NEW Long-Term Volunteer Opportunities

Jesus gave the Great Commission to the Church saying, “go and make disciples of all nations.” Christians throughout the millennia chose different ways and methods to carry out our Savior’s command. Starting in Acts, churches saw the need to send missionaries to reach people with the gospel. In WELS, members partnered together to start churches throughout the United States and to send missionaries to many parts of the globe. WELS Home Missions, seeing the great need for the gospel, continues to plant new churches in hopes of the Holy Spirit reaching more souls for God’s Kingdom.

WELS Mission Journeys, under the leadership of WELS Home Missions, is starting a pilot program to give more individuals the opportunity to share their faith through a long-term volunteer opportunity. Mission Journeys wants to place mission-oriented individuals in strategic locations to assist in forming and developing quality core groups, the building blocks in starting new home missions. A core group is the local group that does the work of meeting, praying, outreach, planning, and evangelism.

We’re looking for individuals that love Jesus and can communicate that love with other people. They’ll need patience, flexibility, and a spirit of adventure. This would be a tent ministry, where the individual would have a job outside of the ministry to support themselves. This could include remote work, a local job, or some combination. Mission Journeys, as a part of this pilot project, will work with the individual for possible financial assistance in moving or other expenses.

Current opportunities include:

  • Idaho Falls, Idaho: Idaho Falls is located on the western side of Teton National Park. Idaho Falls is a fast-growing area and a hub for the surrounding area. The core group consists of three families.
  • Bentonville, Arkansas: Bentonville is the home of Walmart, a corporation investing heavily in the community to provide a higher quality of life. The economy is booming for jobs in all job markets. The core group consists of four families.

WELS Home Missions provides each location with a proven plan on starting. Each location has a home mission counselor to assist in planning and coordinating ministry ideas. The core groups also worship with a pastor twice a month. This pilot program is designed to give an individual with a heart for missions the opportunity to work on the ground floor of a mission start.

For additional information, please contact Mission Journeys Coordinator, Shannon Bohme, at or 651-324-4218.

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Cameroon Seminary Graduates Seven

May 27, 2022, was an amazing day for our brothers and sisters in Cameroon. Amidst celebrations that reached across Africa, the Lutheran Church of Cameroon graduated seven men into the full-time work of the holy ministry.

In 2016 the LCC identified 14 men to begin ministerial training. They were men with a reasonable level of education, a Spirit-led love for the Lord, and some years of service as laymen in their congregations.

There were, of course, losses along the way. A few students left the program for valid reasons. A political crisis made it unsafe for the men to be together and caused the loss of an entire year of classroom studies. The same crisis made it impossible for WELS missionary Dan Kroll to do any face-to-face teaching in the final three years of the five-year program.

Although the devil uses such things to try to discourage us, we endure with the knowledge that the Lord is refining us as he promised through Jeremiah (9:7): “I will refine and test them.” The Holy Spirit was refining well for the gain of the Lord’s church, so that seven men were able to complete the course to prepare them for full-time ministry. The LCC’s teachers have grounded these men in God’s Word and prepared them to shepherd the Lord’s flocks in Cameroon. The Lord has strengthened each of them to face the challenges of his unique ministry.

The names of the graduates are Solomon Anim, Jean-Jacques Dooh, Nicole Epie, Ferdinand Fomenyam, Thomas Ngalame, Vincent Ngalame, and David Tembuc, They essentially double the LCC’s ministerium.

One of the LCC’s other pastors, Gervase Ngalame, is moving to the seminary campus to assist in training the next group of men for the ministry. Currently, Pastors Mathias Abumbi, Joseph Njume, Daniel Muankume, Julius Njume, Barnabbas Ngalame, and Fon George are serving as full-time congregational shepherds.

We give thanks to God for the addition of these seven men. The Lord has reminded us that he is watching over his church in Cameroon!

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Finding hope when life seems hopeless

Psalm 42 is a favorite of mine. The psalmist pours his heart out to God, looking for help because he is in a seemingly helpless situation. We feel the pangs of his heart as he asks “where can I go and meet with God? …God, my Rock, why have you forgotten me? …why are you so downcast, O my soul?” (verses 2, 9, and 11)

Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time inmate. Last week you were out, free to decide how to spend your day. This week, every moment is scheduled, every movement dictated. And yet, amid all the structure, everything is uncertain. How long will I be here? What will my sentence be? What do my loved ones think of me? And most importantly, what does God think of me?

We don’t have to be an inmate to have these thoughts, either. Life is uncertain at times for all. We may feel lonely, or that God is distant from us. Thankfully, these are only our emotions, tainted by sin, not our reality. For the believer in Jesus, our God is always near. He is not ashamed to call us his friends. He has a future planned for us, one not filled with uncertainty, but with the sure hope of everlasting life.

Not all people understand this or know how loving and understanding our God truly is. An inmate may not want to think of God as his Father because of the poor example of his human father. An inmate may not be able to trust the Bible, or the visitor who brings God’s Word, because he has never known someone who is truly trustworthy. An inmate may have a hard time believing his sins have been forgiven; it just doesn’t follow the rule of “what goes around, comes around.”

The writer of Psalm 42 invites us all, whether inside a cellblock or not, to where he found answers to his questions and the hope that truly filled the hole in his broken heart. He went to God. And our God is as near to us as our Bible. There we find, “The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken. He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.” (Ps 34:18) “He lifts up all those who feel helpless.” (Ps 145:14) “The Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go, both now and forever.” (Ps 121:8)

Our God is more than simply near; he is someone who acts on our behalf. “All of us are like sheep. We have wandered away from God. All of us have turned to our own way. And the Lord has placed on his servant the sins of all of us.” (Is 53:6) “Christ didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us.” (2 Cor 5:21)

When the psalmist writes “Put your hope in God” (verses 5 & 11), he means trust what God has done on your behalf. Reflect for a moment on all that God has done for you: God has come to a rebellious planet, has lived the perfect life we cannot live, has taken the punishment of hell that we deserved, has gone to a grave that should have been ours, and has risen to demonstrate his power over death. As we hope in this kind of God, we praise him for saving us by living for him, and no longer living for ourselves.

