Pastoral Studies Institute: Winterim 2024

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous WELS member, the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) was able to bring five of our East Asian PSI students to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary for an intensive one week of instruction. They were able to attend classes that were specifically focused on their course requirements but also upon their cultural background. One of the PSI courses is “History of Christianity in the Student’s Context.” Our students were able reap the blessings of being taught by Professor Emeritus Glen Thompson who served at Asia Lutheran Seminary teaching Historical Theology and New Testament. Professor Thompson shared his class “History of Christianity in East Asia.” Much of his course was new information for our students since most East Asian history is rewritten to coincide with the current government’s policies.

While on campus our PSI students were able to attend daily chapel and meet and interact with our traditional students who were also on campus for their intensive Winterim courses. Our PSI men made the most of their time on campus in a second course, “Engaging the Spirit World.” This was a very practical addition to their training as future pastors, given the high rate of spiritism in East Asian culture.

This is just one more way that the Pastoral Studies Institute attempts to be flexible in our training methods, but consistent and academically rigorous in delivering our Confessional Lutheran content. This is another fine example of our WELS members partnering with us to be able to provide these kinds of exceptional learning opportunities. For more information about the Pastoral Studies Institute, please visit wels.net/psi.

Written by Harland Goetzinger, Pastoral Studies Institute director

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Mission Journeys: Connecting with cultures in the U.K.

“John 3:16 tells us that ‘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.’ Our sins are forgiven and heaven is our home because of Jesus!”

This was our response to a question moments earlier. We were attending a course on Christianity and a young man had asked, “But why did Jesus need to die on the cross?” As lifelong WELS Lutherans, we were eager to provide the answer we knew so well. But, as we surveyed the room, we were met with blank stares and raised eyebrows. The course leader moved on quickly with another question, “So, do you guys actually think Jesus rose from the dead?” People went on to debate theories and opinions, never once mentioning the Bible. We left the class with heavy hearts. In a room full of 30 questioning Christians, why did our words have little to no effect? Why did the Bible cause so much confusion and offense? We realized that for those British Christians, evidence, emotion, and reason determined faith; not God’s Word.

How do we communicate God’s word in a culture that is not our own? During our six months of volunteering for WELS Missions in the United Kingdom, Pastor Michael Hartman challenged us to answer this question while working to start a church in Central London. By visiting other churches and building relationships with locals, we have learned that the vast majority of London churches lack a clear understanding of the Bible and disregard the Means of Grace entirely. They view Jesus as a good role model and God as our benevolent cheerleader. People in the U.K. are missing the real hope found in the Bible.

Realizing that Biblical illiteracy would play a role in how we communicate Christ, British members of the U.K. mission effort decided to name the church, “Holy Word – Your Hope.” This name and tagline communicates that our church values God’s holy word as its foundation. Through Scripture-based worship services and quality Bible courses, we plan to spread our hope to searching souls in London and across the U.K.

Connecting with cultural values provides opportunities to share God’s Word in an unfamiliar setting. In the past, WELS has done this in various countries by providing free medical care, English classes, and soccer camps. In the United Kingdom, we have found that charity work is highly valued. There are thousands of charities sprinkled throughout London, with programs to help protect the environment, make and distribute meals for the poor, and provide companionship for the lonely. Many people, including the royal family, dedicate hours of their time to volunteer work. We plan to reach out within our communities by providing volunteers for various charities in London throughout the summer. We hope to build relationships through these volunteers and connect people to Holy Word.

God’s Word transcends cultural barriers. Because London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, our church has the unique opportunity to teach God’s Word globally. We experienced this when we had an opportunity to serve our Christian sister from Pakistan, who left her home to pursue a master’s degree in London. We helped her through extreme culture shock. Despite the vast differences between our cultures, were able to connect and encourage her through our shared faith.

Our experience volunteering in the U.K. has shown us that the Bible is both deeply needed and immensely powerful. In a country struggling with loneliness and doubt, God’s holy word is a sure and certain hope. Our prayer is that God continues to bless the members of Holy Word as they consider how best to communicate the Bible in the U.K. and abroad.

Written by Ben and Abby Hillmer, Mission Journeys volunteers in England.

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Celebrating God’s goodness forever

May you keep celebrating birthdays until the year 3000! This is the last line in the Colombian version of the song Happy Birthday. Recently, members of Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Medellín, Colombia, sang these words when celebrating their congregation’s 50th anniversary. In addition to singing, there was a worship service with record attendance, a meal, and fellowship time. Former and current WELS Latin America missionaries had the opportunity to attend, share greetings, and participate in a question-and-answer session. There were also visitors from other congregations in Colombia, many hugs, laughter, and tears of joy.

When WELS missionaries began outreach in Medellín 50 years ago, their efforts spanned from teaching English classes to managing Christian Information Centers to cultivating friendships to training leaders. The Lord blessed this work. Today, Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is an active, growing congregation. Members meet for worship and Bible study. Children and youth are taught God’s Word in Sunday School and Catechism class. The congregation uses small group Bible studies as an outreach strategy. These studies, held in the homes of members in various strategic locations of the city, create an opportunity for their members to invite their friends and neighbors to learn about Jesus.

From Medellín, the work spread to other parts of Colombia. Congregations were established in other cities. A Confessional Lutheran synod was formed. Recently, this synod helped form a new, Latin American synod called Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional. The congregations in Colombia also partner with Academia Cristo to promote church planting in new parts of Colombia and throughout Latin America. Most importantly, over the past fifty years, Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is a place where the good news of Jesus has been preached, taught, and applied to countless hearts and lives.

Celebrating the 50th birthday of the church in Colombia was a special occasion. Will the church still be celebrating its birthday in the year 3000? Its members can look forward to something even more amazing. They get to celebrate God’s grace, goodness, and mercy without end. Through faith in Jesus, we can look forward to sharing with them an eternal celebration in heaven. Praise God for his 50 years of grace in Colombia. Praise him for his unending love, blessings, and salvation!

Written by Rev. Matt Behmer, world missionary on the Latin America Mission team.

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CAMM helps address healthcare challenges in Africa

The need for affordable and adequate healthcare is a hot topic for all countries. The Central Africa Medical Mission helps alleviate the need in Malawi, Zambia, and most recently, Kenya. Why is this need so great? Is the healthcare need the same in every country?

Kenya

There is minimal free healthcare in Kenya. If you are sick, the cost for a general consultation is about $14. If surgery or more treatment is needed, and the patient cannot pay, then they may go without care or try and raise funds from their community and family. Recently, CAMM held a four-day medical clinic just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, to do basic health screenings including blood pressure, blood sugars, cervical and breast cancer screenings. We saw many chronic conditions that patients had been suffering through due to the expensive healthcare in the country. With CAMM’s help, the care we provided was free and the cost to CAMM and our Lutheran partners during our short-term medical was about $17 per patient. We pray that those afflicted with illness and disease can find some healing with the therapy and medications received.

Malawi

Thunga Clinic in Malawi

CAMM has been operating the Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Malawi since 1970. Staff travel to four rural villages for a day of clinic each week. The clinics focus on providing Christian counseling and education, HIV testing and treatment, malaria treatment, wellness checks, immunizations for children, prenatal care, and treatment of other minor injuries or illnesses. The cost to each patient is about 60 cents, and the cost to CAMM to provide care is about $2.92 per patient. A huge challenge for Malawian patients is medications. One of the main reasons patients visit the CAMM clinics is that they have the medications readily available. Most medications, including antibiotics and blood pressure meds, cannot be found at government run pharmacies. What a blessing that God has provided CAMM with the care and medications the Malawian patients need at an affordable cost.

