Feel-Good Friday: Lutheran Church Charities and Other Compassion Organizations Prove ‘DOG’ Is GOD Spelled Backward in Uvalde

Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, in a series of statements commonly known as, “The Beatitudes,”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Now that the majority of the camera lights and narrative-seeking journalists have left Uvalde, Texas, the community has the space to grieve–and they have been. But they are not alone and not without comfort, especially from our four-legged treasures.

The subject of this week’s Feel-Good Friday.

From The Oklahoman:

A Lutheran church in Kingfisher sent a ministry dog and a crisis response team to comfort grieving families in Uvalde, Texas, after an elementary school shooting left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church, a Kingfisher affiliate of Lutheran Church Charities, dispatched its own team Tuesday to Uvalde as part of the church network’s broader outreach efforts with K-9 Comfort Dog Ministries.

Central to that Kingfisher team is a golden retriever named Miriam, who since eight weeks old underwent 2,000 hours of training to provide psychological comfort to people in crisis. The rest of the K-9 Comfort team includes “top dog” handler Keith Leimbach, Denise Jech, J. Juan Jech, Heather McCarty, Pastor Tim McCarty, and Susan Post, among others.

“For our handlers to be in the midst of people who are grieving, it’s really rewarding but challenging work,” said Deb Baran, director of communications and media relations for Lutheran Church Charities. “I even got the heads-up from our coordinator that one of our team members was talking with someone who was face-to-face with the shooter and survived. It’s really tough and really emotional, but the work is really necessary.”

But not just the community of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, but within the network of Lutheran church ministries. Lutheran churches across Texas, including Austin, Houston, Plano, San Antonio, Wichita Falls, and Colorado (Fort Collins), deployed their K-9 Comfort ministries to Uvalde. Other canine ministries and support organizations also deployed with their K-9 compassion units.

USA TODAY covered one in San Antonio:

And Fox 35 reported on an Orlando, Florida, organization of Golden Retrievers:

Many of these dogs go through 2,000 hours of training, which can take from a year to a year-and-a-half. The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort ministry and its companion Hearts of Mercy and Compassion ministry do not charge those they serve. Their role: to bring mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who need it.

CEO and president of Lutheran Church Charities Tim Hetzner said,

“We know that comfort is needed to help this shocked and devastated community and the first responders who serve them.”

On May 26, all the Lutheran comfort ministries from the various cities and states organized and set up 21 crosses in honor of the 19 children and two teachers who lost their lives. The teams wrote the name of each victim and a Bible verse on the crosses. As people milled around the town square, they searched for the names of their loved ones and the victims that they knew. The team members stayed in the background and allowed the people to engage with the crosses, and then with the dogs. The compassion and presence of the K-9 comforters helped many in Uvalde to open up, and the team members were able to listen to their stories, cry with them, and pray with them as the people needed.

Blessed are those who mourn….

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