The Asia One Team comprises 17 missionaries serving 16 different countries throughout Asia. The team, largely based in Thailand and Hong Kong, partner with God’s people in Asia to equip, encourage, and empower others to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to 1.8 billion unreached souls throughout Asia. The team is made up of missionaries and a stateside administrative committee appointed by the Board for World Missions to help facilitate this work in Asia.

Support mission work in Asia. Your gift will support theological education, church planting, new outreach initiatives, and other general mission expenses. Select any of the Asia special projects funds (for a more general gift) or a specific country you’d like to support from the drop-down menu.

Meet the Team

Missionary Tony Barthels accepted the call to permanently serve on the East Asia mission team in 2021. He will continue to teach classes both in the classroom in Hong Kong and online to students in East Asia, and he is heading up recruitment for Asia Lutheran Seminary. Solid theological training institutions and well-trained church leaders are in great need, so Asia Lutheran Seminary has been given an incredible opportunity to build up the kingdom.

Before moving to Hong Kong, Missionary Barthels spent 10 years in East Asia where he served as a lay missionary and team leader. He concentrated on building gospel-centered relationships, which often resulted in being able to hold in-home Bible studies. Most of the time this, where we would share the gospel to a room of people who knew nothing of it before walking into that room.

Missionary Barthels is originally from Green Bay, Wis., where his parents and youngest sister live. He has three brothers and three sisters, seven nephews, and eight nieces.

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Missionary Tom Chaleunsouk was born in a small village outside of Vientiane, Laos, where he also met his wife Kaysone. He worked security at the American Air Base. Fearing for his life after the regime change, he left his family and home in 1980 and crossed the Mekong River to Thailand where he was detained in a refugee camp. Months later, Kaysone and two of their children escaped Laos and joined him in the refugee camp. She had to leave their eldest son behind with her father; he was 5 years old. It would be 3 years before Missionary Chaleunsouk and Kaysone would see their son again. They were introduced to Christ in the refugee camp by a Christian aid worker.

In 1981, Missionary Chaleunsouk and his family were brought to Pease, Minnesota, where their family was sponsored by the Christian Reformed Church. The community and church helped to locate and bring their eldest son and Kaysone’s father to the United States. They were baptized, and that is when Missionary Chaleunsouk became interested in becoming a pastor to share Christianity with his people.

In 1998, Tom began studying part-time through the WELS Pastoral Studies Institute. By 2000, he became a full-time student and graduated in 2005. After graduating, Tom was called to serve as a missionary in the Nong Khai province of Thailand. Since 2005, he has offered pastoral instruction to interested students.

Kaysone and Tom have three grown children and one grandson. Their two sons and their families reside in Minnesota and their daughter and her family live in Southern California.

Missionary Matthew Doebler graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1997 and was assigned to serve at St. Peter, Collins, Wis. In 2001, Matthew and his wife Christine moved to Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to serve at St. Paul. In 2006, they moved down to Round Rock, Tex., to help start Christ the Rock Lutheran Church, where Matt served until 2014. From Texas, the Doeblers moved to Hong Kong where Matt served as a professor at Asia Lutheran Seminary. Their three teenage children—Madeline, Samuel, and Caleb began expat life as high schoolers. After two and a half years in Hong Kong, the family moved “up north,” all except Samuel who returned to the U.S. to attend Wisconsin Lutheran College. In 2019, the Doeblers again relocated, this time to Chiang Mai, Thailand, as empty nesters. Their daughter Madeline lives in China with her two-year-old son Oliver, and Caleb will graduate from Wisconsin Lutheran College in May 2022.

Matt serves as team leader for the East Asia team, a professor for Asia Lutheran Seminary, and oversees the East Asia team mentoring program. Christine volunteers for Thai Village, a non-profit committed to employing low-income people, supporting Christian education, and sharing God’s love in community.

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Missionary Peter Janke serves on the East Asia mission team. He currently serves the team by writing curriculum and teaching classes online to equip and train church leaders and pastors.

