Equipping congregations to reach all nations

Dear Friend,

Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make more disciples, some of whom would be from other nations. When we look around North America today, we see people from all nations residing among us! Our synod is prayerfully committed to answering Jesus’ call to reach lost souls with his salvation in our country and around the world. We look forward to seeing a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language stand before Jesus in heaven.

Congregations are recognizing the changes in their communities and the need to build relationships with neighbors whose upbringing differs from their own. WELS has been assisting them by providing training in cross-cultural friendship evangelism in various cities. This training, using bilingual materials, is led by experienced guides who have worked in the languages and the cultures of the targeted people groups. Praise God that Chinese, Hispanic, Hmong, South Asian, Sudanese, and Vietnamese across North America are hearing the true Word of God in their own languages!

In order to continue carrying out this ministry, WELS Joint Missions invites your continued prayers and support. Jesus urged us to pray for workers to go out into the harvest field. Our congregations’ harvest fields are increasingly ripe with souls from all over the world! Pray with us that God would provide workers to reach these people. Pray that God would bless our efforts to equip congregations to go out with joy and confidence as they share the gospel. Pray that God would use you to reach someone new.

The apostle Paul was a world missionary to many nations. In his letters, Paul prayed in thanksgiving for the gifts made in support of the ministry. Like Paul, WELS missionaries regularly give thanks for the many partnerships in this gospel outreach. As you pray, consider also how you might support this work with your gifts.

The WELS Joint Mission Council seeks to bridge the outreach efforts between North America and other countries around the world. This work is funded through the WELS Missions Endowment Fund. Increasing annual distributions would allow WELS to bring pastors who we train overseas to our congregations to reach out to their cultural neighbors. Additionally, WELS can continue to train evangelists who will someday return to their native countries with the gospel.

Now is the time that people from all nations are searching for good news in a world they know is deeply flawed. Where will their help come from? May God allow us to show them that their help comes in the name of the Lord Jesus. Please prayerfully consider supporting this important mission of our church body with a gift to the WELS Missions Endowment Fund. With your support, we can continue to equip more WELS congregations and evangelists to reach all nations as they bring the good news to their neighbors.

Blessings in Jesus,
Rev. Neil Birkholz
WELS Asian Ministry Coordinator

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Let us encourage one another

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Dear Friend,

Long distance relationships are difficult. It’s hard when two people attend college three states away from each other. It’s a challenge when grandparents live on the opposite side of the country from their grandkids. Video calls help, but there’s simply no substitute for being there in person to give or receive a hug or to get down on the floor and build a fort with your grandkids.

In my early years of ministry, I was surrounded by fellow WELS pastors and congregations who could provide advice, encouragement, and a listening ear. We often gathered around God’s Word to share our struggles and be refreshed through God’s promises fulfilled in Christ Jesus. It was important to be there in person. Separation is difficult when you’re part of a family.

This is a real problem that many of the pastors and congregations of our worldwide fellowship, the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC), often face. They are far from their brothers and sisters in Christ—isolated, alone. For the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albania, their closest CELC neighbors are at least three countries away! For the CELC pastors in Australia, getting together requires a 15-20-hour flight.

Our CELC brothers and sisters aim to meet together by region (Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America) every other year. Every third year there is a worldwide convention. Just like us, they want to see each other, study Scripture together, hug each other, bear each other’s burdens, celebrate each other’s successes, and give thanks to God together that they are not alone in this world. It means so much to see face to face that others share your faith.

As Pastor Holger Weiß, chairman of the CELC Europe Region said, we are “small in numbers. In our countries, we feel rather isolated. Gathering brings us great blessings. We are comforted that there are more of us. We can study God’s Word together, pray together, and encourage each other to continue in the faith and to spread the gospel.”

High travel costs are an obstacle for many of these smaller church bodies—an obstacle that we in WELS can help them overcome! Please consider making a gift today to support these gatherings. In the words of Pastor Davison Mutentami of CELC Africa, your donation makes it possible to “build a strong fellowship among member churches and encourage them to uphold the Lutheran heritage. They create a unity of purpose. They help us to discuss reaching out.”

As COVID-19 restrictions fade, families enjoy being together again. Our brothers and sisters of the CELC look forward to that too! Please pray for these fellow believers in Jesus and consider a contribution that will allow them to take their brother or sister in Christ by the hand and say, “It’s so good to see you.”

Serving Christ,
Rev. James Danell
Chairman, Commission on Inter-Church Relations

Help WELS produce evangelism resources

Dear Friend,

“I’m not sure what to say.” “What if I don’t know the answer to a question they ask?” “I don’t want them to think I’m pushing my religion on them.” “If I talk to them about my faith, they may not want to hang out with me anymore.” “I would like to invite them to church, but I’m afraid they won’t like it.”

These and countless other concerns are on the minds of WELS members when the subject of personal witnessing is raised. While God’s people want to reach lost souls with the good news of sins forgiven and eternal life in Christ, their questions and concerns often keep them from boldly and confidently doing so.

