Darla regularly visited the pregnancy care center for material support. During one visit she requested a pregnancy test.
Darla became hysterical when the test results came back positive. Darla told her client advocate that she could not handle another baby. She ran out before we could even attempt to console her.
Darla had felt that abortion was her only option.
After a few days, Darla’s client advocate reached out to check on her. Darla was grateful the advocate followed up and thanked her for our concern. Darla declared that she made the decision to keep the baby!
WELS Lutherans for Life is an independent organization supporting families in Greater Milwaukee since 1982. We operate a medical clinic at 8501 West Lincoln Avenue in West Allis, Wis. Our mission is to protect a child’s right to live and be loved by loving moms and dads.
As a Christian, pro-life organization, we address unplanned pregnancy in four distinct ways:
- Intervening with God’s compassionate love through pregnancy consults and medical services
- Empowering life choices with parenting classes, diapers, and other resources
- Restoring those suffering abortion’s after-effects with God’s forgiveness, healing, and love
- Developing teens through engaging instruction, so they can make healthy choices
We intervene for both moms and babies. For moms because some statistics show up to 64 percent of abortions are coerced and for the baby because the child’s life is in imminent danger.
We help empower moms and dads in their choice for life by providing ongoing support in their journey to parenting and up to five years after the baby is born.
We help restore souls damaged through abortion by connecting women and men to the forgiveness that only comes from God’s word and the healing love of Jesus.
Healthy Choices is our education program for middle and high school youth in the Midwest and beyond. These interactive presentations empower teens to make godly, positive choices and avoid high-risk behaviors. These relevant talks help them to pursue healthy relationships and bright futures. We also equip parents through presentations filled with resources.
Those we serve find us through our client website and Facebook pages (apsmke.com, facebook.com/apsmke), Google Ads, Facebook ads, and other marketing avenues. They reach us by phone 414-727-8177, text: 414-465-2246, and e-mail: Contact@apsmke.com.
We welcome and encourage you to share this information with anyone you know who may be dealing with an unwanted pregnancy or suffering from a past abortion experience.
Also, please encourage any pastor, principal, teacher, or youth leader to request a Healthy Choices presentation (Speak4Life.info) in their church or school.
There are many ways to get involved:
- We’re seeking nurse volunteers to help testing/treatment in our STI/STD outreach.
- Opt-in to e-mail updates and prayer requests.
- Participate in fundraising events.
- Support us financially. Consider becoming a monthly Friend of Life partner.
- Like and follow us on Social Media: Facebook.com/WELSLFL and Instagram.com/all4lives.
Visit Alife2.com or call 414-727-8176 to learn how you can make a difference. We are not affiliated with Christian Life Resources.
By Peter Georgson, president and CEO
Pastor Jon Hein, coordinator for WELS Congregational Services, has put together a helpful tool to assist congregations as they consider how best to resume in-person worship as the COVID-19 situation evolves. The Conference of Presidents has suggested that this document be made widely available. It is not intended to be a “directive” or mandate from the synod. Rather, it’s intended to provide resources and information to you and your congregation as you make important decisions in the weeks and months ahead.
Feel free to consult the materials and use as you see fit in your own unique circumstances.
Our good Lord promises that he will make all things work for the good of his people (Romans 8:28), even things like a pandemic. One of the blessings we pray he might provide is increased opportunities to share the gospel with those who do not yet know the good news of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ. It may very well be that he is even now using this situation to prepare hearts to hear this good news.
To assist you in reaching out to those souls WELS Commission on Evangelism is making available a series of devotions. These devotions were originally produced by Pastor Collin Vanderhoof for Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, Wis. He has given us permission to make them available to you. These professionally produced video devotions speak directly to many of the fears and concerns people are having as they face uncertain times. Each video is less than two minutes in length, making them perfect for a variety of applications.
Please use these videos however you like. Perhaps you could e-mail one at a time to those on your prospect list with whatever frequency you feel best. You might also consider sharing a video periodically on your social media platforms. Another option would be to share the devotions, one at a time, with your members along with a brief encouragement for them to share them with their unchurched friends.
We realize that some of you might prefer to record your own videos so that your prospects are hearing these messages from someone they already know rather than from a pastor they have never met. So, we are providing the written scripts for these devotions as well. You can access the scripts here.
Sixty leaders and pastors of the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) of Vietnam met in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 6-21, 2020, to study homiletics (preaching), doctrine of the Word, and the Gospel of John. All who gathered, both the instructors and students, were blessed to learn new things from God’s Word, to be strengthened in faith, and to be equipped for ministry to others.
In addition to the three courses, this training session was marked by two special events:
Gospel Partnership Celebration: The leaders and students of the Hmong Fellowship Church requested that there be a special worship service to thank the Lord for seven years of partnership in the gospel. Bounkeo Lor came to Vietnam to meet with the Hmong Fellowship Church for the first time in 2013. During the past seven years, the relationship between their church and the WELS has grown and a full pastoral training program has been developed. Soon, Lord willing, ground will be broken for the construction of a training center which will enable the training of the many more pastors who are eager to learn. The special worship service focused on the blessings of the Triune God poured upon us. “From the fullness of his grace, he has blessed us with grace upon grace” (John 1:16). We gave thanks to the Lord for all his blessings, including the ways in which he has equipped and used Bounkeo Lor in this work. We sang songs of praise to the LORD and rededicated ourselves to faithful service to him and his people.
Teaching Assistants: The second group of 60 pastors will begin their training this year. Nine pastors from the first group have been chosen to serve as teaching assistants. They will assist with course preparation, classroom instruction, and assessment. The best way to learn is to teach. We are confident that these newly appointed assistants will serve well and learn much.
