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  • International Mission Work Website Has Launched

    February 14, 2024 Every month, tens of thousands of people search the internet for information on where to find the kingdom of God, what repentance means, and how to find forgiveness for their sins. A new website answers this need. The new website, dedicated to international mission work of Laestadian Christianity, is now live at https://kingdomofpeace.net. The project is supported by the central organizations SRK (Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusyhdistys, Central Association of Finnish Associations of Peace), LLC (Laestadian Lutheran Church), and SFC (Sveriges Fridsföreningars Centralorganisation, Central Organization of Sweden’s Associations of Peace). The purpose of the website is to make instruction according to God’s Word accessible to people around the world interested in matters of faith and to invite them to hear the Word and to personal repentance. The project stems from the observation that people around the world turn to the internet for answers to fundamental questions of faith. SRK and LLC also regularly receive inquiries. The increasing number of people seeking peace is evidenced by the rapid expansion of mission work in recent years into new countries and regions, especially in Africa and Asia. The Website Needs Visitors SRK’s Mission Work Director Miika Kopperoinen describes the content of the site: “The site contains both doctrinal content and personal narratives in the form of images, texts, audio and videos. The goal is that in the future, the site will also offer real-time sermons in different languages. In the initial phase, the site and its content are only in English, but in the future, it will also serve visitors in other languages.” The aim is to add pages in the near future in French and Spanish, among other languages. The more language versions the site has, the more seeking individuals it can reach. Website visibility will be improved through search engine optimization. This will aim to raise the kingdomofpeace.net site to be among the first search results for certain keywords entered by those looking for information. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube accounts have also been set up to support the purpose of the site with posted content that will guide peace seekers to the website. “To attract the attention of search engine algorithms and to offer its content to as many people interested in matters of faith as possible, the site needs visitors, and therefore it’s worth sharing the link,” adds Kopperoinen. A Long but Rewarding Project The development of the website is managed by a group consisting mainly of volunteers. “It feels fantastic now. A three-year effort is behind us,” enthuses Annika Impiö, who has been involved in the project since the beginning. According to Annika, the idea for the site came from multiple sources simultaneously. Impiö took action and designed the structure and content of the site. A significant portion of the work put into developing the website, such as its graphic design, has been donated. “The goal was to create a bright, hopeful color palette.” The logo of the website was created by graphic designer Ossi Gustafsson. “We wanted a moderate, message-supporting logo. It features a crossroads and a cross. The color scheme reflects global diversity, representing different continents and cultures,” explains Antti Halonen. Everyone Can Participate Halonen joined the project during the content-production phase about a year ago. He emphasizes that with the website, believers can now better participate in international mission work: “Previously, people perhaps prayed on behalf of mission work. Going forward, they can also participate by sharing the website link or a social media update, for example.” Halonen highlights the service aspect: “We want to avoid the impression that the website is a distant project of central organizations. In the working group, we see this as a platform serving individual people, through which anyone interested in matters of faith anywhere in the world can find an ordinary believer to talk to. If a visitor is from Tanzania, for example, they can find a conversation partner who is a believing person from somewhere like Kenya. Contact can be made either through the website or social media channels.” Mission Work via Digital Means Impiö points out that the project reinforces previous mission work done in digital channels. “We aim, through digital means, to help those seeking forgiveness find the joyous message of the gospel and fellowship with believers. That’s aided by having users visit the site. Go visit the website, like it and share it in your networks—it’s digital mission work.” Impiö is delighted that even through this project, the work of the Kingdom of God expands worldwide according to the mission command. Halonen sums it up: “The most important project on earth.” Website: https://kingdomofpeace.net YouTube: @kingdomofpeaceonearth Facebook: Kingdom of Peace on Earth Instagram: Kingdom of Peace on Earth For more information: - SRK Mission Work Director Miika Kopperoinen, miika.kopperoinen@srk.fi, +358 50 3309986 - LLC Mission Work Director Adrian Pirness, adrian.pirness@llchurch.org, +1 763 3600820

