WELS Missions – 2022 Impact Report

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. . .

Matthew 28:19

God is blessing the efforts of WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions in amazing ways! Your prayers and gifts are making a difference in communities across the U.S. and around the world; we are grateful for your generosity.

Here are some ways your gifts are being used to share the good news of the gospel.

HOME MISSIONS

  • Five new churches were approved in Windsor, Colo.; Wichita, Kans.; Canton, Ga.; Conroe, Tex; and Lodi, Wis. Home Missions also approved enhancements or unsubsidized mission status at seven other locations. Learn more at wels.net/newstart.
  • Campus Ministry provides over 30 campus ministries with financial support and assists hundreds of other congregations in their campus ministry outreach.
  • Plans and preparations are being made to plant 100 new home mission churches and enhance 75 existing ministries from 2023-2033. Learn more at wels.net/100in10.

WORLD MISSIONS

  • Two missionaries are beginning ministry in London this year.
  • Over 500 worldwide gospel ministers are proclaiming the Good News, and more than 90 additional men have graduated from worker training programs this year alone.
  • Building of the theological education center in Vietnam has begun.
  • Plans are being made to welcome a synod in Uganda and an international synod in Latin America into WELS fellowship at the 2023 Synod Convention.
  • Nine new missionary positions have been approved.

JOINT MISSIONS

  • The Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) is working with One Teams around the world and providing theological training to immigrants in the U.S. for service to their people groups.
  • Mission Journeys provides opportunities for volunteer trips to WELS mission fields at home and abroad.

Praise God for his mercy and grace and thank YOU for your prayers and support! There is always more work to do, and we are grateful for your continued partnership. Pray for God’s blessing on his Church. Share God’s grace and forgiveness with others you meet. Ask God to give us strength to serve others with love.

Learn more at wels.net/missions and like us on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions

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New seminary class begins studies in India

54 new students just began their studies in the pre-seminary program in India in July 2022. Another seven students returned to start their third year of studies in the seminary. A few additional students were unable to join or were late in arriving because of severe rains and flooding taking place in the region.

Since there is only room for about 40 students in the seminary dormitory space, the incoming students were broken into two groups. Each group will come for one week of classes each month, rather than the two weeks at a time that was scheduled previously. The students all speak Telugu and are from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Most of them are already serving independent congregations, but few have much in the way of formal theological education. They are all quite eager to learn more about Christ in the Scriptures at the seminary! In their first week, the new pre-seminary students attended classes on the life of Christ, teaching the Small Catechism, and Lutheran worship. The returning seminary students attended classes in pastoral theology, advanced law and gospel, and Christian doctrine.

Please keep these new and returning seminary students in your prayers as they grow in grace and truth found in God’s Word!

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Home mission milestones – Summer 2022

Home mission congregations celebrate a variety of milestones as they grow and develop into self-supporting congregations. We celebrate with them and praise God for growing his church!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4


Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, N.C.

On June 4, home mission congregation Beautiful Savior in Fayetteville, N.C., was finally able to hold an open house for their community after dedicating their new worship facility in August 2021. The weekend was filled with food, games, a bounce house, and worship on Sunday.

We thank God for the 80-plus individuals who attended and the opportunities for many more to be reached with the gospel through the mission work being done at Beautiful Savior.

 


The Shore Lutheran Church, Parrish, Fla.

Another home mission congregation has officially opened its doors to the community for public worship! The Shore in Parrish, Fla., held their first public worship service on June 5 at a rented golf clubhouse.

We thank the Lord for this new gospel outpost, and we pray that the Holy Spirit continues to touch hearts through the Word that they proclaim into their community!

 


Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Candelas, Colo.

On June 27, Shepherd of the Valley closed on a five acre piece of land where they will build their church building. WELS Church Extention fund provided the loan and a matching land grant totaling $610,000. We thank God for this exciting next step as Shepherd of the Valley continues to reach out into their community with the gospel.

 

 

 


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 fb.com/WELSMissions.

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Blessings of Academia Cristo in Colombia

Latin America Missionary Matt Behmer made a trip to Colombia in early July 2022 to connect with Academia Cristo students in the country. Here are a few updates:

 

1) On Wednesday, July 6, Academia Cristo student Álvaro Moreno (pictured far left) and Missionary Behmer (far right) shared a law and gospel message with approximately 15 workers from the estate where Álvaro lives in Armenia, Colombia. That night, one of the workers died in his sleep. We praise God he got to hear the gospel in his final hours. On Thursday, July 7, Missionary Behmer and Álvaro made five in-person visits to potential members of Álvaro’s soon-to-be-formed Grupo Sembrador (A group that gathers regularly around God’s Word using a two-year packet of worship and Bible study materials provided by Academia Cristo).

 


2) On Saturday, July 9, Academia Cristo student Yeison Lozano from Bogotá, Colombia, conducted a two hour interview with Missionary Behmer about our ministry on his radio program. He made several pleas to his listeners to download our app and enroll in live classes. Yeison gathers an independent group in a rented space in Bogotá and shows serious potential to become a church planter.

 


3) On Sunday, July 10, they held an in-person workshop in Bogotá. There were 27 in attendance. Among the participants were Academia Cristo student Verny (pediatric physician) and his family from Costa Rica. They were in Bogotá on vacation. Lucho Herrera from Doral, Fla., was in Bogotá and served as the keynote speaker. Academia Cristo student Camilo Herrera hosted at his restaurant and led the final worship service. Missionary Behmer had the privilege of baptizing the son of an Academia Cristo student! (Pictured)

 

 

Please join us in giving thanks to God for the work of the Holy Spirit in Colombia! View more photos from Missionary Behmer’s trip in our Flickr album.

 

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Double the Pastors in Nigeria

Two of our sister synods in Nigeria doubled the number of pastors serving in their church body in one day!

Christ the King Lutheran Church of Nigeria is based in the town of Uruk Uso, and All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria is headquartered in Ogoja. Until now, each of those synods had nine men serving in the public ministry. After five years of study during some unique circumstances, our mission partners each received nine new pastors on June 11, 2022. We praise the Lord for doubling the number of pastors who will shepherd God’s people with the truth of his Word!

For many years, WELS has sent missionaries to Nigeria four or five times per year. Those missionaries reviewed what the students had learned with their previous teachers. They also taught new material at the seminary in Uruk Uso. In addition, they provided direction and study materials for the coming months until the next teacher came. In the meantime, Nigerian Pastor Aniedi Paul Udo directed their studies.

