“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34b).
Affirming life is hardly a party. Speaking the truth of God’s Word is no mere hobby. Showing the love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t just some preference or lifestyle. Our mission is more than personal interests or political issues. This service we undertake is struggle and battle. This labor we engage in is warfare. Respecting and protecting the gift of life is THE war, and it is OUR war. We are fighting for our culture, our conscience, our civilization. As Lutherans For Life we are fighting for our country, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our future. The time for simply standing by has passed. The luxury of only looking on left long ago.
God has entered our world as Jesus Christ! He has achieved victory of life over death for us. Now we get to announce it. And we get to enact it.
You and I have become witnesses and participants. Evil makes itself barest and boldest right in the middle of the matters we attend to. Souls entangled in these injuries and scars lie within our reach, with no less than their salvation at stake. Hearts strapped to failures and trapped by fears suffer beside us, with their very lives on the line. The devil’s deceptions about a person’s preciousness endanger the identities and realities of those near to us. They feel ashamed and anxious, artificial and all alone. They are our own flesh and blood—and there but for the grace of God go we.
Yet joy—relentless Christian joy—belongs on this battlefield. And hope—fierce Gospel hope—is made for these frontline moments.
Brothers and sisters, here we stand, with the sword of our Creator and Savior in hand! We are raising it up—as He has raised us up—not to smite opponents or slay competitors—but to sever chains and set oppressed and even condemned prisoners free!
You know what struggling, suffering, and crumpling sin’s smoldering gravity causes. And you know what deliverance, what emancipation, what blessed abandon the Gospel voice brings.
Will you enter the action alongside us? With your gift, we can plant the flag of Christ’s unconditional acceptance in their hearts!
Your gift sustains the jubilant resistance by enabling us to further equip Lutherans with greater Gospel motivation as voices for life. Your gift amplifies our message that the Lord’s loving actions—rather than any human abilities, efforts, accomplishments, or offerings—make every person priceless. Let’s lift high the cross in every congregation and every community until all together uphold the God-given blessing each human life is!
The attacks against life are launching quicker, landing closer, and claiming casualties among people we know.
A politically driven study, conducted by a major university and published in a prominent journal, concluded in December that being denied a desired abortion affects women’s mental health more adversely than undergoing the trauma of abortion.
The city of Washington, D.C., succeeded in January at sanctioning physician-assisted suicide, making it the sixth jurisdiction (and the third in the last two years) to decriminalize intentional death.
French legislation enacted in February threatens fines and prison time for websites offering information about abortion’s negative physical or psychological aftereffects. (In November, French television officials forbade the airing of a video celebrating individuals with Down syndrome because it might “disturb” women who aborted because of such a diagnosis.)
Research collected in 2016 indicates that 76% of church-going post-abortive women felt their church had no influence on their abortion decision, and only 5.5% of Protestant pastors identified a life-affirming ministry in their church.
We are striving for more than stopping abortion and embryo destruction. We are aspiring to a higher aim than the end of suicide and sexual license. Our message and ministry proclaims a dying and rising with Christ that creates new hearts and new lives—and Easter guarantees that God’s love works and wins.
As many as 300 callers a month (from women and men) find Gospel-healing through our counselor, Grace, at Word of Hope’s post-abortion hotline (630.990.0909; www.word-of-hope.org)!
Support for unborn life has decreased the demand for abortion so much that 76% of abortion clinics open in 1991 have closed—and six states have only one clinic left!
- Lutherans For Life is recognized in more churches now than at any other time in our 40-year history as we work with seven life-affirming American Lutheran bodies—and others around the world!
Y4Life, our youth initiative, formed student-led Life Teams on six college campuses and has started developing similar relationships with Lutheran high schools!
The biblical Lutheran belief that God’s grace, not one’s own works, determines a person’s worth has not gone silent even after 500 years. In fact, it has only grown clearer! With your gift, we will improve and expand this life-saving voice and its harvest!
