GO Therefore: Food to You – Ukrainian Refugees in Sioux Falls?

Food to You – Ukrainian Refugees in Sioux Falls?

Back in mid-September, Gloria Dei members and friends had the chance to volunteer with a mobile food pantry called Food to You. On this particular Thursday night, Food to You was being hosted by Messiah New Hope Lutheran Church just to the north of Gloria Dei on the east side of Sioux Falls.

A number of volunteers busily prepared for the 100 or so families we expected to meet that night. Pallets full of fresh vegetables donated by POET, frozen meat donated by Feeding South Dakota, and fresh bread donated by Brake Bread ministries and area bakeries were sorted and prepped for distribution. As the families arrived, the room full of volunteers turned into a room full of smiles and friendly faces. Gloria Dei members greeted each family with dignity and grace and the love of Jesus. It was amazing.

I learned something interesting that night: Sioux Falls is home to a fairly significant population of Ukrainian refugees. Refugees, as many of you already know, are people who have fled their home country due to some sort of violence or oppression beyond their control. Many of these particular refugees began arriving in the U.S. in the early 2000’s. Some have landed in Sioux Falls.

My role the evening of Food to You was to help carry the boxes stuffed with food for each family. Carts were provided and we wheeled the heavy boxes out to some not-so-road-worthy vehicles. In spite of the condition of the vehicles, the attitudes of each guest were attitudes of gratefulness and joy. I spent a number of my trips in and out of the building walking along side of and visiting with Ukrainian refugee families. I was fascinated by their stories. They fled Ukraine seeking refugee from the communist regime and the threat of war in Ukraine and Russia. They came to America seeking the promise of freedom. They are hardworking people with that elusive American dream and they were so grateful to have a little extra help with food to make it through the week.

The next day, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an Argus Leader news story about a Ukrainian couple who had settled in Sioux Falls and opened a tailoring business on east 26


street. Some of you may recognize the business as Olga’s, across the street from the Cherry Creek Grill and Bagel Boy. Check out the story here:


Wanting to know more, I did a Google search and found this article from Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota. It does a good job of covering why these refugees have fled, check it out:


Many stories, like those of these incredible Ukrainian families, are the stories of people we get the chance to meet when we participate in mission and outreach through Gloria Dei. I’d love to have you join us sometime. Come for the good feelings that serving brings; stay for the amazing relationships we get to make with God’s children all across Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and around the world!

Let’s GO Gloria Dei!

Pastor Chris

GO Therefore: The Rest of the Story

Church on the Street – The Rest of the Story

So much of what happens with mission and outreach takes place out of Gloria Dei’s view. We know about the ministry, hear it being promoted in worship, and see the lists of people responding to volunteer, but we often don’t hear the rest of the story. Those of you who’ve participated in this great ministry can attest to the sometimes powerful impacts it has, not only on those we serve, but on us especially. September seemed to be a great month for mission and outreach ministry. There was a TON of stuff going on.

There were several pretty incredible, impactful connections for those who had the opportunity to participate. One of the most powerful moments for me took place when a few of us gathered to worship with Church on the Street. Church on the Street, or COTS, is the South Dakota Synod’s newest worshipping community. They worship right in the heart of Sioux Falls, but not in a church building. Mission developer, Rebel Hurd, quite literally brings the church to the street. One Saturday in early September, a few Gloria Dei members gathered for worship with Rebel and the good people of COTS. As we arrived, Rebel excitedly shared with us some big news for the day: we were going to have not one, but THREE baptisms (thanks to the Spirit, later in the morning we added a fourth)!

Rebel leaned in as she spoke and said in a hushed, almost crackling voice, “the story of this baptism is amazing.” As she continued, Rebel shared with us that one of the baptisms was a newborn baby girl. COTS was throwing a baby shower for the family after worship that day. The newborn girl and her mother had a powerful story. Rebel shared that the mother was staying in one of the shelters in Sioux Falls before the baby was born. When it came time for the baby to be delivered, the mother went to a Sioux Falls hospital. The baby was delivered without complication and everyone was thankful. Two days later, the hospital discharged the mother and newborn; however, it was late evening. The shelter where the mother had been staying closed their doors at 8pm. After a few panicked phone calls the mother was told she would not be allowed to stay in the shelter for the night. The newborn baby girl slept underneath the coat of her mother in a park her first night out of the hospital.

