Special Appeal for St. Matthew Chicago Family Who Lost Everything in a Fire Print E-mail
Appeal went out last Thursday — over $11,000 given! The family is staying with Tony's parents right now. After some minor repairs, they will be moving into their new home in less than a week. THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THIS FAMILY and showing what the Body of Christ does!

Lutheran Church Charities staff members went to the EL Comedor Popular Soup Kitchen at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday, April 22nd to present a check of your generous donations to Pastor Loza for Tony Valdivia and his family after their house burned down last week.

Tony and his family are extremely grateful for all the assistance they have been receiving. Tony told staff members:

Throughout the years I've been helping, whether it was the soup kitchen or home visitations, helping elderly people getting groceries, even preaching at church, helping people find God, get on that path to salvation and I always thought - I'm helping them and God will help me one day, and my day has come. Everyone at the church has been supportive; everyone at Lutheran Church Charities has kind of lifted me up... Knowing that I'm not alone and I'm not doing this by myself is telling me in my heart that there are people out there that care. The same way that I tried caring for them in God's eyes, in God's love, we all share that now.

Tony also expressed how they have seen God working in the midst of this tragedy. He said, "It's been very helpful because I do see now, truly, because I feel it, I see that the materialistic things are not important in life. What's important is you have your family around that loves you. The importance of life is what Jesus came here to teach us, which is caring about one another and not caring about oneself and not caring about the materialistic things we want in life and more about giving to others."

While this family is still struggling financially and emotionally, they did express great thanks for all of the support that they have already received, and they have a feeling of hope for the future: "Knowing that God did not leave me at any time from the point of the phone call until now... He is there and He is calming me down and keeping me strong. God's miracles work through people."

Click here to read the original appeal Click here to donate to the Valdivia Family Fund
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:53
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Return to Boston for 2014 Marathon Print E-mail

LCC Continues to Bring the Mercy and Compassion of Christ as Boston Strong Moves On

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs
While in Boston last weekend we heard, "Are these the ones?" "You came back! "Thank you for being here again." "These dogs meant so much to us last year." "Are these the Comfort Dogs?"

From children, to college students, first responders to runners from last year's race, to individuals healing from physical effects of a senseless blast, an old man in a wheel chair who lived next door to our host church, people in the airport, people strolling in the park...Bostonians remembered the Comfort Dogs. They remembered the specific kindness and compassion the dogs had provided in the midst of a tragedy shared by thousands.

Sharon Flaherty, LCC Volunteer Handler and Trainer for Comfort Dog Rufus

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and handlers were invited back to Boston for Easter weekend and Marathon Monday by First Lutheran Church of Boston, Massachusetts. LCC volunteer handlers Barb Granado and Sharon Flaherty (with Comfort Dogs Hannah and Rufus) accompanied LCC staff members and directors of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, Rich and Dona Martin (with LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Ruthie and Luther), to Boston. On Saturday, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Maggie (Christ the King Lutheran Church - Newtown, Connecticut) with handler Cathy Swanson and Addie (Immanuel Lutheran Church, Danbury, Connecticut) with handler Wendy Cole joined the team.

Below is a reflection of the trip from volunteer handler Barb Granado (LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Hannah):

I wish I had read the book" If Not For A Perfect Stranger" before the trip. We met several of the players and one cannot help but tear up learning what they went through. The story of strangers who just stepped up to the plate and helped at a time of crisis - not thinking of their own safety. That is what America is all about.

LCC K-9 Comfort Dog resting on woman's shoulder Interestingly, those who traveled several miles to see the dogs, the family who disembarked their plane and came directly to the church to see the dogs because they were afraid they would get caught up in the race festivities and not get back to us, the neighbors who kept returning every day, students who just adored the Goldens, the elderly man who suffered a stoke and returned to get his "lap love" - all touched my heart.

I came back feeling the many people who petted a dog felt comfortable talking about those raw feelings openly instead of holding it all in and feeling that fear alone. That fear grips one so tight after a crisis like the bombing. They were proud they faced their demon and proud Boston stood strong together.

