A gift of community leads to blessing a family

Marketing February 14, 2020

For more than a decade during the annual Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) Christmas program, organizers at Christ Lutheran Church did not include a door offering.

“We see the program as our gift to the community,” explained Melanie Werner, JCM coordinator at Christ in Marshall, Minn.

This year’s program told a different story, as organizers arranged a door offering to support an extraordinary individual within the local community.

Everett Geurts is a 9-year-old who has Beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration, or BPAN—a neurodegenerative disease affecting the WDR45 gene. Everett lives at home with his parents, Jason and Samantha, as well as two younger brothers, Lincoln and Landen.

Melanie learned about Everett’s story, as his younger brother attends the preschool at the church where she works. With the pastor’s permission, Melanie reached out to Samantha to see if the family would be alright with the door opening.

“I was first caught off guard,” explained Samantha. “We are not members of the church in Marshall.  With that said, I know what it means to have the community of WELS to come together for someone outside of their congregation.”

Everett and his family attended the JCM Christmas program. The program, “God’s Promises in Color,” featured 17 JCM participants and shared the Christmas story through the use of various colors.

“It was wonderful to see the program support a family outside of the program,” said Pastor Patrick Feldhus, JCM consultant, who attended the service.

“It was a joy to be able to help him,” said Melanie. “It was just a very special evening. The evening is always wonderful, but that just made it all the more special.”

In addition to the Christmas service, the Geurts family attended a JCM service during Lutheran Schools week.

“The service left me with tears in my eyes because so often, we are met with stares of others,” said Samantha. “Most are of curiosity, but we only wish to be greeted into a family that just sees us for us and not for the differences that they are not used to seeing.”

With the funds raised, Everett’s parents put the money toward purchasing for him a comfortable chair because he cannot simply sit on the couch, as he cannot sit up on his own.

“Not only will it be supportive but it will provide him with [the] proper incline for his reflux and also heat to help aid in muscle pain,” said Samantha.

More than 160 programs nationwide are making a difference in the lives of individuals with special needs, as well as their families. Find a program near you to attend, volunteer with, or give to at tlha.org.