“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
This morning as I was returning from my early morning walk in Albuquerque, NM, giving thanks to God for the gifts of His good creation, and pondering what was on my own “to do” list for the day, I was sent the following picture (to the right) by my good friend, Martha Mitkos, at the LCMS International Center (IC).
I haven’t been the same sense. I may never be again.
I am deeply humbled by the service of these dear saints. I knew, of course, that a massive mailing was going to go out to support the upcoming LIBERTY National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference, but I wasn’t aware that this was taking place today and I don’t believe I know a single one of these ladies by name. I didn’t personally ask a single one of them for help. Nonetheless, here they are working tirelessly for the sake of LCMS U and because they choose to give of themselves in this way in service to the greater church. And as you can see, this is no small task.
The support of the church at large is humbling at times, but frankly, it often unfortunately goes vastly unnoticed. Not by me. At least not anymore. After 18 months on the job, and though I am deployed, I get to see a small window into what many of you may take for granted, and just how many are hard at work for the benefit of all.
Simply put, for every one stuffing a big envelope of LCMS U goodness in the above picture, there are at least 15-20 other unsung heroes working hard within the IC to support all of you where the real work of ministry takes place. There are writers, editors, graphic designers, mail room staff, unit execs, program area directors like myself, project coordinators, administrative assistants, accountants, volunteer coordinators, etc. The list goes on and on and on. From the Office of the President to those who answer the phone’s when you call the Info Center, there are incredible people at work in this place – because they love the Gospel – and because they love you.
I am honored to work for the Synod, with those I know, and even those that I don’t. I have learned that this place is more than just a glass building with lots of windows and cubicles. It is that. But it is also full of faithful people doing tremendous things, some of which are noticed, most of which are not.
I still can’t believe that my church body has asked me to direct the development of LCMS U for the sake of the young people of the church. While I miss being a campus pastor, I am grateful and humbled to support those who work with college students, and especially the students themselves. Seeing a picture like the one of those gathered to stuff such a mass mailing reminds me that I don’t do any of this for me, any more than these dear ladies got up this morning out of some sort of fetish to robotically stuff envelopes in a small conference room.
All campus ministry is local and its development anywhere depends, in large part, on the interest of all those who take stake in it closest to where it takes place. But there are also many doing great things to help support campus ministry, and everything else that takes place throughout the Synod, that you may just not see. It takes everyone pulling in one direction not just locally (pastors, workers, lay volunteers, students, parents and alumni), but also those at the circuit, district, and synodical levels. We are all in this thing together!
I pray that when you come across this LIBERTY mailing, or a poster, postcard, bookmark, or brochure that was sent in it, that you take a brief moment to remember that it is not just another mailing from LCMS, Inc. It was sent out of deep love and it comes to you as a product of a great many in their various vocations in service of the church at large.
I pray that it also inspires you to care about a campus ministry near you, or a college student you know, like it inspires me to do the work set before me. Please encourage your young people to join us this coming early January in DC for LIBERTY. Please also pray for those who do all this behind the scenes work on your behalf, just as we pray for you.
The LCMS is a family, made up of everyone gathered around fonts and altars, but also those at the District and Synodical level (as well as many other fine insitutations) who pull together for all of you and what you do.
God bless these ladies for their volunteer time, and the gift that they give to us all by serving their Lord, and each of us, in this way. This is what’s family do. And it is beautiful.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10