Joyfully celebrating God’s gift of kingdom workers

Things were different with this current class of graduates. WELS provided the students with food and study materials, but we were unable to send visiting missionaries due to safety concerns. Director Udo and Missionary Dan Kroll made the best of the situation, attempting communications via the internet when it was working. Our missionaries and brothers in Nigeria learned a lot of valuable lessons after five years of training like this. Students learned about the need to be flexible and open to change during the time of transition. . . invaluable qualities for gospel ministers.

At the end of the day, we are trusting the Holy Spirit to transform these Nigerian students into faithful servants of God. And that isn’t unique. In all of our ministry partners’ worker training programs around the world, the success of building God’s kingdom depends on the Holy Spirit. We plant the seeds and wait for the crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:8).

Or even double the pastors.

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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:

  • 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.
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho (Now filled): 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.

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 shannon.bohme@wels.net 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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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 wels.net/tell.

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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 wels.net/missions.

 

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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 fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

 

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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 tasteofmissions.com/schools 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 wels.net/portugal.

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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 tasteofmissions.com.

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 tasteofmissions.com/register.

See you there!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

 

 

 

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Home mission church milestones – Fall 2021/Winter 2022

During the past few months, many home mission congregations have been blessed in a variety of ways. The following five congregations have either held a groundbreaking, launched public worship, purchased an existing facility, or dedicated their new church building. God is truly blessing mission work and the sharing of the gospel throughout the country.

Carbon Valley Lutheran Church, Firestone, Colo.

Carbon Valley, a home mission congregation in Firestone, Colo., dedicated their new church building on November 14, 2021. They converted a former plant nursery into a new space where people will grow in their faith.

Carbon Valley received more than $575,000 in matching grants and their building loan through WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF), a valuable partner of WELS Home Missions.


Living Hope Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Members at Living Hope Lutheran Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., got an early Christmas gift in 2021. . . a new church building! After months of searching for land and/or a space to remodel, an existing church structure came up for sale. They closed on the building, which was converted from a former auto garage in 2013, in December and were able to hold Christmas services in their new space.

The facility has a modern entrance space with a coffee bar, a worship center that fits 230+ worshipers, as well as offices, a nursery, and four classrooms. Living Hope received matching grants and a loan from WELS Church Extension Fund.


Citrus Grove Lutheran Church, Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Citrus Grove Lutheran Church in Wesley Chapel, Fla., held their grand opening worship service on Sunday, December 5, 2021. They kicked off the weekend festivities with a Family Christmas Fair on Saturday. Children received a free mini-tree to decorate, frosted cookies, sang carols, and got to take home a Christmas book that shared the true meaning of Christmas. People were then invited back for their grand opening worship on Sunday, where fresh squeezed orange juice was served after the service.


Good News Lutheran Church, Mt. Horeb, Wis.

Good News Lutheran Church in Mt. Horeb, Wis., held a ceremonial “groundbreaking” for their new church on January 2, 2022, after cold weather forced them indoors. With God’s blessing, their new church home will be completed by the end of 2022.

Good News purchased a six-acre piece of land in April 2021 with assistance from WELS Church Extension Fund. They received a loan and matching land and facility grants totaling $747,914 for their building project.

 


CrossLife Church, Pflugerville, Tex.

After almost twenty years of dreaming, planning, designing, discussing, researching, redesigning, gathering financial gifts, permitting, and finally a construction project during a pandemic, CrossLife Church and Christian Academy in Pflugerville, Tex., celebrated their grand opening on January 23, 2022. The facility features a worship center, kitchen/cafe, and indoor and outdoor gathering areas. It also includes eight classrooms and staff offices for the new Early Childhood Ministry, and they have plans to add elementary grades in coming years.
 
“It’s been a gigantic effort, full of perseverance, faith and prayer,” reports Pastor Daron Lindemann. “Just when we feel like we made it, we’ve realized that this is just the beginning. God’s mission is not this building, but what he plans to do with it. We made it to the starting line!”

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 132 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

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Save the date for Taste of Missions 2022!

Join your brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world for Taste of Missions, a hybrid event that will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

What is a hybrid event? We will be back in person conducting a one-day event at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. However, if you are not able to be there in person, you can also join us virtually.

This family-friendly event will give all WELS members a “taste of missions”, no matter where you might be around the world. The event kicks off with a special worship service where we will, prayerfully, 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.

Registration will open on February 21. In the meantime, visit tasteofmissions.com to view the event schedule and catch up on videos and activities you might have missed from last year’s online event.

We hope you can join us!

 

P.S. – The second annual Taste of Missions School Challenge will also open on February 21! View photos and activities from last year’s challenge and keep an eye out for future announcements at tasteofmissions.com/schools.

 

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You made a difference for the WELS Central Africa Medical Mission

“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:10

The WELS Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) has been blessed over the past 60 years with the generous support of WELS members. We thank God for these gifts and pray for his continued blessings!

Below is a brief update on how your gifts are being used to support gospel ministry through CAMM’s Christ-centered healthcare:

  • We are transitioning our Malawi Mobile Clinic operations over to a fully Malawian staff so we can free up our resources to explore expansion into other African countries and potentially throughout the world.
  • We have repaired and renovated all of our clinic buildings, including adding private exam and consultation rooms so more patients are comfortable coming to our clinic.
  • We are supporting disabled children in Malawi by providing transportation to physical therapy services. These children were introduced to us through the local Lutheran Church of Central Africa-Malawi pastor who uses the service our clinic provides to connect with non-members.
  • We now have the capability to hire more staff as needed. Many of our staff are members of one of our sister churches in Malawi and Zambia, which strengthens our relationship with the local churches and the synods overall.

Thank you for helping us get to this point! There is more work to be done in Africa and throughout the world. The Lord calls us to help the “least of these.” (Matthew 25:40) Pray for his continued blessing of staff members who can share their faith with the patients by offering Christ-centered healthcare. Share the work that the Central Africa Medical Mission does throughout Zambia, Malawi, and potentially more of Africa. Ask God to allow CAMM to expand to other countries where we can offer basic healthcare in support of gospel ministry. Thank you for your continued support of the Central Africa Medical Mission!

Learn more at wels.net/camm.

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Milestones for home mission congregations

Over the past several months, seven different home mission congregations have had milestones in their ministry such as grand openings, facility dedications, ground breakings, land dedications, and more.

Living Word Lutheran Church – Waukesha, Wis.

