Melissa Boehne has a lot of favorites, but the Redwood Falls resident said Christmas is one of her favorite favorites, but when she designed a Christmas card she never expected thousand of copies of it would be sent nationwide.

Melissa Boehne has a lot of favorites, but the Redwood Falls resident said Christmas is one of her favorite favorites.

Boehne knows the story well, and as a participant in the Jesus Cares Ministry at St. John Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls she has heard it lots of times.

So, when the time came to put the story on paper in an artistic form, Boehne got to work – including everything from stars to the manger, as well as the cross and the purpose of Jesus’ birth.

“God’s Our Salvation” wrote Boehne as part of her piece, which was then submitted to a national contest for the Lutheran Home Association. The Lutheran Home Association, which is headquartered in Belle Plaine, is the organization that coordinates Jesus Cares programs with congregations across the United States.

“Jesus Cares is actually international,” said Joel Gaertner, Jesus Care national director. “We have been working in Malawi, Africa to offer the same ministry to them that is provided here.”

According to the Lutheran Home Association, Jesus Cares began in 1985 when the special education services committee of the Wisconsin Evangelical Luth-eran Synod (WELS) saw a need to “find a way to better share the Gospel with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.” What started in Wisconsin, branched out, with the local Jesus Cares program beginning more than a decade ago.

Boehne has been part of the program since its beginnings.

She said the times when the group gets together are a lot of fun, as they sing, listen to stories from the Bible and do crafts. Jonathan Kruschel, adult ministry pastor at St. John Church in Redwood Falls, works with Jesus Cares.

Kruschel said the local Jesus Cares program began when a group of people in the congregation saw there was a need to reach out to those people in the community with disabilities.

“Our community has a long history of working with the developmentally disabled,” said Kruschel.

With some of those individuals coming to the local church services on a regular basis, a group decided to begin a class, and what started out with a handful of people has grown over the years. Kruschel said there are typically around 20 who come to Jesus Cares programming, with lots of volunteers working to help coordinate the program.

“It really is rewarding work,” said Kruschel. “Those who come are eager learners and are a joy to work with.”

The St. John’s Jesus Cares program meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. When the group meets, various things take place all centered around God and his word.

“We usually meet for about an hour and a half,” said Kruschel, adding there is always room for more to come.

Kruschel gave credit to the volunteers who he said do an excellent job.

Boehne found out about the card contest from Julie Guggis-berg, who Melissa calls “Mom.”

Having had some interest in art, Boehne, a Redwood Valley High School graduate, got to work and made her creation. No, she said, it didn’t take very long to get it done. It was Guggisberg who told her she had won, but the reality didn’t really sink in until she saw the card itself and was being presented an award and a gift (a tablet) from Jesus Cares and the Lutheran Home Association.

Boehne said she is very excited about the gift and the card. Since being named the winner and seeing the card, she has been handing them out to family and friends.

Julie Luetke, Jesus Cares program consultant for the region that includes Red-wood Falls, said the Jesus Cares program is, like any ministry, designed to present the Gospel message and offer the salvation provided through Jesus to all people.

She added there are also Jesus Cares programs in communities, such as Mar-shall, Olivia, Fairfax, New Ulm and Lake Benton.

“What Jesus Cares does is plants the seed,” said Luetke, adding it is done in a setting that meets the needs of those being served.

Michael Klatt, Lutheran Home Association president and CEO said at the award ceremony for Boehne, the cards offer a great way to showcase Jesus Cares and the people who are part of it.

According to Gaertner, more than 12,000 copies of the Christmas card have been distributed. One can find out more about Jesus Cares by visiting the Lutheran Home Association Web site at www.tlha.org.