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Go and Tell! Even at a Baseball Outing

It was a beautiful summer evening. My husband and I were attending a baseball game of the local Class A minor league team. The atmosphere there is always fun and positive. We were there as part of a professional group to which my husband belongs. They had reserved a big room where we could watch the game and enjoy roasters full of burgers and brats. 

I didn’t know many of the people there, but I enjoyed chatting with new acquaintances as we watched the game. A young man stopped by to visit, and we found a shared interest in children. He was a coach, and I am a retired teacher. We talked for quite a while about the wonder of working with children and impacting their lives. I shared a photo of our Liberian God-children and talked about how blessed we feel to have them in our lives. After a good long talk, he went to visit with others, and I returned to watching the game.

A while later, he returned, and we chatted more. He asked how my husband and I had connected with the Liberian family. I told him they had come to our church shortly after arriving in our town. We were “volunteered” by other members to help them through the service so they could navigate the service folder-to-hymnal-and-back rhythm of our services. That first service of helping became an every-week event. When the family had two children, my husband and I became their sponsors. Our two families merged. 

The young man asked the church’s name. When I included the word “Lutheran” in the name, he looked at me askance and asked, “What kind?” At my answer “Missouri Synod,” he dropped his head a bit and said “I knew it.” It turned out he had been raised in a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, but was no longer attending. I invited him to join us at our church, but he responded he would go to the church his mom attended if he went to church. Then he commented “My mom would drop over dead if I walked into church.” I told him she would die a happy mamma. His next comment was that God would laugh if he went back to church. I responded that He was probably already giggling. When the young man questioned my comment, I said, “Look at who you are talking to and what you are talking about. He is certainly watching over you.” 

I encouraged that young man to go back to his church. His mother and the congregation would be happy to include him. I reminded him that God wants us to be with our church family for encouragement and support. I don’t know what happened next in that young man’s life. I am positive God brought us together at that ball game so I could nudge him back towards an active faith life. I will never know how my words impacted this young man, but I know they impacted me. I was reminded to trust God with all I do, and to let Him use my actions for His purposes. It is always time to Go and Tell!

Devotion

And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say (Luke 12:11-12).

Opportunities to share our faith can come at unexpected times. It may not always be the right time to share the entire Gospel of Christ, but we can often share God’s love and encouragement in a few words or actions. We may not see how God uses our words. We may not know how our small action may be part of a larger story. 

Think of a time when your words or actions have shared God’s love.

Remember a time when you felt God used someone to encourage you.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, use me. Put me in places where my words and actions can help others come closer to You. Holy Spirit, fill me with the right words. Guide me to speak boldly and clearly so the Gospel is heard. Christ Jesus, forgive me when I am weak. Help me to trust Your words that I am never alone. Give me the strength to speak and to act in ways that spread Your story. Confident in Your promises, I pray in Your name. Amen.

Written by Martha Hartwig


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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Living the Gospel

We are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), but what about when we are not physically able to “go” because cancer has taken over our lives?

I’ve known several people whose lives changed dramatically due to the doctor saying these words: “You have cancer.” Here are the stories of two women who continued to live the Gospel in the midst of their battles.

Kerri Lynne is a pastor’s wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a daughter of the King. She has stared down cancer three times now. First, she had a rare form of stage three uterine cancer, which required surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Later it metastasized into her brain, with another surgery and more radiation. This last time, they suspected another tumor in her brain, but the surgery revealed that it was scar tissue from the radiation and not cancer. “I have spent a lot of time learning trust and patience,” Kerri Lynne said, “and to be calm, take everything one day at a time, and put all my trust in the Lord.” The Bible verse that supported her through these times is from Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

As she looks back now, Kerri Lynne can see the hand of God in everything that happened. They took a call to a new congregation the year before her second diagnosis, which in turn brought them to a Christian oncologist and neurosurgeon in a nearby large city. This was a doctor who would pray with her before surgery. That is certainly not an everyday occurrence! “God brought us to the place where we needed to be, even before we knew it,” Kerri said. Her diagnosis, soon after they were part of this new church, forged relationships that might have taken a lot longer to develop in everyday circumstances. Everyone has a story and we like to share those stories to comfort and encourage one another.

Becky was my God-given short-term BFF (Best Friend Forever). I met her near the end of her breast cancer journey. She was completing her reconstruction recovery and growing physically stronger with each passing week. We were in the same stage of life with children the same ages who were engaged and planning weddings, and then enjoying our first grandchildren together. We had so much to share as we traveled to and from LWML meetings and events. We just fit. 

