A Christ-Centered Community Committed to Cultivating Mental Health Opportunities through:

H ope,
O pportunity,
M ercy, and
E ncouragement

Serving Montgomery County, Illinois & the surrounding area

Past News

Cross Over Ministries Will Hold Presentation June 19

Hillsboro Journal-News

Welcome to Hillsboro Public Library, Illinois

Cross Over Ministries presentation on local mental health resources will be held at the Hillsboro Public Library on Wednesday, June 19, from 5 to 6 p.m. at 214 School Street.

Linda Liebscher, Lori Hopwood and Dawn Young from Cross Over Ministries will speak about various mental health resources in the area, in order to promote mental health awareness. In addition, they will speak about their mission at Cross Over Ministries to help those who are lost emotionally or spiritually or in need of someone who understands what they are going through.

Hillsboro Public Library Director, Shelley (Singler) Kolb said, “As someone from the community who has felt very lost, and still is after the loss of a family member, I didn’t know who to go to or to turn to, and I think many people don’t realize what resources are already available in the community.”

Kolb also said that there are many who truly need help, but may not need emergency medical or psychiatric help, and it can be very difficult to find counselors, therapists or psychiatrists in the local area without having to drive to Springfield or St. Louis, MO.

“I also worry for those who may not be able to afford to go to a therapist or doctor for help and need free mental health resources. There are resources out there, as I am beginning to learn, but I don’t think everyone knows what they are or that those alternative options even exist.”

Kolb also said, “It’s big need in this community that people don’t normally think about or talk about because they are afraid to ask for help or don’t know who to go to. I plan to help Cross Over Ministries address this community’s need at the library on a professional and personal level.”

Honoring Andrew Through Cross Over Ministries Work

By Mike Plunkett, Hillsboro Journal-News
Photo contributed by WSMI Radio

Wayne Wedekind of Crossover Ministries, County Board Proclaims October as Suicide Prevention Month

“Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you lose it,” Cross Over Ministries Vice President Wayne Wedekind said. “I just want to keep people from experiencing that loss.” In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, observed during May since 1949, Wedekind shared what he and his wife Becky have been doing through Cross Over to honor their son, Andrew, who lost his life to suicide on January 23, 2014, and to help deter others who may be contemplating that path.

“Before we lost Andrew, for me to get in front of people and speak would be out of the question,” Wedekind said, “but we’re kind of getting bolder-making an effort to get in front of bigger crowds.”

Not only were the Wedekinds involved in the formation of Cross Over, a faith-based ministry committed to cultivating mental health opportunities, promoting individual recovery and wellness through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement, they have been instrumental in programs and training aimed at reversing the high rate of suicide in Montgomery County.

Kevin Hines is one of only eight to survive a suicide jump from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and a movie about his story was shown in both Hillsboro and Litchfield. The Wedekinds also spoke at QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) suicide prevention training hosted by Cross Over in both Hillsboro and Litchfield, and they hosed suicide outreach programs featuring Sam Eaton who founded the “Recklessly Alive” suicide ministry.

Using funds donated as memorials to their son, the Wedekinds hosted Eaton at both Hillsboro High School and Western Illinois University, where Andrew was a student at the time of his death. More than 450 students attended the WIU event, and the Wedekinds are planning another, likely this fall at Lake Land College.

“Those kind of people are an inspiration to me,” Wedekind said of the work Hines and Eaton are doing to prevent suicide. “You don’t know how many lives they’ve saved.” Andrew’s parents hope sharing his story will save lives, too, but that doesn’t come without an emotional price.

“It’s been tough,” Wedekind said about sharing Andrew’s story in an effort to help others. “Every time you go through it, you go through all of the emotions again. But I think that has helped. The easy thing to do would be to shrink up and blame God. One of the natural reactions is you get mad. But He didn’t intend to hurt us. He’s kind of inspired us. This ministry is a big part of the healing process.

“For a lot of people, if someone would show them some empathy or sympathy, it would help. You’ve got to start somewhere. You can’t be afraid of making a mistake. You’ve got to get over the stigma of mental illness.”

That’s part of the focus of the QPR training hosted by Cross Over in February and March. Just asking a question of someone suspected of contemplating suicide and offering to assist them in finding help has proven effective in saving lives. “Some of the kids contemplating suicide get the feeling that the world would be a better place without them,” Wedekind said. “We need to let them know that they will be missed, and the world would not be a better place. If you know someone who may be thinking about it, you need to point-blank ask them.”