The enemy has gotten so weak that he only has force and violence left. Meanwhile, we continue to invite, embrace, encourage, and care for the victims and vulnerable ones. We rejoice to share with them the Gospel perspective that every life is a sacred gift and privilege—whether prebirth, post abortion, pro-choice, in pain, or approaching death. We’d love you to unite with us!
P.S. A gift to Lutherans For Life in a loved one’s name or in someone’s memory makes an elegant tribute. Our online giving tool makes such designations easy—along with monthly sponsorships, electronic transfers, and a variety of other options!
While some global government officials boast of abortion rates approaching 100% for Down syndrome pregnancies, Lutherans For Life celebrates these unique human beings as precious blessings created, redeemed, and called by our Lord.
We recognize, receive, and respect them and their families as our brothers and sisters, and we enthusiastically commit to sharing with them the sorrows and joys that accompany every life.
We affirm the truths and sentiments expressed in this video—which was banned in France because it contradicts the prevailing cultural narratives about abortion—and thank our Heavenly Father for enriching our lives through the individuals we remember on this World Down Syndrome Day.
The Sensitivity Police Strike Again by George Will
It was a typical Friday morning at Immanuel Lutheran School in East Dundee, Illinois. It was January, snowy, and cold—a normal day in the life of the school. Basketball season was in full swing, and the kids were wearing their Eagle team attire as it was tournament time. As principal, it was my responsibility to teach seventh grade confirmation on Friday mornings because it was the pastor’s day off.
The topic was sanctity of life. As a former science teacher, I love connecting science and God’s Word. I think I was the only person looking forward to the lesson that day—but that soon changed as I pulled out the fetal models—the babies.
Middle schoolers are fascinated by babies. Sometimes they are actively fascinated. Other times they try to be cool. Once the babies came out of the box, active fascination became the norm. As we talked about human development in the womb, we looked at organ development and the size of the developing baby. Soon each baby was in the hands of the kids—and they didn’t let go. Sometimes I think I could have been reciting the alphabet for all the attention I appeared to be receiving during the lesson, but truly they were listening—hanging on every word while passing the babies around and tenderly holding them. Some even reminded their classmates to “watch his head.” It was a wondrous thing to witness.
We talked about how much each student weighed at birth, how big they were, and what they looked like. Each student had a story to share. It was turning out to be a good lesson.
Whenever I introduced the topic of abortion, typically our kids are shocked and angry that any parent could think about such a thing. They are usually filled with outrage. This year we had a set of quadruplets in the class—three girls and a boy. The quads had shared their birth weights, and we compared their birth weights to the models, and we marveled at God’s goodness and the miracle of life.
Then it all changed in an instant. The boy of the quads raised his hand and said quietly that when his mom was carrying them, the doctors wanted to do selective reduction on them—and he was the baby targeted for this procedure. Noah is the biggest of the quads. He’s now a big and strong middle-school boy—popular and a good athlete. The outrage that followed his announcement raised the roof! These kids were angry! How could our Noah not be here? What was the doctor thinking? Middle-school outrage is something to behold. There is something grand about watching middle schoolers ramp up into a roll. The idea that one of their own might not have been there was an outrage to their moral code, and the outbursts that followed were intriguing: “Why would God allow this to happen?” “Why doesn’t God just stop this?” “Why do people have abortions?” “Don’t they understand?” So many questions to which we don’t always have answers.
What was clear that day was that God was active, alive, and working in the lives of these children. They went back to Scripture. They read David’s psalm (139) reminding us that we were known and knit before we were born. They reminded themselves and one another of God’s perfect plan for each of them. Jeremiah’s words reminding them of God’s plan for their lives gave them comfort—but didn’t calm their outrage.