Becky had an exuberant personality. Her light for Christ was always glowing. Her mission: to show others the love of Christ and bring them to understand the love He offers them. But after a month or so of hip pain that would not go away, it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized into her bones and brain. That didn’t stop Becky. She was always the brightest one at chemotherapy, a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She had the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in her heart because that is where Christ lived and she wanted everyone to know it. We traveled together to Pittsburgh, Becky’s last LWML convention, where she attended Heart to Heart Sisters Leader training. She walked in the Heart to Heart Sisters parade. She was beaming. Becky lived her favorite Bible verse, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Both of these women “lived the Gospel” throughout their lives, especially throughout their cancer journeys. “Go!” doesn’t always mean long travel to unknown places. “Go!” means living the Gospel each and every day in whatever situation you find yourself.

Devotion

Do you have a Scripture verse that gives you strength when life is difficult? Review that Scripture today. Does it speak to you any differently in today’s circumstances?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for friends and family who continue to live Your Gospel message each day in spite of the difficulties life throws at them. They are an inspiration to those of us who witness their love for You each day. They are a light to those who do not know You yet. Allow me to also live Your Gospel message each day for those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written by Karen Morrison
Gospel Outreach Committee member


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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FAITHFUL and TRUE

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to know who to believe and what will happen. In a conversation with my friend, an LCMS pastor’s wife in Naples, Florida, it was evident Who is getting her through this strange, scary time in our world: God!

Joanne says she lives day to day; she simply stops and lets God be God. She puts her own perceived needs on the backburner and lets God decide. How did Joanne develop this trust in God? She recalls Proverbs 3:5 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 

She grew up in the city of Detroit, yet fell in love with horses when she was a toddler. When she was about eight, her family began driving Joanne into the country on the weekends to learn how to ride a horse. When Joanne became a Girl Scout cadet, she was able to work at a training center to learn about taking care of horses. 

In time, Joanne married and went with her husband, Don, to the Seminary in St. Louis. They had two children. Sadly, she was not able to find the time or place to continue working with horses, and while she missed that part of her life, she was happy and busy. Her husband graduated, and they received a call to be missionaries in the mountain region of the Philippines. 

While serving our Lord in the Philippines, Joanne learned to live as the people did: day to day in the Lord. It was hard work, and everything took time. It took five years for Joanne to learn the language, although she thought she could learn it in several months. It took three years to build a house, although she thought it would also be completed in several months. Joanne learned to “go with the flow” and let God be in charge. One of the hardest tasks was communicating and sharing the Gospel with the Philippine people, as it meant changes in altitudes as they walked up and down the mountains. Breathing was an effort. They often felt too tired to share the Gospel.


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Then they discovered mountain ponies! Amazing! Joanne was able to teach her husband, her children, and other Christian workers how to ride and care for the ponies so they could ride up and down the mountains and not be weary. The ponies carried not only Bibles, tools, and medicine, but also the bearers of Good News. (In the picture above, Joanne is the rider on the right, sitting on the white pony.) Joanne likened this time of weariness to our world today, which is wearing us down with our daily struggles and fears. Her go-to verses are Isaiah 40:28, 30-31: Have you not known? Have you not heard? ... He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. …. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; … they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

After the Philippines, God called Pastor Don, Joanne, and their four children to Faith Lutheran in Naples, Florida. Much to Joanne’s surprise, five minutes from the church was an equestrian center. Time passed. One of Joanne’s granddaughters was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She took her for riding lessons to see if that would help her granddaughter with communication skills. After one week of lessons and riding horses, the quiet little granddaughter was singing, talking, and laughing. Today, the equestrian center has developed into a therapeutic equestrian center.


Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!
The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).

A statue of a white horse stands prominently in the entrance hallway of Joanne’s home. She humorously says it is a reminder that the horse is the only animal mentioned in Revelation, which proves the horse is God’s favorite animal! I say the statue is a daily reminder that God works in us for our good and for the good of everyone. He is always Faithful and True in our day-to-day journeys.
 

Devotion

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, 
the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

We can now see how God began his work in an eight-year-old girl and her love for horses. We can see how God blessed others through her. 

Read Hebrews 11 to see how God used people and kept His promises. How does that help you trust God’s plan for you, knowing He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)?

How has God been Faithful and True to you? Can you identify your God-given strengths and gifts? How has God used your likes, your interests, your gifts, and your strengths to further His Gospel and serve others? How has your faith helped you see beyond this present pandemic and planted your feet firmly, knowing Christ is more secure than the rising of the morning sun?

