Engaging a Changing Community

My entire 30 years as a parish pastor have been spent serving LCMS congregations in rural and small-town communities. That’s remarkable when you consider the fact that I grew up in Houston — the fourth largest city in the country. I’ve truly been “converted” to the small-town way of life, serving the hard-working people whom I’ve had the privilege and blessing to know and love.

Yet, dramatic changes are sweeping across the rural plains of America. No doubt about it. I’ve seen it. We’ve entered an era of congregations closing because their memberships have literally died off. Offerings have dwindled dramatically. Pastors are becoming “bi-vocational,” meaning they are employed and working outside of their called pastorates to supplement insufficient and declining salaries. Pastors are absorbing personally more of the costs of the routine day-to-day operations of their congregations. These changes can be nothing short of terrifying to a pastor and his family.

As is always true, the Lord nonetheless brings amazing and oftentimes surprising blessings and opportunities in this newly emerging ministry landscape. As some con­gregations die, others are born. Pastors who find themselves becoming “entrepreneurs” can be involved in their communities in truly remarkable ways.

In my own ministry here in southwest Iowa, we have given birth to a new congrega­tion. I substitute teach in the public schools in five local school districts. The opportu­nities to witness and share my faith, to minister and pray with students, teachers and administrative people abound. Sometimes, I say tongue in cheek that I have the largest youth group in the Synod with over 6,000 kids, referring to the student populations of the schools in which I teach, on their own turf.

That we must engage our community is a fact of our ministry and congregational outreach that hasn’t changed. How we engage our community is changing dramatically in ways we could never have imagined.

Personally, I love this new ministry field. I embrace it. To be able to maintain our Lutheran confessional integrity and continue to proclaim salvation only in the Lord Jesus Christ provides a Gospel message people need and desire to hear even today.

Ready or not, the future is now. It’s here. And our Lord is still touching lives and bringing people to faith in Jesus. For that I will always rejoice.

Rev. Dr. Keith Schweitzer

Contributed through the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission monthly newsletter.


Upcoming RSTM Events…

Don’t forget that Rural & Small Town Mission provides free monthly webi­nars on topics important to congregations in town and country settings. Up next is Community Engagement on April 11, followed by Outreach Through Lutheran Braille Workers on May 23. Find past webinars in our archive and watch for information on all our upcoming events!

Register for one our Engaging Your Community (EYC) or Engaging the Wandering (ETW) events at lcms.org/rstm. Upcoming events include an EYC on 5/11, in Waldport, OR in partnership with Northwest District. These partner events offer practical resources and communication skills for reaching out to wandering members and our communities with Christ’s love. Online reg­istration is available for both types of events. Contact your district or our office if you are interested in holding an event near you.

Register now for the 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference, Running With Endurance: Eyes Fixed On Jesus, Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis. To see our calendar, visit lcms.org/rstm. Contact our office at 888-463-5127 or rstm@lcms.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/engaging-a-changing-community/

Ysleta Mission Trip to Mexico

From February 26th through March 2nd, a group of 11 members from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot, traveled to Juarez, Mexico for a mission trip. Together with Ysleta Lutheran Mission out of El Paso, TX, they built two 12X24 foot homes for local families in great need! Everything was funded by Mission Team fundraisers throughout the year. Hear from some of the people that have gone on the mission trip about the impact it has had on their lives…

“To be humbled is a gift in and of itself; going to Juarez and seeing the state and way of life will humble you to your core. These are people with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts, and by our ‘standards’ they have nothing. At the end of the week, you are given so much more by these people than you give. We may have given a home, but they gave us the gift of love, the gift of faith, and the gift of perspective.”