This is Missionary Janke’s first call since being assigned from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2016. He completed his vicar year at Holy Word in Austin, Tex., under Rev. Don Patterson.

Missionary Janke is married to Alanna nee Habben. Alanna studies Thai and helps with social media for Thai Village, a nonprofit that trains and employs Thai people in handicraft trade work. She is also studying marketing. They have two dogs, Mono and Dingo. Dingo hunts snakes and Mono hunts mosquitos and spiders.

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Professor Tim Matthies was called to the East Asia team in 2019 to serve as a professor at Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong. He teaches courses in the areas of Hebrew, Old Testament, and the Lutheran Confessions. He previously served as pastor at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Washington, Mich.

Professor Matthies was married to Rachel in 2013, and they have two children: Irene, born in 2016, and Zadok, born in 2019.

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Missionary Joel Nitz began serving the Hmong believers in Vietnam in May 2020. He made his first in-person visit to Vietnam in October 2021 as COVID-19 had restricted travel. In the meantime, Nitz had been taking classes to learn the Hmong language, writing courses for use in rural congregations, and teaching several classes online to Hmong church leaders. As travel opens, he will begin training in-person at the soon-to-be-built theological training facility in Hanoi.

Nitz previously served at Northland Lutheran High School in Merrill, Wis.; Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton, Wis.; and was a mission explorer and pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Olympia, Wash., from 1988-2020.

Joel Nitz married Kathryn (Hinderer) on July 15, 1990. They have five children: Iver (Mackenzie) Nitz and baby Isla in Tacoma, Wash.; Ruth (Conifer) Berg in Milwaukee, Wis.; Iraina, a bank manager in Olympia, Wash.; Faith, a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle; and Talitha, a junior at Evergreen Lutheran High School in Tacoma, Wash.

Professor Steve Witte has served as president of Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong since 2009. Apart from personal evangelism work here in Hong Kong, his mission work is done through the students he teaches and mentors. Missionary Witte previously served as a parish pastor at Emanuel in New London, Wis., from 1985 to 2001 and Beautiful Savior in Green Bay, Wis., from 2001 to 2009.

Professor Witte is married to Mary, and God has blessed them with five children and 11 grandchildren. Hannah, a Martin Luther College graduate, married to Karl Henselin who designs computer programs. She now stays home with her five children where they live in Green Bay, Wis. Charis, a Mary Kay director, is married to Rev. Stephen Kuehl. They live in Columbus, Ohio, with their three children. Seth, an aerospace engineer, is married to Katelyn, an emergency room nurse. They live in St. Paul, Minn., with their three children. Lydia, a lawyer, lives in Green Bay, Wis. Micah oversees a laboratory that works with genetic engineering and lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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Missionary Mark Zondag was assigned to serve on the Asia mission team after his graduation from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in May 2021. He completed his vicar year in College Station, Tex., at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. As the vicar, Mark preached, taught, and worked the campus ministry associated with Texas A&M University.

Currently, less than 1% of the population of Thailand is Christian. Much of Missionary Zondag’s mission work in Thailand will be standing alongside and helping the preexisting, local congregations with their mission to reach the lost in Thailand. This will include activities like training the current leaders, equipping Thai members, and looking for avenues to reach more Thai people.

Missionary Zondag and his wife Sarah have been married since March 2016. They met while teaching English at WELS’ sister church in Russia. The Lord has blessed them with two girls: Esther Irina was born on December 23, 2018; and Anastasia Carol was born on October 19, 2020.

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Asia Mission Partners

Other Mission Partners

WELS Missions also partners with sister synods and independent churches in fellowship with WELS throughout Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. This partnership and support can come in the form of financial assistance, theological training or continuing education through the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI), visits and assistance from other World Missions representatives or missionaries, as well as the sharing of outreach ideas. A church in South Korea and another Lutheran synod in India are directly connected with our partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). Visit the ELS world outreach page to learn more about that work.

Many of these mission partners are a part of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC), a worldwide fellowship of confessional Lutherans. To learn more about the CELC and these mission partners, visit


Browse through and share pictures of Asia taken by WELS missionaries and national workers.