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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Small Town, Big Outreach

Being Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, it’s obvious that the state of the Wisconsin has many WELS churches… 433 to be exact. With such a large number of congregations, we assume that every county would be served with the gospel in its truth and purity. Currently there isn’t a single WELS church in all of Richland County, a rural area in the Southwest corner of the state. Dual parish members at nearby St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hillpoint, Wis., and Trinity Lutheran Church in Lime Ridge, Wis., saw there was a need to reach out to their neighbors with the life-saving message of the gospel. They decided to act.

Local Newspaper Highlighted the Event

Over the past 18 months, the two churches have paired up to conduct exploratory mission work in the nearby city of Richland Center. Since starting, two Easter for Kids events have been held at the local community center. Twenty-five people attended in year one, and they were blessed with 40 children in attendance this past spring. Pastor Dan Lewig, who serves both congregations, now holds a monthly, Saturday Bible Class at a local restaurant called “Bible Breakfast Hour.” The local District Mission Board (DMB) and the Board for Home Missions (BHM) have been working alongside them since the beginning. In September of this year, the dual parish requested and was approved by the BHM to receive unsubsidized mission status1.

On Sat., Dec. 16 at the Richland Center Community Center, the churches hosted their largest outreach event to date: A Journey to Bethlehem Live Nativity Event. Pastor Lewig notes, “This event has been a wonderful example of our synod working together. My two congregations have over 25 volunteers helping; to put it in perspective, we average 75 people in church on Sunday mornings between our two congregations. One of my members has built all the wooden structures we will be using for the event. In addition, we have partnered with the Ladies Aid from St. John’s in Juneau, Wis., who is making the costumes for the event. Members of Lakeside Lutheran High School’s Junior Choir will be there singing Christmas carols, and we also have a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary student helping us out.”

6,500 postcards ready to be mailed

The Board for Home Missions provided a special grant, which was used to create a direct mailing that was sent to the mailbox of everyone in Richland County – over 6,500 mailings total. The local newspaper picked up on the event and did a wonderful front-page story that reached many in the community. Pastor Lewig is also being interviewed by a local radio station for continued promotion. With the Lord’s blessing, the group hopes to draw over 200 people from the community to this event.

Pastor Lewig commented on the large volunteer initiative backing the event, “It has been amazing watching this all come together, seeing so many different sources partnering on this project – all sharing the same desire to reach out with the gospel. We are excited for this opportunity to share the true joy and peace that is found in the manger in Bethlehem!”

Post-Script: Pastor Lewig reports, “What an amazing day! Preparing for our first year of hosting this we didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping to have maybe 100-200 people attend our first year… and over 400 came to our Live Nativity this year!”

1An unsubsidized mission is a mission church that does not receive budgetary financial support (subsidy) from Home Missions. Unsubsidized missions have access to a Mission Counselor and can make requests for special project funds through its District Mission Board (DMB).

 

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WELS Church Extension Fund update

· $32.8 million in new loans approved for 43 congregations in fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

· $4.0 million in matching and special grants approved for 15 congregations and the Board for Home Missions.

· Five new land purchases, 25 new facility projects, and 18 other projects including renovations, increases, and refinances.

· Six mission congregations purchased existing facilities with additional loans for renovations, two missions completed a parsonage purchase, and 16 congregations were approved for new construction loans totaling $28.2 million.

 

Thank you Lutheran Women’s Mission Society

WELS Missions is blessed with many active partners who help to support the proclamation of the gospel. The Lutheran Women’s Mission Society (LWMS) is one of those important contributors. The women of LWMS support WELS mission pastors and families, as well as help provide the means to continue gospel outreach worldwide.

At the 2016 annual convention, WELS Missions received generous gifts:

Home Missions: $41,529.28 – Summer Student Assistants
World Missions: $41,529.29 – Television Broadcast for Muslim World and Theological Seminars
kids c.a.r.e. mission project: $60,816.17 – Central Africa Medical Mission Orphan/Infant Program
Worship Service Offerings: $51,620.29 – divided between home mission project Outreach to Asians and world mission project Apache Leadership and Maintenance

Since August of 2015, Home Missions has authorized close to $150,000.00 to special projects to assist and enhance mission efforts. The majority of those funds have come from LWMS gifts This year marks the 54th annual convention to be held in Orlando, Fl., June 22-25, 2017. For more, click the video link.