Students expressed their thanks once again to the people of WELS for supporting their ongoing theological training. They asked that WELS would continue to remember them in their prayers, asking especially that the Kingdom of God would continue to come to them and to many others through them.
From Professor Brad Wordell from the Pastoral Studies Institute
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Pastor Zang Lou is 54 years old, and serves as one of the leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC). He and his wife Pai Chang have 5 children – their extended family has 22 members, including 12 grandchildren. In 2011, Pastor Zang found Rev. Bounkeo Lor’s online sermons and invited him to train 60 leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is his story:
I thank God for everything that he has given me and because he has called me to faith. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
In 1987, when I was 22 years old, I was invited by the government to serve my country as a policeman. I served as a policeman for six years. During that time the gospel came to my country, and many people were led to believe in Jesus. One week after many became Christian, the government sent me to investigate: to find out why so many people left their Hmong traditions to believe in Jesus. During my investigation, the believers told me that they left their tradition to believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Then I told them that if they believe in the Savior and the One that has power to rescue the Hmong from the hands of the devil, I will go back and explain this to the government.
That night when I slept, a man dressed in white and bright clothes came to me in vision and said, “Lou, I call you to believe in me. I am the Lord who chose you to lead my people and to train them in my Word.” When I woke up early in the morning, I told my father that this vision was very important. My father allowed me to believe in Jesus, and the whole family became Christian.
After this event, the government found out that I had become a Christian. They started to find ways to trick me and persecute me and the believers. But we stood firm in our faith, and we asked God to help us overcome the persecution. The power of God and the Holy Spirit gave me the courage and strength to endure persecution. I encouraged the Hmong brothers and sisters to believe in Jesus. In a short time, many more people in many other villages also were led to believe in Jesus. In 1994, we were eager to find someone to baptize us.
I went to Hanoi and to Laos to learn more about the Word of God from Pastor Jouangwa Lor, one of my distant relatives. He baptized me and prayed for me. He also showed me how to baptize others so that I could return to my home town and baptize the people in my area. When I returned, I shared the Word of God with the people in my area and baptized 350 -400 people per day. Many people in northern Vietnam sought me to learn more about the Word of God, and so that I could encourage them and protect them from the government authority. Many times, the government wanted to put me into prison, but I overcame their evil authority with prayer. I strongly believed that God was with me, to protect me and the believers. In 1995 as the believers grew stronger, we start to form congregations in the area, and we appointed leaders to oversee the congregations. In 1993 to 1995, I trained the leaders and baptized more than 6,000 people. Most of our training sessions were done on farms or in the jungle.
I served the government until 2002. The government pressured me to renounce my faith. They gave me the choice of two documents to sign—the first one was to renounce my faith, continue my tradition, and serve the government. The second was to believe in Jesus but lose my position in the government. At that time, the power of God and the Holy Spirit led me to sign the document to believe in Jesus and to lose my position in the government. I refused to renounce my faith. But I told them that there was nothing wrong with believing in Jesus. I praise God that He protected me. The government did not dare to do any harm to me even though I signed the document to continue to believe in Jesus. Since then, they asked me to leave my position in the government.
I work hard to serve the believers. In 2004, the believers in my area were so hungry to learn the Word of God and to receive some training to be recognized by the Vietnamese government as workers for the church. We turned to Vietnamese pastors, but they did not truly guide us in the Word of God. We received training from them many times, but we kept learning the same thing over and over. We were very confused about the Word of God.
I praise God that in 2011 I met Pastor Bounkeo Lor. In 2014, Pastor Smith and Lor came to Vietnam together to teach us the Word of God. We asked them to do more training for the brothers in Vietnam. They told us that God can do everything, let’s continue to pray. Even though we only met them a few times, we started to love the teaching from the Lutheran church. The teaching of the Lutherans is the wisdom of God. According to Romans 10:12, when people hear the Word of God, people are brought to believe in Jesus.
I and the Hmong leaders in Vietnam are willing to serve our God without pay. We know that God is the heart for our lives, and the root of life for every soul that believes in him. And he gives us peace for both body and soul. I praise God for my brothers and sisters in the blood of Jesus and in his name that you have helped and supported the work in Vietnam. I will continue to love and serve my God more for the people in Vietnam. Our Hmong brothers really need more training. We ask you to pray for us. I also thank God that he opens the door more for church activities in Vietnam.
Rev. E. Allen Sorum, Director of the Pastoral Studies Institute, accompanied Rev. Bounkeo Lor, Hmong Asia Ministry Coordinator, to Hanoi, Vietnam, to conduct a training for the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in June 2019. Sorum taught the Book of Isaiah and Pastoral Counseling and Family Ministry for Missionaries. Lor taught dogmatics. Half-way through this training session, Sorum and Lor had this conversation:
Sorum: What are the special challenges that you face as you administer the WELS training program for the Hmong pastors in Vietnam?
Lor: Our biggest challenge here is probably that the translation of the Bible that most of our Hmong pastors have is not a faithful translation. This translation was done by the Hmong Christian and Missionary Alliance members and by the Hmong Baptists. They translated the Bible from their own doctrinal perspective. This means that their translation always talks about how a person must approach God with good works. A person must help God to save them. For example, the Bible most Hmong people have translates “justification” to mean something like, “You have to work hard.” The translation gives the idea that justification happens in a series of steps. Another problem with this translation is that it presents Hmong traditions as God’s Word. For example, the tradition of Hmong Christians is that it is wrong to drink alcohol. So the Hmong Bible translates the word “wine” with “juice.” The translation that most Hmong Christians have does not tell people the true teaching of the gospel.
Sorum: Has this translation made it difficult for our students in this training session to understand the Book of Isaiah?