Often inmates do not know this kind of God. Many believe God is seeking only justice. That’s where we come in. “We are Christ’s official messengers. It is as if God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5:20) Our task is to show Christ to others. As God gives us opportunities to witness to others the deeds he has done for all, they learn of Christ’s love for them. As God gives us opportunities to help them with deeds of kindness and love, they see Christ’s love in action. In so doing, we bring hope to the hopeless. It is our high privilege to show Christ to others as we show them Christ working in us.

By Bob Fink, Prison Ministry Committee member






Peer Pressure

WELS Prison Ministry has just released our newest Bible study booklet entitled “Peer Pressure.” The booklet helps inmates see that the people we spend time with can have either a positive or negative influence on us. The author uses the experience of the disciple Peter in the courtroom of the High Priest to show how followers of Jesus can feel pressure from others to deny Jesus. In times like this, fitting in is wrong. But gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ can help us follow Jesus more closely.

“Peer Pressure” is the 25th Level 1 Bible study. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be exploring other topics for future booklets. In addition, WELS Prison Ministry will seek to have more of the studies translated into Spanish. Currently we have 17 of the 25 of our Level 1 booklets available to inmates in Spanish. Like everything else, the cost of printing has risen substantially. Please consider a donation to help us continue to print our booklets and make them available to inmates without charge.





Welcome Bob Fink

The Prison Ministry Committee welcomes Bob Fink of Manitowoc, Wis. Joining us at the start of 2022, Bob has been involved as a volunteer in jail ministry at the Manitowoc County Jail since 2014. Bob brings the experience of both called ministry and business to the committee. He served WELS high schools in Westland, Mich., and Manitowoc from 1978 to 2008, teaching mainly chemistry, physics, math and German. In 2008 he took a position as a software engineer and Technology Specialist at Emerging Technologies of Two Rivers, Wis., retiring from there in 2019. He currently serves Grace Lutheran Church of Manitowoc as a part time retired staff minister, visiting shut-ins and teaching the adult Bible classes there.

Bob’s main responsibility will be the oversight of the production and printing of our inmate-focused Bible studies. He is also currently tasked with following up on the many chaplains who ordered our prison ministry study booklets in the past.





Are you mentor material?

While visits to correctional facilities are still hit and miss in many areas because of COVID, there is a steady stream of inmates that are being released upon fulfillment of their sentences. This is a huge opportunity to share the love of Christ where it is really needed and a potential harvest field. A group in Phoenix, Ariz., is forming for this purpose. WELS Prison Ministry encourages individuals and congregations to explore this form of ministry and has prepared training for this purpose.

Join us either in August or October for an online offering of our training course Mentoring Returning Citizens. The training course will help you evaluate whether you have the gifts and abilities to serve as a mentor and, if so, equip you to begin your service. There is no commitment to serve by taking the course, and the skills that are taught and practiced have application in many areas including parenting and interacting with people at work. So the time you invest will be well spent regardless of whether or not you decide to pursue this ministry.

Our facilitator for this course will be Prison Ministry Committee member Tom Koepsell. “Mentoring is a subject near to my heart,” says Tom. “Having worked with the incarcerated for well over a decade, I have come to appreciate the challenges they will face upon release. But more than that, I have experienced the role their Savior is playing in their lives and what Jesus means when he talks about seeking and saving the lost. When you bring Jesus to such people, you learn to love them as Jesus does. It’s a rewarding experience.”

The course will be a combination of online sessions with other participants, videos that can be viewed individually by the participants, and activities in a workbook that will be a combination of individual and group exercises. The exact number and dates for the online session are still to be determined, but the classes are scheduled to begin the weeks of August 1 and October 3 and meet weekly for approximately 4 weeks.

To register for the class or obtain more information, contact Prison Ministry Administrator Dave Hochmuth at or Tom Koepsell at




Ways to support our ministry – Summer 2022

Pray – As God’s redeemed children, our prayers are powerful and effective. Current prayer requests: guidance for moving into electronic communication with inmates; for continued improvement in the pandemic situation so that personal visits to correctional facilities become commonplace; for blessings on the planned mentor training and new mentor ministries; for continued designated gifts to fund all our ministry activities.

Serve – All our ministry efforts are driven by volunteers motivated by Christ’s love. To volunteer as a pen pal, please contact us at or 507-354-3130.

To explore jail visitation or post-release mentoring opportunities, call 414-256-3243 or send an e-mail to

Give – We thank our Lord and you for your helpful special offerings to Prison Ministry, which support our efforts to share Jesus with people impacted by incarceration!

To provide additional gifts for Christ’s work through Prison Ministry:

WELS, Attn. Gift Processing
N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive
Waukesha, WI, 53188
(Make checks payable to WELS and list Prison Ministry in the memo line.)

Donate online at

Give through your IRA charitable distribution, appreciated assets, or your will or estate plan. Contact WELS Ministry of Christian Giving at 800-827-5482 for assistance.

Direct your Thrivent Choice dollars (if you are a Thrivent member) to WELS Prison Ministry. Contact Thrivent Member Care Services at 800-847-4836 for assistance. Your 2022 designation is due by March 31, 2023.




“Heart to Heart” from Parish Nurse Ministry

Would you like your blood pressure checked? Do you need wellness assistance in the community? Have you ever needed an encouraging word or someone to pray with you? This is the ministry offered by parish nurses. Parish Nurses has a unique volunteer role serving the members from the heart. Parish nurses want to be present for you and for your family. They cannot provide medications or shots, start IVs, or perform anything invasive. However, parish nurses can provide education, resources, and tools to the congregation in order to support your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. A parish nurse’s goal might include providing:

  • Monthly blood pressure checks
  • “Welcome home” calls when a member is discharged from hospital
  • Wellness articles with a Biblical perspective in the church newsletter
  • Resource assistance in the community
  • Offer a CPR certification program
  • Encouragement, support, and prayer

Parish Nursing dates back to the New Testament as Phoebe opened her home to help the sick and needy. Then many years later, in 1881, Lutheran General Hospital, in Chicago, staffed deaconess nurses. It would be a century before Parish Nurses were given a name. Presently, hundreds of parish nurses serve in churches throughout the States (and internationally) where the programs are energetic and effective.