He is also more than willing to talk to anyone who wants to reach out to him. His cell number is 217-851-0153. Cross Over is not only taking on the high suicide rate in Montgomery County, they are also focused on mental illness, opioid addiction, trauma, and other issues that are often stigmatized.

“They’re all tied together,” Wedekind said. “Cross Over has been a big deal for me, and I want to see it go forward. We’re looking for programs; we have lots of ideas.” Among those ideas are a booth at the Picker’s Market in Litchfield in June, and a possible program on the impact of divorce in September.

Runners Not Deterred by Rain Showers

Hillsboro Journal-News

More than 80 joined the inaugural 5K run/walk Be Somebunny's Ray of Hope sponsored by Montgomery Co Health Dept on Saturday, May 11.

Early morning rainstorms did not deter 83 runners and walkers from participating in the first annual Suicide Prevention 5K run/walk on Saturday morning, May 11.

This is the first in what is to be a yearly 5K organized by the Montgomery County Health Department under the direction of Shannon Pivoney and Lynette Weiss. The walk was held to bring awareness to the rising suicide and substance abuse rates in the county and the importance of caring for mental health as rigorously as physical health. The organizers hope not only to break down mental health stigmas but to showcase locally available services. The Montgomery County Health Department offers a variety of services which include counseling and suicide prevention line. While the health department organized the event, the proceeds were donated to Cross Over Ministries.

The non-profit organization was founded in June 2018 by community members who felt called to aid the brokenness of the community, specifically to assist individuals and families living with mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders. The local outreach is Christ-centered and actively engages in cultivating mental health throughout Montgomery County. Cross Over Ministries aims to promote recovery and wellness through educating communities on mental health, sharing testimonials and holding public outreach events.

The proceeds from the Suicide Prevention 5K will be utilized towards Cross Over Ministries programs, including transportation assistance, training opportunities, support and recovery groups, and mental health awareness events. In addition to ministerial outreach, the non-profit provides medical and pharmaceutical co-pay assistance programs, mental health and recovery resources, and suicide prevention resources.

Along with the 5K participants, auxiliary police members Captain Bobby Johnson, Assistant Chief Michael Lee and Patrolman Matt Warren braved the inclement weather to ensure runner’s safety.

There were several local sponsors including, DC Waste, Springfield Clinic, HSHS St. Francis Hospital, Hiller’s Sheet Metal, Cisler and Associates Real Estate, Inc., Moonlingh Y, Curt’s 24-Hour Towing Co., Illinois Solar, Inc., Lessman Pools and Spas, Inc., Elam’s Towing, Inc., Weiss Power Equipment, Litchfield Pump and Motor Company, Bank of Hillsboro, Hearts United Association, C.T.I., The Dressing Room, Litchfield National Bank, Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Jeff Mitchell, First National Bank of Nokomis, Studio L, Law Offices of Glenn and West, Family Eye Care Association, First Community Bank of Hillsboro, MCR Realty Professionals and Jubelt’s Bakery and Restaurants.

While rainstorms may not seem ideal for the 5K, the Saturday morning showers certainly felt symbolic of the organizations’ and attendees’ commitment to not only spreading mental health awareness, but mobilizing communities to better stand with those in the midst of personal storms.

Cross Over Ministries Hosts Suicide Prevention Training

Hillsboro Journal-News

Kaitlyn Wilson, trained QPR Gatekeeper Instructor and member of the St. Clair County Suicide Prevention Alliance.

“Ask a question; save a life” was the theme for QPR “question, persuade, refer” training on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hillsboro Area Hospital, designed to identify and respond to cues that someone may be contemplating suicide.

The training was hosted by Cross Over Ministries, which has another session scheduled for Saturday, March 16, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield.

“We’ve got to start talking about this,” Cross Over President Linda Liebscher said to the 40-some who took the training Feb. 23 at Hillsboro Area Hospital. “We’ve got to start opening up.”

The event opened with a training session guided by Kaitlyn N. Wilson, a trained QPR Gatekeeper Instructor and member of the St. Clair County Suicide Prevention Alliance.

Later, she shared her story of reaching out for help before a suicide attempt, and sat for a panel discussion with Wayne and Becky Wedekind, whose son Andrew took his life while a student at Western Illinois University five years ago. “I never got a chance to help," his mother said during the panel discussion. She and her husband have become active in helping others prevent suicide, and have made numerous trips to the Western Illinois University campus to help their son’s friends in their grief.

Those present learned during the training session that suicide is the most preventable kind of death, and almost any positive action may save a life.

Verbal cues and warning signs include comments such as “I wish I were dead,” “I’m tired of life and can’t go on,” and “I just want out.” Behavioral clues can include putting personal affairs in order, giving away prized possessions, a sudden change in interest about religion, and unexplained anger and irritability.