Living Word’s church dedication worship service on May 9, 2021

Over the past year, Living Word has been putting the finishing touches on their new facility in Waukesha. On May 9, they were able to hold the first service in their new church building. With the assistance of WELS Church Extension Fund, Living Word was able to purchase land and build a new facility. Pastor Borgwardt explained the impact that WELS CEF has had on their ministry, “They helped us with purchasing land, something Living Word would have never been able to do, without the help of WELS CEF and their matching grants.” The members are so excited for this new facility and to continue outreach in many new ways, including utilizing a coffee shop in the new building to invite their friends to church for casual conversation about God’s Word.

Living Shepherd Lutheran Church, Laramie, Wyo.

Members setting the sanctuary up for the first service in their new church building

In March 2021, Living Shepherd was able to hold their first worship service in their new facility. The opportunity to rent this building came up at the perfect time, and the congregation is looking forward to new outreach opportunities and growth with this new ministry center. Over 80 people attended the Easter worship service in their new building, about 35 more than a regular Sunday worship. From that service, three families expressed interest in taking Bible classes to prayerfully join the congregation. Living Shepherd looks forward to potentially purchasing this new building as well as doing some remodeling to carry out God’s work even further. We thank God for the growth and outreach opportunities Living Shepherd is seeing.


Redeemer Lutheran Church – Victoria, Tex.

New building dedication

Redeemer Lutheran Church has two locations, one in Edna, Tex., and their newest site in Victoria, Tex. On October 18, 2020, Redeemer Lutheran, worshiped for the first time at their newly rented facility.  Many members pitched in to help prepare their new site for worship, helping with building renovations and cosmetic updates. They pray that this new stand-alone building on a major road in town will provide additional visibility to help their outreach into the community.

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church – Beloit, Ill.

Construction progress on the church building

Amazing Grace broke ground on their new church home in April of this year. They have been making quick progress on their new building and look to start worshipping in it late this summer. Since COVID-19 hit, the 81 baptized members at Amazing Grace have been worshipping at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Beloit. Amazing Grace is looking forward to focusing on community outreach in different ways than before. Pastor Burow, in a local newspaper article, stated, “We pray and we hope our permanent location will help us not just grow in terms of membership numbers, but grow in what we are able to offer. We are looking forward to doing much more. We are able to do it thanks to the ‘long haulers’ who didn’t lose faith.” We praise God that even through these difficult times, ministries such as Amazing Grace are still being blessed in countless ways.


Good News Lutheran Church – Mt. Horeb, Wis.

The land dedication for the future church building of Good News

Good News is a growing home mission congregation that was looking for more space and flexibility. God blessed them with the opportunity to purchase 8 acres of land in Mt. Horeb with plenty of room to grow. Good News members gathered in April this year to dedicate their new land and pray for a new, permanent church facility for their ministry. This home mission is making plans to build a 9,000 square foot facility and praying that it provides an opportunity to make an even bigger impact with the gospel.


Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Richland Center, Wis.

Around Christmas in 2020, Bethlehem purchased a new full-time ministry center, an old school building. Their first service was a Christmas Eve candlelight service held in the old gymnasium. One of Bethlehem’s primary outreach events is an annual “Journey to Bethlehem” Live Nativity event, which is how they ended up with the name of their church. It was very fitting and special that Bethlehem was able to celebrate both a new church home and our Savior’s birth.


Peace Lutheran Church – Trinity, Fla.

The groundbreaking ceremony held on June 27

On June 27, 2021, members at Peace Lutheran, gathered for worship and a  groundbreaking celebration for their future church building. Peace Lutheran is currently worshipping at a banquet hall but are patiently anticipating the completion of the new building. Please keep Peace in your prayers as the building kicks off and ministry continues.

 


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 133 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

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Seven new missionaries assigned

Seven pastoral graduates from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary were assigned on May 20, 2021, to serve WELS home and world mission fields:

  • Callies, Lucas – Good Shepherd, North Liberty, Iowa (Multi-site)
  • Hayes, Isaac – St. John on the Hillside, Milwaukee, Wis. (Unsubsidized)
  • Schaewe, Caleb – Shepherd of the Lakes, Linden, Mich.
  • Thomford, Hans – New Mission, Amarillo, Tex.
  • Walsh, Timothy – Grace of God, Dix Hills, N.Y. (Restart)
  • Westra, Andrew – New Mission, Waco, Tex.
  • Zondag, Mark – Asia One Team, Chiang Mai, Thailand

May God bless these men and their families as they transition to their new roles and reach out with the saving gospel message in their communities and the world! For the full assignment list, visit wisluthsem.org/about-wls/assignment-list/.


 

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Update – Hmong outreach in Vietnam

But God’s word is not chained.

2 Timothy 2:9b

Since 2014, WELS Pastor Bounkeo Lor has made regular trips to Vietnam to train the leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church. God blessed that work, and WELS adopted the ministry in 2015.  The true grace and peace of Jesus proclaimed to the Hmong leaders had a profound positive effect. They wanted more of our training. The government of Vietnam recognized the value of our training and gave us permission to build a training center in Hanoi. Learn more at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

The gospel training would have continued and the building construction would have progressed in 2020, but COVID-19 ground everything to a halt. Since early 2020, we have not made a single training visit to Vietnam and the building project could not move forward.

Because of these obstacles, the WELS Vietnam planning group explored the possibility of using online training for the Hmong Fellowship Church leaders. If we could not visit Vietnam in person, we could visit Vietnam on Zoom. The Vietnam planning group has decided to provide the technology and access to make this happen for the 60 leaders who are eager to continue their studies.

Soon all Hmong Fellowship Church leaders will be provided phones and internet connection to allow them to participate in online training classes. The men will remain at home or travel to nearby places with adequate internet. They will continue a planned course on law and gospel, and they will also participate in a study of the gospel of Mark to share with rural congregations. The free course of the gospel continues because God’s Word is not chained.

Written by Rev. Joel Nitz, Hmong Asia missionary


 

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Home mission congregations embark on building projects

Four home mission congregations have embarked on and/or completed building projects in the past year. Here are a few updates:

Eternal Rock Lutheran Church – Castle Rock, Colo.

Eternal Rock Lutheran Church in Castle Rock, Colo., dedicated their new worship facility on February 10, 2019. This home mission congregation purchased a former auto repair garage and converted it into a worship space with a loan and grants from WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF), a valuable partner of WELS Home Missions.

 

 


Ascension Lutheran Church – Jacksonville, N.C.

