateful to my district for sending me. What a perfect introduction to the LCA and some great groundwork for me in my new position.’ Maya Youth & Young Adult Ministry Facilitator, Vic–Tas District The full story appears in the October edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2017

Luther was concerned about people – including the ordinary folk he preached to in the parish church of St Mary. He saw how people were being fleeced by the trade in indulgences, hence the 95 Theses. When he discovered the gospel in its fullness, he proclaimed it in bold, clear and colourful language. Luther wanted people to understand that life under the gospel is a new and wonderful way of life – not about trying to earn God’s favour, nor about serving yourself. This understanding was, and is, truly liberating and empowering. For Luther, there weren’t two classes of Christians: a holy elite doing God’s holy work, and the ordinary people. No. In Christ we are all one holy people, justified by grace and servants of God in the priesthood of the baptised. In Christ we are all free and at the same time bound to serve one another. It is no wonder laypeople in the Lutheran movement soon began to show the fruits of faith in notable ways. Let’s consider four examples. First, there is Katherina von Bora, Luther’s dear wife. As the story goes goes, she escaped from the convent she lived in from childhood in a fish barrel. Coming to Wittenberg seeking a new life, she blossomed as wife, mother, and manager of the family home, garden and a farm. Not least, she had to care for her high-maintenance spouse. Luther praised her as ‘the morning star of Wittenberg’.

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Our second example is Philip Melanchthon, the young scholar who came to Wittenberg and became a theologian and Luther’s right-hand man. He was a layperson and steadfastly refused theological degrees and honours. His greatest achievement was as principal author of the Augsburg Confession, the document that became the charter of the Lutheran Church. Then there were the seven Lutheran princes and two mayors who courageously signed the confession. In signing their names, they were risking their lives. In the arts, there are some stand-outs too, most notably Luther’s friend Lucas Cranach the Elder. Cranach was a distinguished Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcutting and engraving. His art adorned Luther’s German translation of the Bible. His work was important for communicating the faith in an age when many people could not read. What wonderful encouragement for living the Christian life is given to us by Luther and his ‘Luther league’ of faithful laypeople!

The full story appears in the October edition of

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2017

FREE

to A N S W E R

THE CALL

H R LACH by PAU L RO

In his teens, Paul Rohrlach didn’t think he ‘could ever be a leader for anything’. Now, at 24, he’s been a church synod delegate and is chairperson of his congregation. I’ve always been interested in the family business of grape growing, and not the slightest bit interested in school. In Year 11, I began a school-based apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic. Part way through the apprenticeship I was pretty dissatisfied. I worked hard but it didn’t live up to my expectations. My family has always gone to Bethany Lutheran Church in South Australia. When I was 19, I thought about doing some really stupid things. It was then when God collided with my life. A mate was pestering me to go to a youth service. I had been before and had bad memories. He wouldn’t let it go, so I thought I’d go and then tell him I hated it. But I didn’t hate it, and I couldn’t help thinking God was trying to tell me to become a Christian Life Week camp leader. Before that, I didn’t think I could ever be a leader for anything. That got me to where I am today. I experienced community and realised some people do care and can make all the difference. I wanted to make that difference to others.

I was asked if I’d like to go to District Synod for Bethany church in 2014. It was a great experience, and good to see a bit more passion than at church every Sunday. I also was a delegate for Bethany at General Synod in Queensland in 2015. I finished my apprenticeship in 2015 and last year started working at home as a vigneron. Generally I’m loving it and being outside is the best part of the job. Late last year God started speaking to me about taking up a role as church council chairperson. I didn’t want to – it’s not the role a bloke like me takes – but God made it obvious, so here I am. I’m now just getting an understanding of the role. I know I’m here for a reason. I just hope I’ll hear God when he wants something done, and that I’ll faithfully act on it. How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people? You can’t force young people to be involved. It all starts with parents teaching their children about Christ, encouraging their faith and then letting them make their own decisions. In time life will bring them back to those foundations. The full story appears in the October edition of Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2017

Partners in sharing JESUS’ LOVE The sense of evil and fear is hair-raisingly palpable as a spirit doctor approaches, uttering threats to villagers in northern Thailand’s mountainous Nan province. Spirit doctors have long reigned over the marginalised and impoverished Lua people with fear, demanding sacrifices and rituals to appease the spirits. But you are helping to change the lives of the Lua people. You are helping them to know Jesus as their Saviour and to be freed from fear through your partnership with LCA International Mission. Nyman was a spirit doctor who brought dread to his village. But today, as he sits on a cement floor with his grandchild, Nyman shares a new story. He’s now a baptised Lutheran Christian. He meets regularly in a small church with other believers and Lua Lutheran evangelist Pim. Through the proclamation of the gospel, people’s lives are being transformed. They are learning of the love and peace of Christ and being set free from darkness and fear. Today there are more than 1200 baptised Lutheran Christians living in the Nan province. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, and in partnership with people in Lutheran churches, you are privileged to bring the life-changing good news of Jesus to Nyman and others in our neighbouring countries in South-East Asia and the Pacific region.

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Through LCA International Mission, you enable Jesus’ love to come to life in the lives of many people as you Pray, Give, Connect and Go. Many of our partner churches face spiritual attack as they work in new territory for God’s kingdom. As an individual, or a member of a congregation, school, or family, you are invited to Pray for our partners in mission. We take great care of your financial gifts. You are invited to Give and can be confident your gift will assist our partner Lutheran churches to bring the life-saving good news of Jesus to their communities. Consider how you, your congregation, school, youth group or fellowship group can Connect personally and partner in mission. You can also experience firsthand how God’s love is coming to life through the word-and-action gospel work of our partner churches. You are invited to Go as a volunteer. There are many opportunities available; just contact LCA International Mission for further information. Check out our website at www.lca.org.au/international-mission The full story appears in the September edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2017

Photo: LWF/C Kastner

Your love reaches

ONE MILLION PEOPLE One million people.

That’s how many people our Lutheran family helped through Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) – in 2016 alone. Working through ALWS partner Lutheran World Federation, you go to people living in or fleeing some of the most troubled places on earth – including South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. You welcome refugees with food, water and the loving care which shows people they are not a number, or a case, but a person. Each one is important. At times of crisis, conflict and disaster, your help targets those most at risk – the elderly, the sick, children, pregnant women, and those who have suffered abuse or trauma. Just as Jesus sought out those who were forgotten or rejected, so do you. Meanwhile, for people living in poverty and facing injustice in countries like Cambodia and Nepal, you back long-term rights-based development that supports people to become self-sufficient and independent. Countries like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia see your ALWS support delivered through local Lutheran churches and service groups, reaching out to their communities with practical action. In every action we take, the special needs of children are held precious and protected.

P h o to: LW F/C K a st ner

Stand them shoulder to shoulder, and you have a line of people stretching from Adelaide to Melbourne.

ALWS is fully accredited by the Australian Government. This enables the generosity of the Lutheran family to be matched with government grants (more than $2 million in 2016), thus helping our impact to grow and increasing our efficiency. In fact, the five-year average for ALWS ‘overheads’ is just 11.3 per cent (fundraising and administration costs according to the ACFID Code of Conduct). One million people. Each one precious. All blessed because humble members of the Lutheran family in Australia and New Zealand stand shoulder to shoulder, and turn words into action, kindness into care, and good intentions into good development through ALWS. This is what love looks like when it comes to life! To find out more about how you can bring love to life through ALWS: p: 1300 763 407 alws.org.au e: alws@alws.org.au PO Box 488 Albury NSW 2640 The full story appears in the September edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

News flash: You may have seen recent news reports of severe flooding in Nepal. Almost 50,000 homes have been submerged, 115 people reported killed, and a total of six million people affected. On your behalf, ALWS has committed $100,000 to support emergency action for Nepal.

