Members of Global Linked raise awareness
about the crisis in Syria.
By Megan Nuehring
Decorah, Iowa, is a town of about 8,120 people. It’s a town that is not very large in numbers but certainly has a big heart. And now thanks to a project some young ELCA members are organizing there, the town is learning more about how it can help their neighbors overseas.
It started when the youth directors Adrian Walters at First Lutheran Church and Todd Hove at Decorah Lutheran Church, both ELCA congregations in Decorah, wanted to take part in a pilot project through ELCA Missionary Sponsorship that would help their youth connect with the ELCA’s engagement overseas.
A former professor at Luther College in Decorah, recommended Rachel Messier, a student, to head up the project. Luther is one of the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities.
“It was kind of a unique situation where Rachel has created her own major -- global mission and youth,” says Todd. “We met with Rachel and talked with her, and it sounded like something she liked to do for her senior project.”
Todd and Adrian recruited some students from their youth groups, and the project Global Linked was born!
“Global Linked was developed as a way for youth to get involved in ELCA global ministries -- a way to help youth serve as bridges to bring the world into their home congregations,” says Rachel.
Rachel brought the students together to meet and brainstorm about projects that could be done to impact their community.
“The youth decided that 7 a.m., before school begins was the best time to meet, so that’s when we meet, plan, talk about where God is leading us, and pray together,” says Rachel.
After reading through the ELCA Missionary Sponsorship e-newsletter Global Links, the students decided they wanted to raise awareness about the crisis in Syria and see what they could do to help. Since the students had learned about the situation in Syria in school they were interested in the topic.
“They kind of did some research,” says Adrian. “They were like, ‘You hear on TV that something’s happening in Syria,’ but their research made it more real for them. That’s when we started putting publicity out.”
The students performed temple talks and hung posters and flyers around their congregations to help raise awareness about the situation. They also put out a newsletter and started a Facebook page dedicated to the topic.
“They didn’t want to just stop there, though,” says Adrian. The students wanted to do something that would actually help those involved in the Syrian conflict.
“It’s a messy situation,” Todd shares. “We wanted what we sent to actually get to the people who need it.” So rather than collect money, the students reached out to their congregations to collect toiletries that will be assembled into kits that can be sent to refugees.
"This project has been a great way to serve both those in our world and those in our backyard,” says Jacob, one of the Global Linked students. “It has opened our eyes to the needs of our world and the needs of our neighbors. It gives us a great opportunity to help all of God's people and share the gifts God has entrusted to us.”
“God calls us to serve others. Although, he may not tell us in person, he does make needs in our communities and around the world evident for us to see,” Rachel shares. “Sometimes it is easier for us to serve certain groups of people than others, but God calls us to a higher standard; God asks us to willingly serve everyone.”
Megan Nuehring is a student at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, majoring in public relations and religion with a minor in leadership.
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