Ascension Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, NC, is planning a dedication service for their new worship and ministry center in July 2019. Ascension serves a large military community, with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River nearby. In March 2019, Ascension held a “Sharpie Party” (pictured) where members were invited to write prayers and passages on the 2×4’s before sheet rock went in. They are receiving assistance from WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF), who provided their land and building loans as well as matching land and facility grants totaling $308,730. Damage from Hurricane Florence forced Ascension to originally adjust their construction plans, but the home mission congregation is excited to begin worship in their new facility.


Divine Savior Lutheran Church – Liberty Hill, Tex.

On May 18, 2019, Divine Savior Lutheran Church in Liberty Hill, Tex., broke ground on their new worship facility and school. Divine Savior Ministries currently operates a multi-site ministry with five church locations, three in Florida and two in Texas. Divine Savior in Liberty Hill has partnered with the master developer of Santa Rita Ranch, a new housing development in the community, to secure land. This developer has been a valuable partner in bringing a Christian school to Santa Rita, surprising everyone by donating the land for the school and partnering with Divine Savior through their marketing support. They pray to open their doors for worship and their future school in August 2020.


Grace Lutheran Church – Sahuarita, Ariz.

Home mission congregation Grace Lutheran Church of the greater Tucson, Ariz., area is a multi-site ministry, meaning they have one church in four separate locations. In 2014, Grace merged with Peace Lutheran Church in the city of Sahuarita. They are now planning to build a new sanctuary and child learning center with assistance from WELS Church Extension Fund, who is providing a loan and matching land and facility grants totaling approximately $550,000. On June 9, 2019, Grace broke ground on their fourth and newest facility.


WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF) helps provide financing so home mission congregations and established congregations with mission-focused initiatives can purchase land and either build or renovate a worship facility. CEF funds its loan program through individual WELS members’ and congregations’ investments in CEF financial products. CEF’s grant program is funded primarily through operating earnings of the CEF portfolio of loans and investments. To learn more about how you can support Home Missions by investing through CEF, visit wels.net/cef.

Please keep these and all of our home mission congregations 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 126 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

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God’s eternal dwelling place

Originally appears on the One Africa Team Blog. To subscribe to receive future updates directly in your inbox, visit oneafricateam.com. “Like” the One Africa Team on Facebook at fb.com/OneAfricaTeamWELS


Come along with me. . .

I’m weaving through villages and fields, traipsing down narrow foot paths and trudging through muck. I’m jumping over mud puddles and broken bricks. I’m skirting around fallen walls, bent roofing sheets and twisted trusses. I’m stepping over soggy blankets and dirty clothes.

Malawi 2015 revisited. What happened? A deluge of rain: rivers overflowed, Maize fields flattened, Bridges demolished, Roads cratered.

Different year, different people, different location, same result: devastation.

Rains are a double-edged sword. Just enough and wells fill, fields drink, crops grow and the land produces.Too much and houses collapse leaving them useless; pit latrines overflow rendering them a danger. It all happened in Malawi.

Again.

People are reminiscing that this same thing happened just four years ago. The Malawi 2018/2019 wet season had a great start. A great balance of rain and sunshine. Crops were looking good.  Tobacco. Maize. Groundnuts. Farmers were ecstatic!

It’s going to be a bountiful harvest! We can sell our cash crops, our granaries will be full, we will harvest plenty to eat good, our bellies satisfied. . . no hunger this year!

Then came the March 6, 2019. Ash Wednesday arrived, and so did another rain. Well, not just another rain, but a downpour. The heavens opened. Water fell by the bucket. Cats and Dogs. Didn’t let up for 3 solid days. This time the land and the areas most affected are quite flat so the water didn’t have a natural run off. When rains fall that rapidly and that powerfully, mud houses just don’t stand a chance against such force and pressure of water. The torrent was enough to bring down the roof.

It did.

LCCA-Malawi member’s home destroyed by flooding

Many houses were destroyed. Families are displaced. Women and children are sleeping in church buildings. Husbands and fathers are staying in any manageable place that they can find in what is left of their houses. A makeshift shelter. A tiny covered corner of a room. Some are sleeping under the stars. All who are affected are trying to pick up the proverbial pieces. And lurking right around the corner? Disease. It’s what happens when outhouses collapse and the holes brim over. It’s a stream you don’t want to be near. But there is a stream you do. A river actually. A river of living water.

“Though the earth give way. . . though its waters roar and foam. . . there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” (Psalm 46:2-3)

The one who wrote those words also wrote these: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) 

To the people who are sitting in the rubble, asking themselves questions and trying to make sense of it all, the pastors in the Lutheran Church have been able to bring this kind of message: God indeed is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Though many people have many questions, there’s another question that rises above all the others. It stands tall and strong like a beacon in the storm:

“Who or what can separate us from the love of Christ?” We know what is written in Romans 8:35. A bunch more questions that answer that first one. (If you’re not sure, check it out). But what about the questions on the minds of the homeless people in Malawi who are wondering how they are going to start over and rebuild?

What can separate them from God’s love? Rains? Floods? Unusable toilets? Obliterated fields? Collapsed houses? Lost property? Can these things remove God from their world of broken walls and caved-in roofs?

NO.

Paul, what do you mean, “NO”?  Tell us more!

“NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. None of these things shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Ah, yes. Good words, Paul. The people need to hear those words. So do I. . . when things in my own life collapse! You, too? For three days we surveyed the destruction and assessed the damage. So much rain, so much ruin. With such incalculable devastation I could only imagine incredible loss. What I didn’t imagine–or even think about–was the incredible gain.

Incredible gain? 

Members from the LCCA-Malawi rejoice in their Lord

As the people shared their stories, I noticed that they had gained something: a new appreciation for the goodness of the Lord. A renewed indebtedness to the grace of God. Gratitude for something bigger than earthly comfort. Heavenly blessings! When we arrived, they not only spoke of the rains that came down from heaven but of the promises of God that do, too! They shared with us how God spared them, protected them and saved them. We paused here for a prayer. Sat there for a devotion. Spent time with the families in meditation and thankfulness. We were invited to so many places we didn’t have time for everyone. We brought our phone cameras, but took more than pictures and videos.

We took heart! (The people encouraged us!)
We took assurance! (The presence of problems doesn’t mean the absence of God!)
We took with us a renewed sense of joy! (Our Lutheran members know the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus despite the trials that come)

After seeing one collapsed house after another, what falls like rain upon my heart are the words of Moses: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. . . from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:1,2)  Like Paul said, “. . . we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) His is a house that will never fall. The roof won’t leak and the walls won’t collapse. The foundation is strong and the rooms are safe.