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2017

Refugee meetings move Lutheran leader In his role as General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev Dr Martin Junge has seen firsthand the devastating human impact of the world’s refugee crisis. So the Geneva-based leader of the world’s largest body of Lutheran churches was ‘deeply moved’ on his first visit to Australia last month when he met a man from an African refugee camp where relief is provided by LWF.

Shepparton, thanks to care they also received in LWF-run African camps. The congregation had only about 25 members when, in 2006, 12 Congolese refugee families were resettled there by the Australian government. The new arrivals were all from African refugee camps, mostly in Tanzania, which formerly were run by LWF.

While in Shepparton, Dr Junge interviewed Abraham Bosco Agulu, who lived at a refugee camp in northern Maken, who lived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya for approximately nine years. Mr Maken Uganda’s Adjumani district from 1989 to 2005, is fled violence in South Sudan when he was a boy. now a financial capability worker with Lutheran Community Care (LCC) SA-NT in Alice Springs. Shepparton’s Pastor Matt Anker, who himself visited ‘It was a great encouragement to see how Lutherans Kakuma in 2010, said Dr Junge had cherished the are continuing to care for people after they leave the opportunity to meet people who had recent personal experiences of the refugee camps LWF helps to run. camps – as people are resettled in a new country, with a different part of the Lutheran world continuing ‘It filled the circle in for him’, Pastor Anker said. to care for them’, Dr Junge said. ‘Meeting Bosco ‘From his perspective it was a great encouragement and hearing his story was deeply moving.’ to see the way in which former refugees have continued their connection with the Lutheran Mr Agulu arrived in Adjumani with his family when church on the basis of the care they’ve received he was a young child, having fled civil war in what in LWF–run refugee camps.’ is now South Sudan. He grew up in the camp and came to know about the assistance LWF provides The full story appears on your LCA website www.lca.org.au Go to ‘The Latest’ then ‘Feature Stories’ there. Mr Agulu said life in the camp was not easy – his father died after being bitten by a snake while working there. In Victoria, Dr Junge met African refugees who have been part of a revival of the Lutheran community in

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 27 AUGUST 2017

UNI in the BUSH by JA MES W INDER LICH

Three times a year people gather in the vast expanse of Central Australia. They are 25 to 30 Aboriginal Lutheran pastors and evangelists, Finke River Mission (FRM) support staff and Australian Lutheran College (ALC) teachers. They are there for university in the bush. As the LCA’s tertiary provider, one of the things ALC is asked to do is train pastors. This includes pastors and evangelists for the 4000-plus Aboriginal Lutheran people in Central Australia. FRM staff, who already walk with these communities for ongoing training and support, assist with the course. As all sessions are delivered in English, FRM staff translate them into the ‘first’ or ‘heart’ languages of the Aboriginal people who attend. It’s like witnessing the first Pentecost. That’s important because faith comes by hearing God’s word and that word needs to be in the language of our heart. Why go to such effort? As Lutherans, one of our important values is that faith is given and learnt locally. Think, as an example, of your own baptism. You weren’t expected to travel to ‘Lutheran head office’ to be baptised. You learn and grow in that faith where you live. You serve through that faith where you live. That is why uni is held in the bush. It’s where people live. It’s their home. Our three-way partnership is, in effect, the whole of the LCA partnering with local Lutheran congregations and communities. It’s uplifting to see different parts

of the LCA working so effectively together, for the sake of faith in and through Jesus Christ. I believe each ALC staff member who teaches at a bush uni is enriched by their experience because there is a strong sense of being co-learners. This is a unique university because it lacks experts. Instead, learning is grounded in a shared and gracious commitment under Christ to each other. It’s an incredible image of the church. Thank God for it! On 1 July, the ABC’s Compass program broadcast ‘Bush Preachers’, a story about the bush courses and the mission history of Lutherans in Central Australia. The program can be watched or downloaded at www.abc.net.au/compass ‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’ (Romans 10:14). Rev James Winderlich is Principal of Australian Lutheran College www.alc.edu.au Visit the Finke River Mission website www.finkerivermission.lca.org.au The full story appears in the August edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 20 AUGUST 2017

N EVE R BE T H E SA M E No-one heard everything Jesus said, but for those who heard ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ it is enough inspiration to bring the power of God alive in a person’s life in their time of need.

by TE RRY GO ES SL IN G

Yet they fulfilled their call with generosity, compassion and grace.

As well as serving in practical ways, the team tended to the spiritual needs of people at Bethany; they led daily devotions, sang, read scripture, and I saw this firsthand in our students from Immanuel College, South Australia. From the moment of arrival prayed with and for the community. at Bethany Home in Malaysia, without hesitation There are always difficult times in a setting as they got in among those around them. This mostly challenging as a special school, and our presence involved stooping down: to comfort, to wipe dribble, meant additional companionship, hugs, advice to take an arm, to grip a pencil, to put on a shoe. and support for Bethany staff and students alike. Our students humbled themselves to serve others. My heart was overflowing to see people setting themselves aside to serve others. It was big. At Bethany it is impossible not to be stirred by the needs of the people or see the happiness radiating ‘I have given you an example to follow’, Jesus said out of them. I remember watching the sun setting to his disciples in John 13. Jesus is our example in the darkness as I looked out the window during of how to live, love and follow God’s purpose. a worship service. Inside, where the lights shone I have never seen love shine more brightly than in brightly, people of all levels of ability were racing Bethany Home. People were serving one another forward to the microphone to share something in love. Because of this, I am different now. Because they had learnt, read scripture or sing a song, I saw people think like Jesus, love like Jesus and truly with utmost enthusiasm and joy. respond like Jesus, I will never be the same again. I knew I was viewing the picture of others God has: people of infinite preciousness to their heavenly Father. The full story appears in the August edition of I was in awe of how staff and students set themselves aside, putting strangers first. For two weeks they Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. gave up their time, energy, resources and hearts. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au It was hot, noisy and sleep didn’t come easily.

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 13 AUGUST 2017

Doing something by LAUR A ROBBINS

Service learning is not just a one-off activity; it’s learning about social justice issues, in a way that engages head (learning), heart (advocacy), and hands (action). It’s about growing partnerships, and meeting needs. At Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School (LORDS) our students learn about deeper issues and causes of injustice and disadvantage. In 2015, we set up a partnership with a local aged-care home, in order for Year 11 students to gain a deeper understanding of social isolation. We combine ‘traditional’ classroom lessons and a ‘buddy’ visiting program with the aged-care home. Students come to see that people in nursing homes don’t all come from loving families, who visit Nan and Pop every weekend. The time students spend with their buddy could involve taking them for a walk in the garden, playing bingo with them, or colouring in with them. Students also value listening to and learning from their buddy. They come to learn that everyone has a story be respected and valued. Year 9 students participate in a ‘street retreat’ organised in partnership with St Vinnies in Brisbane, where they learn firsthand about homelessness.

They go to The Big Issue headquarters and talk with the homeless people who sell the magazine. The vendors tell us their stories and what it means to have a job and restored dignity. We hear from Mark Vainikka, pastor at St Andrews Lutheran Church at Spring Hill, about his experiences working with homeless people. Students also go into Queen Street Mall, where they find a spot to sit for about 20 minutes, alone (while we keep an eye on them). Afterwards they reflect on how it would feel if this was their reality every night. Students learn from St Vinnies that some homeless people have only about $2 a day for food. So we give the students $2 each as their dinner money. They quickly realise it’s pretty difficult. Our students come out of this experience reflecting on the fact homeless people should better be referred to as people without homes – and that they have innate dignity, just like those of us fortunate enough to have homes. Service learning is engaging the heads, hearts and hands of our students – which is a very powerful thing. The full story appears in the August edition of

The young people sleep in the church hall at Nazareth Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Lutheran Church at Woolloongabba, on the edge Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. of the CBD, for a week. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 6 AUGUST 2017

LIT TLE X LOVE =LOTS!

by LINDA M ACQUEEN

LOTSA C OINS Vicki Gollasch of Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) regularly visits schools to talk to students about refugees.

just to get fresh water, how far they have to walk to go to school or to walk to safety, really opened the eyes of our students. They saw how their “change” each week could make an immense change in the lives of many.’