  • Till We Meet Again

    Auli Niemi | The Voice of Zion February 2024 - Home & Family Article -- It is with a heavy, yet thankful heart that I reminisce of our sweet niece’s passing, and of how our congregation helped get us through. One’s home congregation has a special spot in everyone’s heart. For many it is a place of comfort and solace when life’s trials come. It is a place where we share each other’s joys when blessings are given. We, too, in Toronto have experienced the love and support of God’s kingdom. Evelyn Mae Koski was born August 12, 2014, a much loved and awaited child. She was the eighth child born to Matt and Liisa Koski. She loved nature and the outdoors and loved making crafts or drawings for her parents and dear ones. She was a little mother to her older sister Lidia, who has Down syndrome, always caring for her and making sure Lidia’s needs were met. She also played often with her younger brother Orrin. In her short life, she was sunshine in their home, a beam that shone love. I remember getting a text message from my sister-in-law Liisa, asking for prayers. She said she had an awful suspicion and fear that something is not right with Evelyn. She had started having issues with her balance, eyesight and had been falling behind in school. They had taken her to the eye doctor, who confirmed that something wasn’t right. The family doctor had ordered an expedited MRI; however in our impatience and concern, we encouraged them to just go to emergency, which would fast-track medical care. On Good Friday of 2022, they took Evelyn to Barrie Hospital to get her an MRI. I’m sure it took accepting for Matt and Liisa to hear the news. They shared with us only that they had to take her to a children’s hospital in Toronto to confirm the diagnosis. But we suspected something was very wrong. We got texts like, “We’re not ready to give up our little Evelyn.” We were all so fearful. That Saturday seemed so long. Evelyn spent the day in the hospital, undergoing test after test. On Easter Sunday we got confirmation of our fears. Evelyn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. There was no cure, the doctors said, but treatments could perhaps prolong her life by months. It all seemed unbelievable. We had, it seemed, a constant prayer to our heavenly Father, to spare their family – our extended family – of this grief, and to find some sort of miracle cure. At our Easter services, Dean Simonson from Saskatchewan encouraged us in his sermon to not ask why, but to pray for acceptance of God’s will. The next days and weeks were a blur of treatment arranged for Evelyn, to try to shrink the tumor. Matt and Liisa went downtown weekly, for her treatments, and to arrange doctors’ and nurses’ visits and other necessary items so Evelyn could come home. We arranged a Go Fund Me, in hopes that Matt could stay home and help care for Evelyn during her last few months. God blessed this effort, and we were so thankful that it materialized. We were shown much kindness. The following months were heavy emotionally. The whole family got together to care for Evelyn, read her books and keep her happy. She didn’t know of her condition; her parents chose not to tell her just yet. Their son Orrin sensed something wasn’t right. He knew she was sick. He asked, “Mom, is Evelyn going to die?” Evelyn heard and, in her innocence, piped up, “No, I’m not gonna die, I’m only 7 years old!” In her thoughts, only old people died. Treatments and trips to the hospital downtown continued, and they were exhausting. God gave strength and hope, and when the trips ended, we waited for a respite period, where Evelyn may have a few months symptom-free before the cancer came back in a more aggressive form. Her older brother bought her a brand-new bike for her birthday, which hung in the garage for her to ride when she felt better. She was so excited to try it out. She also wished to play soccer. However, this was not to be. During treatment, the tumor shrank, but unfortunately the radiation went too deep and affected her right side. She was weak, almost as if paralyzed on that side. She had beautiful days too, spent in the yard in her wheelchair. Our home congregation was so very supportive and kind! Meals were arranged to be delivered to the family’s house and many prayers were said on their behalf and kind messages were sent! Members of the community showed much kindness as well. Matt has worked for over 30 years in the same facility as a diesel mechanic and knows many clients. The diesel truck community wanted to help in some way, so they organized a drive-by with their trucks. I remember that day: Evelyn eagerly waited for them in her wheelchair. She waved to them as they went by in their polished and decorated trucks. There must have been 100 trucks. It was so touching! They had gifts for her, as well as get-well wishes and balloons on the side of their trailers and dump boxes. The local fire department also arranged a drive-by, with their sirens and lights flashing. The fire fighters stopped to talk to Evelyn and then continued. Many people helped in innumerable ways – this touched the hearts of all of us. Neighbors dressed up in different costumes every morning as they went outside to put their other children on the bus, to cheer them up. Paramedics collected fishing gear and a tackle box for Evelyn, as she loved to spend time at the cottage and fish. Her school bus driver attached a big orange ribbon onto her bus, and the teachers tied orange ribbons on trees from their house to the school, showing their support. Orange and blue were Evelyn’s favorite colors. The school arranged a special assembly for Evelyn which was video recorded and played for Evelyn. In the local area, people unknown