Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministries is Coming to St. John’s

Nancy (Kauffman) Heaton

 “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

Where do you go when you are in trouble?  I don’t know about you, but I have found sometimes in life when praying, remaining steadfast through the thick of it, and being strong in the faith is not enough.  Does this mean I am not a strong Christian?  I think that sometimes it is hard for us to admit that we need more when a crisis hits…a sudden diagnosis, a job loss, a loved one is gone…  Most of the time, when we struggle, we can use the  “tools” we’ve learned to handle what comes our way…be it with  prayer, confiding in a good friend, distraction.  But what happens when the situation is more than our usual resources can bear?

When my older son was about a year, I suffered from depression.  It was very frightening and I could not figure out what was wrong with me!  I prayed and read devotions.  I looked at this charming, delightful baby and my many blessings…so why was I falling deeper into a hole?  Finally, one Saturday morning in tears, I called our associate pastor for a visit and, told him that I must be weak.  I will never forget what he said.  He told me that his mother had diabetes.  Did I expect his mother to be able to pray away this “weakness?”  He helped me see that getting help was what God wanted for me and that the help was “of God.”  A couple months later, I remembered praying in church on Sunday for God to send me something that I might be able to do to “give back” to God for the amazing healing He’d provided me.  And it was on that very Sunday morning that the pastor announced that it would be starting a Stephen Ministries class!  An answer to prayer.

So, what is Stephen Ministries?  Founded in 1975 by Rev. Kenneth Haugk, PhD., in St. Louis, it is an international, interdenominational lay ministry that is designed for lay people to effectively minister to other lay people.  It is specifically intended to minister to someone in crisis.  It is a one-to-one ministry, totally confidential, man/man and woman/woman.  And soon, it is being offered to our very own congregation

I have been a Stephen Minister, a Stephen Ministry Leader and a care receiver (someone who receives the help of a Stephen Minister.)  Each of these three aspects has been such a blessing to me and I am excited to be able to help Pastor Ross and Mary Meyers with the beginning of this new venture at St. John’s!

For those interested in becoming a Stephen Minister, there will be a class beginning in a couple months.  The church will ask for a two-year commitment, part of which will be the 50 hours of training.  Then, once commissioned as a Stephen Minister, you will be asked to support the Stephen Ministries team by attending bi-monthly supervision meetings.  The important thing to remember is that, just as the “care receiver” is made to feel that he/she is not alone…that the hands and feet of Christ are supportive through the love of the “caregiver,” so too is the Stephen Minister carefully and prayerfully supported by the Stephen Leaders, the pastor and the other Stephen Ministers.

Some of you knew my dad, Del Kauffman.  I remember often talking to him about my role in this ministry and I believe it made him proud.  What made me proud to be his daughter was his devotion to the people in the church.  I would like to think that he would be very excited to see this Stephen Ministries begin and thrive…to carry on the work that he and many others began.

There are many gifts of the spirit and the Apostle Stephen was the first one to be asked to be a servant in the church.  So now the question is:  Are you being called to this important service?

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