Dear friends, May 2021
As you know, Vital Signs Ministries involves a lot of different activities. Some involve public pro-life witness — our prayer and sidewalk-counseling sessions at abortion mills, pro-life marches, some of my speaking engagements, and literature distributions. Then there are our “mercy ministries” which deal primarily with services in behalf of seniors. That would include personal visitation, our schedule of “When Swing Was King” presentations, our series of 53 (and counting) activity packets, and the church service we have recently created for Sunday afternoons at Aksarben Village Senior Living. And then there is our involvement in hospitality, networking, study and sermon preparation, book discussions, discipleship, and intercession.
There is also another big part of our ministry which is oriented to print. This would involve the Vital Signs Ministries website, our blogs, the social media platforms, and personal correspondence. And that last category is what I’m going to highlight in this month’s letter because we spend a lot of effort there, firmly convinced that it’s of great value. So let me break down each area of our letter writing to give you a clearer picture of how we use letters as a ministry of enlightenment, advocacy, and encouragement.
1) The LifeSharer Letter. This is a rather unique thing, unlike the typical correspondence that comes from a church or organization. It is not, for instance, a financial report. No, we take “full disclosure” very seriously when it comes to finances (what comes in and where it is spent) but we present those matters in tremendous detail to our Governing Board every quarter. And it is a matter of public record that anyone can see. However, we don’t make it a topic for our monthly letter to you.
Nor does the LifeSharer serve as an appeal for donations. Aside from the closing paragraph, where we usually thank those who back us with their prayers or encouragement or financial support, there have been only 3 or 4 letters that have even mentioned the matter of money in almost 40 years of our ministry. But that’s the way we want it. It’s the way we believe the Lord has directed us. And we know it’s something you appreciate too.
No, our monthly letter is, at various times, a devotional, a newsletter, an informational article, a travelogue, a lesson from history or literature, a Bible exposition, a story or mini-drama, a sermon, or another type of exhortational message. But, whatever the particular form in which each LifeSharer letter comes to you, we earnestly hope that the Lord is using it as a ministry to you. We certainly pray to that end and I try hard to be creative, fresh, relevant, and practical in composing them.
2) Personal Correspondence. There is something especially profound and moving about a personal letter. Indeed, as the art of (and dedication to) letter-writing sadly fades into history, we believe that a personal letter becomes more powerful than ever to lift someone’s spirits, to inform and influence change, and to communicate depth of feeling and conviction. And so, we write a lot of letters and cards. In fact, since the first of the year (and not counting email or the letters written at our P.A.L. Nights), Claire and I have written nearly 200 personal letters and cards.
These letters and cards and notes are sometimes written to political figures or businesspersons urging pro-life, pro-family actions. Others contain helpful information and resources which we send to friends and colleagues. But most of our personal correspondence passes along gratitude or congratulations, sympathy or encouragement, and reminders of the prayers we lift up for those we write to. We believe this ministry pleases God and richly blesses His people.
3) The Letter-writing Parties. We sometimes call them P.A.L. Nights (Prayer. Action. Letters.) and we have been conducting them since our very first days as the Omaha Christian Action Council. We host these parties at our home every quarter where we share targets of action, stationary and stamps, address lists, and delicious treats. Nowadays, anywhere from 8 to 16 people join in “strengthening the things that remain” by writing simple, winsome, relevant letters about sanctity of life, religious freedom, justice, education, family life, etc. which we send to office holders, diplomats, business leaders, Christian ministries, journalists, prisoners overseas being persecuted for their faith, and so on. At our last party, we turned out 63 such letters and cards.
I will add just two more points about our letter-writing parties. First, please know that if your church or small group were to ever launch a letter-writing ministry (which I am so bold to say, they should!), it will probably be because you take the first step to persuade and help them do so. (Just drop us a line and we will do all we can to help you move forward in that ministry.) And second, the next VSM letter-writing party is at our home on Monday evening, June 14. We would love for you to join us.
4) Open Letters. As you might guess, the open letter also fits into the “creative writing” slot as do my other articles and presentations since they also try to impart information or urge a particular course of action. Now we do upload these letters onto our internet platforms but we also send them out to the named recipients. I’m going to give you two examples today. The first is a letter in which I gave a detailed answer to a specific inquiry and the second deals with some of the most abominable actions Joe Biden has taken as President.
How Can My Friends and I Serve Seniors?