At Australia’s smallest Lutheran school (St Peter’s, Dimboola, in western Victoria) her visit was going pretty much according to script. In order to personally St Peter’s students continue to give their donations each week knowing that they can change many experience something of the life of refugee children, more lives for the better. the students half-filled buckets of water and walked around the block, sharing the carrying of the buckets. LOTSA L AP S ‘This was all very normal’, Vicki says. ‘We always On 4 July, while hundreds of Walk My Way intrepid ask the children to do something practical like this trekkers were tackling the 26-kilometre Pioneer when we visit schools. However …’ Women’s Trail in the Adelaide Hills, in Melbourne At the end of the day the children presented Vicki Anne Rasenberger was walking around her suburban with a cheque. They had been collecting their chapel block – measuring just a tad over one kilometre. offering money for two years. They had raised $1300. She did it not once but 13 times or ‘halfway to 26 ‘That was an amazing effort for a school with 28 kilometres’, as she puts it. Anne says she did the students’, Vicki says. ‘And they were thrilled to know walk ‘in recognition of the long, dangerous journeys that they could support 50 refugee kids (to go to refugees must make to find safety’. preschool for a year) at $26 each.’ Accompanied by her faithful pooch, Maurice, Anne St Peter’s principal Tim Reimann says the students raised $200, enough to provide a year of preschool have always been very generous with their donations education for eight children in refugee camps in at chapel every Friday. Kenya, Djibouti or Sudan. ‘In all my time within schools I have never witnessed such a spirit of giving from such a small school community. ‘Having Vicki from ALWS visit our school and show our students what other children have to do daily

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The full story appears in the August edition of

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 30 JULY 2017

Wit h God, are by H EL E N BER I NGE N

The beguiling warmth and swaying palms of the tropical north suggests paradise. But amid this serenity are communities which face the same challenges as anywhere – people simply in need of love and support. And just as God has called us to shine his light in the world, he has placed a veritable lighthouse of his love in a congregation in Townsville, in northern Queensland. For 13 years retiree Ann Hudson has prayed with and ministered to hundreds of locals as a volunteer with the Family Support Ministry (FSM) of St Paul’s Lutheran Church. Practical help is combined with a friendly face and a quiet prayer over a cuppa at the suburban Mysterton centre, in the heart of the 200,000-strong city. The ministry includes a clothing exchange, weekly morning teas, baby baskets, meal bank and, most importantly, a prayer ministry. ‘It has been an amazing blessing to me! So much joy and fun in the things I am privileged to be part of, a sense of purpose and joy at being able to tell others of God’s amazing love for us all’, Ann says.

‘It is a humbling experience having others share some of their heartaches and joys with me. God … has used the gentle encouragement of some wonderful, committed people to nudge me into the areas where I was too timid to venture, except with the reassurance that we do nothing in our own strength, but with him all things are possible. ‘It is only by God’s grace and love that I am able to do what I do or be where I am.’ Ann is quick to acknowledge the ministry’s team effort involving committee work, financial and material donations, cooking, preparing baby baskets for young mothers, and packaging, delivering and shopping for meal-bank supplies which go to needy youth. Pastor Steve Cronau also visits most weeks and is available if someone needs to talk to him, she says. And the fuel for this passion to serve? Ann’s favourite Bible verses provide a glimpse: keeping a focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1–3) and praying about everything and rejoicing in the Lord (Philippians 4:4–8). The full story appears in the July edition of

Ann, a mother of two and grandmother of four who has been married to Allan for almost 44 years, says Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. the centre provides a place where young and old are Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. able to meet in a safe, non-threatening environment. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 23 JULY 2017

CLOSING doors on a COMMUNITY by V ICKI HOULBROOKE

When we held our last regular service at Whakatane Lutheran Church, on New Zealand’s North Island on Christmas Day last year, 16 people attended. LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield conducted our closing service on 5 February 2017 before a congregation of 33. The usual attendance at our congregation was only six. In fact, there were several weeks when only two people came. Those weeks were rather discouraging, but the liturgy was still the same. How we love the liturgy! My husband Tony Houlbrooke and I began attending at Whakatane in 2004. There would have been around 25 members at that stage, but fewer attended regularly. I’m not sure why the decline is happening in some of our churches, but we have an idea that people don’t see the importance of meeting together on Sundays. When Sunday worship isn’t happening regularly, a lethargy sets in and our witness to our children and neighbours is lost.

to explore ways to grow the church membership. And we did try things. We decided at last year’s AGM to watch attendances and our financial situation, and if nothing changed by the end of the year, we would close. There was still a hope that God would send new people our way, but it wasn’t to be. The closing service was a celebration of how God had used his church over 53 years, a remembrance of people gone before us, and a drawing to the end of worship as we know it. What does the future hold for us? Tony and I have been attending the local Anglican-Methodist Church because we wanted to go to a liturgical church. We have been asked to help with service leading and music, and we are getting to know others. We feel that we have been called to serve in whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Luther’s Small Catechism has become more precious than ever. We read it and pray it ourselves each day, and share it with our grandchildren. The last resident church worker in the congregation I think we have become Lutheran Anglicans. left at the end of 2004. We had some excellent retired interim pastors for about five years after that. The full story appears in the July edition of We shared a full-time pastor with churches at Hamilton, Tauranga (which has since closed) and Kawerau for four years from 2011. When that arrangement finished, we were encouraged

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 16 JULY 2017

FREE to MINISTER to YOUTH

by HA NN AH FU LL ER

Last year I was one of the six inaugural participants in Lutheran Youth of Queensland’s (LYQ) discipleship program for young people, which is known as Luminate.

I originally got into youth ministry through LYQ. I went on Kids Camp and I loved the leaders, which gave me a desire to be one. Years later I became a leader for CLW and I’ve never looked back!

I applied for Luminate because I felt God was calling me into a deeper relationship with him. Participants complete a Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology through Australian Lutheran College, serve in a local church, participate in cross-cultural mission and explore how they might use gifts in service.

Having Christian friends and mentors is really important for young people as it’s a really challenging time for their faith. It was the amazing friends I made on CLW that helped me to really live my faith – and the mentors from CLW, LYQ and Luminate, and my amazing family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!

I now understand my faith more and also have a deeper understanding of my passion for cross-cultural ministry and desire to serve God through that at some stage in the future.

How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people?

I am now working at Lutheran Education Queensland. My current role includes general receptionist/administrative duties and helping facilitate workshops which train teachers to lead Christian Studies. I’m part of the process that is helping kids hear about Jesus at school and I think that’s pretty cool! In my congregation I am serving as Youth Coordinator, as well as being part of the worship and planning team for our evening service. I am still also heavily involved in LYQ ministry. I will be a co-director on one of the upcoming CLW (Christian Life Week) camps.

Recognise that young people have a voice that needs to be heard. When the church gives them a chance to share that voice and provides appropriate support/mentoring, then I believe our youth will be a force to be reckoned with. Hannah Fuller is a member at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Everton Hills, in Brisbane’s north-west. The full story appears in the July edition of

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 9 JULY 2017

SENT TO SOW

in our own backyards by A NDREAS MAYER

None of us felt like an evangelist when we started. But after 10 months of being part of a missional community, we’re starting to see its fruits in our faith and in the lives of those God is connecting to us.

We also attend a monthly board games session at the local library to connect with people. And we go on regular prayer walks around our local community.

The idea is simple. Rather than trying to serve in congregational ministry and do evangelism on the side, small teams are released from serving in other areas to focus on local mission.

Each Sunday before church we meet to debrief. We spend time dwelling in the word, and pray for one another and those we’re trying to reach. We also meet regularly with our pastor.

This requires meaningful connections with individuals. As people come to faith, the missional community connects them to the church for ongoing discipleship. We trust God is already working in the lives of not-yet-believers and our role is to prayerfully discern where to join in.

