Lutheran Communities Unite to Build a School in Jamaica

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 29, 2009) - Lutheran parishes from across the United States joined Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, to raise funds to build a basic school in Bermaddy, Jamaica. Sixteen representatives from four Lutheran parishes journeyed to Jamaica the week of June 15 to bring God’s love to the poor.

“All of us were really taken to be part of the school’s ground breaking ceremony,” said the Rev. Jim Stoltenberg, pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, Meriden, Conn., as he recalled how the villagers celebrated receiving the answer to five years of prayers. “We were definitely standing in His presence on Holy ground.”

“The [school] dedication ceremony was deeply meaningful and a very emotional experience,” said the Rev. Timothy Krieger, pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church, West Hartford, Conn. “I was moved that so many people of the community paused in the middle of their day to attend the dedication, and that various community members took part in the ceremony. It was obvious to me that they were very supportive of the building of the school and that they were grateful that we wanted to invest in their children's and their community's future.”

During the Food For The Poor “Journey of Hope” to Jamaica mission trip, the group visited projects that other travelers were inspired to build. They visited a self-sustaining fishing village built with proceeds from a gala, a housing community built with one waitress’ tips and a library built as a senior class legacy project. Handicapped children and recipients of a street feeding initiative shared the valuable gift of smiles and hugs with the travelers.

“I believe that followers of Jesus want to be like Him,” the Rev. Krieger said. “Jesus has a special place in His heart for poor people. In Luke 12:34, Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ I used some of the money God has entrusted to me to develop a heart for His poor ones [in Jamaica].”

Group members built and painted a Food For The Poor home during their visit to Jamaica. They shared in the recipient’s excitement of walking through the new home for the first time and receiving the house key. Since 1982, housing has been a top priority for Food For The Poor, with more than 55,000 housing units given to the poor. Providing simple, sturdy homes to the poorest of the poor changes the lives of entire families.

“It was a real blessing for eight members from our congregation to travel on the mutually beneficial, life-altering journey,” said the Rev. Rex Rinne, Pastor at Golden Valley Lutheran Church, Golden Valley, Minn. “I was able to see individuals that have for many years faithfully attended service and followed Christ, blossom while they were in Jamaica. Food For The Poor’s ministry allowed us to be the hands and feet of Christ to modern-day Jobs. ”

Jacob Cowan, a parishioner at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sherwood, Ore., has committed to spearhead the nonprofit’s All-Nighter for the Poor at Chemeketa Community College, in Salem, Ore.

“I believe this trip did change me, in that it gave me a chance to refocus on life, and how I live it,” Cowan said. “I need to see with the eyes of Jesus, and to love according to how He has loved me. I have so many blessings here in America, and to not use what I have to help others would just be selfish, and the same should go for everyone who can give in this country.”

Food For The Poor’s All-Nighter for the Poor will be Oct. 16, World Food Day. Through sponsorships and donations, college groups and organizations will help fund programs that enable poverty-stricken communities to feed themselves. Register to participate in All-Nighter for the Poor by calling 1-877-654-2960 or by e-mailing

Lutheran travelers journeyed from California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin and included, the Rev. Michael Brewer, Jacob Cowan, Katherine Harris, Gregory and Jacqueline Kile, the Rev. Timothy and Lynnette Krieger, Mary Ladenthin, Michael Liebe, Donald Metzler, Susan Perra, the Rev. Rex and Linda Rinne, the Rev. James and Judith Stoltenberg, and Deanna Thompson.

In February, the president of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, and Food For The Poor Executive Director, Angel Aloma, traveled to Guatemala. The two visited Food For The Poor projects built in collaboration with the Lutheran Church of Guatemala, a LCMS partner.

Food For The Poor is the largest international relief and development organization in the nation. More than 97 percent of all donations received in 2008 went directly to programs that help those in need. Food For The Poor provides nourishing food, safe shelter, necessary medical care, educational materials, support for orphans and the aged and much more to the poorest of the poor in 17 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. For more information, visit

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations Coordinator
(954) 427-2222 x 6054