Christ in my neighbor

Dear Friend,

I ran across this quote from a sermon Martin Luther preached in 1543: “The inn was full . . . There are many of you who think to yourselves: If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the baby! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor. You ought to serve your neighbor, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.”

Jesus once made a similar point: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). One of our prayers summarizes the thought this way: “In the hurting eyes of the lonely, in the pained eyes of the sick, and in the searching eyes of the lost, help us to see your face, O Jesus, and to serve others as we would serve you.”

We serve Jesus because he so lovingly served us by laying down his life to save us. We serve our neighbor to say thank you to Jesus for his incredible sacrifice. When we help a neighbor in need, it is the same as serving Jesus himself. What a lovely thought!

One way to serve Christ in your neighbor is by supporting WELS Christian Aid and Relief’s humanitarian aid projects. These help our home and world missionaries meet community needs and build relationships that lead to many opportunities to share the good news of Jesus.

One missionary, who oversees much of our humanitarian work in South Asia, has this to say about the importance of these efforts: “In the countries we serve the population is only one percent Christian. Christians are a persecuted minority. There are many stereotypes about Christians. When we show the love of Christ in acts of charity, people take notice. They begin to doubt the prejudices they have held against Christians. The door to their minds is opened. This creates an opportunity to share the gospel with them. It is impossible to describe the impact the unconditional love of Christ makes on the mind and heart of a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. The Holy Spirit uses the beautiful truth of the gospel to lead them into the kingdom of God. Despite severe persecution, we have explosive growth where we conduct these humanitarian aid projects.”

Your gifts have enabled similar humanitarian aid projects such as these:

  • School supplies and backpacks for underprivileged children in Colorado
  • Medical equipment and supplies in Africa and Asia
  • Drilling boreholes (wells) to supply clean water in Zambia
  • Technology and vocational training for the poor in Asia
  • Mosquito nets in areas where malaria is a danger
  • Warm clothes for widows and orphans
  • Food and other support for the poor in Africa, Asia, and Europe

Would you consider making a special offering today to fund humanitarian aid projects for the 2023-2024 fiscal year? In this way you will serve Jesus by serving your neighbor —all to the glory of God alone!

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

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you demonstrated compassion for us during your time on earth—resolving people’s physical problems while solving their much bigger spiritual problem. May we imitate you as we see the needs of hurting people around us and help them. We thank you for WELS Christian Aid and Relief’s coordination of disaster relief efforts and for moving so many people to give and volunteer in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and other disasters. Use our love for others as a witness of your love for us and an opening to share the good news of your forgiveness and eternal life. Amen.

Training your future musicians

Dear Christian Friend,

I don’t know if I could say it any better than Martin Luther College (MLC) student Noah Ungemach: “The combination of music and God’s Word is a very powerful thing.” Music is indeed a special gift of God, and for millennia God’s people have understood the power of music to sing the gospel straight into the heart.

We deeply appreciate the power of music here at MLC—and the students who are refining their musical gifts here. They’re pursuing excellence every day—and not primarily for their own enjoyment or sense of achievement. They’re dedicating those gifts to something much larger than themselves: to proclaiming salvation in Christ and growing his Church. God-willing, they will be your musicians someday—your music teachers, your worship leaders and planners, your organists and pianists, your band and choir directors.

In the coming months, we want to provide our student musicians something they’ve needed for a long time: more space.

Our Wind Symphony, for example, has rehearsed on the auditorium stage for 20 years because the Music Center band room is not large enough to accommodate the decibel levels produced by a large instrumental ensemble. We’d be risking permanent hearing damage to both director and students in the old band room. And the storage for instruments and music has subsequently been dispersed to seven different spaces around campus—none ideal.

It’s not just the Wind Symphony players who are cramped. We’ve expanded our music program options considerably in the last decades, adding majors in parish music, instrumental music, and vocal music. Many more students study voice, strings, and wind instruments in addition to piano and organ.

Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: Of the 135 graduates in 2022, 128 sang in a choir, played in an instrumental ensemble, or took music lessons for at least one semester. That’s 95 percent. To demonstrate our respect for our students’ gifts and to help them pursue excellence as they develop those gifts for service, we need more space.

Here’s the good news: The solution is already here. An area for rehearsals, recitals, and the refining of our students’ musical gifts has been right in front of our eyes all along—in the lower level of the Chapel of the Christ. In fact, we’ve had plans for this space since we built the chapel 12 years ago—plans that include teaching studios and a computer lab for composition and theory students. The centerpiece is a large recital and rehearsal room. Visualize it: state-of-the-art equipment, acoustical design, and much-needed storage for robes and instruments just steps away.

The first critical step in making this rehearsal space a reality for our students is to construct the necessary infrastructure. The estimated cost is $250,000. Can you help?

