(Spirit Lutheran’s Mission & Outreach Committee is pleased to welcome Pastor Lori as our guest author for January. She and her husband, Pastor Phil Ruge-Jones, are personal friends with the leaders of the Lutheran World Federation, and are well acquainted with the work of this hard-working organization.)
The Lutheran World Federation is an organization of Lutherans across the globe, created after World War 2 for a concentrated and collaborative effort for refugee resettlement. Seventy-five years later, LWF continues to do relief, humanitarian, and advocacy work around the world on behalf of 145 churches in 89 countries, representing over 74 million Lutherans. They have relationships with people “on the ground” to be able to accomplish this work quickly and effectively.
Through renewal of an old friendship and hosting an exchange student, I have made several friends at LWF in Geneva, Switzerland. In my conversations with them, I am most struck by their commitment to collaboration in their justice work. “Dialog pays off” is almost a mantra, and their dedication to dialog shows up across the hall in their work with the World Council of Churches; across the street in their work at the United Nations; across denominational lines in their ecumenical work (which we celebrate this Reformation anniversary year); and across religious lines in their interfaith work. That they cross gender, cultural, and socioeconomic lines goes without saying, as they can be found in all corners of the world. My friends there are committed to engaging across these lines, always rooted in solid Lutheran theology and language, starting from places of commonality and working within and around difference.
Perhaps the most striking ministry of LWF I have witnessed myself is Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives. In a city divided by walls and by fear, AVH serves children with cancer who are not “allowed” in other hospitals, many of them having traveled many miles and passed through many checkpoints to arrive at the hospital. Children are often accompanied by older grandparents, because their younger parents are seen as a security threat. Arabic Christian and Muslim children trek to AVH for treatment despite all the obstacles. The hospital is dependent on aid from the US and other countries, a mere fraction of the aid that goes to the Israeli government from the US; yet the monies are often frozen and not distributed to the hospital until sufficient political pressure is applied. This is the kind of diligence, advocacy, and faithfulness that is found in LWF.