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Peace, Hope and Comfort

woman sitting on hill, watching sunrise

A while back, my husband and I began trying for our second child. Our son was two and we wanted to grow our family. After a year of trying, we learned I was finally pregnant again. We were so excited!

At sixteen weeks gestation, God called our child home. Though we grieved the loss, God also gave us a peace that I cannot explain and a confidence knowing our child and our family were in His hands. The day after I came home from the hospital from having a D&C, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a little stuffed tiger for our son from my co-workers. I found out that it was my co-worker, Heather who had organized the gift on behalf of my department. Heather had also recently had a miscarriage. I knew that she attended the local Baptist church.

When I returned to work, I thanked my co-workers for their thoughtfulness. I then sent a special email to Heather. I thanked her personally and also shared my faith. I valued the bond we shared both in our experience and in the knowledge that God is in control and that our children were together in Heaven in our Savior’s arms. I shared the peace and comfort it brought. What I didn’t know at the time was that Heather did not have peace and was struggling with her miscarriage. She was angry with God and very bitter. She had stopped going to church.

A few weeks later, Heather thanked me for my email. God used that witness to soften her heart. She let go of her bitterness and returned to church. She shared that she finally felt at peace and she was no longer afraid to try to have another baby.

Praise God that my husband and I were later blessed with another healthy baby boy, and Heather and her husband have two more beautiful daughters!

Devotion

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).

I am so grateful to God for our child in heaven and for blessing my life through my miscarriage. It allowed me to share my faith with other women in ways I could never have imagined!  God used me to share His peace, hope and comfort with my co-worker, Heather. Praise be to Christ!!

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for all the blessings you have given me especially the peace, hope and comfort that comes from knowing my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You also for those people that You put in my path, which give me an opportunity to witness and share my faith. Always remind me through Your Word, that You are always with me, and that you will strengthen me and give me rest from the brokenness of this world. Continue to guide me as I care for my family, friends and neighbors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Gretchen Rasmussen
Iowa East District


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God Guides and Provides

women at a Bible study

Rachel fumbled the maroon covered Bible in her hands and with a look of confusion on her face said, "Wait. Where now?"

"Luke 11, verse 2," Pastor repeated.

She flipped the pages through her fingers several times and said, "These are all mixed up".

I set my own Bible aside and vacated the overstuffed chair. I asked, "Rachel, can I help you?" She was a new addition to our Bible study, a young woman in her early twenties looking for a church home. She tucked her medium length black hair behind her ear before handing me her Bible.

"The Bible is divided into two parts—the Old Testament and the New Testament and the New Testament starts with the four gospels. Luke is one of the gospels. See, here it is,” I informed her. I pointed to the upper left corner before handing the Bible back to her.

She said, "Thanks. I didn't know," and She tried to hide her nervousness with a laugh. I took my seat again, locating the passage myself, before glancing over at Rachel. Her brown eyes appeared blank and she pushed the black framed glasses up on her nose as she whispered, "Debbi, mine doesn't have any chapters."

"Rachel, the big numbers are the chapters and the small numbers are the verses." The blank eyes changed to a sparkle and she expressed another nervous laugh as she said, "Oh, I see. I didn't know."

I responded, "That's okay, that's how we learn."

I continued to help her through Bible study, letting her find the books with some well worded clues from me. Joy covered her face each time she succeeded and that nervous laughter changed to laughs of triumph. As I watched her, a wave of sadness overcame me. This is America, a land founded on religious freedom, and here was a young woman who had not been exposed to God's Word. Her numerous questions covered a range of topics—the Ten Commandments, baptism, communion, crucifixion, resurrection.

I left Bible study that night, waving to Rachel as she climbed into the passenger side of her grandmother's rusty four-door sedan. "See you next week," she hollered to me.

My thoughts drifted back to Rachel many times that week so I took the opportunity to swing into the Bethesda thrift shop before we convened again. The used books had been neatly organized on shelves that reached three quarters of the way to the ceiling. The "Religious" label had been thumb tacked to a shelf located beside a silver haired man who sorted books from the top of a dark gray industrial cart. I found the Bibles on the second shelf down and selected one that still appeared to have the binding in decent shape. I pulled it out and vetoed it quickly. The corner of the cover was missing. I selected another and sighed—missing pages. The next one, marked up like a college textbook, left no room for Rachel to make her own notes in the margin. One by one, I inspected the Bibles and returned each one to their designated space.