Meanwhile, here on earth, whether in Malawi or the USA or somewhere in-between, we groan and are burdened. All creation, too. Apparently, that includes the rains. And the mud from which many houses are built. But we look forward to a time when all those in Christ Jesus we will be safe and secure in . . .

God’s Eternal Dwelling Place.

Your Malawi Mission Partner,

Missionary John Holtz


Dear Mission Partners,

Maybe you know and maybe you don’t, but our beloved WELS is showing faith in action by getting involved with both prayer support and financial aid.

The Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Malawi Synod (LCCA), the WELS Board for World Missions, and WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR) have been working hard at evaluating the immediate needs of those in our Lutheran congregations who are greatly affected by the floods, especially in the southern region of Malawi. (It was the southern region that was affected in 2015, too). Through funds made available through CAR, the LCCA members affected by the floods will receive some much-needed practical items. Things like buckets for clean water, blankets for warmth, and plastic sheeting for temporary roofing can meet immediate needs. A church building that has collapsed can be rebuilt.

Your Africa Missions team would like to encourage anyone whose heart is moved to give a gift to help people in need (due to flooding or other disaster) to please donate to WELS Christian Aid & Relief. 

 

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Home Mission congregations hold grand opening worship services

On Sunday, September 9, 2018, four different home mission congregations held grand opening worship services.

Huntersville Lutheran Church – Huntersville, NC

Huntersville was approved as a new mission start by the Board for Home Missions in April 2017. In May 2017, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary graduate Rev. Doug Van Sice was assigned to serve this new congregation. This entire summer Huntersville focused on outreach – hanging 10,000 door hanger bags and sending out another 5,500 mailers on top of their other evangelism efforts. God brought 62 people through their church doors at their grand opening worship service. Pastor Van Sice commented, “I think the most memorable thing for me was standing before the altar and confessing my sins with 62 other people. And, in turn, facing those same 62 people (some of whom have never heard the gospel) and announcing with gospel-certainty that their sins are forgiven. It’s truly amazing that God gives sinful men, men like me and all the other missionaries, the privilege to proclaim his “arrow-pointing-down love” to people in our community.

Living Hope Lutheran Church – Chattanooga, TN

Living Hope currently worships in a movie theater

Similar to Huntersville, Chattanooga was also approved to be the site of a new mission start in April 2017. Before Rev. Eric Melso was assigned to serve the area in May 2017, there wasn’t a WELS presence within 100 miles of the city. Pastor Melso followed the “3 P’s of Church Planting”: preparing, planning, and previewing. Living Hope held their first public service with 68 people in attendance, of which 20 were new faces from the community and 18 were returning prospects. Pastor Melso shared: “One of the best moments for me personally was seeing a family from our street walk through the doors. We’d been inviting Cody, Brooke, and their children since we started preview services at Easter. Brooke kept telling us Cody had no interest in attending church. But they showed up. After worship, Cody came up to me and said, ‘We’re in. We’ll be back next week.’ Wow. God’s Word and Spirit work.”


Good News Lutheran Church – Lehi, UT

Grand opening fellowship

Prince of Peace in Salt Lake City, UT, daughtered this mission south of the city, receiving funding from the Board for Home Missions in Spring of 2016. Mission pastor Daniel Heiderich accepted the call and arrived at Good News in early 2017. After taking a year to acclimate to the community, Pastor Heiderich and his core group began their outreach and previewed their new church with three services over the summer. At their grand opening, Good News was blessed with 64 people in worship. Many of their new visitors also stayed for fellowship and a cookout meal.

Intown Lutheran Church – Atlanta, GA

While this new mission start in the heart of the city was approved for funding in Spring of 2016, the call for a new pastor was not accepted until the middle of 2017. Pastor Lucas Bitter arrived in August 2017 and began working with this core group – preparing, planning, and previewing for their grand opening worship. 60 people attended the service, which included 18 new visitors. Pastor Bitter also reported that after church, four of their first-time visitors signed up for an upcoming Bible Basics class. Praise God for continuing to give Intown Lutheran opportunities to share Jesus with the people of Atlanta! Click here to view a video from their grand opening worship service.


Besides these four home mission congregations, Grace in the Ward, Milwaukee, Wis. and Living Savior, Hendersonville, N.C. also celebrated milestones on September 16, 2018. Grace in the Ward had over 90 souls gather together for their Grand Opening worship service, and Living Savior made the switch from Saturday evening to Sunday morning services.

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 128 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

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New Home Mission Projects Approved

On April 13, the Board for Home Missions approved support for seven new mission congregations as well as support to enhance mission-minded ministry at seven other congregations.

The ministries receiving financial support for a new mission include:

  • Reno, Nev. – Two area congregations are partnering to start this congregation in the Northern Valleys area of greater Reno. On March 25, the first worship service was held; 63 people attended
  • Phoenix, Ariz. – Crosswalk, Phoenix, is opening a second site to reach out into downtown Phoenix.
  • Joplin, Mo. – A strong core of WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod members from the two nearest churches are helping support this mission.

    Core Group from Joplin, MO

  • Brandon, S.D. – Near Sioux Falls, this new congregation includes core members from two WELS churches and an Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregation.
  • Milwaukee, Wis. – Grace in downtown Milwaukee, one of WELS’ original congregations, is establishing a new location in the area known as the Third Ward.

Two new multi-site starts were approved to receive unsubsidized mission status. Home Missions will provide assistance through its district mission boards, mission counselors, and synodical support staff, but the original congregations will provide 100 percent of the funding needed. These include:

  • Hobart, Wis. – Mount Olive, Suamico, Wis., is starting a second site in Hobart. The congregation is calling a second pastor to begin this new ministry.
  • Horicon, Wis. – Members of St. John’s, Juneau, Wis., see an opportunity to reach out in nearby Horicon, where 90 members of St. John’s live. Saturday worship services are scheduled to begin in Horicon in June.

Wisconsin Lutheran School – operated by First Lutheran and Epiphany in Racine – prepares for worship services.

Home Missions is also financially supporting mission-minded enhancements to these existing congregations:

  • Crown of Life, Corona, Calif. – This multi-site mission currently has four different locations for worship. Home Mission funding will support a third pastor.
  • Faith, Anchorage, Alaska – A second bilingual pastor will allow Faith to enhance their Hispanic ministry.
  • Grace, Seattle, Wash. – Two congregations will be combining to restart their ministry in the heart of Seattle. Funding will allow a full-time pastor to again serve at Grace.
  • Ascension, Harrisburg, Penn. – Remaining members of Ascension are ready to restart their congregation. They have demonstrated they are willing to take on ministry responsibilities and support outreach efforts that will be guided by their next pastor.
  • Shepherd of the Hills, Knoxville, Tenn. – A group of members are ready to restart their congregation after a longer-term pastoral vacancy. With the congregation back on its feet, they hope to begin a preschool ministry in order to jump start their outreach efforts.

