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This month we want to tell you more about the “Hope of Christ for Cancer Patients” program of Phil’s Friends, recipients of a $70,000 grant from Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) in the 2021–2023 biennium.

Phil Zielke started Phil’s Friends after battling cancer twice while in his mid-twenties. His friends provided him care items that were specific for people who are going through cancer treatment. The notes of Christian encouragement from family and friends that accompanied these items gave him hope in the battle for his life.

Phil had Christ in his heart, and he had Christian encouragement. However, in the hospital many patients did not have that hope. When Phil recovered, he made it his mission to give hope to cancer patients. Phil’s Friends was established as a full-time ministry in 2009.

Phil’s Friends is an LCMS Recognized Service Organization with a mission to introduce and strengthen relationships with Christ by providing faith-based hope to those with cancer. Anyone can request a care package be sent to someone struggling with cancer at no charge. Phil’s Friends then provide practical, emotional and spiritual support by providing a care package and encouraging cards, “Cards of Hope”, for twelve consecutive months. After receiving their care package, the cancer patient can meet virtually with a trained Phil’s Friends volunteer as part of the “Hope on Call” program. The program, started in 2020, can virtually connect specially trained volunteers with someone who has received a care package. The volunteer is there to listen, provide encouraging words and pray with the person. Phil’s Friends support the person with cancer but also impact those individuals supporting the person going through cancer.

Care packages contain a Bible, fleece blanket, knit hat, fuzzy socks, Biotene gel, lip balm, toothpaste, toothbrush, unscented lotion, journal, pen, puzzle book and playing cards. Most importantly, there is a letter that contains the message of the Gospel and an explanation of how our “hope” comes from our relationship with our Lord. When someone is battling cancer, it is so important to know of the unending love of Jesus. The Bible and the Gospel messages may introduce someone to the love of Christ or strengthen their relationship with the Lord.

The grant funds will be used to support 1,000 individuals with care packages, “Cards of Hope”, and “Hope on Call”. Phil’s Friends will be able to provide the cancer patients with the hope and encouragement that only Jesus can bring.

Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, LWM 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. For more information on each month’s mission focus, visit Saint John’s Lutheran Women in Mission (Mission Guild) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.