TIM HETZNER (Lutheran Church Charities): People many times, all ages, will talk to a dog before they will talk to a person.

After a couple of seconds, after petting the dog, people start sharing: why they’re there, or what they’re thinking, or some of their fears. But, you know, through all of that, it brings a smile to their face, some hope into their day, and if they want we will pray with them, if they would like that.

Dogs are part of God’s creation, a very gifted part of His creation, with their sixth sense of empathy, to sense someone who is hurting. I can’t tell you how many times our dogs—and they’re trained not to be aggressive with people—but will nudge the handler to go see someone and will invite them over, and its somebody who is struggling. Dogs sense that in people.

All of our dogs have a business card, and on their business card is a picture of the dog, and it has a Bible verse. Here’s Ruthie’s: Ephesians 4:2. They all have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and e-mail, which isn’t just being cute. It’s a way to continue to minister to and connect with people, and many times people will share things that they’re going through, or ask for prayers through the Facebook page.

You know, I have not found in the Gospels yet where Jesus ever invited someone to a synagogue or temple. But I do see all over the place where Jesus calls us to go out, and it’s not just go out, but He always says where to start. And you start with the lowliest and those that are hurting, and those that are in the lowly places, and those that are suffering. And that’s what we do as the hands and the feet of Christ.

Comfort Dogs

Headquartered in Addison, Illinois, Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) has a program called the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, which seeks to provide comfort and compassion to hurting people. The specially-trained dogs often visit hospitals and nursing homes, but they are brought to disaster sites as well. The dogs and their handlers were early on the scene after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and they visited Boston soon after the marathon bombing. Last week, they traveled to Moore, Oklahoma, to visit victims of the deadly tornados. LCC president Tim Hetzner describes the dogs’ ministry.