Thanks for your note and for your interest in serving senior citizens and others who tend to be marginalized by our self-centered society. Claire and I will certainly find time to talk to you further but let me start by listing a few of the basic possibilities.
1) Visitation and friendship development.
One of the best ways to begin this kind of ministry is to start with a relative or maybe someone from your church who resides in a nursing home or senior living facility. Just go visit. Pray together. Listen to the stories of their lives. Read the Bible or a devotional, maybe a little poetry. You may then find it natural to extend that outreach to the resident’s roommate and other friends. Keep in mind too that you can always contact the activities director of a nearby senior living facility and express your desire to provide a little diversion, a little encouragement, a little friendship to people living there.
2) Helping out.
Just about any nursing home or other senior facility needs help in carrying out its programs. Therefore, volunteers who are willing to help are a treasure. Examples? Transporting wheelchair-bound residents to events. Providing company while the resident goes through therapy. Helping with parties, meals, bingo games, playing cards, worship services, special holiday events, shopping excursions, etc.
This is a wide-open area of ministry. Singing and helping with sing-along events. Playing an instrument. Short skits. Reading aloud. Sharing hobbies. Crafts. Jigsaw puzzles. Talk to your friends and decide what is the best fit between your abilities and the needs of the seniors. Then make sure you contact the activities director of the facility for permission and guidance.
4) Seniors outside of “the system.”
Be careful to not overlook the possibility of making friends and helping out with the elderly (or others with special needs like the physically or mentally challenged) who still live on their own. For instance, there are a lot of grandparents at your church and among your circle of friends who would love to have a visit and make new friends.
5) Using Vital Signs Ministries as a mentor and a resource.
There are several ways in which we can help you in your desire to serve seniors. A) You could always come along to one of our many “When Swing Was King” shows and help us visit with the residents who come to enjoy this very popular program. They would love to meet you. And you might find yourself making friends that go beyond that particular event. B) On the Vital Signs website we have the entire series of 9-page activity packets we created to help seniors (and boomers) deal with the Covid quarantines. They include various types of trivia quizzes, photographs, song lyrics, quotations and Scriptures, and a personal note. Feel free to download these and distribute them as friendship gifts. Some have even used these packets with groups while others have passed along the links to seniors all around the country to list their spirits, keep their minds active, and let them know they are not forgotten.
And C) You might also find a helpful resource in the video clips found on the Vital Signs Ministries YouTube channel that contain my informal, personable, 15-minute sermons from our newest senior-oriented ministry; namely, the Sunday afternoon church service we conduct at Aksarben Village Senior Living. With each sermon clip, you’ll also find the links to the outstanding music videos we used in that Sunday’s service.
We will say a prayer for you and your friends, asking our Lord to carefully guide and bless your decisions. And again, thanks so much for your note.
Dear President Biden,
Among the many outrageously immoral and socially destructive actions taken by your administration (requiring taxpayers to pay abortionists, eliminating conscience and free speech protections, funding terror-spreading nations, encouraging lawlessness in our nation’s cities and along our southern border, and so on), the audacious insistence of your administration to force even religious schools to make dorm rooms and bathrooms “unisex” may be the most irrational, mean-spirited, and tyrannical yet.
This remarkably bad policy came straight from you, Mr. President, and with the White House announcement coming so early in your tenure (as did your abortion zealotry), it reveals how perverted are your priorities and how desperately despotic are your actions against the Constitution, against religious freedom, and against the sanctity of human life and family.
May God awaken your own conscience, perhaps by recalling to your heart the teachings of the Catholic Church that you are now so callously treading underfoot. May the Lord graciously persuade you to quickly (and thoroughly) repent and begin to repair the great damage you have already wrought.
We are pleased to learn that some are not yet giving in to your unfair and foolish demands. For instance, we stand with Dr. Jerry Davis and the College of the Ozarks in their lawsuit against the Biden H.U.D. Department’s bizarre dictum regarding shared bathrooms and dorm rooms. As Dr. Davis has said, “Religious freedom is under attack in America, and we won’t stand on the sidelines and watch. To threaten religious freedom is to threaten America itself. College of the Ozarks will not allow politicians to erode this essential American right or the ideals that shaped America’s founding.”
We completely agree and have promised to pray for and actively support the College of the Ozarks in their defense against the Biden administration’s draconian overreach. We will also be passing the word to others about your administration’s many anti-Constitutional moves. And, of course, we will keep you and your colleagues in our prayers as we ask the Lord to deliver you from the ideological irrationality to which you now seem so beholden.