2011: Zang Lou from the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) come across an online sermon by Rev. Bounkeo Lor, a Hmong pastor at Grace Hmong Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Encouraged by Lor’s message and deeply impressed with the clear proclamation of law and gospel, Lou invites Lor to train 60 leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in Hanoi, Vietnam. The HFC has 55,000 church members.
2012: Lor makes the first of his training trips to Hanoi.
2014: The HFC leaders draft a letter to WELS leadership asking for additional training.
2015: WELS Missions begins full financial support of the Hmong outreach effort in Vietnam.
2016: The Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) visits Vietnam for the first time to aid in Lor’s training efforts. The HFC grows to 70,000 members.
2017: Lor is called to be full-time Hmong Asia ministry coordinator in March. In August, leaders from the Hmong Fellowship Church and Vietnamese Fellowship Church travel to the United States to learn about WELS operations. WELS welcomes them to the Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, WI, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, WI. The Vietnamese government invites WELS to build a theological training facility in Hanoi.
2018: Representatives from WELS Multi-Language Productions visit Vietnam to evaluate the types of materials needed by the HFC. WELS Missions representatives visit Vietnam for the first time to meet with HFC leadership and assess what is needed for the training facility. The HFC reports that their church body has grown to more than 100,000 members.
2019: In April, WELS President Mark Schroeder, World Missions Administrator Rev. Larry Schlomer, and Director of Missions Operations Mr. Sean Young signed a memorandum of understanding along with Vietnamese Fellowship Church (VFC) representatives confirming we can move forward with all land purchase, construction, and training plans. In June, land is purchased and cleared for the theological education facility in Hanoi. In December, the $2 million in special gifts campaign goal is reached to fund the land purchases, construction, and two years of operating expenses.
2020: A training visit is made in January. In February, Rev. Joel Nitz accepts the call to serve as Hmong Asian Missionary. The COVID-19 pandemic halts all travel in and out of Vietnam in March. Regular online training with 57 HFC leaders begins in November 2020.
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