    Trinity in Waukesha, WI holds Bible Information Class with Hispanic community members

  • Trinity, Waukesha, Wis. – Trinity hopes to reach out to a large population of Hispanics in their community by bringing in a bilingual pastor to lead the ministry.
  • Epiphany and First, Racine, Wis. – These two Racine congregations currently operate a joint Lutheran Elementary school. Home Mission funding will allow the school to call a staff minister or teacher to coordinate outreach efforts to prospective church families.

Please pray for these new mission starts and enhancements as they reach out to their communities with the live-saving message of the Gospel!

 

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Church Extension Fund – A Tremendous Blessing to Home Missions

“I don’t think we realize what a tremendous blessing WELS has in the Church Extension Fund (CEF). In talking with a church planting pastor from another denomination about how CEF would help us financially get on our feet, he looked at me for a bit and said, ‘I don’t believe you. I’ve never heard of something that good.’ That told me all I needed to know about what a blessing CEF has been for our mission churches.”

Rev. John Borgwardt, pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wis.

CEF is a valuable partner of Home Missions. CEF provides loans to home mission congregations who are looking to purchase land, build worship facilities, or remodel their current locations. Besides offering loans at affordable rates, they also have a matching grant program that provides additional financial assistance to home mission starts. Since 1993, CEF has provided over $35.3 million in matching dollars to help offset initial costs of home mission mortgages.

On top of the matching grant program, CEF also provides special grants to Home Missions to support additional ministry. This past fiscal year, CEF approved $837,000 in special grants to home missions. Here are a few examples of congregations who are partnering/have partnered with CEF to expand their ministry:

Future site of Living Word Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wis.

Living Word Lutheran Church – Waukesha, Wis.

Living Word was recently approved for a facility loan and grant from CEF. Church members had also utilized CEF to purchase land across from Waukesha West High School. Through a building loan from CEF, Living Word hopes to create an environment for teenagers and people of all ages to connect with their Savior. Borgwardt says, “CEF has proven a vital partner in our efforts to build our ministry center. Without them we could not be formalizing our work with high school students, Christian Family Solutions, and the greater Waukesha community.” Learn more about this unique ministry by watching this video.

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church – Las Vegas, Nev.

Shepherd of the Hills broke ground on their new worship facility and ministry center in August 2017 after receiving a loan and grant from CEF. A building dedication service has been scheduled for August 19, 2018. To see building progress on their worship facility, check out this aerial video footage of the construction site.

Redemption Lutheran Church – Watertown, N.Y.

Construction on the exterior of Redemption’s new worship facility

Redemption went from worshiping in a Ramada Inn conference room to a completely remodeled ministry center thanks to a loan and matching land and facility grants from CEF. With the Lord’s blessing, Redemption held their Grand Opening Worship Service on September 15, 2017, after construction was complete.

Rev. Keith Free, Home Missions administrator, says, “CEF is a critical partner in our efforts to share the gospel with those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. Their financial backing and expertise allows our home mission congregations to focus on the one thing needful – sharing the message of God’s grace.”

Your investment with WELS Church Extension Fund helps provide financing so home missions and other mission-minded, self-supporting congregations can purchase land and either build or renovate a worship facility. To learn more about investment opportunities, visit wels.net/cef.

CEF Statistics:
  • $25 million in new loans approved and $1.95 million in matching grants provided to home missions in 2017-2018
  • Three land site purchases, one existing facility purchase, and four construction loans were approved by CEF for home mission congregations in 2017-2018
  • Eight home mission congregations dedicated worship facilities in 2017; four home missions have already planned worship facility dedications for 2018
  • 73 percent (152 loans) of CEF’s loan portfolio is for current or previous home mission congregations

 

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The Lord Blesses Hmong Outreach in Vietnam

It all started when a leader within the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in Vietnam viewed an online sermon by Rev. Bounkeo Lor. The message of pure grace through Jesus Christ was something he had never heard before – and he wanted to learn more. He invited Rev. Lor to come to Vietnam to train himself and others in the truth of the gospel, and the Lord has allowed this opportunity to blossom since.

HFC leaders gather for training in January 2018

With every visit Rev. Lor has made to conduct training in Hanoi, approximately 60 church leaders have attended to learn more about the truths of the Bible. These same 60 leaders have been taking the message back to their congregations, and the gospel message is accomplishing its purpose. The HFC was a church body of 65,000 members when their leader first reached out to WELS. In the years WELS has provided training, the HFC has grown from 65,000 to 100,000 members and formed 53 new churches. Rev. Lor has been called to serve as Hmong Asia Ministry Coordinator, and the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) and Multi-Language Publications teams have been brought in to offer support and additional resources for this expanding ministry.

Not only is this church body is growing, but the communist Vietnamese government has also noticed a positive change. The HFC has a strong history of legalism, which had caused conflict as to which rules are God-pleasing and which are not. The message of free grace received from Jesus Christ has replaced their old law-based preaching and leadership styles, and church leadership has stabilized as a result.

HFC leaders take photos of illustrated Bible stories to take back to their congregations

The gospel can work even in the most difficult of circumstances, and sometimes in ways we cannot expect. The Lord has blessed this outreach, and the Vietnamese government has invited WELS to build a theological training facility in the capital city of Hanoi. WELS is currently the only protestant church with official governmental permission to work with the Hmong in Vietnam. WELS Missions representatives will be visiting Hanoi, Vietnam in June to evaluate and explore this opportunity further, and efforts to secure funding for land acquisition, construction costs, and initial operation costs have begun.

In a letter from the HFC to WELS, church leaders wrote:

“We thank you for the WELS training for the past three years. Now, we believe that we have salvation. Without that, today we would still be living in the darkness of Satan. We believe that God already answered our prayers through the WELS.”

As the HFC and WELS work together to establish a theological training facility, the focus remains on the future – the future of their church body, the future pastors and lay leaders that will be trained in confessional Lutheran doctrine, and ultimately the future that awaits them in heaven.

 

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Africa Updates – Mission Work in Liberia, Unrest in Cameroon

Mission Work in Liberia

Do you call it reaching out? Or reaching back? WELS One Africa Team, made up of WELS missionaries serving in Africa, will soon become involved in the mission trips taking place to Liberia.

