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Lutheran Disaster Response

Rest and Forget: Syrian Refugee Crisis in Europe


By the end of December 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration, with more than half coming from Syria. More than 3,500 refugees and migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, reports say. The scale of the current refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa is unprecedented in recent times. The UN estimates more than 15.5 million people in those regions (Syrians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, and others) have been displaced by violence.

In an update from Jovana Savic, Church World Service-Europe Senior Program Manager, we learned that hundreds of thousands of refugees have passed through the registration center in Presevo, Serbia – the entry point for refugees passing through Serbia from Macedonia. Jovana said, “I have been organizing CWS’s response to the refugee crisis in Europe since September, and I have seen hundreds of families come through Presevo. Thousands of faces, each with a story to tell.”

She goes on to speak of three young women, Hala, Bothain, and Nadia, who have been traveling together. They are traveling to seek asylum in Germany. Jovana said, “I asked about their hopes, and their responses were both simple and human. They want the same things that have been taken from them and that we take for granted, including security, happiness, and a sense of normalcy. In the meantime, though, they just want to rest and forget the sounds of war that are all too familiar.”pic3 w credit

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” The Lutheran Disaster response recognizes that, as part of the body of Christ, we must provide rest for those who are seeking. To date, the ELCA has received $834,000 for the Refugee Crisis. $50,000 was given to Church World Service in Serbia, partnering with the International Red Cross for food, sanitation items, and helping with emergency winter shelter.

With the help of ELCA members, in addition to Serbia, we’ve given $55,000 to Hungarian Interchurch Aid for immediate emergency needs; $50,000 to the Za’taari refugee camp in Jordan to help improve conditions; $60,000 to Lutheran World Federation for assistance to refugees in northern Iraq, and now an additional $70,000 to Lutheran World Federation for vulnerable women and children refugees, in Jordan, outside the camp for education and cash assistance.  We continue to explore ways to be involved in the crisis, including pending funding for efforts in East Central Europe and the Middle East.

Here is how you can be a part of the ELCA’s response:


Please pray for all those affected by the refugee crisis. Remember those who have lost everything and all those who are working to respond. You can use these prayers and resources in your worship services.


Your gifts are needed now to help with immediate relief. Gifts designated for the Middle East and Europe Refugee Crisis will be used in full (100 percent) to assist those directly impacted and have fled for safety.


To learn more about this situation and other LDR response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Subscribe to the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like our Facebook page.
For More Information

To learn more about Hala, Bothain, and Nadia story, Click Here.

Introduction from New Lutheran Disaster Response Program Interpreter


My name is Megan Brandsrud, and I am both excited and thankful to be the new Program Interpreter for Lutheran Disaster Response. As I begin my second week at the ELCA Churchwide office, I am grateful for all of the welcoming colleagues who continue to help me orient myself into this role.

Coincidentally, the flooding in Colorado occurred just before I started working in this role, so I had the opportunity to be a part of initial conversations and meetings between staff and affiliates in the impacted area. It was humbling and impressive to hear of the dedication and efforts being carried out by leaders in the areas affected by the flooding.

I look forward to sharing Lutheran Disaster Response’s powerful stories with you as we put God’s work into action and help those impacted overcome the effects of disaster.

Hurricane Sandy: Mark on the Caribbean

Greetings to All!

Last week the world was just hearing about Hurricane Sandy.  I was in Haiti visiting our companions and discussing work still underway from other large disasters from recent years. The rain was pouring from the time I touched down in the country early Tuesday until I left late Thursday.  Haiti typically gets stints of rain that last a few hours, but a few days?  In the context, a little bit of rain can go far and a lot of rain can destroy people’s livelihoods, health and well-being. 

FNGA, partner of the Lutheran World Federation, mobilizing their emergency team.

Upon my departure from Haiti, I began to hear stories of towns under water and people missing.  Now, four days after the storm has passed Haiti more accurate information on Sandy’s destruction is known.  Haiti has reported over 50 people dead and many more missing.  For Cuba that was more directly hit by the storm, Sandy is the second deadliest storm to hit the island nation in fifty years killing 11 people.  Elsewhere, Jamaica has confirmed one person dead and the Bahamas two. 