It has been exciting to realise local mission is about being part of what God is doing, rather than trying to force things. We’ve also learned the importance of recognising where people are at on their journey. For those ready to investigate, a gospel presentation is helpful. But for those further away from God, it’s too soon. Dean Eaton’s book, SENT: Seeking the Orphans of God, has been really helpful.

Our congregation – Immanuel Lutheran Church, Woden Valley, in Canberra – is one of the LCA’s ‘Sending Churches’, supported by Church Planting Mentor and Mission Facilitator Dean Eaton. Immanuel has three missional communities representing different age demographics. During the week my team members Jacob, Kate, Aiden and I work in our normal jobs, open to opportunities to talk with people. We also catch up with a couple of people weekly for lunch. On evenings and weekends we include not-yet- believers in what we’re doing socially, again aiming to take opportunities God provides to talk more about him.

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We still don’t feel much like evangelists – we’re a bunch of ordinary Christians trying to muddle through and hoping God will use us. Thank God he has a long history of using ordinary people to grow his kingdom. Perhaps he’s challenging you to form a missional community, too … The full story appears in the July edition of

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 2 JULY 2017

‘ I want to in SAVE THEM’ LL b y A B DA

E

It was a hard time during the war. I walked from Somalia in 2009 when [terrorists] Al Shabaab came. They take your property, they will kill you. [Before that] I was a housewife. My husband was a farmer. We had a big farm, but they took it. We grew maize, tomatoes, green peppers, mangoes, pawpaws and other vegetables. They were happy times. [After the war came] we lived in misery. I had six children who died of sickness. There were droughts and this contributed to hunger. My husband was lost during the war. When I remember, I start to cry. I have seen people shot in front of me. We had to leave to save our lives. I remember we were running for 10 days and nights. Some people were dying in the street, some were giving birth and some fainted in fear. When we reached the border [with Djibouti], UNHCR met us. We were there for 16 days. I felt such happiness. When I saw the camp, I felt I could start living again. We received plastic sheets for shelter, mats and utensils. LWF gave us a water container and solar lamp. They also gave me a goat. We sold the milk and bred goats. Now we have three goats. When I compare what I fled from to what I saw when I arrived, I see peace is very important.

I have seen many children who have no father or mother, and the condition they live in through war, and so I take them in. As my life is saved, so I want to save them. Now I work cleaning a school to earn a living. We still don’t have enough food, but what we receive, we eat together. Education is important so children can become self-sufficient. I have seen so many problems. I wish for my children to have a better life. I did not know I would receive support, so I am grateful to LWF. On 4 July more than 160 people will walk 26 kilometres from the Adelaide Hills to the suburbs following the trail Lutheran pioneer women took in the 1840s to market. Walkers are making the trek in the ALWS fundraiser Walk My Way to raise money to help refugee children go to school … children of people like Abdalle.

The full story appears in the July edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 25 JUNE 2017

FREE to

S E R V E in

COMMUNIT Y LA by N IC H O

M S W IL L IA

S

I was born in Alice Springs but I live at Ntaria (Hermannsburg), where my family is from. I started school at Ntaria, before going to Alice Springs and then Immanuel College in Adelaide. Going away to school opened up a different side of life for me. But being part of country and learning more about my own culture was important, too. And coming back home to Ntaria was the only way to learn it with family and friends. The fact the Lutheran mission was at Hermannsburg has been important in preserving the culture. The first thing the missionaries did was to learn the language and later missionaries were open to the local people practising their culture. This has meant local people have learnt to live with both our culture and our Christian faith. Everyone respects both ways. The missionaries also brought choral music to Ntaria. My mum has been a member of the Ntaria choir for nearly 20 years, and there was always music growing up for me, listening to my dad perform. I joined the choir with my sister because we hoped more young people would be interested. Now there are four members under 30 in the Central Australian Aboriginal choir. I think supporting the choir at Ntaria has been one of the best things the church has done to include Aboriginal people. Music connects everyone.

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Another thing that connects people is the local youth centre, where I’m the Youth Development Officer. The centre creates a safe and happy place for young people to hang out and enjoy time with friends. The young people of Ntaria are my motivators, because the things I do in community are for them and for the younger generations to come. My grandfather also influenced me to be a community leader. I’m involved with the Historical Precinct Society, the Ntaria Supermarket, the Stronger Communities for Children Board, and others. It’s just a natural thing to be involved with community. How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people? Getting involved with other community service providers, like working with youth services. If we’ve got a night program at the youth centre (Finke River Mission Aranda Support Worker) Neville Doecke will come and spend time with the young people. Nicholas Williams is a member at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Hermannsburg/Ntaria, in Northern Territory. The full story appears in the June edition of

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Story of the Week SUNDAY, 18 JUNE 2017

School outreach a chance to connect

For St Matthew Lutheran Church in Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island, having a public primary school just up the road has been a wonderful outreach opportunity. Whitiora School serves approximately 180 students, with about half coming from migrant families. As many of the migrant students live in small flats and do not have much play space, the school opens its grounds to the community. The school also has been developing gardens for children to grow produce. Principal Paul Cooper has served Whitiora School for many years with a heartfelt empathy for this community, enhanced by overseas mission experience. Just over five years ago the school decided to engage a voluntary chaplain who could relate to students’ spiritual needs in a multi-faith environment. Lifewalk Chaplaincy Service provided a lay pastor who served for four-and-a-half years. Pastor John Davison and St Matthew Lutheran Church Ministry Council recognised the need for a replacement chaplain from last year as a way for the church to connect with the community. The church sponsored Pastor John’s time at the school each Friday, but soon other opportunities arose to minister in practical ways. Ministry council members arranged to serve soup to between 60 and 100 students on Fridays for six weeks in winter 2016. The congregation plans to repeat this program in 2017.

Students sent letters expressing their appreciation. One said: ‘Thank you for making the mouth-watering vegie noodle soup for us. You are very kind and I know you gave up a lot of your time … You and your friends said a lot of positive words.’ Members of St Matthew also provided a Longest Lutheran Lunch for school staff in October 2016, while the ministry council organised an Advent picnic for school families. The children of Whitiora are open to asking questions about Christianity and there is a growing relationship of trust with parents. This makes it easier for Pastor John to initiate conversations with them. St Mathew in Hamilton has an average weekly worshipping attendance of around 30 people. Despite its limited resources however, and with the Holy Spirit as its guide, the congregation believes it is making a difference through its relationship with the school. As Jesus says in Mathew 25:40: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’. The full story appears in the June edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 11 JUNE 2017

Blessing others brings joy in order to become a qualified chaplain. In 2013 Former Lutheran Women of Western Australia she was installed as an accredited Lay Worker president Rosemary Davidson doesn’t think of herself as a volunteer, despite five decades of service. at Parkwood Lutheran Church in Perth. Rather, those who know her would say helping others She believes there are simple ways in which anyone can serve others. ‘We can support by listening, has come naturally to her. Some people she has cared for see Rosemary as a mentor and inspiration. encouraging, assuring them of God’s love or just sitting near them. Telephone calls, emails, texting, One of her inspirations is from Ephesians 2:10: a card, flowers or food can mean all the difference ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ to someone’s wellness and hope.’ Jesus for good works, which God prepared The Davidsons lived at Bremer Bay on Western beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (ESV). Australia’s south coast for the past three years. As a young wife with three children, in the town However, due to Robert’s declining health, the of Pingelly south-east of Perth, she helped out couple has recently returned to Perth. Members at with husband Robert in community and sports St Paul’s Albany, they worship at St Johns in Perth. clubs and through school and church connections. Later, she was a Bible study leader, taught dancing, Rosemary believes God will work through anyone willing to serve. ‘Be encouraged that God will use organised debutante balls, and led Scripture you as a vital volunteer, as he has gifted you, and lessons at the local school. She also taught first you will grow … as you exercise your faith to serve aid and became an accredited trainer. Years on, him’, she says. first aid training became her paid employment. In the early 1980s, while working part-time nursing assistant, Rosemary was nominated for the Mrs WA Quest to raise money for cerebral palsy support. Winning the title was a wonderful witnessing opportunity. ‘I thanked God and told the parents that one day, in heaven, their children would be running free and beautiful’, she says. In 2009 Rosemary completed the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) course at Royal Perth Hospital

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‘Our service is not of ourselves, but God giving us the energy and desire to serve. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.’ The full story appears in the June edition of

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Story of the Week SUNDAY, 28 MAY 2017

CHRIST ANSWERS

reconciliation question by SHONA R EI D

… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8–10)

This year’s National Reconciliation Week’s theme is ‘Lets Walk the Talk!’. Maybe this year as you think about how this theme might appeal to you, your life, your congregation and your community, perhaps you can ‘Walk the Talk’ through:

What an amazing passage … God was willing to do whatever it took to reconcile us to him.

