In his hands – mission work in Mozambique

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.

Mr. Januario Cuinja (right) with the Religious Affaires official in Lichinga, Mozambique

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!

Oops!

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?

He did.

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

Growth Spurt in Nigerian Mission Fields

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.

Christ the King Board of Governors meets in the “outgoing” classroom at Uruk Uso – discussing needed changes.

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!

Theological training campus at Uruk Uso (Christ the King), including football (soccer) field in the foreground, Martin Luther primary school (connected) to the right and the mission house (pink) on the left

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

AT&T Wireless

AT&T has designed an exclusive wireless program just for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. WELS’ organizations and members can get great discounts on AT&T products and services.

Verizon Wireless

Exclusive savings from Verizon Wireless for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Organizations.

The Time Is Now – LCCA-Zambia Synod Convention

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.

Pastor Evans Makowani sings The Time is Now!

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.

  1. The Lutheran Church of Central Africa Zambia Synod (LCCA-ZS) declared fellowship with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) in Kenya.
  2. The Chairman of the LCMC in Kenya, Dr. Mark Enricho Onunda, attended the Convention.
  3. The delegates elected the new Synod Leaders.
  4. Essayists presented thought-provoking papers.
  5. The Convention attendees worshiped, communed and fellowshipped together.
  6. The men who participated in the Convention showed love and patience when there were times of disagreements and differing opinions.
  7. God graced us with His presence and leading and spoke to us through His Word and strengthened us in the Sacrament.
  8. 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.

Out-going LCCA-Z Synod Chairman Pastor David Baloyi speaks to the Convention

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,
Power unconquerable,
Wisdom unsurpassable.

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).

Pastors Kumchulesi and Holtz were invited guests from Malawi.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Comments

Central Africa Medical Mission – September 2018 Update

“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!

CAMM committee helps unpack pill bottles in the pharmacy in Malawi

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”.

Matthew 25:40

Shelly Sievert
Central Africa Medical Mission – Committee Chairman
Chairman.camm@gmail.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Comments

Enterprise and National

WELS has negotiated corporate rates with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National. Any WELS member is free to rent using these special rates for both business and personal use.

Church Mutual

Church Mutual Insurance Company, the leading insurer of religious institutions, has partnered with WELS since 1976 and offers organizations a 15% discount on package policies (in states where allowed), as well as exceptional customer service and specialty expertise.

Troxell Solutions

Troxell Communications has solutions for every room in a church or school.

FinalWeb

WELS has partnered with FinalWeb to provide a Web hosting and content management solution.

Concordia Technology Solutions

Concordia Technology Solutions offers church management software that works faster, smarter, and within budget.

Heavenly Connections

One of the greatest joys my husband and I have when back in the USA on furlough is connections with WELS members who support mission work, especially our work in India. One particular connection culminated at a special Vacation Bible School program at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI.

Early this summer, my husband and I were on furlough in the States. One pastor on our South Asian Administrative Committee mentioned that a friend of his had reached out. This friend wanted to connect with the Indian friendly counselors to discuss supporting our work in some way. To make a long story short, we met this friend – Amie Klemp-Saar – very soon after and the rest is history.

“Jesus” of Jesus Loves Me

Amie was passionate to make real connections with missions, this time through the Mt. Calvary VBS in Waukesha. First, my husband and I excitedly shared our work about the children we care for with Amie and the VBS team she was a part of. Amie said many times, “I want to make real connections with the VBS kids here and with the kids you care for in India. I want the VBS kids to see how we can show our love of Jesus in a very real way to others.” Then, over our conversations, many ideas were thrown out on how we can make those real connections. This was one, “Let’s have them all eat KitKat bars! Can you get them there?” “Yes!” was my reply. “Let’s do it!” Thanks to my co-worker and husband (who returned to India earlier then I), KitKat bars were bought in India and eaten at one of our children’s homes. KitKats were also eaten by the VBS children in Waukesha as a snack. Pictures were taken on both sides of the world and shared. We were also able to share our presentation about the children’s ministry in India, so the VBS children learned more about India and our mission. One couldn’t help but be drawn into the excitement of the whole venture. The sharing still continues with all our Children’s Homes and Grade school in India.

Yet the most inspirational thing happened on the last day of Mt. Calvary’s VBS. I had the opportunity to attend and witness an outpouring of love for the Savior. The connection this time was singing Jesus Loves Me. Thankfully, Dan Saar (Amie’s husband) recorded it:

View the video of Mt. Calvary’s VBS in Waukesha, WI singing Jesus Loves Me with the Indian Children’s Home.

