Some of the biggest names in the Bible lived with disabilities. From Moses’ stutter to Saint Paul’s unnamed ‘thorn in the flesh’, Scripture has plenty of examples of God working through what was seen as ‘human weakness’.

And, of course, God’s glory and love shone brightly when Jesus’ miracles brought into the spotlight people who had been ignored, belittled, shunned and left destitute by society because they could not see, hear, speak or walk. Jesus not only straightened the mason’s ‘withered’ hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9–13, Mark 3:1–6, and Luke 6:6–11), he also restored his dignity and livelihood.

Unlike religious, government and business authorities of his day, when Jesus met a person with a disability, he saw the whole person. The fact that he ‘saw’ them at all set him apart. He loved them just as he loved his disciples and loves each of us, with our varying abilities and disabilities. Because society ostracised and failed to care for people living with disability, Jesus knew they were suffering and wanted them to live their best lives. His prayer for everyone in 2022 is the same. As he says in John’s Gospel (10:10b), ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.

That’s why the accommodation, in-home and day-centre services and employment and training programs facilitated by churches, government, charitable, and aid and development organisations who work alongside people living with disability are important. Overall, they aim to remove barriers to independence and self-determination and replace them with opportunity and self-worth.

Among our Lutheran family, we have agencies whose staff, volunteers and supporters know the joys of serving with people who live with disability, and the challenges of a world which still excludes and devalues people, based on physical, mental and intellectual attributes. These agencies include Lutheran Services and Anuha in Queensland, and Lutheran Disability Services (LDS) and Elcies Disability Care (Lutheran Care) in South Australia. In addition, LCA International Mission and Australian Lutheran World Service support people internationally through their partnerships and programs.

We are excited to share a raft of stories from those who serve and live in this space, including thoughts on how our churches can be more inclusive of people living with disabilities. (Personally, I experience an extra dose of joy from the privilege of worshipping in a congregation with LDS clients and carers.)

As well as our regular columns, news, views and resources from around the church, our print subscribers will find a bonus copy of Border Crossings from LCA International Mission inside (digital subscribers can head to to access a digital copy under the Resources tab).

I pray that you’ll be blessed by your reading.


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Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand

I watched our new King Charles dwell silently and pensively with the words of the anthem during his dear mother’s funeral, ‘God save our King’. Throughout his life, he had been praying ‘God save the Queen’.

Charles has taken up the work of monarch of the Commonwealth, in the wake of seven decades of extraordinary servant leadership. But an outstanding tradition that he follows from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is her Christian witness as a head of state in our modern world.

Young Princess Elizabeth was baptised into Christ in the chapel at Buckingham Palace in 1926 and was confirmed and married in the Church of England. Throughout their lives, ever in the public eye, Queen Elizabeth and her beloved husband Prince Philip served as a faithful Christian couple. Upon her accession to the throne in 1952, she became the head of the Church of England and was its longest-serving supreme governor.

In her first Christmas broadcast after her father King George VI had died in 1952, Elizabeth spoke of her own prayerful yearning, ‘Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve him and you, all the days of my life’.

This was a yearning she ever continued throughout her 70 years of service as Queen of both Australia and New Zealand, as she lived by faith under a very public scrutiny. She worked with 15 British Prime Ministers and nearly 200 different Heads of State in the various places of the Commonwealth.

As we entered the new millennium in the year 2000, Elizabeth took the opportunity to share a deeply personal witness to her own walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. In her Christmas broadcast that year, she said, ‘For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example’.

At the same time Elizabeth has been praying, we have been praying for her. Many of the readers of The Lutheran in New Zealand and Australia will remember school days singing ‘God save the Queen’ before class every day. This anthem is a prayer, asking God to guide and bless the leader of our countries. God has answered Elizabeth’s prayer and our prayers for her.

