Only in the arms of God is there a safe place!
“God is our safe place and our strength.
He is always our help when we are in trouble.”
Lutheran Church Charities is currently on multiple Disaster and Crisis Response deployments in California (mass shooting and fires) and in Florida (Hurricane Michael). The California deployment for the shootings is now also serving all the families displaced from their homes because of the fires happening right now – and we are in the middle of it.
There is still widespread devastation in Panama City, Florida, and our Disaster Response LERT volunteers are on the ground this week to do chainsaw work, tarping roofs, and anything that needs to be done to help those who are still not in their homes from Hurricane Michael. In addition, the semi-truck is arriving today with food and other critical items donated to help the 6,000 individuals each week that Trinity is serving.
We PUT and KEEP boots and paws on the ground to be with people who are suffering! Please keep everyone in California and Florida in your prayers – as in both places we are serving people who have been traumatized.
Here are just a few of the places where LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Ruthie, Emma, Jacob and Hannah (LCC Staff), Cubby (Redeemer – Fort Collins, Colorado), Lois (First Good Shepherd – Las Vegas, Nevada), and Aaron (St. John’s – Napa, California) and their teams have been serving in Thousand Oaks:
The Camp Fire is in Northern California which completely and literally wiped off the map the town of Paradise. Nearly 40,000 displaced, most of whom lost their homes and everything. Untold numbers of people lost their lives or are unaccounted for.
Reports to date are stating that over 90 firefighters who have been risking their life to battle the horrendous flames have lost their own homes due to the current wild fires.
Lord of Life – LaFox: Larry Zagorski, Terry & Mary Kramer, Kevin Krage, Dave Smercina, Jeff Straughn
Prince of Peace – Palatine: Jim Beckley
St. John – Wheaton: Steve Chester, Marty Johnson, David Schesselman,
St. Peter – Schaumburg: Ken Kivarante, Tom Amundsen
Trinity – Lisle: Clay Arnold, Ed & Jan Boerman, Skip & Karen Sorensen, Mike Kostecki, Carl Witt
Trinity – Roanoke: Ron Wagner
Trinity – Roselle: Kristin Bilar, Bob Pautsch
Trinity – Tinley Park: Joel Powless
St. John’s – Dillsboro: Steve Black
Almost every home and business has been affected in some way in Panama City. The destruction is widespread. Many families are living in damaged homes because of limited other housing options. The schools are planning to open this week with children now from several schools having to attend the ones not damaged too severely. The local hospital is not able to reopen for another three months. Only one grocery store is open in town and the checkout lines are always long. Everyone is managing the best they can in a difficult and trying situation.
Trinity Lutheran is helping their community by providing emotional, spiritual, and physical support. They are distributing food and supplies to thousands of affected residents each week with many willing volunteers. They are also housing the many teams who are coming in from all over the country to assist in recovery.
Our LERT team has already tarped several roofs after removing trees from them and doing chainsaw work and debris removal. We are privileged to show the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need.
On Tuesday, November 13, Kathy O’Day and Sean McAdams, LCC Media Specialist, were invited to meet with Pastor Dave Gieseking from Living Water Lutheran Church in Mexico Beach, Florida. Hurricane Michael, with its 155 mph winds and 15’ storm surge, totally wiped his church and home away along with coastal towns. Pastor held worship service on the beach this past Sunday morning to offer the hope of Christ in the midst of chaos. Living Water was known as the “community church” as its doors were always open and they served the community needs with its presence and willing hearts and hands. Help will be needed in this community for many years to come.
CLICK HERE to view to Pastor Dave as he shows the devastation and shares his story
With your help, LCC is blessed to provide the physical help and a comforting presence needed to help individuals, families, first responders, and volunteers in all of these communities who are shocked, devastated, and feeling hopeless and helpless. Please continue to support us with fervent prayer and if you are moved, continue to help us with expenses.
By day's end on Thursday, 6 of the 19 LCC K-9 Comfort Dog teams were on-site by the memorial that was building at Pine Trails Park which is less than a mile from the high school. Other K-9 teams continued to arrive through Sunday, including law enforcement handlers from the LCC K-9 Police Ministry. The park is a place to enjoy tennis, soccer, yoga, a playground, and has a recreation center and an amphitheater for activities. Since that tragic day, the recreation center is now a counseling and service center for victims of the shooting. The amphitheater and grassy field in front of it has become a solemn place to mourn, grieve, and pray.
Each day at Pine Trails Park, the number of people stopping by increased, and the students would return to visit the crosses and stars that marked the memory of their friends and family members. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers did what they were trained to do – be present, listen, and pray. There is no comparison amongst tragedies. Nothing is the same and everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and loss. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams worked tirelessly in their mission to bring the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need. Students would tearfully share their stories of their friends and where they were that day. Parents often accompanied their children to the park to be close to them.
Within days of being in Parkland, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams received an invitation to work with the counselors of Broward County Schools. The Broward County School District is the sixth largest school district in the United States, with over 300 schools and approximately 300,000 students. The district had just finished their recovery from Hurricane Irma and had also assimilated thousands of children from Puerto Rico into the schools as a result of Hurricane Maria. It was an amazing accomplishment. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would present another challenge that no school district would ever want to face.
During the first week on-site, along with being at the park, the LCC K-9 Ministry teams were assigned to visit over 20 elementary and middle schools in the surrounding communities to be with children who were afraid to come to or be in school. The teams visited the children and then worked with counselors to help specific children who were still having difficulty understanding what happened. The teams also visited schools where family members had lost loved ones and a school where a first grader had died in a fire. The teachers and staff at each of the schools are doing their very best to help the children feel safe and loved.
Teachers from the high school were brought together the Friday immediately following the shooting. After that, they had met mostly at funerals and at Pine Trails Park. Last Friday, the teachers were welcomed into the school to be with each other and to start planning their return. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog teams were invited to be there to support the faculty, staff, and first responders. It was a reassuring moment and a positive break as they stood, sat, and laid with the dogs.
The second deployment is under way this week, with 12 LCC K-9 Ministry teams that will serve Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the students return on Wednesday, February 28.
The LCC K-9 Ministry thanks you for your continued prayers and support that helps us bring the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to the Parkland, Florida community. If you are so moved, please support us through donations to the K-9 Travel Expense Fund so that we can continue to serve this hurting community.
Emergency Appeal: LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Deploy to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, Florida in Response to Mass Shooting
On Wednesday, February 14 - Valentine's Day - another horrific mass shooting has occurred. As the school day was coming to an end at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, gunshots were heard resulting in approximately seventeen people killed, with many others either physically wounded or emotionally devastated. Since the start of 2018, in just seven weeks, there have already been eighteen shootings in U.S. schools, and many have resulted in injury or death. With this increase in frequency, communities are living with fear and anxiety wondering when the next one will occur.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs have been invited by Rev. Stephen Carretto of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Boca Raton, Florida, to bring comfort and compassion to students and their families, faculty, staff and first responders.
LCC never goes where we are not invited and LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs NEVER charge those we serve. We pick up all of our travel, hotel, and meal costs. We also always put Boots and Paws on the ground within 24 hours (often less) from the time we get the invite.
Please help LCC as we bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need. We know that comfort is needed to help this devastated community and the first responders who serve them. Please support us by prayer and if you are moved, to help with travel expenses.