As we talked, prayed, and contemplated, we were reminded of the words of Ezekiel and the “time” passage—a time to live. What does that mean for God’s people in today’s world? We don’t always have the answer to that question, but we do know that the youth learning in our Lutheran schools are both the present and the future. On that day, our future was secure. Our children stood For Life—especially the life present in the womb. Our future was also secure in that our God promises us the security of heaven. The children knew that and claimed that promise. These young people will be our leaders, workers, moms, and dads in the years to come.
This day they stood strong for God’s plan For Life—their own and that of life in the womb.
What a wondrous future it will be!
“They say I’m gonna die,” the little boy explained to his Santa-Claus-suit-clad visitor. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” The Santa stand-in replied, “When you get there, you tell them you’re Santa’s number-one elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” The five-year-old reached up from his bed and gave the man a hug. He flashed the same frail smile that had surfaced moments earlier while weakly unwrapping his visitor’s gift to spot the toy inside. Then the child died quietly lying in the stranger’s arms.
This touching scene happened in a Tennessee hospital over the holidays. It calls to mind the comfort of the familiar hymn: “Who so happy as I am, even now the Shepherd’s lamb? And when my short life is ended, by His angel host attended, He shall fold me to His breast, there within His arms to rest.” In fact, we Gospel-motivated voices have an even stronger promise to deliver than getting designated Santa’s number-one elf. We Lutherans For Life hold a still sweeter hope with which every heart may face fear, suffering, and death itself.
Whoever is afflicted can say to pain, “Jesus who suffered for me also suffers with me, and my healing is hidden with him on high” (see Colossians 3:3-4). Anyone ashamed can tell sin, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a). Everyone that is afraid can reply to the devil that “the Lord God has made me His beloved child, baptized and forgiven, ‘with whom [he is] well pleased’” (see Matthew 3:17b). All who are alone can respond to hell, “I belong to the Everlasting and Almighty One, and Immanuel incarnate never leaves me nor forsakes me” (see Deuteronomy 31:8b).
Yet sinister forces remain in action around us. They keep recommending death as the best solution for disappointment. Sinful human beings seek to control, and this leaves certain persons vulnerable—those whose ages, appearances, or inabilities make others uncomfortable. Nevertheless, our heavenly Father regards the ones death endangers as especially precious. Will you join us in speaking the uplifting message of God’s grace? Can we count on your special financial gift to show Christ’s compassion through Lutherans For Life’s resources, conversations, and community? I want you to share in our greatest joy—witnessing His mercy rescue and protect lives!
Making a Difference
The Gospel is working. Our Savior is lending His success to efforts like ours. Expressing His concern for how much human beings matter is reaching hearts. Enacting His servanthood to the least of these sisters and brothers is changing fates.
It has reduced reported abortion rates in the United States to their lowest since 1973. Only half as many took place in 2013 as did 25 years ago.
One nationwide network of over 1,100 pregnancy resource centers (where many LFL volunteers serve and assist) celebrated saving 70,043 babies in 2015 (and 531,997 in the last eight years!).
And surveys reveal that almost 60% of all teenagers are practicing abstinence—28% more than in 1991 and a 10% increase in just the last two years.
Our Lord Jesus is multiplying His Word’s harvest so much that we can’t gather it alone. We need you to open your arms with us and bring in the abundance of His dear ones. Come alongside us by sending a gift today to keep this life-affirming ministry in motion!
LFL Is Necessary Everywhere
So many individuals among us desperately desire what we have plenty of. The very favor of God which we enjoy can also apply saving medicine where they’re hurting. Why must any of them go without?
Since the invention of in vitro fertilization, over 2,500,000 embryos have been discarded and destroyed in the United Kingdom (whose population measures only one-fifth of the U.S.).
Less than a third of churchgoers in this country have heard worship services proclaiming the Gospel specifically to abortion issues.
Of the 60 million Americans who have a life-affirming worldview and also give to charitable causes, only about one in six financially engages in ending the destruction of unborn children.