Prayer: Pray for meaningful reconciliation, pray for healing, pray that we all might come into a deep relationship with our reconciling Father.

As an Aboriginal woman, whose family and community has been influenced by the torturous history of this nation, I often ask myself, can anything mend these deep wounds? Can Indigenous and non-Indigenous people achieve reconciliation? As an Aboriginal woman who strives daily to live in God’s presence, my answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – because in Christ we are all one. We all need salvation and it is only in him there is true reconciliation. So during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June), where are we as Christians in these celebrations, commemorations and conversation? Isn’t reconciliation our thing? Reconciliation is our heritage, our culture and our destination. National Reconciliation Week is a wonderful time to focus our thoughts, prayers and energy into coming together to join the reconciliation effort. Learning and sharing our stories and our cultures that may have more in common than we realise.

Learning: Learn about your history of reconciliation, learn about your Indigenous family and community, and learn about yourself in your journey of reconciliation. Sharing: Share the stories and promises of reconciliation, both with God and with Indigenous peoples. Challenging: Challenge yourself to pray, to learn and to share. Challenge what you thought you knew about Indigenous peoples. Challenge an injustice. Challenge yourself to embrace your heritage, culture and destination of reconciliation. My name is Shona. This National Reconciliation week I will be praying, learning, sharing and challenging … please join me. The full story appears in the May edition of Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 21 MAY 2017

Crafting vibrant into visual by H EL EN BER I NGEN

Has your attention ever been caught by the vibrant embroidered fabrics adorning the altar, pulpit or lectern of your church, or on the stole around the pastor’s neck? From flowers to flames, crosses to crowns, the beauty of these symbols evokes the Scriptures represented and the seasons of the church reflected. They are works of art without an artist’s signature. They suggest, instead, divine inspiration using the Bible as a guide and God-given talent to bring Scripture to life. One such artist, Verna Fiedler, 77, has spent more than a decade creating embroidered masterpieces by hand, ably assisted by the visual design skills of her retired photo engraver husband Eric, also 77. Verna and Eric’s son Brenton planted the seed 12 years ago when, in his final year of pastoral ministry studies, he asked his mum to make a set of stoles. ‘When he first asked, I didn’t know whether I could, but I wanted to, so I didn’t say no’, retired nurse Verna says. She began to research the craft and took patchwork lessons. That first labour of love led to more requests, and now Verna can count at least 20 stoles created by hand. Each stole takes two to three months to complete, with Verna usually creating five for each pastor, in line with the colours of the liturgical seasons.

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After Verna and Eric work with pastors to determine the symbols they will use. Eric transfers the patterns onto the fabrics. The parents of four and grand- parents of eight love the teamwork. ‘We can’t do it without each other. We have been married 51 years.’ Following their relocation from Tanunda in South Australia’s Barossa Valley to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills early this year, Verna and Eric have no plans to ‘retire’ from their passion. ‘I like the challenge’, Verna says. ‘This talent that God has given me, it gives me a great sense of … fulfilment in serving my Lord and in helping the less fortunate people.’ After expenses, all money raised goes to the Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS). And Verna’s word of advice to fellow ‘retirees’? It’s from Colossians 3:17: ‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’.

The full story appears in the May edition of

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Story of the Week SUNDAY, 14 MAY 2017

by LISA MCI N TOSH

TIME to

For Barbara Schmidt being a mum and grandma has been a huge blessing full of times to treasure. While she did reception work and was a nurse for 17 years, motherhood has been her most cherished role. Marriage to a pastor – Kevin Schmidt – in 1958 meant multiple moves around Australia for Barbara (nee Liebich). Their four children were born during service in three different parishes between 1959 and 1971.

treasure

“Mummy, it’s stopped, the pain’s gone”’, Barbara says. ‘The doctors thought David was in serious danger … It was a miracle.’ Then when Tim was 16, he suffered an aneurysm and brain haemorrhage. He was in a coma for two days. Despite this, Barbara says she had an ‘inner peace’ her son would recover. ‘I knew he wasn’t going to die’, she says. ‘I knew he was going to have a long, hard road back, but it was just an amazing peace I felt.’ After a lengthy rehabilitation, Tim was able to complete his schooling and go on to tertiary study.

As adults, Barbara and Kevin’s children Julie, Phil, David and Tim have also been scattered in different For Barbara, such trials reinforced her family focus states, following their own vocations and families. and her faith. ‘I just believed God was there in each Despite these separations, Barbara has placed situation’, she says. ‘One of the most important things a high priority on being with her children and to have as a mother is that faith and trust in God.’ grandchildren. What advice would she give to first-time mums? ‘We just feel very blessed at having had that ‘To treasure that time with them. They’re little lives opportunity to spend time with them’, she says that have been given to us to love and train and of school pickups, sleepovers, bicycle rides and care for.’ babysitting with seven grandchildren now aged Barbara and Kevin Schmidt are members at between 29 and six. ‘Just having that love and Our Saviour Lutheran Church Aberfoyle Park, that connection with each one is precious.’ in suburban Adelaide. The most challenging time as a mother for Barbara was when her children were sick. Each of the four The full story appears in the May edition of had serious or life-threatening conditions. As young children Philip and Julie contracted acute nephritis, while David had a suspected bowel blockage which was to have required surgery. However, during an X-ray, the situation changed. ‘He said,

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 7 MAY 2017

HOLDING ISAAC

– a mother’s story

In 2005 I was working at Trinity Lutheran College, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Pete and I had been married for five years and decided to start a family.

Pete and I now have three children, Ethan, Anika and Pearl. And there is nothing more precious than these children. I cherish every single moment with them.

Isaac, our first child, was born on 30 January 2006. I still feel that pain of wanting to hold Isaac. But I He was perfect. We began calling our parents have lived through burying my firstborn son. And and friends. I have come out the other side! I didn’t do that on It was Pete’s turn to hold him and one of the my own. I am married to a man with whom I share midwives noticed Isaac ‘didn’t seem quite right’. life at the deepest level. We were also supported She took him to the resuscitation table. by my school community, church communities, Isaac wasn’t breathing on his own. There were close friends and family. cords all over him. He continued to deteriorate. And I can’t imagine life without a loving God. A chaplain arrived and asked whether we would My God loves me so much he sent his only son like to baptise Isaac. Pete took the vial of water who died, so that I might live with him forever. and baptised him. This is the hope I hold on to. I know I will see my We talked with the neonatal specialist. The machines son again. could be turned off now or later but Isaac wasn’t We never found the cause of Isaac’s death. But going to live. God continues to work through Isaac’s life and I fell from the highest moment in my life to the death in ways beyond our imagination. This doesn’t lowest. Isaac was placed in my arms, dead. mean we wouldn’t dearly love to have our boy back. But we have seen the ‘other side’ and And so began the questions. Why? Why us? know God goes with us – all the way! And where was God? The tears didn’t come until later, but then they didn’t stop. The pain was excruciating. All I wanted was to remember Isaac, to hold onto him. I haven’t forgotten the pain, the tears and the sorrow. Probably because they have continued and always will.