Matt Geinert, first-time attendee, shares this about his experience

“The lack of simple comforts like running water, heat, or even a solid floor make Americans think of the settlers on the wild frontier. The families of the shantytowns of Anapra or k30 survive in little more than pallets covered in cardboard.  A spliced extension cord overloaded with the lights of 4 or 5 neighbors. Hungry dogs littered with ticks and burrs run wild. This place exists just past the Mexican/American Border, but it may just as well be halfway around the world.  In the middle of it all a salesman, a trucker, a retiree, couple of high schoolers, and an oilfield worker come together joined by the same faith and compassion. This is where you see your faith grow.  Together for 5 days we wrestle to build what to us would be a large shed with power.  The families watch as it takes shape. The team and families crowd into the dwelling for a few songs and prayers.  A small cross is hung over the threshold. Now it hits me, and I am humbled. This isn’t a shed or a house. This is a Home. A warm safe place to raise a family, to share memories and laughs. The structure is the physical gift. But the emotional, spiritual gift is so much more.”


Ryan Schaan, After going on the mission trip for the last 3 years

“Our team prayed together daily that the Lord Jesus would make us useful in the work of His kingdom. And He was faithful, as always.  The people became so important to us in such a short period of time. Their faith and ours was strengthened as we built not only two homes, but Christ-filled relationships. It’s difficult to leave at the end of a week, but we entrust them to the Lord and that He will continue the “building” that we began in His name.”


Six-year veteran, Bonnie Rennich

A little becomes A LOT when Jesus is in it! Though sponsored by Our Savior Lutheran Church, this yearly mission trip is open to anyone in the district. Feel free to contact the congregation at 701-852-6404 for more details on this amazing opportunity to spread God’s love with others!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/ysleta-mission-trip-to-mexico/

“Main Street Living” Media Ministry – April 2019 Update

“Faith comes from hearing the message – and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).  We are so privileged to be used of God to communicate the message of Christ crucified and risen – through our television and internet ministry! Please consider sharing information about MSL with at least one new person this month.

 While the number of questions about the website changes have decreased; perhaps one more brief reminder that you need to drop/delete the word “north” when making an internet search for archived programs – or you’ll get a furniture store in Colorado called Main Street Living. Now that our MSL NETWORK is broadcasting in six different areas in the upper Midwest, a decision was made to use just one central website address at www.mainstreetliving.com. On the home page you will then need to click on the link identified as “North (Fargo)”. The picture will be the same, but you will be on our ND and MN North District page.

 A reminder of the matching funds offer from the Main Street Living NETWORK continues until $16,000 of new donations are received! To add your much needed financial support, checks may be sent to “Main Street Living NORTH”, 821-5th Ave. S., Fargo, ND 58103, or donate by Credit Card or your PayPal account on the web site. Thank you and God’s blessing in Christ!

“Main Street Living North” for April 2019:

 April 7: Rev. Ed Borchardt, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Frazee, MN, presents the message: “Strength Doesn’t Come From Within” based on Philippians 3:8-14. Today’s special LHM Easter program is: “The Puzzle Club Easter Adventure”.

April 14: Rev. Chris Brademeyer, St. John Lutheran Church, Oakes, ND, presents the message: “Who is this King?” based on Matthew 21:1-9. Today’s special LHM Easter season program is: “Easter Is”.

April 21: Lutheran Hour Speaker, Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, delivers today’s Easter message: “Destroyed Is Death” based on 1st Corinthians 15:19-26. Today’s special LHM Easter season program is: “3 Days ”.

April 28: Rev. Robert Wentzel, Trinity Lutheran, Bemidji, MN, presents the message: “My Name Is Thomas” based on John 20:19-31. Today’s This Is The Life program is: “Miracle in Chinatown”.

“MAIN STREET LIVING” is a locally produced TV program that includes a 30 minute worship service led by participating pastors of the Minnesota North and North Dakota Districts of our LCMS, along with a 30 minute Lutheran Hour program (normally “This Is The Life”, along with occasional church-season specials).  Programs are broadcast at 9:00 am Central time on the following FOX stations: KVRR Fargo-Moorhead Channel 15.1, KBRR Thief River Falls-Grand Forks Channel 10.1, KJRR Jamestown Channel 7.1, KNRR Pembina Channel 12.1, AND at 10:00am Central (9:00am Mountain) on the following WDAY & affiliate Xtra Channels: WDAY Xtra Channel 6.3 Fargo-Moorhead, WDAZ Xtra Channel 8.3 Grand Forks, KBMY Xtra Channel 17.3 Bismarck/Dickinson, and KMCY Xtra Channel 14.3 Minot/Williston – as well as the cable and satellite systems carrying these stations, some of which may have a different channel number, and archived on www.mainstreetliving.com (then click on “North (Fargo)”.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/main-street-living-media-ministry-april-2019-update/

Minneapolis, Here We Come!

