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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 our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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 our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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 our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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 our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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 our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Opportunities to Share our Christian Faith

woman praying with sunset in background

In the past twenty-five years or so in my city in southern Michigan there has been an influx of Spanish-speaking citizens, mostly from, in, or near the state of Michoacán, Mexico. The local people have experienced a learning curve in becoming accustomed to having these immigrants among our population. The Mexican natives have frequently felt a sense of non-acceptance.

I volunteer through my county Literacy Council and have been entrusted with a student named Maria. I work with her to develop English reading and writing skills, but I have also learned much from Maria. Over the past thirty-three months, Maria and I have established a warm relationship which we both cherish. We have enjoyed reading, writing and conversing in English together, and have frequently found opportunities to share with each other our Christian faith and convictions. I have introduced Christian books to Maria, which we read together, and she has gifted me with a flip calendar featuring daily inspirational Bible Scripture selections. While Maria and I share together, she gains confidence in her English communication skills and I have learned greater empathy for the challenges an immigrant faces in a new culture. I have felt that the Heavenly Father has placed me as a literacy coach with the perfect Christian friend, and Maria has shown the same sentiments to me. Praise God!

Devotion:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).

All opportunities are a gift from God. Let us recognize these opportunities and share the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others. Our actions and our words will be praise and worship to our Heavenly Father for his many gifts to us, especially the gift of redemption.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us opportunities to share your love with other Christians and thank you for giving us opportunities to share with those who may not yet know you. We give you glory, praise, and honor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Mary Craaybeek
Michigan District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

God’s Timing is the Right Timing

This past fall, my aunt passed away. She and my uncle had been married for 62 years and they had no children. My sisters and I were always a part of their lives and they were always a part of everything we did; holidays, birthdays, and school events. The one exception was church activities. They were not involved in the church in any way, and we knew not to invite them to church activities. My uncle was very dependent on my aunt – you see at 84 years old he did not read or write. She took care of all of the paperwork for the farming business, read all of the mail, did all of the banking, etc. Simple things like knowing how to run the washing machine or microwave were things he did not do. To tell him how by saying “turn the knob to start” didn’t work. You had to show him how, and then give him time to learn. So, after my aunt’s passing, not only was he grieving the loss of his spouse, he had lost his business partner, his written communication, and his confidence.

A couple of weeks after my aunt passed away, my uncle was ready to go to the sale barn for lunch and to interact with friends. While he, my mom, and I were having coffee and rolls and waiting for others to arrive, we were talking. I don’t really remember what the conversation was about, but something was said about going to church on Sunday morning, and out of my mouth came these words – “Would you like to go with us to church on Sunday?” — “I’ll come and pick you up.” (These words were from the Holy Spirit, not from me — I knew better than to ask this man who I’ve known my whole life to go to church — because I knew the answer would be “no” — it always had been, even when I was a little girl.) Well God had different plans. Initially, my uncle said “I’ll have to think about it.” However, by the end of our time together that day, my uncle wanted to know if I really would come and get him for church and I said yes, I would and we set up a time for me to pick him up.

man praying

On Sunday we went to church together.  I think Pastor had the perfect message for my uncle that morning, but I didn’t know how much he had gotten from that message. Feedback after church was that he liked the minister, we sat too close to the front, and that the organ was too loud. I thought I’d really messed up — more bad comments than good. But again, not my timing, but God’s timing, was at work. He wanted to go back the next week, so my sister picked him up. They sat on the opposite side of the church from the organ, and a little farther back. It was better. My sister continued to pick him up for the next several weeks. Then he began to drive himself. He continued to go and said that his time at church made him feel better and that it was comforting. Once again, God was at work in the details.

Then my uncle began to talk about baptism and that he wanted to be baptized. A few weeks later, he was baptized! God’s perfect timing for him.

Devotion:

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.  For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:19b-20).

I am amazed how God worked in this very sad and challenging situation with a family member, to put the simple words of asking him to come to church with us into my mouth, and then put it in my uncle’s heart to say yes. God’s timing was indeed the perfect timing.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the opportunity given to me to care for my uncle in his time of need. Thank you for your perfect timing to allow your words to be spoken through me and for opening my uncle’s heart to say yes to your invitation of hope and salvation. May we remember that you are always with us as we love and care for our family, friends, and neighbors, and that in your time, you will give us the words we need to share with them. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Crystal Miller
Nebraska North District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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