The ELCA has been gifted with relationships and networks of actors all around the world that can pull together in times of need.  As we work with our companions to respond to the needs of under-served families devastated by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean, we are also in thought of our communities in the US that are bracing for the impact of the storm. 

I encourage you to find time in your day to give thought in prayer to those who have already experienced loss and for those that will in the days to come.  Please also participate in the response either through your giving of time, prayer or resources.  Tomorrow we will be issuing an appeal with ways to give and more information about the response of your church, the ELCA.


Megan Bradfield, Director for International Disaster Response

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond domestically and internationally in times of need. Donate now.

Sudan: Sounding the Trumpet

Sudan referendum comes to a close. ACT/DCA/Nils Cristensen

Voting in South Sudan concluded this past weekend, possibly marking the birth of Africa’s newest country.  An article published by the ACT Alliance accounts the story of Anglican Bishop Paul Yugusuk and his pledge to be last person to vote at his station.  “And once I have cast my vote, I’ll blow my trumpet to mark the end of slavery and oppression in southern Sudan.”

While the voting was overall very peaceful, painful memories were revived this week as 10 southerners were killed as they tried to move from the north, a low point in a referendum week otherwise dominated by hope and joy. The killings also reminded everyone that while the voting process appeared to have been successful, a very complicated, difficult and dangerous period still lay ahead for all of Sudan, regardless of the outcome.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro recounted how the church led southerners in 101 days of peace prayers up to the referendum – a prayer for a change in our hearts and a prayer for a change in Sudan, he said.

Pointing to a mock ballot box placed at the alter, the archbishop promised the congregation he would pray at the ballot box for continued peace every day until July 9, the day the six year-long peace agreement between north and south Sudan expires.

Click here to read the full article.

Please continue prayer petitions for peace and security for those in Sudan.  Click here for Worship Resources from the ELCA.

Peace ~ Megan

Earthquake in Pakistan

A 7.2 earthquake has hit a remote area of southwestern Pakistan. Today’s quake was centered in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s most sparsely populated area, according to the US Geological Service. The quake’s epicenter was centered in a remote area about 200 miles, or 320 kilometers, southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, the Associated Press reported. The quake was felt in several neighboring provinces and in major cities, including Karachi.  Police from Karachi report no damage or loss of life as of now.

The ELCA’s partner, CWS in Pakistan, has a long record of responding after earthquakes, including the 7.5-magnitude quake that hit Pakistan in 2005.  CWS will conduct assessments and prepare a response if needed.

The Lutheran Church of Australia responds to Queensland Floods

Flood waters continue in the Australian state of Queensland.  The Lutheran Church of Australia is responding to those in need.  You may be interested in checking out the Australia Floods video produced by the Lutheran Church of Australia.  Check out the ELCA Disaster Website

Lutheran Church of Australia office in Queensland.

to see more information on LCA’s response and ways to contribute.  I am also including in this post a letter from LCA pastor James Haak who lives in a community devistated by the floods…

Just a few words to update you with how things are in the Lockyer Valley.

At the end of the week, most of the waters have now receded below minor flood levels and people are commencing the difficult task of cleaning up. In the eastern end of the valley in Laidley and surrounding areas such as Forest Hill, getting rid of the mud and silt that entered homes and drying things out has become a priority. The Laidley manse did have water enter the garage, but not the manse itself. In the western areas, the town of Grantham and its environs still remains a no go area. Police still have the area declared a crime scene as they, the SES, and the military continue the task of searching for bodies in the flood debris. Many of the parish who live in the Grantham and Helidon areas were affected in some way by flooding. I know of one parish member whose house has been totally lost with many more in the parish having lost all or some of their possessions to the waters. Cleaning up is only part of the story as it will take many months for farmers to begin receiving an income again. We are grateful that, to date, it appears that the Lutheran community has been spared any loss of life, but in such a small community as Grantham, many personally know one or more of those who have died.

For those of us who were spared flooding, the worse thing remains the inconvenience as many roads remain closed and even basic necessities such as bread, milk and fuel are in short supply. Local supermarkets are still restricting quantities of the necessities that people can purchase.

We thank our God for your expressions of care and support during this difficult time, and are grateful that we have been spared from an even worse disaster.

In Christ,
Pastor James Haak