Zambia

Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre

The CAMM Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre, a permanent clinic in Zambia, has been in existence since 1961. It provides preventive health services and outpatient care as in Malawi. In addition to those services, the clinic staff deliver babies, treat patients for HIV and tuberculosis, and do home visits. CAMM is also able to provide the care for the many diabetic patients in the region who cannot receive treatment at the government clinics. The care CAMM offers to each patient arriving at Mwembezhi is free, costing CAMM about $4.94 per patient.

With God’s blessing and healing hand, the clinics in Zambia and Malawi saw over 70,000 patients in 2023 and saw over 1,400 patients in Kenya during the four-day medical camp in February 2024.

Written by Angela Sievert, Central Africa Medical Mission chair.

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Registration now open – Taste of Missions 2024

We are thrilled to announce that registration for Taste of Missions 2024 is now open! Whether you join us in person or virtually, we invite you to be part of this special day as we celebrate the spread of the gospel of Christ throughout the world.

Date: Saturday, June 15, 2024
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. OR online!

The day kicks off with a worship service, as we commission new home and world missionaries to their important work. It’s an inspiring occasion that sets the tone for the day ahead. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to explore displays, hear missionaries share their stories and answer your questions, and sample ethnic dishes. Bring the entire family to learn about the diverse mission fields where WELS is making a difference and get a glimpse into the lives touched by Jesus.

For those joining us virtually, you can still be part of the experience! Tune in to our livestreamed sessions, including the commissioning worship service and insightful talks from speakers across our home and world mission fields. Plus, we’ll be sharing mouthwatering recipes for you to try at home.

View the full list of activities for the day and register at tasteofmissions.com. Registration is $15 per person, with children 13 and under attending for free. Those attending in person will receive food tickets to sample ethnic cuisine and can purchase additional food from the food trucks. Or attend virtually for free! Sign up today at tasteofmissions.com/register.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Taste of Missions, where together, we’ll celebrate our Savior’s mission and the incredible work being done around the world.

 




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A reason to celebrate

February 10 seemed like any other Saturday in Birmingham, England, but it was a special day for Allie and Kelly. It was Lunar New Year in East Asia. Allie is in England on a work visa, and Kelly, a former volunteer in that area, is taking a few months off from work to assist the WELS mission in Europe. They came to our Airbnb to celebrate and make dumplings, a special Lunar New Year dish in some parts of East Asia. It turns out they had many shared acquaintances who participated in Christian churches in East Asia, and that Allie had even stayed at Kelly’s apartment.

The next day, they joined us for a special small-group worship service followed by yet another meal, this time provided by Zarah and her family. The Pakistani meal featured chicken tikka, a popular dish in Pakistan, as well as rice, dal, and lamb kebabs. Zarah and her husband, as well as her sister and her husband, are medical doctors who immigrated from their South Asian homeland.

These are some of the people serving the WELS mission in Europe. Immigrants from Zambia to Colombia and from Asia to continental Europe, as well as the United States, have been connected to the mission through our churches and missions around the world. Together with native-born British citizens, the church is starting outreach to both a rapidly growing immigrant population and millions of citizens who do not know the good news about Jesus Christ.

Among Lunar New Year celebrations, one such practice included taping red paper on the sides and top of an outside door frame to keep out a monster who would kill the firstborn. The custom seemed eerily familiar to the Passover when the Israelites in Egypt painted blood of a lamb on their doorposts and lintels so that the angel of the Lord would pass over their homes and spare their firstborn sons. Possibly, Christians from Persia brought the Old Testament story to East Asia many centuries ago. Even in other countries, some stories and practices seem to echo God’s Word, like this particular Lunar New Year tradition.

Very few people in England, as well as other parts of the world, know what the Bible teaches. The goal of the Europe One Team is to continue to teach God’s Word, in it’s truth and purity, to every nation, tribe, people and language.

Written by Paul and Carol Hartman, long-term volunteers in London, England

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Latin America Mission – Winter 2024 Quarterly Update

During the last months of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, our Lord of the Harvest continued to bless the work of the One Latin America Team and Academia Cristo. The team focused on the transition from using a mobile app to WhatsApp for its first tier of study. New groups were started in the United States and Latin America. Steps were taken to further reshape Grupo Sembrador en la Ruta Cristo, Academia Cristo’s church planting program and materials. A podcast on a Christ-centered life was implemented. The instruction function took steps to ensure the Academia Cristo curriculum is aligned around the team’s church planting goals. Missionaries continued to make visits to key students, leaders, and groups.

A Few Quick Stats:

  • 2.2 million average weekly social media reach (user looks at the material for over 3 seconds)
  • 2,767 finished the four self-study courses either through the mobile app or WhatsApp
  • 764 completed one Discipulado Uno course
  • 95 completed Discipulado Uno
  • 35 completed Discipulado Dos
  • 32 Grupos Sembrador

A snapshot of blessings during the past quarter:

1. Self-study through WhatsApp
Learning from TELL and taking MLP’s recommendation, Academia Cristo transitioned from the use of a mobile app to WhatsApp for its self-study courses. By delivering the four self-study courses through WhatsApp instead of a mobile app, Academia Cristo was able to reach more people for less money. At the end of January 2023, there were over 9,500 people in the self-study workflow (taking one of the four self-study courses). Approximately 50 people are finishing the self-study courses each week. Upon completion of the four self-study courses, students are invited to enroll in live courses with Academia Cristo professors.

For more information on the switch from the mobile app to WhatsApp, please reference this video available in Spanish.

2. New Grupos Sembrador
Three new groups became Grupos Sembrador. Grupos Sembrador are led by an Academia Cristo student. They meet weekly, have studied Los cuatro conceptos (a course on sin, grace, faith, and works), and have studied at least three lessons of Aprendan de mí (a course similar to a Bible Information Course). These groups are in Deltona, Fla., United States; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Lima, Peru.

3. Ministry Certification
Elise Gross completed her ministry certification, and her call was made permanent. Luis Herrera took a course towards his ministry certification.

4. Meeting with 1LA, BWM, BHM, CICR, WLS, PSI, and COP
A meeting was held with representatives from the One Latin America team, the Board for World Missions (BWM), the Board for Home Missions (BHM), the Commission on Inter-Church Relations (CICR), Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI), and the Conference of Presidents (COP) on Oct. 25, 2023, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. The group discussed a paper written by Professor emeritus Paul Wendland on mission and ministry in Latin America. The One Latin America Team visionary and leader, Andrew Johnston, wrote a follow-up paper on the missiology of Academia Cristo.

5. Grupo Sembarador en la Ruta Cristo
Plans to overhaul the Grupo Sembrador en la Ruta Cristo program continued. A temporary plan for providing sermons to groups was developed and an outline for a Bible study program was drafted. This program will include Bible history lessons, doctrine lessons, and practical lessons. Plans are in place to write these lessons during the next quarter.

6. El Sembrador de Hoy es el Consejero de Mañana
The team began preliminary work on creating a plan for today’s group gatherer to become tomorrow’s mission counselor. This is in anticipation of exponential growth of students and church planters in the Academia Cristo program.




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Taste of Missions school challenge and poster contest

The 2024 Taste of Missions School Challenge is now open! This year brings two different opportunities for students of all ages to learn about WELS mission work:

School challenge for grades K-8

All Lutheran grade schools are invited to participate in our annual Taste of Missions School Challenge! Visit tasteofmissions.com/schools to view Missions-themed activities that grade school teachers can use to help students in their classroom learn about WELS Home and World Missions and get involved with WELS Missions’ annual Taste of Missions event. Two classes (one from grades K-4 and one from grades 5-8) will be randomly selected to win a Taste of Missions party for their classroom, tickets to the event, and additional surprises. Get involved and submit the form on the Taste of Missions website by Fri., April 12, for your chance to win.

