Hold up the prophet’s hands!

Dear Friend,

Do you remember the hymn verse, “If you cannot be a watchman, standing high on Zion’s wall, pointing out the path to heaven, offering life and peace to all . . . You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the prophet’s hands” (Christian Worship, 573)?

The reference is from a famous battle recorded in Exodus 17. As long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites were winning their battle against the Amalekites. When Moses grew tired and lowered them, the Israelites started to lose. The solution: Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands up, and the victory was won.

Isn’t it interesting how God brought about that victory? He gave Aaron and Hur the opportunity to participate, to play an active role in accomplishing his mission. God still works that way today. WELS sends missionaries to spread the gospel in this country and all around the world, and each of us plays a supportive role. With our prayers and with our offerings, we get to hold up the prophet’s hands.

One way we can assist our home and world missionaries is by supporting the humanitarian aid projects that they use to meet community needs, build relationships, and open doors to sharing the good news about Jesus.

Here is an example: In Toronto, where 50 percent of the population is first-generation immigrants, Hope Lutheran, a home mission congregation, is using a humanitarian aid grant from WELS Christian Aid and Relief to welcome newcomers with love and compassion. In November, a young family showed up at church because they couldn’t find the address they had been given for another building. They had fled from a Muslim country after converting to Christianity. They had no food, clothing, or medical insurance, and were emotionally alone.

The members of Hope were able to assist them and welcome them to worship. The family cried tears of joy as they attended their first Christian worship service. Over time they were all baptized and now attend worship regularly. The mother shared, “We came here with no family and now we have Christian family with you!”

This past year special humanitarian aid gifts enabled us to hold up the prophet’s hands with $357,403 to support additional projects such as:

  • Medical equipment and supplies for health clinics in Thailand, Pakistan, India, and Nepal
  • Fresh water wells for people in India and Zambia
  • Food and medicine for people in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Mexico, and Indonesia
  • Financial aid for WELS Central Africa Medical Mission
  • Mosquito nets, sewing classes, and textbooks for higher education level students in Nepal

Dear friend, please consider a special offering to fund new humanitarian aid projects for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support that hold up the prophet’s hands!

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

Sharing the risen Christ across cultures

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20a).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Christ,

“I love your church. It was like I was walking into my own home!” declared Maria. Although she spent decades living within walking distance of church, she never visited until she was invited (repeatedly).

Palabra de Vida is located on a main street in a largely Hispanic area in Southwest Detroit, a neighborhood of around 25,000 residents. Many people drive by our building every day, but very few come in. There are many who, like Maria, might come . . . if someone would just invite them!

That’s why we engage our community through different mercy ministries that allow us to meet basic needs and invite them to hear the gospel. We run “Palabra Kids” ministry with various programs in addition to other community outreach events. Pastor Ismael and his wife connect with people at these events. Then we work hard to follow up and invite people to worship services, new events, and Bible information classes.

While we meet hundreds of new people a year, only a few families will stick around after hearing the gospel. We count rejection as part of the ministry: “You will be hated by everyone because of me” (Matthew 10:22a). Rejection doesn’t deter us, because the gospel is too precious to keep to ourselves. This way people who may have passed by our church a thousand times, like Maria, look differently at our building now—it’s their new “family in Christ,” where truth and love are taught and shown.

Please consider making a gift to Home Missions Multi-Cultural Outreach today, and together we will watch the Holy Spirit change lives. Many congregations, whether they’re just starting out or are in impoverished areas, benefit from your prayers and financial support. This doesn’t just help our church body grow; it lifts up a new believer’s face to see their risen Savior.

Sharing the Easter joy of the risen Christ,

Pastor Ryan Kolander
Palabra de Vida, Detroit, Mich.

P.S. For more on WELS mission work, “like” WELS Missions on Facebook and subscribe to our Missions Blogs.

The risen Christ is the hope we can share

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20a).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Pastor, I’m losing my faith . . . quickly.” He was slouched in a kitchen chair after almost everyone had left worship that Sunday. “What’s the point to it all—why?”

This young man’s desperation is shared by many. Lack of financial stability, dependency on drugs, spousal abuse, and societal neglect are some of the challenges that are amplified in an impoverished area as a result of our broken, sin-filled world.

They’re right to an extent. There is no hope, even for a self-proclaimed believer who strolls into church. That is, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). If this poverty, misery, fear, and hatred is it, and then we die . . . well, then I’d join the club of wallowers!

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20a). And that changes everything.

The risen Christ is the hope that we can share with the hurting. He is the best answer we can give to the “whys?” in life. Jesus rose, and that means you and I will rise to a new life too! This Easter joy elevates a soul from the shadows to the heavens.

This is the gospel we are privileged to preach through WELS Home Missions to countless hurting people from many ethnic backgrounds and diverse cultures all over North America.

So, friend in Christ Jesus, be bold with your witness! You have something precious to offer a hurting soul this Easter season. And please consider a gift to Home Missions Multi-Cultural Outreach today. Together we will watch the Holy Spirit change lives.

Happy Easter, friends. Rejoice! Because Christ indeed has been raised from the dead! Alleluia!

Pastor Ryan Kolander
Palabra de Vida, Detroit, Mich.

Proclaiming Easter hope through WELS Home Missions

Dear Friend,

“Pastor, I’m losing my faith . . . quickly.” The young man was slouched in a kitchen chair after almost everyone had left worship that Sunday. “What’s the point to it all—why?”

