This update was shared by Rev. Dr. Carl and Deaconess Deborah Rockrohr, who serve in South Africa.
Photo: Six deaconess students stand together after a service of blessing on Oct. 28, 2011, at Concordia Theological Seminary, Pretoria, South Africa.
We frequently say that deaconesses are engaged in ‘works of mercy.’ But what does that involve? Deaconesses study the Scriptures and catechism so that they can speak words of comfort and encouragement, praying with and for those whom they serve. They are also trained to use their hands to bring physical comfort, even as they share the love of Jesus with those around them. Deaconess training at Lutheran Theological Seminary includes supervised field work in addition to classroom learning.
Deborah visited the Tshwane Leadership Foundation (TLF), a pan-Christian agency in Pretoria, in early November. TLF provides meals to nearly 200 impoverished people three times a day, seven days a week. It also provides crisis and transitional housing for women; leadership and job skill development; hospice care; infant/toddler day care; residential care for the mentally ill; and services to homeless men, the aged and young girls fleeing prostitution.
Each of these activities and services provide opportunity to combine the Gospel message with tangible and physical care. Deaconess students learn these types of ‘works of mercy’ to support the work of the pastor, connecting the church with community needs.