Missions says “thanks ever so much” to LWMS for the generous and continued support of WELS Missions.

 

 

Campus Ministry Committee initiates pilot program

How do we keep our members connected to God’s Word while they are away at college? This question has been asked by parents and congregations alike. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to connect them to a local WELS congregation or campus ministry near the school where they are attending. The WELS Campus Ministry Committee (CMC) exists to help parents and congregations in this task. Every year, the CMC sends letters to every WELS congregation asking for contact information for their high school seniors. Once this information is gathered and entered into our database it is used in two ways. First, the CMC sends out letters to every student. This letter encourages students to be involved in campus ministry and gives them the contact information for the local congregation or campus ministry where they are attending school. The CMC then sends the students’ contact information to the local contact or campus pastors so they can make contact with these students while at school. This has been an effective way over the years to connect students to local ministries.

But we can’t connect students to these local ministries if we don’t know who they are! One of the challenges the CMC has faced is the low participation of congregations in this contact information gathering effort. Historically, only about 400 of our 1300 WELS congregations have participated. This year, the CMC has initiated a pilot program to connect more students to local ministries. The CMC has engaged the help of Senior Vicar Phil Janisch from the Point of Grace Campus Ministry in Milwaukee to call congregations and ask for contact information for all their high school seniors. Vicar Janisch spends his time calling every WELS congregation who hasn’t responded to our mailing to encourage them to provide this information. Sometimes it is secretaries who gather this information. Sometimes it is the pastor. Sometimes it is an interested parent or member who does the work. To date, we have been able to gather information from an additional 400 congregations. We are grateful to see that our efforts have doubled the number of congregations participating. We are hopeful to see 100 percent participation of our congregations in this effort in the future. The more students we know of, the more we can connect to local ministries and through this keep more students connected to God’s Word. Your help is appreciated as we partner together to keep our young people connected to God’s Word.

By Rev. Charles Vannieuwenhoven

 

 

Multi-Site Conference 2016 recap

The National Multi-Site Conference for WELS Churches met November 14-16, 2016, at Grace Lutheran Church of Southern Arizona, a WELS multi-site church in Benson, Sahuarita, Tucson, and Vail. One hundred forty-four pastors, teachers, staff ministers, laypersons, and other ministry leaders attended.

What is multi-site? Multi-site is a strategy for gospel ministry and mission work: one church carrying out gospel ministry at more than one physical location, created for the primary purpose of expanding gospel outreach. In addition to simply positioning churches to share Jesus with more people, there can be other benefits such as shared resources, efficient organization, cost effective programs, reaching a new community or target audience, expanded volunteer and leadership opportunities, and more.

Why a conference? This conference provided a venue for networking and building relationships with the growing number of WELS churches investing in this work. It was designed for churches already doing multi-site ministry, as well as churches just getting started or merely considering it. The conference workshops covered a wide selection of presentations to meet the needs of everyone regardless of their level of experience. Some workshop topics, for example, focused on key multi-site components such as communication, staffing, volunteers, budget and finances, merging two or more churches, organizational structure, and more.

Who is doing multi-site? The multi-site strategy is a good fit with our Lutheran beliefs and values that have stood the test of time. While the multi-site strategy is just one of many ways to expand mission work, it is significant to note that five of the eight new mission starts authorized by WELS Home Missions in April 2016 have a multi-site component.

Conference highlights:

The keynote address set the tone for the conference. Pastor Rick Johnson shared the multi-site story of Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Corona, Beaumont, and Riverside, Calif., “bringing the gospel to more people, and more people to the gospel.” The multi-site strategy at Crown of Life has developed over the last eight years, and the church plans to add more campuses.

Pastor Ron Koehler, representing our host church, Grace Lutheran in Tucson, presented an overview of their four locations. A video demonstrated the different look and layout of each location’s facility. Pictures also helped tell the story of Grace’s multi-site ministry, which includes “saving sacred spaces.” Grace has responded to requests of neighboring churches, declining in numbers, desiring Grace’s leadership and ministry to assimilate their church into Grace’s multi-site strategy.

Pastor Daron Lindemann, chairman of the conference planning committee, and pastor of Holy Word, a multi-site church in Austin and Pflugerville, Tex., says, “The level of interest in multi-site amazed our planning committee. We had hoped for 80 people to attend, set up plans for possibly 100, and needed to make some exciting adjustments to accommodate over 140 who registered.”

