by Mona Fuerstenau, Director of Ministry Partnerships at Bethesda Lutheran Communities
My first time attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in 2019 was a big surprise. I didn’t expect to be surprised. But I was. I was so surprised at how many of the thousands in attendance were young. I kept trying to find estimates of the percentage of people under the age of 21. It boggled my mind. I asked them a lot of questions. I watched the young people participate. I puzzled over how surprised I was until I took time, sat down, and thought about it. Really thought about it. It should not have surprised me so much. I have years of data points working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to support the phenomena I was seeing. In my experience, young people care deeply about and value differences among and between people. They are curious. They ask questions. They adapt, accept, support, and champion. It stands to reason they would care deeply about the value of all lives and participate in the March for Life. That day was my introduction to the term “The For Life Generation,” and it was filled with AHA! moments.
In the year since that experience, I have explored this For Life Generation through reading, online groups and forums, and YouTube videos. I have admired the passion and energy for all life reflected in those arenas. It is an encouragement to me as I work in the field of advocacy for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I feel hopeful the youth of the For Life Generation will have a positive impact on the life experiences of those they encounter with disabilities.
I was privileged to share about Bethesda on an LFL Frontline call in April. The other speakers that night were college student leaders from the Students for Life group on campus at Concordia University Wisconsin. They expressed interest in reaching out to the Bethesda College students on their campus to invite them to engage in life activities with them. See? It has begun!
I invite you to explore the work we do at Bethesda by visiting our website www.BethesdaLC.org. Check out our new Home Activity Center! It is full of ideas and activities. Use them in your own families and visit our volunteer tab to find ways to connect with the people we support and their staff. You can download, print, and color cards; send a virtual greeting; check out our list of church services online and our music play lists; watch our YouTube videos; do a devotion or Bible activity; and send a video to share with others.
Volunteers and donors are needed all the time but are especially critical now. Click on the volunteer tab for a list of top-ten needed items, make a prayer cloth, provide birthday celebrations, and more.
Come work with us! Caring and committed staff are always needed.
I hope one day soon to be part of a group of people with disabilities Marching for Life alongside and in the midst of the For Life Generation.