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April LWML Mission Grant Story

Lights are flashing, sirens blaring. When you see an ambulance racing by, do you wonder who is hurting, what family is fearing the worst? Crises happen in our world. Most we never know anything about. But since 2006, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has sent medical teams to areas of the world where a crisis may not be answered by a hasty professional response, where medical care is needed and often unavailable.

Mercy Medical Teams (MMT) give opportunities for Christians with special skills and abilities ways to share with those who are in underserved countries and have limited means of medical support. These short-term volunteers gain experience using their gifts to help others while also learning how their vocation can serve our Lord both here in the United States and throughout the world. At times, they may be able to speak with patients about Jesus or just pray with them.

This grant will provide funds for student nurses wishing to volunteer for a MMT trip. Working with the Nursing Departments of the Concordia University System (CUI) and LCMS Health Ministry, the Director of Nursing for Concordia University Campus will send ten student nurses overseas for ten days to partner with the Lutheran Hospital in Antsirabe, Madagascar, to work with patients along with the Malgasy staff.

They will learn about cross-cultural expectations and nursing care prior to their trip. While in Madagascar, they will work with the health care providers, learn what mobile clinics provide and help educate communities about women’s health issues and hygiene. Most importantly, they will learn about the global body of Christ. After returning to their classes, they will be debriefed and share their stories with others. Nursing students often find they have received far more than they have given. LCMS mission trips are remembered long after returning home. One participant of a MMT commented, “You begin to realize that God knows each and every one … and suddenly you no longer consider [them] patients, but children of God, just like yourself.”

The Mission Guild is Saint John’s branch of the national Lutheran Women’s Missionary League organization that participates in mission projects both at home and abroad.

March LWML Mission Grant Story

This month we are highlighting the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) grant of $100,000 for Educational Loan Repayment Assistance.

Did you know that three of five trained and called LCMS workers have considered leaving the ministry during their first years of service for financial reasons? Those preparing for full time church work are assuming increasing levels of educational debt in order to prepare for ministry. Concern for this burdensome debt might discourage some young people from entering full time church work.

Preparing our church workers educationally is vital to LCMS, but personal economic challenges can create barriers that will affect the service and commitment of our workers. Statistically, one in four new pastors takes $80,000 in educational debt to his first call. The Educational Loan Repayment Assistance Grant will reduce their educational debt while encouraging and equipping these LCMS full time church workers to continue their service to God.

The Educational Loan Repayment Assistance Grant helps full time church workers pursue their calling even in settings where their income is low by providing aid with loan repayments. This grant of $100,000 will provide $2,500 toward educational debt loans for each qualified worker. Twenty called workers of the LCMS throughout the world will benefit from this grant each year of the biennium.

Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, the LWML has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and by supporting global missions. Saint John’s Mission Guild (LWML) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.

The Matthews House

The Board of Human Needs is coordinating a March 28 meal for about 120 people from families that have been served by The Matthews House, either directly with staff (improving parenting skills, a housing situation or employment) or through involvement in a Community Life Center. The Board of Human Needs asked Lise Harwell, a Saint John’s member who works there, to tell us more about what The Matthews House does in Fort Collins. We hope that you will consider helping us support this great organization on March 28: come hear Lise speak at the beginning of the Bible study hour on March 10 and make a donation or sign up to help with food preparation or service then!

The Matthews House is a non-profit organization in Fort Collins that works to disrupt the cycles of poverty and abuse in families. We work with families by building trusting relationships and walking alongside the families to help them change unhealthy patterns and connect them to community resources that will help stabilize the family unit. The families we work with have sometimes been involved with human services, the foster care system, the justice system and/or generational poverty. Families work towards becoming more self-sufficient and more stable in various areas, including housing, education, employment, well-being and life skills. The Matthews House works in three program areas: Empowering Youth, Strengthening Families and Building Community.

In the Empowering Youth program, staff work with youth between the ages of fourteen and 23 who are involved in the juvenile justice system or who are homeless and lack a significant support network. We also work with every youth in Larimer County who is aging out of the foster care system. The goal of the program is to help youth successfully transition into adulthood. Our staff work with youth one-on-one to develop life skills and self-sufficiency. The youth involved in this program also have the opportunity to participate in Experiential Education, in which small groups can try activities they may have not previously had access to, including pottery, fishing, snowboarding, open gym, guitar lessons and more. Many of the youth we work with struggle with low self-esteem or feeling unvalued. Experiential Education offers a safe place for kids to learn about themselves, socialize with others and ignite their “spark.” Many youth will blossom into renewed self-confidence and a new life direction within the Experiential Education activities.

In the Strengthening Families program, our staff work with parents who are involved in the child welfare system through the Department of Human Services. These families are usually experiencing major challenges, which might include domestic violence, homelessness and substance abuse. The goal of this program is to help keep families together by working through the barriers each family is experiencing. Some of these barriers might be housing, job readiness, transportation, parenting skills, money management and developing a sustainable support system. Within this program, our staff also support foster and kinship caregivers in their homes to try to maintain foster placements for a long as possible. Children who have been removed from their parents have often experienced severe trauma and may display challenging behaviors. It is better for children to remain in one healthy placement as long as needed, so the staff help with navigating difficult behaviors and with supporting the family. The Matthews House also leads the foster care training for prospective caregivers in Larimer County.

