Hurricane Relief Update – Nov. 22, 2017

Hurricane Relief Update—Nov. 22, 2017

Thank you for your prayers and support of the ministry of WELS Christian Aid and Relief.  We are using the generous gifts of God’s people to help those suffering from disasters and medical and financial trials, as well as  support humanitarian aid projects, which help our missionaries build bridges to proclaim the gospel.

Here is a Hurricane Relief Update:

Christian Aid and Relief personalizes our efforts by working through our congregations and missions in the affected areas.  We work through our pastors and congregational leaders to make assessments and to distribute aid.  We bring in volunteers when requested to assist in the recovery effort.

Puerto Rico

Our liaison to Puerto Rico, Pastor Tim Satorius has been in contact with pastors and leaders of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico.  Pastor Satorius and a representative from Christian Aid and Relief made a personal assessment visit to Puerto Rico in October.  One church there was completely destroyed and several homes of members were damaged.  Groceries were provided to families in need.  We are getting bids to consider for repair projects.  We sent an immediate gift of $5000 through Direct Relief to assist those in need.  We also sent $5000 to provide meals for people in the church and community suffering from this disaster.  The present plan is for members of the national church to provide meals for 50 people a day for four weeks.

Texas

Volunteers from neighboring churches helped with the initial cleanup efforts in several affected areas.  We have a project coordinator and volunteers in place repairing a parsonage and church at Christ our Savior, Angleton, Tex., the school at Sienna Lutheran Academy, and about 17 member homes in the Friendswood, Tex., area.  The work is going smoothly and the volunteers are finding joy serving the Lord as they serve these people in their time of need.  We have also provided grants to replace furnishings and appliances which were ruined by the flooding.  We continue to consider new opportunities.

Florida

Volunteers, with the help of our relief trailers, assisted with the cleanup efforts in several affected communities.  Those who have received assistance are most appreciative and wish to express their gratitude for a job well done. Pastors in the affected area continue to bring requests to us for immediate aid for their members through our District President Chuck Westra.  This includes generators and equipment, rental assistance while being displaced from home, and assistance with cost of repairs and replacement of furnishings.  We also assisted Abiding Grace, Covington, Ga., as their church suffered water damage from the storm.

Antigua and Barbuda

Assistance is being provided to families displaced from Barbuda, who are staying with members and friends of our WELS mission, St. John, Antigua.  29 families received $18,000 in immediate aid so far.  Our liaison Pastor Tom Spiegelberg visited Antigua last month to help us make further assessment of needs and opportunities.

The Thanksgiving holiday offers another opportunity to count our blessings and praise God from whom all blessings flow.  When we consider the physical and spiritual blessings God lavishes upon us by his grace, we realize that our cup of blessings richly overflows.  One way we express our gratitude to the Lord is by reflecting his love and compassion to others.  May the Lord bless our efforts to show love and kindness to those in need!

God’s Blessings,

Pastor Robert Hein, Chairman, WELS Christian Aid and Relief

 

VOLUNTEER FORM

Sign up to volunteer with Christian Aid and Relief efforts as they help our members and neighbors in times of need.

PARENTAL CONSENT VOLUNTEER FORM

The parental consent volunteer form needs to be filled out by the parent or guardian of any minors wishing to volunteer for Christian Aid and Relief projects.

 

 

 

 

WELS members respond

When people are hurting, Christians respond. Paul thanked the Macedonian Christians for the generous outpouring of support they provided for needy brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. They saw a need, and their love for their Savior and fellow Christians moved them to act.

The same could be said about the members of our synod in the way you have reacted to the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. In addition to your prayers, you offered generous financial support to help those in need. As of now, WELS members have given nearly $700,000 for hurricane relief.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief has made grants to WELS congregations in Texas and Florida to address immediate needs for their members and for others in the community and has sent aid to Puerto Rico. Efforts are now underway to plan a more long-term effort to provide assistance. When plans are in place and can be administered effectively, WELS Christian Aid and Relief is ready to forward the funding that WELS members have provided.

We have been attempting to contact our sister church in Puerto Rico, but communications have been very difficult. We have heard there was extensive damage to at least one of the churches on the island, and we assume that the homes of many members were damaged or destroyed. As soon as we can assess the need and put plans in place, more assistance will be sent.