Lor: The Hmong translation of Isaiah has made it hard to teach Isaiah. I must often correct our Bible’s translation of Isaiah before I can translate what you have said about the words of Isaiah. The Hmong translation makes it almost impossible for our people to see how Isaiah is talking about Jesus. For example, in Isaiah 4:2, the prophet describes Jesus as the Branch of the Lord that is beautiful. The Hmong translation doesn’t talk about a branch but about trees. How can a Hmong person see Jesus in a passage that says, “In that day trees of the Lord will be beautiful?”
Another example is in Isaiah 49:3. Isaiah says, “You (singular) Israel (Jesus) are my servant.” The Hmong translation says, “You (plural) Israelites are my servants.” This translation does not show Christ. This translation damages the beauty of these Servant songs throughout Isaiah.
Sorum: I understand why your students have had to work extra hard to get the right meaning and God’s encouragement from their Hmong translation of the Bible. You consistently take the time required to explain to the students what Isaiah is actually saying. God will bless this so these students can go back home to teach Isaiah and Christianity properly. What other benefits do you see these students in our training session receiving?
Lor: Our training session on Isaiah has helped the students in many ways. I think especially important is that our instruction has helped our students learn how to interpret the Bible. We are talking about the law and the gospel in Isaiah. This approach to studying Isaiah is totally new to them. The law and the gospel is so clear in Isaiah. They are enjoying it very much. Also, they did not understand how a prophecy by Isaiah can be partially fulfilled at one time in history and then completely fulfilled in a later time in history. For example, Isaiah is comforting the people of Israel by promising judgment upon their enemies. But the final fulfillment of the judging of the Christians’ enemies will happen on the Last Day.
Another way that our teaching is helping these men is that they are learning about how the Old Testament teaches God’s plan of salvation. These men read their Bibles. They know the Bible stories. But no one explained to them that all of the stories in the Old Testament show how God chose the Jewish people and rescued a remnant of the Jewish people so God could give Jesus to the world as a Savior.
I think also that the students have enjoyed learning about how Isaiah organized his message. There is an outline to Isaiah. It is like a plot. There are sections that talk about different things. We have learned about the Four Servant Songs. We have talked about the different servants of the Lord and especially the great Servant, Jesus. This is new for these men and they are enjoying it very much. They are very eager to take what they have received from the WELS training back to their people.
Sorum: Your fellow Hmong pastors have significant challenges to their ministry. They need a faithful Bible translation and faithful teaching materials. I know you are working hard to provide them materials. You have translated many good materials into the Hmong language including Luther’s Small Catechism. But in spite of the challenges these men face, they are doing wonderful mission work. In the few years that you have been bringing Lutheran training to the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC), it has grown tremendously. One of the leaders of the HFC told me that they now have 700 pastors and 120,000 members. That is incredible growth in a few years.
Lor: Since we have started this training for my Hmong brothers, their church has grown very fast. This church is growing through the pure teaching of the law and the gospel. Through our training sessions, these pastors now have the ability to apply law and gospel in their sermons and in their Bible teaching. This is the reason why their church has been growing really fast in the last couple years.
Gospel centered training has also opened their eyes to see that it is not the law that motivates people. It is not the law that is the goal of their ministry. Now the people in the congregations understand their role as Christians. They participate more in their congregations. They are eager to share their faith. This is why their churches have been growing so fast in the last several years.
I would ask my WELS fellow members to continue to pray for the HFC. This is a communist country. We do not know when the door will be closed. We now have an open door to preach the gospel. With our prayers and God’s help, these pastors will be able to train their own future leaders for the church even if WELS will not be allowed to assist us. Based on the current situation, I don’t see any problems in the near future. I am very grateful to my WELS brothers and sisters for supporting this ministry.
Originally appears in the December 2018 Malawi Mission Partner Communique
The office is small. I’ve seen closets much larger. Even water closets (WC). The office was a stuffy square cubicle crammed with two desks, two chairs and a filing cabinet. No window. The desks were almost touching each other. Both were an eyelash’s width from the cabinet. A room clearly built for one but forced to accommodate two.
The problem? There were four of us. Oops, sorry. Five.
Two more chairs were wedged in and two more people squeezed in. We couldn’t really walk in the room, we had to shuffle. There’s more space between a couple slow dancing then there was between us. The fifth person had to stand in the doorway and lean in because the door wouldn’t open all the way because one of us had to sit or stand behind it.
Sardines in a tin can.
We were in the Ministry of Religious Affairs Office in Lichinga, Mozambique. I’ll tell you why in a minute. But for now, imagine this. (Sorry, it sounds like a brain teaser). Of the five of us:
- One person spoke ONLY Portuguese, NO Chichewa and NO English.
- One person spoke NO English, very little Chichewa and Portuguese.
- One person spoke Portuguese, Chichewa and NO English.
- Two people spoke Chichewa, English and NO Portuguese.
What do you get when you bring five such people together?
A challenge! Here’s what it was:
We all had to understand the two sets of documents in front of us. One set was written ONLY in English, the other ONLY in Portuguese.
These weren’t simple stories with pictures for children. They were official documents outlining procedures for a Foreign Religious Confession Registration. Technical lingo. Government garble. Procedures and Requirements.
That’s why we were there. The Lutheran Church in Central Africa Malawi Synod (LCCA-MS) would like to register as a Foreign Religious Confession in Mozambique. The Reason? It would like to bring the gospel of Jesus to people across the border.
In the past, the LCCA-MS did.
The government allowed both the LCCA National Pastors and the WELS Lutheran missionaries to cross the border without many hassles or questions. In fact, they welcomed us when we told them we were planting churches. They stamped our passports and wished us the best. We didn’t have government permission on paper to work with the church in Mozambique but we had their word that “all good” and to us their word was good enough.
