One of the most helpful things we can do for our students

Dear Friend,

The economy was booming! There were years of abundance! And then—whoa, what happened? I’m not talking about 2020. I’m talking about Genesis 41, when Joseph was in Pharaoh’s court in Egypt. Seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. It was a roller coaster for everyone.

Who could have predicted it? Well, God did, of course. Remember Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat, beautiful cows swallowed up by seven scrawny cows—and seven full heads of grain swallowed up by seven withered heads of grain? By God-given interpretation of those dreams, Joseph was able to advise the ruler of Egypt to store up food during the good years in order to survive the years of famine. When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt during the famine, they thanked God that there was food.

I can’t tell you what the rest of 2020 will bring. It’s sure been unpredictable so far. But I thank God that during abundant times in their lives, generous Christians have given to the WELS Student Assistance Endowment Fund. Those funds have been stored up so that there will be enough aid for young men and women studying for the ministry of the gospel at our ministerial education schools in the fall of 2020, regardless of how well the economy is doing.

Some gifts for student financial aid are meant to be used right away. Every year these prove very helpful. Other gifts for student financial aid, when given to the endowment fund, are meant to be used year after year. To accomplish this, the endowment distributes only four percent of its value every year, with investment proceeds beyond that remaining in the fund. In this way your gift continues supporting student financial aid indefinitely!

Currently the WELS Student Assistance Endowment fund distributes about $238,000 each year, which helps around 700 students. Your gifts to this fund increase that reliable assistance year after year. It’s one of the most helpful things we can do for the young people studying to be pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and missionaries.

Storing up for the lean years is prudent. We will still have ups and downs in our lives. The famine that we are trying to avoid, however, is the “famine of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). By God’s grace, we still hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. We still have young people willing to preach and teach God’s Word in its truth and purity. Let’s support them!

Cordially in Christ,
Paul Prange
Administrator, WELS Ministerial Education

Entertain strangers!

Dear Friend,

Hebrews 13:2 is a mysterious Bible verse. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” This verse may refer to the accounts in Genesis where the Lord visited Abraham with two angels or where Lot welcomed angels into his home. It’s not likely that we will ever entertain an angel under cover, but the point remains: don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers.

In gratitude for the love and compassion Jesus has shown to us, we are eager to show love and compassion to others, even total strangers. In fact, Jesus said that whatever kindness we show to others we are also showing to him.

One way you can show hospitality to strangers is by supporting WELS Christian Aid and Relief’s humanitarian aid projects. These projects help our home and world missionaries meet community needs and open doors to sharing the good news about Jesus. Here is an example from a missionary in South Asia:

Being an orphan or a widow is a curse in Hindu society; people blame them for the deaths of their loved ones. They look down on them and don’t treat them fairly. Orphans and widows struggle to survive. They can’t get enough food or clothes to wear. Some freeze to death in the cold winter. It’s hard for them to find work. Our mission workers invite these precious souls to our household prayer groups and share Jesus with them by telling them how much God loves all people. The gifts from Christian Aid and Relief allow us to also care for their physical needs. It’s a great way to put Christ’s love into action. Thank you!

This past year your gifts totaling $466,212 enabled humanitarian aid projects such as these:

  • Medical equipment and supplies for health clinics in Africa and South Asia
  • Fresh water wells for people in Malawi and Ethiopia
  • Food and medicine for people in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Mexico, and Indonesia
    Financial assistance to WELS Central Africa Medical Mission
  • Mosquito nets, sewing classes, and textbooks for higher education students in Nepal
  • Welcome gifts and assistance to legal immigrants through several home mission congregations in the U.S. and Canada

In addition to coordinating humanitarian aid, WELS Christian Aid and Relief helps victims of natural disasters and those facing extreme medical or financial difficulties. Thanks to your special gifts, we have been well-positioned to assist people in a variety of situations including hurricane relief efforts in Florida and the coronavirus pandemic.

Would you make a special offering today to fund humanitarian aid projects for the 2020-2021 fiscal year? In this way you will show hospitality to the strangers Jesus calls us to love—and to Jesus himself.