High school poster contest

Calling all WELS and ELS high school artists! Encourage high school students to participate in the first ever Taste of Missions high school poster contest. Students can express their creativity and learn about WELS mission work by crafting an 11” x 17” masterpiece capturing the heart of WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions. An overall winner will receive a $250 Amazon gift card, Taste of Missions swag bag, and their artwork will be displayed at the Taste of Missions event on June 15, 2024, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. All other submissions will be eligible to be voted Fan Favorite by attendees at Taste of Missions for another chance to win.

The deadline for students to submit their poster is Fri., April 26, 2024. Digital or mailed/dropped off submissions are accepted. Find official rules and specifications as well as submission information at tasteofmissions.com/postercontest.

 

 




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Save the date! Taste of Missions 2024

Taste of Missions is back, and we couldn’t be more excited! Last year nearly 500 WELS members gathered in Mequon, Wis., to send off nine new home and world missionaries to spread the gospel in the far corners of the world. Even more celebrated with us online. It was a remarkable day, filled with engaging conversations with home and world missionary families, insightful Q&A panels, ethnic eats, and uplifting worship alongside brothers and sisters from across the globe. See what it was all about by exploring our Flickr album.

We want YOU to come join the fun again at this year’s Taste of Missions on Sat., June 15, 2024. Bring your family to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., to send off new missionaries in our special commissioning service, enjoy delicious offerings from food trucks, and connect with some of your synod’s current missionaries. Can’t make it in person? Virtual attendees can watch all the events via livestream, view exclusive video updates from missionaries, and even try their hand at cooking up some ethnic recipes from our website.

Mark your calendars—registration opens on March 11! While you’re waiting, visit tasteofmissions.com for some additional event details and catch up on any videos you may have missed from last year’s gathering.

We can’t wait to see you there!

P.S. The fourth annual Taste of Missions School Challenge and NEW poster contest for WELS/ELS high school students will open on February 19! View photos and activities from last year’s challenge and keep an eye out for future announcements at tasteofmissions.com/schools.

 




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Mission Journeys opportunities in London

The new world mission field in London has partnered with WELS Mission Journeys to establish a volunteer program in London. Through volunteering, you have the exciting opportunity to experience life and share the gospel in a global city rich with history and culture. London is filled with people from numerous nationalities and backgrounds, many of whom are in desperate need of hearing the gospel message. You will learn about new cultures, meet people from all over the world, and share the truth of God’s Word with those who are lost.

Short-term opportunities
We are looking for groups of eight to ten people to come volunteer for eight to ten days in London. Your time will be spent attending two Sunday church services at our WELS church, volunteering at various charities throughout the week, and exploring the city. You have the humble opportunity to serve your neighbor and let your light shine by helping others. You will also be a positive representation of what our Lutheran church teaches. When you’re not volunteering, enjoy spending time in London! Go to a pub, eat fish and chips, watch the changing of the guard, drink tea, and soak in the beauty of a city that has been around for almost two thousand years. You will leave London with a greater appreciation for the world we live in, the millions of people God has created, and a renewed fire to share the gospel with others.

Long-term opportunities
If you are interested in taking some time off of school, work, or you have time to spare, consider serving as a long-term volunteer in London. In this role, you will spend up to six months working one-on-one with the missionaries, serving at local charities, and growing in your understanding of a new place and culture. You will be able to encourage others in their faith as well as grow in your own faith. Spending extended time in a foreign country is a valuable experience that will leave a lasting impact on your heart and mind.

Interested in either opportunity? Contact WELS Mission Journeys for more information at [email protected] or call Mr. Shannon Bohme, Mission Journeys coordinator, at 651-324-4218.




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Impact of TELL teaching

Where will my mission field be? As I sit in class in my last year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, sometimes my thoughts drift toward the end of the year. A place. Faces waiting. People who need to hear about Jesus. But for now, waiting.

Or at least that’s how I thought I would feel.

As my wife, Grace, and I made the move back to Mequon after my vicar year, I learned that the TELL Network was looking for teachers for their live courses. I decided to sign up, thinking it might be a good way to practice teaching while I wait for parish ministry.

I underestimated the impact teaching for TELL would have on me.

Logging on for my first lesson, I was greeted by 25 names, faces, and voices. Separated by half a world, here were a couple dozen people who wanted to gather, learn, and grow in the word of God. An instant mission field. Bingo. I was excited to teach these eager students from South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and even Pakistan.

Once again, I underestimated the way this would impact me.

As we studied the stories of persecuted prophets and God’s faithfulness to the exiles, my faith was strengthened as I learned about God’s hand working through the lives of these ambassadors for Christ Jesus.

Like Isaac, a student who faced considerable danger. As we studied Daniel in the lion’s den, he boldly shared, “Even if Daniel had died, God wins. That is comfort for me.” Isaac and his classmates were committed to the study of the word in mission fields filled with danger. They live like modern Daniels, committing themselves to prayer and witnessing despite the obstacles.

Or Emmanuel, who would find a shady place under a tree to park his truck in the heat of the day. Taking a break from his commute to join live class. He is like that “tree planted by streams of water” as he thirsts for the Word of God.

Or Joseph, who recently gave me a reminder about witnessing to any mission field. As the class discussed the fears and apprehensions we have when sharing the Word of God, I reflected on failed opportunities and fears that I’ve had. I couldn’t help but think ahead, knowing that those fears will be there in the future. That’s when Joseph spoke up, sharing the verse he recalls whenever he has a witnessing opportunity: Luke 12:12, “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

I pray that this is my confidence and yours, too. That wherever the mission field might be, that God the Holy Spirit gives us the words to speak through his Holy Word.

Written by Seminarian Jacob Ungemach, senior at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. 

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Technology changes but the gospel message remains

486 million people speak Spanish. Could it be possible to reach all of them with an invitation to hear the gospel?

Technology allows us to do just that. From the jungle of Ecuador to the bustling city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, we can reach almost anyone right where they are with a simple click of a button.

Academia Cristo reached over a million people through an app that brought many blessings. Currently ten missionaries in Latin America travel to guide and encourage over 30 church plants. Missionaries and church planters teach Bible instruction courses almost every day of the week to hundreds of people eager to learn more about God’s Word.

The app was great, but we have now found an even better way to reach 486 million people.

Technology is all about ease of use. The platforms we use must be easy and user friendly. In Latin America and many other places around the world, the way to talk with people is through something called WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a messenger service that is completely free and easy to use. 92 percent of Spanish speaking people already use WhatsApp so why not build our Academia Cristo app on WhatsApp?

Six months ago, our team ensured that the entire Academia Cristo app was re-built for WhatsApp. Now, anyone can simply send a message to Academia Cristo and with a simple click get started studying the Word of God with us. Through an automated messenger system, anyone throughout the world can complete the four self-study courses. There is no need to download an app, just send us a message and complete 40 lessons to start a live class.

Working through WhatsApp is changing Academia Cristo in a good way. The previous application would have an average of 12 new live students every week. With our new messenger system, we expect 50 new live students every week. The quality of student is the same and the chances of finding more people who want to bring the gospel to their community increases exponentially.

Technology changes but the gospel message remains the same. Reaching four million people every week through social media and with an expectation of filling online live classrooms with 60 new students every week, Academia Cristo seeks to reach millions and to start churches throughout Latin America beginning with a simple messenger system that almost everyone already has.

May God bless this new way of reaching more people starving to hear the gospel.

Written by Mr. Jon Gross, Multi-Language Productions Producer for the Latin America Mission Team

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Teach with TELL

TELL Network’s exponential growth has resulted in an immediate need for male instructors to teach TELL classes in English. What is TELL Network? TELL Network is an online leader training program of Multi-Language Productions, providing an in-depth Bible study curriculum in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Tagalog to students in places where WELS does not have a presence. Learn more about the program at wels.net/tell.

TELL offers a unique chance to connect with believers around the world and support them as they begin sharing the gospel with their community.

