Help students try MLC debt-free

Dear Friend,

You don’t have to talk to Mark for very long to figure out that he is a good kid. As a high school student, he is already trying to take classes that will prepare him to teach in a Lutheran elementary school. When he sings in the choir, he thinks about how he will encourage younger children to sing. When he pitches for his school’s baseball team, he thinks about how he is going to coach younger athletes. He hopes that working at a WELS camp this summer will help keep him in shape to play football during his senior year of high school in the fall.

He has an older brother in the pre-seminary program at Martin Luther College (MLC), the WELS College of Ministry located in New Ulm, Minn., and they exchange ideas on how to pay for school. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play football at MLC because he may need to work during the first semester of his freshman year. It depends on how much financial assistance he receives.

MLC has set a goal that no student will need to take on loans for that first year of college. The plan includes a strong partnership with incoming students and their families—everyone will pay what they can. This is also possible because of the strong partnership MLC has with WELS.

WELS supplies a general grant to MLC every year, benefiting every student. WELS members also supply special gifts for financial assistance. Because of the generosity of WELS members in the “Equipping Christian Witnesses” campaign that concluded last month, MLC can meet its goal of no student needing a loan their freshman year.

One reason MLC can confidently plan to meet that goal in the future is the annual funding it gets from the WELS Ministerial Education Endowment Fund. Contributions to that fund provide our four ministerial education schools with ongoing financial support as the endowment is designed to make steady annual distributions that increase as the fund grows.

Mark hopes to meet a critical need for our synod. He is willing to serve anywhere the Church needs him to go. He heard in May that 116 requests to the 2022 Assignment Committee for teachers could not be filled, and he wants to do what he can to make that number lower.

What can you do? Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. Encourage young people to consider service. Do what you can to help them pay for college. As you are able, contribute to the WELS Ministerial Education Endowment Fund. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Cordially in Christ,
Rev. Paul T. Prange
WELS Administrator for Ministerial Education

Prayer: Lord, we praise you for giving our church body well-trained called workers thanks to our ministerial education schools. These ministry leaders are a great blessing to us as well as to those who do not yet know you. May Martin Luther College’s goal of reducing the need for student loans and debt make it easier for young men and women to enroll and complete their studies. Lead us to support these recruitment efforts through our prayers, offerings, and encouragement of students toward ministry. Amen.

Portuguese church partners with WELS to send a missionary in Brazil

Dear Friend,

Meet two friends of mine: Rev. Denício Godoy, and Rev. Dr. Artur Villares. One lives in South America, the other in Europe.

Denício is from a small town in Brazil with minimal Lutheran presence. Years ago he enrolled at a local seminary, but was troubled by the lack of clear Lutheran confession in that church body. He searched online hoping to find a confessional Lutheran voice in his native Portuguese. The Lord led him to Artur and our sister synod, the Lutheran Church of Portugal (ILP). Artur had answers for Denício’s questions. He told him about his treasured fellowship with WELS and the other churches of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).

After Denício finished seminary, he declared himself to be one in faith with WELS and the ILP. He was received by colloquy into our fellowship, and on April 3, 2022, he was ordained and commissioned as the ILP’s missionary to Brazil. A European (ILP) and a North American (WELS) church partnered to send a missionary in South America! Probably nobody could have imagined this even a short time ago, but the Lord made it happen.

Denício will work to plant house churches in his Brazilian hometown and in the large city where he has moved with his family. And, God willing, this new ministry’s reach will be much broader than that. A trained media professional, Denício translates and shares WELS materials online. The plan is for a stepped-up web presence in Brazil where we can share devotions and confessional Lutheran materials, stream worship services, offer courses, link to other CELC churches and resources, and—most importantly—get in touch with people who want to hear more.

In Portugal, the ILP’s online ministry is constantly turning up people all over the world who want to hear the good news about Jesus in Portuguese, the world’s eighth most spoken language. Artur is currently working with several of them. Our prayer is that this new ministry in Brazil will broaden our reach and deepen our roots in the world’s largest Portuguese-speaking country. The results are in the Lord’s hands, but his Word never returns to him empty (Isaiah 55:10-11)—and the potential in Brazil is unlimited.

