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THRED Outreach Launches: Join the Conversation!

"I wish more people could sit down and talk about things like this with each other. I really think this world would be a better place if we could sit down and be rational and loving toward each other's individual views."

"Religion is a big passion of mine. As I reject all claims, I still find the topic very interesting."

"This is beautiful. The essence of tolerance doesn't mean we agree.... The essence of tolerance is respect."

"I love this! People with different ideals congregating peacefully and being open to listen to and understand each other's thoughts, feelings, and opinions on an otherwise controversial topic."

This is a selection of direct quotes from people of various backgrounds who all came together online to share in thoughtful conversation about life, faith, and Jesus.

This is THRED.

Lutheran Hour Ministries' newest outreach ministry, called THRED, launched Feb. 1. THRED is digital; its initial focal point is a Facebook page. People of all beliefs—or no beliefs—are invited and welcomed into discussions about thought-provoking topics.

"That's why LHM has called this outreach THRED," says project lead Andrew Fitzgerald. "When people participate in an online discussion, it's called a thread. The whole idea of THRED is for it to be a safe place for people to converse about things they care about. And while THRED unapologetically presents a Christian point of view, it also presents an environment that is open to all perspectives.

"And," he adds, "we're seeing some surprising early reactions to it!"

The most striking example is the discussion generated by one of THRED's "Jesus Dialogues" videos, posted Feb. 9 on the Facebook page. The video depicts roundtable chats by people with both Christian and non-Christian points of view on the topic, "What did Jesus say about heaven?"

"Viewers engaged in a big way," says Fitzgerald. "The post has had more than 66,000 views; more than 200 people—and they're not just Christians—have shared it in their own Facebook feeds. And the more than seventy comments in the discussion thread reveal some of the wide range of ideas people have about heaven."

For anyone who has questions or who desires to dig a little deeper into issues such as relationships, community, culture, God & Christianity, and a host of other contemporary issues, THRED's website publishes short and long articles on life and faith themes. THRED also has a presence on YouTube, where the ministry's growing collection of videos—including the "Jesus Dialogues"—is based. THRED has also recruited a team of ministry volunteers who can offer Christian perspectives in broad discussions—or in one-on-one conversations with participants who have specific questions.

"THRED is also designed to serve as a path, if you will," explains Fitzgerald. "Someone who engages with THRED's content can move through THRED into closer and closer community with thoughtful people of faith. We envision THRED bringing Christ to the nations—and the nations to the church in whole new ways."

Want to know more about THRED? Visit www.facebook.com/THRED (Don't forget to Like it!) and THRED.org

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Lenten Devotions Now Available!

The arrival of Ash Wednesday ushers in the season of Lent—a magnificent time in the church year. Lent is when we turn our attention from the hustle of our lives and fix our gaze on the one-of-a-kind drama that played out in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. In this year's seasonal devotions for Lent, From the Cradle to the Empty Grave, we turn our reverential gaze to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

These brief meditations, drawn primarily from the Gospel of Luke, show Jesus trekking the countryside and preaching the Good News, healing those with infirmities, rebuking Satan and his foul temptations, breaking down His message for His disciples, and ever so steadily making His way to the onerous weight of the cross that awaited Him at Golgotha.

And on that bloody hill, what would seemingly end in despair, God made into His ultimate triumph: the redemption of mankind through the shed blood of His Son, resurrecting Him to reign forevermore at His right hand.

From the Cradle to the Empty Grave is now available to be read online and heard as a podcast. It can also be received as an e-mail subscription throughout the Lenten season. Congregations are also encouraged to download, personalize, and print these seasonal meditations to give to members or offer them to guests and visitors as a resource for outreach. Check out all of these options at lhm.org/lent.

LHM is also once again featuring Lenten devotions in Spanish. Written by Rev. Hector Hoppe, senior editor—multilingual at Concordia Publishing House, Alli me veran ("You'll See Me There") is now available online to download, print, read, and receive by e-mail. You can find them by visiting www.paraelcamino.com/cuaresma

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Students Learn How to Make an Impact through the Online Mission Trip

Lutheran Hour Ministries' Online Mission Trip 2017—the organization's sixth mission education program for school students—introduced tens of thousands of "virtual missionaries" to the land, culture, and character of Madagascar—as well as to the work of LHM there. Held Jan. 23-27 during National Lutheran Schools Week, the Online Mission Trip was filled with energy, excitement, and assurances of God's love for people everywhere.

