Over the last three years of working as the Director of LCMS Disaster Response I have discovered that when people are suffering after disasters they are not only suffering because of the brokenness of this life but they are also spiritually suffering. Many organizations are helpful at rebuilding homes after a disaster, but very few organizations offer spiritual care. As the Church, Lutherans care for both body and soul in moments of tragedy. For many disaster victims, they suffer emotionally and spiritually for years even after their homes have been rebuilt. When the Church responds, we help people rebuild their lives and we bring the comfort of the Gospel.
As Christians we know that Christ is closest to us when He comes to us through our Pastor preaching the Word and giving us Holy Communion. After a disaster, some members are still able to go to their church and worship. However, due to many unforeseen circumstances, others are unable to attend church, therefore a Pastor visits his members and brings them God’s Word and the Holy Supper. Pastors across Latin America have been requesting communion kits and Pastor’s agendas to have the basic tools to care for their members during life’s crises. Last year, through a joint project with LCMS Disaster Response and the LCMS Office of International Mission in Latin America, the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League (LWML) enthusiastically dedicated a very generous grant to enhance spiritual care to those suffering by buying Pastoral communion kits for home visitation.
Over the last few days, Disaster Response, along with Rev. Sergio Fritzler, the president of Concordia Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rev. Mark Braden, we taught 76 South American Pastors and Seminarians. This is the biggest international pastor’s conference that Luther Academy or LCMS Disaster Response has led. We taught on how to respond to disasters, how to do ministry to people going through a wide variety of crises and how to make pastoral visits to their member’s homes after a traumatic event. We distributed over 60 pastoral visitation communion kits at this event. The Pastors were extremely thankful for the LWML’s generosity.