The LCMS 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference will be held Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis, Minn., at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South. Registration opened March 15th!

The blessings and challenges facing rural and small-town con­gregations today will be addressed. Congregations will be encouraged to cul­tivate ways to become healthy churches, eager to bear witness for Christ, able to show mercy to those in need in communi­ties and develop a robust life together with fellow members.  We hope you’ll join us by registering now and reserving your spot!

Speakers and Session Topics

Keynote speakers will include Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director, LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission and Dr. Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY. Rev. Robert Zagore, execu­tive director, LCMS Office of National Mission, will lead the theme Bible study of the conference based on Hebrews 12:1b-2a.

Breakout topics include dealing with addictions, mental health, young adults in ministry, bi-vocational pastors, steward­ship, community engagement, partnering with LERT, online education and many other topics affecting our rural and small-town congregations. There is something planned for everyone… from layperson to pastor, student to teacher!

We encourage you to bring your whole family to spend a few days together! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities.

Don’t forget that a special track for Youth Ministry will be returning this year, led by youth peer leaders and spe­cially meant for your youth to join you as well; this option will have a limited number of seats and require attendance in all six sessions.

Registration

Adult registration for the conference is $225/person and includes all plenary and breakout sessions, materials, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch and dinner and more. See our full registration form for discounted rates for youth, students, families, couples, LWML members, meals only and groups. Contact our office with questions.

Hotel reservations must be made separately from conference registration. The Doubletree is offering a rate of $100/ Single or Double plus applicable taxes for our group including breakfast buffet per day per occupancy level; complimentary self-parking; complimentary airport and Mall of America shuttle. More information and online regis­tration can be found at lcms.org/rstm/conference

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/minneapolis-here-we-come/

National Youth Gathering Information

Held every three years since 1980, the LCMS Youth Gathering provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God’s people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Christian faith and their Lutheran identity.  The next Gathering will be held on July 11-15, 2019 in Minneapolis, MN.
During the five days of the Gathering, youth and adults will spend time together in God’s word, worship, service, and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry, Saint Louis, MO.

District Coordinator
Pat Sebastian, Bethel Lutheran, Bismarck, is serving as ND District Coordinator for the National Youth Gathering. She is arranging transportation options, coordinating housing (seven congregations responded to the request that ND registrations be mailed in together so we will be assigned to the same hotel), a District event, District booth and providing training to adult leaders amongst other responsibilities.  You can reach her via email patsebbis@aol.com or (701) 281-1381 or (701) 471-3289 with any questions or concerns.

Registration

Participants will now be admitted to the Gathering on a space available basis. Registrations materials and tons of other information including Adult Leader Resources and Bible Study Resources can be found at  http://www.lcmsgathering.com/

Choir and Wind Symphony auditions due April 22

The LCMS Youth Gathering will conclude with the Divine Service Worship.  Over 20,000 people will join in worshiping our God and Savior.  Youth have opportunity to be involved in sharing their artistic gifts and talents through participating in the Gathering Choir or Wind Symphony.

All applications and audition videos must be submitted online by April 22. Applicants will be notified by May 22 of their selection.  Members of the choir and wind symphony will receive a pack of music and CD so the music can be learned in advance of the Gathering.

Members are expected to attend rehearsals at the Hyatt Regency from 3:45-5:15 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There will be a final rehearsal at the U.S. Bank Stadium early Monday morning. Rehearsals will not conflict with other Gathering programming.

The choir and wind symphony will participate in the Monday morning worship service on July 15, 2019.

Your District Coordinator is willing to accompany students to rehearsals so adult leaders are available for the rest of their family group.