Ministry programs like the Online Mission Trip show young people how the Gospel is reaching people around the world. As they see the power of the Gospel, they are encouraged to be part of the Gospel movement to which we all are sent.

God worked in amazing ways during this year's Online Mission Trip, and students responded! Children around the country embraced a goal to raise $30,000 towards Gospel outreach in Madagascar. Here's one inspiring story:

Jill Holland's third-grade class wanted to help spread the Gospel in Madagascar. They decided to sell friendship-grams to their friends, family, and teachers. Over the course of two days, this class of nine students sold 290 friendship-grams! The students told Ms. Holland they learned that doing small things can make a big difference in someone's life.

"This was one of the best experiences I have had as a teacher," shared Ms. Holland.

This year also led to participation from outside Lutheran schools among the more than 560 parents, teachers, and other educators who enrolled for the "trip".

"We are a home school of two students, and have always been a bit envious of previous Online Mission Trips that our local Lutheran schools participated in," says Karen Belli. "We spent the lunch hour every day watching the videos and learning about Madagascar. It allowed us to get out of our normal routine and do something different. The boys realized there was more they could be doing here in their neighborhood to witness to others, especially at the playground. I also was encouraged to look for opportunities to make a difference in others' lives."

You can still experience the excitement of LHM's 2017 Online Mission Trip to Madagascar. Videos for each of the five day's sessions are available anytime, to anybody, for download or to watch through YouTube! And who knows? When you see them for yourself, you might get inspired to share them with friends or family members or use them as resources in your Sunday school, VBS, or small group! To watch the videos, visit LHM's Online Mission Trip web page at www.lhm.org/onlinemissiontrips and click the Resources link. 

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Men's NetWork WORK DAY is April 29

Helping others is what it's all about. That's the story behind the fifth annual Men's NetWork WORK DAY in a nutshell, which is coming up in a little under two months on Saturday, April 29!

The emphasis this year will once again be on getting groups to do their work away from church campuses and school grounds. While there's probably always a church member or two with some significant need—and while those jobs work too—the idea driving the Men's NetWork WORK DAY is to work at doing genuine outreach.

By getting out into communities and neighborhoods and by working in homes where those receiving help may be unchurched or, perhaps, questioning the whole God-thing, an inroad may be paved for the Gospel. In fact, in those situations, as you arrive with your rakes, shovels, trash bags, and words of good cheer, you may soon find an opportunity to share Jesus and a bit of God's Word.

Don't forget too that your "group" does not need to be an official men's group from a church. If you've got a few buddies and you've got a job you'd like to do, go ahead and sign up. The more the merrier.

Registration details are available at lhm.org/men/workday

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Impact Gospel Ministry by Registering to Vote

Want to help determine Gospel ministry? Contributing members to this ministry (individuals who have given a gift to LHM between July 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 and are also members of a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or Lutheran Church—Canada) will soon have an opportunity to do so.

When members register by March 15 for Lutheran Hour Ministries' upcoming election they will have a say in who will govern the direction of the ministry in 2017 and beyond, as well as any potential Bylaws changes. The election takes places April 15 through May 15, but beginning this year you must register to be able to vote.

Eligible members should have recently received a postcard in the mail that provides a member ID and PIN. When you register online at lhm.org/voter with this unique ID and PIN and provide an e-mail address, you will receive election materials via e-mail and help save significant ministry dollars. It's a fast and easy way to ensure your voice is heard!

Individuals who are not able to go online may place their voter registration card in an envelope and mail it back to Lutheran Hour Ministries at 660 Mason Ridge Center Drive, St. Louis MO 63141. Those who return the postcard in an envelope postmarked by March 15 will receive a paper ballot when the election begins in April.

Questions? Call LHM's Response Center at 1-800-876-9880. Members who have not yet received a postcard in the mail can also call this number to confirm eligibility and be registered over the phone. 

