The following stories and resources are some of the exciting
Mission Moments that are taking place throughout the Eastern District, LCMS.
These stories of God at work through the people and congregations of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The people and congregations involved in these stories covet your prayer and support!
Angola to Angola – A Quiet Good Work Made a Little Louder
Trinity Lutheran Church in Ithaca New York has been doing refugee work for many decades, going back to the Vietnam War era. We have a refugee house next to our church, which for the past two decades has been utilized by people from all over the world. With the recent changes in the flow of refugees, the house has been vacant for several months. We received a phone call from Texas, out of the blue, wondering whether or not we would take families who are legally seeking asylum in the United States. This was a new type of ministry, which Trinity eventually prayerfully agreed to do.
As you have heard, people are seeking asylum from all over Central and South America, but in this case the family was from Angola, Africa, and had spent time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) part of The Department of Homeland Security has been favorably inclined to grant people from this region of Africa temporary asylum because they do have a credible fear for their lives. The Chepinda family, consisting of father Melvinho, wife Maria and four children ages three months to five years old, was on their way to Ithaca, via Buffalo, when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Texas decided to have the entire family interviewed in Buffalo.
The bus ticket, already purchased in Texas, would have required them to return to Buffalo for that interview from Ithaca. That’s where Angola New York intersected with Angola Africa!
The folks at Trinity Lutheran in Ithaca called the district office in Buffalo who then made a request of Pastor Alex Knowles, the director of Pioneer Camp & Retreat Center, to help house and transport the family to and from Angola (NY) and Buffalo for their interview with ICE. Without reservation, Pastor Knowles and the people at Pioneer stepped in to serve this family with compassion, a comfortable place to stay and a full-size van – with car seats for four kids – to help this family in need. Pastor Knowles, Roger Jank and others took care of this family, giving them door-to-door delivery service to the ICE interview, which went well. Now the family lives in the refugee house in Ithaca until their case for permanent residency is given a hearing — a process that can take up to two or three years.
We felt that the folks in the Eastern District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod should know the good work that quietly goes on, even when we may not be aware of it. Thank the Lord for the faithful servants at Camp Pioneer and in the district.
Pastor Rob Foote and the people of Trinity Lutheran Church Ithaca
Community Hygiene Bank
Outreach Ministry of Concordia Lutheran Church
Scarlett Aeckerle, Director
Date: March 2019
The Community Hygiene Bank (CHB) outreach ministry of Concordia Lutheran Church opened its door to individuals and families in need in the Brockport Central School District in March 2017. This is a new model for serving our community that addresses a need in basic health care. Initially we served 11 families with a goal of 50 families. In January, 2019 we served 75 families, almost 200 individuals total and are growing! We anticipate reaching 100 families by July of this year.
The CHB was established after discovering a need for basic personal hygiene items, paper products and cleaning supplies- all of which are NOT allowable purchases under the SNAP (food stamp) program. Many people are going without clean clothes, clean bodies and clean homes for lack of these most basic health care needs. Over 40% of the families in the Brockport School district of Monroe County meet the Federal standard for poverty, with this number steadily increasing over the past few years. Besides school-based families, there are a number of elders on fixed incomes (about 40%) many who are disabled, some college students and others across the age and demographic spectrum.
Currently, we offer this 6 times a year- every other month on the second Saturday of each month from noon – 2:00pm. Each family can shop for hygiene items for their “personal blessing bag”. This consists of 15 standard, full sized items including bar soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, tooth brushes, tooth paste, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products and adult care incontinence items. Other items such as paper towels, tissues and garbage bags are added as we have extra donations and funding available. Prayer requests are also offered during intakes and prayed over by the congregation at the next day’s church service. There are almost as many prayer requests as there are families. Both those that attend and those that serve this outreach ministry are wonderfully blessed by this work.
We have received funding and donations through Thrivent grants, LWML grant, MVP, Wegmans, Wal-Mart gift cards, local merchants and practitioners, numerous individuals from Concordia and our own, LWML group, the Living Circle Society. This is a totally volunteer run ministry with volunteers aged 6-86 years of age. Both Roberts Wesleyan and SUNY Brockport students serve as volunteers and interns for this work.
A Volunteer Breakfast was given on February 16, 2019 to honor and thank the many people who have helped make this ministry such a success.
Interested in donating or doing this in your church or community? Please contact Scarlett Aeckerle, Director, Community Hygiene Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org.