By Heidi Goehmann
Ministry very often includes a move … or four.
Moving is intimidating, but you don’t have to have moved recently to feel in over your head when you are looking for resources, especially when life hands you a problem that is already dragging you under a bit.
Some of the best resources available to us are the ones closest to us geographically. There may be a place for resources and information organized by national or international entities providing resources online, or for receiving help via telehealth (healthcare that utilizes technology over a distance) or other creative approaches.
Yet, sometimes, oftentimes, very little can beat face-to-face help from people who are a little closer to our context, those who understand the spaces we live and work in.
God gives us Jesus and the Church for support, for salvation, for our health and well-being.
He also gives us many other good gifts in this life, and, while we can’t pin Him to promises He never made about providing us with wealth and resources, we can ask Him for help. We can ask Him to help us through agencies and doctors and resources that exist in our communities for our holistic well-being.
Not surprisingly, we saw this need and desire for local resources come out in the research on worker wellness conducted with over 2,000 workers and spouses of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 2017–2019. Many workers identified both the benefit of and the need for help finding more localized resources available in their own context.
A question I hear quite frequently —
How do I find the resources in my area?
Just like the LCMS itself is organized with resources coming mostly from our local entities (circuits and districts) rather than national offices, most secular resources come through state, county and municipal areas rather than the federal government.
The good news is that this means there are likely many useful resources close to your home, even if you live in a very rural area.
The bad news is that these resources and how you access them shifts and changes depending on where you live, making it next to impossible to create and keep up a list or useful document of all the many things available for workers around the globe.
We can get you started though. Here are three helpful tips for finding resources local to you:
1. Call your local 211
It’s unfortunate that 211 isn’t as widely known as 911! 211 is a national program offered locally in almost every corner of U.S. states and territories.
You can call 211 and ask about resources in your geographic location related to housing, health care, food insecurity, children’s programs, parenting resources, help for the elderly, disability-related resources or resources for different abilities, suicide prevention, etc. etc. It’s a really good place to start.
You might still need to make multiple calls to narrow down the resources and find what you actually need, but not only will you be enlightened as to what is available in your community for you, you’ll be better prepared to point someone else in the right direction.
It’s also nice to have options; often 211 either reminds us of options we forgot were available, or it identifies options we didn’t know existed.
Find your local 211 on the national website: 211.org.
2. Google your need alongside your municipality
As an example, if we search “Autism Norfolk NE,” the very first websites that come up in the search engine list are Nebraska- or Norfolk-specific resources, rather than the National Institute of Such and Such.
This can save lots of time and energy if the goal is to find something face-to-face versus an article or informational tool.
3. Attend a local health fair or training
The National Alliance for Mental Illness, or NAMI, has local chapters all over the U.S. and even partnerships around the globe. The same is true for the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Diabetes Association, and many, many other resources.
These local chapters offer the same great content, but they also know exactly who you need to talk to in your town to get what you, your family member, or those in your church need.
One of the easiest ways to find all these local chapters in one place is a health fair put on by the Department of Health or a community college or other entity.
Most organizations also offer classes and trainings about specific diagnoses and topics.
You can go for the information, but these local trainings will also usually identify some of the best professionals to seek out in your town or local area. They will at least give you a local contact to ask, the instructor or organizer.
There isn’t really a right way, and there’s definitely not an “easy” way, to find the resources you need locally. This can be even more challenging when you are in a rural area or if you have a pressing problem.
It’s OK to ask questions when you contact a resource, and you can ask about their background, their education, their philosophy of care — even the agency’s or individual’s relationship with the church or God is a good question!
Ask respectfully, and understand that the person or entity has the right not to answer your questions, but If you don’t get the answers you are looking for you can move on to another resource.
When Jesus healed people in the Gospel accounts, He often did so with physical touch, even though all He really needed to do was speak the words, or think them, or even less.
Jesus understood that we are physical people, residing in a physical space, and that proximity matters.
Thank goodness for a God who meets our needs spiritually but is also concerned with our needs in every area of our lives, often meeting them with people and resources right where we are.