What to Expect

  1. TWO 1-hour Zoom classes per week for 4 weeks.
  2. 2 weeks to review Final Projects.
  3. WhatsApp communication with students (sending class materials, sharing Zoom recordings, answering questions).
  4. An honorarium of $300 per course taught.

Course materials, including slides and teacher guides, are already made for you!

Requirements

  1. A male called worker in fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod OR a current Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Student in their Middler or Senior year.
  2. Strong organizational and administrative skills.
  3. Above-average digital literacy (or a willingness to learn).
  4. A WhatsApp account (free and easy to set up).
  5. A passion and excitement for training future church leaders around the globe!

If you or someone you know might be interested in this opportunity, learn more and apply at teach.tellnetwork.org.




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CAMM January 2024 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

As I write this letter, it is late December and it’s amazing how it feels just like yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of 2023. Now that we are just a few days away from ending 2023, there is so much to be grateful for—especially the gift of life that the Lord has granted us throughout the year.

Here in Malawi, December always comes with heavy rains. It’s the time when all the farmers plant their fields knowing that the rainy season has arrived. However, this December was different because a lot of districts had not received any rain until mid-month. This brought so many worries to farmers as they had no hope on when the rains would start. But because our Lord is good, by December 20, Lilongwe and other districts received heavy rains. People were happy and ready to work in their fields.

Despite being happy about the rains, during this rainy season the clinic faced challenges in so many ways. December 20 was a clinic day at Suzi, and because it had rained heavily we had difficulty traveling to the clinic site. The road was bumpy and very muddy making it hard for driving. Despite all these difficulties, we still made it to the clinic as our land cruisers are good, even on bad roads.

Upon reaching the clinic, we found a large crowd of people—men, women, and children—sheltering under the roof of the clinic and some under the trees as it was still raining. The people were happy seeing us as they thought we wouldn’t make it due to the bad road. When our staff were setting up the clinic, our clinicians had already started seeing the patients that were triaged by the village staff before we arrived. These people were very sick and the complaint that presented the most was malaria.

Malaria is a condition that worsens during the rainy season and is one of the leading causes of death in Malawi. From the month of October on, our clinic started registering an increase in malaria cases that worsened in November and December. Not only has this malaria affected children under five, but it is also affecting adults. As a clinic, we are always prepared for this as we carry enough malaria testing kits and medication for uncomplicated malaria. Not only that, but we also carry with us medication for complicated malaria, which we give to patients before we refer them to hospitals for continued management. As always, our staff, who are hardworking and team players, did an outstanding job in dealing with the large number of patients we saw that day. When a staff member sees that a colleague needs help, they can be relied on to jump in and assist without being told to do so. We thank God for this and may he continue blessing all of the staff.

Written by Violet Chikwatu, nurse in charge at the Central Africa Medical Mission Lutheran Mobile clinic in Malawi. 

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A picture is worth a thousand words

Originally appears in the One Africa Team blog. Subscribe to future updates from Africa at oneafricateam.com.

A picture is worth a thousand words – in any language. Members of the Obadiah Lutheran Synod (OLS) in Uganda speak English, Luganda, Lusoga, and many other Bantu dialects. It is a challenge to communicate Scriptural truths across linguistic and educational barriers. It’s even more challenging to explain abstract concepts like justification, redemption, and Christ’s humiliation and exaltation to students in confirmation class. But a well drawn picture can tie timeless truth to a tangible target.

Rev. Dr. Terry Schultz is an experienced WELS missionary who creates print and music materials for WELS Multi-Language Productions. Schultz supports WELS mission work around the globe. OLS President Maksimu Musa requested One Africa Team’s assistance in training Sunday school teachers. One Africa Team turned to Schultz, who has graphically portrayed the Apostles’ Creed with full color illustrations. He and Missionary John Roebke engaged 35 Sunday school teachers and OLS pastors with the task of translating these illustrations into lessons.

The pictures

The 1531 edition of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism contained 23 pictures printed from woodcut images. Like these images, Schultz’s drawings help a teacher tell a simple story to explain a complex teaching. A courtroom scene depicts a young man standing before a judge with his accuser to one side and his attorney at the other. The next scene shows him standing before God, flanked by Satan and Jesus.

Another picture unfolds the drama of a kidnapping and payment of ransom. The next scene represents the divine story of Christ’s redemption – not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood. A comic book panel of pictures illustrates each of the stages of Christ’s humiliation.

A composite illustration presents the stages of his exaltation. Schultz carefully crafted each picture to maximize understanding and teaching. A teacher’s manual with minimal text supplements each picture, bearing in mind the target audience’s literacy level. WELS Multi-Language Productions has produced three booklets to date – one for each of the three articles of the Apostles’ Creed. Schultz is finalizing the illustrations for the Sacrament of Baptism, with the other chief parts of the Catechism to follow.

The teachers

Attendees began each day of the workshop with animated singing and dancing. In addition to performing local melodies, the group learned a few African American spirituals from Schultz. OLS pastors delivered inspiring devotional messages in English. Schultz infused his own energy into the workshop as he introduced each picture to the participants.

After this, the Sunday school teachers broke into smaller groups of three to five people. In each group, an OLS pastor walked through the concepts behind the picture. Thirty minutes later, each small group took turns teaching the lesson to the larger audience. Some teachers appeared more confident than others, but by the week’s end all of them had made significant improvement.

Next steps

Unfortunately, time did not allow for Schultz to present all 45 teaching posters the group. The teaching posters and manuals remain with the OLS in Uganda. We encouraged the pastors to work through these materials with their Sunday school teachers. The pastors have a much better grasp on both Lutheran teachings and local culture.

Regardless if Schultz returns to Uganda, the OLS now has a powerful instrument for instructing youth and adults. Can you picture their faces gathered around Jesus’ throne some day?

Please pray for those working in fields that are ripe for harvest. Share their story, engage with future news, and receive updates. Learn more about our mission fields in Africa and how the Holy Spirit is working faith in people’s hearts.

Written by Rev. John Roebke, world missionary on the One Africa Team.

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Where city and country and college meet!

As you enter town, you cannot help but notice the sign welcoming its guests, “Morgan – where city and country meet.”

It does not say anything on the sign about college. There is no university there. There is no community college there. But what is there, is a congregation that cares about college students! As some of their families were out in the harvest fields surrounding this community of under 1,000, they did not lose sight of their Lord’s harvest field. Zion Lutheran Church held a mission festival. Specifically, they were thinking of those harvest fields on college campuses. The area of focus that they wanted to both explore and support was our WELS Campus Ministry.

As they made plans for this special weekend, the Women’s Guild got together and talked about ways they could specifically support campus ministry. In those conversations they wanted to support both the work of our synod and the work right before their eyes there at Zion Lutheran Church. They included these young adults and the ministries that point them to Christ in their prayers. They supported our synod with a special gift for WELS ministry. And they decided to assemble care packages to greet their own members in college when they came home for Thanksgiving. What a welcome! What a way to encourage young adults to stay faithful to their Savior! What a way to assist our ministries to college students as they also look to point those on those mission fields to their Savior! Zion Lutheran Church, where city, country, and college meet!

Pastor Andrew Schmidt from Zion stated “The congregation has done well this year with intentionally trying to stay connected to our members off working on undergraduate degrees at different colleges. And what has been the best part of this blessing for the Zion family is that the handful of college students who are members are remaining connected! I have received calls from students asking that when they are back home, even though it may not be a communion Sunday, if they could come in and receive private communion. During the current semester, a student has sent a text stating they were worshiping with us that morning online from a dorm room. Because of this connection, two of our college students came back to read for the annual Advent by Candlelight event. How awesome is that?”

