On Wednesday morning, WELS Christian Aid and Relief Director Rev. Daniel Sims reported about work carried out over the past year, which is supported fully by the generous offerings of God’s people. Sims emphasized that Christian Aid and Relief strives to imitate and reflect Christ’s compassion, carefully assess needs and opportunities, personalize relief efforts, and, above all, seize every opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Volunteers are utilized whenever possible to carry out its mission.
After showing a video to introduce delegates to Christian Aid and Relief, Sims spoke about three main areas of this compassion ministry: disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and personal grants.
In the area of disaster relief, $774,766 was utilized during fiscal year 2020-2021 to support areas like Midland, Mich., which was devastated by a flood caused by the failure of two dams. Working with Holy Scripture, an Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregation in Midland, Christian Aid and Relief coordinated volunteer efforts and equipment to help clean up the affected areas in addition to offering financial assistance.
During the pandemic, Christian Aid and Relief also provided over $400,000 in pandemic relief grants (to date) to congregations to enable them to support their communities. Light of the Valleys, Reno, Nev., was a recipient of one of the grants. Their pastor, Joel Heckendorf, is grateful for the opportunities it gave his congregation to share the love of Jesus with their community. He is also grateful to his brothers and sisters in Christ who made the grant possible: “I can’t say thank you enough to the individuals, to the congregations, to the organizations that make programs like this available.”
In fiscal year 2020-2021, Christian Aid and Relief approved $515,789 for humanitarian aid projects in WELS mission fields throughout the United States and worldwide. Projects are developed by WELS home and world missionaries, who continually look for opportunities to serve people in their communities with ongoing basic needs. Sims said, “These acts of compassion provide for people’s basic needs, build trust and goodwill with local missionaries, and lead to many opportunities to share the gospel.”
The humanitarian aid granted through WELS Christian Aid and Relief takes many forms, including providing smokeless stoves to safely heat homes in Asia, medical clinics, assistance for legal immigrants, vocational training, and backpacks and school supplies for underprivileged kids.
In fiscal year 2020-2021, Christian Aid and Relief also awarded $275,098 in personal grants to members and prospects of WELS congregations experiencing a great need, like a medical emergency or a financial crisis. “It might be an elderly couple in need of a new roof, or a child who needs expensive surgery that his parents simply can’t afford,” Sims reported. “In such cases, we partner with the local congregation to raise the necessary funds and meet the need.”
Sims touched on some upcoming initiatives, like the creation of a devotion book entitled An Ever-Present Help in Trouble. The audience of the book is twofold: people who have been through a disaster and people who don’t know much about Jesus. “We hope to give these books away to those we are serving in a disaster to encourage them with God’s truth and connect them both to their Savior and the local congregation,” said Sims.
Sims concluded his report by talking about future goals: “One of our major goals for the next few years is to expand our disaster relief efforts by establishing district disaster relief teams across WELS. It is our dream to have a curated library of disaster training materials and a well-trained corps of leaders and volunteers who are prepared to provide relief in every disaster situation. Our Disaster Relief Task Force will begin meeting this fall to begin this work in earnest.”
Learn more about the work of WELS Christian Aid and Relief at wels.net/relief.