Watch the North Dakota District LYF Facebook page for upcoming announcements!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/national-youth-gathering-information/

Raising Young Leaders and the Lutheran Young Adult Corps

When I was in sixth grade, the Director of Christian Education at my church asked me to be one of several teen representa­tives on the Youth Board. It might sound silly to ask an eleven-year-old to sit through the business agenda of monthly meetings, but I took on the responsibil­ity with genuine passion. This one person saw me, challenged me, equipped me and ultimately moved me towards pursuing professional church work. Raising up young leaders can be a powerful thing.

In 2017, LCMS Youth Ministry did a research project on millennial retention in the LCMS. We found that congrega­tions with a decision-making leader under 32 showed several markers of increased LCMS retention from confirmation to young adulthood. It didn’t matter how many young adults were in the congrega­tion; the impact was the same. Raising up young leaders helps children and teens stay in the church.

Rural and small-town ministries are uniquely designed to mentor new young leaders. These congregations tend to be close-knit where young people are known deeply. This can give special insight into where a young leader can best use their skills, passions and abilities and prevent ill-fitting or token leadership roles. These congregations can provide a critical safe space for young leaders to try and fail with grace.

Smaller congregations can be more open to empowering young leaders, sometimes out of necessity. When they do, leaders of all ages must work together for the sake of the Gospel. While established leaders have experience, knowledge of systems and a critical understanding of history, young leaders bring a fresh per­spective and new strategies. Young leaders can learn and grow in new skills while established leaders can be reenergized and help manage change.

One example of raising up young leaders is Lutheran Young Adult Corps. Lutheran Young Adult Corps provides full-time service opportuni­ties for LCMS young adults in urban settings. Participants grow in community and share their faith in Jesus through acts of service for 10 weeks in the summer or 10 months as a gap year. During their service, our 18- to 26-year-old participants serve in roles such as volunteer coordina­tors, after school tutors, communications and administrative help.

The power of young leaders should not be underestimated. Consistently the young leaders in Lutheran Young Adult Corps prove to be self-motivated, passionate, adventurous, independent, and have a desire to grow in the areas of faith formation, service and community outreach. This is true of the young people in your congregation as well. Engaging young leaders helps ministry, keeps young people connected to the church and provides a chance for all ages to live out their vocation.                

Julianna Shults, DCE, Program Manager, Lutheran Young Adult Corps, LCMS Youth Ministry. Contributed through the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission monthly newsletter.


Minneapolis, Here We Come!

The LCMS 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference will be held Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis, Minn., at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South.

The blessings and challenges facing rural and small-town con­gregations today will be addressed. Congregations will be encouraged to cul­tivate ways to become healthy churches, eager to bear witness for Christ, able to show mercy to those in need in communi­ties and develop a robust life together with fellow members.  We hope you’ll join us by registering now and reserving your spot!

Speakers and Session Topics

Keynote speakers will include Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director, LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission and Dr. Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY. Rev. Robert Zagore, execu­tive director, LCMS Office of National Mission, will lead the theme Bible study of the conference based on Hebrews 12:1b-2a.

Breakout topics include dealing with addictions, mental health, young adults in ministry, bi-vocational pastors, steward­ship, community engagement, partnering with LERT, online education and many other topics affecting our rural and small-town congregations. There is something planned for everyone … from layperson to pastor, student to teacher!

We encourage you to bring your whole family to spend a few days together! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities.

Don’t forget that a special track for Youth Ministry will be returning this year, led by youth peer leaders and spe­cially meant for your youth to join you as well; this option will have a limited number of seats and require attendance in all six sessions.

Registration

Adult registration for the conference is $225/person and includes all plenary and breakout sessions, materials, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch and dinner and more. See our full registration form for discounted rates for youth, students, families, couples, meals only and groups. Contact our office with questions.

Hotel reservations must be made separately from conference registration. The Doubletree is offering a rate of $100/ Single or Double plus applicable taxes for our group including breakfast buffet per day per occupancy level; complimentary self-parking; complimentary airport and Mall of America shuttle.

More information and online regis­tration can be found at lcms.org/rstm/conference


Upcoming RSTM Events…

Don’t forget that Rural & Small Town Mission provides free monthly webinars on topics important to congregations in town and country settings. Up next is Raising Young Leaders and the Lutheran Young Adult Corps on March 7, followed by Community Engagement Leaders on April 11. Find past webinars in our archive.