Doing this well involves start-up expenses plus the ongoing costs of licenses, facilities, production of materials, travel, and partial support for Denício (who also works part-time at a local radio station). Will you help by donating to WELS’ Brazil Fund? Will you pray that the Lord Jesus would bless Denício and his family, Artur and his family, and the work of Portuguese-language gospel outreach in Brazil and throughout the world? Thanks for thinking about it—and for your partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:5) that has led to exciting new developments like this one!

In Christ,
Dr. Kenneth A. Cherney, Jr.
WELS Europe Team representative to the Lutheran Church of Portugal

P.S. Brazil is a country of 200 million people. Lord willing, your donation will position us to greatly expand gospel outreach in the Portuguese language.

Celebrate MLC Day with us!

Dear Friend,

Today we invite you to join us in the annual day-long celebration called “MLC Day.” Join thousands of friends of Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., and WELS across the globe: pray for MLC’s work of training gospel proclaimers, share messages of encouragement online, and give to support their 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.
  • Share a message of support or gratitude. 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 #MLCDAY22.
  • Talk about MLC in your conversations: on the phone, over coffee, at the golf course, or wherever!
  • Give to MLC. Your donation will provide tuition assistance to MLC students by helping fund MLC’s Congregational Partner Grant Program. A donor match is available to help reach the $100,000 goal.

MLC will be posting photos and stories and updating progress reports on the MLC Facebook and Instagram pages. Have fun—and may God bless MLC to his glory!

Cordially in Christ,
Paul Prange
Administrator, WELS Ministerial Education

Encouraging compassion ministry

Dear Friend,

Scripture teaches Christians to live such good lives that others are attracted to the Christian faith and eventually join us in praising God for his grace. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).

Recently WELS Christian Aid and Relief launched the Community Care and Compassion Matching Grants Program. It offers annual matching grants of up to $2,500 to self-supporting WELS congregations to assist them in letting their light shine by carrying out compassion ministry in their communities. Compassion ministry means finding people in your community who are hurting or in need and then helping them. The opportunities to shine the light of Christ into a sin-darkened world by showing love to our neighbors are endless! Here are some examples:

  • Hosting a community dinner at Thanksgiving or a toy drive at Christmas.
  • Supporting and encouraging seniors, veterans, health care workers, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders with prayers, handwritten cards, and small gifts of appreciation.
  • Working with a local charity to help teens in crisis, victims of domestic violence, and those facing food insecurity.
  • Partnering with Christian Family Solutions to provide online counseling sessions to those who are struggling with mental health.
  • Providing backpacks and other school supplies to underprivileged students.
  • Establishing and operating a community food bank.

There’s an old saying: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Just think of all the opportunities God is setting before us in this broken world to show hurting people how much we care and, more importantly, how much God cares for them in Christ.

An example of this kind of compassion ministry is the senior outreach being done by Bethlehem, Richland Center, Wis. They have taken over a program that serves meals to seniors. Pastor Dan Lewig says, “This ministry is about building relationships. As we sit around food and get to know the seniors, we have the opportunity to help them build better relationships with themselves and their Savior. Our partnership with WELS Christian Aid and Relief helped us begin this ministry and expand it.”

Would you consider a special gift to the WELS Christian Aid and Relief general fund to support this new program? Such a gift will help other WELS Christians let the light of Christ shine into the lives of those who are hurting.

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

P.S. Gifts to our general fund also help us support the vital work of disaster relief, humanitarian aid through WELS Home and World Missions, and personal financial grants for WELS members going through a crisis.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we praise you for your compassion toward all people. Help us to reflect your grace as we love and serve others physically and spiritually. Guide our congregations in community service efforts to build a foundation of trust from which we can proclaim your salvation from sin. Grant that those in need are cared for while the members serving them grow from their experience. Guide WELS Christian Aid and Relief as they encourage churches toward this goal. We pray that your name is glorified through our ministry. Amen.