That’s exactly why our national staff is hoping to cover lots of ground in 2017. And our volunteer coalitions are putting God’s love into action locally. Everywhere and every way we can, we will declare and demonstrate the distinctively Lutheran understanding that life has value by God’s grace and not because of our works.
We’re sharing Owen’s Mission with students from Saginaw, Michigan, to Conover, North Carolina.
We’re organizing and encouraging Life Teams in Baltimore, Maryland, and Springfield, Illinois.
We’re engaging youth with servant events in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
We’re gathering for worship and learning in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and New Braunfels, Texas, and Lincoln, Nebraska, and Pekin, Illinois.
Your gift to us (and to them!) means much more than money. You’re investing in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and He guarantees everlasting returns. We see and receive them every day. Last month we heard from a registered nurse near Cleveland, Ohio. Due to demographic shifts in the struggling neighborhood around them, her congregation’s membership has been declining. How could a church with German heritage survive in this difficult context? She couldn’t ignore anymore the suffering of those who don’t know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s when learning about a Life Team from Lutherans For Life really energized her. She’s enthusiastic to educate her congregation about the opportunities for outreach to the people right outside their doors. She and her husband have already started the process.
Help us do it again. Help us do it all over. We’re looking forward to your gift!
We accomplished more than we thought possible last year—thanks to you! We believe God is leading us to an even busier and more ambitious vision for 2017 (and beyond). With your gift, we intend to do over $1,000,000 worth of life-affirming work for the first time ever!
Photo: Y4Life praying at Planned Parenthood, Orlando, Florida, September 12, 2015.
It’s been over a year since the Planned Parenthood “body parts” photos hit the media. Of course, much of the religious and secular world gasped when this happened. Members and supporters of LFL didn’t, however. We’ve known all along what horrors are involved in “terminating a pregnancy.” What happens afterwards, as was revealed, shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Like many sensational stories, however, it looks like the “shock” of what was published has begun to fade. This is only to be expected as new stories fill the airwaves.
Of course, nothing’s changed at Planned Parenthood. They’re not going anywhere. They continue to perform abortion on demand and, for all we know, continue to sell body parts.
This remains an unspeakable tragedy. However, there’s also a part of this which isn’t talked about very much (and it removes any doubt as to whether Lutherans For Life remains as important as ever!). Namely, each year many Lutherans go to Planned Parenthood or other providers for abortions (and I’m talking about Lutherans in pro-life church bodies and associations, not pro-“choice” ones!).
Please stay with me.
We know this first because of anecdotal evidence and second, because of statistics. Some studies show that in the pro-life Christian community, the percentage is probably around 20%. Now, no hard studies have been done (and, indeed, we don’t know how we’d do one), but we know from literally thousands of conversations that LFL staff and volunteers have had with pastors, lay folks, and others over 35-years-plus that the rate for Lutherans is probably even higher. Yes, this is anecdotal, but we think it’s close.
Secondly, we have some hard data in one specific area. As you are probably aware, LFL operates the only Lutheran post-abortion counseling hotline in the country—Word of Hope. A few years ago, a survey of those calling the hotline was taken for one year, and it included a question about the caller’s religious affiliation. Of the approximately 300 calls that were received monthly, 70% were from persons who were either Lutheran or had a Lutheran connection. As things stand now, we have every reason to think this percentage is still accurate.
What does this mean? Like many others in the population, a percentage of Lutherans continues to have abortions. Since Planned Parenthood is still the largest provider of abortions in the country, Lutherans are undoubtedly going there, too. Should we be surprised at this?
Why? While great progress has been made in recent years, we know (and yes, this is anecdotal too!) there are still hundreds of thousands of Lutherans who have never heard a message of life affirmation and/or have not embraced it if they have. In short, many Lutherans are not pro-life or even aware that they should be.
Which is why Lutherans For Life has never been more important. Because, with the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we offer a solution!