Zion Lutheran Church is not alone. We thank God for the many partnerships in the gospel that we have across our church body. These special mission festivals are opportunities to learn about, explore, and reach out to many harvest fields that the Lord puts before. College campuses are one of these fields. What they did at Zion Lutheran Church is what our WELS Campus Ministry under our WELS Board for Home Missions encourages. We ask that you keep this demographic in your prayers. If you are in a town or city with a college or university campus, include them in your outreach and evangelism plans. With your own college students, welcome them home, ask them about ways that you can stay in contact with them, and make sure that they/you have shared their names and contact information with our synod so that contact pastors and congregations can reach out to them while they are away from home.

If you’d like to learn more about what Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod does to serve college students, please reach out at [email protected] and visit our Campus Ministry page. If you’re interested in hosting mission festival, you can request a mission festival speaker.

Written by Rev. Daniel Lindner, serving as the Campus Ministry Mission Counselor. 

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CAMM December 2023 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love toward us is strong. The Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever!” – Psalm 117:1-2

This Bible verse certainly describes the work of the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) in 2023. God’s faithful love has been strong toward both of our clinics in Zambia and Malawi. God’s blessings have reached the staff and patients in countless ways; they have been abounding! And we thank and praise him for his love and faithfulness.

CARE OF PATIENTS:
In 2023, we saw over 70,000 patients. The patients came for physical healing or preventative care, and we were able to provide treatment, medications, testing, and health education. At the beginning of 2023 we were challenged with the thought that cholera would continue to spread and possibly create a pandemic. Thankfully, this was not the case and it quickly receded. HIV rates have chronically been high in the past several years. By God’s grace, while testing at our clinic sites has been increasing, the number of positive HIV tests has been decreasing. Staff continues to educate and test visitors at the clinics. At the Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre in Zambia, the clinic continues to be recognized by the Zambian government for exemplary care.

CLINIC LOCATIONS:
By the blessing of God, all our clinic sites were remodeled and have been in full use in 2023. The improvements in lighting, privacy, and safety not only help patient care but also give staff a safer and more enjoyable place to work. During the COVID epidemic, CAMM placed hand sanitizing stations at each of the clinics and grass fencing at the Malawi clinic sites. These remain in place for the patients and staff to use because they are good practices to promote hygiene at the clinics. In Zambia, we were blessed with generous donations this year so that we could install permanent metal fencing around our clinic. The fencing was needed to keep livestock and goats out of the clinic buildings. It has now been successfully installed, is effective in banning the livestock from the clinic buildings, and the grass around the clinic has started to grow back.

STAFF:
We are grateful for the staff that CAMM has been able to employ. From the guards and drivers to the nurses, clinicians, laboratory technicians, and midwives, everyone is critical to the work that CAMM is doing. We have 14 employees in Zambia and 17 employees in Malawi. We also have church and government volunteers who help us every day. We are thankful for the care they give to patients, and for treating patients in a Christian manner—with respect and dignity in support of the mission of CAMM to provide “Christ-Centered Healthcare Supporting Gospel Ministry.”

EXPANSION:
In 2023, we were given the green light to explore expansion opportunities for clinic care. The expansion could include new sites within the countries of Malawi and Zambia or in an entirely new country. There are many factors to consider when looking at a site for expansion. One of the most critical is to have the support of a Lutheran church body in fellowship with the WELS at the site. With the aid of WELS Board of Missions, WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and the Lutheran Church of Kenya, we are making plans to hold a five-day short-term clinic in Kenya in February of 2024. What an amazing opportunity to be able to heal the physical needs of the Kenyan people, while also filling their souls with spiritual guidance!

GRATITUDE:
It would not be possible for the Central Africa Medical Mission to carry out our work for over 60 years without our faithful and generous supporters:

• Your interest in staying informed with presentations, requests for promotional materials, and e-mails keeps the mission of CAMM present in your congregations, schools, social circles, and church groups.
• The continued monetary support all of you promote by sharing information about the needs of CAMM.
• The boxes of medical supplies and clothes you carefully gather, package, and ship to Zambia and Malawi.
• God hears your many prayers for the continued success of CAMM, the continued care of our patients and staff, the safety of the countries we are located in, and prayers for the expansion into Kenya in 2024. May God continue to bless CAMM every day!

While reflecting on the past year, we are reminded that God’s faithfulness does last forever! Let us all worship and praise him for our many blessings!

Written by Angela Sievert, Central Africa Medical Mission Chair.

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This feels like a Hallmark movie!

Do you open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Do you love the neatness of the artificial tree or would it be unthinkable to not have the sap and scent of a real tree in your house? Is the highlight of Christmas dinner Mom’s special ham or is it grilled salmon, beef brisket, or even Grandmother’s tamales? Families have different traditions when it comes to celebrating Christmas. But the best traditions are the ones you make.

If participation makes memories, then Christmas on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation this year was a success.

On Wednesdays in December, the members of Peridot and Grace Lutheran Churches gathered to prepare for Christmas. After worshiping together by spending time in the Word and singing Christmas carols, the evening transitioned to a beautiful, organized chaos. Confirmation students worked hand-in-hand with the Women in Christ and church council members to clean and make each sanctuary sparkle. Then, out came the Christmas decorations. The tree was assembled and each member of the family decorated from oldest to youngest. Adults took the tops of the trees while the littlest hands and smallest people decorated the bottoms. Teens climbed ladders to hang banners on the walls. The garland was wrapped, the nativity scenes were placed, and the lights and candles were tested and twinkling. In the background a quartet of musicians played Christmas music on piano, guitar, flute, and mellophone. (Yes, there is such an instrument and it is as delightful as the name suggests!). A steady stream of Christmas cookies and hot chocolate provided ample opportunities for rest, laughter, and fellowship.

Peridot Lutheran Church

As some church members took it all in near the end of one evening, the remark was heard, “This feels like a Hallmark movie.” Another replied, “Yes, but better because this is real.”

The true value of the Christmas traditions was revealed in subsequent weeks as more than three dozen adults and children joined together to tell full churches the magnificent true story of God coming from heaven to earth to save us. The ancient story was proudly passed on from parent to child and grandparent to grandchild.

These are the traditions that matter because this is the story that matters. These are the memories that we want to imprint on the minds and hearts of each new generation because we want them to last into eternity. An event so momentous and beautiful deserves that.

Written by Rev. Daniel Rautenberg, field coordinator for the Native American Mission. 

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“Pastor, you get seven minutes!”

It is our largest and most time intensive outreach event of the year. It involves over 60 participants and volunteers, months of preparation, with practices on Sunday afternoons often going past 5 p.m. All leading up to Hope Lutheran Church’s annual free Christmas concerts for the community.

Why Christmas concerts?

Honestly, to me, Hope seems unusually blessed with musical talent in voice and instruments. Standing out among the instruments is Hope’s steel pan orchestra, which has been a part of Hope’s worship from the start and reflects the Caribbean roots of many members.

Years back Hope was searching for a church building to call its own. A building became available in an area of the city that typifies Toronto’s population, which encompasses over 50 percent first generation immigrants from all over the world. This diversity is reflected in languages, foods, customs, and religious beliefs.

Hope was searching- searching for different ways to reach out to our new and present community. A mission counselor visited and simply said, “Make use of your strengths. Share your strengths. You love music. Share your music.” From that encouragement, Hope has used music for outreach. In the summer, Hope plans a music camp for children, and in December, Hope offers free Christmas concerts for the community. Many non-Christians see the outward signs of Christmas and are interested in learning more. And who doesn’t love free?

This is where, “Pastor, you get seven minutes” comes in. The concert is planned out in detail and to the minute. Every year I am reminded that I get seven minutes for a devotion. If this is our biggest outreach event of the year why only seven minutes?! Is it because I am the least musically gifted of all people? Perhaps.

Or as a church leader said to me when I first came and got my first seven minutes, “People are coming for a concert, but we want our community to know you, see you, hear you. Tell everyone the message of Christmas – and please do it in seven minutes.”