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 30 APRIL 2017

e Sc hool s in th WA R PAT H K UC H EL by R AC H EL

The year is 1916. World war has been raging for two years, with no end in sight. Australian troops have been sent overseas to defend the British Empire. Those at home are all involved in the war effort – Lutherans are no exception.

In 1919, the debate reignited, headed by returned soldiers. One stated, ‘Children taught in these schools were growing up more embittered against the British people than their fathers were’ (Australian Lutheran, 20 August 1919).

However, as Australian Lutherans were predominantly New Zealand Lutherans were not immune. A 1916 appeal to parliament was made to close the Marton of German descent, as war hysteria mounted, so church and school, alleging they are ‘in full swing did suspicion of anyone with German links. spreading German propaganda’ (Australian Lutheran, It was also the year before the 400th anniversary September 1916). However, the allegations were of the Reformation – and plans to recognise this determined false. milestone were afoot. South Australia was not as fortunate. A bill introduced Lutherans had come to Australia to freely practise in 1916 came into force on 1 July 1917 closing all their faith. They also came because they rejected 50 ‘German’ primary schools (except Koonibba Prussian state church schooling. To Martin Luther, Mission school), and affecting more than 1600 universal education was essential: ‘where schools scholars and 50 teachers. flourish, nations prosper’. And so to Australia they came, establishing schools along with congregations. Lutheran education was the price paid for the war effort. But in March 1916, the Victorian Council of Public After much lobbying, schools were able to reopen Education moved to de-register Lutheran schools expounding ‘that the existence of German schools in 1925 – however Australian Lutheran education had suffered enormously and many congregations in Victoria is inconsistent with the policy of the were reticent. State of training Victorian children in the principles of loyal Australian and Imperial citizenship’ Let’s pray that this year – 500 years since the (Australian Lutheran, September 1916). Reformation – can bring healing and be an especially After public debate and investigations, the schools joyous commemoration and a thanksgiving for the freedom we now have in Australia and New Zealand. were allowed to continue, but German was not to be used ‘as a medium of religious instruction’ (Australian Lutheran, September 1916).

Lutheran Archives e: lutheran.archives@lca.org.au p: 08 8340 4009

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 23 APRIL 2017

Walking the

HARD ROAD to HOPE

Mary Abuk Dau saw people killed when she was just 10. Growing up in what is now South Sudan, with civil war sweeping the country, Mary believes God saved her life. Thanks to help from Lutheran aid partnerships, she now has hope – despite her country again being in crisis. ‘The soldiers came and killed some people while I was looking’, Mary says. ‘Some of my relatives were killed. It is only to God that we are saved.’

Her elder siblings left for Ethiopia, while Mary stayed with the younger children. When the conflict worsened, they too set out on foot. People died of disease and hunger. ‘We were on foot for four years’, she says. ‘There was no food for us to survive. If a child got tired they must be left behind, and they die[d]. But even though we had nothing, we knew God was there.’ They reached Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya in 1995. It was there Mary learnt about Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a partner of Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS). ‘They were the ones who supported education’, she says. Mary became a Peace-building Officer with LWF during the 12 years she was at Kakuma. She returned to Sudan in 2007. ‘Changes are now coming because we have education’, Mary says. ‘Now we see girls going to school. Life is different now. The reason I went

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to work for LWF is because of the education they gave me at Kakuma. I want to give this same education to my community.’ Mary is married with two daughters, Angok, 6, and Abul, 1, and says she sees a good future for her daughters due to education. Despite the hope that Mary has for the future in South Sudan, people there remain in desperate need of aid and assistance. Famine was declared earlier this year, with war, drought and economic crisis leaving 4.9 million people in urgent need and 100,000 people facing starvation and death. ALWS has launched an emergency appeal to support LWF’s work in South Sudan. Donate at alws.org.au or on FREECALL 1300 763 407. ALWS has also launched Walk My Way, a campaign to fund schooling for refugee children. To be held on 4 July, the 26 kilometre walk from Hahndorf to Beaumont in SA follows in steps of Lutheran pioneer women.

Go to walkmyway.org.au for more information.

The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 16 APRIL 2017

An Easter message from LCA Bishop John Henderson …while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb... (John 20:1 NRSV)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, After the bomb attacks last week against Egyptian Christians, one of the Coptic bishops in Australia wrote to me, ‘I just feel numb right now, we are in deep pain and suffering ... Very difficult to celebrate Easter under such circumstances, but … we trust in our suffering Christ who promised us that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against his Church.’ This weekend, having followed Christ through his suffering and death to his glorious resurrection, we remember those who still suffer for this faith. Here we celebrate in freedom, but there are still many who celebrate in the face of persecution. Christ’s death on Calvary, a once-for-all event for the salvation of the world, still echoes around the globe as his people continue to suffer. But they are not alone. Christ suffers with them. Nor are we alone. When we fear for the present, or the future, Christ is there, ready and waiting to receive us. There is no suffering or rejection which he cannot reach, and no human pain in which does not share. This is what we discover in the darkness we paradoxically call ‘Good Friday’. John’s Gospel records that on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb while it was still dark. She was in grief, her eyes clouded over. She expected things to be as they had left them two days previously. We should not be

surprised at Mary. We naturally expect things to continue the way they were. We are slow to recognise how much they changed that morning. It takes time, sometimes a lifetime, to really believe the Scripture that he must rise from the dead, and take in all that this means for us now and in eternity. The light came on for Mary, and she really saw the Lord, when he called her by name. As you worship this weekend, wherever you are and whatever group of Christians you are with, may you join Mary in hearing Jesus speak your name, just as he has already done on the day of your baptism. Let him into your heart again to dispel your fears, comfort you in your grief, and guide you in your life. Nothing was the same after that Easter morning. Everything has changed, forever. God has the whole world in his hands. He has you in his hands. We can certainly thank and praise him with grateful hearts, praising him for his wonderful work for us which is so much greater than anything we might have hoped for.

This is an extract from Bishop Henderson’s Heartland letter, 13 April. You can read the complete message and his other messages at www.lca.org.au/bishop-messages

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 9 APRIL 2017

St ro ng St ro ng by H EL EN BER I NGEN A N D ROB BORGA S

At 73, age doesn’t appear to have wearied Daphne 1960s, she also began helping other adults from Puntjina’s spirited love for her 250-strong community Areyonga lead family and community devotions. at Areyonga, 200 kilometres south-west of Alice The spark ignited by Mrs Kalleske led to Daphne’s Springs in the Northern Territory. leadership of the Areyonga choir from 1966 and, from 2012, the Central Australian Aboriginal Her passion shines through as she shares about Women’s Choir, the latter of which travelled her love of giving back. It shines through her to Germany in 2015. parish worker role at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, through leadership roles on community Despite everything she has done, she names boards and councils, and through her role as her most important achievement ass sharing her a published author. love of God, her stories and knowledge with the But it shines brightest when Daphne shares stories next generation. This includes a book of bush medicines, and a traditional, bilingual story called about teaching the current crop of local school Kupi-Kupi and the Girl: Tjukurpa Kungka Munu students all about bush tucker. ‘We want to teach Kupi-Kupitjara. Daphne has also contributed to all the kids so when we pass away they can take the Pitjantjatjara hymnal Nyiri Inmatjara in 1995 over and teach the next generations’, she says. and a new Pitjantjatjara Lutheran hymnal in 2010. Daphne, who was the NT citizen of the year in Daphne has been a community volunteer for 2004, shares her culture and love of God in many almost 50 years. ‘I look after all the people and ways. ‘We are rich in the Bible, we know God they look after me too’, she says. ‘God is working gives us everything’, she says. ‘That’s why I trust with me and helping other people, and I always only in God.’ ask God to look after us, our community and As a child growing up at Areyonga in the 1950s, other communities.’ then a government reserve managed by Finke River This story appears in full in the April edition Mission, Christian songs and Bible stories were a of The Lutheran. major part of the school curriculum for Daphne. Her love of singing was fostered by good friends and mentors Pastor Leo and Mrs Lydia Kalleske. Daphne began helping teach Sunday school and religious instruction at the local school. In the

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The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 2 APRIL 2017

GOD’S DELIVERANCE:

from war to peace by PAUL K R AUS

For my parents, the 10 years before my birth in October 1944 were uncertain ones. Both were Hungarian Jews.