"Is this all of the Bibles?" I asked the gentleman.

"Let me check in the back for you," he replied before disappearing. When he returned, he pushed a shorter stainless steel cart and smiled. "These may be more to your liking."

I picked one off the stack, but it had been the one underneath that commanded my attention. The gold lettering on the black cover looked as though it had just been embossed. I set down the one I held and opened the cover, gliding my fingers over the pages. I'm not sure it's cover had ever been opened. Someone else's loss would be Rachel's gain.

In the next aisle, I overheard a conversation about the Christian Women Luncheons that took place once upon a time in Green Bay. I enjoyed the events and had been disappointed when word came that they would be cancelled. I stepped around the corner to see if I knew the women and came face to face with the two of them. I said to them, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I used to attend those luncheons. My friend, Irene, who helped with them, invited me."

"Irene? She is a lovely lady,” they said. We conversed about our mutual acquaintance and the luncheons before one of them noted the Bible in my hand.

"Yes, I am getting this for a young lady in Bible study who is in need of a little guidance. She has very limited, if any, knowledge of the Bible—how it is laid out, what it says, etcetera," I shared.

One of the women started digging in her oversize handbag. "I think I have just what you need," she said as she handed me a book mark listing the layout of the Bible—Law, History, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles and so on. I hugged her as I said a prayer thanking God for His divine intervention.

Sunday morning, I spied Rachel at church. "Hey, I have something for you," I said as I pulled the Bible out of my bag and handed it to her.

Her brown eyes widened and she ran her fingertips over the cover. "I never had my own Bible," she said, as she hugged me.

Devotion:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

We all know this was no coincidence. God provided me the opportunity to share the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit. I'm not a teacher or a theologian, but somehow - this young lady attached herself to me and I knew I needed to guide her in God's Word. Providing it to her is only the beginning of God’s plan in her life.

Prayer:

Father in Heaven, thank You for guiding me and providing me with the tools I need to share Your Word. I ask for direction as I help guide this young lady in her desire to know You. Continue to bless me with eyes to see You in all I do and say. Amen.

Deborah Young
North Wisconsin


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

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Shine the Light of Christ

Reading the Bible

My story begins with a visit to see my son, a career Navy man, stationed in New Jersey as a recruiter. When we arrived, he introduced us to his current girlfriend, whom he had been dating for about 6 months. They met at a favorite Thai restaurant in his neighborhood, where she was employed.

As I visited with Nookie, I learned that she grew up in Thailand. Her childhood education had been in Catholic Schools. Upon graduation from college, she came to America, for more education and to experience life in the United States. Eventually, she moved to New Jersey and became a valued employee at the restaurant. Although she had no intention of becoming involved with a sailor, my son won her over, and they became close friends. Jacque invited Nookie to attend worship services with him and occasionally she was able to join him. Mondays were her only day off.

As my husband and I returned home, we discussed how the two of them seemed to be right for each other. It was a good thing since less than a month later came the phone call announcing that there was to be a wedding in two days.

This is where I became very concerned. You see, Nookie was raised in Thailand as a Buddhist. I spoke of my concerns about being unequally yoked, that future children and their mom needed to know Christ as their Savior, and the common strains this could cause in a marriage.

I have served in my congregation for many years as a teacher of sixth-grade Catechism classes. Our pastor was recovering from major surgery, but I felt the need to have Nookie receive instruction and she agreed to consider Baptism. With our pastor's blessing, each week I guided my daughter-in-law through a couple of chapters of "Lutheranism 101” via computer messaging. Through daily Bible stories, devotions, and prayers continued worship time with my son and the in-depth study of the catechism, she grew in her understanding and faith which had begun in her elementary school years. During one of our discussions, Nookie said to me, "I know that Jesus died for every one of my sins, and that I can only serve ONE God. He has done this for me and promises to take me with Him to live in Heaven. He is my God."

