Our Walk of Courage Award Gala is this Thursday! If you haven’t done so yet, buy your tickets here before they run out! Our Gala honors the 500,000 immigrants LIRS, Lutheran congregations, and our service partners have walked with over the past 75 years. A night of awards, ethnic food, music, and dance will honor those who have made the courageous journey from violence to safety, and those who have welcomed them in their new homes.
Rev. John Frerking will receive the Walk of Faith Award. The retired pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in North Palm Beach, Florida, Rev. Frerking has fully lived the meaning of welcome. For 30 years, he and his congregation walked with over 200 refugees on their journey to safety.
Rev. John Frerking’s interest in refugee resettlement first began when his home church, Ascension Lutheran in Charlotte, NC, sponsored a family from Estonia. He was fascinated by this family’s story and how dramatically different it was from his own.
While watching the fall of Saigon in 1975, he relived this past experience as he saw news reports showing terrified people trying to escape. It was at this point that he decided he needed to do something, so he called Lutheran Services Florida, our partner, and began the process to sponsor a family.
As pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in North Palm Beach, FL, the congregation rallied and the first family was successfully resettled. This began a 30-year history of resettling families for this parish.
One of Rev. Frerking’s treasured resettlement stories involves a family from Vietnam. The father and his three sons were assigned to his congregation for resettlement. The wife and their daughters were believed to have been lost at sea on the long journey to the United States. Later it was discovered that everyone was alive. Rev. Frerking and his congregation witnessed the joy of reuniting this family.
Rev. Frerking also comforted a young family from Vietnam with two small children when the mother died of leukemia shortly after arriving in the United States. The mother’s highest hope for her children was for them to graduate from college. What a joy it is for Rev. Frerking to have been able to provide her children with assistance to see their mother’s dying wish come true!
We are grateful for Rev. Frerking’s years of service as a board member and we thank him for witnessing God’s love for all people through his years of welcoming and encouraging refugees and immigrants.
We are honored to have Rev. Frerking at our Walk of Courage Award Gala. Rev. Frerking is a beacon of welcome, and has transformed the lives of new Americans and Lutherans alike. To buy tickets to the Gala and show your support for the sojourner, click here.
This story is republished from our newsletter, Rebuilding Hope. To sign up for the newsletter and keep up to date with LIRS, click here.