These trips had a special start. Over the years, people from Liberia have fled civil wars in their country and found peace and life in the United States. Some have joined our WELS churches where they settled.

Matthew Cephus trains church leaders in Liberia

Starting in 2016, Isaac David – a Liberian immigrant living in Las Vegas, Nev. – began making trips back to Liberia to share the message of God’s love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. More recently, Matthew Cephus, a Liberian immigrant living in New Hope, Minn., has done the same.

What’s next? In September and November 2018, a couple members from the One Africa Team will join these men and their teams from the United States in training more pastors and leaders on Liberian soil. The plans are made: training will take place for 125 pastors and leaders in September. An additional 40 pastors and leaders will continue their training in November. The numbers of people reached grow from there as these church leaders take God’s precious word back to their churches and communities and share with others.

So whether you call it reaching out to Liberia or reaching back, there is only one place to find lasting peace and security. That is in the hands of God who reached down from heaven with his love and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.

From Missionary John Hartmann, Outreach Coordinator – One Africa Team


Unrest in Cameroon

Please keep our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cameroon in your prayers.

The English-speaking areas of Cameroon are in conflict with the dominant French-speaking regions, including the government. Some of the national pastors of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC) and their members are finding themselves running into the bush (country) at night because of fear. There is no denying it – as selfish interests and tempers flare, guns go off and people are losing their lives. The times are troublesome as the devil tries to deter Christians with fear. We remember well how many times our Lord reminded his followers “Do not be afraid” in both Old Testament (2 Kings 6:16, Nehemiah 4:14) and New Testament (Matthew 6:31, 17:7; Mark 6:50; Luke 8:50). We especially pray that God continue to strengthen our brothers and sisters in the LCC.

Missionary Jeff Heitsch preaches at a congregation of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon

Cameroon Missionary Jeff Heitsch and his wife Stephanie, will be leaving Cameroon and be temporarily relocated to the United States due to the internal political unrest in the country. They arrived in Cameroon in October 2017.

Conflict between the English-speaking and French-speaking parts of Cameroon began to intensify about the time of the Heitschs’ arrival, and the security situation has deteriorated significantly since then. By mutual decision of the Heitsches and the WELS World Mission Board, the Heitsches will remain in the United States for the time being. Missionary Dan and Karen Kroll, who also serve on Cameroon, were already planning being back in the United States on furlough until mid-July.

“It’s always a difficult decision to remove a missionary from their field, but it is also important that we keep them safe as well as pray for our brothers and sisters in Cameroon who live in the midst of the strife. We have faith that the Holy Spirit will continue to bless the gospel-sharing work of the national church body, and if it is his will, that one day we will, once again, be able to serve this mission field in person,” says Mr. Sean Young, director of Missions operations.

WELS Missions and the members of the LCC continue on in the assurance that our living and victorious Savior is in control and knows all things. Nothing will happen without his knowledge and approval, and we join with David to say “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). May we all continue to walk in the confidence and peace of our Risen Lord, no matter where in the world we might be.


Want to stay up-to-date on what is happening with Africa mission work? Subscribe to One Africa Team blogs or follow them on Facebook at fb.com/OneAfricaTeamWELS/.

 

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Celebrating 125 Years of WELS World Mission Work

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”

2 Corinthians 6:2

“This is the worst time to begin an Indian Mission,” said a veteran missionary to WELS in synod convention as they contemplated their first world mission effort. Seven days later, Native Americans defeated U.S. forces at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Undeterred, the people of our synod decided that it was the best time to share Jesus with people who did not yet know him. By October 1893, two missionaries boldly went to share the gospel on the Apache reservations of the Arizona Territory.

125 years later, the same fire to reach the lost is now burning in the hearts of our Apache brothers and sisters. It is still the worst time for many Native Americans. On the more than 500 reservations scattered across North America, unemployment, poverty, substance abuse, and violence are a part of too many homes. 95 percent of Native Americans are not Christians and do not have the hope of our Savior.

Apache Christians feel there has never been a better time to share Jesus. Our focus is on equipping Apache Christians for service in God’s kingdom: on the Apache reservations, with other tribes, and through the Internet. As long as the devil is active, there will never be an ideal time to share Jesus. Like our WELS ancestors 125 years ago, we move forward in faith and trust.


Apache Ministry Today

As we look to the next 125 years of ministry, the opportunity is great.

What can you do? You can PRAY! Pray that Native Americans everywhere come to know the hope of salvation that is found in the Holy Scriptures, and not in the words or religious ceremonies of the medicine man. You can TELL your friends and family about the Apache people that are studying to be spiritual church leaders through this mission work. You can GIVE a gift to help support ministries like the three below:

Apache Christian Training School (ACTS)

Apache Christian Training School (ACTS): Apache Christians are asking to be equipped to share Christ’s love. ACTS provides them with training and resources that prepares leaders for all levels of ministries on the reservations. With a solid program already in place, ACTS exists to provide trained workers for the ever-expanding ministries of current congregations. ACTS will also play a key role in the training of workers to share the gospel with other Native American communities.

Lutheran Church of the Open Bible

 

 

Lutheran Church of the Open Bible—Whiteriver, Ariz: With approximately 1,000 members, Open Bible is looking to expand its ministry through increased use of trained volunteers and called workers. They will use these trained and equipped Apache Christians to serve as evangelists, deacons, and deaconesses. These trained workers will play a vital role in expanding outreach opportunities, small group study and support groups, addiction recovery ministry, grief counseling, youth ministry, and worship opportunities.

Peridot-Our Savior’s Lutheran School

 

Peridot-Our Savior’s Lutheran School: With enrollment rising from 75 to 130 in four years and requests for solid, Christian education continuing to roll in, there is a great opportunity for expansion! Additional classrooms, building repairs, faculty, and resources are desperately needed to catch up with enrollment growth. Your gifts will help present-day ministry at the school and support the various projects that will allow Peridot-Our Savior’s to reach more children and their families with the gospel.


Join the Apache Anniversary Celebration!

June 22 in Wisconsin
KI Convention Center, Green Bay, Wis. (Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society convention hotel) – All are invited!
6 to 9 p.m. – Meet Apache brothers and sisters, experience their music, and learn about their history.
RSVP Today! 

