A Message from Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer
A Message from Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer, Past President, Lutherans for Life, Canada
In 2002, the delegates attending the Lutheran Church – Canada Convention, held in Kitchener, Ontario, passed Resolution 02.1.02 which stated, “That Lutheran Church – Canada provide leadership in the formation of an autonomous Canadian Lutherans for Life organization.” Following the National Convention, the Social Ministry Committee of the East District decided to be a catalyst making this resolution become reality. After a couple gatherings an ad hoc committee of laypeople and clergy from the East District was created for the purpose of submitting the application for incorporation to the Canadian government. I am pleased to report that on August 11, 2003 Lutherans for Life – Canada was registered as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada. We have, also, submitted an application to be recognized as a charitable organization. Unfortunately, that request has not yet been granted. Please keep this matter in your prayers.
Lutherans for Life – Canada is an organization whose mission is to “witness to the sanctity of human life through education based on the Word of God.” Lutherans for Life – Canada believes every human life – from conception to natural death regardless of physical or mental challenges or condition of dependence – is precious in God’s sight. The vision of Lutherans for Life – Canada is to be a biblical, pro-life voice and resource to Lutherans, and through them, to transform society. LFL-C strives to network pastors and laypeople to make positive differences in people’s lives. Through local chapters and/or congregational members who serve as Life Ministry Coordinators, LFL-C educates other Lutherans on life issues from a biblical law/gospel perspective through LFL produced videos, publications, audiotapes and materials for worship and Bible study.
You may be thinking, “This sounds like a worthy cause, but my schedule is already packed full with activities. Why should I, or the members of my congregation, become involved in Lutherans for Life – Canada?” I could respond, “Because we bought you breakfast” or “Because a synodical resolution says so,” but these reasons are not very compelling.
Let me share with you what I hope you will find to be some compelling reasons to become involved in Lutherans for Life – Canada:
First, abortion is a spiritual issue and provides us with an opportunity for ministry. As Dr. James Lamb, Executive Director of LFL in the United States, says, “Abortion is a spiritual issue because it is not something that dies in abortion; it is someone. It is someone created by God and for whom Jesus died. It is someone who is a gift from God. …”. The Psalmist describes an unborn child with these words, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
Again, Lamb says, “Abortion is a spiritual issue because it deeply wounds women who were pressured into believing that abortion was their only choice and then came to realize the deadliness of that choice. They are burdened with guilt, and only the Gospel can bring them the forgiveness and hope they need.” (CPR Vol. 14, Part 1. p. 58) But not only does abortion affect women, the fathers, the grandparents, and the siblings are affected as well. A post-abortion counselor has said that for every abortion at least 10 people are affected.
What opportunities we have for ministry! We can lead these guilt-ridden, shame-filled, heart-broken people to the cross where their burdens can be relieved by Jesus Christ. They can be refreshed and renewed by the regenerating power of Holy Baptism. They can be comforted as we speak God’s Word of absolution to them. They can receive the “balm of Gilead” as they partake of the Body and Blood of the Crucified One. They can be supported by the love and care of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their life can be filled with a peace and a hope that only comes from a personal relationship with their Saviour.
Second, someone has to speak for those who cannot defend themselves. Our country instinctively mourns when we read headlines shouting, “Five children die in car accident” but this mourning does not apparently extend to the womb. We don’t see headlines in our papers screaming, “315 Abortions Performed Today – 315 Children Die.” Tragically, there are 115,000 abortions performed annually in Canada; that’s 315 a day; that’s 13 every hour. Solomon exhorts, “Rescue those who are being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
Third, Lutherans for Life – Canada is not merely a one issue organization. In addition to educating fellow Lutherans on the matters of abortion, LFL-C produces material, based on the Word of God, that encourages abstinence; that acknowledges all human life to be sacred, including the mentally and physically challenged, and the elderly; that promotes marriage as the union of one man and one woman; that honours singleness; that decries the horrors of reproductive technologies, including cloning, in vitro fertilization, and embryonic stem cell research; that unmasks euthanasia as anything but “mercy-killing” and instead encourages palliative care. LFL-C strives to change hearts, minds and attitudes of fellow Lutherans and this is, to say the least, a challenging task.