Consequently, over the years, various Lutheran pastors and missionaries repeatedly crossed the border. They preached the Word and formed congregations. Spiritual farming in action: plowing the soil, planting the seed, watering the sprouts and tending the trees. Enjoying the fruit. The church was growing. The Harvest plentiful.
But then things changed. That is, on the side of the Mozambiquan government. After years passed and there was a changing of the guard so to speak, the border officers started to ask questions that were laced with suspicion:
- Why do you keep entering Mozambique?
- What are you really doing?
- With what organization are you working?
- Lutheran Church, hey? Then where’s your official registration?
Uh…uhmmm…well… so….you see….ahhhh….we don’t have one!
The Mozambiquan government doesn’t accept oops. As a Lutheran Synod in Malawi we realized it was time to get registered. That was years ago and we’ve been working on it since. The registration road is long and bumpy. So is the road to get to the Religious Affairs office in Lichinga. 160 kilometers of dirt detours, mud runs, water filled ruts and jarring potholes. But it was the only way to get to Lichinga.
After a grueling 6 hours to travel 100 miles we ended up Ministry of Religious Affairs huddled over the two documents. Combined, those two documents ultimately meant that we needed to submit ELEVEN documents to make an acceptable application. Some still needed to be written, others rewritten. Two needed official notarization. All of them had to be translated into Portuguese.
A despairing thought: could this even be done? We wondered, what was the biggest barrier that was going to be against us? Language? Time? The wheels of government machinery turning ever so slowly?
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to complete these eleven documents before you can submit your application…”
The Ministry of Religious Affairs officials didn’t actually speak those words but we knew that’s really what was being said. Whether in English, Portuguese or Chichewa, it meant the same thing. Then, as it does every time at the beginning of Mission Impossible, the tape recorder self-destructed and went up in smoke.
Not really, but out hopes did.
In order for us to accomplish the mission it meant numerous trips to the translators, police, internet café, print shop, office supply, Ministry of Religious Affairs . . . then back again and again and again to each of them. We were the ball in the pin ball machine. Bounced from one place to another.
Submit an application? It didn’t seem possible. With man some things are just plain impossible. But with God? ALL things are possible! If He can raise the dead and Himself, can’t He raise our hopes?
And four days later, squeezed back in the two-man cubby hole, we put the documents into the hands of the Religious Affairs Officials. They analyzed and scrutinized. They looked for any mistake and searched for anything missing. When they turned the last page of the last document, something broke: a smile on their faces! Mine too.
They said our documents were all in order. They accepted them. It doesn’t mean they approved the application, but it means the documents are worthy to send on to the head office in Maputo, Mozambique for approval. Or not. What it does mean is that our work is done: the forms are filled, Letters of Honor are written, Criminal report acquired, ID notarized, Religious Biography composed, Constitution translated, First-born sacrificed.
Well, we didn’t sacrifice anyone when doing our work, but God did when he was doing His . . . and He accomplished the impossible: He opened the border to heaven!
One road only: Jesus!
It’s an honor to be traveling that road with you, Mission Partners! While we travel that road together, I have a humble request. May I ask you to pray about this issue?
- Pray that the government approves our application and grants us the registration so we can continue the Kingdom work we left across the border in Mozambique some years ago.
- Pray with confidence. Pray with persistence. Pray boldly & daily. Pray in Jesus name and to His glory.
Rejoice with us! The amazing has happened already: the documents are in the hands of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Mozambique. Rejoice with us! The comforting thing is already known: the final outcome is up to God. Everything is . . . and has been all along.
Written By: Rev. John Holz, Missionary in Malawi and member of the One Africa Team
Originally appears in the October 31, 2018 One Africa Team blog.
Next July (2019), our Nigerian Mission Fields will re-start their joint Seminary program. This time we will work with 22 men who desire to become part of the full time called worker core that we have there. Christ the King Lutheran Church of Nigeria (in Akwa Ibom State) hopes to more than double their ministerium of 9 pastors, bring 10 more to start the seminary program. All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria is also hoping to make a sizable jump from 11 current pastors to add 12 more to the program.
It’s the biggest class we’ve had in many years, maybe ever. Big enough to push some WELS donors to put financial resources together to pay for a new dormitory building and some refurbishing of the current classroom building to accommodate everybody. Understand what I mean by “dormitory” (the new building) – in an effort to keep it simple (= inexpensive), we will have one large room with beds, dressers, and a small desk for each student. With no walls between the “rooms” – the students will get to know each other very well!
This will keep our Board of Governors very busy. To make things even more interesting, that same Board of Governors, hand-in-hand with the Seminary director, has requested some revision to the seminary curriculum including an increase of classroom time by over 30%. There is a lot of work to be done in the next 8 months from digging a foundation, putting up walls and a roof, beds as well as decisions about who will teach and what books they will use – your prayers are essential to this process!
Our two sister church bodies in Nigeria currently have a combined membership of over 3,900 members that worship in 57 congregations. Five centuries after Luther’s Reformation the message of God’s salvation by grace alone, through faith alone continues to produce a rich harvest of souls all over the world. God has graciously answered our prayers for more workers in Nigeria. May the Lord continue to shower his grace on our Nigerian brothers and sisters in Christ through a new generation of pastors who serve his people faithfully!
Written By: Rev. Dan Kroll, Missionary at large – West Africa
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Meetings can be painful. Painfully looooong. Painfully tedious. Painfully unproductive. Can you relate? Ever walk away from a meeting with a question and a sigh: “What have we really accomplished?” Or end it with an exclamation and a huff: “What a waste of time!”
Benches are hard and decisions are hard to come by. Emotions run high and energy runs low. Rehashing the same stuff, some people missing the point and others belaboring it. Resolutions controversial and outcomes debatable.