In Christ,
Pastor Robert Hein
Chairman, WELS Christian Aid and Relief
wels.net/relief | facebook.com/WELSChristianAidandRelief | 262-334-7881

“I have come . . . so that the blind will see”

Dear Friend,

Blindness causes many challenges. For Christians one of the greatest of these is not being able to read Holy Scripture: no morning devotion, no joining in a hymn at church, no curling up with a Christian novel or keeping up with your pastor’s message in the congregation’s newsletter. We rely on God’s Word to feed our faith. It’s hard to picture your Christian life without access to all the written resources we take for granted!

Sixty years ago, WELS women who were members of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society saw the challenge of blindness as an opportunity to share the gospel. They founded our synod’s Mission for the Visually Impaired (MVI). Many women learned how to type braille. Their first project was Luther’s Small Catechism.

Since then, MVI has produced a steady stream of Christian materials in braille, as well as audio and large print resources. The ministry continues to grow with the help of the Internet as volunteers across the U.S. are able to record audiobooks in their homes and upload them to an online library for the blind.

However, the growth of the ministry has been hampered by limited resources to purchase and maintain the technology used to serve the visually impaired in our congregations and communities. Thus, we seek special gifts totaling a minimum of $30,000 to purchase braille embossers, thumb drive duplicators, and copiers. We believe that purchasing such tools will greatly expand our ability to provide Christian resources to people of all ages who cannot see and read.

The opportunity is larger than you might think. Every church and neighborhood has people who are visually or reading impaired. You might see the need at worship when someone picks up a large print copy of the service. Other members with failing eyesight may no longer be able to attend church but have an audio reader in their home. Blind men and women are active in your community using electronic braille readers and smartphones to keep informed.

MVI produces braille Sunday school curriculum and confirmation materials for children and adults. We receive requests for confessional Lutheran writings and Bible resources in braille. We make Forward in Christ and Meditations available for anyone who cannot read the printed editions.

Would you consider a special gift today to support the WELS Mission for the Visually Impaired?

Being blind is an everyday challenge for some WELS members and people in our communities. Can you picture the greater loss of not seeing Jesus as the Savior? Please join us in shining the light of the gospel into their lives.

In Christ,
Jim Behringer
Director, WELS Commission on Special Ministries

Connecting with communities through camps

Dear Friend,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

I’ve been blessed to serve as the chairman of the Board for Home Missions for the past four years. In this role I read reports from all over the U.S. about the impact the Good News of Jesus is having in the 126 home missions we support. It’s inspiring and uplifting to hear how many people are being reached as our mission congregations engage in tried-and-true methods of outreach such as summer Bible camps for kids.

I often marvel at the creativity of some of our mission pastors and congregations as they plan sports, music, art, science, and other camps. I fondly remember the days when I was a district mission board chairman and a home missionary would contact me to tell me of their plans. After much research and planning, a timeline was put together and invitations were sent. Then they’d report back to me about how God had blessed their event. They could barely control their excitement!

Oftentimes they would share how many people they met that day. With even more excitement they would let me know how many repeat visitors they had. They would describe a great conversation they had with someone who said they were looking for a church or who was genuinely interested in learning more about the Bible and their Savior Jesus Christ. In one particularly memorable instance, a pastor shared how a couple of high school girls were eventually confirmed because a soccer camp introduced them to the gospel!

Home mission pastors know that more important than the success of the event are meeting people, reaching souls with the message of God’s love, and teaching them through a Bible information class. Laying out God’s promise of salvation takes time and patience, but it’s always worth the wait and effort.

It is thanks to YOU that these Bible camps are able to happen. Through your prayers and support, more souls hear that someone in their community cares about them and that Jesus loves them. Oftentimes home mission congregations are too new and small and don’t have enough money for outreach events. With support from WELS, there are funds available. On behalf of WELS Home Missions, our mission congregations, and those people who learn about Jesus’ love for them, I thank you!

There will always be more people who need to hear the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. Please consider giving your best gift today to support WELS Home Missions as we assist small mission congregations with holding summer Bible camps for kids.

These events are where people talk, where friendships and relationships are formed, where trust begins. Most importantly, the connections made provide opportunities for home missionaries to reach out to those who attended the event to extend a personal invitation to learn more about Jesus. Praise God for these ongoing outreach opportunities!