LFL’s number one objective is to reach our own people not only with a pro-life message but one that is Gospel-centered. LFL not only exists, therefore, to reach our folks but is the only nationwide ministry equipped to do so. Indeed, help for Lutheran congregations, pastors, and laypeople is just an email, phone call, social media message, or download away.
It’s also true that LFL wouldn’t be here without your financial support. About 95% of our funding comes from your gifts and offerings. Unlike some ministries, we have no fees, tuition, or third-party reimbursement that we can rely on for the majority of our budget. That is why we deeply appreciate and say thank you in Christ for your help!
As we go to press, we still need to raise about $293,000 to reach our goal by December 31, 2016. (We are also $29,000 behind where we were last year at this time.) That is why if you haven’t yet made a donation or filled out your sponsor form, we hope you will do so today.
Yes, Planned Parenthood is still with us, “serving” the public—including Christians and even Lutherans. The good news is that Lutherans For Life is here too—and by the grace of God will continue to be.
Many thanks and may the Lord bless you and your family this Advent and Christmas season.
Stand firm in your faith. Hold your ground. Never give in to things that go against Scripture. Use your voices so your beliefs will not be stamped out due to lack of being heard.
We live in an uncertain world that is on shaky ground. It’s like an earthquake challenging our ability to stay on our feet and not get sucked into the wide-open crevasses of anti-Christian ideology. The world’s challenge to Scripture seems logical to some as our freedom and our rights become the core of the discussions—making Christian positions seem out of date and no longer relevant to the world we live in now.
Life issues are often right in the center of any discussion regarding freedom and rights. Yet the world, while focusing on personal rights, puts the most vulnerable at both ends of life’s spectrum at risk by failing to acknowledge the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to life!
How can we remain silent when life itself is in question? Standing firm and trusting in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of life, and being willing to use our voices to speak up and share the truth about the value of human life is so very important as the world crumbles around us.
In this culture that ridicules our core beliefs, we tend to fall back when the fighting gets tough. Let’s remember what Martin Luther said: He could do nothing other than to stand firm and not go against his conscience and the clear teachings of Scripture.
But is simply standing firm in our beliefs but keeping it to ourselves enough? We surely can stand firm silently. That’s fairly easy. But there are things going on around us today that we cannot discount or ignore, things like God’s creation in the womb being disparaged and killed. Nor can we close our eyes to the danger of minimizing the value of human life at life’s end. Using “quality of life” as the value system by arbitrarily measuring who deserves to live and who should die is a pure and simple act of the devil. It reminds me of John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus overcame death, yet the world is so anxious to use death as a solution to life’s problems.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).
This is our 2017 Life Sunday theme verse. From it we know Jesus is the whole armor of God, and we can lean on Him to avoid any fears we have of speaking up. We, as Christians, were given a voice, and yet we often are afraid to use our voice for fear of offending someone or being labeled as a radical or nonconformist. We are all guilty of not wanting to be unpopular, so we keep silent. Offending someone should never be our goal but rather speaking the truth in a loving and caring manner—that’s how we use our voices For Life.
Arguments from some about when life begins, which inexcusably focus on eliminating the rights of the baby in the womb, are a perfect opportunity to speak the truth in love. We need to do this because this is not an abstract issue. It is a matter of life and death. For example, Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and selling of baby parts in order to use them in research is totally acceptable to many. These babies are valuable because of who made them—not just for their “parts.” How can we not be outraged at the very thought of ripping apart babies so small and so vulnerable?
My heart goes out to those struggling with guilt from the secret sin of abortion—a burden carried by millions. These women and men should not be deprived of the forgiveness Jesus earned for them when they have a repentant heart. We need to speak up and let them know they can have the forgiveness Jesus bought for them through His life, death, and resurrection.
And, when the end of life is near, may we be willing to speak up for those who are the most vulnerable here as well. States across this nation are considering legalizing assisted suicide. We have a voice. We need to use it! Do not let the voice of the evil one be the most vocal. Be voices For Life!