May you know that in every circumstance, our heavenly Father is holding you. He knows your needs and will be in charge of all your days. Christ is the one sitting on the white horse. He is Faithful and True.
 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. … Thy will be done.” Thank You for being in charge of all our days. Thank You for the many gifts You have nurtured in us. Thank You for equipping us to meet life’s challenges.  Enable us to use our gifts from You to share You and Your saving Word. Thank You for being our Savior, Faithful and True.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer. 
In Jesus’ name. Amen. 
 

Christine Maconachy
LWML Chesapeake District
 


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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Encouragement

I am a social worker in a nursing facility. During a workday I often speak with dozens of residents. Some visits are scheduled, some are not. One day was particularly terrible. I was all doom and gloom. I felt empty, useless, and defeated. Even now, years later, I remember the depth of the feelings. 

On that day, I visited a resident with whom I made no appointment. It was a total whim, or so I thought, that I was there with her, in her room, putting on a smile and engaging in conversation. After a few minutes, our conversation turned to discussions of faith. She spoke of her fulfilled and joyful life. A life she happily reflected upon, and for which she gave thanks to the Lord. She spoke of all that He had provided to her. She did this despite the recent death of her husband, which was the reason she was placed in the nursing home. She thanked God despite her own failing health and the need to be placed on hospice care. She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t counting her losses. She wasn’t feeling empty. She shared that she felt indebted. As we continued, she spoke about how the Lord was always with her. 

It was then that it dawned on me that God is listening and observing us. Of course, He is! On my terrible day I failed to remember that He is always with me. For thus says Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out (Ezekiel 34:11). This woman’s witness reminded me of His constant presence. My emptiness was nothing compared to what my Savior had endured. It was also nothing compared to what she was enduring. This woman lost so much! Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice in His death for us on the cross! I sat there humbled, praying for forgiveness. We sometimes need to be reminded to a have grateful heart and to look to the Lord for joy no matter what the circumstances. We need a messenger to show us not to get stuck in those times in life. We especially need this when we feel all the things in life are too big for us. For me, on this day, it took an 89-year-old dying woman to remind me of the love of Christ. 

Devotion

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and testimonies (Psalm 25: 6–10).

After this special woman’s passing, I thought of our conversation many times. I often try to remember why my day felt so terrible, but the “why?” became such an insignificant part of the story. When my mind wanders to her all I can think of is my Lord, and I pray. I thank Him for His blessings, past and present. Blessings freely given even on the terrible days. 

Have you had a “terrible” day that God used to bless you?

Has God used you to be a messenger of His love and presence?

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Even when we might not be listening, we thank You for daily reminders of Your love. Thank You for always being there to guide us and lead us so we are not alone. Thank You for Your Word which is filled with comfort and peace. May we always look for Your messengers and remember to be Your messengers. Amen.
 

Alicia Starrett–Seidel
Gospel Outreach Committee
New Jersey District


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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How I Received My Life Verse

I was a senior in high school when my 14-year-old sister was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a hard time for our family. Mom spent weeks with my sister at Kansas University Medical Center, three hours away, while Dad continued to work. Our grandma stayed at our house to make dinner and keep up with the laundry, trying for some normalcy in the midst of the chaos.

A year and a half later, my sister died from pneumonia because of her weakened immune system from the leukemia. What love and support my parents received from the doctors and nurses during those long months! What love and support we received back home from our church family!

We were members of Bethany Lutheran Church, but our pastor had taken a call to a new congregation and had already moved. Who would do the funeral service? Friends of my parents recommended Pastor John from another Lutheran church in our city.

Pastor John didn’t know our family. Pastor John didn’t know my sister, but Pastor John was a parent who understood our loss, and he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastor John came to our home and spent time listening to our stories, learning about my sister, her faith, and the faith of my parents. 

I don’t remember a lot about the day of the funeral, but I have always remembered Pastor John’s words during the service — “Fear not, only believe!” Later, I learned the Bible story in Mark 5:36b from where those words came. It was the story of a man named Jairus, his faith, and the trust he had in Jesus.

Those words, “Fear not, only believe,” spoke deep into my heart and changed my life forever. I became a more faith-filled child of God. I was able to trust Him in the midst of all situations, good or bad, and there have been many of both in my life. That doesn’t mean that I never have doubts or fears. In spite of frustrations, I have always felt a peace deep inside, knowing that God has every situation in His capable hands. My response as His precious daughter is to fear not and just believe. 

Pastor John became a very close friend of my parents. Several years ago, I saw Pastor John and I had the opportunity to remind him of that day so long ago. I was able to tell him that his words, inspired by God’s Word, had set the course for my life. Fear not; only believe; God is in control!

Devotion

Read the story of Jairus and his daughter in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, beginning at verse 21. There is another woman, unrelated to Jairus, included in this story. Her actions also showed faith.