Yes, meetings can be painful. But then again, meetings can be powerful. Powerfully beneficial. Powerfully effective. Powerfully uplifting and inspiring.
Just like the 31st Synod Convention in Zambia.
Pastor Alfred Kumchulesi and I were privileged to attend it. (Pastor Alfred Kumchulesi is a Professor at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Lilongwe, Malawi. He is currently serving as the Synod Secretary.) Oh, sure, the hours stretched long and there were occasions of tension and frustrations, but all in all, so many good things took place. Oh, so many good things.
- The Lutheran Church of Central Africa Zambia Synod (LCCA-ZS) declared fellowship with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) in Kenya.
- The Chairman of the LCMC in Kenya, Dr. Mark Enricho Onunda, attended the Convention.
- The delegates elected the new Synod Leaders.
- Essayists presented thought-provoking papers.
- The Convention attendees worshiped, communed and fellowshipped together.
- The men who participated in the Convention showed love and patience when there were times of disagreements and differing opinions.
- God graced us with His presence and leading and spoke to us through His Word and strengthened us in the Sacrament.
- Men stand poised to undertake the important work at hand.
The delegates were revitalized and they all rallied are the Convention theme: “The Time is Now!”
“The Time is Now!” was not only the theme of the Convention but the thread woven throughout and within the sermon, the devotions, the reports and the papers. One of the pastors, Reverend Makowani, even wrote an original song, entitled it, The Time is Now! and sang it before all the delegates.
The Time is Now!
The Time is Now to do what?
- To rebuke the erring,
- To repent of our own sin,
- To work and walk together,
- To trust God to lead our Synods,
- To preach and teach the true Word of God.
The out-going Chairman, Reverend David Baloyi, appropriately said in his report, “…the time is now to accept what God has for His Church.”
And indeed, God has a lot for us!
A Son who is our Savior,
A Love that is unconditional,
A Home that is eternal,
A Plan that is unstoppable,
With a God who has these things, imagine what He can do through a Synod like the one in Zambia!
And so we entrust the LCCA-Zambia into the strong hands of God Almighty. And we pray that the Lord works in the hearts of the leaders to direct the affairs of the church and in the hearts of the Lutheran members to work together with them. May they all do so with faithfulness, finding their motivation, strength and joy in the Triune God.
Even when the benches are painfully hard and the discussions painfully harder. Jesus one day said to His disciples, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work…I am the Light of the world” (John 9:4).
Interestingly the power (electricity) was out for a good share of the meeting. After a full day of meeting we were still knee deep in discussions and it was getting extremely dark in the church; however, the last rays of the setting sun were shining through the glass cross in the back of the church.
The Cross is empty.
So is the grave.
Jesus is alive.
So are we.
It is still day. But night is coming.
The Zambians and WELS Missionaries have done a lot of work in their beloved Synod and in the ripe Harvest Fields but still have a lot more to do.
Do you in yours? The Time is Now.
Missionary John Holtz
“Lord, Why did you pick me? What can I do to help people all the way over in Zambia and Malawi? How can I help give tens of thousands of people healthcare?”
All of these are thoughts that have passed through my mind in the last 5 years, but especially now as I was chosen to be the chairman of the CAMM in late 2017. I am confident that thoughts just like these also passed through the minds of my fellow committee members – Cindy Fietzer (Nurse Coordinator) and Cheryl Valus (Contact Woman Coordinator) and advisory member, Mike Valus – as we were all about to board the airplane to Malawi. Every few years, the Central Africa Medical Mission sends a few committee members to the field in order to make sure that our ex-pat volunteers in Malawi and our national workers in Zambia have the support that they need. In July 2018, that is exactly what we were asked to do!
Malawi, The Warm Heart of Africa, is exactly that. The people are kind, smiling, have a great sense of humor, and live every day in poverty. Poverty is hard. As we drove out to our clinic in Suzi, the first thing we all noticed was the litter. There is litter everywhere because of the lack of basic infrastructure like sanitation services. BUT there are also mountains and green farmer fields and children who see the ambulance pass that are waving and smiling and running after us. When we pulled up to the clinic grounds, we see that the Malawians are resourceful – there is a market at the clinic site because the villagers know that there will be people attending our clinic. We see expecting mothers, parents with their children, and sick people waiting for the clinic services to start. We see our clinic staff member, Mrs. Howa, educating the patients on diabetes signs and treatment. We hear them singing along to the song that she uses to end the education. And we see smiles – smiles at the visitors who stand out, who don’t know exactly where to go or what to do. For Malawi to be called The Warm Heart of Africa is a perfect description.
After our week in Malawi, we went to Zambia. Zambia and Malawi are very different and so are our clinic services in each country. In Malawi, we have 4 clinic sites that our staff travels out to each week. In Zambia, we have one stand-alone clinic in Mwembezhi. This clinic is run by national workers with Mr. Jackson Kalekwa at the helm. Here we offer care 24/7 – including delivering babies. We encourage expecting
mothers to come to the clinic to deliver instead of staying in their homes, so we can help if something goes wrong. We also encourage them to bring their newborn babies to the clinic within their first days so that we can assess them for their overall health. In Zambia, the culture says that the baby should not leave the home for 40 days, so we do have trouble getting the moms to bring their babies in. Watch for a request from Cheryl in the upcoming months on how you can help us with a project that we will be doing to help provide incentives for the moms to bring their babies in to be checked.
Finally, one letter is NOT enough for us to share the news from the clinics and what we saw when we went to Malawi and Zambia. In November, we are going to be doing a campaign where each of us will be sharing a more personal experience with you both in this letter and on Facebook. We know that each of us can give a different perspective on how the little that we do impacts tens of thousands of people every year.
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”.
