The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


"Whoever has two coats ..."

“In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise’ ” (Luke 3:11).

Two months ago I was in Egypt. It was 80 degrees outside and Christmas seemed very far off.

Nur Ahmed Fira (left) and another student at the St. Andrew Refugee Ministry in Cairo play soccer during a physical education class.
As I watched children, some barefoot, play soccer in a sunny courtyard, it was hard to imagine that the weather gets cold enough to require a coat. But it does, and for hundreds of Sudanese refugee children living temporarily in Cairo, a blanket or coat is too expensive for their families to provide.

“If you ask a child whether he has a coat, he’ll say ‘yes,’ ” said Richard Allhusen, director of the St. Andrew Refugee Ministry in Cairo. “But he may not wear it the next day, or the next, because he’s sharing it with his brothers and sisters.”

Each week the ministry provides classes for 200 children and 700 adults, as well as sewing, woodworking and painting workshops.

Teachers and staff help identify schoolchildren who need clothing or jackets and families who need furniture. Often, college students returning home from a study-abroad sojourn in Cairo will donate housewares, furniture and clothing they no longer need.

At Christmas each child receives a blanket, and Allhusen said the ministry keeps extras available in case a child asks for one for a brother or sister.

For women with an interest in sewing, the ministry provides a drop-in workshop where Aisha Abdul teaches them to design outfits from start to finish. They begin by drawing their patterns and go home with a modest tunic-and-skirt set. Making their clothing helps them save money, as well as teaches a valuable skill they can, in turn, use to make an income.

This week's front page features:

Pointing the way: In Luther's vision, Mary is a path to God. (Image at right.)

Doctor doggie: Buddy makes hospital rounds.

Stretching open arms to South Africa.

Tips for praying with young children: Try it their way.

Also: ELCA college forms Luther House of Study.

Also: Preparing the way.

Also: Heartache and repair.

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann (right) poses a few questions for blog-readers.

Cindy Novak blogs about increasing poverty in suburban areas.

Amber Leberman asks how congregations can better welcome those carrying pain, secrets and shame.

Kathy Kastilahn blogs about bridging the "Christmas wars" through service to others.

Amber Leberman reminds readers about last week's discussion forum topics.

Sonia Solomonson writes about Army personnel suffering emotional trauma from their time in Iraq.

Check out our blog > > >

Share your opinions about the December issue:

Take some time to tell us what you thought of the December issue of The Lutheran. Don't know where to start? Consider these questions:

• What did we do right this month?
• What stories inspired you?
• What did we cover that you'd like to see more of in the future?
• What needs improvement?
• What stories did you skip?
• What did we cover that you'd like to see less of in the future?
• What would you like to tell the staff of the magazine (and your fellow readers)?

Calling all pastors' spouses:

For a future story in The Lutheran about the changing role of the pastor’s spouse, we are asking for responses to these questions:

• What are the expectations on the pastor’s spouse today compared to several decades ago?

• What can the congregation do to support the pastor’s spouse?

Please identify yourself and your congregation and city. Also, note whether you’re a pastor’s spouse, pastor or congregation member.

Send your comments to Julie Sevig by Jan. 15.

Members: Respond online > > >

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MARCH issue:

All are welcome