June 4, 2024

LifeDate Summer 2024 – Made For Life

by Diane Albers, President of Lutherans For Life

Maybe you know someone like our friend, Jerry. He’s one in a million! He started coming to our church a few years ago when he moved into the apartment complex across the busy street from our church. Even though he didn’t have a Lutheran background, he embraced everything about us. At first, he shuffled to Saturday evening service and at least one service and a Bible study on Sunday morning—always with a smile! Then he had to use a cane, and now he uses a motorized scooter.

Jerry tells the story of his birth when the doctor dropped him on the floor, and he stopped breathing. Because of that he has Cerebral Palsy. The doctor told his parents that “he would be dead by age 12.” Jerry is now 80 years old and promises to look for that doctor when he gets to heaven!

Throughout his life, Jerry has experienced many difficulties, not only with his health, but with the way he was treated. As a child, he was often made fun of because of the way he walked and talked. (It does take some getting used to and some careful listening to understand him.) Jerry said, “They put me in a retarded room at school, and they didn’t teach us anything.” His father was ashamed of him, and they had a poor relationship until right before his father’s death.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t treated very well at the church his family attended either. When Jerry was eight years old, the pastor told his parents that he was no longer welcome in his church because it made his church look bad. Thankfully, the family did find another church and continued to attend. Throughout his life, Jerry has used Philippians 4:13 as a source of strength and comfort:

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

In 1975, Jerry developed a group he called “The Young Adult Handicap Group.” This group was very helpful to many young adults. Around this time, he began his career as a janitor at a St. Louis public school and retired at 50 years old after 18 years of service. Now Jerry goes to church as often as he can, and if he doesn’t show up for services or his various Bible studies, everyone wonders where he is!

Despite his disabilities, Jerry is excited for his Lord and his life, and he smiles all of the time—except when he is serious while getting his picture taken! (We were fortunate to get the photo on page 4!) He eagerly talks about Jesus with his medical personnel and to all he meets.

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7).

Some people would look at Jerry and only see his disabilities, but Jerry was Made 4 Life by his creator just to be who he is—a strong Christian man who influences many. In his own words: “Never lose sight of where you came from but look where you are going. God called you. Something good is about to happen. It’s yours, so grab it!”

My husband, Mike, and I were able to attend the Lutheran Adoption Conference at the Hyatt Regency Houston April 10-11. It was a very informative and enriching experience. (Getting there was a story unto itself with a delayed flight, a canceled connecting flight, and ending up at the “other” Houston airport! Yet, as it worked out, we were only 10 minutes late to dinner!)

It was worth it! Singer Mark Schultz told his very moving adoption story. Speakers also included Rev. Max Phillips; Kim Laube; Mollie Clark; and Rev. Dr. James Lamb, Lutheran Family Service; Rev. Michael Salemink, Lutherans For Life; Dr. Brad Imler, Christian Adoptions Alliance; Chandler James, The Riverside Project; and Rachel Greiner, Christian Life Resources. Watch for more information on adoption!