As a parish nurse, we have a variety of opportunities to make a positive impact on our congregation. We could all benefit from Christian women and men showing love through a warm smile, blood pressure checks, and reassurance the Lord understands their struggles and pain. Check out Anna in Luke 2:37. Anna was “a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”  We also can share in the joy of serving with our nursing skills and knowledge. We pray the Lord will reveal wonderful ways to use our nursing gifts as we joyfully surrender to the Lord’s plan and will. If you are a nurse, take time to invest in a parish nurse program for further education, networking, and support. Look up to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. Trust him to direct our path! Connect with your pastor if interested.

Heidi Gilbert-Then is a Wisconsin native, wife and mother of four, animal lover, and Bible study leader with a nursing degree from CUW. And water-skiing enthusiast.

Learn more about Parish Nursing.





You made a difference for TELL as they train leaders for Christ!

[Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

Mark 15:15

Multi-Language Productions’ online Bible-based training platform called TELL (Think, Evaluate, Learn, Lead) has been blessed with generous support from WELS members. We thank God for these gifts and pray for his continued blessings!

Your gifts to TELL are bringing the “Word to the World” through devotional videos and digital content. Below are just a few specific ways that your gifts are being used to support the training of English-speaking church multipliers throughout the world:

  • We have 1.4 million followers on Facebook. We leverage this large audience by paying for Facebook ads and inviting them to download our app or go to our website and begin their self-learning courses.
  • We have over 200,000 app downloads by people in over 50 different countries. After completing the three self-learning classes they are encouraged to sign up for live online classes.
  • We have over 200,000 distinct website visitors from 186 countries. These visitors can also complete courses on the website before signing up for live online classes.
  • We have 300 online students who have or are currently taking online classes with TELL pastors. As these students move through the 23-course curriculum, they are equipped to spread the gospel and multiply churches in their communities.

Thank you for your continued support of WELS Multi-Language Productions’ TELL program! There is always more work to be done. Pray for open hearts and many opportunities to share the gospel. Share this exciting update with friends and family. Ask God to bless the work of TELL as we continue to spread the gospel to millions online.

Thank you!

Learn more at

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The ministry of presence

The concrete chasm still outlined Champlain Towers’ footprint, but the 12 stories that had once climbed out of its basement had, a fortnight prior, crumpled into it. The acre-size void offered a metaphor for the emptiness that now filled multitudes of mourners.

In the early hours of June 24, 2021, the Surfside, Fla., condominium catastrophically collapsed, killing 98 inhabitants. The dead were far outnumbered by the living whose hearts were ground into grief. They included residents who had escaped, survivors whose loved ones had not, and neighbors who feared that their high-rise might be the next in the news. Add hundreds of adrenaline-amped first responders, who were less sapped by the summer sun than sobered by the sadness that recovery, not rescue, would constitute the majority of their mission.

So many distraught, despairing hearts. So many troubled, traumatized souls. Physical resources poured in, but pouring out their pallet of indescribable woes to a pallet of inert goods offered hollow hope. Hurting humans hunger for the emollient of empathy.

Chaplaincy is aptly described as a “ministry of presence.” We chaplains could not solve the survivors’ suffering nor repeal the responders’ revulsion. We could listen to their anguished accounts. We could validate their emotions. We could offer our prayers and our presence. We could focus intently and thereby convey that no one meant more to us than they.

Parish ministry is more about talking and leading; chaplaincy is more about listening and learning. Pastors have a duty to unhesitatingly proclaim divine truth to an audience that demands it. Chaplains have a duty to attend patiently until—if—the sufferer grants leave for the solace-giver to deliver the message of incomparable comfort.

Serving as a chaplain for our county’s jail, and later its fire department, has afforded me the privilege to practice “presence.” This ministry reaches people who have known dark days yet may never darken the doors of a church.

Does working “outside the walls “of your church intrigue you? Perhaps God is calling you to chaplaincy. Learn more at


By Rev. David Rosenbaum, pastor at Redeemer, Merritt Island, Fla.




World Missionary Conference 2022

From April 19-23, 41 world missionaries, board members, and other supporters of World Missions gathered at Camp Shiloh in Pittsburg, Tex., for a world missionary conference.

This conference allows for much-needed fellowship and encouragement, and it also provides a forum to share best practices and valuable professional growth opportunities. Each field presented on the gospel outreach occurring in their corner of the world, and selected speakers presented on topics like leveraging technology for lasting gospel relationships and how to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically resilient missionaries.

Learn more about World Missions and the 62 countries where missionaries are conducting/exploring outreach at


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All because of one referral

To steal a quote from Colonel Smith of The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

WELS Military Services Committee has a plan to help military members receive religious services on base. Marine Corps Recruit, David, followed the plan.

It started with a simple text. “Hey Pastor Schulz, this is David. I’ll be in San Diego for Bootcamp starting August 26. I’m under the impression that you are my contact pastor that can visit me during basic?” He was correct. I was the Military Contact Pastor. But to visit him on base was going to be up to him.

Fortunately, there is a specific document at It is titled: How to have religious services on base. Recruit David followed all the steps.

A few weeks later a Religious Program Specialist (RP) from Marine Corps Recruit Depot – San Diego called me and told me there was a recruit who requested Holy Communion. I was able to get on base and have a devotion and Holy Communion with Recruit David! I love it when a plan comes together!

But there was much more to the plan than I could have ever dreamed. As I was leaving that day, one of the RP’s pulled me to the side. “You are a Lutheran pastor. We don’t currently offer a Lutheran service on base. Would you want to start one?”

Since then, I have been leading a worship service on base every Sunday morning. An average of 30 Recruits and Marines attend every week. Because it is a training depot, there is constant turnover. The thirty in attendance are different Recruits and Marines every six weeks! Only a handful have been WELS. Many of the others haven’t been to church in a long time, and some never have. But all in attendance hear the gospel of Jesus Christ!

