I received a call from Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland this morning. She and Mary Campbell have been in El Salvador for the past week, where they had a chance to visit personally and pray with Pastor Norma. Lisa encouraged me to widen the circle of prayer for Pastor Norma to include the whole synod.
Many of you who have visited El Salvador have known Pastor Norma as a face of welcome, as someone who has worked directly with many of our visiting group, as a strong leader among the El Salvadoran pastors. For the past few months she has been very ill with what is very likely Crohn’s disease. After weeks in the hospital, she is now home but is very weak, rejoicing in some better days but also suffering some really tough ones.
At a time like this I am so grateful for the relationships which have developed with our global partners. The El Salvador committee has been diligent in communicating with and surrounding with prayer Pastor Norma and her husband Pastor Rafael Menjivar. Some of you may know that when one of our own pastors, Diane Lohberger at St. Peter’s in Sheboygan was in her last difficult days, Pr Rafael traveled at his own expense to be with her.
Cross of Life in Brookfield, partners with Pr Norma’s congregation, Cordero de Dios, and others have shown great leadership, but now I ask that all of the congregations of Greater Milwaukee lift up Pastor Norma and Pr. Rafael in prayer. I sense that this journey has been not only physically taxing for Norma, but emotionally taxing for the whole family.
I remember a synod assembly some years ago when Pastor Dudley Riggle was reflecting on his long career as a pastor. One of the things that he most valued, in a career filled with many things to celebrate, was the healing power of prayer. He said he couldn’t really explain it, he had simply seen the power of praying for others as one of the remarkable steps in healing.
My request is simple. I ask every congregation, every gathering, every individual in the Greater Milwaukee Synod to lift up Pastor Norma Castillo and family, as well as all the rest of our partners in El Salvador in prayer.
There is a mighty God who listens.
Peace, Bishop Jeff