Central Africa Medical Mission – Committee Chairman
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Beth and Gary Evans serve the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) in Malawi in the capacity of Head Nurse and Manager of Operations. This is not the first time they have lived overseas. In fact, they first met 33 years ago in Malawi, when Beth was serving as one of CAMM’s mobile clinic nurses and Gary was working as a civil engineer building water supplies with the Voluntary Service Overseas (the UK’s version of the Peace Corps). For both of them, the second time around is sweeter.
WELS missionaries first arrived in Central Africa in 1953 and began working in Zambia. In 1961, WELS became involved with humanitarian medical relief work in Zambia by opening “The Mwembezhi Lutheran Dispensary,” a stationary medical clinic that is still operating today as the Lutheran Rural Health Center.
In 1970, WELS began serving the medical needs of the people of Malawi by establishing the mobile health clinic in five different locations near the town of Salima, where the nurses lived. Every day of the week the nurses traveled to a different site to offer medical care to people in remote areas. The model is still being used in Malawi today but is based out of Lilongwe, the capital city.
Nurse Beth Evans (nee Ebert) served CAMM in Malawi from 1983-1985 along with fellow nurse Corrine Sievers, soon after the nurses were moved to Lilongwe. Each week the two nurses and their Malawian staff members traveled on a one lane paved road to Salima, which is about 60 miles from the capital of Lilongwe. One to two nights every week the nurses lodged at a small house that had been previously used by a Lutheran evangelist, in order to conduct clinics in the Salima area on two to three different days. One of these clinics, in the village of Katumba, continued once a month even after new clinics were established in the Lilongwe area.
By 1984 CAMM received the government’s permission to open clinic sites closer to Lilongwe in the villages of Suzi and Msambo. Initially, the nurses worked out of little storefronts and a grass-thatched shelter. Nola Christianson and Beth were the diagnosticians and would see each sick patient. In addition, there were 3-4 Malawian nurse-midwives, a nutrition worker and a driver who also registered patients. The nurses frequently saw diseases like measles because most children hadn’t been immunized. Malaria was common and many children were undernourished. Then as now, the goal of the mobile clinic was primarily preventative healthcare, including checkups of children under the age of five, immunizations, health teaching and prenatal care for pregnant women, but anyone who was sick received care. The clinic staff encourage all women to deliver in a local health center or hospital, but Beth remembers that a baby was born at a clinic site once. Eventually CAMM turned over all of the Salima area clinic sites to other missions or government clinics. Permanent buildings were constructed at Suzi and Msambo which are used for church services on Sundays. Years of reaching out to Malawians not only with medicine but also with the Word of God in clinic devotions and pastoral outreach resulted in LCCA congregations being established at these villages.
Beth and Gary met through mutual friends, when “social networking” was carried out face to face. It seemed more than a coincidence that they kept running into each other at various events around Lilongwe, like music concerts and farewell parties. Their first official date was a dance held at the “swanky” Capital hotel. Gary used to take Beth to the local tennis club on his motorcycle. Wild dogs used to chase them but no problem, they took turns swinging their tennis rackets at them to scare them off. Gary used to serenade Beth with a song from his parents’ era, “If you were the only girl in the world.” It must have seemed like they were the only two people in the world when they climbed Malawi’s remote Mount Mulanje, the highest peak in Central Africa. In fact, they were so alone (and so hot) that they free to jump into one of the mountain’s ice-cold streams with their clothes on. It was a match made in heaven.
By February 1986, Gary and Beth were married and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After that, their life in America moved on at a pretty rapid pace. Gary worked for a Civil Engineering company, and Beth started out in hospital nursing. They lived downtown near the campus of UWM and later bought a house in Whitefish Bay. They their first child, James, in 1989. Gary took a job for Waukesha County, where he stayed for 28 years and eventually became the County Engineer. Their daughter Abby arrived in 1992, and their twins, Liam and Olivia, were born in 1996. Beth mainly worked in pediatrics and worked for Children’s Hospital. Eventually the family moved to Mequon, Wisconsin.
Beth and Gary are members of St. Marcus Lutheran Church, where they have both used their unique gifts to serve the Lord. Gary was confirmed in May 1986 and by December was elected to the Church Council. He served in various posts including School Board, Treasurer, and President, but spent the majority of his time as Facilities Chairman, mostly as Project Director on various school expansion projects. Beth sang in the St. Marcus Gospel Choir, was a Parish Nurse and eventually became St. Marcus school’s first School Nurse.
But Beth and Gary never forgot about Malawi or medical mission. Beth served as the nurse coordinator on the CAMM committee for five years. In 1996 Gary and Beth traveled back to Malawi for a vacation, visiting the CAMM expat staff at that time. Gary and Beth had talked about working again somewhere in Africa after they retired, but in the process of recruiting a nurse for CAMM in Malawi it was difficult to find someone willing to commit for three years. When they learned that a married couple could apply to serve the two positions of nurse and administrator, Gary was eager to go. Beth on the other hand had reservations about leaving her two jobs and her two college-age and young adult kids behind. But after much prayer, things fell into place. Beth found a friend who was willing to serve St. Marcus as the school nurse, and Gary was able to take an early retirement. With their children’s support they decided that the time was right to return to Malawi.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot involved with uprooting yourself and moving to a foreign country. Beth and Gary put their house up for rent and arranged for Beth’s brother to have power of attorney over their finances. Like others working in third world countries, Beth and Gary got a thorough medical checkup, had immunizations and were tested for HIV because they are working with patients in a place that has one of the world’s highest incidence rates of AIDS.
