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When Families Break: These Christ-Centered Ministries Extend Hope to Households in Crisis


One way the LCMS supports families in crisis is through Christ-centered RSOs. By offering a supportive community and faith-based guidance, these organizations aim to restore hope, strengthen families and provide a path to redemption and brighter futures. Here are two of their stories.

Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries
Unfortunately, in our broken world, there are many families in which a father is not present in the home, even as the mother is pregnant and without any other support.

Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries is a Christ-centered maternity home for single, pregnant women in crisis, started in 2013. Today, an RSO of the Synod, Redeeming Life, “serves the women that come to our homes in their brokenness,” said Deaconess Lori Trinche, program manager for Redeeming Life’s Illinois campus. “Many have no family support, are facing homelessness and can barely imagine how they will care for themselves and raise a baby. Women come to our program scared, deeply broken and without hope for the future.”

Redeeming Life also allows women to shop in their Peek-a-Boutique, where they can choose clothing, toiletries and other needed items donated by individuals or supporting churches and businesses. The organization hopes to open a maternity home in each LCMS district.

“Our maternity home program is approximately one year long,” said executive director and founder Sheryl DeWitt. “We focus on life skills, counseling, prenatal care, postnatal care, financial health and the like. After maternity home care, in our Florida home, the ladies have an option for transitional living for an additional two years. Transitional living is an opportunity to continue with educational goals and career development in a more independent setting—but still part of the family for support and counseling.”

Julia Heinz, director of mission advancement for Redeeming Life, shared the story of one mother who “came to our maternity home with a serious medical condition and pregnant with twins.”

When the babies were born prematurely at less than five pounds each, Redeeming Life’s house mom and deaconess stepped up to help in the early days of frequent feedings and health concerns. Today, the babies are healthy and thriving.

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
The LCMS also brings the love of Christ to bear on the lives of families through Lutheran family and social service organizations in many states. Take the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for example.

A Christ-centered residential treatment and education center for children and their families in North Dakota, the Ranch provides “best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care to troubled, complicated and amazing kids.”

“Today, families are busier and have a lot going on,” explained Tim Gienger, director of clinical care for the Ranch. “Just trying to get help for your kids is much more complex than it used to be. We help families even when we don’t see them or their kids—even just helping them over the phone to navigate the system.”

The biggest issue is trauma.

“Most of our kids have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect or are struggling with issues like behavioral health, depression, anxiety, ADHD or schizophrenia,” Geinger said.

The Ranch welcomes children to come and stay on campus for four to six months. During that time the children and their families are involved in the plan for therapy, treatment and other aspects of their wellness.

“Parents don’t just drop their kids off and pick them up in four to six months,” said Gienger. “One unique thing about the Ranch is that parents can visit and stay on site. Without that, parents can’t connect with kids while in treatment.”

Strengthening families by caring for the whole child—and, indeed, the entire family—has significance for the body and the soul.

“Working with our wellness coordinators, these kids have access to extracurricular activities that they typically have never had before,” shared Gienger.

“On our campuses, we have a pastor, deaconesses and vicars, and we engage the kids in spiritual life groups and chapel services. The kids often don’t know anything about sin or God’s prayer, and they have not had a lot of hope. But when they find out that they can pray to a God who can forgive them for things that have happened and love them, that’s something new. We’ve had kids get baptized and confirmed when they’ve been with us, even some kids who initially said they don’t believe in God.”