At Her Majesty’s funeral, the preacher, Archbishop Justin Welby, left the listener in no doubt regarding Elizabeth’s walk by faith. He concluded his message with an invitation for listeners to take up the hope that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Archbishop Welby proclaimed, ‘Her Late Majesty’s broadcast during COVID lockdown ended with: “We will meet again”, words of hope from a song of Vera Lynn. Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen. Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all, abundant life now and life with God in eternity. As the Christmas carol says, “where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in”. We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership. Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again”.’

Our two nations have paused to express our thanksgiving to God, for the life and witness of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. As Christian people of this Commonwealth, we commit ourselves to praying for Charles III and all our leaders, both in our private prayers and in the liturgies of our congregations and Lutheran communities.

God save our gracious King.

In Christ,

Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name.

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Lutheran Services has been serving individuals and communities in Queensland since 1935. The organisation offers a range of disability support services across six centres. These services include supported-living accommodation, day services, in-home care services, employment and personal growth programs, health and wellbeing programs and behaviour support. Graceville Centre on the Sunshine Coast serves people living with intellectual, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities through accommodation and support programs. Client Kylie and case managers Daniel and Mary share their experiences with disability and offer their thoughts about inclusion, acceptance and working for positive change in our society and our church.

Kylie Drinnan knows firsthand how important it is for people living with disability to feel safe. Accessible and accepting environments can be hard to come by. However, the members and staff of St Luke’s Lutheran Church and Lutheran Services’ Graceville Centre at Nambour on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast are working hard to help everyone feel welcome and valued. Kylie shares her thoughts on how we can all better walk alongside people with disability.


Feeling safe is very important to me. I have been at Lutheran Service’s Graceville Centre for 15 years because it’s a safe place to live – both physically and emotionally. The people there are lovely and kind and treat me well.

I also really appreciate feeling accepted. It’s one of the reasons I look forward to going to St Luke’s Lutheran Church, which is just across the road from my unit. I go as often as I can because I always feel good when I am there. It’s a place where I am welcome and valued. I enjoy the services and music, but the morning tea is also a real highlight! The pastors and other parishioners are always willing to stop and have a chat too. Simple things like offering a chat and a biscuit in a friendly, safe environment can help make people with disabilities feel included.


Going to church is a big part of my life. Our faith encourages us to accept everyone and treat all people equally, and I definitely feel that at St Luke’s. Everyone there is welcomed and appreciated for who they are. I even go to their events – like the Annual General Meeting – to show my support and gratitude for what they do.


I think we could all be much more accepting of each other. I spend my time in places where people take the time to listen and understand me – where everyone is treated as individuals.

The Nambour Community Centre, Compass Connections Café, St Luke’s … these are all really special places. The people there are lovely and kind; they get to know you personally, right down to the type of milk you like in your coffee (lactose-free, thanks!).

They see me, and not my disability.


Physical access is a big issue for me. I use a walker and don’t like lifts. So, if there isn’t a ramp, I am automatically excluded from places. You’d be surprised how many places are not designed to cater for people with a disability and unintentionally make us feel unwelcome.


I think more awareness and acceptance would go a long way. Everyone is different and has different needs. But feeling safe, welcome and wanted is important to us all.

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Lutheran Disability Services (LDS) was formed in 1986 when the families of five people living with disability leased a house in suburban Adelaide to provide them with independent accommodation. Today LDS provides services for more than 80 people and their families through independent living, specialist disability accommodation and community participation programs. We asked Chief Operating Officer Michael Kromwyk to explain what LDS does, the place of faith and fun in the organisation’s values, its link to Lutheran congregations in South Australia and what congregations can do to support LDS.


At Lutheran Disability Services (LDS) we focus on community and how we can assist our clients to find connections in the community.

Our first house – Shimron in Unley – is closely connected to nearby St John’s Lutheran Church. Many of our clients worship at this church and have become an essential part of the congregation and the community. The church has become a safe place for our clients to feel a part of the community, worship and express their faith.

We were delighted when the congregation approached LDS this year to help clean up the garden after the successful working bee of 2021. Providing this outreach to our clients and making the house a home with a beautiful garden is a blessing and outpouring of love and faith from the people of St John’s.

