Bill Truebenbach, Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) Program Coordinator, shares how people began a JCM program in the Kenosha area.
God uses His own timetable, which doesn’t always agree with ours, yet in His time, God helps Jesus Cares Ministries grow. I’ve been reminded of this while helping start a “New Friends” program at Shoreland Lutheran High School.
In the fall of 2008, Pastor Scott Bergemann of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, started our Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) simplified “Worship at the Cross” service. Invitations were mailed to all the area group homes in the area. Pastor Bergemann worked with the local newspaper to have an article about the service included. Advertising continued to go out to promote the service for people who have an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD). The service did not take off, with strong attendance, as we had hoped, and after ample time and with no one attending it was decided to end the service.
In the spring of 2011 I held a karaoke dance for the area people with an IDD. The event was held at Shoreland Lutheran High School near Kenosha. I wanted to see if we could find interest again for a JCM program. Over 80 people showed up for the dance and had a great time. With that turnout, I was certain that providing the simplified worship at Shoreland would bring them back. In consecutive months after the dance I once again invited all who attended the dance to the worship service. None came, and the service stopped.
I still prayed that a JCM program would one day take hold in the area. God answered that prayer in September of 2011. I was contacted by the Program Manager for three new Bethesda Lutheran Communities adult family homes that had just opened in nearby Sturtevant. She asked where there was a JCM program that her clients could go to nearby. I explained that there was none at this time, but we was ready to start one if we could determine a day and time to serve her clients.
On the first Thursday of November 2011 the “Worship at the Cross” service was held at Shoreland at 6:00 p.m. All three Bethesda vans pulled up with nine participants and six caregivers. Five Shoreland students helped me with the worship. On the first Thursday in December all of the people from Bethesda came back. This time we had a dozen high school students to help. God answered my prayer.
The Shoreland students are already seeing that they can become more involved by helping with reading God’s Word, doing a Bible story skit and life application to help all learn. One student will play the keyboards next service instead of using the CD and boombox. They are looking to go Christmas caroling to the homes of their NEW FRIENDS. Yes, I put “New Friends” in capital letters for a reason. That’s what we call our college and high school programs who share Jesus in this way. I will be encouraging the students to continue being part of the worship service and to take ownership of it. I will also encourage them to have other fun events such as movie night or inviting them to their basketball games or other events.
As we left the worship service one of the Shoreland students said, “Aren’t there others in the area that should be coming to this?” YES! They came to the dance. Now we need to get them to the service. But for now, God’s timetable says we are to learn how to serve the nine people He has given us. In time, God’s time, and with our efforts, we will serve the others. We can trust that it is part of God’s timetable.