I joined in singing and signing Jesus Loves Me with 140 VBS children at Mt. Calvary, while the children of the Indian Mercy Children’s Home sang on the screens behind us.

Signing “belong” of Jesus Loves Me

For me, to make a connection with that song was amazing, as I have been personally teaching it to the children in our homes and school. It was hard to hold back the tears of joy. The outpouring of love was humbling. Some parents and visitors were so moved and came up to me personally, “I want to help.” The Sunday after VBS, the children sang this again and more were moved. What was the most humbling was witnessing the Holy Spirit’s power, not ours, to turn people’s hearts on fire.

This connection was just the beginning of the bigger picture. It will be very, very encouraging to the children, caregivers, and teachers here in India to see this outpouring of love and encouragement from fellow Christians in the United States. It will show them that they are not so isolated after all and how deep and wide their connection with fellow believers is. And with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can look forward to the biggest connection of all in heaven. May his Word continue to change and move hearts all over the world.

Written by: Wife of a WELS Friendly Counselor to India 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Comments

Sweeter the Second Time

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.

Pastor Beza doing devotion before Clinic at Mwalaulomwe

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.

Mothers and children line up early outside the Suzi clinic

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.

Gary and Beth in 1985

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.

Weekly staff meetings are held at the CAMM house

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.

Msambo clinic

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.

Beth and Gary Evans serve the Central Africa Medical Mission in Lilongwe, Malawi

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 chairman.camm@gmail.com  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.”

Meet the Felgenhauers

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.

Stefan greeting a new VBS group

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

Thank you, Gen! Friends, we can use you

“We are all one in mission; We all are one in call, our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.” (CW 566) It is hard to calculate how many souls Gen Baumeister’s efforts have reached in the almost 50 years that she has sent out materials for Mission for the Visually Impaired. She has been a constant every Tuesday at the “workshop” since its inception in 1968. She assisted in the many physical moves from several locations in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, and kept the cassette department running smoothly and efficiently. Her memories are full of fun facts of the early days for MVI – like falling ceilings and mice in unusual places. We are going to miss Gen! Our Lord has blessed MVI through her solid commitment.

Like Gen, many MVI volunteers are in their late 70s or into their 80s. We are fortunate to be able to still utilize their talents at MVI; we like to think we are keeping them young. But the needs at MVI are changing and we need new volunteers to tackle these changes.

MVI’s braille department uses just two volunteers who can read the braille and can use the Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) to produce Meditations, Luther’s Small Catechism, and Sunday School lessons. This computer program can translate WORD files to braille electronically. But DBT is not perfect, as the need for proofing the braille and format are still done by reading the screen. We desperately need braille transcribers who are able to use these types of computer programs to complete the transcribing.

You do not need to know Braille to volunteer for MVI, of course. We need Christian workers filled with the desire for people who are visually impaired to enjoy Christian resources. We can find a place for your talents! If you live in the Twin Cities area, consider joining our team on Tuesday mornings. If you live too far away to work at MVI, but want to serve, get in touch with us, and we will find ways to use your “varied gifts.”

 

 

 

MVI puts Braille in Christian children’s books

MVI sometimes get the opportunity to help with a specific need. Pastor Tim and Megan Redfield wanted to share Christian children’s books with their daughter who is learning to read in Braille. Our staff inserted clear Braille labels over the words in three of the family’s books for their daughter (Jesus Hears Me and Jesus Is with Me by Joni Walker; God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It by Erdmann Neumeister). Our staff was happy to think of this family enjoying these Christian books together because of the Braille.

Over the years we have often had opportunity to supply resources that are adapted to someone’s situation. If you know someone our Braille or other resources can help, please contact WELS Mission for the Visually Impaired (you’ll find our contact information in this newsletter). A catalog of our Braille, cassette and large print resources is on the WELS website at wels.net/mvi.

 

 

MVI future plans

We are excited to report that MVI is working to provide access to Christian audio books on the Internet for people who are blind or otherwise visually or reading impaired. Our goal is to have downloadable Christian audio resources online by next summer. The law allows us to provide this service at no charge to people who need these resources but cannot access them because of vision loss or reading disability. The only requirement is that the materials will be password protected, which we will provide free of charge to those who qualify. This will be a great blessing for the people we want to serve! Watch for more news as God blesses our efforts.

 

 

 

Advent – a time to wait

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.

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: Joel C. Gerlach
Volume 91, Number 12
Issue: December 2004

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Who am I and why am I here

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

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

WEEK 4

WEEK 5

I’d like to read my Bible, but …

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

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

WEEK 4