Clients were encouraged to participate and engage with the volunteers, and many had a great time working, chatting and socialising throughout the working bee. After a lot of work, the clients cooked a barbecue and shared a COVID-safe meal afterwards to continue the relationship-building between clients and congregation members. This outpouring of God’s love from the St John’s congregation helps to support our mission and helps towards making our clients a part of the community.


At LDS, we challenge ourselves every day to support our clients to express their faith in their own unique way. We believe that faith is an unreserved confidence in God, in his love for me, and in his power to help me through whatever comes my way in life. We also know that faith opens the door to a victorious life! As 1 John 5:5 says: ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.’ We support our clients to express their faith in the way they want to express it. For many clients this may be enjoying a night at Shout for Joy worship services, singing and hearing the word with a community of like-minded people.

For other clients, it’s attending a local church for connection to the community and worship. For others, volunteering in the community to help others is one way they live their faith daily. At LDS we build connections to the community so that our clients can express their faith in their own unique ways.


One of the LDS values is fun, and we have a lot of it every day! And there is a good reason we want to have fun at LDS – because psychologists tell us that fun gives you a sense of liberation which leads to connectedness, a sense of spontaneity and impressions of limitlessness.

This is why fun is in our values – it builds connectedness and liberation for us, our staff and our clients. We assist clients to have fun by encouraging them to get out and about in the community, whether that’s a trip to the footy, the Royal Adelaide Show or just walking through the city – finding new and innovative ways to achieve life goals through fun.

Fun is in our DNA, and we believe that through our client-centred approach we can tap into what fun means to our clients and deliver on their expectations. We also know that we need to create fun for our team. Creating happy workplaces with meaningful work will create happy staff. Having happy staff means having happy clients and happy homes. Fun delivers happiness in spades!


LDS is approached by congregations, church members and members of the general community about how people can help LDS to achieve our mission of providing happy homes for our clients.

The most powerful way that you and your congregation can help our mission is to include us in your prayers, asking God to bless our mission, our clients and our staff. We know that God is listening, and we ask that he continues to give us wisdom and guidance to make decisions that positively impact the lives of people living with disability.

On the upcoming International Day of People with Disability on 3 December, we ask that you keep us, everyone living with disability, their families and others who support them in your prayers. We are also thankful to those of you who donate to our mission; every bit counts towards providing a bit extra for our clients so that they can achieve their life goals and help make their house a home.

Congregations can also help our mission by providing LDS with access to accommodation, whether this may be an unused manse or other property that you have available. Many people living with disability are looking for a safe and secure home through LDS and the more housing that we have will assist our collective mission. If you or your congregation can support LDS with access to a property within South Australia, please contact us.

Find out more about LDS:
Get in touch: 08 8212 7766

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Lutheran Services has been serving individuals and communities in Queensland since 1935. The organisation offers a range of disability support services across six centres. These services include supported-living accommodation, day services, in-home care services, employment and personal growth programs, health and wellbeing programs and behaviour support. Graceville Centre on the Sunshine Coast serves people living with intellectual, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities through accommodation and support programs. Client Kylie and case managers Daniel and Mary share their experiences with disability and offer their thoughts about inclusion, acceptance and working for positive change in our society and our church.

Daniel Miller and Mary Moffat are case managers at the Graceville Centre in Nambour whose personal and professional experience have given them a deep understanding of living with disability. They share their thoughts on how we can all help create a more inclusive community.


Daniel: I have experienced disability as an individual, a parent and a sibling, so I recognise the challenges and know what can make a difference to people living with a disability. Lived experience means I bring a great deal of understanding, empathy and compassion to my work.

Mary: My brother has a history of mental health challenges, so I have spent my life witnessing how society and the system cope with disability. This has certainly inspired me to help make a difference. I am now extremely committed to and passionate about advocating for people with disabilities.


Daniel: I have always been drawn to helping others, without passing judgement. This tendency, coupled with my own experience, has no doubt led me to this vocation. I know how critical it is to have people walking beside you – someone who cares and has faith in you to achieve greater things. I was lucky enough to have that support and am humbled and grateful now to be able to offer that to others.


