New graduates to new missionaries

Meet Missionary William Dunn
It has now been just over six months since receiving my assignment to the bilingual Spanish mission congregation, La Iglesia Luterana San Pedro in Milwaukee, and yet it feels like yesterday. I remember hearing the assignment “San Pedro Lutheran Church,” and thinking “Spanish ministry, oh boy, in the past four years I’ve only had one semester of Spanish at the seminary and two weeks of work in Mexico…how is this going to work out?” But as it turned out, the mission at San Pedro was a bilingual Spanish mission with a bilingual worship service. Then I learned that St. Peter was not only bilingual, but actually trilingual, with services in Spanish, English, and Karen. Several times a year we even have a service that incorporates all three, such as our Trilingual Thanksgiving service! The longer I have been at St. Peter getting to know the congregation, the more I am excited to be here and to serve here. Learning about all of the different cultures and backgrounds has been both humbling and energizing. We are multicultural and intercultural. We have so many outreach opportunities in our immediate community as well as through our elementary school, Christ-St. Peter. And as it turns out, all the Spanish classes at MLC come back quickly (though there is still work to be done).

It has now been just over six months since graduation and assignment day and yet it also feels like the distant past. There have been so many changes. We moved from Grafton to Milwaukee. Baby number three was added in October. The ministry at San Pedro is continually growing and full of potential. I have been overwhelmed by the loving reception I have received as I continue to visit our families in order to get to know them better and begin developing a vision for the future. God has truly blessed this church and we are blessed to be a part of it!

Meet Missionary Matthew Rothe
Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, Va., to start a new mission I was quickly astonished by two glaring facts. First, there are many existing churches here. Second, there are tons of people who live here. After meeting many people from the community, I discovered another saddening piece of data. The math doesn’t add up. Despite the great number of churches, many people don’t go to church. Solution: Fredericksburg indeed needs a new church devoted to making new disciples by sharing the old, old story of Jesus and His love!

In this ripe harvest field I am blessed to serve alongside a core group of 14 families who comprise The Way Church’s launch team. Together we meet bi-monthly to study God’s Word, develop the culture of The Way Church, and share the vision and values that will lead us forward. Our launch team also “breaks the huddle” going out into the community to canvass and serve.

The Way Church is launching September 10, 2017. We are in the pre-launch phase, which means we are not holding weekly worship services… yet. During this phase I am able to focus on exploring our community and doing outreach in it. This has not come without challenges.

Pastorally, I have been stretched by going outside my comfort zone to witness to people not like me, finding myself in leadership settings where I’ve previously had little experience, and simply learning how to start a church. Personally, however, I have been humbled by seeing Our Helper give me His Words to speak and giving me understanding to act according to His Will.

I praise God who, throughout this experience, has strengthened my faith in Him and love for Him. I am also thankful for my training at WLS, MLC, and LPS that taught me the necessary skills for being a missionary and, additionally, nurtured in me a mission mindset eager to share the gospel.

Meet Missionary GunnaLedermann 
When did you first hear the words, “Jesus loves you?” Maybe it was your mom or dad who passed on their faith by sharing the Word of God with you and having you baptized as a baby. Maybe you were a little older and a teacher shared the message of Jesus, while teaching the wonders of creation. Or maybe a pastor came to your door, met you at a festival or at the gym and told you about Jesus’ love. This is our mission in Rockwall, Tex., and your message in your neighborhood. In March of 2016, a group from Divine Peace Lutheran Church in Garland, Tex., began mission work in Rockwall. On December 4, we had a grand opening inviting the community to come and hear the message of Jesus. We thank God for your prayers and gracious gifts in support of our mission. God richly bless you with joy as you share Jesus’ love and with peace as you trust in Jesus’ promise of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.

“We are working with Dave Malnes of Praise and Proclaim on an outreach campaign to canvass some of the newer neighborhoods of Rockwall. We had pairs who will go door to door in December to invite the community to a BBQ dinner,, followed by worship. My wife, Marinda, has been working as the project manager organizing the volunteers for dinners, canvassing, t-shirt designs, etc. As a new graduate, working with Praise and Proclaim has been a great benefit. We are the 11th project Dave has worked on and his approach gives everyone a sense of calm during the whole process. Our project has also been blessed by the efforts of Alli Pappathopoulos from TwelveTwoCreative. Her company has been working with WELS churches on their outreach strategies, canvassing materials and communication with the local community. Alli worked with us to create a new website, logo, all the mailers for the Praise and Proclaim campaign and so much more. God has richly blessed this campaign with so many willing and skilled workers, we look forward to going out into the harvest fields.”

Meet Missionary Ryan Kolander
On July 31, I was ordained and installed as the second pastor at Palabra de Vida in Detroit, Mich. My dad preached, and nineteen brothers in ministry laid their hands on my head as they gave me words of strength and encouragement from the Word. Some even recited their verse in Spanish (with a little rehearsing, of course). It was a day I will remember for a long time.

After a three-day orientation with Mission Counselor Tim Flunker, I spread my young ministry wings and fluttered out of the nest! My associate, Pastor Ismael Sialer, has been very helpful in introducing me to people in the community and congregation alike. We even performed a quinceañera celebration, in which we read and preached God’s Word to around 100 guests who had never been in our church before! In these first few months of ministry, I’ve been able to drive and walk around our diverse neighborhood, begin to instruct a few people who are new to the faith, start and lead a children’s “Growing with Jesus” class, preach a number of sermons in both Spanish and English, run a clothing drive, assist with our food drives, meet with several church families, prospects, and community leaders alike, and even dabble in building a website. Please pray for our congregation, that the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen our faith through the Word so that we can share it with others who need it desperately in our community.

Meet Missionary Peter Janke
I’ve been in East Asia for around seven months now, and it’s hard to count how many ways God has blessed me in this time. Maybe I’ll tally them up for my own benefit now and so that you too can give thanks to God and pray that they may continue.

First off, the team that I work with in the field is outstanding. I am blessed to work with a team of other missionaries that are full of advice and encouragement. Their lives show how close their relationship is to Christ.

I also work in my city with a team of evangelists. Their willingness to invest their time into the lives of others is a real mark of their Christian love. They are always eager to introduce their friends to Jesus as well.

I also feel blessed to get to spend extra time studying the local language. I’m talking with friends, with taxi drivers and street cleaners, with little kids in elevators, and striking up conversations with people I’d never imagined I’d have the chance to talk to. All of this is preparing me for future work in the language.

I also consider the food to be a blessing. Maybe it’s because I love to eat food and especially spicy food, but I have come to long for Asian food more than the mashed potatoes and turkey I grew up with. My favorite kind of food is hot pot. It involves letting raw foods cook in a spicy soup in the middle of the table. I’ve spent many hours with friends eating good food and having great conversations.

The friendships I’ve made with East Asian people have been a blessing as well. A friend named Jason had started learning about Jesus through us from scratch–no knowledge of Jesus at all. Through our studies and one-on-one encouragement we witnessed the Holy Spirit working in his heart. Jason asked if I could teach him how to pray, he wanted his first prayer to God to be of thanks to Him, not asking for anything, or questioning God’s will. Every day I try to be a friend to others and I continue to pray that people around me see Jesus in me.

My relationship with God is my biggest blessing. Through personal devotion time with Him, God has equipped me to speak, has assured me of his forgiveness, and again and again has told me that I am his child. When I think about the things that I’ve given up to serve in East Asia–family, friends, comfort foods and ease of communication–God has made up for all of them and more.

Psalm 144:15: Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.