In the Building Community program, we work with families to prevent the occurrence of family abuse or neglect and build self-sufficiency. These families are usually not involved in child welfare, but they may be experiencing struggles with self-sufficiency. Our staff help families strengthen areas such as housing, employment, education, parenting and life skills. Stabilizing these areas can help prevent families from experiencing child maltreatment or the long-term effects of poverty. This program is housed in our two Community Life Centers, one at Fullana Learning Center (220 N Grant Ave), and one at Genesis Project (400 S Link Ln). Any parent who has a child under the age of eighteen can walk into one of our Community Life Centers and ask for support. Our staff will sometimes help with a one-time need and other times work with families for several years. At the Community Life Centers, there are also a number of other classes and activities available. We partner with the Center for Adult Learning at Front Range Community College to provide English as a second language classes and high school equivalency preparation classes. We also provide numerous Parent Cafes, which are conversation-based parent support groups that utilize the five protective factors shown to strengthen families: parent resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, social connections, and concrete support in times of need. The Community Life Centers also host cooking and nutrition classes, recreation classes and career development opportunities.

I work as the Education and Enrichment Director, through the Building Community program. In my role, I oversee the after-school program held at each Community Life Center, called Homework Helpers. This program is for students in grades three through ten who need after-school support. I also oversee Children Activities, which is childcare that we provide during a variety of parent classes. Safe and reliable childcare is often a barrier for parents to participate in growth opportunities they may need, so Children Activities seeks to remove this barrier for parents. I also schedule all the activities that go on at the Community Life Centers and plan community engagement events, which are family events open to any families working with The Matthews House.

Many of our community engagement events are family dinners. We provide a free meal for families, the opportunity to build relationships with other families, and fun activities connected to the theme of the family dinner. Some of the themes we have used in the past are a family dance with a DJ, a quick kickball tournament with a BBQ, and our annual Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner on March 28 will be a Karaoke and Game Night family dinner at our Community Life Center at Genesis Project. These dinners are a great way for volunteer groups like Saint John’s to get involved on a one-time basis.

The Matthews House worked with over 3,200 youth and families last year. If you’re interested in finding more information about The Matthews House, reading a few success stories, or getting involved in an ongoing volunteer opportunity, check out our website: www.thematthewshouse.org.

The Board of Human Needs finds opportunities for the members of Saint John’s to provide a Christian witness by helping people in the community struggling with daily necessities.

February LWML Mission Grant Story

This month we are highlighting the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) grant of $100,000 for Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a nationally recognized organization that provides homes, support and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. It has had a mission to provide services that will enhance lives with the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ for over 110 years. They provide services to over 1,900 individuals at 300 program sites in over thirteen states.

Ministry Consultant Rev. Philemon Ngare helps with Bethesda’s “Faith in Action” workbook.

Bethesda, through its “Lifting Up Bethesda” program, works to break down barriers for people with intellectual disabilities so that they can become part of their church body. Ministry consultants work to ensure the individuals are welcomed in the Word and Sacrament. The costs associated with these integral faith-based services are not subject to state reimbursement like other services Bethesda offers. So the faith-based services rely heavily on volunteers, ministry partners, congregational support and private donors.

This grant will assist with travel expenses and help fund the ministry consultants completing the Faith in Action workbooks with each individual; aid in connecting individuals with congregations of their choosing; assist in educating and training congregations and church leaders; and promote increasing congregational awareness and support of these faith-based services.

Gloria, from Indiana, reads Bethesda’s “Christ Connection” prayer book.

Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, the LWML has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and by supporting global missions. Saint John’s Mission Guild (LWML) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.

January LWML Mission Grant Story

This month we are highlighting the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) grant of $100,000 for Lutheran Braille Workers, Laborers of Love.

Did you know there are approximately eleven million blind and visually impaired people in the United States? Or that of those eleven million, about 95% are unchurched? For 74 years Lutheran Braille Workers (LBW) has been using resources to engage blind and visually challenged people by giving both spiritual and physical encouragement. Since they combined in 2012, Lutheran Blind Mission Society and Lutheran Braille Workers (LBW) are helping the visually challenged to “see” Jesus with “eyes of faith” through the use of large print and braille Bibles.

Laborers of Love will use this grant of $100,000 to print 20,000 English Standard Version (ESV) Bibles at more than 100 LBW Work Centers in the United States. This is a complicated process of transcription, creating and embossing zinc plates and then printing a complete ESV Bible of 37 volumes in either large print or braille for a cost of $185. On the commercial market this same Bible would sell for $810, making the purchase of this Bible cost prohibitive for many blind and visually impaired persons. The Laborers of Love grant project will give these Bibles free of charge to recipients.

As a Recognized Service Organization (RSO), this ministry serves about 1,200 active participants in 60 Outreach Centers throughout 23 states. LBW seeks to reach out to people with visual limitations so they too have the saving news of Jesus.

Many blind or visually impaired persons have been mistakenly told that their blindness is punishment for sin, or if they have enough faith, they’ll be healed. Because of this misinformation, many of the visually challenged become discouraged or have rejected God. Being able to read a Bible and learn of the saving news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection will give them encouragement and hope.

Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, the LWML has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and by supporting global missions. Saint John’s Mission Guild (LWML) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.

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