And so I plan and prepare a message for those seven minutes for so many who are searching but don’t really know the Christ of Christmas. Then I sit down and realize once again that it’s more than seven minutes. From the start of the concert to the finish; in words, songs, and the re-enactment of Luke 2, the message of Christmas is shared – and shared in a beautiful way. From parking lot guides and greeters welcoming, to refreshments and fellowship afterward, Christian love is shown and invitations are given, “Christmas Eve is coming, won’t you join us?”

Written by Rev. Mark Henrich, home missionary at Hope Lutheran Church in Toronto, Ont. 

To view Hope Lutheran Church’s full concert by visiting the Hope Toronto Youtube channel.

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Merry Christmas from WELS Missions

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Aren’t star-filled skies overwhelmingly beautiful? What about that incredibly special star above Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus? Every December, millions of people look up to the skies and recall the account of the birth of the Christ child. In Matthew 2:10 we read, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with overwhelming joy.” And just like the Magi of old, we, along with Christians around the world, rejoice to think of God’s greatest gift to mankind, Jesus Christ. What joy this gift brings to our sin-sick world!

Thank YOU for your prayers and special gifts for Home, World, and Joint Missions. WELS Missions has created a year in review video of the many blessings made possible by your generous support. God tells us to share his message of salvation with every nation, tribe, people, and language. There is always someone new who has not yet heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

As we celebrate this Christmas season and share gifts, love, and joy with our family and friends, we are reminded that Jesus Christ, our perfect substitute, humbled himself, was born as a man, and lived among us. He lived a perfect life, then ultimately died on the cross for all believers. Let’s pray for God’s continued blessings as we share this joy-filled message to the lost in the U.S. and around the world.

Together with you, we rejoice with overwhelming joy. Merry Christmas to all!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

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Faces of Faith – Angel and Maribel

Hispanic ministry in Deltona, Fla., seems like a natural fit. Over 40% of the population speaks Spanish at home. But, how does a WELS congregation in Deltona without any Spanish speaking leaders get started? Well, as is always the case, what human eyes couldn’t see, God had already figured out.

In 2017, Angel Otero and his wife, Maribel, moved to Deltona. Angel was born and grew up in Puerto Rico and like many U.S. citizens there he joined the U.S. military. After serving, he was able to retire at 55 and settled in near Good Shepherd , a WELS church in the Deltona area, where they became members.

That was not all that the Lord had planned for Angel and Maribel. The Good Shepherd School reflected the community. Over 40% of the children in the school came from Hispanic homes. The church leadership and Angel began to explore how they might find a way to share the good news. They were introduced to our WELS Latin American mission efforts and the use of a Spanish training program called Academia Cristo. This program has been designed to train up interested Bible students using online materials. It had been designed to train people where there were no other Lutherans around. Of course, Academia Cristo was never intended to just be an online platform. The program has a focus on training and providing materials in such a way that those who have studied can begin to share what they have learned with others near them. It did not take long for the leadership in Deltona to realize that it would also work at Good Shepherd where there were no trained Hispanics to carry out ministry. Angel enrolled in Academia Cristo. He couldn’t get enough. The more he studied the more he wanted to share with others. Now, Good Shepherd in Deltona has a Spanish speaking outreach leader. Angel and Maribel are very active in reaching out to the school families and the community. Angel leads weekly Bible studies in Spanish at the church using the Academia Cristo program.

And, that’s not all. Angel was still connected to his family back in Puerto Rico. He heard that WELS World Missions was working with a church that had been planted there. The next time Angel visited Puerto Rico he made contact with the local church. The church in Puerto Rico had pastors who had been trained by WELS missionaries, but there was a growing concern that new candidates for pastoral ministry on the island were not being identified. Angel knew that the Academia Cristo program could serve them well in Puerto Rico as well. This connection has also been blessed. Recently the church in Deltona hosted a Puerto Rican pig roast and invited members from the church in Puerto Rico to attend. Thirteen members bought plane tickets and joined them for a delightful weekend of food, fellowship, and planning for the future. All reported a delightful time full of hope for the future. There are now four Academia Cristo students beginning studies in Puerto Rico.

It still may not be clear to our human eyes exactly what the Lord has planned for his saints in Deltona and Puerto Rico before they get to heaven. Even so, what we can see is a reason to rejoice. Economic distress in Puerto Rico, made worse by recent hurricanes, has led many from Puerto Rico to move to Florida. This Puerto Rican diaspora is well networked and keeps the family ties strong to the island and around the US. As the gospel is proclaimed in their midst, we know God has promised to go to work. Please, join us to ask our Lord to bless the work of his gospel through Angel and Maribel. May he raise up the next generation of Puerto Rican gospel proclaimers to build his church.

If you are interested in learning more about how Academia Cristo can help you in your community share the good news in Spanish, please, contact WELS Missions at [email protected].

Written by Rev. Larry Schlomer, Hispanic diaspora ministry facilitator and WELS World Missions administrator.

Hear more from Angel and Maribel about how you could reach out to Hispanics in your community in this special Faces of Faith video.

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Isolation and gathering together

If there were 100 Thai people in a room, how many would be a Christian?

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

How would it feel to be the only Christian in a room with 99 unbelievers?

Let’s change the question.

If there were 100 Thai Christians in the room, how many would be Lutheran?

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

How would it feel to be the only Lutheran in a room with 99 other Christians?

If you answered “isolated,” you would be correct. Often, Lutherans end up feeling especially isolated in their communities. On one hand, they are different from the 99% of unbelievers around them. On the other hand, in the small Christian group, they are different from the 99% of other Christians. They don’t preach in a non-Lutheran worship service. They don’t commune with Christians in other churches. Due to fellowship problems, they will not participate with other Christians in evangelism or church activities. They are isolated.

Yet, they aren’t. Lutheran members gather regularly for church and fellowship. The pastors meet twice a year for conferences. During the conferences, they grow together, encourage each other, update each other, and preach the gospel to each other. They remind each other that they are not alone in their struggles.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds his readers to think about each other. He reminds them to stir each other up to love and do good works. Meetings face to face give Christians the time and place to spur each other on as well as encourage each other.

The leaders in Thailand take these reminders to heart. They encourage each other. They encourage each other with God’s promises: God no longer remembers their sins (Hebrews 10:17-18), God’s Word is powerful and active (4:12), and God is with them (13:5). They especially remind each other that God is with them in their lives and ministry, always (Matthew 28:20) even if they feel isolated. God is with them, even when they are the only Lutheran in a room with 100 other people.

Please keep the Lutherans in Thailand in your prayers, especially their leaders. Pray that they continue to encourage each other with God’s promises. Pray that they continue to stir each other into acts of love. Pray that they continue to gather—and all the more as they see the day of Jesus’s return approaching.

Written by WELS World Missionary to Thailand..

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Faces of Faith – Zag

“John 3:16 says that God loves me, but I did not see or understand it until I started my training. . . Now it is the most precious and special verse to me. God has revealed to me, ‘my love is here’.”

Meet Zag Yaj, a church leader in the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam who is in the second group of 60 students studying to be a pastor. Hear how this training has been “the most rewarding experience in his life” in this special Faces of Faith video.

Learn more about theological training and mission work with the Hmong in Vietnam at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

Faces of Faith – Num

“Before, I worked hard to earn grace, but I now know grace is free. God sent his son to die for us.”

Meet Num Ntxawg Yaj, a Hmong regional church leader in Vietnam who’s benefiting from WELS’ rural training program. He also began his pastoral studies in July 2023 as a member of the third cohort of students. Hear how this training has revealed the truth that sets him free in this special Faces of Faith video.

Learn more about theological training and mission work with the Hmong in Vietnam at wels.net/vietnam.