The world would have you believe that abortion is normal—a mere medical procedure that helps women.
“For too many years, certainly for my generation, all issues about sex and sexuality were stigmatized. Abortion was, homosexuality was. And the exciting thing to me now is that young people are telling their stories and they are living out loud. More women are telling their abortion stories, and I told mine. I think once we get out of the shadows, and I think the LGBT movement has led the way in this, it normalizes what should be an open and honest conversation.”
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood CEO
In our culture, truth has been suppressed and the reality of abortion transformed into “reproductive freedom” and even “women’s health.” But, as Christians, we know the truth.
Here We Stand – Abortion is not normal. It turns a mother against her own child.
Here We Stand – Abortion is a tragedy that takes the life of an unborn baby and traumatizes a mother.
Here We Stand – Abortion is bad for women and forces them to carry the weight of grief and guilt.
Here We Stand – Abortion is a sin like any other sin for which Christ died.
Word of Hope is a ministry of Lutherans For Life that exists to help women and men heal from their abortion experience. Word of Hope counsels women and men, helping them understand the depth of God’s love for them and the reality of forgiveness through the sacrifice of God’s own Son, Jesus, for the sins of the entire world, including their sin of abortion. Word of Hope helps them deal with their grief and guilt and overcome behavioral symptoms triggered by the abortion. There are so many people in our neighborhoods, families, and churches that are dealing with the loss of a child or children through abortion—mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends. Statistically you can assume one in three people you meet on the street and one in four people in your congregation have been affected by an abortion decision. What can you do to help these women and men?
First, be compassionate and try to understand why women choose abortion. In my career, I have been blessed to work at a crisis pregnancy center. When I started working there I was a “good LFLer.” I could speak truth with the best of them. I knew what God’s Word said about life. I knew when life began. But at CareNet, I saw something new—real people trying to cope with the reality of an unplanned pregnancy. I saw women abandoned by their families and made homeless if they chose to carry that pregnancy. I saw women under enormous pressure from men in their lives who wanted out. I saw women who wanted to carry their pregnancy but were overwhelmed with financial problems and lack of support from their family and community. I talked to women who were so afraid of shaming their Christian parents that, somehow, abortion seemed their only choice.
Second, promote Word of Hope in your congregation. You can help someone find healing.
Establish a link on your church’s website for Word of Hope so people can find it easily (www.word-of-hope.org).
Place bulletin announcements in your church bulletin (especially on Sundays many find difficult, such as Mother’s Day or Life Sunday). Go to www.lutheransforlife.org/media/downloads.
If your church has other healing ministries, sponsor a group for post-abortion healing. Contact a local crisis pregnancy center to see if they can help.
Put Word of Hope brochures in the women’s bathroom or stalls at your church. They are available from Concordia Publishing House (www.cph.org).
Educate your congregation on the issue of post abortion by using resources available from LFL (www.lutheransforlife.org/life-issues/after-the-abortion).
Let’s do everything we can to help families who bought the lie that abortion is “normal.” Most of us may not have sinned by having an abortion, but all of us have sinned horrifically and are in need of the blood of Christ to cleanse us from our sins.
“[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We celebrate the same authentically apostolic Gospel that Martin Luther enthusiastically insisted on: God gives Himself in His own Son to love, forgive, and save every human being by free grace alone apart from good works. No matter what anyone’s done or can’t do, our Heavenly Father’s compassion makes us all precious, from the invisible miracle of conception to the moment of natural death. His blessings of abundant and everlasting life belong to every person, in every state and every stage—regardless of appearance, age, ability, or productivity.
We fearlessly and joyfully speak this uplifting truth and show this life-affirming love alongside you and especially to those vulnerable or victim to violence against life. In fact, it is this Word, worldview, and way of life that Christians stand steadfast in and for every day. We have for centuries, and we will into eternity, as Gospel-motivated neighbors and servants to the whole human race whom God has created, redeemed, and called.