And this amazing blessing all started because of one referral. I love it when a plan comes together! And I love it even more when God grants his blessings upon that plan! To God be the glory!

By Rev. Paul Schulz, pastor at Risen Savior, Chula Vista, Calif.




Why a CCCW?

To encourage, support, and enhance the physical and spiritual lives of members sounds like part of the job description of WELS called workers. Most members of a calling body take for granted that called workers will encourage and support them. However, many overlook the fact that these workers are also members and need the same support as everyone else. Who will be there to make sure that the physical and spiritual needs of these dedicated workers are met?

A Care Committee for Called Workers (CCCW) can address these needs. The main areas that a local CCCW would support include spiritual needs, continuing education, compensation and benefits, providing encouragement and showing appreciation, addressing practical matters (especially for new workers and those nearing retirement), and fellowship activities. The committee serves as an advocate for the called workers and can bring the workers’ needs to the appropriate group, such as a committee, board, council, or voters. The CCCW is not designed to be a problem-solving group. It exists to facilitate communication and called worker encouragement.

While many calling bodies informally provide support to their workers, having an intentional, structured plan and organization makes sure workers are heard and encouraged. The national CCCW focus is to help calling bodies establish or maintain a local committee. This is done by providing support and materials for congregational called worker care committees. Resources for this ministry are easily accessible on the CCCW webpage.

Once a calling body has a care committee in place, several activities can help them offer appropriate support to the called workers. The primary work is done through three types of visits – entrance, annual, and transition visits. The entrance visit is a time to get acquainted and aid in the transition to a new call. The annual visits provide a regular opportunity for the committee to offer encouragement and identify any areas where support is needed. The transition visit is used to express appreciation and assist with adjusting to a new situation.

Called workers are not likely to request the support that a CCCW can provide. Therefore, it is important that interested members take the lead in providing care for those servants that God has provided. Why not a CCCW?





Prepared to serve the military neighbor

Most Americans assume that spiritual ministry to military members and their families is carried out by a U.S. military chaplain. In contrast, WELS Military Services strives to equip WELS congregations to serve military members when they are stationed nearby. It is rare to find a church body focused on equipping churches for local gospel and fellowship ministry to military personnel and their families, but civilian ministry to the military is a cornerstone of WELS Military Services’ work.

Across the nation, 125 WELS churches near military installations and their pastors (called Military Contact Pastors) are appointed to reach out to serve the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

April 26-28, the WELS Military Services Committee held its annual Military Contact Pastors Workshop at Risen Savior, Pooler, Ga., near Army Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Members of the Military Services Committee met with a group of WELS Military Contact Pastors to discuss ministry to the military with Fort Stewart chaplains and military personnel, including WELS members Lt. Col. Michael Hefti and his wife Katie, who described the stresses of military life and the importance of their WELS pastors and church family in supporting them spiritually.

Every year, attendees look forward to the opportunity to visit a military installation. Fort Stewart extended extraordinary hospitality to the group by holding a meeting attended by more than a dozen of the post’s military chaplains. The chaplains explained their work and the retreat attendees spoke to them about the unique needs of WELS military personnel for religious accommodation. Fort Stewart representatives explained family resources available to military members. The official program ended with a demonstration of how a worship service in the field would be set up, and a visit to 3rd Infantry Division Museum on the post.

The annual workshop is sponsored through a generous grant from the Lutheran Military Support Group, a national organization of WELS and ELS veterans. The Lutheran Military Support Group also sponsors free professional Christian counseling for military members served by WELS Military Services and WELS and ELS veterans.

Rev. Jim Behringer, director of WELS Special Ministries, said, “Of all the Military Contact Pastors workshops, this year’s meeting was superior. Fort Stewart’s chaplains went the extra mile to create mutual understanding. They were impressed by the WELS desire to serve military personnel and they made every effort to help us in that regard. Our attendees are always highly motivated by the speakers, but we had some outstanding presentations that I hope will improve our ability to serve military members with the gospel while helping them carry their burdens.”

Rev. Paul Horn, chairman of the WELS Military Services Committee, notes that the key to serving more WELS members in the military is through referrals from their loved ones, which they can do by going to “When we know who our WELS military members are and where they are stationed, we can better serve them with Word and Sacraments.” Horn adds, “When our congregations are aware that military families are in their church, the best thing they can do is to assimilate them into the mission and ministry of the congregation as quickly as possible. Military families move often. Making your church their church home will provide much needed encouragement and support.”

To learn more about WELS Military Services, visit

For more information about the Lutheran Military Support Group, visit


God’s People Can!

It’s in our nature when we come across a person with physical or intellectual challenges to focus on what that person can’t do. Perhaps we even define them according to what they cannot do. This person cannot live independently. That person cannot walk. This person cannot speak. That person cannot hear.

In a sense, that’s how God decided to define all of us when he planned to send his Son to earth to save us: he defined us by what we could not do. We could not come to God of our own will and serve him. We could not obey God’s commandments. We could not make up for our sinfulness with good works of our own. Our Lord Jesus did what we could not do – living a perfect life and paying for our guilt.

Now God says that we can: we can serve him. We can obey him. And that spirit of “can” applies to all of God’s people – including those with disabilities and challenges.

Take Amber Todor from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Oak Creek. As a young woman with autism, Amber and her family find ways for her to participate in congregational life and offer service to fellow members and, more importantly, to God. Amber assists her mother Shirley in assembling the monthly church newsletter. Amber attends worship and the monthly Jesus Cares program her congregation offers. Amber also comes to the monthly SMILES (Songs, Movement, Instruments, Learning, Encouragement and Signing) service that runs concurrently with the Sunday morning church service, and even pitches in with clean-up after congregational meals.

When asked why she likes doing things in and around her church, Amber simply says, “Everyone is busy.” And she’s right on several levels. First, Amber recognizes that she has free time that others might not have. That time can be spent, as her mother’s schedule allows, in God’s house, a place where Amber feels comfortable and close to her Savior. Secondly, and more importantly, Amber sees all the work her fellow Christians do for their congregation and wants to do her part as well. Amber is proof that God’s people – ALL God’s people – have a place in their local congregation and service to render to God and their fellow members.

