Ross Johnson
Ross Johnson
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As director of LCMS Disaster Response, the disaster response and human care ministry of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Rev. Ross E. Johnson oversees the church’s comprehensive disaster response program, including planning, training and implementation of immediate and long-term responses to help people in the aftermath of disastrous events wherever they occur. He works to facilitate relationships with federal, state and community disaster response agencies; consults with LCMS district, congregations and international church partners to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters around the world; and makes available pastoral care in the field while responding to a disaster.

The huge impact of volunteering

Approximately $65 billion of volunteer effort was given by faithful Christians serving through their church.

History and Origins of the Work of LCMS World Relief and Human Care and the Development of LCMS Disaster Response

During the first 100 years of the LCMS’s history, mercy ministry exploded. “By 1928 the number of hospitals, orphanages, child welfare societies, homes for the aged and institution missions totaled

Lutheran Congregational Mercy Work

Over the last 15 years there has been a resurgence of congregational mercy work within congregations in the LCMS. Much of this was due to the guidance of the Rev. Matthew Harrison, who in his capacity as executive director of WRHC wrote to pastors and lay leaders of the LCMS on the theology of mercy and how to incorporate a mercy that flows from Lutheran congregations to the needy in their community. In addition, the 2001 Synod convention opened up the possibility of a deaconess program at both seminaries for women to study deaconess ministry as a vocation. This expansion of the deaconess program, has increased the number of deaconess church workers, has created a greater awareness of mercy work, and has had a lasting influence across the Synod.

A Ministry of Merciful Visitation and Pastoral Presence

Paul’s ministry was also an example of caring for people in every need. Paul gives a model for congregations and individual Christians to care for their members and for the unchurched community around them. Paul encouraged the Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good … So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9–10).

Prayer During Times of Suffering and Tragedy

During a crisis people tend to turn to God and their faith for strength. During these times it is common to make supplications or petitions to God. It is a godly and pious act to pray and to bring one’s petitions to the Lord. The Large Catechism calls this “calling upon God in every need”[6] and it says, “He [God] requires this of us and has not left it to our choice.”

Pastoral Blessing and the Benediction

The act of pastoral blessing is nothing new. In fact, Aaron gives a blessing in what is referred to as the Aaronic benediction, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift us his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24–26).

The Role of Worship as Comfort in Times of Tragedy

Tragic events—including the death of a loved one, a grave medical diagnosis or a catastrophic natural disaster—peel back the façade that covers this broken world. Tragedy often allows people to see with greater clarity the destructiveness of a fallen world and sin’s consequences.

Luther’s Pastoral Care for the Anxious and Depressed: Thoughts on ‘Of Good Comfort’

At the foundation of Luther’s spiritual care was visitation. During visitation, or when he could only write, Luther often gave comfort with Scripture, he recommended hymn singing and he often concluded with a blessing.

Thank you for more than a decade of volunteerism

Thank you to all of the LCMS Disaster Response volunteers. The amount of support you have offered continues to be astonishing. To those of you who are just now learning about volunteer opportunities, come and join us. You’ll be amazed what is possible.

Thoughts and encouragement from a disaster pro

I am pleased to offer this brief but worthwhile Hurricane Harvey-related commentary by my esteemed predecessor as Director of LCMS Disaster Response, the Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, now retired in Arlington, Texas.

Lutheran Congregational Mercy Work

*This is Part two of seven in a series of Basic Theology of Mercy Work Series* Lutheran Congregational Mercy Work There has recently been a resurgence of congregational mercy work across the congregations in the LCMS. Much of this was…

Theological Introductions to Mercy Work

*This is Part 1 of 7: A Basic Theology of Mercy Work* “Mercy Work,” as it will be defined herein (Christian care for those in need – in body, mind, or spirit), flows directly from God’s mercy to us. The…

New Devotional Guide: The Lord’s Mercy Endures Forever!

A new devotional resource for people going through tragedy is now available from LCMS Disaster Response, The Lord’s Mercy Endures Forever: 40 Daily Devotions of God’s Comfort.  Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I…

Unanimous Support for Disaster Response!

It’s not often that the synod in convention approves something unanimously but this year at convention there was overwhelming support and praise for the work of LCMS Disaster Response. Although when you see the stats it’s easy to see why. Take a look at the resolution.

Build it Better – A Q&A About Disaster Trailers

Live Q&A webinar with Randy Wolf and Stephen Born from the District Disaster Response Team of the Central Illinois District on Tuesday July 5th at 1:00 PM to take all of your questions.

I’m Too Old To Be a Volunteer

When you see the news stories of people removing debris, sawing tree limbs, and mucking out houses it is easy to think that you don’t have a role to play in disaster response. Perhaps you are young. Maybe you are…