Dr. James Dobson in his monthly Focus on the Family Letter (July 2001) recounted a story of Diet Eman, author of Things We Couldn’t Say. “Diet told the story about a rail system that ran nearby a small town which was used by the Nazis to transport boxcars jammed with Jews and other “undesirables.” They were on their way to the death camps in the East. Many times, the trains were sidetracked for hours while the miserable people begged pitifully for food, water, and mercy. There were no bathroom facilities for the journey, which could last four days or longer. Nearby, I’m told, was a small church located close enough to the rail line to hear the cries coming from the boxcars. The church people attending services were deeply disturbed by these mournful ‘distractions,’ and so, they began singing more loudly so they wouldn’t have to hear them. I wonder what the God of all compassion thought about his followers as they used their worship to drown out the calls for help from tortured people.”
Dobson comments, “Isn’t that story analogous to our response to the wickedness around us today? Babies continue to be murdered in the womb. The clinics where this killing is done are located all around us but we don’t want to know about them. Our children are being taught immoral lifestyles in our classrooms, but only a handful of parents show up at school meetings. Homosexual propaganda is being disseminated in a growing number of schools to children as young as kindergarten, and yet, few pastors will mention this assault of innocence on Sunday morning. That would be political, you know.”
Dobson continues, “The New York Post reported that the seniors in a Minneapolis high school were given ‘kits’ from Planned Parenthood before the prom. Each package contained condoms, confetti, breath mints, and a discount coupon to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Is it any wonder that genital herpes infections are soaring and that new cases of AIDS have again reached proportions not seen since before the disease was first identified? What is our reaction to these and hundreds of other disturbing developments? Most of us cram our calendars with so many activities that there is no time left to care. Then we go to the sanctuaries each week and simply sing louder.” (Emphasis added)
In Canada Christians, including many of our fellow Lutherans, seem to have shut out the pleas of the helpless … who are deaf to the silent screams of 115,000 pre-born babies who are aborted every year in Canada … who embrace values and lifestyles of a godless world … who entertain ideas that the mentally and physically challenged are an unnecessary burden upon society … who are indifferent to the needs of aging seniors and their caregivers … who applaud the advances in genetic engineering because it might increase their own quality of life. There are many who cram their lives full with other activities that they have no time or energy to care about anyone but themselves and their immediate family. There are others who are just plain indifferent, lazy and slothful. They would rather play computer games or watch a television programme than become involved in life concerns. Tragically, there are many who frequent our sanctuaries on Sunday and who applaud our church body for passing sanctity of life resolutions, but who remain firmly entrenched in their comfortable pew or pulpit, simply singing louder so that they drown out the cries of the innocent, the needy, the vulnerable, and the helpless.
As I encounter indifference and apathy in fellow-Lutherans, and even as I struggle with this same indifference and apathy in myself I wonder, “Might the indifference and apathy in us be because we do not truly understand the depths of love God has for all life … for us?
It is for these reasons and many others that that we need a Lutherans for Life – Canada organization. LFL-C sees fellow Canadian Lutherans as our “mission field”. We need fellow-Lutherans in our congregations encouraging, inspiring, and educating our people in the sanctity of human life issues. We need fellow-Lutherans who will be a beacon of light in this spiritually and morally dark world. We need fellow-Lutherans who will be a beacon of light in their own congregations as we have to dispel the shadows of the world that creep into our Church. We need you to be that beacon of light on the sanctity of life issues in your congregation and community. We need you to be involved in LFL-C in someway.
How might you become involved in LFL-C?
- We need your prayers and financial support.
- We need Life Ministry Coordinators. A Life Ministry Coordinator is one or several individuals in a local congregation seeking opportunities to educate and motivate members of their own congregation for service as Christian witnesses and citizens on life and family issues.
- We need people to establish local LFL chapters as we have dreams of LFL-C being a nation-wide organization.
- We need people to serve on a “Think Tank” committee who address current ethical, moral, philosophical, medical and theological life concerns and developments.
- We need people to write Bible studies and pamphlets.
- We need people to assist with the newsletter (e.g. editors, writers, data base people; people who will print and distribute it).
- We need people who are willing to serve on the Board of Directors.
- We need people who will organize circuit/zone rallies.
- We need people to create LFL-C convention booths and man them at Conventions, rallies, and so on.
- We need pastors to address life issues from the pulpit and in Bible classes and to circulate the LFL-C newsletter.
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