One of the primary goals of WELS Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry is to help congregations utilize their members who, like Amber, have unique challenges. Looking for ideas specific to your church setting? Contact WELS Special Ministries.




Equipped for ministry – Seminary graduation in India

Dear Friends in Christ,

Greetings from Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries (CELM) of India.

We have a Lutheran seminary in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India to teach God’s Word and to train our workers. On Friday, March 25, 2022, we had a graduation service, and by the grace of God eighteen students graduated. All of them studied over seven years in God’s Word and were equipped for the ministry work.

Out of the 18 students, 14 of them belong to Telugu states (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) and 4 of them belong to North India (Madhya Pradesh, Chattishgarh, and Uttar Pradesh).

These men are very talented and learned God’s Word to preach in their communities. All of them have congregations, and they have gone back to their congregations for full time gospel work. They were all very happy when they received their certificates and also some gifts from WELS (such as laptops for their continuing education).

Please pray for our new graduates that God may use them in his kingdom work.

Written by Rev. Prasad Babu, seminary professor in India

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Home mission milestones – Spring 2022

Join with us in celebrating and praising God for the major church milestones that these home mission congregations experienced in Spring 2022:

Good Shepherd – North Liberty, Iowa

Good Shepherd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, launched worship at their second site in North Liberty on Palm Sunday. They had 93 people at their worship service on Sunday (pictured above), and they kept the momentum going by offering various activities and additional worship opportunities throughout Holy Week. They offered a 12 Day Easter Treasure Hunt for families, hosted a special reading with Korra the Comfort Dog at the local library, held a big Easter Festival for 300 kids on Saturday, and worshipped with 70 people on Easter Sunday. From those activities, they had 20 families interested in worship, and five more who indicated they were interested in learning more about baptism.

The Vine – Hayden, Idaho

The Vine, originally located in Coeur d’Alene, purchased an existing church building in nearby Hayden, Idaho, in February of this year. The hosted a grand opening event for their community on April 24, complete with a celebratory worship service and outdoor barbecue with a bounce house, face painting, games for kids, raffle prizes, and live music. Read Home Missionary Kevin Schultz’s reflection on the process of buying a new church building in this Missions Blog from February 4, 2022.

Illumine – Rock Hill, S.C.

Illumine purchased an existing in church in October 2021 and began an extensive remodel shortly after with loan and grant support from WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF). They dedicated their newly remodeled church on April 3, and held an open house for the community on April 9, Invitations to Easter worship were shared, along with roasted marshmallows, bouncy houses, donuts, sidewalk chalk, popcorn, an Easter egg hunt for the kids, and more.


Living Hope – Chattanooga, Tenn.

After closing on their new church building in December 2021, members at Living Hope came together for various work days throughout spring to spruce up their facility for a formal church dedication that was held on March 27. They also held a grand opening service and pig roast for the community on Palm Sunday, where 90 people came together for worship.


Living Shepherd – Laramie, Wyo. 

Living Shepherd was able to purchase the church building they had been renting for the past year in March 2022. They are now working through plans to complete a remodel of the facility to better reach out with the gospel in their community.


Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 141 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at



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Congrats to the Taste of Missions School Challenge winners!

Congratulations to the 3rd grade class at Christ-St. Peter Lutheran School in Milwaukee, Wis., and the 6th grade class at Resurrection Lutheran School in Rochester, Minn., for winning the Taste of Missions School Challenge! The teachers have been contacted to set up their Taste of Missions party, complete with lunch from an ethnic restaurant in their area, t-shirts, tickets to the event on June 11, a Zoom call with a missionary from a field of their choosing, and more. You can view photos from all of the schools that participated in our Flickr album.

Thank you to all of the schools that participated! WELS Missions received 54 different submissions from 39 different grade schools. All of the activities will remain online at if individuals would still like to use them in their classroom, at Sunday School, or in your Vacation Bible School program.

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New gospel outpost in Brazil

Rev. Denício Godoy was ordained and commissioned by the Lutheran Church of Portugal as a missionary in Brazil on April 3, 2022. The celebration took place in Dom Cavati and was officiated by Rev. Artur Villares, president of the Lutheran Church of Portugal, and Rev. Kenneth Cherney, Old Testament professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. You can view photos from the service on the Flickr album.

Rev. Godoy connected online with Rev. Villares from the Lutheran Church of Portugal, WELS’ sister church, and took classes with him to be colloquized as a Confessional Lutheran pastor. Rev. Godoy will begin outreach in Brazil as a mission arm of the Lutheran Church of Portugal, with support from the WELS Europe team and continued encouragement from Rev. Cherney. We praise God for this new outpost for the gospel in Brazil!

Learn more about the Lutheran Church of Portugal and how they came to connect with Pastor Godoy at

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Do not Despise a Little One

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10.

When Jesus urges us not to despise the little ones, he is advocating that we listen to children, keep them safe, and support them spiritually when they have been harmed.

When it comes to child abuse, though, the signs are all too easy to ignore. A child’s voice is often disregarded or not believed. Why?

No children in my church have abusive families

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year about one in seven children experienced abuse and neglect. One in seven. Like all sin, this one does not stop at the church doors.

I have not seen any kids with bruises

The number one type of abuse is neglect, the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. This include providing adequate housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.

Neglect looks like “Tommy,” a child in my first-grade classroom. Tommy always had body odor, his teeth were all silver because of extensive tooth decay, and he reported going to the bar his parents owned after school. Tommy was neglected, and he needed someone to intervene. You have children like Tommy in your church. Find them.

I don’t want to cause trouble in the family

I felt this way once, too. It comes from good, but misplaced, intentions. Our responsibility lies with the child’s well-being, which means abuse must be reported to authorities. They have the knowledge needed to investigate and address any family interventions needed. Reporting is a loving action. It ensures that children are safe, and it may provide parents with additional resources they need.

God has blessed you with resources to help. Here are some steps a church can take, along with resources to help you get started.

