Recently, Janell Regimbal, our vice president of Children’s Services, was asked to give a sermon to Bruflat Lutheran Church in Portland, N.D., about how faith plays a part in her work. We love what she had to say. Here are excerpts from her speech:
It's kind of amazing to think that for 100 years Lutheran Churches across North Dakota have come together, looked outside their own walls, and beyond their own immediate needs, to see what the world around them needed. To see what they as people of faith were called to do.
A hundred years ago, men and women in communities across this state started coming together to do what they could to show love for their neighbors. These neighbors were often children who had no place to go. Families who were struggling to make ends meet. Men coming out of prison trying to figure out how to rebuild a life.
And here we are today, doing pretty much the same thing. In a different time, in a different way. But in the same place. And with the same spirit. LSS just celebrated our 100th anniversary on February 24. 100 years of social ministry – a long rich history.
I have been blessed to be a part of it for 32 years – I just had my work anniversary March 23. It hardly seems possible!
Being in the workplace and staying at one place that long is not common, not in my era even and likely not for today’s millennials in the workplace. I recently met with a group of interns – bachelor’s and master’s level students from a variety of colleges across the state who are placed with us to learn from working alongside me and my peers at LSS. I was asked why I first came to work here “so long ago” and why I have stayed?
It’s a question that caused me to pause and reflect. I think it all goes back to two early experiences – one as a child growing up in my home parish
of Grace Lutheran in Ada, Minn., and another that occurred while attending Concordia Youth Days as a high school student.
While growing up at Grace, I remember being intrigued by the missionaries in Japan and Africa who were supported by our congregation. These missionaries always sent detailed letters to our church at Christmas each year. I read about their experiences of reaching out to those in distant lands and reflecting the Love of Christ to people in so many ways. Although I really never aspired to do the work of the church overseas, I think of those touch points as being my first yearnings of identifying a desire to have my life’s work be around service to others and in some way tied to the church.
While in high school, my youth group from Grace attended Concordia Youth Days. I heard Jim Merrill, then long-term LSS CEO, speak. He shared a powerful message and one thing I clearly remember even all these years later was his comment about how much easier it would be if people wore Band-Aids on the outside that indicated their insides were hurting so we would be aware and reach out with care and compassion. He spoke in a compelling way that seemed to call me to action – a career of service and once again tied to the church.
I think it is ironic then to fast forward almost 10 years from that moment at Concordia Youth
when I was looking for my first job post-graduate school. I applied at LSSND and found myself sitting across the table from Mr. Merrill for a job interview.
Sadly, I was not offered that position – but was told they anticipated having a different position open in the near future which I would be better suited for and to stay in touch. I have empathy for my parents who had to work hard to understand how I could turn down another job or two in the coming weeks, waiting for the LSSND opportunity!
Well, thank goodness it did come along a couple of months later and I have been engaged in social ministry, carrying out a variety of roles over the years, ever since. LSS has been a perfect fit for me. It is a place where my faith and my passion for helping others intersect – a very special kind of synergy happens in that “sweet spot” where passion, mission, vocation and profession meet!
My work – our work – is so faith-filled! We could not do it without faith – faith in God and belief in God and the power of and belief in the innate goodness in people.
We don’t ignore the plight of others. We don’t simply stand by. We have compassion and choose to act on that compassion.
God’s message has been clearly stated over and over in so many ways. We really can be the person God wants us to be. A person of active compassion. I am so fortunate to be able to work in a place where I am offered this opportunity every day. But I also know we don’t have to work in a social ministry organization to be compassionate to others and to live out our faith – to recognize that people don’t present themselves with Band-Aids on the outside so we can recognize they are hurting on the inside.
Thank you for supporting our ministry and being partners with us in continuing to live out this legacy, now more than 100 years strong. I can’t wait to see what the next 100 years will bring.