Even as WELS members have responded to these natural disasters, they have also continued their faithful support of the ongoing ministry of our synod. Through September, Congregation Mission Offerings are up 1.6 percent or $231,000 over the prior year and 0.8 percent ahead of subscriptions. Thanks be to God for these blessings that have been motivated by his saving gospel.

Serving with you in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

View photos of President Schroeder visiting relief work in Florida

 

 

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Evaluation of relief opportunities continues

Pastors and leaders from Florida and Texas are continuing to meet and evaluate the needs of their members and communities following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Florida pastors and South Atlantic District President Chuck Westra met with a representative from WELS Christian Aid and Relief Mon., Sept. 18, to assess the needs and discuss opportunities.

Local volunteers have deployed the Christian Aid and Relief trailers, outfitted with tools and supplies for relief work, to the Jacksonville, Fla., area to help with cleanup efforts. A group of Christian Aid and Relief volunteers will be arriving in Florida on Fri., Sept. 22, and staying for a week to tackle cleanup projects in Merritt Island and West Melbourne, two of the harder hit areas.

So far, reports of damage to WELS churches and members’ homes have been minimal from Irma. Minor roof damage and downed trees account for the majority of the reports. Local groups have come together to clean up the most urgent areas, including members from the churches in the Divine Savior school association getting together to help clean up trees and debris around the school.

“It was pretty exciting that as we’re starting this new association with one another we see a firsthand account of brothers and sisters in Christ joining together to do a bigger, better job than we could’ve done ourselves,” says Rev. John Boggs, Hope, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Rev. David Rosenbaum, Redeemer, Merritt Island, Fla., said that while he and his members were spared major damage, there are several homes in the surrounding community that were destroyed by winds and tornadoes.

In Texas, a representative from WELS Christian Aid and Relief met with Houston-area pastors and lay leaders and South Central District President Rev. Don Patterson on Sept. 6 to assess the situation in that area. The district has established a local committee to continue to assess needs and coordinate relief opportunities.

Patterson reports that many congregations have already been working to help members and friends clean up damage to their properties and homes caused by the flooding. Rev. Matthew Brown from Abiding Word, Houston, Tex., says that more than 40 Abiding Word members mobilized as soon as flood waters receded to help the five member families whose homes were badly damaged in the flood. Other members went door to door in their neighborhoods to see if people needed help. “It was Christians serving and trusting that God provides those opportunities to give the reason for the hope that we have,” Brown says.

Several different groups from the area also traveled to Christ our Savior, Angleton, Tex., the last few weekends to help clean out and strip down the parsonage, which was flooded with eight inches of water that didn’t recede for a week.

Along with the relief trailers with tools and supplies, Christian Aid and Relief has provided more than $65,000 to help address immediate needs of the congregations and members affected by the hurricane and the flooding in Texas. Some of this funding is being used to help congregations and schools reach high deductibles for their insurance as well to provide gift cards for supplies to members and prospects as cleanup efforts continue.

Local district leaders and Builders For Christ are also discussing the possibility of working together on rebuilding homes damaged by the hurricane.

Boggs says, “Hurricane Irma has come and gone, and its affects are being felt everywhere. There are still parts of our state that are without power. There’s a lot of devastation and issues that need to be resolved. But, we stand amazed at how the Lord spared our people, how the Lord spared our buildings, how destruction was very minimal to our WELS churches, and how our brothers and sisters in Christ have rallied around each other and their common faith to support one another and help wherever possible.”

Christian Aid and Relief Chairman Rev. Bob Hein thanks WELS members for their outpouring of prayers and support, saying it’s encouraging for people who have been affected by these storms to know they have brothers and sisters in faith thinking of them.

Learn more at wels.net/hurricaneupdates.

 

 

 

 

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Food for Malawi

Greetings from Malawi!

These are bags of maize. A full one weighs 50 kilograms, which is just over 110 pounds.

Yesterday, we bought a bit of maize… about 881,500 pounds of it, which is about 441 tons, or roughly 8,000 of the bags you see pictured here. I’d love to show you what 441 tons of maize looks like, but I don’t think that I have ever seen that much maize collected in one place.