“I believe that the multi-site strategy, and its variations such as mergers, offer both an answer to some challenges, and a plan for expanded gospel outreach in the WELS.”

By Rev. Nathan Strutz

 

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Looking for a double-duty missionary

It’s not often that WELS asks an overseas missionary to serve two different fields; however, the Administrative Committee for Africa is addressing unique needs in Cameroon and Nigeria with one full-time missionary that will split his time between the two countries– half for Nigeria and half for Cameroon.

In Nigeria, the double-duty missionary will coordinate all the mission work WELS is doing there including administration of board responsibilities, pastor meetings, and worker training. It will be necessary for him to be away from home fairly regularly and for some weeks at a time. We expect that he will visit Nigeria about four times per year as needed for direction and encouragement. As the coordinator of the Nigerian mission, he will take responsibility for organizing the program and communicating between the national church and WELS.

There are valid reasons not to live in Nigeria. A physical presence by a WELS missionary can, at times, result in dependency by the national leadership. Christ the King and All Saints Lutheran synods could take a step backward if there was a WELS resident missionary. There are also more security issues in Nigeria as opposed to Cameroon.

There are valid reasons to have the double-duty missionary live in Cameroon, primarily, networking opportunities. As WELS builds a foundation in Bamenda, Cameroon, the missionary will meet with leadership in the northwestern district on a monthly basis, assisting our fellow Christians to understand their opportunities and take the reins of their ministry. Our current missionary in Kumba, Cameroon, will work similarly in the southern districts as well as continue coordination of the new worker-training program there.

Some have identified this particular call as a “tough one,” or “at the outer edge of feasible.” The double-duty missionary will be a unique man with unique strengths, “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Please keep our double-duty missionary in your prayers for the challenge before him and his family as WELS’ Nigeria-Cameroon Missionary.

By Missionary Daniel Kroll

 

 

A Paul-like experience

The newest WELS-sponsored project in Europe, Outreach to Roma (OTR) [a.k.a. gypsies), has proven to be a truly Paul-like experience. The reports from Pastor/Missionary Iliyan Itsov read like a modern-day Book of Acts. Moreover, OTR’s method of gospel outreach closely resembles the method the Apostle used – a travelling missionary gathers groups and then leaves them to be served by local leaders.

There have been places like Lystra where the Apostle encountered violence. Missionary Itsov was invited by our sister church, the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Germany, to try to gather some groups in Germany, which the ELFK pastors would then serve. Itsov met with threats of physical violence and had the tires on the OTR van slashed. After about two months of outreach, a couple interested families were found.

There have been disappointments like Paul experienced when men turned away. Pastor Itsov spent several weeks in Romania to help form and legally register a Confessional Lutheran Church. The theologically trained man who had invited WELS to help later decided to associate with a different Lutheran body.

The Apostle Paul did not give up and found cities that welcomed the gospel. In Bulgaria, OTR has met with success. Itsov travels to Roma villages and shares the gospel. He gathers interested people and gives them initial instruction in the Word. With their help, he seeks to find a suitable place for worship and holds the initial services. After a few visits for worship and Bible study, he asks the group to select a leader who is willing to study the Bible in greater depth and conduct weekly services reading sermons Itsov provides. Then through periodic visits and via Internet Itsov teaches the leader.

Three such groups are now gathered in Bulgaria, each with its own leader and each with regular worship. The first group is in the village of Zlataritsa. Atanas has led the group for nearly a year now. It has an average of 18 in services. Two more groups were started in November. Bogdan is leader in Kotel, and Boyko in Stara Zagora. In all three cases the leader and members of the group have taken on the responsibility of inviting others and seeking to build a congregation. Frequently, through the many family and friendship ties among the Roma people, members are directing Itsov to other individuals and villages.

In addition, the OTR van goes out each week to three neighboring Roma villages and brings 20 people to the service at the Bulgarian Lutheran Church’s congregation in Dunavtsi.

When he is home in Dunavtsi, Itsov also helps his congregation’s pastor. Right now the congregation stuffs as many as 25 people into a rented room the size of an American living room. But, God willing, help is on the way! Itsov has received a loan from a WELS member to enable the congregation to purchase land and construct a small chapel. The cost will be kept low because volunteers will supply nearly all the labor. The present rent money and special gifts will be used to pay off the loan.