Watch for information on all our upcoming events! Register for one of our Engaging Your Community or Engaging the Wandering events at lcms.org/rstm. These partner events offer practical resources and communication skills for reaching out to our wandering members and our communities with Christ’s love. Online registration is available for both types of events. Register now for Engaging the Wandering at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Waldport, Org. on 5/11/19 in partnership with the Northwest District. Contact your district or our office if you are interested in holding an event near you. Save the date! The 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference, Running With Endurance: Eyes Fixed On Jesus, will be Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South. This conference is meant for anyone living in, serving or interested in rural or small-town areas, with topics and resources specifically suited for the unique mission field where they have been placed. Bring your family! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities. Watch for updates and more information at lcms.org/rstm/conference. For more information about our events, visit lcms.org/rstm or contact us at rstm@lcms.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/raising-young-leaders-and-the-lutheran-young-adult-corps/

LCEF Investment Information

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/lcef-investment-information/

“MAIN STREET LIVING” MEDIA MINISTRY – March Update

Announcement:  If you haven’t already made a note to change the web address to access the archived MSLN programs, you’ll need to do so as the old address will take you to a furniture store in Colorado. Now that the MSL NETWORK is broadcasting in six different areas in the upper Midwest, a decision was made to use just one central website address at www.mainstreetliving.com. On the home page, you will then need to click on the link identified as “North (Fargo).”

A reminder of the matching funds offer from the Main Street Living NETWORK continues until $16,000 of new donations are received! To add your much needed financial support, checks may be sent to “Main Street Living NORTH,” 821-5th Ave. S., Fargo, ND 58103, or donate by Credit Card or your PayPal account on the web site. Thank you and God’s blessing in Christ!

“Main Street Living North” for March 2019: 

March 3:             Vicar Brian Shane, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND, presents the message: “Artificial Intelligence?” based on Luke 9:28-36. Today’s This Is The Life program is “Man Adrift.”

March 10:           Rev. Matthew Meyer, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Callaway, MN, presents the message: “Trust in the Lord” based on Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Today’s This Is The Life program is “Time Out For Bill.”

March 17:            Rev. Thomas Eckstein, Concordia Lutheran Church, Jamestown, ND, delivers today’s message: “Let the Children Come to Me!” based on Mark 10:13-16. Today’s This Is The Life program is “A Gift for Grandpa.”

March 24:           Rev. Guy Roberts, Zion Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes, MN, presents the message: “Repent or Die” based on Ezekiel 33:7-20, I Corinthians 10:1-13 and Luke 13:1-5. Today’s This Is The Life program is “Boy on the Fence.”

March 31:      Rev. Jonathan Durkopp, Trinity English Lutheran Church, LaMoure, ND, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Adrian, ND, presents the message: True Repentance” based on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. Today’s This Is The Life program is “The Sin of Roy Baxter.”

“MAIN STREET LIVING” is a locally produced TV program that includes a 30-minute worship service led by participating pastors of the Minnesota North and North Dakota Districts of our LCMS, along with a 30 minute Lutheran Hour program (normally This Is The Life,” along with occasional church-season specials).  Programs are broadcast at 9:00 am Central time on the following FOX stations: KVRR Fargo-Moorhead Channel 15.1, KBRR Thief River Falls-Grand Forks Channel 10.1, KJRR Jamestown Channel 7.1, KNRR Pembina Channel 12.1, ANDat 10:00am Central (9:00am Mountain) on the following WDAY & affiliate Xtra Channels:WDAY Xtra Channel 6.3 Fargo-Moorhead, WDAZ Xtra Channel 8.3 Grand Forks,KBMY Xtra Channel 17.3 Bismarck/Dickinson, and KMCY Xtra Channel 14.3 Minot/Williston – as well as the cable and satellite systems carrying these stations, some of which may have a different channel number, and archived on www.mainstreetliving.com (then click on “North (Fargo)”.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/main-street-living-media-ministry-march-update/

Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads Gets Ready for Camp Season

Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads is getting ready for the camp season already!  We are looking for summer staff who help make everything happen, young men and women, 18 years old or older, who want to make an impact in the lives of kids of all ages.  If you know someone who would be interested in working at camp, have them contact Shepherd’s Hill and we can put them on the path to a summer they won’t ever forget!