Daniel: I love my job and really enjoy coming to work. There are challenges, but I know I am genuinely making a difference to the lives of some truly awesome people. The best part is that every day I get to help intelligent, motivated people achieve goals – both big and small. I know from my own background that reaching your goals can be hard work, but it is so much easier, so much more attainable and enjoyable, when you have someone walking beside you.

Also, working at Lutheran Services is a great fit for me, as we share a common value – that of grace.

Mary: For me, this is not work! It’s a vocation and something that I put my heart and soul into. Being able to make a positive impact on someone’s life really is an honour. Often, it’s the seemingly small things that are the most rewarding. To the people I support, just feeling heard, valued and appreciated is an achievement.


Daniel: We make people with disabilities more visible in the community. That could be through employment or just supporting them to have an active role in society by providing confidence, belief and opportunities. Hopefully one day we won’t even be talking about disability as a differentiator anymore.

Mary: We use community events to showcase the strengths of people with disabilities. Our art shows not only show off the value and amazing skills of our people but also involve and educate the community. I think this is really important because people with disabilities are generally not seen in the mainstream. They are not represented in products, advertising, employment, television shows, or politics.

Making disability a part of the everyday is key to creating a truly inclusive community.


Daniel: Congregations naturally have empathy and an ethic of caring based on what Jesus did and taught. They play an important role in providing support and guidance, and just ‘being there’ for people who need support. They also create environments driven by acceptance and compassion, where there is no judgement, and no-one is any better than anyone else. It’s not just about faith though; it’s having grace – making everyone feel welcome and that they belong.

Mary: I think we can all do better at recognising and playing to each other’s strengths and promoting and celebrating the positives. Unfortunately, our society gives people labels – puts them in boxes. We tend to generalise and judge, rather than looking deeper and seeing the actual person and what they have to offer.


Daniel: We are just human beings! People with disabilities have a lot to give and are already doing so much in the community. We have experienced judgement and discrimination, and don’t pay that forward. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ … it’s just us.

Mary: If the community could see even half of what I see every day, they would have no qualms in socialising with and employing people with disabilities. We all need to just open our hearts and our minds and embrace all people … not fall into the trap of the label divide.

Find out more about Lutheran services:
Get in touch: 07 3858 3000

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From humble beginnings, Lutheran Care has been supporting and working with the community for more than 50 years. Lutheran Care’s newest service, Positive Behaviour Support, is continuing to build on the organisation’s momentum of inclusive and diverse service offerings. Communications Officer Amelia Dawkins and Marketing Coordinator Jose Rabet explain.

Launched in February 2022, Positive Behaviour Support is the latest service from Elcies Disability Care, the disability services branch of Lutheran Care.

It is a therapy-based service funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), aiming to increase the quality of life for people with disabilities who are experiencing Behaviours of Concern.

A Behaviour of Concern may impact the physical safety of a person or those around them, including caregivers and support teams. Behaviours of Concern can include emotional and physical outbursts, such as screaming, shouting and hitting, or actions such as running away.

Elcies Disability Care’s team of nine highly experienced and supportive practitioners works with clients, their families, caregivers and support teams at home, school, work or in community environments, to address these concerns.

Under the direction of Principal Clinical Lead Bianca Dubois, the team has a wide range of expertise, including developmental education, social work, counselling, teaching and psychology. They show compassion and empathy, helping to empower clients of all ages to lead their best life.

Both Bianca and Clinical Lead Tamsin Petzer were recently among a very small number of South Australians assessed as Specialist Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Practitioners by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This is the highest accreditation for Positive Behaviour Support practitioners assessed by the NDIS.

Elcies Disability Care is proud to harness the expertise and skills of two Specialist Positive Behaviour Practitioners to provide high-quality support to clients and their families, and strong leadership of the Elcies team.