Overflowing with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,
Wayne Uhlhorn
Chairman, Board for Home Missions

P.S. Please join us to meet home missionaries this summer at our second annual Taste of Missions. To learn more, go to wels.net/tasteofmissions2020 or follow WELS Missions on Facebook.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hymnal resources well received at Lutheran Leadership Conference

Dear Friend in Jesus,

WELS’ new hymnal resources were introduced—and well received—at last month’s Lutheran Leadership Conference in Chicago. As Rev. Michael Schultz, director of the WELS Hymnal Project, was demonstrating the features of Christian Worship: Service Builder, there were “oohs” and “aahs” and spontaneous applause. Several people said that the energy in the packed room of 800 reminded them of Steve Jobs doing a new Apple product rollout! (Watch a demo to see what the buzz is about—how Service Builder makes it possible to plan a service and produce a worship folder in about a minute.)

In addition to the Service Builder software, a couple other powerful digital resources are being produced:

  • Christian Worship: Musician’s Resource provides digital scores for a wide variety of instruments to make it easy for musicians to accompany hymns and liturgy.
  • The personal edition of the hymnal is a mobile app with hymnal content, including audio files, that people can use in personal worship of our Lord or small group devotions.

So far, we are just under halfway to the goal of $500,000 to cover development costs for all three resources. Please consider donating today to enable the full and timely production of these digital products that will help congregations, musicians, and worshipers praise our Savior and receive his gospel in Word and sacraments.

Serving on behalf of you, in Christ,
Rev. Bryan Gerlach
Director, WELS Commission on Worship

P.S. Preview the suite of more than 20 products related to the new hymnal at christianworship.com.

New technology for the new hymnal

Dear Friend,

Imagine that it’s Advent, 2021. The new hymnal is here! But it’s not just a book. The suite of products related to the new hymnal numbers more than 20 items (preview these at christianworship.com).

Congregations, pastors, and musicians will discover a wealth of superb new content. Chief among these are some wonderful new hymns (along with old favorites), multiple musical settings for all 150 psalms, weekly lectionary readings selected for thematic unity, exceptional design quality of printed products, and—the focus of this letter—impressive digital resources that take advantage of technology that didn’t even exist when the previous hymnal was released.

These tools are not just shiny new things. They are all about proclaiming Jesus Christ.

Three digital resources will help us expand and expedite our proclamation. These resources support worship planning and provide hymnal content for personal and small group devotions.

Worship planning needs will be met by Christian Worship: Musician’s Resource. Members and guests appreciate and expect high quality in the music of worship. This resource provides digital scores for a wide variety of instruments to make it easy for musicians to accompany hymns and liturgy.

Both long-time members and guests appreciate and expect well-designed worship folders that deliver good variety in worship content. Easy-to-follow worship folders make worship more accessible. Christian Worship: Service Builder is an impressive software that quickly creates customized worship folders, saving the pastor and church office vast amounts of time and delivering excellent graphic design.

A third digital resource is a personal edition of the hymnal. This resource combines the power of the Word of God with the breadth of hymnal project resources in the simplicity of a mobile app. It will make it easy for anybody to use hymnal content, including audio files, for personal or small group devotions.

Will you help the Commission on Worship to close the funding gap for these new digital resources? “For a generation yet unborn” is the hymnal project motto. Your gift will help the project’s resources to be the best they can be as older generations pass to younger generations the awesome privileges of planning, leading, and worshiping. By God’s grace we’ve already received gifts of $219,000 toward the $500,000 development and production costs for all three resources. Additional gifts of $281,000 would enable the full and timely production of these digital products. Thank you for your consideration!

Let me emphasize something important in closing. The new hymnal is about ministry—proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ—as well as stewardship of our blessings toward that end. Visit christianworship.com to watch the videos Worship and Outreach and Worship and Congregational Health to see what I mean. There you can also learn more about the digital resources, including viewing short demos of Service Builder’s amazing capabilities. We pray these resources will be very beneficial to our worship.

Pastor Adam Mueller
Director, Hymnal Introduction Program