On that Marathon Day everybody was a Bostonian, even those who traveled from Australia, Japan, London, Hong Kong, and more. We were all one. The terrorists didn't win. They all were stronger for it and every time I partake in a Comfort Dog trip to areas impacted by tragedy my faith grows stronger.

When asked about what this ministry is it is impossible not to mention that it is a faith-based organization and we all get through the crises in our lives because of the hope our faith gives us. Telling people that... well, they nod their head and smile. Some may not "get it" but others...well, who knows how God works their heart. Maybe these dogs offered a simple moment for them to give themselves permission to be vulnerable... to say silently, "Lord I want to love and trust you too. Show me how. Make me feel your presence."

Being with a soft cuddly golden made them feel good. I can't know how the Lord works but people kept coming back for more and I know in my heart it was Jesus saying, "Come to me. Come to me" and I will love you and give you peace."

I didn't feel like I accomplished anything really. I just held a leash and let the good Lord use those four furry paws....I was just along for the ride.

Barb Granado LCC Volunteer handler of Comfort Dog Hannah

Please consider supporting the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs as they continue to touch lives in Boston and beyond.

Click here to donate to the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry BuzzFeed - "Comfort Dogs Return For Boston Marathon, Reuniting With Old Friends"
LA Times - "Golden retriever comfort dogs, four-legged healers, return to Boston"
Yahoo News - "Comfort dogs are returning to Boston for marathon weekend"
Runner's World - "WATCH: "Comfort Dogs" at the Boston Marathon"
Guideposts - Inspiring Guideposts story about Barb and LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Hannah from May 2013
Click here for photos from this visit Click here to "Like" the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs on Facebook
Click here for more information on the book If Not for the Perfect Stranger
Click here to visit First Lutheran Church's Website
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:22
Member with Severe Medical Problems Needs $3,000 to Avoid Eviction Print E-mail
Rev Dan Gilbert and Rev Ed Ungemach Request from Northern Illinois District President Dan Gilbert and Pastor Ed Ungemach, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church & School, Antioch, Illinois

Faith has a member who is in desperate need of financial assistance. John is on the verge of a divorce. His marriage began to disintegrate over John’s inability to hold a job because of ulcerative colitis and a degenerative hip condition. Each time John has a significant attack his doctor holds him out of work for long periods so his employers won’t keep a job open.

In early February John finally landed a permanent job that he thought of as his “dream job”. Unfortunately, within a few weeks of landing this job, during his training period, John had another attack of ulcerative colitis so severe that he ended up in ICU for a number of days. His ten-day hospital stay totaled to more than $40,000 and he again lost his job as his doctor did not clear him to return to work before his new employer told him he could no longer continue because of lack of availability.

Currently, John’s most grievous need is to secure his condominium which will go into foreclosure at the end of the month if he does not come up with funds. A minimum of $3,000 is required by the end of April to pay off the back debt and bring him current on his mortgage payments. His mounting medical bills are also a concern but the immediate need is to secure his home.

As his congregation we have come up with some preliminary assistance for John but his need is so dire and great that we cannot meet it by ourselves. If you are able to help John it would be such a blessing for him as he continues to work to put his life together.

Click here to donate
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 10:23
Volunteering in Washington, Illinois - Saturday, April 12, 2014 Print E-mail
Washington, IL There is still much tornado clean up work to be done in Washington, Illinois and the weather is fabulous! Over 100 volunteers are registered and at Our Savior Lutheran Church to work in the neighborhood. Please keep the volunteers and Washington residents in your prayers as the rebuilding continues. View images
Last Updated on Saturday, 12 April 2014 15:20
LCC Kicks off Second LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Top Dog Training on Monday, April 7, 2014 Print E-mail
April 2014 LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Top Dog Training We kicked off our second LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Top Dog Training today with representatives from Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Dixon, Illinois, Trinity Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley, Arizona, Messiah Lutheran Church in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, St John Lutheran Church in Napa, California, Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Loudon, Tennessee, and Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Old Bridge, New Jersey! During this three day training, these future Top Dogs will learn all about having an LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry at their churches. They get hands on training with current K-9 Comfort Dogs during this process. We are excited to partner with these wonderful congregations as we expand the reach of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry across the country! Click here to donate to the K-9 Comfort Dog Fund
Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 16:51
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