to the family tied orange ribbons to trees in their front yards. Little Evelyn touched the hearts of so many! Children’s Make-a-Wish foundation also was involved, and she wished for a puppy. She got an Irish setter and she named it Shadow. Shadow brought a lot of smiles. He was a calm puppy that got to spend some time on her bed with her, and she loved to pet his head. In the fall when school started, Evelyn was weak. She had whispered to her mom, “I don’t think I’ll go to school yet, I don’t even have my white board markers!” Evelyn lived in hope that she would get better. She was looking forward to Christmas and wanted to choose Christmas gifts to give her family. As she was too weak to go shopping, her older sister Martha helped her choose gifts online. When they were delivered to their home, Evelyn clutched them to her chest and excitedly waited for Martha to come home so they could hide them away. Cold and flus hit, and Evelyn’s siblings got sick. She constantly asked about them, concerned for them. She had such a kind and caring heart! Evelyn weakened, lost eyesight in one eye and developed other complications as well, but her pain was controlled. She continued to become more tired. In November, it became clear that Evelyn’s earthly journey wouldn’t be very long anymore, and we began preparing for the inevitable. I’m sure, as a parent, it’s the hardest thing we have to do. It’s difficult to accept that this is how this child’s life will go, despite fervent prayers. But as in everything, we can only humbly pray, “Thy will be done.” Throughout Evelyn’s illness, many family and congregation members visited her, each hoping their visits would give strength to Matt and Liisa and their family, as well as to Evelyn herself. Many prayers were said on their behalf. We are truly blessed to have escorts on our journey, to have so many dear travel friends! When we go through these trials in life, God helps us to get though them by sending escorts. It is a gift of value we can’t fathom. Often in trying times, we feel that we are at the end of our rope, feeling hopeless, and then God sends someone – earthly angels show that He hasn’t forgotten us. They lift us and carry us when we feel weak. On November 24, we read on our family chat, “Evelyn’s earthly journey is almost over. She is at peace, surrounded by her family.” Our hearts lurched: now the time is here. Instantly our chat was filled with heartfelt support and prayers. Some families sang songs for her. How comforting they all are, these sweet songs of Zion, with such precious words: “There are treasures for children in heaven above,” and “Cast all your care and sorrow,” “Safe in the arms of Jesus,” and also “Heav’nly Father, God of all”. Also, “Lord, as I close my eyes to rest,” such a familiar evening song and prayer that so many of us sing to our kids in the evening. Singing in this way was very emotional, it helped us feel like we were at Evelyn’s bedside with her immediate family. We strongly felt the need to be with Matt and Liisa and their family in their time of deep sorrow. We wished to comfort them as best as we could, each from wherever we happened to be. Through our family chat we were able to share messages, songs and read Bible verses. It was truly so precious! So it was that on November 26, early in the morning, angels came for dear sweet Evelyn and she didn’t resist their call. Heaven gained a sweet new angel! Our hearts were so heavy, and yet also grateful that Evelyn no longer suffered here with illness. We prayed, “Dear Father, please take good care of our precious Evelyn! Keep her in your tenderest care until we can get there. Grant her parents and family peace and acceptance, and strength to get though their darkest times.” We held Evelyn’s funeral on December 1, 2022. The church was filled with our dear congregation members and believers from other congregations. Also, many community members came, from Matt’s workplace, Evelyn’s older brothers’ work friends, and neighbors. Many marveled at the beautiful singing and at the large group of children. We tried to make little Evelyn’s last celebration as beautiful as we could. At Christmas, we all hung little angels on our trees, in memory of Evelyn. We will use these ornaments every year. Dear Evelyn, We hope you are kicking your soccer ball so high and running and biking with the gentle heavenly breezes in your hair. And fishing! May you be catching the biggest ones on heaven’s beautiful shores! May you be picking heaven’s beautiful flowers along golden paths, with so many cousins and dear ones that have gone before you! We miss you terribly Evelyn, and as November 26 comes closer, we can’t help but think of those precious songs and prayers that gave us comfort, and of you with your kind, sweet, caring heart. We have an anchor in heaven that gives us even more reason to endeavor here on earth! Some day we too, will reach heaven’s shores, if we keep putting our sins away, washing them in Jesus’ name and blood! We trust God has you in His perfect care, and long to see you again! Till we meet again, Sweetheart! Auli-täti Questions for Discussion A child’s death is difficult for our human minds to comprehend; why is this? For parents, a child’s death can be especially trying, even with the assurance of heaven. What factors might contribute to their grief? Think of a child’s death in the Bible; what parallels can we make to a child’s death today? How can a congregation help parents who lose a child suddenly and often privately through stillbirth or miscarriage? A child’s death that becomes known community-wide may serve to awaken and call those seeking to God’s kingdom. Discuss. What shapes and colors can grief take? How does grief shift over time?

