By the Mercies of God

God blessed the church with an outpouring of donations, and the LCMS has put those dollars to work through tangible acts of mercy.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).

In early 2020, people around the world were faced with something most of those living had never experienced before: a worldwide pandemic. In many places, employees were sent to work from home, children began attending school virtually, and churches were forced to figure out how to livestream worship — all practically overnight.

But in the midst of this tumultuous time, God was present with His people. He promises that “all things work together for good” for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28), even during a global pandemic. He used this trial as an opportunity to greatly bless The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) through the generosity and compassion of people throughout the entire Synod in a way that has not been seen for quite some time.

Over the last few years, an incredible $8.2 million was joyfully given to support the sharing of Christ’s mercy around the world as donations for “LCMS World Relief and Human Care” or “Mercy.”

And the LCMS put those dollars to work through tangible acts of mercy — in the United States, in Kenya, in the Dominican Republic and in locations all around the world. The work of the LCMS is distinctive because it is always done hand in hand with the bold proclamation of the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Lutherans care for others as a response to the ultimate example of mercy that comes from God. In a booklet titled “The Church’s Role of Mercy in the Community,” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison writes: “In Christ, a restless divine love was sent forth to find its object, a world in need of mercy (John 3:16). Likewise, that divine love, dwelling in hearts by faith, cannot but express itself in mercy toward those in need” (8).

On behalf of all those who were blessed by this mercy work, thank you for expressing your faith and being a blessing through your ongoing gifts and prayers.

The following are two of the stories that you’ll find as part of this accountability campaign.

Global Safety and Security

In 1894, the LCMS called its first international missionary, thereby launching a legacy of mission work that has impacted the lives of people in 90 countries around the world. Missionaries have many opportunities to share the Gospel and show mercy, but they also face many challenges and changing situations, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks and political unrest.

The LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) dedicates some of the dollars generously given to LCMS World Relief and Human Care to help the Synod’s missionaries navigate these complex situations. The goal of this effort is to keep them safe, while also providing peace of mind so that they can serve to the best of their ability.

Global Safety and Security Manager Jay Kuczynski joined the LCMS Office of International Mission in 2022.

In September 2022, Jay Kuczynski joined the OIM as global safety and security manager, with the goal of being proactive and “trying to limit the impact of incidents or prevent them from happening in the first place.” In this role, Kuczynski approaches safety and security through educating, equipping and empowering mission staff to utilize the information, tools and resources that are available to them. Part of his role includes monitoring situations around the globe, providing relevant reports to the Synod’s regional mission teams, helping to identify local medical providers, and training new missionaries during the orientation process.

Through the global safety and security program, the OIM utilizes industry-leading resources that possess the capability to assist missionary families with their care needs, both security and medical related.

“The biggest risk revolves around medical [issues],” Kuczynski said. “Places where people haven’t had the opportunity to hear about Christ often happen to be the same places where medical standards are lower [than what most of us are used to]. We’ve placed a lot of our focus and investment on aligning our resources to help our missionary families find providers that can appropriately care for their needs.”

Kuczynski also closely monitors developing situations around the world, such as the Israel-Hamas conflict. In cases like these, he tries to anticipate how these situations could impact the Synod’s international workers and projects — not only in the hotspot itself, but also as those tensions radiate to other countries and populations.

Most recently, he worked with the Asia regional team to develop an evacuation plan for staff living in Taiwan who could be impacted by rising tensions with China. Kuczynski then hosted a simulated exercise with the regional leadership team to work through how that plan would work. “Having this plan in place allows us to make a more strategic decision instead of one based on emotion or fear, with the aim to keep missionaries in the field longer without jeopardizing their safety,” he said.

Through these efforts, Kuczynski said the OIM is “putting together a program that is intended to support our missionary families and also our international travelers … to increase long-term retention and success.”

Care for Missionaries

The LCMS’ 100-plus missionaries have the joy of telling people all around the world about the Savior, Jesus Christ. But life on the international mission field can also come with culture shock, uncertainty, loneliness and many other feelings.

“Our missionaries, just like our church workers here in the states, need support,” said Deaconess Tirzah Krey, a registered nurse who serves as regional human care coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Deaconess Tirzah Krey (standing, at right) and her family provide music during a service in the Dominican Republic in 2022.

“I often use the example of Martin Luther, who said when you go to church you bring your sack, and it’s empty. When you leave church, it’s full of the gifts you receive there through the Word and Sacraments and fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said. “I like to pretend I’m running alongside our missionaries, and throughout the week I’m tossing a little something into their bag.”

Krey is part of a six-person team that cares for the missionaries in the region. This team includes two pastors who proclaim the Word of God and offer spiritual care in both English and Spanish.

An important part of Krey’s role is traveling to be with a missionary family during a medical situation. As both a nurse and a deaconess, she is able to help coordinate care and provide support in a unique way. In her day-to-day work, she also “[tosses] … into their bag” by checking in with missionaries, sending notes of encouragement or stopping by with the occasional ice cream.

At the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, Deaconess Ellie Corrow serves behind the scenes as missionary care coordinator for the OIM. She collaborates with the regional teams, but she also ensures that missionaries receive holistic care at all stages of their service — from acceptance of their placement to their return home at the end.

“Care starts even in the recruitment stage when we look for a placement that fits the needs of the entire family,” Corrow said. “Our focus is not just on the called worker, but on the entire household,” so that a family is able to transition successfully to the field.

The OIM also provides a rigorous orientation for new missionaries, with a family curriculum that parents can use to help prepare their children for the move. These concepts are reinforced during the two weeks that the families spend in St. Louis for the on-site portion of orientation. This training helps prepare and equip the entire family for the transition to life on the field.

Through these varied efforts, staff in St. Louis and around the world are supporting the well-being of missionary families — spiritually, emotionally and physically — as they go where the Lord leads. “We all have the same goal: that missionaries would be healthy and stay on the field for as long as the Lord would want them there,” Corrow said. “We’re all working together to make that happen.”

Learn More

  • The LCMS is sharing stories and information about how gifts to LCMS World Relief and Human Care (Mercy) were put to work to provide tangible acts of mercy through an accountability campaign called “By the Mercies of God.” Visit engage.lcms.org/mercy for more articles, photos and videos of how these efforts are making a difference in the lives of people all around the world.
  • Make a gift to support the Synod’s mercy work around the world.

Pray with Us

Dear heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to be a sacrifice for the world so that You might have mercy on sinners. Help us to show mercy to those in need among us, in the church and the world, that all might know Your mercy and love in Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Share Jesus with the World

Your generosity today makes possible your Synod’s witness and mercy efforts both at home and abroad.

Are you looking to direct your gifts for work that’s more specific?
Visit the LCMS online ministry and mission catalog to find those opportunities most meaningful to you!

Don’t see what you’re looking for?
Contact LCMS Mission Advancement at 888-930-4438 or mission.advancement@lcms.org to talk about all the options available.

Megan K. Mertz

Managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and chief copy editor for LCMS Communications.

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