Wilson encouraged asking those exhibiting warning signs either directly or indirectly if they are considering suicide. “If you cannot ask the question, find someone who can,” Wilson said.

The next steps in the training involve non-judgmental listening, offering hope in any form, and persuading them to seek help. “Say, ‘I want you to live,’ or ‘I’m on your side. We’ll get through this,’” Wilson told the trainees.

The next step is “refer.” “Suicidal people often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more,” Wilson said. “The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help.”

The training session closed with a brief discussion from Dr. Sheila Thomas, a psychiatrist who is creating a “collaborative care” program at Hillsboro Area Hospital that incorporates team-based mental health into primary care.

Those interested in attending the March 16 QPR training at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield may register at the Cross Over Ministries website.

Cross Over Ministries Sponsors Copay Program

Cross Over Ministries has partnered with local health care providers and with local pharmacies to assist individuals seeking treatment for their mental health recovery.

“We are so excited to offer these two programs to our Montgomery County residents,” Lori Hopwood, Secretary of Cross Over Ministries, said. “We could not have offered them without the cooperation of providers and pharmacists in our community who also see the need to support people with mental health conditions.”

The two programs began on February 1, 2019. The Medical Co-Pay Program will assist individuals with Medicaid co-pays and private insurance deductibles. Ms. Hopwood stated, “People without insurance may still be able to receive help and this would be handled on a case-by-case basis.” She encouraged people to check with their medical providers to see if they qualify for any of the program funding.

The Pharmaceutical Program is a cooperative agreement between John’s Pharmacy in Hillsboro and Sullivan’s Drugs in Hillsboro, Litchfield and Raymond to provide financial assistance to individuals with commonly prescribed medications to support mental wellness. Dawn Young, a Board Member of Cross Over Ministries, said that both John and Brian were instrumental in helping to get this program off the ground. “John and Brian spent time with us and shared their expertise. It just proves that we live in a community that truly cares about people with mental health conditions. We praise the Lord for all He is doing!”

Cross Over Ministries is a Christ Centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities.

Cross Over Ministries Seeks Affiliate Board Members

Cross Over Ministries, a Christ Centered Community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities, is seeking Montgomery County residents to partner with them in accomplishing their strategic goals in 2019.

“We have come a long way since our inception in June, 2018,” Secretary Lori Hopwood said. “Having community members on our Board will add diversity and value and afford more opportunities for our citizens to participate in their own recovery and wellness in 2019.”

The Ministry is seeking representation from religious organizations, health care organizations, local business and non-profit organizations as well as affiliate Board Members who would represent the judicial, educational, political and law enforcement community.

Ms. Hopwood continued, “Our focus in 2018 and continuing into 2019 will be on education and awareness, training programs (Trauma Informed Care, Suicide Prevention, etc.) Co-Pay Programs for medical and pharmaceutical needs, recovery groups, as well as beginning the process of developing a Crisis Intervention Program that would perhaps be an alternative to Emergency Room visits for people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

“It is not only what our community needs, but what it wants as evidenced by the similarities between the community health needs assessments done by Montgomery County Health Department, Hillsboro Area Hospital and St. Francis Hospital. All three reports showed mental health and/or substance abuse to be within the top three community needs.”

“As you can tell,” Linda Liebscher, President of Cross Over Ministries stated, “there is a lot of great work to be done, and with the Lord’s leading and guidance and the Montgomery County Community engaging with us, we will be able to help many who need spiritual, physical, mental, relational, emotional, and educational support. Hope, Opportunity, Mercy and Encouragement are our core values.”

For more information about Cross Over Ministries please visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate Board Member please call Linda Liebscher at 618-210-0313.

For Some, This Time Of Year Is Not Happy Or Festive

By Linda Liebscher

Cross Over Ministries celebrated a Storybook Christmas

We love it when a town comes together!

And that’s exactly what took place in Hillsboro on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 as we celebrated a Storybook Christmas. Parades, lighting of the town Christmas tree, craft booths, music, lots of good food and many people dressed in Christmas story fashion added to the festivity of the weekend. There were even some elves hanging around giving out candy canes. You could see the delight in the eyes of the children as they picked out their favorite flavor of candy cane! And, the elves gave the parents of the children with sticky faces flyers about Cross Over Ministries.

For some, however, this time of year is not happy or festive. Many in our community who have suffered loss of a loved one by suicide, or have a mental health condition triggered by painful past experiences or memories see this time of year as another reminder that life is difficult. Others who have financial burdens or marriages that have crumbled experience depression and isolation. And for those of us who are stressed by the hustle and bustle of every day life topped off by all the Christmas activities, gift buying and decorating, this time of year can be very stressful.