  • Talk about abuse – frequently. Define what abuse is and its effects. Condemn it as a sin. Children and adult survivors need to hear that abuse is not okay and that the church has safe adults for them. The Freedom for the Captives website has information about abuse.
  • Mandatory Reports. Make reporting abuse a non-negotiable expectation for all called workers and volunteers at the church. Be clear with all parents and guardians that this is a policy at your church or school.
  • Start creating a child safety policy. A child safety policy is your plan for keeping children safe while they are in the care of the church.
  • Refer survivors to resources. Victims of abuse, including adult survivors of child abuse, may need additional help with community resources. The local domestic abuse shelter has free information. The Freedom for the Captives website has spiritual and factual information as well as information about Christian therapists.

Become familiar with abuse, its effects, and how to prevent it. Encourage children to have a chance to speak to safe adults who are ready to listen and believe. Do not despise the little ones; make them feel welcomed and help them be safe in their church.

By Michelle Markgraf


Freedom for the Captives offers resources for congregations and schools to assist them in identifying and addressing suspected child abuse. In addition, resources are available to help those who have experienced abuse.



The Donor Advised Fund: One-Stop Giving

WELS member and attorney David Nommensen and his wife, Bonnie, knew that setting up a donor advised fund was an ideal and tax-wise way to support ministry at their home congregation, First Lutheran in Elkhorn, Wis.

David likes the fact that their donor advised fund provides predictable, ongoing support to ministry at First, helping fund programs that spread the gospel both inside and outside the church and school. He also likes the tax benefits of the donor advised fund. “It was just part of good stewardship,” says David. “Bonnie and I could look at the taxes that we had saved and do a little soul-searching and perhaps give a little more.”

Donor advised funds are very popular since a donor can give a gift now and recommend the ministries that benefit later. The gift can be divided among the ministries the donor cares about, and a single receipt will be provided for income tax purposes.

In addition to ongoing support for their church and school, the Nommensens know that their family donor advised fund is a wonderful way to involve their kids and grandkids in the joy of giving since they can be included in the decision-making process for the grant recommendations. It’s another way to pass along Christian values to the next generation of believers.

“Our prayer is that the donor advised fund is around a lot longer than Bonnie and I are,” says David. “And it’s a nice opportunity for us to have these conversations with our children about the needs of our favorite church organization. I’m really hoping that someday my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be donating to this fund and having those same conversations.”

How does a donor advised fund work?


Learn more about donor advised funds by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or

See David’s full donor advised fund story 

Why a Donor Advised Fund?

From time to time, a WELS member may be faced with a larger than expected financial blessing that opens the door for giving to the Lord’s work without enough time to distribute the extra blessing nor the desire to engage in multiple transactions to help several charities. Enter the donor advised fund (DAF), which permits you to make charitable gifts to those organizations you care about most, at the time you choose, often with expert advice and assistance.

The ABCs of a DAF
A DAF is like a charitable investment account for the purpose of supporting the WELS ministries you care about. When you contribute cash, securities, or other assets to a DAF, you are generally able to take an immediate income tax deduction as well as avoid capital gain taxes from the gift of appreciated property. Those funds may then be invested for tax-free growth, and you have the flexibility to recommend distributions from time to time to qualified WELS ministries. (Requesting distributions from your WELS Foundation donor advised fund is easy. Simply fill out WELS Foundation’s online request form.)

If you have a DAF, consider what will happen to the funds in the future when you are no longer there to make decisions about the disposition of funds. Either you can entrust the decision-making to your heirs on how the funds are to be distributed, or you can designate the remainder from a terminating DAF to create an endowment or fund a special project.

Using a DAF to itemize
With recent tax and economic changes, many people no longer itemize their deductions. With a DAF, an individual can bunch several years of charitable gifts into a single year, allowing them to itemize in that year.

More information
Over the past several years, there has been a substantial increase in the popularity of DAFs, and more people are giving to WELS in that way, which means a blessing for those who receive the Word of God through us. If we can provide more information about supporting your congregation, WELS, and WELS-affiliated ministries through a WELS Foundation DAF, please contact us at 800-827-5482 or

Making Distributions from a Non-WELS Foundation DAF

To make a gift to support the gospel of Jesus Christ through WELS from your non-WELS Foundation DAF, contact your sponsoring organization to recommend a grant and give them the following:
• Our legal name: WELS Foundation, Inc.
• Our federal tax ID #: 39-6084446
• Our mailing address:
WELS Foundation
N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive
Waukesha, WI 53188-1108

Charitable Remainder Trusts: A Gift with Multiple Benefits

There are many ways you can support WELS and its mission to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. One wise tool for personal financial planning may be a charitable remainder trust (CRT). These trusts are used to convert appreciated property into a gift to advance the gospel while providing an income for the donor(s) for life or for a term of years.

For example, a WELS member purchased an asset (stock, real estate, rental property, etc.) that has grown in value so much that rebalancing the portfolio or reducing the holdings has become financially prudent. By giving the appreciated asset to WELS Foundation to be put into a CRT, the Foundation can sell the asset within the CRT and create a balanced portfolio that pays an income to the beneficiaries for life or a term of years. The member receives an income tax deduction and spreads out the capital gains over the term of the trust. Furthermore, these deductions can eliminate tax on a significant portion of income for up to six years. They may also make it possible for you to itemize where it would otherwise not be feasible.

One additional benefit that may apply is that the trust remainder that distributes to ministry is excluded from any potential estate taxes. But most importantly, the gospel is advanced because of the gift. WELS Foundation has established a minimum gift for such an arrangement at $200,000 in fair market value.

Find out more about the CRT by consulting with a WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or

Helpful Giving Tools

WELS Foundation has made it easier to access resources to support you in your giving, such as:
• Letter of Instruction form
• Gifts of Securities Procedures document
• Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) Procedures document
• Link to the online Gift Options Tool

To access these resources, visit


A man bows his head over a smart phone in his hands apparently listening to the Listen Library. An image of the library webpage is inserted in the picture.