Nathan (not his real name) battles with a heroin addiction. He has tried to overdose multiple times. He’s been locked up in prison. His wife was killed while crossing the street. He doesn’t have custody over any of his four boys. He can’t find regular work, and he sleeps in burned-out houses around the neighborhood. His sinful past haunts him day and night. “What’s the point?” That’s a plea of hopelessness, and maybe you can understand why he’s asking it.

Many people in our church’s diverse southwest Detroit neighborhood share the questions and hopelessness that Nathan has. People from many other neighborhoods around the U.S. and Canada are truly hurting and looking for respite from hunger and hatred. People from every culture struggle to find hope in life, and they ask, “Why?”

You know, they’re right to an extent. There is no hope, even for a self-proclaimed believer who strolls into church. That is, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). If this poverty, misery, fear, and hatred is it, and then we die . . . well, then I’d join the club of wallowers too!

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20a)! And that changes everything.

This truth drives me as a pastor to get out of bed in the morning. The risen Christ is the hope that I can share with the hurting. He is the best answer to the “why” I can give! Jesus rose, and that means you and I will rise to a new life too! This Easter joy elevates a soul from the shadows to the heavens. And that’s the gospel we preach!

At my congregation, Palabra de Vida, and many other home mission congregations, we work to connect the Nathans and others of our neighborhoods to the living Christ. Like so many WELS congregations, we reach out to meet people where they’re at. We coordinate numerous programs to help those in need. We work through connections and centers of influence to get into homes. But even all this scuttling around would be meaningless if it weren’t done for one sole purpose—to connect people to the living Christ, who alone gives hope of a new life.

In addition to the nearly 50 member families and hundreds of contacts around Detroit, there are countless other hurting people from many ethnic backgrounds and cultures that hear the Easter gospel message through our WELS Home Missions in diverse communities all over North America.

Your offerings help pastors and members to share this Easter hope with people like Nathan, to answer their “why” questions.

Please consider making a gift to Home Missions Multi-Cultural Outreach today, and together we will watch the Holy Spirit change lives. Churches all around our synod have this rare gem of hope—hope in Jesus. And many congregations, whether they’re just starting out or are in impoverished areas, need your financial support. Your support doesn’t just help our church body grow; it lifts up a young man or woman’s face to see their risen Savior.

Happy Easter, friends. Rejoice because Christ indeed has been raised from the dead! Alleluia!

Sincerely,
Pastor Ryan Kolander, Palabra de Vida, Detroit, Mich.

P.S. To learn more about the many multi-cultural programs supported through Home Missions, go to WELS.net/missions.

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“I am with you”

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Dear Friend,

The Holy Spirit has comforted Christians with these words through the centuries. Whether in times of personal hardship, persecution, or other difficulty, hearing Jesus’ promise to be “with” us gives us peace in God’s abundant love and his plan for us. This peace God gives us is a peace the world needs.

Thank you for your partnership with WELS as we work together with Home, World, and Joint Missions to spread the gospel in the U.S. and throughout the world through the new Mission Journeys volunteer program. This program is designed to help congregations and schools prepare and go on short-term mission trips. To learn more about Mission Journeys, visit wels.net/missionjourneys.

Does Jesus’ promise to be “with” us apply as we share our faith with other people? Of course. “Always” means all the time and in all circumstances. Will we get nervous? Maybe. What will we say? What if I don’t have all the answers? Jesus says in Luke 12:12, “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Read how the Spirit enabled Greta Pagels, a Mission Journeys team member to Ecuador, to step out of her comfort zone. Watch a team member from Rochester, Minn., tell how our Lord impacted her life through a Mission Journeys trip to Escondido, Calif.

Mission Journeys is giving WELS members another way to be a part of the Great Commission. Would you be interested in joining a Mission Journeys team? Would you consider supporting the program through your prayers and gifts? However you participate, we appreciate your partnership.

In Jesus,
Shannon Bohme
Coordinator, WELS Mission Journeys

P.S. “Like” WELS Missions on Facebook for more stories and updates on Mission Journeys and WELS mission work around the world.

Let the word dwell in you richly as you teach

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19).

Dear Friend,

Jesus gives believers the Great Commission to “go” and “teach” the gospel. Thank you for your support of WELS that allows home and world missions to do this. Our new program, Mission Journeys, gives WELS members the opportunity to go on short-term mission trips where they can help a congregation or mission field in their ministry. Watch this video from a Mission Journeys team in Ecuador to follow one church’s Mission Journeys experience. Go to wels.net/missionjourneys to learn whether your church might be able to participate in Mission Journeys.

Before the mission team leaves, they go through training materials to prepare for the trip. The most important part of the preparation is time in God’s Word. Paul says in Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach” (3:16). Before teams “go” and “teach” others, they are spiritually filled up. Mission Journeys training gives teams devotions, prayers, and a focus on personal discipleship. Our prayer is for the Holy Spirit to “teach” each team member through the Word to prepare them for the mission trip.

God-willing, the team will have opportunities to “teach” others about Jesus while on their journey. This could be through a vacation Bible school devotion, a personal witness, joyfully serving the community and letting the light of Jesus shine, or any number of other opportunities.

The world needs Jesus. The consequences of this message are eternal. Would you be willing to make a gift today to WELS Mission Journeys to “teach” mission teams as they go out and “teach” others? Together, we have a “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:4).

In Jesus,
Shannon Bohme
Coordinator, WELS Mission Journeys

P.S. “Like” WELS Missions on Facebook to learn more about Mission Journeys trips and to get exciting updates on current WELS missions throughout the U.S. and world.