By Rev. John Vogt

 

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PSI partners with World Missions

Simon Duoth, a Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) student in Renton, Wash., is a man who understands a blessing when he sees it. As a refugee from South Sudan, a people group on the run from Muslims, from extremist government, and from neighboring tribes, he knows all too well that peace seldom lasts long. He understands that situations can change in an instant. And so, when Simon Duoth sees a blessing, he holds onto it.

Because of men like Simon, the PSI team sees a blessing: strong connections forming as stateside churches, missionaries, and churches around the world partner to respond to the growing number of people looking to WELS for training. Here are some examples of what this partnership looks like for PSI.

The PSI team is…

* partnering with the One Africa Team to meet the growing needs for training in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and Guinee Bissau (in addition to the ongoing and new opportunities in Malawi, Zambia, Cameroon, and Nigeria).

* assisting East Asia with visiting professors to help ALS train men to be pastors, group leaders, and evangelists. We are coordinating efforts so that an East Asian PSI student in North America might also take classes with the students in East Asia.

* walking with WELS Hmong pastors to villages in Northern Vietnam where more than 70,000 Hmong Christians are longing for leaders trained with the truth that we have. It means working with them to determine what sort of training to offer and what it will take for them to walk together with us to reach even more.

* teaching Greek and Hebrew to a young man from Ukraine so that he is prepared to begin his seminary training as a future leader of the church. At the same time, we are working to connect that man with a group of 50 Ukrainians living in the small city of Wasilla, Alaska – a group that has no leader but gathers together on a weekly basis to read God’s word.

God’s people are walking together to meet the growing needs of training around the world. That’s the blessing we see right now. And it is our prayer that these partnerships continue to grow and thrive. That’s the same blessing that Simon Duoth sees and is firmly holding onto. These partnerships can exist because our foundation is the truth of God’s Word. For Simon, this means knowing that whatever church he goes to and whatever pastor, professor, or missionary he learns from he will hear the same true message. He wants nothing more than for the Sudanese refugees scattered throughout the world to be able to hear and know that same beautiful message.

By God’s grace, as we partner around the world to train up the next generation of leaders, the worldwide network of churches holding on to that same message will continue to grow and spread. For us – the PSI team – this partnership with each of you means a great blessing we are eager to hold onto.

By Rev. Jon Bare

View Moments with Missionaries video featuring PSI student, Qiang Wang, and the Saviour of the Nations mission congregation in Vancouver, Canada.

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Is parish nursing for you?

By Carlo Piraino. Dr. Carlo Piraino, RN, served in the U.S. Navy (1981-1998). He works for the VA as associate director for Health Care Services and chief nurse executive. A member of St. Paul, Tomah, Wis., he serves as secretary of the WELS Parish Nurse Council.

“…so I will comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13)

Why do we encourage Christians to maintain optimal health? To better serve the Lord and his people! Parish nursing is an independent, non-invasive, health and wellness practice within a congregation. Unlike typical nursing positions, parish nursing is always focused on the “intentional care of the spirit.” What might that look like in our churches? WELS parish nurses are always seeking opportunities to keep God’s precious people connected to Word and Sacrament.

  • A parish nurse might visit shut-ins, bringing along a listening ear, referrals to community resources, and a prayer and devotion reminding them of God’s love and promises.
  • A parish nurse can help a church make its campus accessible for people of all ages and all abilities. • A parish nurse will use the time before and after services to listen to people, recognizing the opportunity to provide emotional support and to remind people that our loving Lord is with them as they face the challenges of the day.
  • All this in addition to offering health education and health counseling! With their special gifts and talents, parish nurses can impact our congregations with “intentional care of the spirit.” Prayerfully consider serving your congregation as a parish nurse.

 

 

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When faith hurts: Responding to the spiritual impact of child abuse

By Victor I. Vieth. Victor Vieth is a former child abuse prosecutor who went on to direct the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. He is the founder and senior director of the National Child Protection Training Center, a program of Gundersen Health System. He is a member of St. John, Lewiston, Minn.

