A day of encouragement

Dear Friend,

We all could use some encouragement. That’s why Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., has adopted the theme of “Encouragement” for this year’s MLC Day. Join us today in this annual day-long celebration where thousands of friends of MLC and WELS across the globe encourage the work of our College of Ministry. The three pillars of MLC Day are: pray for MLC’s work of training gospel proclaimers, share messages of encouragement online, and give to support its ministry.

  • Pray for students, faculty, and staff, and for their mission of training the next generation of pastors, teachers, and staff ministers who will teach us and others about God’s love in Jesus. Pray also for those young people and second-career adults who are considering enrolling at MLC.
  • Share a message of encouragement. Record a short video with your message (printable MLC Day signs are available at mlcday.com) and share it on the MLC Day Kudoboard or post it on Facebook and Instagram using #MLCDAY2024.
  • Give to MLC. Your donation will provide tuition assistance to MLC students by helping fund MLC’s Congregational Partner Grant Program. Two generous donors are matching all donations up to $60,000 to help us reach our $120,000 goal.

MLC will be posting photos and stories and updating progress reports on its Facebook and Instagram pages. It will also have extensive Facebook Live posts of life at MLC! Have fun—and may God bless MLC to his glory!

Cordially in Christ,
Paul Prange
Administrator, WELS Ministerial Education

Utilizing our schools for outreach

Dear Friend,

Would it surprise you to learn that there are a growing number of unchurched families from the community in our congregations’ schools? If you are a member of a congregation that supports an early childhood ministry, Lutheran elementary school, or an area Lutheran high school, statistics show that 20 percent of those enrolled are families without a church home. This is the largest percentage in the history of our WELS school system.

More parents from the community are enrolling their children in WELS schools for safety, a great education, and Christian values. Is it possible they could also find more than they were initially looking for? Could these families also find a caring group of Christians who would love to share with them the good news of our restored relationship with God through the work of Jesus?

Some of our schools have had many years of experience working with unchurched families; for other schools it’s relatively new. We have learned specific approaches that have helped welcome these families and open the door to conversations about the gospel.

This is the role of the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools as part of WELS Congregational Services: to encourage and equip congregations for faithful and fruitful gospel ministry. We recognize the wonderful outreach opportunities present in our schools and are here to assist.

One of the services we provide is called Telling the Next Generation. This is a day-long training to help church and school leaders develop a specific plan (called a “harvest strategy”) that includes building relationships with school families and encouraging them to hear the Word and join the congregation. In this way Lutheran Schools is not only providing Christian education for the children, we are also partnering with congregations to bring Jesus to the entire family. This Telling the Next Generation training is available to all school ministries, early childhood through high school.

You can partner with us in this ministry as well! We invite your support to train more ministry consultants to not only guide congregational leaders in intentionally building relationships and sharing the Good News of Jesus with unchurched families but also to periodically help schools review and assess their efforts. We are seeking gifts totaling $110,000-130,000 over the next year to allow an expanded schedule of on-site Telling the Next Generation training as well as follow-up visits with congregations that have previously participated in a presentation. Can you help?

Thanks for prayerfully considering how we can work together in the rich harvest fields God has blessed us with at our schools!

In Christ,
James A. Rademan
Director, WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we praise you for your amazing, unchanging truths revealed in the Bible—your perfect law and your gracious fulfillment of the law, suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead for our salvation. We thank you for churches and schools where fellow Christians walk with us as we grow in your grace and teach it to the next generations. We also thank you that neighbors are finding peace in the clarity of the Christian values we teach in our schools. Enable us to provide enough teachers to meet the needs of our students, and may your Holy Spirit lead families to trust in you through your gospel in Word and sacraments. Amen.

Share our Father’s compassion

Dear Friend,

History has given certain men, mostly inventors, the title “father of.” The physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer has been called the father of the atomic bomb because of his groundbreaking work on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Carl Benz is considered by many to be the father of the automotive industry because he designed and built the first practical automobile in 1885. Jacques Cousteau is known as the father of SCUBA diving because he invented and perfected the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

Some will argue that the wrong man has been given the title “father of” a particular invention. However, there is no argument about this: God is the “Father of compassion.” Scripture says so. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Nowhere is compassion more clearly seen than at the humble manger, blood-stained cross, and empty tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ. When God saw the helpless, hopeless state of us sinners, he leaped to action. He entered our world, carried our sin and sorrow to the cross, shed his blood to pay our debt, and rose again to secure forgiveness and life for us and for all. What compassion!

One way to thank and praise God for his compassion is to show compassion to others. There are so many in our world in need of compassion! In the name of Jesus and with your generous support, WELS Christian Aid and Relief strives to imitate our God’s compassionate heart and hands as we care for people in need. It is our privilege to be part of the following ministries of compassion:

  • Disaster Relief: We assist those who have been impacted by disaster by providing, as appropriate, funding, volunteer labor, equipment, training, and leadership. Recently in the U.S. we deployed to southwestern Florida to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian. We also assisted several families who lost their homes to tornados in Tennessee. We worked abroad to help rebuild churches in Malawi destroyed by Cyclone Freddy and to help feed 847 families displaced by flooding in India.
  • Humanitarian Aid: We fund humanitarian aid projects through our missions at home and abroad. These efforts include food support for the hungry, clean water for the thirsty, medical care for the sick and dying, school supplies for underprivileged students, and mosquito netting for those who live in areas where malaria is a problem.
  • Community Care and Compassion: We provide matching grants of up to $2,500 to self-supporting WELS congregations engaged in compassion ministry in their communities such as supporting the homeless, running a community food pantry, offering a holiday meal, or supporting a pregnancy counseling center. The opportunities to help are endless.
  • Personal Relief Grants: We work with WELS congregations to support members or prospects in crisis when the need goes beyond the ability of the congregation.

