| Return to the July 11, 2013 issue of eNews |
In so many ways, the work of Lutheran World Relief is all about transitions and movement. We work in rural communities within developing countries to help families move from poverty to promise by helping them grow food, access clean water, improve their livelihoods and recover from and become resilient to disasters.
As I write to you, I am immensely hopeful for the future of Lutheran World Relief and yet appropriately pensive as I contemplate a different kind of transition — one that is personally difficult for me. Effective September 1, I will resign my role as president and CEO of LWR to accept the Emil and Elfriede Jochum Chair at Valparaiso University, an endowed professorship supporting the study of Christian values in public and professional life. Choosing to leave LWR has been one of the toughest decisions of my life.
Doing God’s work, in God’s world, with God’s people in God’s time — that’s how I’ve always described the great blessing of serving as president of LWR. I’ve witnessed first-hand both the challenges faced by people living in poverty and the impact of life-changing support from people like you.
In 2007, when I learned I’d have the honor of leading this great organization, I asked some of my friends what they knew about LWR. Some said, “LWR responds to disasters.” Others said, “You know that saying about teaching a person to fish? That’s what LWR does. It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”
These are all true, but by far the most frequent answer I got was, “Quilts! LWR sends Quilts to people overseas who need to feel God’s love.”
Quilting is a proud tradition that begins at LWR’s very founding in 1945, when handmade Quilts comforted European refugees left homeless by the ravages of World War II. As president of LWR, I’ve had the privilege of seeing how Quilts transform lives, both those who make quilts and those who receive quilts.
I’ve met with quilting groups like that of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, in Pine City, Minn., where quilters join with women incarcerated at the Pine County Correctional Facility to craft gifts of love that will journey far beyond the walls of that difficult place.
Those Quilts travel across oceans, borders and barriers to places like Kolkata, India, where I was able to join with Sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation established by Mother Teresa, to tenderly place LWR Mission Quilts upon patients succumbing to HIV/AIDS. Even in that hot climate, these warm Quilts provided needed comfort for the sick and dying.
Sisters from the Missionaries of Charity distribute LWR Mission Quilts at Prem Dan, a home for homeless and destitute women and men in Kolkata, India.
We recently made a video called “Two Women. Two Lives. Touched by an LWR Quilt.” It celebrates the connections God creates through the gift of an LWR Quilt. I believe that connection is part of the enduring power of the LWR Quilt ministry and why Quilts are our most requested item.
You may have heard that 2013 is the “Year of the Quilt.” Lutherans across the U.S. are participating in the LWR Quilt Campaign to send 500,000 Quilts around the world. That’s a lot of time, sewing and love! And for each Quilt made, it costs LWR $2.25 to get it into the hands of a person in need.
As my parting legacy, I want to ensure LWR has the funds it needs to place every one of those Quilts into the hands of women, men and children who are suffering. Will you join with me? A gift of $225 to LWR’s Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund means 100 families will touch and feel the love that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with others. Of course, a gift in any amount will help.
I am both humbled to have labored alongside you and excited to continue supporting the mission and ministry of LWR among you. I hope you’ll consider joining me in support of the Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund.
God is at work in, with and through you — creating a path to the fulfillment of our mission to end poverty, injustice and human suffering.
Thank you for sustaining me as you have over these past years. Your faithful prayers, words of encouragement and signs of support have been life-giving gifts. Truly, you are the hands of Christ in the world.
John A. Nunes
President and CEO