We at Cross Over Ministries know that sorrow and hopelessness can be overwhelming. That is why in the next several months, we will be working closely with our communities to develop some specific goals and actions to bring about more community unity: a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement.

You will be finding out more specifics about these goals and actions in the beginning of 2019. In the meantime, please pray with us that our Lord will continue to bless this ministry. Get involved and help us fulfill our mission and vision.

We welcome you:

Over 60 Attend Cross Over Ministries Walk

Hillsboro Journal-News

More than 60 joined the inaugural one-mile walk Out of the Darkness and Into His Light sponsored by Cross Over Ministries on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.

Nearly 65 local residents joined Cross Over Ministries for the inaugural “Out of the Darkness and Into His Light” walk on Saturday morning, Nov. 3, at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.

Walkers departed the church bright and early for a one-mile course through downtown Hillsboro to raise awareness for mental health issues and substance abuse disorder.

Following the walk, participants enjoyed a breakfast with a special program. Pastor Stefan Munker of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsboro opened the program in prayer.

After breakfast, Wayne Wedekind of Butler spoke about losing his son, Andrew, to suicide. In his remarks, Wedekind shared his faith journey, growing up in a church in Raymond and a desire to raise his family in a church. “Losing Andrew has to be the most life-changing experience I’ve been through,” Wedekind said. “Without God and our church family, I don’t know what I would have done. It required all the faith I could muster to get through it.”

Wedekind also spoke about living in a fallen world, where bad things do happen to God’s people. ”Our faith was tested and we chose to turn to God not away from him,” Wedekind said. “Some people might blame their loved ones’ death on God, but God created Andrew in his image. He gave him gifts to use for His glory and created him with a specific task in mind, and He loved him. I’m sure God mourned his death as much as we did.”

Before concluding his remarks, Wedekind, who serves as a board member of Cross Over Ministries, talked about the new ministry. “Cross Over Ministries is my way to glorify God and give meaning to Andrew’s life and to be able to help others deal with mental illness, drug addiction, depression and grief,” Wedekind said. “It’s our way to give thanks for God giving us hope in our time of need.”

After Wedekind spoke, participants watched a brief video on the mission of Cross Over Ministries. The video is available to watch on the organization’s [YouTube Channel] and Facebook page.

Cross Over Ministries meets on the third Tuesday evening of each month in the old board room at Hillsboro Area Hospital. Their mission is to be a Christ-centered, community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities and their vision is to promote individual recovery and wellness through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement. For more information about the ministry, visit crossovernfp.com.

Cross Over Ministries Plans Outreach Walk

Hillsboro Journal-News

Members of the newly formed Cross Over Ministries board of directors, from the left are Dawn Young, Linda Liebscher, Wayne Wedekind, Jane Hewitt and Lori Hopwood. Not present for the photo was Syble Kemp.

The newly formed Cross Over Ministries is planning a special event “Out of the Darkness and Into His Light” walk and breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 3, in Hillsboro.

This inaugural walk will start and end at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church, located at 537 Rountree Street in Hillsboro. Registration will be held from 6:30 to 6:55 a.m., and the walk will start promptly at 7 a.m. Free breakfast will be served immediately following the walk, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets will be provided for all walkers.

“We hope you will join us that morning to learn about our future plans and how you can be involved,” said President Linda Liebscher.

Other board members are Secretary Lori Hopwood, Treasurer Jane Hewitt, Syble Kemp, Wayne Wedekind, Dawn Young and advisory members the Rev. Randy Sands, the Rev. Jeff Hemken and Matt Houser.

A donation of $20 per walker is suggested to participate in this year’s event, and all donations will be used to promote the mission and vision of Cross Over Ministries.

Their mission is to be a Christcentered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities and their vision is to promote individual recovery and wellness through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement. For more information about the ministry or to register for the walk online, visit crossovernfp.com.

Cross Over Ministries Accepts Proclamation

By Mary (Galer) Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

Megan Beeler, at left, vice chairman of the Montgomery County Board, presents a proclamation recognizing suicide prevention awareness to Wayne Wedekind of Crossover Ministries during the board's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday morning, Oct. 9, in Hillsboro.

WSMI Podcast: Tune in to The Forum with David Jenkins | Guest: Linda Liebscher, President of Crossover Ministries | Topic: About Crossover Ministries and September being Suicide Prevention month

During the Montgomery County Board Meeting October 9th at the Historic Courthouse, [board member] Megan Beeler read a proclamation recognizing October as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. She presented a certificate to Wayne Wedekind of Cross Over Ministries.

