WELS Joint Missions supports mission opportunities that are the responsibility of Home Missions, World Missions, and Ministerial Education. Much of this work centers around people-group ministries, where immigrants who have joined our fellowship in the United States and Canada are able to take the gospel back to friends and family in their country of origin.
Taste of Missions
Pictured above: Many of WELS’ newest home and world missionaries attended Taste of Missions 2023. This family-friendly event aimed at giving WELS members a “taste of missions” is being held again on June 15, 2024, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., and online. Learn more at tasteofmissions.com.
Connecting people to the gospel
“I would use the illustration of a switchboard operator from the early days of telephone communication to explain the work of a diaspora ministry facilitator,” says Neil Birkholz, WELS’ Asian ministry consultant and diaspora ministry facilitator for East Asia.
Birkholz further explains, “If someone from Korea is looking to connect their son with a WELS church in the United States, I help connect them with the local WELS church where their son will be living. If a member of my WELS church in California is returning to their home country of Thailand, I help connect them with our WELS World Mission One Team in Thailand so this member can continue to worship with other confessional Lutherans while living in Thailand.”
Diaspora ministry—or people-group ministry—involves both World Missions and Home Missions. Each World Missions One Team (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Native American) has at least one diaspora ministry facilitator, which is a role that a pastor takes on in addition to his full-time call.
Learn more at wels.net/jointmissions, including how to contact diaspora ministry facilitators to connect people groups.
One campus, three languages
In August 2023, King of Kings, Garden Grove, Calif., ordained and installed its second and third pastors in a trilingual worship service. The three languages woven throughout the service reflected the congregation’s three distinct ministries: English, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Trung Lê (right), a recent graduate of the Pastoral Studies Institute, is leading the Vietnamese ministry, which is funded by the WELS Joint Mission Council. Grant Hagen (middle), a 2023 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, is leading the Hispanic ministry. Lê and Hagen serve alongside Brian Doebler (left), lead pastor at King of Kings.
When King of Kings was established in 1962, the community surrounding it looked—and sounded—very different than it does today. The population in Garden Grove was largely English-speaking Anglo. Today, about 40 percent of Garden Grove is Hispanic and 40 percent is Vietnamese. King of Kings’ members knew that to reach their neighbors with the gospel they would have to embrace the changes around them and adapt their ministry.
“Our prayer is to have a thriving gospel ministry in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese and a congregation that [works] together to share the gospel,” says Doebler. “We want a campus that reflects the diversity of our community, like in Revelation 7—a glimpse of what we can anticipate in heaven.”