It is to the little children we must preach; it is for them that the entire ministry exists. – Martin Luther

The physical and emotional tolls of child abuse are well-known, but few appreciate its spiritual impact. According to 34 studies involving more than 19,000 abused children, a majority were affected spiritually. This may happen when an offender uses religious rationale, such as telling a child he is being beaten because of the child’s sinfulness. Or an abuser may cite a child’s biological reaction to sexual touching as proof the child is equally to blame for her own victimization. Even if the abuse is not in the name of religion, many children will have spiritual questions, for example, why God did not answer a prayer to stop the abuse. If the church does not help abused children suffering spiritually, research suggests that many will eventually leave the church, even abandon their faith. Yet the church has often ignored the needs of these children. To better prepare our called workers, all students at Martin Luther College receive training in recognizing and responding to cases of child abuse, with additional training provided at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. In addition, Special Ministries’ Committee on Mental Health Needs has formed a task force, Freedom for the Captives, to develop materials and training so that our churches can better help abused children in our congregations and communities. These materials will be available on a website and in other formats. Churches can also utilize these tools:

  • Child protection policies. Some studies indicate that most child molesters are religious and that the worst offenders are often active members of their church. One reason: the faith community often has weak child protection policies in its schools, Sunday schools, sports programs, and camps. If your school or church does not have rigorous child protection policies, or if you are simply not sure, speak with one or more child abuse experts who can assist you in implementing or improving your policies.
  • Training. Policies without training are often ineffective. Pastors, teachers, and church youth workers should be trained how to recognize and respond to abuse and to understand the importance of policies in deterring offenders. Instructing our children in personal safety measures is also critical, so that children know what to do if someone sexually abuses them or otherwise violates them. When done appropriately, such education is not frightening and may empower a child who is being abused to reach out to a teacher or pastor for help.
  • Sermons. Many survivors have said they never approached their pastor for help because they never heard him give a sermon about abuse, mention the topic in Bible class, or address it in any other manner. Many survivors believe the pastor simply won’t understand their pain and, like the offender, will blame them for the abuse. Meanwhile, many offenders sit smugly in the pews, confident the church will never speak out against child abuse. For the sake of the victims, we need to change this dynamic. Jesus said it would be better to be tossed into the sea with a millstone around one’s neck than to damage the faith of a boy or girl (Matthew 18:6). When it comes to this sin, our Savior’s warning has often fallen on deaf ears. As a result, children have suffered needlessly and offenders are emboldened to strike again. Owing a debt of love, and aware that our Savior will ask us to give an accounting of the children he has placed in our care, we must pray for and act on their behalf.

 

 

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Confirming a deaf adult

By Beverly Nehls, Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. A retired teacher, she is the mother of two deaf adult sons

Talk about a challenge! Instructing any adult for confirmation can be a difficult task, depending on their level of commitment and communication. But confirming a deaf adult? Where do I begin? How do I communicate with the person? How do I know if the person understands what I am teaching? WELS Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has completed a rework of the adult instruction manual By Grace Alone by Pastor Rolfe Westendorf (NPH, 1979). By Grace Alone: An Instruction Manual for Deaf Adults uses simple, short sentences and Scripture quotes from The Holy Bible: English Version for the Deaf. This manual should be used with a sign interpreter, a flow-through communicator who is not expected to do explaining. These days, sign interpreters are available via smart phones or tablets using a service called “Video Remote Interpreting.” If the deaf person is a good reader of English and a good lip-reader (understands what is being said by looking at the person’s lips while hearing little or no sound), the teacher might use the usual Bible Information Class (BIC) material. However, lipreading is difficult, inexact, and exhausting. New terminology adds challenges. One-on-one is best for understanding and encourages questions. Some deaf people do not speak, are poor readers of English, and do not lip-read at all. They often rely solely on American Sign Language (ASL) as their language for communication. ASL is not equal to English, because it has a different sentence structure. When an ASL user is asked to write something, the English is often poor and the person appears uneducated. He often is not good at reading English either. Reading and understanding the usual BIC material is challenging; therefore, it is strongly suggested that the new manual be used with this group. This instruction manual for deaf adults is available at no charge from:

WELS Special Ministries
N16 W23377 Stone Ridge Drive
Waukesha, WI 53188
Phone: 414-256-3241
E-mail: [email protected]

 

 