Speaking of Summer, our camp registration will be opening soon!  Brochures will be mailed to all congregations and past campers.  If you would like a copy, let us know and we will include you in that mailing.  You can register either by mail or online at www.shretreat.org.  This summer, our theme will be “A Cloud of Witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1-2.  From the testimony of Scripture and the gathering of the saints to the Lord’s Table, we are surrounded by a great cloud of saints.

This past month, the District Men’s retreat gathered with over 45 men and young men for the Annual Winter retreat.  Rev Dan Suelzle from Wittenberg Chapel in Grand Forks was the presenter.  While it was cold outside, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to gather and engage in God’s Word.  (See pictures)

We have other events scheduled for this spring, including a Women’s Retreat and our annual Spring Clean up and Lumberjack Days.  Watch our facebook page for more details.  If you would like to be included in the email newsletter updates, please send a quick email to news@shretreat.org to be added to that list.  A fuller update will be sent out monthly to anyone who signs up.

The Board of Directors invites you to attend the Shepherd’s Hill annual meeting scheduled for March 9th at 1:00 pm.  Come and find out more about the work being done at Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads. There is much work to keeping the Retreat going. Come and join us for lunch before the Annual Meeting if you would like.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/shepherds-hill-at-the-crossroads-begins-preparations-for-summer/

Cameron: A Walking Miracle

“I can’t really remember a lot of that time.”

Those are the words of 14-year-old Cameron*–a handsome young man with stylish brown hair, a subtle grin, and a twinkle in his eye.

And, according to his mother, him not remembering is a blessing, because it was a very difficult time.

It all started when Cameron was in 4th grade. “Before that he was basically a normal boy,” said Cameron’s mom, Mary. “He loved animals and being outside. He always made us smile.”

In 4th grade, Cameron started having attention issues. By 5th grade, anything associated with school caused Cameron to experience extreme anxiety. Most days he refused to go.

“He cried and screamed and we couldn’t get him in the car,” said Cameron’s mom, Mary.

Then he started having wild and out-of-control behaviors.

Mary said, “He would do bizarre, uncontrollable things like crawl on the roof of our house at 6 a.m., or chase after me with various objects in his hand and threaten to attack me. It’s like he would get pleasure out of scaring me and threatening to hurt me. Afterwards, he would drop whatever he was holding, and cry. He felt so bad, and had no idea why he had done it.

During those episodes, Cameron’s once-twinkling eyes changed to what his mom called, “weird wild,” and there were times she was terrified of her own child.

“It’s all kind of a blur,” Cameron said. “But, I look back on pictures of me then, and I looked and was totally different.”

When he was fine, he was completely fine. People told Mary and her husband, Ben, he just needed more discipline. Then, Mary said, a few other people started seeing his episodes and someone suggested residential treatment at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

“We were almost offended,” Mary said. “How could anyone say that?”

But they had tried everything else they could think of–they had taken him to Mayo Clinic, and he had been in and out of the Bismarck, ND, hospital for mental health issues several times. Eventually Ben and Mary realized someone was going to get hurt, and it was time to consider Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. They toured the Ranch, completed all the paperwork, and Cameron was accepted for treatment. Now they had to figure out how to tell him.

God and an amazing ER doctor stepped in to make the telling a little easier. Cameron and his private tutor were in Bismarck to go to the library, when he lost control and they had to call 911. The ER doctor looked at Cameron’s history and told his parents there was no way he was sending Cameron home.

He said, “I will do whatever I have to do. Cameron is going to stay in the hospital in a regular room, with one of you accompanying him 24 hours a day, until he can move into the Ranch.”

At the beginning of his seven-day stay, Mary and Ben told Cameron he was going to live at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.  

Mary said, “He was devastated, but he had seven days to process it. Friends, family, the doctor, and the nurses all told Cameron it was a great opportunity. ‘You are going to be a different kid,’ the doctor said.”