To find out more about Positive Behaviour Support and Elcies Disability Care, call 1800 352 437, email or visit     


With headquarters in Sefton Park in Adelaide’s north, Lutheran Care is a community services agency working across South Australia and the Northern Territory to change lives and build communities. A ministry of the LCANZ’s South Australia-Northern Territory District, it delivers services and support for vulnerable individuals and families from sites across Adelaide’s northern and southern suburbs, Kent Town, Marion, the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and Alice Springs. 

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by Bianca Dubois

Inclusion often begins with understanding the diversity of disability; that it can be in how we communicate, our mobility or the way we process the world around us.

People and families who experience disability can at times feel isolated because community spaces are not always designed for their needs.

Most people and families report that community spaces that allow them to feel like they can be themselves can support them in feeling accepted and connected to their community.

Some practical steps to make your space inclusive can be:

  • having a quiet area for a person to access if they are feeling overwhelmed
  • including visual aids (basic and clear pictures) with your service information to help individuals with communication challenges
  • having a space in your church building where a person can walk or stand if they require more sensory input (your five senses that require stimuli)
  • providing a printed order of service (with visual aids) to share with attendees the different parts of the service and what happens at each point. This can include items such as times to sing or when everyone will sit and listen.

If ever you are in doubt as to how to support someone in your congregation, asking respectfully how you can make your communal space more accessible for them will always be a welcoming gesture of inclusion and support.

Bianca Dubois Is Principal Clinical Lead for Lutheran Care’s Positive Behaviour Support service, which is offered through its Elcies Disability Care branch.


Elcies Disability Care’s Positive Behaviour Support services can assist with:

  • Reducing Behaviours of Concern to minimise impact on home, education and community settings
  • Educating the client’s support team on Positive Behaviour Support approaches and interventions, to ensure positive outcomes and consistency for the person
  • Supporting and empowering clients, caregivers and support teams to manage Behaviours of Concern as they arise and improve quality of life for individuals
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by Julie Krause

When a family lives in poverty, and also has a child with disability, life can be doubly challenging.

Niaman, a mum from Indonesia, knows those challenges. But her life and that of her family, including daughter Omera, was changed forever by support from the global Lutheran family, including through Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS).

Last year through ALWS, and with assistance from the Australian Government, LCANZ members and friends supported 6,359 people with disability to better engage in the life of their communities, in countries including Nepal, Somalia and Indonesia, where Omera is from.

When Omera was born, Niaman says hospital staff did not bring her baby daughter to her for two days. ‘When she was born the midwife did not bring my baby to me’, Niaman says. ‘They kept her for two days because she was not normal like other babies. Her hands were not normal. They kept it a secret for two days.

‘But when I saw Omera, I was not sad. I saw her beautiful face, and this changed my heart. I loved her.’

Niaman says that when Omera came home from hospital, many people from their village came, wanting ‘to see this strange baby’.

‘They told me many hard things like, “How can you take care of this baby? Look at her hands and feet! What can this baby do when she grows up? You will have trouble in the future”’, Niaman says. ‘Sometimes I would think about those words, and I would cry. It was hard.

‘My sister did not want me to take Omera to the market, the local ceremonies, or even to church because she felt shamed. But I did not listen. I still took her. When I felt sad, I would tell myself that Omera is a gift from God, and that each gift he gives can be different.’

Through ALWS, in collaboration with its Lutheran partner in Indonesia CDRM&CDS, and the Australian Government, Niaman was supported to create a kitchen garden. Before this help, Niaman says she could only feed her family rice with salt. It broke her heart that her children were hungry, and that Omera might miss out on the support she needed.

Niaman joined a Lutheran-supported farm group through which she learnt about compost, mulching, organic fertiliser, weeding and effective watering. She wanted to grow enough nutritious food for her family, and to sell surplus vegetables for income to pay for any extra care Omera might need. Niaman says she loves her garden and grows chillies, beans, mustard leaves, corn, eggplant, tomatoes and her favourite – water spinach!