This is precisely why the WELS Commission on Evangelism is producing resources like Let’s Go, a video-based personal witness training. It consists of seven lessons in which Christians are taught a simple, three-part process for sharing their faith—Love the unchurched people God has brought into your life; Listen carefully to their cares, concerns, and questions; and Lead them to the gospel so that the Holy Spirit can change their hearts and lives. The lessons can be used in a large- or small-group Bible study setting or by an individual. Our prayer is that this training will make us more confident in our personal witnessing.

In our increasingly unchurched culture, it is more important than ever for Christians to personally share Jesus with the unchurched people God has brought into their lives. In his book, You Found Me, author Rick Richardson reports that when unchurched people were asked “How effective would invitations to church be through the following methods?” 51 percent said an invitation from friends would be very effective. Compare this to just 29 percent for an online video invitation and 18 percent from a Facebook ad. In a 2019 survey conducted by the Barna Group, unchurched people were asked how they would like to explore faith. Thirty percent said a casual one-on-one conversation was preferred—the highest percentage of any method. Compare this to just five percent who would prefer a tract and seven percent who would prefer to explore faith via video. These findings only confirm what we likely already know by intuition and experience: personal witnessing is the most important form of evangelism.

As excited as we are to see how God will bless users of Let’s Go, we know more resources are needed to train the army of witnesses that is WELS. The more equipped our people are, the more likely they will be to share the joy and peace they already know in their Savior. Programs being developed include a Bible study entitled In Season and Out of Season, which will encourage participants to share Jesus both when it is planned and when it is unplanned. Another resource is Entertaining Angels, which will help WELS members understand the important role Christian hospitality can play in personal witnessing.

If you have a heart for helping these important resources become a reality, please pray for the Lord’s blessing on their development and use. Please also consider financially supporting their production.

Thank you for your prayers and support!
Rev. Eric Roecker
WELS Director for the Commission on Evangelism

P.S. You can check out the Let’s Go resources at welscongregationalservices.net.

Witness to all

Dear Christian Friend,

I love detective shows. I am always trying to figure out who did it before the characters on the show reveal it. A key element to any detective’s case is eyewitnesses. A particular scene might involve several eyewitnesses, each with their own account of what happened.

Jesus asked his followers to be his witnesses right before he ascended into heaven. He was talking to those who had seen it all: the miracles, the rejections, the suffering, the cross, and the empty tomb. They had seen him!

Jesus had another reason for asking them to be witnesses. He wanted his followers to not only believe what they had seen and heard but also to share what they had seen and heard.

What have you seen and heard? Certainly, after participating in another Holy Week and Easter season, you have seen the cross and the empty tomb. You have heard that sin has been forgiven, death defeated, and heaven won for all believers.

What about your audience? If you glance quickly at your neighborhood, you might see exactly what Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waukegan, Ill., saw: a growing community of people who are new to the U.S. and who speak a different language. Look closer! What else do you see?

You see lost people—people who have not heard that sin has been forgiven, death defeated, and heaven won.

Immanuel has done something unique. They adjusted their ministry plan to serve their changed community. We praise God for blessing the work of that congregation! Before this, the congregation saw the need but didn’t know what to do. They requested guidance from WELS Home Missions. As the WELS Hispanic Outreach Consultant, I was able to assist that congregation by . . .

  1. providing demographic information on the community.
  2. training members to lead English Improvement classes to help their immigrant neighbors.
  3. directing the congregation on their best approach to ministry.

More than 70 percent of our WELS congregations have Hispanic and Latino people living in their communities. Like Immanuel, they might also be considering how to adjust their ministry plan according to the changed audience. At times this can seem quite daunting, but it isn’t! WELS Home Missions is pleased to help.

Thank you for your past contributions and your continued commitment to supporting WELS Home Mission work through your congregation and directly. With God’s blessing, your prayers and generous offerings help numerous congregations witness the love of Jesus to Hispanic and Latino people in our neighborhoods. Consider making a gift to WELS Home Missions today knowing that your partnership will serve many for Christ.

May we be witnesses to everyone of what Jesus has done for us!

En Cristo,
Pastor Tim Flunker
Board for Home Mission’s Hispanic Outreach Consultant

Building a congregational outreach culture

Dear Friend,

Sherry was, in many ways, a typical middle-aged unchurched woman. She believed in God but was not sure exactly what it was she believed about God. She had a husband and children and grandchildren, bills that needed to be paid, illnesses that occasionally occurred, a car that was not entirely reliable. She was just your average middle-class American making her way through life.

Then she met Mary. Mary had many of the same challenges and experiences as Sherry, but she was an active Christian. Mary had recently been hired by the same company that employed Sherry. They got to talking. Day after day Sherry shared her thoughts and concerns. Knowing that Mary attended church, many of Sherry’s questions were about God and the Bible. Mary knew some of the answers but far from all. Still, she bravely continued the conversations with her new friend.

Then two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. America was under attack. People were afraid. Mary’s church decided to hold a prayer service to comfort people and ask for God’s help and protection. Mary asked Sherry if she would like to attend with her. Sherry quickly accepted. And she never left. She was so comforted by God’s promises that night that she began attending worship on Sunday mornings and, eventually, brought her many questions to the Bible information class offered by the church. Soon she was a confirmed member of Mary’s congregation.