When it came time to take him to the Ranch, Cameron was OK and ready to go. Once he got to the Ranch, bedtime was the toughest part of each day for Cameron. Mary was very grateful for the support of Ranch staff during these times.

“We were allowed to visit nearly every day, and Cameron’s caregivers were very reassuring and caring and loving. They allowed him to call home, and because I worked just a few blocks from the Ranch, I was sometimes able to stop by to tuck him in,” Mary said.

For the most part, Cameron was a model child for the first 30 days of his stay. He was determined to do whatever it took to get in and out of the Ranch in two months. Then the episodes of wildness returned and the real work began.

After administering several different tests and getting daily reports from Ranch nurses and youth care workers, Ranch psychiatrist, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, diagnosed Cameron with bipolar disorder; and was able to address it and Cameron’s other mental health issues appropriately.

After much discussion with the family, Martinsen also  took Cameron off a medication that could be harmful to his liver. Mary said they were very hesitant, but Martinsen reassured them this was the perfect time to try a medication change. The nurses would observe Cameron carefully, and Martinsen could quickly address any withdrawal symptoms or adverse effects of discontinuing the medication.

“He was right. There were no side effects at all and we were able to get Cameron off this medication I’d been worried about,” Mary said.

In addition, Cameron met regularly with his Ranch therapist, Sara Vetter.

While Cameron preferred to ignore his outbursts, Vetter encouraged him to talk or write about them. “What brought this on?” she’d say. “Let’s talk about what happened.”

Vetter helped Cameron think very specifically about the feelings and thoughts he had before he exploded in anger. She asked him to complete sentences like, “I was really feeling anxious when…..” and “I knew I was going to blow up when….”

Once Cameron could identify the feelings that led to his actions, he and Vetter talked about things he could do instead. She taught him to speak up and advocate for himself. He learned how to ask people for what he needed. For instance, when he started to feel hot or anxious, he’d ask if he could take a break. When he needed to move away from someone who was making him angry or anxious, he learned to ask if he could move to another space in the room.   

Mary and Ben knew the Ranch was a safe place for Cameron. “He could no longer run away from himself and his emotions,” Mary said. “He had to face them, but it wasn’t easy.”

“We learned a lot too,” Mary said. “We learned to make decisions together and then take them to Cameron,” Mary said. “To remain calm and keep it simple. To have a routine and more structure, and to always tell Cameron what comes next.”

“We don’t fight the battles that don’t matter,” Mary continued. “For instance, Cameron will tell me he wants chicken alfredo for supper for the next five nights. I used to fight that, but now I just make a big batch and that’s what he eats. We also changed our morning routine so it is quiet and unrushed.”

Eventually, Cameron started spending some weekends at home. These weekends went well, so four months after he arrived at the Ranch, Cameron moved home.

Back at his home school, Cameron reconnected with friends. He has stayed in touch with Zach, his primary Youth Care Worker at the Ranch, who became like a Big Brother to him. When summer came around, Mary quit her job in Bismarck and found work that was more flexible so she could be available for Cameron. At the same time, Cameron got a part-time job where he learned how to operate the till, answer the phone, and work with customers.

“He has so much confidence and gets along with his buddies,” Mary said. “It was the best summer we’ve had in years.”

They are now stronger as a family. “As we walked through this extremely difficult storm,” Mary said, “we realized God was our rock. We clung to him for dear life. All three of us are completely changed. We are much better people now than before. We learned to be really, really grateful. Our eyes were opened to how many kids don’t have family support and how lucky we are to have each other.”

“Everyone who knew Cameron before the Ranch, and during the tough times, see him as a walking miracle.”

We take great care to guard the privacy of our children. Pictures and identifying information are only used with the permission of the kids themselves, and the written permission of their guardians. We also give kids and their guardians the opportunity to read the story before it goes to print–so they can remove or change anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.  When Mary and Ben read a draft of this article to Cameron, it brought tears to his eyes.

Mary said, “It was very difficult for him to hear and remember what it was like. He’s not the same person anymore. None of us are. God is good.”