One year after her marriage to my son, the Holy Spirit brought her to the baptismal font. Now Nookie truly is part of our family, the family of our Heavenly Father.

DEVOTION

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark:
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).

And in the last chapter of Matthew it is written:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

I am thankful that God used me to shine the light of Christ into Nookie’s life and am grateful that our pastor allowed me to share this message of certain hope with her. The Skype sessions also allowed us to get to know each other much better. I now have a second daughter, and another reason I nightly give God thanks.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for giving us opportunities to share the Gospel with others. Continue to place people in our paths so we can share the wonderful gift of salvation. Keep us in Your Word and send us Your Holy Spirit so that we can be bold to proclaim the Good News. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Carol A. Gale
North Wisconsin District


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

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The Gift of Sight

Man in El Salvador sitting and reading Bible with new eyeglasses.

The picture I’m sharing with you is of a man in El Salvador. I’ve been blessed to go on several eyeglass mission trips with Wisconsin Lions Mission groups and in 2016, we journeyed to El Salvador.

Let me share the story.

It was nearing the end of the day and we had processed a few hundred people; done eye exams and fitted glasses until we found the best pair we could. It’s slow and tedious work and add with a language barrier, it can get to be pretty challenging.

I remember this man very well as he needed lenses to help with seeing distance clearly and for close-up work. I don’t remember what his profession was, but he needed glasses for close-up work. We have interpreters and they help tremendously; they communicate to the patient what we’re doing and then they let us, the workers, know what the patient’s response. Facial expressions usually communicate quite clearly and when it’s the right pair of glasses, the person’s face just lights up. It’s a wonderful sight to behold.

This man was beaming when I found the right pair of glasses for him. I got them fitted to his head and we shook hands and said good-bye. I started working with the next patient and by chance looked to the right and there my last patient sat — on the window ledge reading. I casually walked over to speak with him again and discovered he was reading his Bible. We both had tears in our eyes as we recognized in each other what a gift these new glasses gave to him. We couldn’t share a conversation, but we shared the love of the Lord in that moment. It was a gift to us both.

Devotion:

For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel (Luke 2:30–32).

Have you ever walked in your home in the middle of the night and you could not see where you were going? Could you imagine not being able to read your Bible each day because you had poor eyesight? The Lord blessed this man with a pair of eyeglasses so he could see again. What a blessing to spend time with Jesus who opens His Word and reveals Himself to us.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you so much for putting this man in my path. Your love is all around me and no matter where I go, I know you are there with me. Your Word is a gift beyond measure. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share it. Amen.

Mary Harrington
North Wisconsin 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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The Lord Will Provide

Hands sharing a bowl of soup with someone

Recently, I was loading my groceries into the trunk of my car when a man approached and offered to take my buggy back to the store. I thanked him for that but he seemed to linger just a moment. I was pretty sure he was going to ask me for money, which is exactly what he did. Being that it was just about noon and there was a sandwich store about twenty feet away, I asked if I could buy him lunch instead. He was quite agreeable to that so off we went.

While waiting for his sandwich to be prepared I had some time to ask him about his situation. He had left a small town in Georgia where employment was scarce. I’m not sure how he landed in east Tennessee but I don’t suppose that’s important. The man said he had an interview in a couple of days at the grocery store that I’d just left. Meanwhile, there was no room at the Salvation Army so he was sleeping in a tent. His bicycle was his only form of transportation. I wish I’d thought to ask if that was how he got from Georgia to Tennessee! What struck me was how relaxed the man seemed. He didn’t seem anxious or worried. He just mentioned that he wasn’t sure how he’d manage to eat until he had a job. At that point, the words “the Lord will provide” just came out of my mouth. I believe that was the Holy Spirit answering my prayer before I even had a chance to speak it!

As we left the sandwich shop I explained that I kept “blessing bags” in my car and would get one for him. It contained snacks and a fast-food gift card among other things. Then, right there in the parking lot, I said a prayer for him and asked if he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He said he did which I was very happy to hear. I certainly hope and pray that the next time I go grocery shopping I’ll see him at work there! Meanwhile, I’m counting on the promise that “the Lord will provide”.

Devotion:

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:13–14).