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Radio Broadcast Offers Hope to Young Venezuelan Mother

Maria was born in the city of Barinas, Venezuela, and was raised in a poor family where her parents had no way of giving her a good education. When she was 16 years old, she met an older man who was serving in the military. She was immediately attracted to his good looks and his kindness towards her. Despite their difference in age, they got married a few months later and Maria was excited to finally put poverty behind her.

Two months after her marriage, Maria became pregnant and she was thrilled to be starting a family. However, to her surprise, the news about becoming a father did not please her husband. He began going out more often and drinking alcohol to excess. Each time he came home it would lead to arguments and verbal abuse directed towards Maria.

Months went by until the day of giving birth to their child arrived, and Maria found herself at home alone that day. Her neighbors drove her to the hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy. When she called her husband to tell him about their son's birth, he refused to come to the hospital to visit them. This was the final straw in their relationship; Maria decided to leave her husband and ask for a divorce.

This decision did not improve Maria's life. She became afraid of falling in love with another man (or potentially getting married again) and tried to find comfort with many different men who just made her feel lonely and empty inside. In addition, she felt like a failure as a mother and fell into a deep depression.

Maria was starting to believe that life was not worth living when one day she heard an encouraging message over the local radio station that said, "Dear God. You who are our Father, help me with this deep loneliness that I have." This message had a tremendous impact on her and she immediately called the phone number that was given at the end of the program. She got in contact with staff from Lutheran Hour Ministries—Venezuela and they listened to her discuss her problems and offered encouragement through their prayers and biblical teachings that greatly nourished Maria's spiritual life.

Today, Maria has an optimistic outlook on her life. "Thanks to hearing about the Good News from my brothers and sisters of Lutheran Hour Ministries, my son is blessed to now have a mother who is completely happy and devoted to God."

It has been said that more than 90% of the world's population has access to radio—and radio can cross borders and reach into the homes, workplaces, and cars of people almost anywhere in the world. This is one of the main reasons why radio continues to be an important strategy for LHM to be able to connect with the unreached in more than 50 nations around the world.

In addition to broadcasting short radio messages, LHM—Venezuela's evangelistic activities address everyday problems through outreach such as Christian literature, film showing and lectures, youth resources, and a Bible course aimed at connecting individuals with congregations. 

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Deadline Approaches for Designating Your 2016 Thrivent Choice Dollars

If you are a member of Thrivent Financial, then Thrivent wants to help you use your available Choice Dollars to support the causes you love. For eligible members, Thrivent will designate Choice Dollars at various times throughout the year based on the amount you pay in annual insurance premiums, contract values of qualifying products, or holding a qualifying Thrivent volunteer leadership position. It's then your choice how you want to give these dollars!

Choice Dollars designated during a calendar year can be directed until March 31 of the following year. For example, the Choice Dollars designated to you in 2016 can be directed to nonprofit organizations such as Lutheran Hour Ministries until March 31, 2017.

Since 2010, Thrivent members have provided more than $330 million to churches and nonprofits nationwide, including more than $1 million in Choice Dollars to support LHM's Gospel ministry. Think of the impact this way: $1 million could support LHM's mission work in South America for an entire year! That's millions of souls who have had the opportunity to receive the hope of the Gospel, all because of you!

Please consider designating your Choice Dollars to LHM to reach those who need to hear of Christ's love. Go to www.thrivent.com/thriventchoice and search under "Lutheran Hour Ministries" or "LHM" to find the listing for the International Lutheran Laymen's League/Lutheran Hour Ministries. Or call Thrivent at 1-800-847-4836. Eligibility requirements can also be found at the web site listed above.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Please remember that recurring direction of Choice Dollars to organizations such as Lutheran Hour Ministries is no longer an option; you must now go through the gift direction process every time you receive notification that Choice Dollars are available. Thrivent officials made this change at the end of 2012 to ensure that the program continues to be fully funded so that members can contribute as much as possible to the causes they support. 

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Coming up on The Lutheran Hour

Mar 5
A Savior Who Fights for You!

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Satan is a bully, but Jesus is the Savior Who fights for you. 

Mar 12
The Power of a New Beginning

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Real help comes to us from the outside. In Christ, new beginnings and greater endings are still possible. 

Mar 19
A Well That Runs Deep Because You Need It

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Jesus is determined to meet you today with the water of grace only He can give. 

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Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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