The work of CAMM has changed somewhat since Beth’s first tour of duty in the mid-1980’s. CAMM now hold clinics at four locations, all in the Lilongwe area: Msambo, Suzi, Thunga and Mwalaulomwe. Local church leaders still offer devotions for the patients before the start of each clinic. The clinic staff is much larger and there are now 21 people on the payroll. The clinic still focuses on prenatal mothers, children under the age of five and nutrition education. There is more HIV testing and counselling at the clinic sites. There is less severe malnutrition today than 30 years ago, but there is more hypertension and diabetes – perhaps the result of a more western (junk food) diet. Increased government requirements and the complexity of running the clinics has meant a change in the American staffing of the mission. Instead of two nursers, there is now one nurse in charge who oversees the medical work, and a clinic administrator to handle the business needs of the clinic.
Gary and Beth have agreed to serve in Malawi for three years, although they will head to the US in June for a quick visit to attend their son’s college graduation. They would like build on the past efforts of many who have continually improved the clinic work , and also to keep the medical mission as a sustainable operation into the future. Gary’s experience in civil engineering will come in handy, as some of the clinic buildings are over 30 years old and are in need of some TLC. Funds have been raised to complete renovations.
The Lutheran Mobile Clinic staff in Malawi and the Zambian team at the Lutheran Rural Health Center would not be able to do their work effectively without much help and support from their Christian brothers and sisters in the United States. The Central Africa Medical Mission is a non-budgeted mission of the WELS; no money is received from the regular synodical budget. The responsibility and support of the Central Africa Medical Mission has been given to the women’s groups of the WELS. Contributions are also received from Christian day schools and high schools, Sunday schools, some circuits of the LWMS and other friends of the medical mission. The Central Africa Medical Mission reaches the hearts of many WELS members and beyond.
CAMM supplies and supports the American personnel as supervisory staff, erects and maintains clinic buildings, and purchases necessary medical supplies. The clinic work is aligned with other private and government run clinics in its approach to healthcare, and CAMM’s clinics are required to meet the regulations of the Ministry of Health in Malawi. Both the Malawian and United States governments provide some support in the form of certain medicines and test kits, but detailed statistical reports must be completed each month to show how these are used.
The Central Africa Medical Mission is administered stateside by the Central Africa Medical Mission Committee (CAMMC), with input from Medical Mission Councils in Malawi and Zambia. The CAMM Committee is an all-volunteer group, they provide the guidance, oversight and financial resources for the clinic to continue. The current Committee consists of a Chairman – Shelly Sievert; Contact Woman Coordinator – Cheryl Valus; Website controller – Mike Valus; Treasurer – Bea Punke; Outreach – Linda Liesener; Public Relations – Angela Sievert; Secretary – Kris Olson; Nurse Coordinator – Cindy Fietzer; Nurse Advisor – Kari Belter; Medical Advisor – Michael Brooks; and Pastoral Advisor – Kevin Schultz.
In the past, contact with CAMM was by mail so it could often take at least two weeks to get a response. These days the Evans remain in contact by cell phone and typically check in with Chairman Shelly Sievert every two weeks or so. More urgent issues can be handled by text messages, email or What’sApp.
Former nurses and administrators and current CAMM committee members give presentations to schools and church groups around the country about the medical mission. There is also a network of contact women to pass on information to congregations. If you are interested in serving CAMM in Malawi or Zambia, you can contact Chairman Shelly Sievert at firstname.lastname@example.org Applicants must be in good health and able to do physical work, be comfortable with other cultures and able to adapt to a warm climate. It is important for anyone considering this kind of position to pray, to consult with family and church friends, and to talk to those people who have done mission work in the developing world. Beth Evans writes: “This experience has caused me to learn and grow in my faith, and trust God more than I ever imagined.”
Stefan Felgenhauer has recently been hired to serve WELS Missions in Africa as the Director of Operations for One Africa Team. Stefan and his wife Kathy have lived in Malawi previously and served WELS through the Kingdom Workers organization. Listen to Stefan as he (re)introduces himself:
Felgs on the move… this has become our theme. We’re about to move to Africa for the 3rd time and we couldn’t be more excited! My wife and I met in Bali, Indonesia, got married in New Ulm, MN and lived in Germany, Canada, the USA and in Malawi (twice). When we sat down to think about it we realize we’ve never lived in the same house for more than 2 years. Currently we live in Kansas and it’s true that we there is “no place like home” – we are in this world but not of it and heaven will be where we completely settle down for eternity.
Having grown up in Communist East Germany, I certainly couldn’t have imagined the plans the Lord had for me. Looking back at my experiences I see God’s hand in leading me to this new opportunity to work as the Director of Mission Operations for One Africa Team. My love for Africa really began when my wife and I were engaged. She was teaching in Lippo Karawaci, Indonesia and I was in the military in Germany – together we traveled to Blantyre, Malawi to visit my in-laws. My father-in-law, Missionary Ron Uhlhorn, was the first WELS urban missionary to Malawi (1998-2003). It was an awesome experience to travel around with them seeing the mission work first hand, and a year or so later after we were married. Soon we returned for another visit to this intriguing place, which was already growing on our hearts.
In time I heard about a position opening to be the Business Manager for our mission in Malawi. This position description encompassed engaging in all “non-Word work” to free the missionaries for their “Word-work”. We moved from Germany with our newborn daughter Louisa with the intent of staying only 2 years. We left 6 wonderful years (and 3 houses) later with two more children, Benjamin and Anna, who were born in Blantyre. The idea of a business manager on field was a success and the Warm Heart of Africa had become home.
We then engaged in a four year adventure to Canada, Germany and the USA, calling several more houses and apartments home before another opportunity came knocking that brought us back to Malawi. This time I worked directly for Kingdom Workers as their Field Manager. My wife and I developed short term volunteer opportunities for VBS events in rural villages, and eventually a ministry to the disabled using Jesus Cares materials translated into the Chichewa language. Our growing children attended the international school and we felt right back at home.