Each day she gets up at 5am and goes to the garden looking for bugs to remove from the plants. She says she has also been shown how to make organic pesticide from local plant materials and things like garlic, wood ash, tobacco and onion bulbs through the farm group. ‘We mix it with water and then blend it with a mixer before letting it ferment for three weeks’, she explains.

‘I am always looking and take away the weeds. Sometimes the older girls help me. I feel so very happy, because when I want to use vegetables in my cooking, it is already there! I don’t need to go and buy, especially when we have not much money. This means I can have money for sending the children to school, especially Omera in the senior school.

‘I thank the people of Australia for helping my family to make the garden, and especially for Omera, so she can keep her spirit in education and keep learning and feel confident in herself.’

Now, Omera is flourishing at school as much as the veggies flourish in Niaman’s kitchen garden!

‘If any mother has a child with disability, if your child wants to go to school, support them’, Niaman says. ‘Don’t be ashamed of them. Don’t keep them in the bedroom. Bring them out to the community. Don’t be shy to tell [others] about this child, even when they have disability.

‘Don’t stop them when they have the spirit to go and encourage them to socialise with others. Don’t limit them. Love them!’

Julie Krause is ALWS Community Action and Supporter Care Officer for South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

A beautiful artist, Omera has drawn how the love shone into her family through ALWS has transformed her family’s life. This drawing is now printed on a tea towel offered as a thank you gift for the first 500 orders in this year’s ALWS Gifts of Grace. You can give a Gift of Grace to supply another family in Indonesia with a kitchen garden just like Niaman and Omera’s at or by phoning 1300 763 407.

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The Greek word agape describes a love that is pure, unselfish and unconditional. With the aspiration of reflecting this sacrificial love, the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia’s (BCCM) day centre for children living with disability bears this word in its name. Ms Yap Pak Shun, a member of the BCCM Central Education Board, explains.

Social concern is Christian love in action. It expresses the faith and hope of the human spirit we have in Christ through the practical demonstration of love to the community, especially to those who are less fortunate, regardless of their race, language and religion.

The Basel Christian Church of Malaysia’s (BCCM) Agape Centre in Sandakan, East Malaysia, enacts this love. A day care centre for children living with intellectual and developmental disability, it was established on 10 January 1994. It opened with an enrolment of two students and two teachers, using local kindergarten facilities. Having relocated to the Rumah Wargatua Sri Harapan, Jalan Sibuga Senior Citizens Home in 1998, today it serves 18 students through various programs and activities (pictured top) and has four teachers.

The centre is managed by a committee grounded with the clear vision of showing Christ’s love in a practical manner. One of the main objectives of its establishment was to give children living with disability an opportunity to learn everything they need to live independently in the community and be accepted by the community.

Agape Chairman Mr Chris Lo Lie Meng says the centre is ‘committed to reaching out with compassion and Christian love to help’ children with intellectual and developmental challenges, ‘so that they can live to celebrate life over their own limitation’. ‘We strongly advocate a more inclusive society to ensure social justice for those being marginalised’, he says.

Centre teachers Rena SangFong, Jukinah Ujin, Rossani Edward and Flora Gurandi (pictured above right) say the wider community needs to ‘work together to help these special children and be sensitive to their needs’. ‘As Christians, we should love them, care for them, and see to it that they are not marginalised’, they say.

The running of the BCCM Agape Centre is dependent on donations from charitable organisations, church members and the public.

We especially thank LCA International Mission for its generous donation of AU$6,457.65 – $4,457.65 from Immanuel College Novar Gardens and $2,000 from the Stamps for Mission program. This money is being used for upgrades of the Agape Centre and to buy teaching and learning resources.

God’s grace is more than sufficient to sustain us! Let us all work together to help these special children and raise their hope and dignity.

The LCANZ, through LCA International Mission, has a long-term partnership with BCCM and supports ministries in Sabah Malaysia thanks to donations from our Lutheran family. LCA International Mission also coordinates volunteer opportunities and facilitates congregational and school mission partnerships between the churches. Read more uplifting stories in Border Crossings, included with this print edition of The Lutheran.

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