The Lord be with you, and thanks be to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever!
Over 200 Lutherans gathered October 21-22 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minnesota, from across the United States and Canada for the 2016 Lutherans For Life National Conference. The theme: Here We Stand.
In her welcome to the conference, LFL President Lynette Auch said, “Could there possibly be a more appropriate conference theme than ‘Here We Stand’ as we step into the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation or a more appropriate verse than Ephesians 6:13: ‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm’? There is no doubt that the days are evil and ‘every one of us is in need of the righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own,’ as [Martin] Luther came to understand. We need to put on the whole armor of God to stand firm in that faith … So, let us say yes to the opportunities before us that God has prepared for us to do! To say ‘Here We Stand’ … in defense and protection of the precious and vulnerable human lives that are the handiwork of God from the moment of conception to natural death … to teach our children and grandchildren who they are and WHOSE they are. Scripture reminds us that we are NOT our own … in defense of marriage as God designed it between one man and one woman and sex as a gift from God to be shared within the marriage bed only … Your presence here means that you support the life-affirming ministry of Lutherans For Life. May God bless you and challenge you as ‘Here We Stand’ For Life!”
Focusing on the conference theme in his opening worship service sermon, Rev. Michael W. Salemink, executive director of Lutherans For Life, said, “You cannot slip beyond the reaches of the long arm of the Lord God Almighty … We carry grief so heavy and guilt so haunting that we believe it a freedom to end our own lives. We haul fear so chilling and failure so choking that we tolerate terminating our sons and daughters and advocate euthanizing our mothers and fathers. We hold hearts so broken and divided that we accept lust rather than aspire to love. We drag underbellies so vulnerable and blind sides so exposed that we separate children from marriage. We lug spines so stiffened and skin so hardened that we settle for human rights instead of insisting on heaven’s gifts … We should know better … We all require armor, a Savior, deliverance, redemption. We all crave compassion, forgiveness, mercy, grace. Here we stand. We do not stand alone. We never stand alone. You do not get to stand alone, but you do not have to stand alone. Another One stands in your place … Jesus Christ is the armor of God, the whole armor of God, for you and for us all. He shelters, sustains, protects, and defends any who have not and cannot do so for ourselves … Here we stand, neither stampeding nor strutting. Here we stand in joy and not out of anger, in hope and not out of fear, because we stand to forgive and not compare, to save and not compete. Here we stand to relieve and release, not to accuse. Here we stand to listen, assist, accompany, embrace, and befriend, not to attack. Here we stand speaking truth and sharing love because we stand overcoming sin and selfishness, death and the devil, and not against one another. Here we stand firm but gentle, strong but humble, even after so long and before such odds. Here we stand, Gospel-motivated voices, Lutherans For Life, because we can do no other, God help us.”
In his keynote address, actor Frank Runyeon, who starred opposite Meg Ryan on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns and has appeared in more than 1,000 television episodes and movies along with hosting his own comedy radio show, spoke on “Hollywood vs. Faith – The Struggle to Live Faithfully in the Media Age.” He focused on some of the biggest “funhouse mirror” distortions that Hollywood presents as truth but which are, in reality, lies, including the idea that buying more and more things can make one happy and having the perfect body will bring contentment. He shared how it is very hard for the Church to share the Gospel message in a culture saturated with self-centeredness and indiscriminate sex and violence but encouraged Lutherans For Life to continue to reach out, stay faithful, and focus on the gift of positive relationships with each other and with God.
In her plenary address, co-founder and former president of Lutherans For Life, Dr. Jean Garton, said “I’m going to make sure I’m with the right group … If you read the media, they’ll tell you that people who are ‘anti-choice’ are rabid, rigid, ranting, raging, radical rebels. But I know that you are patient, pious, peaceful, prayerful, passionate, patriots. That’s you … The naysayers have tried to bury us many times. But the truth is that this great pro-life movement of which Lutherans For Life has been a part since the very beginning, this great movement is alive and well and growing. But with our public, persistent pursuit of protection for the unborn and now, increasingly, the ‘long-born,’ there is a price to pay—and no surprise about that. When Jesus sent out His disciples … He said He was sending them out like sheep among the wolves. And not much has changed … We need to be prepared for the incredible battle ahead.” She thanked those in attendance for the “natural, needful work that all of you do.”