I left school early but later attended university and met my future wife as an undergraduate. We married and God blessed us with two sons.

From 1935 it was clear the net of Nazism was closing in. In 1943, Belgrade, where they were living, was bombed and they escaped to Central Slovakia.

I taught in a Catholic high school and wrote textbooks and history books. We attended an Anglican church for many decades.

Within 12 months men were taken for forced labour and later transported to Mauthausen Concentration Camp. In mid-1944 my pregnant mother was forced, with my two-year-old brother, into a ghetto for Jews destined for Auschwitz.

In 1997 I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given six to nine months to live. God guided me to healing.

Divine intervention resulted in them being called from one line of prisoners to another. The first line was headed for Auschwitz, the second to an Austrian labour camp. Shortly after my birth in the camp, my mother had a vision of Jesus and accepted him as her Messiah. We escaped just days before the war ended. The SS came later that day and took prisoners to Mauthausen. Many died. We headed for Budapest and Russian and Italian soldiers gave us food and shelter. My father eventually reached Budapest. He had been liberated from Mauthausen the last day of the war. In 1949 we came to Australia as refugees. We rented a house in suburban Sydney and attended Chatswood Anglican church. My parents worked hard and grew to love their new home. We became Australian citizens in 1955.

However, 16 years later I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, for which I still receive treatment. I was also diagnosed with a brain tumour but had successful surgery. I visited Germany for prostate cancer treatment, which helped save my life. There we attended a Lutheran church and, on our return home, I prayed for direction on where to worship. God’s Spirit directed us to LifeWay Lutheran Church in Newcastle, New South Wales. God’s light and love is shown beautifully in this church. It seems history has played out God’s wonderful message of deliverance, forgiveness and healing in my life. ‘Great is your faithfulness, oh Lord’ (Lamentations 3:23). This story appears in the April edition of The Lutheran.

The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 26 MARCH 2017

Fro m li t t l e pla n ts,

by HELEN BERINGEN

Browsing through handmade treasures at a country market, you can easily sense when you are buying love. Vendors spruik a cornucopia of local goods all created with care, from hand-knitted beanies to fresh-baked delicacies. As you amble among the stalls of South Australia’s south coast markets, you might unwittingly buy a little pot of love in the form of a plant, nurtured in the beautiful Port Elliot gardens of local green thumb Paul Sabel. In buying one of his plants, bouquets or cartons of eggs, you are passing this love to some of the world’s most needy people. Unbeknown to Paul, his market profits, faithfully sent off in a monthly cheque to Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS), have been adding up. More than 15 years of dedicated market sales have totalled more than $350,000 of love in donations. Since retiring in 1999, the former Lutheran school teacher and principal has spent most weekends at South Australian country markets. He and his wife of 53 years, Annette, have nurtured a wide range of prize-winning plants and flowers on their 1 ½ acre retirement haven in Port Elliot. Paul had heard of the fabulous work of ALWS through his brother-in-law, the late former ALWS Executive Secretary Sid Bartsch, so he began

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selling his plants at the local market to raise funds for the LCA’s overseas aid and resettlement agency. ‘ALWS supports people who often have very little hope’, Paul says. ‘In our country, if people have a disaster, there are places and people that can help. But in these countries, there are often no places people can get help. With ALWS, we know the money gets there.’ Why does he do it? ‘I love the garden … and it has a real purpose, it gives me something to get up to do every day. You have got to like what you do and it could be anything – whether craft, or even repairing things, it could raise money. We have received many blessings from it. Apart from the exercise and being active all the time, we have gotten a lot of pleasure from it. ‘We are all God’s creatures and we all need to be looking after our fellow man as best we can.’ This story appears in the March 2017 edition of the Lutheran.

The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 19 MARCH 2017

Cross has POWER for all cultures Tania Nelson, LCA Executive Officer – Local Mission, writes: In March 2016, the ABS released a statement including that 28 per cent of Australia’s population was born overseas. This is an amazing challenge for local mission. Are our congregations, schools, and aged-care facilities multi-cultural and inter-cultural communities? Are we welcoming, inclusive, loving? ‘Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:37–38 NRSV).

I love … seeing young people from Asian congregations commit their life to church ministry. A challenge of this ministry is … that ministry workers are difficult to find. Where are the missionaries to the ‘gentiles’ just living in our neighbourhoods? I’ve learned along the way … to be a careful listener. The same word in a different cultural context can mean very different things.

Robyn Kuchel

Hanna Schulz

SA/NT DISTRICT ABORIGINAL MINISTRY FAR WEST COAST FIELD WORKER

LUTHERAN BIBLE TRANSLATOR WITH WCLIFFE BIBLE TRANSLATORS

My ministry area is … Aboriginal ministry, serving Anangu people in the Yalata community.

My ministry area is … Bible translation in Papua New Guinea.

I love … the way the children share nature with me. They have brought baby birds in the nest, baby mice, baby wombats, head lice, and a dead death adder to my house.

I love … working alongside people who are passionate to have God’s word in their language. Some of the challenges of this ministry are … learning a language from scratch and building relationships while struggling to communicate. I’ve learned along the way … to listen to the people around me, as they are the experts on their language and culture.

Some of the challenges of this ministry are … that social organisation of the people I work with is very different from my own expectations. I’ve learned along the way … to wait on God’s leading and not to expect clear answers to my rational questions.

Pastor Brian Shek LCA NATIONAL ASIAN MINISTRIES COORDINATOR

My ministry area is … coordinating Asian ministry in the LCA.

Read the full story in the March edition of The Lutheranmagazine.

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 12 MARCH 2017

FREE to

DANCE

for CHRIST

T IN by J U S

S E ID E

L

I was nearly 18 when I caught the dance bug, wowed by the movement, music and artistry of the medium. I also began to grow in my relationship with God, especially after reading the New Testament and discovering a deep thirst to really know God. These two passions met in the creation of Freestyle Dance Ministry, an exciting initiative which partners with schools and churches to engage with youth and children through dance, discussion and discipleship. Driven by faith, it involves dance instruction, a Christian message and activities. My motivation for establishing Freestyle also came from the way God worked in my life at a Christian Life Week camp, where I ran my first breakdancing ‘workshop’. More recently I’ve been involved with dance missions in Portugal through an interdenom- inational mission organisation. These endeavours showed me God could use my passion to bring people to Christ. But on a deeper level, I embarked on this ministry because when you realise how good God is, the weight of what he achieved, the importance of people hearing the gospel and the value of God-given gifts, you have to act. You have to take the biggest steps of faith you can. Then you know you’re relying on God’s power. I believe this is a ministry young people can engage with. The topics are centred on God’s word and it’s

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as interactive as possible. The dance-discussion combination is great for showing how faith works in life. It’s really important that when we desire to grow the kingdom, we meet young people where they are, hearing their thoughts and being interested in what’s going on for them. When we practise this, love comes naturally. You find yourself wanting to share God with them and longing for them to have that treasure. They then see the raw passion that comes from God and want to know more, resulting in relational discipleship. It’s an amazing process, and I can’t wait to see what God does next. Justin Seidel is a member at St John’s Lutheran Church Southgate in Melbourne. www.freestyledanceministry.com freestyledanceministry@gmail.com

How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people? I think we need to let the new people coming into the church create new traditions. The gospel message is immediate and urgent. We need to have a stronger evangelistic focus, rather than being in our own ‘bubble’. This story appears in the March edition of The Lutheran magazine.