Of course this verse from Genesis is what prompted me to tell the homeless man “the Lord will provide”. But, in a way, I think the Lord provided me with a few things during this encounter as well. Over the last several months I’ve been more deliberate about asking God to put people in my path and to give me the courage and wisdom to be a witness to them. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to serve a brother in Christ through the simple act of buying his lunch and saying a prayer with him.

Prayer:

Dear God, please give us the boldness to not only provide for the physical needs of those you put in our path but also for their spiritual needs. Father, give us the right words at the right time to allow us to share your saving grace with those around us. In Jesus’ precious name. 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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Lessons with Shirley

woman praying with sunset in background

About a year and a half ago my stepson and his wife were visiting. We’ve had a more or less on-again, off-again relationship over the years, but this particular visit had gone well. Toward the end of the week, Shirley and I were talking late one night after everyone else had gone to bed. We started talking about parenting and then about our own childhood experiences. I knew Shirley’s mother had struggled with substance abuse and with maintaining stable relationships. However, the story that tumbled out was one of a young girl living in far more difficult circumstances than I would have imagined, one who had been on her own since her early teen years.

Jesus had been calling Shirley through a number of people that year, and she told me that she was going to start reading the Bible after the holidays. We live 2000 miles apart, but for some reason I felt prompted to ask her if she wanted to read it with me. Initially, I really had no idea how we’d make that work or how effective it would be.  I remembered a pastor telling me the best place for someone seeking to learn the story was the book of Mark. So that’s where I suggested we begin.

We’ve been texting five days a week, sharing what we find to be most significant in the chapter we are reading. I have provided a good deal of back story and explanations. We’ve read the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, Jonah, Ruth, selected stories from the Old Testament and a number of Psalms. We’ve shared thoughts on devotional books, movies, and songs. Shirley’s husband and mine also started studying together long distance.

Shortly after we started reading, Shirley and her husband began to seriously look for a church in which they both felt comfortable. God led them to a church that welcomed them and their extended family with open arms.

Seven grandchildren have been baptized and regularly attend Sunday school. The oldest granddaughter is now attending confirmation class which resulted in her father changing the direction of his spiritual life and joining the church this past Easter Sunday.  So much has blossomed from such a tiny mustard seed of discussion on that November night.

Devotion:

God has decided that, as imperfect as we think it seems to be, we are the delivery system for the news of His salvation. Each of us is exactly where He wants us to be. God wants us to take the risk, walk through the doors He opens for us, and Tell the Story.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Prayer:

Dear Savior, help us to not only be aware of, but to actively look for the opportunities You place before us, and then embolden us to take advantage of them. Our hurting world is so in need of the message of hope and salvation. Let us be like the early apostles in the book of Acts and “turn the world upside down” with the life changing story we have to tell.

Pat Falkenhagen
North Wisconsin 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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Out of the Mouths of Babes

woman praying with sunset in background

One morning I was at the store picking up a few items I needed for the day. I had my two grandsons with me. As I walked through the produce section, I met an acquaintance I had not seen in a while. We exchanged hellos. She then asked my grandson what his name was. He responded, “My name is Jax.” She then asked him if he went to school. He replied, “I go to Yuma Lutheran School and I am in the first grade.” Then she asked my younger grandson what his name was. He quickly ducked his head behind his big brother. Jax spoke up and said, “This is my brother, Ryker. He goes to preschool at the Big Red Barn. But, my school is much better because I get to learn about Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Ryker’s school doesn't teach that.” The woman replied with a smile, “You are so lucky to be able to go to such a wonderful school.” Jax smiled back, and said with confidence, “Yes, and soon my brother will be able to go Yuma Lutheran School too, so he can learn more about Jesus.” We laughed all together, treasuring the words that had come out of the mouth of my grandson. What a wonderful gift he was able to share with an acquaintance of mine, in the produce aisle at the grocery store, God’s promise of salvation.

Devotion:

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).

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

What a blessing to recognize and rejoice in the faith of a little child. It is a great witness to all who hear the Father’s words from a little child.

Prayer:

Thank you Heavenly Father, for your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, and for the Holy Spirit that sustains us and guides us through all things. Let us have the faith of a child, and that we can boldly proclaim the Gospel through our words and our actions. 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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