Gratitude for God’s blessings on WELS Home Missions

Dear Friend,

Having accepted a call to serve at St. John’s in Mukwonago, Wis., this is my final opportunity to address Home Missions supporters. Over the past 11+ years, it has been a privilege to communicate the blessings the Lord has showered on his gospel work. My heart is filled with gratitude for:

  • All the prayer warriors out there who have held up missions before the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth—the One who clearly says GO!
  • The moms and dad who encouraged their sons and daughters toward ministry, as well as our ministerial education schools that trained them. It is because of these that we have mission-minded pastors, teachers, and staff ministers not just in our mission churches but in all of our WELS congregations.
  • The staff at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry who take care of necessary administration and communication.
  • District mission board members and mission counselors who do the work of developing and cultivating missions and, when a mission begins, continue their support of those churches. These men are the heart and core of missions—thank God for them!
  • Mission partners such as Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society and Church Extension Fund as well as so many other WELS areas of ministry and WELS affiliated ministries. Home Missions needs these partnerships and deeply appreciates them.
  • Churches like Risen Savior in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. (featured in this month’s WELS Connection), which have gone from subsidized missions to self-supporting ministries.
  • Mission gifts that flow freely. It is amazing how the Lord moves hearts to give so frequently and generously. Truly, THANK YOU!
  • Our Savior God whose life, death, and resurrection saves, motivates, and inspires us redeemed children of the Father to proclaim the message of salvation again and again and again.

At the 2021 synod convention, Home Missions received the directive to work toward starting 100 missions in ten years and enhancing another 75 missions. This effort will kick off in the spring of 2023. Of course, a major endeavor like this will require additional support. As you have in the past, I trust that the Lord will enable you to continue your generous gifts so that WELS Home Missions can plant even more missions to reach more souls with the gospel.

Blessed to serve a living Savior and celebrate Jesus’ great victory over death this Easter, we have every reason to put into practice these words from Psalm 96: “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

In partnership proclaiming the gospel,
Pastor Keith Free
Administrator, WELS Home Missions

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we give you thanks for each new home mission we have the privilege to start. Thanks for blessing Risen Savior in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., with strong growth so that it is now a self-supporting congregation and for giving them a thriving early childhood ministry that connects young children and their parents to Jesus. We pray that you would bless their efforts to start a new home mission just north of them in Parrish, Fla. We also ask you to guide our WELS churches in using opportunities like early childhood ministry to connect families to you. Amen.

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Serving people from Hong Kong in the U.K.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just days ago, I was at a market in central Liverpool in northern England enjoying Hong Kong cuisine with a family of four. While we ate, they emotionally explained the events that led to their decision to uproot their family from Hong Kong and move to London, 9,000 miles away. “We can understand the Ukrainian refugees,” they said. “We felt we had no choice.”

On another recent occasion I was invited by members of our sister synod in Hong Kong to visit a church in Liverpool with services in Mandarin and Cantonese. The pastor explained how in early 2020 his was a little congregation. “We grew from 20 to 130 people in one year.” He added, “We need basic Bible training.” Those who had invited me to the service concurred.

Due to changes in Hong Kong law, the United Kingdom has opened the door for Hong Kong citizens to immigrate to the U.K. In fact, more than 20 percent of members and leaders from WELS’ sister synod in Hong Kong have already moved to the U.K., with more on the way. It is estimated that up to two million people will relocate from Hong Kong to the U.K. during the current immigration wave.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This immigration wave presents a clear opportunity to share the gospel with these new arrivals. My family and I look forward to moving to the U.K. this summer as I continue to serve this mission field. If God wills it, WELS World Missions plans to call a second missionary this year to assist with outreach to the Hong Kong people in the U.K. Please pray for God’s blessings and consider a special mission offering today.

Serving together,
Rev. Michael Hartman
Missionary to London & U.K.

P.S. I invite you to watch my recent interview to learn more about this mission.

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