CAMM November 2023 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

The Zambian government through the Ministry of Health and its partners is working hard to provide the necessary commodities to end HIV/AIDS by 2030. In Zambia, there are more than 1,190,000 people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART). As of October 2023, the Mwembezhi Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre services about 892 clients currently on ART, making it the second highest in Shibuyunji Health District.

The facility also offers other services to help eradicate HIV by intensifying identification of new positives, prevention of mother to child transmission, provision of pre-exposure/post-exposure prophylaxis, cervical cancer screening, voluntary male circumcision, viral load monitoring, condom distribution, adult/pediatric nutritional assessment for people living with HIV, and tracking of late clients.

Even though the facility receives support from the Ministry of Health and other implementing partners in the eradication of HIV and AIDS, adult nutrition programs is one area that has not received much funding or support. As the Mwembezhi area is rural and has a high poverty/illiteracy rate, it has been bit of a challenge to implement adult nutrition programs for people living with HIV.

Currently the facility has over 100 clients on HIV treatment with body mass index less than 18, which is below normal rate for an adult. This is mainly related to the non-availability of a nutritious balanced diet in their homes because of they do have the money to purchase adequate food. There is also a lack of understanding regarding the importance of having a balanced diet. Weight, height, and age play a very big role in certain ARV prescriptions and recording such high malnutrition cases hinders and slows boosting of immunity.

After the facility recorded such high numbers of adult malnutrition in many people living with HIV, a staff meeting was held to discuss on how best we can help our clients and some of the interventions than can be put in place before end of December 2023. These measures include:

  1. Continuously give informed information education and communication to not only people living with HIV, but also to the community at large.
  2. Lobby for more height boards and scales to be used during outreach programs so that all client’s height and weight will be assessed regularly to enable early detection of new cases.
  3. To order high energy proteins, an instant porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy growth
  4. Enforce responsibility in keeping appointments so that monitoring of our clients will be easy and all needs are met on time.
  5. Revamping of the support group for people living with HIV at the facility

As the Zambian government continues adopting tolerated regimens and other models of care with established benefits, our clinic in Zambia,as a health facility and as community health care workers, will continue to put in the effort to meet our patients’ expectations by providing cost effective solutions to help maintain our client’s good health and nutritional status.

Written by Mr. Jackson Kalekwa, Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) clinic officer in charge at the Mwembezhi Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre in Mwembezhi, Zambia

 




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Latin America Mission – Fall 2023 Update

As of October 2023, Academia Cristo has two million followers on social media. The social media platforms used by Academia Cristo include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Through these platforms, Academia Cristo manages over 30 million engagements every month. Over a million people have downloaded the Academia Cristo mobile app that launched in February 2020. 2,400 people have completed the self-led courses offered in the mobile app or through WhatsApp since March 2020 and are signed up for live courses. 696 people have completed one live course since March 2020 with a WELS missionary or national partner. 85 students in the Academia Cristo program have gone through a doctrinal agreement process designed for leaders and church planters. There are 29 groups that Academia Cristo leaders have taken through at least seven lessons of a two-year program of worship and study. One congregation formed through the program has joined Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional and several others will soon be reaching the criteria required to apply for membership.

A snapshot of blessings from August through October 2023:

  1. An alternative to the mobile app was identified and tested.
    • Through a platform called respond.io, those interested in studying with Academia Cristo are guided in WhatsApp through the same four self-study courses that have been offered in the app.
    • This alternative, self-study through WhatsApp, produced more students with less spending on advertising. It also offered several other positive features, such as the opportunity to engage with students while they are in the self-study process and collect their contact information.
    • Because of the success of the app alternative, it was decided at the 2023 annual meeting to use this alternative instead of the app.
    • Going forward, the “Self-Study Level” through WhatsApp will be the way for students to move from social media to participating in live courses.
  2. A music summit was held in Quito, Ecuador, with representatives from the Latin America mission team and Multi-Language Productions (MLP). Plans were adopted to produce more hymns and liturgical music for use by church planting groups.
  3. The instruction function of the Latin America team focused on incorporating course and lesson objectives into the Academia Cristo curriculum.
  4. An admissions coordinator was hired to help enhance the student onboarding experience.
  5. A program was started to identify and recruit volunteers and match them with needs within Academia Cristo and church planting groups.
  6. Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional held their first convention in Moca, Dominican Republic.
  7. The Latin America seminary program (Seminario Cristo) is wrapping up year two of test courses and has plans in place for 2024. Artemio Garcia from Mexico is currently teaching Old Testament Isagogics.
  8. Plans are set for Rev. Larry Schlomer to lead the Diaspora Ministry Program, continuing the foundation that was laid by Rev. Carl Leyrer through Hispanic Outreach Project in the United States.

 

 




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Port of calling

“Port is where the heart is.” If you’re stitching a saying onto a pillow or a quilt for a sailor, maybe you can use that one. Port is important: It’s where a sailor reconnects with land and with all the comforts to be found there—if only for a short time, until the ship is ready to sail again.

L to R: Stefan Felgenhauer, Dan Witte, Joel Hoff, Dan Kroll, Keegan Dowling

I was once a sailor on the M/V James R. Barker, a thousand-foot-long freighter ship hauling coal and taconite pellets back and forth across the Great Lakes of North America. Did you know that we have a system of Great Lakes here in Africa, too? My favorite port-of-call was Duluth, Minn. I enjoyed the beautiful book and music shops, as well as Erbert & Gerbert sub sandwiches. However, I had been hoping for more. I had hoped to find a WELS pastor who could visit me and give me communion. But there was a vacancy, a situation far too familiar to many of us in today’s WELS, some 20 years later.

The Port of Douala is one of the greatest port cities on the continent of Africa. In fact, it is the largest city in the country of Cameroon. When it comes to WELS mission work in West Africa, the Port of Douala actually functions like a spiritual port. When several of us missionaries met with pastors in September, only one of them was from Douala. All the rest of us were “ships,” so to speak, coming to Douala simply for the purpose of meeting around the gospel of Jesus Christ! Douala—for WELS mission work—is nothing more and nothing less than a “port of calling.”

Missionaries Dan Witte and Dan Kroll were studying and meeting with pastors from three West African synods: Christ the King and All Saints of Nigeria and the Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC). Because of the multi-dimensional security threats present in the region, for the moment WELS missionaries are not able to travel to Nigeria or to Cameroon, apart from just one city in Cameroon: Douala. Because we couldn’t meet them where they were, our brothers came to meet us in port. Missionary Joel Hoff flew in from Zambia, to give a presentation about the very successful TELL online outreach program, which pastors can use both to teach their congregations and to discover new prospects in their own country. Director of Missions Operations Stefan Felgenhauer also flew in from Wisconsin.

Missionary Keegan with Pastor Israel, professor at the seminary of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon

I, Missionary Keegan Dowling, also ended up in Douala, our port of gospel calling. I met with yet a different church body: Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod. They hail from a distant part of Cameroon, where there is a violent and dangerous conflict. Yet, a group of leaders trekked down to Douala, so that we could study the Bible together and talk about Holy Trinity’s mission plans. Holy Trinity is not yet in fellowship with WELS, but this is their desire. So, my job is to work with Holy Trinity along a pathway of studies and discussions that the One Africa Team uses to bring church bodies into fellowship.

An interesting thing about Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod is that many of the leaders and members speak French! In fact, they are our first French-speaking partner church body (although God is blessing our efforts in other parts of francophone Africa, too—stay tuned for future blog posts!) When we “drop anchor” in our “port of calling” we read the Bible together in French. We discuss the issues in French. And outside of class, walking around the Port of Douala, guess what? Missionaries like Pastor Kroll and I get to practice a lot of real-life French! Each trip adds to our capabilities. It further increases our ability to call: to call our fellow sinners to our common Savior throughout French-speaking Africa. This is why the Port of Douala is our “port of calling.” And, God willing, it will be joined by more ports of calling, too.