Maize is the staple food of Malawi. Grind it into flour and boil it into a stiff porridge and it is called nsima (NSEE-mah). You can eat it with your hands for lunch and supper. Or make it a little runnier and people will call it phala (PAH-lah). You can eat it with a spoon for breakfast, or just scoop it with your fingers and feed it to the baby.

I said, “Yesterday, WE bought maize,” but actually, I should be more precise. YOU bought all this maize… 441 tons of it for the members of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA).

Earlier this year, the southern region of Malawi was hit by very severe flooding. Thousands of LCCA members had damage to their homes, and many lost their homes entirely. Some fields were completely eroded. Others were buried under several feet of sand. Fertilizer was washed away. Crops failed. Even in other areas of the country, the harvest was very small. Everybody in Malawi knew what this would mean. These people are subsistence farmers. They depend upon their harvest to survive. But for many Malawians, this year’s harvest did not come. There will be hunger in the coming year. Malnutrition. Even some starvation. Nsima

 So “we” went out and bought some maize. Mr. Mark Vance, the Director of Operations for WELS Christian Aid and Relief, was the one who manned the pen. He signed both copies of the contract and initialed every page. So did Mr. Lawson Tewesa, the Malawian maize vendor with whom we made our agreement. Mr. Stefan Felgenhauer and I were looking on as witnesses. So was our lawyer, Mr. Elton Jangale.

Hundreds of hours of work had preceded the actual signing of the document. The WELS Christian Aid and Relief committee tirelessly discussed the various options for relief together with the leaders of the LCCA. They considered all the possibilities. Kingdom Workers gracious donated Mr. Stefan Felgenhauer’s time and considerable expertise. We grilled the vendor with questions and inspected his warehouse. We hired the lawyer and hammered out a contract. Stefan, almost singlehandedly, arranged the complicated logistics of buying, storing, treating and shipping almost 450 tons of maize to something like 20 different distribution sites. LCCA national pastors were assigned to oversee the handouts and to conduct devotions and prayers at the time of distribution. There were many, many planning meetings, personal visits and conference calls. Gradually, a plan came together that almost 4,000 families in the LCCA would receive 20 kilograms of maize each month for the months of September, October, November, December and January. It was a ton of work… actually, more like 441 tons.

Yesterday, we signed the contract. But we have never forgotten that none of this could have happened except that hundreds just like you donated thousands and thousands of their own hard-earned, personal dollars to make this project possible.

Some surly and unhappy people might wonder why you did that. But as for us over here in Malawi, I think we all know why.

Thank you.
Missionary Mark Panning Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa

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God bless Malawi

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

(1 Thessalonians 3:9)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

DestroyedMalawi-02052015-350

Greetings from Malawi in Jesus’ name! In the past few weeks, many of you have heard about the severe flooding in Malawi. Unusually heavy rains have caused extensive damage, especially in the Southern Region of Malawi. About 80% of our LCCA churches are located in this area. Thousands of our Lutheran members have been affected by these floods. Many have lost their homes. Others have lost their fields and gardens. Many have been injured, and some have even lost their lives. With one united voice we cry to our gracious God in heaven that he may have mercy on all who are suffering from this disaster.

But how can we thank God enough for you, our brothers and sisters in America! You have poured out your earnest prayers like a mighty flood before God’s throne. You do not know our names and we do not know yours, yet you have come to our assistance with your generous gifts and offerings. Even now, the affected congregations of the LCCA are receiving disaster relief from the WELS – warm blankets, plastic roofing sheets, nails, and a bucket to carry water. These gifts of love do more than warm our bodies in the cold hours of the night. They warm our hearts, for now we know that you are one with us in Christ!

malawi-02052015-350We thank the WELS Christian Aid and Relief Committee for their generous and ongoing financial contributions. We thank the Kingdom Workers for supplying manpower to assist in the distribution of relief. Most of all, we thank everyone who has offered heartfelt prayers and generous gifts to help us in our need. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

God is always good to us, but these hardships in Malawi will continue for some time. We humbly ask that you will continue to hold us up in prayer, just as we will always pray for you. We ask that you will continue to support us with your financial contributions, just as you have been doing right up to this time. May the God who loves us and who has washed us of our sins in Jesus’ blood bless you for your kindness.

Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Riphat Matope, president, LCCA Malawi Synod

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