Listen Library shares God’s Word

As a young, sighted child, I remembered the excitement of getting a new book. As I grew older and lost my eyesight, I mourned the loss of access to printed materials. I read using cassette tapes, live readers, or by learning braille. In the 80’s I began receiving Meditations on cassette tapes from the Mission for the Visually Impaired (MVI), part of the WELS Commission on Special Ministries.

Over the last 40 years technology improved and rapidly grew in ways never imagined. Blind people have benefited exponentially. The first braille display was invented in 1982. The accessibility features in the iPhone in 2009, cheaper braille displays, and the ability to easily convert digital information into an accessible format, made access to the printed word easier. The stage was set for online access to many of our WELS theological books, the People’s Bible Commentaries, Meditations, and Forward in Christ.

I had a vision to create an online library containing many of our WELS resources. This library would benefit both the visually and print impaired by providing a vehicle to learn about God’s amazing love and be able to worship the Lord alongside our sighted congregants.

My venture began with a meeting with the director of Special Ministries, WELS technology folks, and the MVI board. This meeting led to the best methods to convert the cassette books already at MVI into an online resource. With software such as Amazon Polly, we were able to convert text files into a text-to-speech file with minimal reformatting. MVI has recruited volunteers working from their homes to bring this dream into reality. In 2019, the Listen Library ( commenced with a few People’s Bible Commentaries and a novel from our tape collection. We now have 18 volumes of the People’s Bible Commentaries, about a dozen Christian audiobooks for all ages, and the current issues of Meditations and Forward in Christ available in the Listen Library. Our online catalog offers hundreds of titles available on thumb drive or cassette.

With the release of Christian Worship 2021, we’re working on providing access to all the hymns and liturgies on the Listen library. No longer will a visually impaired member be denied full access and participation in a service. This will allow the blind or print impaired member immediate access so they can participate fully in worship. This would have been impossible in the past. Technology has changed the playing field. For this, we give GOD the glory!

The Listen Library is small, but it will continue to grow. We especially need volunteers to edit the sound for our recorded audio books (nearly 200 books await sound editing!) and to work with Amazon Polly. If you know friends or family who can help in the production or program management of our service, please contact MVI at or by phone at (651) 291-1536.

By Susan K. Povinelli




MDHH to offer grants for hearing loops

As congregations implemented livestreaming for the first time, many people experience instances of being unable to hear everything in the service. Perhaps your church had issues with the audio for the livestream, and the sound cut out for a portion of the sermon. Maybe the microphones weren’t set up to hear people singing.

These isolated problems serve as a good reminder not to take the ability to hear for granted. And while volunteers have likely worked tirelessly to enhance the audio for online services, the struggle to hear continues to be a common occurrence for hard of hearing people.

This, unfortunately, can put up barriers between sinners and the gospel. People with hearing loss may miss a phrase that would have been the exact thing their heart needed that day. Or worse, they may choose to stop coming to church because they are frustrated or discouraged by the amount of effort required to catch the full message.

Thankfully, modern technology has solutions to alleviate this problem. One of these is to install a hearing loop in your church. A hearing loop works with people’s hearing aids to provide a clearer sound directly into their ears.

WELS Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MDHH) is encouraging looping projects by offering a grant for such projects. If your congregation is planning or has already begun any kind of building or renovation project, this is an especially great time to consider installing a loop. Or if you are looking for an excuse to suggest replacing the dated flooring in your sanctuary, the opportunity for a grant might be the reason you need.

As part of their mission to provide all people easier access to the gospel, MDHH is offering $500 grants towards the installation of a hearing loop to WELS/ELS congregations that apply for it. MDHH is also able to point congregations towards additional research, contacts, and other resources around hearing loops.

If your congregation might be interested in installing a loop in your sanctuary, please reach out at for more information.

Learn more about the Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.




The Beatles Were Wrong!

Jack and Cathy* brought two children into their family through international adoption. The couple was assured by their adoption worker that the children, who had challenges from years of orphanage life, just needed to be loved.

Pete and Stephanie* did foster care for two children. The foster care went fairly smooth, and they were experienced parents of three older children. So when the foster children became eligible for adoption, the couple gladly made them permanent members of their family. They were confident that with their parenting experience, plus love and stability, the children would thrive.

Neither of these couples’ dreams turned out as they expected. They showered their children with love and used traditional parenting methods, having clear, consistent expectations, disciplining children for breaking rules, and rewarding them for obeying rules. Yet their days became filled with challenges: almost nonstop lying; stealing; outbursts that included kicking, hitting, and breaking objects; angry screams of “I hate you,” hiding food in bedrooms; disrespect; bullying of siblings; and more. When Jack and Cathy’s children reached their teen years, the family was dealing with substance use, addictions, running away, visits from police officers, and self-harm.

How could things go so wrong for such loving parents? The truth is that the Beatles were wrong when they sang, “All you need is love”—at least when it comes to adopting children. Children who have been adopted have experienced trauma by losing their original family, and many have experienced other traumatic events as well. They do need love…plus co-regulation, self-calming skills, understanding of sensory needs, to experience safety, connection before correction, healthy attachment, trauma-sensitive homes, and much more.

Should this scare Christian parents away from adoption? Absolutely not! God commands us to care for orphans (James 1:27), and he promises to give us strength to carry out his will (Philippians 4:13). Adoptive Christian parents may, however, need extra training and support. Providing this is one of the goals of Light for Parents, a ministry of support for parents of children with extraordinary needs.

Recent research has shown the effect of trauma on children’s brains and the best parenting methods to promote healing. Light for Parents will soon be making available a training course in those methods as well as a Bible study to accompany that course. It is our prayer that this will enable families that include children from hard places to find the peace, connection, and joy that God wants for all of his children. See the website for more information or e-mail

With understanding and support, adoption can be a beautiful blessing for children from hard places and their new families. The Beatles may have been wrong, but caring for all of God’s people is right.

*not their real names





Registration now open! Taste of Missions 2022

Registration is now open for Taste of Missions, a hybrid event that will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022. Join us in person at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., OR online to get a “taste of missions” no matter where you might be around the world.