To continue showing our Father’s compassion in these ways, we invite your prayers and offerings. Please consider a gift to the WELS Christian Aid and Relief General Fund to help us maintain these ministries and imitate the Lord’s compassion as we serve and support people in need around the world.

In Jesus, our compassionate Savior,
Pastor Dan Sims
Director, WELS Christian Aid and Relief

Prayer: Lord, our compassionate and gracious God, open our eyes to see the needs of people in our communities and move us to show compassion. We thank you that, through the support of WELS Christian Aid and Relief, our churches can do more to help our neighbors in need. May our compassion for others reflect your compassion for them and our trust in you. We pray that your Holy Spirit will use our efforts to communicate that we love because you first loved us. May your gospel move many more to believe in you. Amen.

Continue the momentum

Dear Friend of Missions,

If you received my letter this past week, you know that, as we aim to open 100 new home missions and enhance 75 existing missions over ten years, I’m encouraging us to keep in mind that “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” We thank God that the “race” has started well with 20 new mission starts and enhancements approved in year one!

We know we need to keep going to reach more of the lost and we want to equip our missions to thrive, not just survive. Yet, some might ask, “Is it worth the cost?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). As we consider our riches because of the cross and empty tomb, how can we not share Jesus with those who are still poor?

Our district mission boards have submitted 16 new starts and 17 enhancement requests for review at next month’s Board for Home Missions meetings. The financial cost to support these requests is not small, but it’s worth it realizing we’re sending missionaries out with the powerful gospel that changes hearts, just like it changed yours and mine. Will you prayerfully consider giving to support this 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative?

While there is still much work to be done, by God’s grace, we have started strong and, God willing, will continue this momentum in the years ahead.

In Christ’s service,
Mark Gabb
Administrator, WELS Home Missions

A marathon, not a sprint

Dear Christian Friend,

“Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Growing up and going through school, I enjoyed playing sports like football, basketball, baseball, and even floor hockey. But as full-time ministry began, it became more difficult to find opportunities to do those things even though I knew I still needed to get exercise. So, I took up running. Little did I know that running would lead to competing in 5K races, which led to friends convincing me to compete in a half-marathon.

That’s when “it’s a marathon and not a sprint” hit home. While wind sprints get you in shape for football, basketball, baseball, and floor hockey, training for a half-marathon requires far less sprinting and far more long-distance running. You must learn to pace yourself so that you can run a strong race for the entire 13.1 miles.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint” can also apply to the WELS initiative to start 100 missions and enhance 75 missions in 10 years. The “race” has now started with ten new mission starts and ten enhancements approved in year one. We thank God for you and our partnership in the gospel that enables us to reach more lost souls with the message of forgiveness, peace, and hope through Jesus Christ.

We’ve started strong and now need to continue going where the people are to reach more of the lost. We also want to equip our missions to thrive and not just survive. Yet, in these markets, we’re seeing the cost of real estate, rental property, and construction rising dramatically. Some might ask, “Is it worth the cost?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus became poor so that we could become rich. What we have wasn’t purchased with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and by his innocent suffering and death. We have pardon for our sins, peace with God, and hope for this life and eternity. We are rich!

The “100 Missions in 10 Years” initiative is all about sharing our riches with those who are still poor. By God’s grace, together with you, we have started strong. We trust that we will continue running strong. We trust that we will continue to pray for this initiative as well as the ministry of WELS.

During this season of Lent as we consider the empty tomb and the riches we have, how can we not share our riches with those who are still poor? We trust that as God has blessed you financially, you will consider a special gift that will help us continue to run a strong race by God’s grace. And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In Christ’s service,
Mark Gabb
Administrator, WELS Home Missions

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for blessing our synod’s “100 Missions in 10 Years” effort with a strong start toward the goal of 100 new home missions and 75 mission enhancements by 2033. Send your Spirit to bless the ten mission starts and ten enhancements that were approved last year. May they—and all of our congregations—stay focused on gathering around your gospel in Word and sacraments and sharing it with our communities. Amen.

A strong start!

Dear Friend of Missions,

Twenty new home mission starts and enhancements were approved in 2023—praise God! Thank you for your prayers and offerings that have helped us start strong! We know the incredible things God will do through each congregation gathered around and proclaiming his salvation from sin through Jesus. Realizing this is a marathon and not a sprint, we now want to maintain a good pace as we continue the race to reach more of the lost and equip our missions to thrive.

We do this through district mission boards, which support existing home missions and work with local congregations to identify where to plant new churches throughout their district. This volunteer group of two to four pastors and two to four laymen builds a solid foundation for each new mission, shepherding these churches and their pastors on their path from mission status to self-supporting congregations. The district mission boards are preparing a new round of mission start and enhancement requests for the Board for Home Missions to review at their April meeting.

We are confident in God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power to continue to fuel our efforts for this marathon. Knowing there is a cost to running this race, would you consider a gift to help with the marathon ahead? We continue to pray that God would bless the efforts of the missionaries already on location and give patience to the groups of mission-minded believers waiting for their first shepherd so that in the end, more people see their desperate need for salvation and come believe the wonderful message of forgiveness and salvation through Christ alone.

Watch your mailbox for more information about this exciting initiative. And let’s remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Serving him,
Mark Gabb
Administrator, WELS Home Missions