  • What Are the Beatitudes?

    Alexandra Glynn | The Voice of Zion February 2024 - Round the Table Article -- The word “Beatitudes” comes from a Latin root meaning “blessed,” and this is why the verses in Matthew 5:3–12 are called the Beatitudes. The things our flesh considers blessings are not the same as the things God calls blessed. For example, our flesh does not like torment and persecution, and yet in the Beatitudes we read that God considers these to be blessings. Proverbs 10:22 reminds us that “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” In Philippians 1:12 we read how things intended as persecution turned into blessings. We can also recall how Balaam’s curses were blessings in Numbers, chapters 22 to 24. Sometimes one reads in the Bible sentence after sentence of blessing. For example, Deuteronomy 28, which Joshua is said to have also repeated (Josh. 8:34). The Psalms also begin with describing what it is to be blessed (Ps. 1). In Psalm 68:19, the Psalmist says God weighs us down with blessings constantly being poured out on us from His rich hands. How has your life been blessed? May God always bless us and keep us and make His face shine upon us! Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount Martin Pylvainen At a time God ordained, Jesus began His public ministry. Not all listeners were pleased when Jesus announced what He was called to do (Luke 4:18). Jesus began preaching and healing people. As John the Baptist preached before Him, His message was one of repentance: “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus spoke about the need for an inner righteousness through personal repentance and hearing the gospel. Word of Jesus’ ministry spread, and soon great crowds of people followed Jesus, waiting to hear Him speak. Matthew 5:1 tells of this first great sermon: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them.” With this teaching, the old way of righteousness is turned on its head. Jesus begins this sermon with nine verses we know as the Beatitudes. He speaks of those being blessed or happy in a different way, a way contrary to human understanding. The blessings of believers were not wealth or authority and position among one’s community. Instead, Jesus spoke of the trials, weakness and shortcomings one has – but is yet blessed through the redemption work of Christ. The poor and hungry aren’t blessed because of these trials; they have joy and peace in the Holy Spirit and receive comfort and strength from the gospel of the kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount then describes how the law cannot be fulfilled by humankind, and then it tells of our duty to our neighbor. It instructs on giving of alms, prayer and fasting. It speaks about our relation to money and trusting God in our daily life. It ends with a warning about false prophets. Matthew (7:28,29) tells us the reaction to this sermon: “When Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

