THE CROWN JEWEL OF WORLD MISSIONS
Adam M. Goede
“I like to call Multi-Language Publications the crown jewel of World Missions and also one of the best kept secrets,” says Phil Koelpin, former chairman of the Board for World Missions.
Multi-Language Publications (MLP) produces confessional Christian literature and other mass media in different languages for the purpose of mission work. Its history goes back to 1975 when the synod began producing Spanish materials for work in Latin America. MLP was started in 1996 with the vision of working in many languages worldwide.
God’s hand has been evident in the expansion of MLP’s efforts. In 2002, two countries hostile to Christianity, reached out to WELS for help within months of each other. Working with these contacts, MLP distributed biblical literature that has reached thousands of people. “We virtually established fields without ever having personnel there,” says Koelpin. “That was pretty significant, especially at a time with declining resources.”
Other steps forward have included utilizing the popularity of the Internet in Latin America to offer resources, training, and worship through a website called Academia Cristo and calling regional coordinators for Spanish and Asian publications, which provides the benefit of working more closely with target audiences.
Currently MLP has 700 publications in 47 different languages. It has printed more than 2.9 million items. Its goal is to reach 100 million people with the gospel in the next ten years.
Future efforts will expand on what has worked well, like providing more digital materials through the successful Academia Cristo model. Nathan Seiltz, MLP director, says, “It is great to see how much success it has had. We want to duplicate the idea in other cultures.”
“Overall, this is an economical way to do missions because there is no missionary on the ground there,” he says. “It also encourages the nationals to take ownership in the mission and figure out how to spread the gospel where they are.” He hopes that online connections lead to relationships with potential workers.
National workers are also helping MLP develop a new frontier in their publications—worship materials. “Church planting is what triggered the idea,” says Seiltz. “Worship resources are part of the gathering of the group around the Word and sacraments.” MLP’s focus is developing music and hymns for different people groups. “It’s going to match their culture a lot better,” says Seiltz. “They can have something that appeals to them, applies to them.”
Koelpin summarizes how God has richly blessed MLP: “The Lord has just kept opening doors and blessed everything we have done, so the work keeps multiplying.” He just hopes that WELS can keep up with God’s pace. “My biggest concern is that we need more resources if we’re going to get done all the challenges that God has put before us. We’re only limited by our resources.”
Adam Goede, supervisor for the Ministry of Christian Giving, is a member at St. John, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.
Discover the confessional Lutheran resources available from WELS Multi-Language Publications.
Author: Adam M. Goede
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016
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