This is what personal witnessing looks like. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every WELS member was doing what Mary did—thinking about and active in reaching out to the unchurched people God has brought into their lives? The truth is, the more witnesses we have, the more souls we will reach.

But how do we help this happen? How can congregations build a culture of outreach in which evangelism is something every member recognizes as their privilege and responsibility—a culture in which evangelism isn’t something only the pastor or the evangelism committee does but something every member does?

Everyone Outreach is a new program designed to do precisely this. Designed by the WELS Commission on Evangelism with help from Mr. Kurt Nitz (a WELS member who works professionally as a culture-shaping consultant), Everyone Outreach uses a weekend workshop and follow-up resources to build an outreach culture in participating congregations.

Please keep this new effort in your prayers that the Lord might bless it and many more souls might come to know him. In addition to your prayers, your financial support would be most welcome. Your support will allow us to train more workshop facilitators and send them to interested congregations. Each workshop costs between $600-$2,000, depending on travel costs for facilitators.

We know there are many more Sherrys out there. We pray that, with your support of the Everyone Outreach program, WELS will have many more Marys reaching out with the life-giving message of Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers and any help you can provide!
Rev. Eric Roecker
WELS Director for the Commission on Evangelism

P.S. You can learn more about Everyone Outreach at everyoneoutreach.com.

Central Africa Medical Mission: 60 years of God’s grace

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over… (Matthew 4:23-25).

Dear Friend,

Easter greetings to you in the name of Jesus, our resurrected Lord!

When WELS began work in Central Africa in 1949, it took over a year for the first adult to start taking a doctrine class. Progress was modest by human measurement. It would have surprised the first missionaries to learn that now the church in Malawi is one of WELS’ largest overseas partners! What happened? Under God’s guidance the early missionaries decided to ask WELS members to help with a ministry that would meet the humanitarian needs of the people. The Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) was born.

From the beginning, this visible expression of Christian compassion made a profound impact. These strange foreigners who were talking about love were providing much-needed care for children and the vulnerable in the community. An audience gathered, and the missionaries went to work. God’s Word was shared. Baptisms took place. Churches grew.

At that time, statistics showed that in the areas being served by CAMM, between 13 and 23 percent of children never reached the age of five. In some areas as many as 40 percent of the children were severely malnourished. Measles, tetanus, malaria, pneumonia, and tuberculosis claimed so many lives. When babies died the peopled wailed and mourned “as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Death was always blamed on witchcraft, the most prevalent traditional religion in Africa.

Providing for Physical Needs
Over the past 60 years God has given CAMM the opportunity to provide people with physical care in the name of Jesus approximately three million times. The CAMM clinics in Malawi and Zambia serve all of the medical needs short of hospitalization for close to 50,000 people, including:

  • Routine child health and nutrition services
  • Delivery of babies in Zambia (mandated by the government)
  • Pre- and post-delivery care
  • Comprehensive HIV/AIDS health services
  • Outpatient medical services
  • Chronic disease monitoring
  • Making sure villages have safe water supplies and adequate sanitation
  • Teaching on topics such as general health and how to plant and care for nutrition gardens
  • Integrating COVID-19 management strategies to both provide care for and minimize possible infection transmission

Providing for Spiritual Needs
As CAMM assists with physical needs they are also caring for people’s spiritual needs. The CAMM clinics have been built to look like churches with a cross within the brick structure. They are then used as worship facilities for newly developing congregations. Some have been started in witchcraft area. Now there are daily devotions at all clinic sites. Often a national pastor is nearby to speak with those waiting to be seen.

One pastor was able to talk to mothers of two very sick babies as preparations were made to transport the babies and their mothers to the hospital. Both babies were baptized before they left the clinic. Both babies were in heaven by the end of the day. Three other mothers listening as the pastor was talking also asked to have their babies baptized that day before they walked back to their villages.

Continuing—and Expanding—this Work
CAMM is grateful to God for his grace and blessings that have allowed the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ with many hurting people. CAMM also thanks the many faithful WELS members who have provided countless prayers and generous gifts over the years.

Only about six percent of annual operating support comes from on-field sources. The remaining 94 percent is given by WELS congregations, groups, and individuals compelled by the love of Christ—people like you and me.

Without the generosity of God’s people in the past, Central Africa Medical Mission wouldn’t exist. The same is true as CAMM looks forward to continuing and expanding this important work. WELS World Missions has asked CAMM to share their decades of experience with the goal of enhancing mission work in other parts of the world where similar humanitarian aid is being considered.

As the Lord continues to open doors for ministry through CAMM, please prayerfully consider how you can help. Would you be willing to make a gift to help share the hope that we have in our victorious Savior, Jesus?

CAMM is thankful for 60 years of God’s grace that have led to so many lives helped physically and spiritually. And it is exciting to think about what Jesus has planned. With your prayers and support, CAMM will continue walking through the doors he opens.

Together in his service,
Kathie (Barthels) Wendland,
CAMM nurse 1977-1980, 1989-1990, CAMM Committee 1993-2008, supporting with prayer and resources 1977-2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email