October 26–28 in Arizona

Oct. 26 – Reservation tours
Oct. 27 – Anniversary celebration in Peridot, Ariz.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Music, crafts, history, food; 4 p.m. – Worship; 5 p.m. – Dinner
Oct. 28 – Celebration worship at all reservation WELS churches

For More Information… 

 

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Latin America Mission Updates

When you think of Academia Cristo, think of Luther’s Catechism. Martin Luther developed his catechism after coming to recognize the extreme lack of basic biblical understanding among church leaders and heads of families. He describes visiting churches in Saxony that didn’t have the Bible or whose leaders had not memorized the 10 commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. A similar lack of basic Christian knowledge is what led to and guides Academia Cristo’s ministry efforts to help more people plant and lead churches that faithfully proclaim God’s Word. WELS Latin America Missions has been busy sharing the good news of Jesus – here are some updates:

New WELS Presence in Puerto Rico

Rev. Larry W. Schlomer has accepted the call to serve for one year as a disaster response coordinator for Puerto Rico. In this role he will work with the national pastors of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico to identify and prioritize specific needs, plan construction and repair projects, and coordinate volunteer efforts. He will also help to coordinate continuing theological training for two men whose training was interrupted by Hurricane Maria last fall. Schlomer has already begun efforts to connect interested Latino members of stateside WELS congregations with the outreach and hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

Rev. Larry W. Schlomer with his wife Marlene

Besides assisting in disaster response, Schlomer hopes to establish an enduring and close connection between the Puerto Rican church and our Latin America Missions team. These connections will help strengthen fellowship ties and allow for the continued sharing of ministry ideas and encouragement.


Academia Cristo – Training course interest remains high

Latin American woman shares Academia Cristo with her family

There are currently 150 people studying online in the Academia Cristo Catechism level training program. Here are examples of three courses:

  1. The Bible: In The Beginning – In this course, students learn the first Genesis Bible history courses and how to teach them to others using a teaching methodology based on Luther’s simple way to pray.
  2. The Word Grows: Multiplying Disciples – In this evangelism course, students study the lives of Paul and Barnabas, Mark the Evangelist, and early church leaders such as Priscila, Aquila, and Apollos. Those who successfully complete the course are invited to personally connect with a mature Lutheran leader who will be responsible for guiding and mentoring them as they learn to faithfully proclaim God’s Word to others.
  3. Spiritual Identity – In this course, students learn why there are so many different church bodies, the importance of making a clear confession, and connecting with those who make a clear confession while avoiding those who do not.

In addition to online courses, live Academia Cristo face-to-face workshops have been taught in Colorado, Florida, Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay, and Venezuela so far this year.


WELS Missionaries relocating to Ecuador

This summer two missionaries from the One Latin America (1LA) mission team will be moving to Ecuador. This will be the first time WELS will have an active mission presence in the South American country. Rev. Nathan Schulte and Rev. Phil Strackbein have begun making arrangements to make the move. Schulte currently serves in Mexico, and Strackbein serves in Bolivia. Read more wels.net/new-world-mission-start-south-america.


Making Disciples in New Locations

The Apostle Paul was Timothy’s teacher and mentor. He instructed Timothy that he should take “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Note the four generations of disciples mentioned here: Paul, Timothy, reliable, qualified people, and others. Academia Cristo seeks to emulate this model – chains of disciples, training others with the goal of planting new churches, and reaching new areas. It maximizes everyday means of communication to make initial connections.

The strongest of these online connections lead to face-to-face visits. So far this year, missionaries have visited Academia Cristo contacts in central and Eastern Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Argentina. Many are studying to become members in our fellowship. There are now 21 men who are being mentored by WELS missionaries and national church leaders. These men are in turn sharing what they’re learning with those they know as they begin gather groups around the Word of God.


Blessings in Colombia

The Lord continues to bless mission efforts of our brothers and sister in the Colombian Lutheran Church. Two of the first churches planted by men who came into contact with the Colombian Church via Academia Cristo are working to move out of homes and into larger facilities. Please pray God continue to bless these new Lutheran churches in Ibagué, Colombia and Isla Margarita, Venezuela.


To learn more about other outreach opportunities the Lord has provided in Latin America, watch the Academia Cristo Spring 2018 Update Video. 

 

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Is Now the Right Time?

“Is now the right time? Should we wait? Should we move forward?”

Those were questions circling the minds of God’s people at Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. – a small mission congregation an hour south of Tampa. In the fall of 2016, as we talked about our building project, we wrestled with the question, “Is now the right time to finish building God’s house?”

For God’s people in the book of Haggai, they said, “The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built” (Haggai 1:2). But God rebuked them for their backwards priorities, and eventually he gave his people the promise, “I am with you, declares the LORD” (Haggai 1:13). For God’s people in Haggai, now was the time to build God’s house. The LORD was with them!

For God’s people at Risen Savior – as we listened to God’s Word, as we prayerfully contemplated our options, as we discussed it with our District Mission Board – we came to the same conclusion that now is the time! The Lord is with us! We didn’t know exactly what the future would hold, but we knew whatever would come, God would be right there with us.

Grand Opening Festival at Risen Savior

And he certainly was. A Building Committee was formed. An architect, contractor, and engineer were hired. Plans were put into motion, and we could see that the LORD was with us. With the project progressing, the members at Risen Savior next talked about how we could best use this project to God’s glory and to serve our community. It was decided that since we were so excited for the completion of our building, we’d throw a Grand Opening Party for our community.

The Grand Opening weekend was set for March 24-25, 2018. There was a write up in the local paper. 10,000 direct mail invites were sent to our community. Another 5,000 were put in children’s backpacks at local schools. Members and friends of Risen Savior helped pass out thousands more. Social media advertising, local mom’s groups advertisements, online calendar additions… Christians at Risen Savior were working hard to spread the good news of the grand opening of our sanctuary!

But we knew this weekend was about so much more than just the grand opening of a sanctuary at Risen Savior. This weekend was about THE Risen Savior. This weekend was about sharing the gospel of Jesus with as many people as God brought to us – and God certainly gave us ample opportunities. At our Grand Opening Festival on March 24, there were over 300 people who attended. From that 300, we were able to identify 30 families who had no church home, but who were open to receiving more information about Risen Savior. Then, at our Grand Opening Worship Service, God blessed us with a record attendance of 125, including many first time guests and repeat prospects. We are now working together to follow up with these families so that we can continue to share the joy of Jesus with them.

As we look back at these past 18 months, there were some bumps in the road and there were some mistakes that we made. But one thing is certain: the Lord was with us, and we are confident that he will continue to be with us as we work faithfully to share Jesus with the Lakewood Ranch community.

From Rev. Caleb Free, Risen Savior Lutheran Church – Lakewood Ranch, FL

 

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