The event kicks off with a special worship service where we plan to commission new home and world missionaries. Sample ethnic cuisine from some of our mission fields while enjoying fellowship and presentations from home and world missionaries alike. View displays, participate in outdoor family-friendly activities, and ask questions about the ups and downs of mission work during panel discussions.

Virtual attendees will be able to watch all events via livestream, view additional video updates from missionaries, and try their hand at making one of the many ethnic recipes shared on the website. View the full itinerary at

Registration is $15 per person, with children 13 and under attending for free. Those attending in person will receive food tickets to sample ethnic food and will have the ability to purchase additional food from the food trucks. Or attend virtually for free! Sign up today at

See you there!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions




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Current Ministry Needs

Because of the stricter policies for what can be sent to an inmate, we are unable to use the normal quantity of “extras” that we often send to inmates, including greeting cards. For the time being we have an abundance in stock and do not need new donations of cards. We still welcome donations of Meditations that are less than a year old, in good shape (not curled up), and no stickers or writing on or in them. Call the New Ulm office for further details at 507-354-3130.

At this time we can accommodate a few more pen pals, but we currently have enough test correctors. In the future as our digital outreach effort matures, our need for test correctors and pen pal volunteers may increase, especially those willing to communicate digitally. If you would like to be put on a waiting list for future digital volunteers, send us an e-mail with your contact information (




“When they’re down in the gutter, stomp on ‘em!”

I loved my football coach. At first I feared his tough exterior, but it didn’t take this young high school kid long to discover the warm caring heart underneath. On the grid iron, that expression (We knew it was tongue-in-cheek.) promoted the toughness it takes to play the game. In this sinful world, things go wrong. So a certain toughness can be a real virtue. (I think the biblical term is “endurance.”)

“Indeed, whatever was written in the
past was written for our instruction, so that, through patient endurance and
the encouragement of the Scriptures,
we would have hope.” [Romans 15:4]

Let’s consider how we, the body of Christ, can potentially foster or discourage such endurance. It was the last incarceration for her. She had learned her lesson. She was in jail; her baby girl was with foster parents. She cried. I shed tears with her. “I want my baby.”

Incarceration separates parents from their families. It’s not pretty. Shall we say they should have thought of that before the got themselves into this fix? Shall we say they made their bed so now they can sleep in it? When they’re “down in the gutter” shall we “stomp on ‘em?”
Sin corrupts; sin produces dysfunction. You and I are dysfunctional because of sin. Enter: the one who associates with “tax collectors and sinners.” Enter: Jesus.

When Jesus said the fields are ripe, he didn’t say we should let it rot in the field. There is a ripe field behind bars. The consequences of sin and the accompanying guilt produce a crop ready for harvest.

Getting out and getting back together will not solve the problem. The parent needs Jesus to deal with the sin and guilt; they need Godly wisdom and guidance to learn parenting skills they never had. The whole family needs healing that only the Great Physician can bring.

Penal systems have realized that any rehabilitation they can provide falls short. Many have seen “faith-based” organizations as more capable of providing what is needed. To know the love of Jesus and the unconditional love and forgiveness provides the healing families need. Learning the patience, kindness, selflessness, and humility it takes comes from knowing Jesus. That is a major goal of your WELS Prison Ministry Committee. We want to provide God’s people with the training to carry out this mission of love.

What was written in the past can help all of us develop the patient endurance required to cope in this dysfunctional world.

Tom Koepsell, Prison Ministry Committee member




Parenting Behind Bars

Parenting is a tough job! It looks easy from afar, but not so much when you have to make the decisions and solve the problems in real life.
Imagine being a parent long distance. You have very limited and irregular contact with your children, who are being raised by someone else. Because of your separation, your kids view you with suspicion or anger, or doubt your love for them. You live with regrets and guilt and bouts of depression, all complicated by legal difficulties.

Very excellent book . . . You covered all the bases and in the gray areas you gave it to God. This study brought tears to my eyes.

Thomas, inmate

This could, in part, describe a military family with a parent on deployment, or a family broken by divorce. But only a parent who is incarcerated faces all the above challenges.

WELS Prison Ministry has added a new booklet, Parenting from Prison, to the 23 other titles in its Level 1 Self-Study series. Inmates can request a Bible study, complete a final test, return it for correction, and then request another topic.

Parenting from Prison revisits the root of the problem: the first sin by our first parents. That transgression separated them from their Heavenly Father, leaving them in a prison of pain and regret for having ruined the relationship. But God was determined to restore the father-child trust, which he achieved by sending his only Son.

Incarcerated parents are directed throughout the volume to focus on Jesus and his grace. They are also advised to be honest about their feelings; to be realistic about the challenges; to address their stress by talking with others; and to be patient, trusting God to accomplish what they cannot.

Practical, common-sense, straight forward approach. Teaches how to overcome obstacles of separation, and build a solid plan for the future. Doesn’t belittle or talk down to prisoners, but helps recognize past mistakes, discourage self-doubt, and foster relationships of growth in faith, love, understanding and forgiveness. Thank you for loving me with the truth!

Kelly, inmate

Simple suggestions are offered for communicating with children, such as weaving God’s Word into letters and phone calls; being truthful about mistakes that were made; consistently expressing their love for their sons and daughters; inquiring about events in their lives; and using positive words in all their interactions.

A chapter is devoted to what happens upon release and reunion. The parent in custody will have to readjust to freedom and responsibility, but the entire family will need to readjust their thinking, their behavior, and their priorities when mom or dad returns home. That calls for patience, love, wisdom, and forgiveness by everyone involved.

The study closes with a look at what the Bible says about parenting, including a study of Moses’s mother, Jochebed, and what we can learn from her.

Do you know any parents who are incarcerated? You can submit their contact information to WELS Prison Ministry at Please ask the Lord to bless this new resource, helping mothers and fathers to do what is possible in a task that seems impossible: parenting from prison.

Editor’s Note: By Pastor David Rosenbaum, Prison Ministry publications editor. Originally published in the His Hands blog from WELS Special Ministries, January 26,2022. If you would like to receive His Hands in your e-mail every two weeks, go to the form at and subscribe to “His Hands.”