Written by Rev. Keegan Dowling, world missionary on the One Africa Team, based in Lusaka, Zambia. 

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Medical camp in Kenya planned for February 2024

Originally appears in the Central Africa Medical Mission October 2023 Newsletter. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

The work of the One Africa Team has been blessed as they continue to build relationships with various Lutheran synods throughout Africa. One of those is the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) in Kenya. The synod is led by Pastor Mark Onunda. Pastor Onunda and several other pastors left the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and began the task of building the LCMC from scratch. LCMC is now in fellowship with WELS and has congregations scattered throughout the country. Pastor Onunda spends much of his time on the road, (Kenya is about the size of Texas) encouraging and training leaders and bringing God’s Word to the congregations. We pray God gives him the strength to keep up this monumental effort.

In Zambia and Malawi, our clinics have demonstrated God’s love for all people by looking after their physical and spiritual needs. In fact, part of WELS’ early success in Zambia in the 1960s was due to the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) clinic in Mwembezhi. To help grow the church in Kenya, Pastor Onunda has proposed something similar: a medical camp. The members of thee CAMM stateside committee have prayerfully considered expanding their work to help in Kenya based on several investigative visits by Gary Evans and One Africa Team Missionary John Roebke.

Short term medical camps, which last about a week, are common in Kenya and are used by church organizations to bring people to church properties where they are given physical and spiritual care. A camp might expect to see 3,000 to 4,000 patients over a four- or five-day period. The local government health care agencies support these camps as they are a means of health screening to populations who might otherwise have no access to health care.

CAMM is partnering with the One Africa Team, Christian Aid and Relief, and the LCMC-Kenya to conduct a medical camp in late February 2024. The camp will be held on the grounds of St. Paul’s Church, Kwiangachi, Kirinyaga County, which is located about a 3-hour drive northeast of Nairobi. The church has land, but no buildings, making the camp quite a logistical exercise. Two large 100-seat tents will be provided for shelter and privacy; one will be used as a reception/triage/devotion area and one as a pharmacy. Smaller tents will be used as individual consulting rooms on nutrition, cancer screenings, outpatient services, dental work, eye treatments, and mental health. We will provide the medications and medical supplies. We will also rent port-a-potties and provide a tank for drinking water. Medical staff and some medical equipment will be provided by the government. Transport and accommodation will be provided for staff and volunteers.

The LCMC-Kenya is engaged in much of the ongoing planning and coordination. They will also provide volunteers for security, administration, and making lunch time meals. Pastors from the LCMC-Kenya will hold ongoing devotions and provide pastoral services during each day of the camp. Patients who need follow-up and referral will be directed to go to local health agencies. We have met with Kirinyago County Health Officials who have approved the camp and will provide 25 medical staff, medical equipment, and an ambulance in case of emergencies.

CAMM has agreed to manage the clinic on behalf of the One Africa Team. The camp provides an opportunity for U.S.-based medical and non-medical volunteers to provide assistance. As this is the first of what could be many medical camps, CAMM stateside committee members will be the first set of volunteers to attend the camp. If this camp is successful, we hope to offer similar camps in the future, which will open volunteer opportunities to more WELS members.

Please pray for the success of this camp as it provides an opportunity for healing; and, most importantly, sharing God’s Word with so many people.

Written by Mr. Gary Evans, Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) field director.

 




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What’s the deal with the name?

On Aug. 2 of this year, following a rousing address to convention delegates by Rev. Tonny Quintero of Medellin, Colombia, the hundreds of delegates assembled in the Michigan Lutheran Seminary gymnasium to officially recognize fellowship between WELS and Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional.

I had the privilege of attending the convention with Rev. Quintero (being by his side for what some have called the most energetic 20 minutes in synod convention memory) and was able to hear the warm response both from the convention as a whole and from countless individuals who approached the Colombian visitor with a warmth that transcended the language barrier. One question, though, that did come up multiple times was something to the effect of, “So what’s the deal with the name?” And, “Why wouldn’t the word “Lutheran” appear in the name of a Lutheran church body?”

It’s a fair question. First of all, it is not because the church body is ashamed of its “Lutheran-ness.” Quite the contrary. When I meet with the founders of this synod, the words “luterano confesional” constantly find their way into conversation and the first article of the synod’s constitution proudly proclaims, “El nombre de este Sínodo Luterano Confesional es: Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional.” – The name of this confessional Lutheran Synod is . . .

The founders of this synod chose the name it did not because they have a low regard for being Lutheran, but rather because they have such a high regard for the Lutheran-ness they have received. They love that WELS had such a love for the truth that they brought them a Lutheran-ness that was not degraded by compromising what the Bible says, but that stands on scripture alone. They love that WELS had such a love for the lost that they offered their treasures and talents to send missionaries south to share the precious truths of grace alone and faith alone with them. So, these church leaders brought to faith and to Lutheranism by “us” adopted the name “WELS” in a hope to also emulate the confessional stance and mission zeal of their sister synod to the north.

Additionally, there is one other parallel worth mentioning. The WELS was founded by a tiny group of church leaders who met in equally tiny Granville, Wis., many years ago. When the synod met at convention this past August, there were hundreds of delegates present who represented hundreds of thousands of WELS members from across the country.

The month after I was with Rev. Tonny Quintero in that packed gym in Saginaw, Mich., the two of us traveled to the first annual convention of the Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional in the rural outskirts of Moca, Dominican Republic. The convention there had just 12 attendees. Although the gathering was small, they look forward to the possibility of welcoming many more into their fellowship. As they made their plans Isaiah 55:10-11 came up many times. That group, now so small, made bold plans built on the confidence that the Word will not return empty; plans made with the prayer that their small synod will soon swell with churches formed through the training provided by Academia Cristo.

Written by Rev. Andrew Johnston, world missionary on the Latin America mission team, in Doral, Fla.

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Athens of America

My wife and I were walking in the Boston Logan Airport after returning from a trip and on the wall there was a timeline of many Boston and greater-Boston area inventions. There was a picture of the first disposable blade razor put out by Gillette, a picture of the first microwave oven, a picture of Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm room inventing Facebook, and those are just a few of many others. Why do you think the city of Boston chose that exhibit to go on the wall of their airport? I wasn’t sitting in on the meetings that decided it, but I would guess it is because Boston is proud of their many inventions. They want you to know, before you have even stepped out of the airport, that Boston is a city of great minds, inventions, and innovation.

What does this have to do with starting a church in Boston? That’s a good question. I think there are several facts about our mission that do make it innovative or different than other settings. For one, WELS has never had a church in Boston. Secondly, seventy-five percent of the people who gathered in our house for Bible study last week don’t own a car. Finally, my wife and I live in the most densely populated city in all New England. Maybe that makes this mission start “innovative.” But the more I thought about it, and the more time you’d spend here, you’d realize that we really aren’t that innovative.

What does your normal day look like? This question is asked all the time, and for good reason; people want to know what it is like starting a mission church in a big city. Again, in so many ways, it isn’t all that inventive. My wife and I find different ways to get involved in the community and meet people, we spend time with people over food, and we grow with them in our love for our community and Savior. We study the Word, we pray for each other, and the Holy Spirit continually uses that Word to work faith in people’s hearts one by one. Do we have to be innovative with how we meet people? Sure. Will we have to be innovative with finding space to have worship when we are ready for that? Probably! But our tools for doing church planting are the same tools that have always been used for church planting – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure the first word you would use to describe our small mission church at this time is innovative or inventive. Yes, we have creative people and come up with new ways to reach the community, but our foundation is rooted in the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17). Thanks be to God for this opportunity to share the gospel to the many people of Boston! All involved on starting the church in Boston ask for your continued prayers as we continue to love God and love our neighbor in this great city.

Written by Rev. Joshua Koelpin, home missionary at the new start mission in Boston, Mass.

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