Do you have a Scripture verse or two that give you strength when life is difficult? 

Has a pastor or other mentor been a strong guiding influence in your life? Contact him/her and acknowledge that blessing. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, how wonderful it is to know that You are the God of love and peace, that You are there to guide and support us during the hard times, the good times, and the great times. Thank You for the pastors You place in our lives to teach us from Your Scriptures the lessons that seem so simple but have so much impact. May we continue to grow in faith as we study Your Word, finding those precious nuggets of wisdom that You have placed there, like “Do not fear, only believe.” In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Karen Morrison
Kansas District


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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Sandwich Love

homeless man eating a sandwich

In June of 2017 I attended the LWML Mid-South District Convention in El Dorado, Arkansas. One day, during our lunch recess, my roommate and I were enjoying a stroll through the streets of this quaint town. We encountered a man who was obviously down on his luck. He approached us and asked if we could spare him money for a meal. He shared some of his story with us – that he was fighting addiction and living in a shelter.

As it happened we were right in front of a sandwich shop. Realizing that here we were, two LWML ladies attending a district convention, I sure wasn’t going to ignore the man! We went into the sandwich shop and ordered him some lunch. The really sad thing was that it was apparent the proprietor of the shop had probably just told the man to go away. I maintained as friendly an attitude as possible while taking care of the lunch order. Who knows, maybe that man shows up every single day asking for food or solicits customers coming into the shop. Maybe the proprietor had reason to rebuff the man. All I know is he was hungry and we happened to be there.

So, why did God put this man in our path? Did he need us or did the proprietor need to be reminded to feed the hungry? I’ve come to realize that we all stereotype people, judge them, and fill in missing facts based on our experience. But, is that what God tells us to do? Nope, He simply says “love your neighbor”.  If that means buying a sandwich for someone “for no reason”, I know I can handle it.

Devotion

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:32–34).

How often do our own “burnt offerings and sacrifices” get in the way of what God really wants from us? We hear Him calling us to reach out to a hurting neighbor or to call a friend who has been absent from church for far too long. But what do we do instead? Oh, we do our “good deeds”. We drop off clothes at the resale store and collect canned goods for the food pantry. Easy, right? It’s not that God doesn’t want us to do those things too. But, He wants us to love PEOPLE – His very own children – people who have names and faces and are created in His image. Sometimes that means getting out of our comfort zone and facing those very people, even when we don’t know their names, or circumstances or history or religious affiliation. We see their faces and their faces should look like God himself to us. How then can we NOT reach out to them?

Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven, please forgive me for the times when I have looked away or ignored one of Your children in need. I pray the Holy Spirit will encourage me and make me bold and to see Your face in every face I meet. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Candy Habich
Mid-South District


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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Mission Work at Any Age

elderly men and women conversing in a assisted living facility

As my husband’s parents got older with many health issues, the family decided that they would be better off in an assisted living facility.

Leo, who was in his 90’s, wondered what he could do as he spent his time at the facility. He had always been very active in church. He decided to make it his mission to share his Lord with anyone and everyone that lived there. He quickly learned each and everyone's name. At meal times, he would sit at a different table each time. As the first course was being served, he would ask if he could bless the food. Some people were so uncomfortable about him saying a prayer that they would not let him sit at their table any more. That didn't stop him; he continued to say a table prayer at each meal.

As time went on, he decided he wanted to do more. He wanted to start a Bible class but felt he wasn't good enough to lead it. Leo kept telling me that he was not a teacher. I encouraged him, and even helped him plan his first few lessons. He soon found that the Lord was indeed blessing his work and he enjoyed preparing and teaching the group. He was able to share the Word for many years at the facility.

After Leo received his Crown of Glory last August, the facility director visited Leo’s pastor. She asked if there was someone who could continue the class because it was a highlight in the residents’ week. What a wonderful legacy Leo left all his friends and neighbors.

Devotion:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

It is almost certain that Leo was placed in that assisted living facility to share the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with his neighbors and friends. Just because he was reaching the end of his life, he still had things to do to praise his Heavenly Father. At first, he felt unprepared, but the Holy Spirit was there to help him share the Word of God. Not only was it a blessing to those who joined Leo each week for Bible study but it blessed Leo’s life as well.

Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour (Matthew 10:19).

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for people like Leo who use whatever their situation in life to give You thanks and praise and further the spread Your Gospel. Thank You for the Word that proclaims salvation to all who believe and the Holy Spirit who guides us and provides the words that we can use to tell others of your great mercy. Continue to give us opportunities to share Your great love with others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Nancy Pendleton
Pacific Southwest District


We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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