*Names changed to protect the confidentiality of our children. (The young man wanted us to change his name to Cameron because Cam Newton is his favorite football player)!

Tammy Noteboom | Vice President, Communications | t.noteboom@dakotaranch.org
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch | dakotaranch.org

The mission of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is to help at-risk youth and their families succeed in the name of Christ.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/cameron-a-walking-miracle/

District Financial Information – December 2018

INCOME

Congregational Mission Giving                                 $65,350.54

Synodical Pledge (35%) (22,872.69)

Other Gifts 1,371.52

Total left for District Missions, Expenses $43,849.37

EXPENSES:

Local Missions and Committee Activities:  $14,790.28

  (Includes UND – Wittenberg Chapel, Life Skills & Transition Center, Deaf Ministry, Watford City)

Congregational Support 30,477.99

   (Includes General Operations, District President, Business Manager, Board of Directors)

Current gifts given for these missions (4,515.65)

International Missions

Christ’s Care for Children – Kenya ($10,000) 0.00

Chile Mission ($25,000) 0.00

   (These missions were voted on by the District Convention.  They will be paid quarterly as funds are available)

Net Expenses $40,752.62

NET INCOME FOR DECEMBER 2018 $3,096.75

YTD NET LOSS ($81,459.70)

Funds Given in the Past used for Current Expenses $.00

Current mission giving does not allow for any additional payment of the international missions adopted at convention.  Gifts from congregations and individuals designated for these specific missions are sent on at the end of each         fiscal quarter. Those amounts are not included in income or expense totals. YTD designated gifts for international missions as of December 31:

             Christ’s Care for Children – Kenya $10,936.71

     Chile Mission $4,171.35

For a more detailed look into December’s finances, please contact Tami Ulland, Business Manager at 701-293-9001  or lcms.nd.busman@gmail.com.

You are invited to donate to any of our special missions at any time by mailing a check to: ND District, PO Box 9029, Fargo, ND 58106. 

Thank you for your support.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/district-financial-information-december-2018/

Reaching Young Women: LWML

Have you ever planned an event hoping that young women would attend? Or have you ever wondered, “Why don’t young women want to help out around the church?”

If you have asked these questions, think on this:

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

I attended a youth adult workshop and was given statistics on millennials. I talked to about 30 young women in seven districts for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), and the conversation was a bit different. I made it personal. When you build relationships, people feel you care about them, and they become invested in a whole new way. We sometimes think that we have all the right answers and our way is the best way. Have you recently said, “We have always done it that way?” Then think on this:

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Yes, you can change or at least learn that there are other ways of achieving favorable results. Perhaps the secret to reaching anyone is to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This is not to say that we should try change those things that are meant to be unchanging; our Lord has promised us that He is steadfast and eternal. However, when it comes to our events, we should be open and flexible. Perhaps, in addition to asking why young women don’t want to help out around church, have you asked yourself, “Are we meeting their needs or giving them opportunities that work for their lifestyle?”

The webinar presentation “Reaching Young Women: LWML” will help you in your outreach to the young women in your parish and community.

The answer is, “The time is NOW.” Tune in to the webinar for the question.

Kaye Dumas Wolff, vice-president of Special Focus Ministries with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML).

Contributed through the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission monthly newsletter.

Upcoming RSTM Events…

Don’t forget that Rural & Small Town Mission provides free monthly webinars on topics important to congregations in town and country settings. Up next is Reaching Young Women: LWML on Feb. 21. It will be followed by Raising Young Leaders and Lutheran Youth Corps on March 7. Find past webinars in our archive and watch for information on all our upcoming events!

Register for one our Engaging Your Community (EYC) or Engaging the Wandering (ETW) events at lcms.org/rstm. These partner events offer practical resources and communication skills for reaching out to our wandering members and our communities with Christ’s love. Online registration is available for both types of events. Contact your district or our office if you are interested in holding an event near you. Look for upcoming announcements about the 2019 National RSTM Conference! To see our calendar, visit lcms.org/rstm. Contact our office at 888-463-5127 or rstm@lcms.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.nodaklcms.org/blog/reaching-young-women-lwml/