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 5 MARCH 2017

Boat to the BAROSSA

by YUNG NIETSCHKE

I am a refugee … a boat person. I was born in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the year the Vietnam War ended. Now I live in South Australia’s Barossa Valley on a farm with my family. I’m not a typical local. Strangers on the street are surprised I speak English so well. But while the Barossa is not very multicultural, I’ve felt embraced into the community. We worship at Neukirch Lutheran Church and I am learning traditions which have further strengthened my faith journey. I’ve been working on aid projects for more than 15 years and am committed to improving education for children worldwide. Closer to home, I enjoy sharing my experiences with children to promote a culture of understanding. So why am I living and working in the Barossa? When communist tanks stormed the Saigon Presidential Palace in 1975, it ended the war – and freedom and democracy in the South. This was particularly so for people like my dad, a South Vietnamese Navy officer. He was imprisoned and subjected to unspeakably inhumane treatment. My parents decided to escape Vietnam when my father was released. He navigated a small fishing boat crammed with 40 people. We sailed five days and four nights and were attacked by pirates. I was brought up a Catholic by my parents who instilled a strong faith and prayer tradition. We know we were saved on our journey numerous times by God.

After being processed at a refugee camp in Malaysia, we arrived in Hobart in winter 1983. It was cold but as we stepped off the plane, people wrapped us in woollen blankets. Ever since, I’ve felt wrapped in a blanket of kindness by the Australian community. Today we are proud and grateful to be Australians. Living in Melbourne, my parents worked hard to give us opportunities, including an education. After university, I returned to Vietnam and spent 2001 as a volunteer with UNESCO. There I met my husband Brett, who was volunteering in agricultural research. We were married in 2004 and moved to Canberra where I worked with AusAID, while Brett worked with the Department of Agriculture then AusAID. Seven years ago we came to the Barossa to manage Brett’s family’s farm. It is a world away from Vietnam but I am thankful for being welcomed into this community. Without the generosity of Australian people, I wouldn’t be here to share my story.

The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2017

Called to do more than a Seeking his purpose by Bob Thiele Once my superannuation scheme ‘matured’ I made a conscious decision to work when I didn’t need to. Why work when you could retire? For me the answer is purpose. I still feel called to the same vocation God called Farming takes faith by Katy Kucks me to at six years of age when I decided to When I met farmers for the first time more become a teacher. I trust he is using me to than 25 years ago, little did I know I would leave make a positive difference in the lives of the Brisbane behind for the farming life. It’s been a children and families with whom I work, great adventure and learning journey. Faith has serving his purpose. been critical throughout. Working the land has Seeing beyond the labels by Greg Spann changed as technology has advanced. Yet the My journey to becoming a pharmacist working timeless constant is the struggle of coaxing food in mental health started at school. My first from the land on the driest h abited continent. thought was what most people think of pharmacy This is where our faith is a vibrant, living thing – white coats behind a counter. But a lady at that sees us through. church commended their role as educators. Glorifying God at home by Sarah Joy Fandrich ‘Great’, I thought, ‘I can help people’. ‘God’, I am a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home, home- I pray as I drive to work, ‘let me serve my patients schooling mum to seven children. This is my career today’. Every day I am able to meet people at and calling, and in a way I view myself as a CEO. their worst and try to assist them to get back Teaching our children about how God works in on track. their world when things are not easy is the most important part of how I serve God. Faith is what keeps me sane. I seek a home glorifying God The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. in all we do with fun and service. I love it when Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. that happens. We don’t hear the word ‘vocation’ much these days, but for a Christian it is an everyday concern. We are all called to live – and work – for Christ. We asked four people to share their stories of faith underpinning their daily work.

bout an LCA/NZ person, family, congregation, community ncouragement at www.lca.org.au/sow

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 19 FEBRUARY 2017

Meet our young leaders in training by LISA MCINTOSH

Meet the young people who are training to be future leaders within the Lutheran Church of Australia.

‘I am really excited about 2017 and the journey we will take with these young adults’, she said. ‘Many of them are already involved in their communities They are the inaugural participants in the LCA’s new Grow Leadership program – a training initiative and we pray this experience will support them in those roles and enhance the leadership skills they designed to provide continuing and sustainable already possess. The support and encouragement Christian leadership development and training received for each of the participants from their for young adults. home congregations has been exciting. Those selected from Australian applicants for ‘My prayer is that this is just the beginning of a 2017 are Elsa Matthias (from Queensland but long and successful journey with the young adults has moved to South Australia), Dora Blieschke, of our church – a journey that inspires, encourages Joel Grieger, Renee Hein, Holly Pietsch, Tayla and enriches their growth as valued individuals Priebbenow and Katrina Rohrlach (all from SA), in the LCA family.’ and Manuela Scharlach and Oliver Swift (both from Western Australia). The participants spent their first week-long ‘intensive’ together in Adelaide last month. During They are being joined by overseas participants this time they delved into leadership, theology and Pastor Hay Sopheourn and Touch Kev Sreyleak spiritual reflection. from Cambodia, and Eprista Tampubolon and Delmi Rohdearni Saragih from Indonesia.

Grow Leadership is run by Grow Ministries, in Grow Leadership is a part-time commitment for 11 partnership with the districts of the LCA, LCA months and consists of two seven-day face-to-face International Mission, Board for Local Mission, intensive gatherings, along with regular one-on-one Australian Lutheran College and Grassroots mentoring, participation in an overseas ‘stretch and Training, Lutheran Education Australia and the LCA’s Church Worker Support Department, and grow’ experience and a minimum of 18 hours of is supported by the committee for the LCA’s local congregational leadership. 50.500 faith.freedom.future initiative. Grow Leadership Coordinator Vicki Rochow said Grow Ministries the participants’ ‘enthusiasm and passion to serve’ a: 197 Archer Street North Adelaide SA 5006 was ‘so encouraging’. e: growministries@lca.org.au p: 08 8267 7300 www.growministries.org.au

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 2017

017 Taking up the call in 2

VALDIS ANDERSONS Family: Wife Sylvia; Ilze and Markus Assigned to: SA/NT District – locum at Lyndoch & Rowland Flat I’m most looking forward to … becoming part of people’s lives. DAN MUELLER Family: Wife Jenny; Eli, Hannah and Zara MICHAEL PRENZLER Family: Wife Gertraud; Gabriel and Rebecca Assigned to: Walla Walla Parish NSW Assigned to: Magill & Adelaide Deaf Community I’m most looking forward to … weekly meditating Church SA on God’s word in order to preach and teach it I’m most looking forward to … being able to bring to God’s people! I also look forward to building the good news to people at the most significant up and equipping the saints for their mission (Ephesians 4:12) – preparing them to be always ready times in their lives: God welcomes you into his to make a defence to anyone who asks for a reason family, forgives you when you mess up, wants to bless your marriage, family and work life, for their hope (1 Pet 3:15), and equipping them to and (finally) welcomes you home. teach the Christian faith to their family and friends. These six pastoral ministry graduates from ALC come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are stepping out in faith to begin their first assignments. We asked them which privilege of being a pastor they were most looking forward to.

PETER KLEMM Family: Wife Jody; Lily and Ciarna. Assigned to: Cummins Parish SA I’m most looking forward to … preaching the word and sharing the sacraments; coming alongside people and being part of their lives and being a shepherd to my congregations.

DAVID HAAK Family: Wife Rebecca; Isaac, Isabella Assigned to: Beenleigh Qld I’m most looking forward to … getting to do life with God’s people, being there through the best of times and the difficulties, pointing them to Jesus, and having them point me to Jesus!

RYAN NORRIS Family: Wife Priscilla; Riikka, Caius, Kelsie and Sakari Assigned to: Tarrington Parish Vic I’m most looking forward to … being a part of some of the most significant moments in people’s lives – baptism, confirmation, marriage and even funerals are all defining moments in our journey with Christ.

Please pray for these people and their families as they serve in the vocation God has given them.

bout an LCA/NZ person, family, congregation, community ncouragement at www.lca.org.au/sow

The Lutheran. Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK 2017  

Every week we bring you a story about an Australian or New Zealand person, family, congregation, community or agency that is a place where G...