Dr. Garton was also the recipient of the newly revived Dominus Vitae award now given to a Lutheran who has made notable and significant contributions to the For Life movement. In presenting the award, LFL President Lynette Auch said, “At 88 years of age, Dr. Garton still travels hundreds and thousands of miles from home for speaking engagements and has devoted 47 years of her life to the pro-life movement. Why? She is quoted as saying … ‘I am always fishing for brothers and sisters in the faith that we might strengthen one another and share our joy in the Lord,’ and because ‘in the pro-life movement, I have the opportunity to meet the finest people throughout the world … I do what I do because I cannot NOT do it.”
Pre-conference events included a pastors’ luncheon featuring a talk by Col. John Eidsmoe on “Preachers, Politics, and the Two Kingdoms: What Does the IRS Allow?” as well as workshops on “Helping Your Church Stand For Life” with Rev. Doug Merkey and “Giving ‘Unusual’ Gifts to Ministry” with John Hawkins, and a tour of the City Life Center in Minneapolis.
Other plenary speakers included Jānis Diekonts of LFL of Latvia and Rev. Don Richman, LFL’s international representative, who spoke on what is happening in Russia and Latvia with life issues.
The two winners of the national essay contest sponsored by the Council of Federation Presidents (COFP) shared their winning essays on Friday night. Brooke Fandrich is an eighth grade student and member of St. John’s Lutheran School and Church in Portage, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of David and Jessica Fandrich. Her essay was titled “Many Shapes and Sizes.” Amanda Dressel is the high school category winner and is a sophomore at Watertown-Mayer High School. She is the daughter of Robert and Melanie Dressel and is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Watertown, Minnesota. Amanda’s winning essay is titled “The Truth Behind Abortion of the Handicapped: What Our Society Isn’t Seeing.”
In 2017, Lutherans For Life will be having four regional conferences (instead of one national conference) in Ft. Wayne, Indiana; New Braunfels, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Pekin, Illinois. The next national conference will be in 2018. Watch for more details at a later date.
Hilary Murray began serving as mission and ministry director of Lutherans For Life this week! Please welcome her. She would love to hear from you.
Greetings in the name of the Lord!
Lutherans For Life is the best organization in the world! I am overjoyed and humbled by the opportunity to serve as mission and ministry director.
I was born to Rev. Dr. Scott Murray and Mrs. Maryann Murray in Gretna, Louisiana, in 1992. Shortly thereafter, my father took a call to Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, where I was raised. I attended Memorial Lutheran School through eighth grade and graduated from Lutheran High North in Houston in 2010. The stellar choral department and challenging music program of Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, were my life until I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in choral conducting. Music, however, was not the only passion that took up my time in college.
In January of 2013 I attended the first-ever LCMS Life Conference (after some convincing words from my pastor). That conference taught me that I had been terrifyingly ignorant of the awful reality of abortion in this country. Through founding Bulldogs For the Unborn (now Bulldogs For Life), attending the March for Life—the largest annual peaceful protest in the country—three times, witnessing women driving into Planned Parenthood clinics alone, working with crisis pregnancy centers, and attending various other conferences, I have learned that there are many more issues at large in the life arena that are just as frightening and as pressing as abortion.
The most valuable information I have learned is that these issues desperately need to be talked about and addressed within our own Lutheran churches. Praise be to the Father who sends the Holy Spirit to work through His Word. I pray that the Holy Spirit continues His work of equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life through me in the coming years.
Your Sister For Life and In Christ,
Mission and Ministry Director