Our students are so eager to serve. They’re working hard, always with an eye on their futures—futures where they’re called to direct your church choir, conduct the band at your Lutheran high school, lead the music at your worship services, and teach your children and grandchildren. Will you support them as they seek to serve?

In Christ,
Rich Gurgel
MLC President

Read more about three students’ experiences at MLC and their thoughts about their future music ministries at

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., where we train our future pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and missionaries. Thank you for the recent blessings to the college including the Betty Kohn Fieldhouse, increased donations for financial aid, and encouragement extended to students from people across the synod. Bless Martin Luther College as they carry out a new strategic plan. Lead us, Lord, to continue making our ministerial education schools a priority so that our church body can spread the message of your grace in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our present opportunity

Dear Christian Friend,

Greetings in Jesus, the Light of the world!

Our Savior has been working throughout history and among nations to accomplish his saving goals. Think of his special relationship with Israel, through which he sent the Messiah. Also, remember how God humbled Israel through neighboring nations, which were humbled themselves by other nations.

Then, in the fullness of time, God sent Jesus to be born, to keep the law for us, to die for our sins, and rise from the dead—and grow the early church—during a period historians call the “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace). The Roman empire provided a common language, a system of roads, safe transportation, a general tolerance in religious matters, and economic prosperity—all of which benefited Christ’s missionaries as they rapidly spread the gospel across much of the known world.

Does that sound familiar? As we, the members of Christ’s Church, use the New Year to review our service to the Lord and others in 2022 and to plan our future efforts, we have a unique opportunity to share the good news of the Savior with a world that doesn’t know him. We live in a time of relative peace and stability, during the “Information Age,” where people across the world communicate quickly and easily via the Internet, e-mail, text messaging, and social media. Transportation provides safe and speedy access to locations across the world. Many countries give citizens the freedom of religion, speech, and the press. Economic prosperity equips us to help others.

Let us praise Jesus for giving us many opportunities to share his gospel now! Thankfully, WELS members, individually and through their congregations, have worked together with the confidence of Christ’s love for us and the many blessings he has poured out on us to . . .

  • provide excellent ministerial training to students from across the world for serving in a variety of ministry settings,
  • maximize the number of home missions we can open or enhance in the next ten years,
  • use Internet-based training programs to prepare Christians across continents for leading Bible studies and opening churches,
  • share the gospel in 44 foreign countries and explore outreach in 18 new world mission fields, and
  • support our 1,200 churches and 700 schools and early childhood ministries in all aspects of ministry. To God be the glory!

We know from Scripture that this ideal situation for sharing Christ’s love can change, so we feel an urgency to use the blessings God has given us right now for the salvation of souls and his glory.

Pray that our Lord continues to allow us the privilege of serving him as his gospel ambassadors in our present ministry and doing even more according to his will. Please consider continuing your strong support of WELS Mission and Ministry efforts through your congregation and special gifts. Thank you and God bless you!

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Kurt Lueneburg
Director, WELS Ministry of Christian Giving

Prayer: Lord Jesus, head of the Church, we praise you for the privilege of being part of your body of believers and serving others with love and hope. Thanks for another year of blessings to our congregations and synod in 2022: the restarting of events after the pandemic, the opening of new mission fields, and the unique ministries being carried out by each of our congregations. We pray that you would guide our work this coming year. If it is your will, supply more called workers to lead ministry efforts and help us to reach many more people with the gospel. We pray this knowing that you’ll do for us immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Amen.

Supporting our missionaries

Dear Friend,

Vietnam is a long way from here, as are India, Malawi, Albania, and Argentina. Even Florida is quite a hike if you live in California. It is hard to talk as neighbors if you live in Texas and I live in Wisconsin. Yet the missionaries we send to these faraway locations crave and need our connection and support.

Their work can be tough. Medical emergencies and social unrest can pop up at any time. Pagan societies can be hostile to Christianity, and our missionaries and their families bear the brunt of this on our behalf. Yet smiles, hugs, and heart-to-hearts with their words of encouragement and promised prayers are not possible unless we are together. We want to offer them our support—and we benefit, too!

Our missionaries get to witness in their daily work the miracles our Savior is empowering by his gospel. Lives and communities are being transformed and souls are set aside for an eternity with God. Wouldn’t it be great if you could sit across a table of food or a cup of coffee and hear the details of what our missionaries are doing around the world? If only it were possible. Then we could encourage each other as our Lord asks us to do.

As the apostle Paul was traveling on his way to Rome for a court date with Caesar, we are told that his brothers and sisters from the surrounding area gathered so they could meet up with him. “At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15). He knew the value of those connections and exhorted new believers to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We would all grow and be encouraged if we could meet with those serving in the Lord’s harvest. If only it were possible.