“Having lost a son to suicide five years ago, it’s time that we do something about suicide,” said Wedekind. “Those of us that are involved with Cross Over Ministries are committed to doing something for mental health and suicide prevention. If you agree with us, we could use your support.”

Beeler remarked, “Whereas every member of our community should understand that throughout life’s struggles we need an occasional reminder that we all silently fight our own battles,” Beeler said. “Whereas we encourage all residents of Montgomery County to take the time to inquire as to the well-being of their family, friends and neighbors over the next few days and to genuinely convey their appreciation for their existence by any gesture they deem appropriate. A simple phone call, message, handshake or hug can go a long way toward helping someone realize that suicide is not the answer.”

About 200 View “The Ripple Effect” Movie

Hillsboro Journal-News

AJ French of the Gift of Voice, center, speaks at a special screening of The Ripple Effect, hosted by Cross Over Ministries, on Monday, Sept. 17, at Hillsboro Junior High School. The discussion focused on suicide and suicide prevention.

“We are very pleased and grateful that so many people showed up,” said Linda Liebscher, president of the Cross Over Ministries organization.

The group sponsored two free showings of the documentary movie “The Ripple Effect” on Sept. 10 in Litchfield and Sept. 17 in Hillsboro, with about 200 in attendance at both events.

“This is our opportunity to let our community know there are things out there that are hard to talk about, but we need to start,” Liebscher said.

“The Ripple Effect” is a documentary style movie that chronicles the life of Kevin Hines and his unsuccessful attempt at suicide when he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. Since that time, he has dedicated his life to mental health advocacy and suicide prevention.

AJ French of the Gift of Voice was on hand at both presentations to talk about the silent signs of depression, as well as opportunities for hope.

In addition to this presentation, Cross Over Ministries is also looking at other opportunities to help with mental health issues in this community.

Liebscher said the group is working on a website for the organization with local resources for those in need. They are also working on a fundraiser, “Out of the Darkness, Into His Light,” which would raise funds for their mission, but also raise awareness for mental health.

A long-term goal of the organization is to have a place where people can go in a comfortable setting to talk to a recovery support specialist.

For more information, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Illinois Warm Line at 1-866-880-4459.

To Form or Not to Form

Community Outreach Letter, June 15

Calvary Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Illinois

Dear Community Member:

The Mental Health Seminar that took place in our community on February 3, 2018, proved that many are wanting more opportunities for recovery for people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. We are aware that the need for mental, physical, social, emotional, economical and spiritual wellness is great, and it is increasing daily. There is, however, a big difference between realizing the need and doing something about it.

Cross-Over Ministries will be a Christ-Centered organization dedicated and committed to helping people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders who want to recover and live full and abundant lives. This Ministry will also reach out to families and friends of those with mental health conditions, as many of us personally know the challenging journey of having a loved one with a mental illness.

This is a pivotal time for Cross-Over Ministries. We will either be organizing this Ministry or we will not be moving forward with it. God can place a vision in our hearts, but it takes His people to fulfill it. Are you one of those people?

I am writing this letter to encourage you to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at Calvary Baptist Church in Hillsboro, from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Please know that even though this meeting will be held in Hillsboro, Cross-Over Ministries is for our ENTIRE community and beyond. Our desire is to be a Ministry that becomes an example to other communities of God’s power and grace displayed in recovery.

The main purpose of this meeting is to answer any questions you may have about Cross-Over Ministries and then to decide if this vision will become a reality. We need people willing to be on the Board of Directors and Advisory Council. We will also need people whose level of commitment at this time may be to volunteer, be on a committee, or attend the meetings regularly to share with others the vision and programs of Cross-Over Ministries. That is why attending the June 26th meeting is so vital. To put it in physical terms, the “child” has been born; now we need “parents” willing to learn and grow in a “parenting” role. Imagine the joy and excitement of watching as the “Child Vision” of Cross-Over Ministries becomes all that our Parent, God our Father, intended it to be!

Please share this letter and invitation with anyone you know who may be interested in attending the meeting. We need people from all walks of life, who have talents and gifts in different areas of expertise so that we can work together to be a Ministry that glorifies God by our commitment to Him and His people.

I welcome your questions and comments. You may contact me at 618-210-0313 or leendachambers @ yahoo.com. I’d be happy to send you information about the vision. May our Lord direct your decision regarding Cross-Over Ministries.

Linda Liebscher
Hillsboro, Illinois