© the diakonia™ program 2011 diakonia exchange Join in on the conversation, what’s your thoughts? “The Diakonia program in the Northern Illinois Synod has been a wonderful blessing to individuals, congregations, the synod and indeed the whole church.  I see the fruits of the program being how it empowers the participant’s serving at home, in the neighborhood, at church, at work and school through the synod and beyond.” Bishop Gary Wollersheim, Northern Illinois synod Saturday, 7 | 9 | 2013 Why Diakonia? Many of you may be asking the same thing ... why should I join this program, why should I spend my time, talents, and efforts in this way? Dear friends, I cannot honestly give you that answer. I can only tell you why I chose Diakonia and why I believe this program is worth its weight in gold! I had toyed with ministry as a Youth Director at Prince of Peace on Howell Avenue. I considered myself a spiritual, down right religious person ... at least compared to those folks I associated with. I loved the robes, the stoles, the finery and frock of the ordained. I saw my Pastor doing something I felt I could easily accomplish. I mean, what more did ministry take but an hour or two on a Sunday morning and maybe a few hours here and there visiting with the sick and home bound? I could do that easily and would love the paycheck that went along with it. After my first year of Diakonia, things began to change. I started participating in worship more than I had before. The scripture was hitting me deeper and made me think longer. When I was asked to help with worship I felt like I wasn't good enough that someone like me wasn't worthy of "untying the sandal" as it were. When I led my first worship and spoke my first sermon it was all I could do to hold on to the pulpit for fear of my nerves causing me to faint. Through it all I suddenly had a small band of friends, classmates, who stood by me and supported me more than I could ever know. After my second year of Diakonia, I saw miracles ... absolute and utter miracles played out in my daily life. I saw lives changed, I saw anger and hatred dispelled, I saw the work of the Spirit that we so often talk about touching the lives of those around me. I grew stronger, I grew taller, and I became the foundation of the person I am striving harder and harder to be. My faith exploded on the canvas of the world and I was able to share that faith with others through worship, through community organizations I thought I would never be a part of ... I saw myself in parts of the city I thought I'd never go. Suddenly life became a little less about me and a lot more about those people I saw ... taking out the trash, sweeping up the mess, and struggling to get by. You see, life wasn't just about me anymore ... it was about us and what I could do to help those in need and those who were suffering. We often have grand dreams of changing the world but who dreams of changing their own backyard or their own neighborhood? We tell each other to buy local but do we ever tell each other to think local? If someone told you that in two years you could be given the faculties to change your congregation would you commit? If because of your commitment and your new found abilities and strength you were able to change the face of the community you live in would it be worth it? If you simply gained enough courage to kill the devil of racism, hatred, or hurt within your heart would you turn down the opportunity? Maybe this program isn't for you. Maybe there is someone you know who could use it or who would be perfect for it. Maybe this email isn't enough. Maybe there is someone you know who needs to read it though. Whatever your choice dear friends, please let the Spirit work within you, your home, and your family. Encourage it to grow and bring you peace. May the love of our awesome Lord be with you, Sean Saturday, 1 | 6 | 2013 It has been just about 9 months since starting my first year of diakonia classes.  When I started, the entire series looked like a long, long time.  Now the first year is completed.  In looking back, the time went fast as 5 weeks per class was hardly enough time needed for some of the sessions. The evenings flew by as we tried to learn as much as we could in each session. Have I caught all that was taught?  I think I have only begun to understand God's church and God's plan for me, but I have more time for learning.  Am I looking forward to the second year of diakonia?  I would have to say yes, with enthusiasm.  I hope that the second year goes as quickly as the first and has as many meaningful moments as this first year has had. Larry Cording, Stockton IL Thursday, 4 | 4 | 2013 Hi, all Diakonia graduates, current participants, and those considering joining the program! I'm a member of Messiah Lutheran in Brownsburg, IN, and am at the "tail-end" of my second year. Let me assure those of you who are "considering," the 2- year program is challenging and highly rewarding, and you will undoubtedly be exposed to some wonderful Lutheran history and theology, as well as to some outstanding minds in the persons of those teaching the 5-week sessions! That latter has probably been as rewarding for me as anything connected with Diakonia! Don't procrastinate---just DO IT! Blessings, Joe Kemph Thursday, 4 | 2 | 2013 I will graduate next month. WOW! What a journey. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples". We are called to walk with Christ but just like His disciples we need to be equipped to be like Him. This program for me filled a missing part of the equipping segment of my faith journey. Now, I need to go out and work for Christ. I am ready to go out and work and because of Diakonia I can be more effective in working for Him. At 73, I feel the energy of a young man and I am anxious to serve. Bob Cano Thursday, 4 | 1 | 2013 I thought 2 years was a lot of time to invest in something that I had no idea where it would take me. I graduate this May. Two years zoomed by. Then I realized the purpose of diakonia is to help you figure out just where your faith can take you. My faith is not stronger due to diakonia, but I have an easier time talking about my faith. My faith is different and more focused at times. I think it would be a huge gift to the program, to have more pastors volunteer to teach some of the sessions. I also think it would be beneficial to congregations to pay for the classes for members that are interested. Jackie Danalewich Monday, 26 | 3 | 2013 The diakonia program changed my life. Being a lifelong Lutheran, I thought I knew a whole lot about my faith. WOW, was I wrong. These classes opened my eyes and my heart to answering the call from God. The classes are sometimes intense but overall well worth the effort you put into them. You will grow close to those who are taking the class with you and you will grow in your own spirituality, understanding and joy in being there. The Hobart class was the first class in the IK synod and even 3 years after graduating we all keep in contact and have had retreats, dinners, etc together. The Michigan City girls meet once a month just for fellowship and we look forward to every one of those evenings. I pray that you will find yourself opening up to the Spirit through these classes. - Donna Knoll