It was a gripping story, powerful enough to move us to tears as we welcomed the child into the Lord’s family that Saturday morning. Just like always, the Spirit showed up in the water and the Word that day, but this time it seemed to mean even more than usual. It was a gift to be witnesses and participants in worship that day. Church on the Street is the kind of ministry that you, Gloria Dei, help to support. Thank you. There are always lots of ways to get involved with ministries like this at Gloria Dei. Keep your eyes on our webpage: http://www.gloriadei-sd.org/go-therefore

Let’s GO Gloria Dei!

Pastor Chris

GO Therefore: September 19, 2017

I took the summer off from writing and keeping up with this blog. It was a nice bit of Sabbath rest, allowing for reflection on my first year of ministry here at Gloria Dei. Summer was a great time to vacation and spend days off with my wife and children. But let’s be honest, when you have kids, you look forward to the regular routine of school again!

As things have begun kicking off here at Gloria Dei again this fall, I’ve been actively working together with many of you to plan and lead mission and outreach opportunities locally, around the state, and across the world. It’s been exciting work and I am thankful for God leading every step of the way. Let’s be honest again, without the leadership of the Spirit, none of this would happen. We have an amazing God who is constantly out ahead of us preparing the way for us.

Already, planning has begun for our trip to Nicaragua. As is often the case with international missions, there is a lot in flux. Many of the moving parts that were in place last year have since moved and changed. Our missionary, Sergio, has taken a call to teach and work in the Lutheran church in Germany. We are thankful for his partnership and know that God is there ahead of him, calling him to that ministry now. As we work to figure out how God will provide for our trip to Nicaragua this coming February, I’ve also spent time reflecting back on last year’s trip. The following is an entry from a journal I kept both in country and the weeks following.

“One of the last days in Nicaragua, our medical mission team gathered in the home of an old maid. Our group of tired, sweaty Americans jumped quickly from the yellow bus. Even our smell disrupted the pastoral, idyllic scene in the small village we had abruptly entered. The old maid’s home housed a beautiful kitchen. A stone oven fired in the corner, billowing black smoke from the wood fire. The woman appeared from another room, stepping gingerly out from behind a sheet that was her bedroom door. She greeted us in the front room, a room that beckoned us in as it had no doors or sheets to speak of. At one end of the room stood a simple table made from tree branches and salvaged boards. The table was draped with a delicately laced doily. A simple wooden cross stood in the center of the table and rocked unevenly as I grazed the table’s rough edge. In a moment, it became clear that the table was not only part of this woman’s home; it was, in fact, an altar and this front room was a sanctuary. As we unpacked our medical supplies, the altar table became an exam station. Blood pressure cuffs laid were the blood of the lamb was blessed and God’s people communed. Doctor’s notepads, for writing prescriptions, took seat where the Great Physician promises to do His work at every holy supper. The sanctuary bustled with activity. When the time came, we dined there, too. Chicken and rice and beans. Handmade tortillas. I couldn’t keep track of everything that happened there that day. As we loudly leapt from the bus through the open doors of that front room, we were transported from the sanctuary, to the altar table, to the clinic, to the dining room. It was a mess of holiness, held together by the work of the Holy Spirit.”

I look forward to this year of mission work, both locally and in places like Nicaragua. Please keep checking back here to hear more of the stories.

Let’s GO Gloria Dei!

Pastor Chris

Go Therefore: Nicaragua Connections April 2017

Nicaragua Connections
Needs Right Now
Monthly Partnership Ministry April – St. Francis House

Go Therefore: New Neighbors March 2017

Go Therefore: A New Look

A redesign or relaunch is never easy. Here Pastor Chris explains the new Go Therefore idea in more detail and how he plans to use it to call our attention to opportunities to “GO” and serve. Take a moment to read his words to us, then prayerfully consider how you can “GO!”