by Kurt Senske
As a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS) takes seriously our commitment to uphold the sanctity of human life. We embrace a positive, Gospel-oriented approach to affirm and protect the most vulnerable, honoring life for the least of these.
We believe that all life is precious. Every life is a life that God desires to call. For you formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mothers womb (Ps. 139:13). A child in the mothers womb, a child born profoundly disabled, an elderly client suffering from dementia, a beaten and malnourished immigrant alone in a foreign land, a child who may have had the misfortune of being born the wrong sex in the wrong country: all are gifts of God who are called for a unique purpose. There simply are no throwaways.
We believe that our calling is simply to develop meaningful relationships and care for those whom God has placed in our path. As an RSO, we have the unique opportunity to see mercy and witness working together. We as Lutherans have the blessing and privilege to impact lives, to share Christ’s mercy and to witness about His love and salvation to those we serve.
As we spend time in the trenches, working and caring for the marginalized, disenfranchised, confused and lost, life gets messy. We are sometimes called to make difficult decisions where there is no easy answer. We are forced to choose between two imperfect options, such as placing a severely disabled child in a nursing home or with a single parent with a not-so-perfect past.
In these situations, after prayer and discernment, we are called to make the best possible decision knowing that we indeed live in a sinful world. Upon hearing examples of our daily work, a Lutheran pastor once counseled, Kurt, after you make such a decision, you need to run as fast as you can to the shadow of the cross, asking for forgiveness, strength, wisdom and mercy. That is all you can do in an imperfect world.
As Lutheran Christians, we must not become discouraged. We simply cant let society with its seemingly overwhelming megaphone rob us of our passion or of the language of truth. We simply cant let our culture influence our church. Rather, we as the Church, we as Christians, must influence our culture. We must comprehend that the sanctity and value of life is not a political issue; more significantly, it is a spiritual issue.
Jesus reminds us that I am the resurrection. I am the life. He who believes in Me will live a new life (John 11:25). This promise of a new life allows us to live our life with courage and vigor. We become bold in our faith and actions, and we allow ourselves to experience gut-wrenching compassion followed by selfless acts of mercy as we lift up and support life in all of its many God-given, miraculous forms.
We at LSS and other similar RSOs are called to affirm life in a multitude of ways. One way is through our unplanned-pregnancy counseling services. In our case, it is provided in 16 different cities in Texas. This is a program that all congregations in Texas can take advantage of and call on as they care for their members.
We affirm life by having pre-screened Christian families ready to go into action at a moments notice when a child is in need of a home. We never advocate the alternative of abortion or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. We maintain a vibrant international adoption program. We provide spiritual care as well as therapeutic, educational and physical care to those who have been horribly abused.
We affirm life through our foster-care program. We care for the immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua through our disaster-response program, serving those who have lost everything and have nowhere else to turn. And we care for those at the end of life, those suffering from dementia, the aged saints of our society.
Organizations like ours simply cannot fulfill our mission alone. We are in need of your shared partnership as collectively we embrace and uphold life in all its forms. We need your prayers, financial support, your willingness to become foster parents, and your volunteer efforts with our clients. We need you to demonstrate to them that faith and love can conquer even the most difficult of lifes challenges and that all life, even their lives, does indeed have value.
The reality is that we are all adopted children. God has only begotten one Child. The rest of us have been adopted by His grace and abundant love. Together, we as Gods children can focus our passion and talents, affirming life in all of its many wonderful forms. It is my prayer that each of us, reinvigorated with Gods Word and promise, will begin a new story, one of service to the least of these, to those whom the Lord has placed in our path.
> The struggling economy may be causing women of childbearing age to have fewer or no children (USA Today, Aug. 12, 2011).
About the Author: Dr. Kurt Senske serves as CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the South.