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News & Notes – Spring 2015

  • The 2015 Wisconsin Lutheran College Online Parish Nurse Course will be offered in early fall. Dr. Carlo Piraino will teach the six week online course, requiring about three hours of work each week, consisting of independent study, project work and online discussion groups. The Antioch II Foundation has provided a wonderful matching grant to help with the course tuition costs. Now is the time to be talking to your pastor of your interest in serving as a parish nurse in your congregation. Download the Parish Nurse Starter Kit from www.welsnurses.net and give him a copy of the “WELS Parish Nurse Guidelines” and the “Word to Pastors.” He would be welcome to contact Pastor Jim Behringer, director of Special Ministries, with any questions. [email protected] More info at www.welsnurses.net. More questions? E-mail [email protected].
  • SAVE THE DATE – The Fall Parish Nurse Gathering is scheduled for October 17th @ Christ Lutheran Church in Pewaukee, WI.
  • Do you have an AED on your Church/School campus? – Leading the effort toward the purchase, the training of church, school staff and ushers and the maintenance or documentation of a new AED might be a great way for a “nurse in the parish” to use her gifts. Make your willingness to explore the possibility known to your pastor and/or elder and many times they will give the OK to gather information and make a proposal to the church council. Funds may not be immediately available but the seed can be planted for some future memorial funds to be donated. An active church campus with many people coming and going make the need for an AED a possibility statistically as in any other public building. Purchasing the same brand as your local EMS is helpful. Training DVD’s come with the purchase of an AED making the yearly training and review easy to do. Questions? Feel free to ask us. Many congregations have an AED on campus now!
  • At the WELSNA Spring Conference the Wisconsin Lutheran College/WELSNA Nursing Scholarship was awarded to Joseph Sallazo, a current junior from Caledonia, WI. His home congregation is St. Johns, Oak Creek, WI, and he is honored to be the recipient of the WELSNA Scholarship. Please remember him and the other students in your prayers as they prepare for lives of Christian leadership as nurses in a secular world. More information on the WLC/WELSNA Nursing Scholarship is available at www.welsnurses.net.

 

 

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Porn is pandemic

By Caleb Schultz

I moved to Atlanta just after Dr. Kent Brantly was brought to Emory University Hospital. Of all the places to bring a man with Ebola, they chose MY CITY, even as Americans were thinking: “Keep Ebola as far away as possible!” Since then, only one person in the United States has died from Ebola, and it wasn’t Dr. Brantly. By percentages, we’re doing well: we have a better chance of dying by shark attack while being struck by lightning than from Ebola.

Now look at percentages for a far worse disease, one that many people are not trying to cure but are actually trying to contract. 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women say they are addicted to pornography.1 And that’s just those who acknowledge that pornography is sinful and admit they have a problem.

If those numbers are accurate, then we might conservatively estimate that 35% of the people who read this article struggle with pornography. Those 35% live with an illness that slowly kills the soul by attacking their relationship with God.

Maybe you live with this disease, and with its accompanying darkness, guilt, and frustration. Maybe you know that place all too well. In that place it can feel like no one, not even God, could love you. Even though you know Jesus died for your sins, you feel unworthy of that forgiveness. Friend, you’re absolutely right.

But even when you feel like God shouldn’t love you because of what you have done, remember what he has done. Remember what that One – who knows everything about you – did for you and for every person trapped by pornography.

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

“‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’” (1 Peter 2:24)

Like Ebola, porn can be deadly, but not to your body. Pornography attacks your soul. A person infected with Ebola needs help, and so do you. A great place to start healing is at the Conquerors through Christ website. Go there! Begin to leave that awful, dark place you know all too well. It won’t be easy, but Dr. Jesus and his medicine of forgiveness are working for you.

A perfect cure for Ebola is not yet known, but your perfect Savior gave you his perfection in exchange for all your sexual sins, including pornography. Because he suffered the shame of the cross, God sees you as pure and perfect, without wrinkle or stain or any other blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

The Conquerors through Christ team is praying for you. Ask trusted friends to pray for you. May God protect you from temptation and remind you that, in Christ, you are alive, free, and victorious.

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1 http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/ Accessed 10/28/14

 

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From a secular bedside to a Christ-centered classroom

By Jessica Washburn, instructor of nursing at Wisconsin Lutheran College

I pursued a career in nursing through a public university after attending a Lutheran Elementary School and a Lutheran High School. Four years later and having earned a BSN degree, I entered the secular world of nursing. As a nurse in the Midwest and the West Coast, I encountered co-workers and patients from many different countries, speaking different languages, and believing in different religions and gods.