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  • Day 3, Lesson 4: The Gospel, the Message of Victory

    < Back Confirmation Day 3: Jesus, the Son of God Day 3, Lesson 4: The Gospel, the Message of Victory Objective The core of the gospel is the forgiveness of sins; The gospel is the power of God to the person who believes it Learning Outcome Explain what the core gospel is and why it is important to me, a believer. Confirmation Exercise Questions #16. What is the Gospel? The Gospel is the joyous message of Jesus Christ. #17. What is the core message of the gospel? The proclamation of the forgiveness of sins. #18. To whom is the Gospel preached? To the penitent and remorseful. Reference Material Booklet Song: And therefore Jesus gave command: / “Go forth and preach in ev’ry land / To contrite hearts, forgive their sin; / O’er Satan’s strength my work will win.” (SHZ 409 v.2) ​ Booklet Text: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) Additional Reference Material SCRIPTURE Isa. 55:1; Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 4:23; Mark 1:14-15, 16:15; John 8:11; Rom. 1:16:15, 10:4, 13-17; Gal. 2:16; 1 Thess. 1:5; Tit. 2:11-14; Heb. 4:15-16. ​ CURRICULUM Lesson 3.6 ADDITIONAL LESSON POINTS The Gospel promises man the forgiveness of sins and salvation in Christ without the works of the Law. In the gospel a new man is born. Those who have come into faith through the Gospel cannot be touched by the condemnation of the Law. When the Holy Spirit sanctifies man, the grace of God teaches him to forsake sin and live in obedience to God's will. RESOURCES ​ Christian Doctrine 55; The Treasure Hidden in the Field, J. Uljas, pages 49-54 LLC Website: The Law and the Gospel, D. Rintamaki, Summer Services, Ministers and Board Meeting, 1994; Gospel of Christ – Power of God, J. Stewart, Winter Services Youth Presentation, 1994. VZ: Counsels and Rebukings of the Gospel, W. Havas, Jan/Feb 1974 page 22; The Gospel Provides Power to Battle Sin, Phoenix Winter Services, April 1994, pages 6-8; Previous Next

  • Engagement Announcement | Laestadian Lutheran

    Engagement Announcement If you'd like to place an engagement announcement in The Voice of Zion, please fill out the form below. ​ Ads must be submitted by the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. Cost: $17.00 Bride's First Name Bride's Last Name Of Groom's First Name Groom's Last Name Of Engaged On Comments Submit Thank you!

  • Day 4, Lesson 4: Death and Resurrection

    < Back Confirmation Day 4: The Holy Spirit, The Spirit of God Day 4, Lesson 4: Death and Resurrection Objective Temporal, spiritual, and eternal death are the consequences of sin; There will be a resurrection of all people unto eternal life or eternal death Learning Outcome Compare, and contrast temporal, spiritual and eternal death and give examples of each. Confirmation Exercise Questions None Reference Material Booklet Song: When I heard Him, I was joyful, / And no more of death afraid, / Since I knew my debts were paid. / He forgave ten thousand talents, / He remitted all my sin, / Gave me endless life with Him. (SHZ 315 v.2) ​ Booklet Text: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Additional Reference Material SCRIPTURE 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:12-20; Rom. 6:23 CURRICULUM Lessons 3.7, 9.16 ADDITIONAL LESSON POINTS Everlasting life is fellowship with God, that it begins in faith already in temporal life and that everlasting condemnation is final separation from God. Those that believe in Christ do not need to fear Christ's second coming, for it is a day of joy and victory for His own. On the Last Day all will be gathered before God’s judgement seat RESOURCES By Faith 29, 30; Christian Doctrine 107-110; Crossing the Current: God is Lord Over Life and Death,J. Frantti, Pages 34-37; Euthanasia and Its Acceptance (Pages 112-113); Suffering and Doctor Assisted Death, W. Lampi, Pages 114-116 ; LLC Website: God is Lord over Life and Death, J. Bloomquist, Summer Services Ministers and Board Meeting, 2010. Previous Next

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