By Kim Plummer Krull
As the struggles continue for many Superstorm Sandy survivors in the Northeast, two LCMS districts are joining forces with the Synod’s national office to share a special Christmas gift of help and hope with families who are among the hardest hit.
“‘The Gift of Christmas’ is a special plan to apply some of the outpouring of support from congregations and individuals across the LCMS with distressed families in the New Jersey and Atlantic districts during a season that can be especially difficult,” said the Rev. John A. Fale, associate executive director of LCMS Mercy Operations.
“Particularly at this time of the year, when loss and sadness is felt more acutely, ‘The Gift of Christmas’ will enable LCMS congregations in areas most impacted by Sandy with the ability to provide presents for children, gift cards for families and a book that tells the story of Christmas — the incarnational love of God in Jesus — in their communities,” Fale said.
The LCMS is making up to $200,000 in Disaster Response money that has been designated for Sandy available to the New Jersey and Atlantic districts (the latter encompasses eastern New York) to comfort families affected by the Oct. 29 superstorm.
The presents and gift cards will be personally distributed by members of local LCMS congregations starting Saturday, Dec. 15, through Christmas day, said the Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response, who is coordinating the mercy outreach with Atlantic District President Rev. Dr. David Benke and New Jersey District President Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinbronn.
“This is such a meaningful way to touch lives during this special season of the year, a true ministry of presence — and of presents, so to speak,” Merritt said.
District staff will assist local congregations with identifying recipients, including people living in shelters and those whose homes were severely damaged.
Presents and gift cards will be delivered with the book, The Very First Christmas, by Rev. Dr. Paul L. Maier, LCMS third vice-president.
“While the general idea is to provide a little extra assistance to families, we are opening another opportunity for our church body to share the simple story of Christmas and God’s enduring love through His Son,” said Merritt, who developed the outreach opportunity after seeing needs first-hand in the Northeast.
“We are confident this effort will be a blessing to both those who are suffering in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and to local congregations who are reaching out with care and compassion,” Merritt said.
Sandy caused billions of dollars in damages when a hurricane, a nor’easter and full-moon tides converged into one massive event, destroying homes and livelihoods. Now, six weeks later, many families still face a long road back to normalcy.
According to field reports from LCMS Disaster Response teams, Fale said there are ample opportunities “to provide personal care and witness to Christ.”
“Who wouldn’t want a child who has lost everything to receive a special gift, a family to better provide for their loved ones and for an opportunity to speak the Gospel in the story of Christ’s birth?” Fale said.
To support those affected by Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters or man-made calamities:
* Make an online gift at https://www.lcms.org/givenow/disaster.
* Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief”) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
* Call toll-free 888-930-4438 (8:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday).
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.