My family returned to Wisconsin a year ago, and I was asked to adjunct at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s (WLC) School of Nursing. I have always enjoyed working with student and graduate nurses; teaching these WLC students in a clinical setting did not disappoint. I accepted a full time call to WLC in August. Higher education is definitely a new area of nursing that I have come to enjoy and about which I still have much to learn. I am impressed that my students come to an 8:00 a.m. Monday morning lectured prepared and ready to learn.

I am now able to work openly from a Christ-centered viewpoint knowing that my students and co-workers understand one another’s beliefs and the college’s mission. I can stand in front of the classroom and tell these students what a wonderful world of nursing God has made for us, despite them learning and seeing disorders and diseases of each body system.

The opportunity to attend chapel each day is an aspect I never anticipated being part of my daily life. Attending chapel is something I was never able to do in college. During difficult and stressful times, chapel services allow the students and I to take a break and focus on what really matters in life. This past week, the students and I were discussing the differences in doctrine that we at WLC believe compared to other Christian entities to which they’ve been exposed. This open communication of religion is an aspect of teaching at WLC these students would not be able to encounter at many other colleges.

I often reflect upon what I have encountered as a bedside nurse over the past decade. I remember profanity being yelled by colleagues (both physicians and nurses) and having families cry over the passing of their loved one, believing in everything but Christ. These were rough days, but there were also rewarding days. I enjoyed watching my own Pastor come to my unit and have a devotion with a patient—realizing in the semi-private room the other patient behind the curtain is intently listening. Being able to teach in a Christian environment has opened my eyes to the importance of Christ-centered education. The value of daily chapel, faculty meetings that start with a devotion, and knowing my students can receive Christian answers from any professor is a gift from God. I am now a part of WLC, helping these students prepare for lives of Christian leadership as nurses in a secular world.

 

 

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Childhood Immunizations

By Diane Lamm, RN, BSN

There’s a lot of buzz about the topic of childhood immunizations lately. Some say vaccines cause autism and other illnesses. Others say it’s irresponsible to not vaccinate your children. As a nurse, you may find people coming to you for answers, so you ought to be prepared with some answers.

First of all, we need to make clear that there is not a doctrinal point of view on this topic. A person’s faith and status as a child of God does not depend on whether or not they choose to vaccinate their children.

As nurses, our opinions should be based on science. What does the research say about the safety of vaccines? We do know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor and research vaccines on a regular basis. In fact their Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) has information on more than 21 million individuals who have collectively received over 134 million vaccine doses (McNeil et al, 2014). Their research has helped to develop the best schedule for vaccine administration, determined populations that are at risk for side effects, and confirmed the safety of vaccines through post-marketing clinical trials.

One of the most common vaccine issues in the news lately has been the link of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. Where did that idea come from? There was a study done in England back in 1998. The doctor studied 12 children. Think of that – 12 children out of the millions that get the MMR vaccine. No one was ever able to reproduce his results and he has since had his medical license taken away for fraud – it turned out that he was trying to sell a single component vaccine and was in line to make millions if he could convince people that the MMR vaccine was unsafe. While his original findings got a lot of publicity and altered the rates of vaccination, the debunking of his study did not.

As nurses, how can we communicate this issue to parents who come to us for advice? One way is to explain the theory of cause and effect. Just because B follows A, it cannot be assumed that A caused B. Autism spectral disorder is usually discovered at about 15-18 months of age – this is because that is when language delays are typically noticed. The MMR vaccine is given between 12-15 months of age. Does one cause the other? So far, science has not been able to prove that.

As stated above, there are side effects from vaccines and there are certain populations that should not receive certain vaccines. It is important to know these things so that we protect and educate our patients. If a person has had a serious side effect to a previous vaccine, that person should not get a second dose. Hopefully, if others have been immunized against that disease, the person will be protected through “herd immunity.” Herd immunity means that if enough of the population is immunized against a certain disease, it is less likely to spread to those who couldn’t get immunized – children and adults with cancer, those who are immunocompromised, or those who are not yet old enough to receive the vaccine.

So, take some time to make sure you know the facts about immunizations and be prepared to share your knowledge, accepting that the person you are educating has the right to make their own decision.

McNeil, M. M., Gee, J., Weintraub, E. S., Belongia, E. A., Lee, G. M., Glanz, J. M., . . . DeStefano, F. (2014). The vaccine safety datalink: Successes and challenges monitoring vaccine safety. Vaccine, 32(42), 5390-8. doi:http://dx.doi.org /10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.07.073

 

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