Two houses and three years later we returned to the USA to live in Manhattan, KS and then Salina, KS where my wife held calls as preschool director and teacher. Our children picked up the American way of life and I found continued work in serving those with special needs.
I appreciate all the different fields of service that the Lord has given me. All of these experiences have helped me develop continued skills to now lead my family to Lusaka, Zambia in the coming months. Working for One Africa Team, I look forward to the challenge of supporting the mission and ministries in many different African countries!
Stefan Felgenhauer and his family will be based in Lusaka, Zambia
Wait! That’s not one of our favorite words. Who likes to wait? In a long line at a checkout counter in a supermarket, for a freight train going four miles an hour at a railway crossing, for a prospective employer to make up his mind, in an airport when the monitor says your flight has been delayed, for your doctor to get back to you with the results of a biopsy? For most of us, waiting is not something we relish. It’s not a pleasant pastime; it’s a frustrating waste of time.
Sometimes perhaps, but not always. Especially not now at the beginning of a new church year. It’s Advent again, that perennial four-week season of the year that Christians set aside to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Advent is a Latin word that means “coming.” Coming implies waiting.
Advent is an invitation to wait—quietly, patiently, expectantly, joyfully.
Quietly and patiently
Advent waiting is something the people of God have been doing ever since God first promised a Savior from sin after the fall in Eden. God’s Old Testament people waited 4,000 years for that promise to be fulfilled. That was a long wait. The promise finally reached fulfillment with the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. Before Jesus left this world and returned to his throne in heaven, he issued another promise: “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). That was 2,000 years ago. We are still waiting. That’s what Advent is all about.
The author of the book of Lamentations says, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:26). That is why the church, ever since the Synod of Lerida in A.D. 524, has designated the four weeks before Christmas on the church’s calendar as Advent. It is definitely a good thing to be waiting “for the salvation of the Lord.”
Waiting quietly, that is. And that’s not always an easy thing—given the prevailing moods that pervade the pre-Christmas atmosphere. As the masses see it, this is no time for waiting quietly. This is a time for hurrying and scurrying. You know the routine. Perhaps you get caught up in it too.
It takes conscious effort to resist the temptation to get swept up in the tide and then carried away in the secularization that is the hallmark of the Christmas season.
Advent says, “Wait, slow down! Don’t get entangled in the hustle and the bustle of the season. Get focused instead on what really matters.”
But what does it mean to “wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord?”
When the author of Lamentations wrote those words, Israel was at the nadir of its existence as a nation. It was 586 B.C., the date for the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Saddam Hussein’s predecessor). Wholesale slaughter and devastation engulfed kings, priests, princes, prophets, and common people alike. Starving mothers ate their offspring. The nation’s elite ended up in exile. The fall of Jerusalem was a wake-up call. God was using drastic measures to teach his apostate people to “wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” His promise to send a Savior had not been invalidated by the rebellion of his people.
A grim reminder that we too live in troublesome times—exacerbated by the constant and growing threat of terrorism, the erosion of basic morality, and the lack of respect for the sanctity of life? The season’s misplaced emphasis may be a diversion. But it’s hollow. It’s only temporary. In the midst of all the seasonal trappings, Advent is reminding us, “It is good to wait quietly.” For what? “For the salvation of the Lord.”
The exhortation to “wait quietly” presupposes that in this world “we do not have an enduring city,” and that we are “aliens and strangers on earth . . . longing for a better country—a heavenly one” (Hebrews 13:4; 11:13,16).
Expectantly and joyfully
The Advent disposition of waiting quietly for the salvation of the Lord evokes two dominant moods—expectation and joy. Advent expectation is nourished by the confidence that the Lord, who came once as he promised, will come again—as he promised. And when he does, all lamentations will come to an end as we are ushered, finally and endlessly, into the presence of our Lord. Meanwhile he says, “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Advent joy is nourished by the awareness that what we are waiting quietly for is the salvation of our Lord. What God’s Old Testament people awaited for 4,000 years is now an accomplished fact, signed, sealed, and delivered by the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord. The Advent joy we have in Christ is a theme that St. Paul wove like a silver thread into his letter to the Philippians. Though he was being “poured out like a drink offering,” he could still say, “I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:17,18).
This coupling of the moods of expectation and joy is prominent in many of the 32 Advent hymns in Christian Worship (CW). Perhaps none of them expresses those moods to affect us more than does the familiar and beloved “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel.” The contrast between the opening lines and the refrain is unmistakable—and intentional. It makes the hymn what it is. The plea for Emmanuel to come “and ransom captive Israel” is somber, plaintive, and expectant. The refrain that follows is irrepressibly exuberant: “Rejoice! Rejoice!”
This year in Advent, read and ponder an Advent hymn a day. Look for the words “come,” “wait,” and “rejoice.” “The Advent of our King our prayers must now employ, And we must hymns of welcome sing in strains of holy joy” (CW 1:1). That’s the first of the Advent hymns. The last one ends on a similar note. “All grief must flee before his grace, And joy divine will take its place” (CW 32:1).
Let this Advent season be for you what our fathers meant it to be when they incorporated it into the Church’s calendar more than 1,500 years ago. May blessings abound to you as you remember that “it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Joel Gerlach, a retired pastor, is a member at St. John, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
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Author: Joel C. Gerlach
Volume 91, Number 12
Issue: December 2004
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Presented by Rev. Tom Kock
Pastor Kock leads us to see that the grace of God gives us a wonderfully positive understanding of what God has declared us to be, filling us with confidence and peace.
Originally presented January 2013
Presented by WELS President Mark Schroeder
Rev. Mark Schroeder provides practical helps for people to study God’s Word on their own with confidence and understanding.
Originally presented February 2014
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