It is possible! Join your brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world for Taste of Missions, an event that takes place every June at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. Join us in person or online to get a “taste of missions” no matter where you’re from. Those attending will be able to sample food from all over, enjoy time with missionaries, and hear stories of God’s amazing grace at work.

And there is more! The Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) hosts circuit rallies, mission speakers, and an annual convention. They invite all to come and gather to meet our missionaries and learn about the people and places they serve.

As you consider how you might connect in person with our missionaries, also think about how you can support their ministry. Pray for our Lord to keep these families safe and at peace as they carry out their work. Make a special gift this Christmas to send and support missionaries to address the new opportunities God is giving our synod.

Your efforts to meet and encourage a missionary family will be a treasure to them. Your prayers and gifts to support their ministry will bear eternal fruit.

Serving the newborn King,
Larry Schlomer
World Missions Administrator

Prayer: Lord, we praise you for your victory over sin and death and for giving us the privilege of sharing this good news with all people. Thank you for blessing our church body with many missions throughout our country and world where the gospel is being proclaimed. We pray for our missionaries and their families, that they may be strengthened by your Spirit for daily ministry with all its challenges. We pray for our congregations, our synod, and WELS-affiliated ministries like the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society that support missionary efforts. May your Spirit continue to guide the body of Christ in supporting your work. Amen.

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“I’ve got your six.”

Dear Friend,

“I’ve got your six.” When someone says this to military personnel, they are stating a commitment. It’s an expression of loyalty and looking out for each other. The saying “got your six” originated with fighter pilots who would use “twelve o’clock” to indicate the front of their airplane and “six o’clock” to reference the rear of the aircraft. As a pilot heading into a brutal air battle, the six o’clock position is the most vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. It is your blind spot, your weak point. So, when another aviator says they’ve “got your six,” it means they have your back; they’re watching out for you.

The WELS members who protect our nation need us to make the extra effort to provide them with Word and sacraments and a supportive church family. They need us to “have their six” as they strive to stay close to their Savior. Often they are far from home, facing temptations and challenges, and spiritually vulnerable. This is why WELS has a special ministry to the military. If someone you know is in the military, you can provide WELS with contact information at We will serve them if we know how to reach them!

WELS Military Services shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces and with civilians who live far away from their home congregations. These service men and women are shepherded by civilian chaplains and military contact pastors located at congregations near military installations. A national civilian chaplain communicates with those who are deployed and far from a church while military families in Europe are served by the European civilian chaplain who travels to conduct services in multiple locations.

WELS military member Michael Hefti and his family have made many moves during his years of service. They treasure the times that they have been stationed near a WELS congregation. “We have found personally that there is a big difference between livestreaming and being able to meet in-person and strengthen each other in the faith through that fellowship and through being able to take communion together in person.”

WELS Military Services also provides guidance directly to military members and their families. A weekly devotion focuses on the issues of military life. Resources on prepare recruits and their families for spiritual challenges. There is information for congregations seeking to encourage military members far from home. Detailed documents help military members navigate the military organization and gain permission to connect with a WELS pastor.

You can help us tell our brothers and sisters who serve this country “We’ve got your six” by supporting this ministry to military members. While we receive foundational support from the WELS budget, groups and individuals like you provide 80 percent of the financial support so that our military members, their families, and their colleagues can be served spiritually. Your gifts to the Military Services Fund can help us expand and strengthen this ministry that goes where your congregation and you cannot.

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

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray for WELS military members and their families. Guide and protect them as they sacrifice the stability and comfort that most of us enjoy in order to protect our nation. Thank you for WELS Military Services, a ministry that aims to be there for these families, providing them with spiritual resources and personal connections. Guide and bless the efforts of the civilian chaplains and military contact pastors who lead this work. May these efforts ease the stresses of military life and help our WELS military service members to put their trust in you. Amen.

Help challenged churches plan for their future

Dear Friend,

The upcoming WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership has a track of presentations (like this one) designed to help congregations that are facing the prospect of closing. These congregations will come out of the conference with a simple ministry plan that will address their challenges and they will be capable of executing.

Typically, congregations cover the registration costs for some leaders to attend this conference. However, not all of our challenged congregations can afford that. So, WELS Congregational Services is providing grants to congregations in need. With many congregations interested, we invite your help.

Every $250 donated allows one individual to attend. That person will take planning and training resources back to their congregation, so that, with the strength God himself provides, members can be refreshed to zealously share the message of salvation through Jesus in their communities.

Please consider donating today to help provide these grants. Thank you.

In Christ,
Jonathan Hein
Coordinator, WELS Congregational Services

PS: You are invited to attend the conference. The discounted early registration deadline has been extended to November 23. I hope to have the chance to meet you!