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Apache mission

More than 1,200 people attended the Apache 125th anniversary celebration at Peridot Lutheran Church and School in Peridot, Ariz., on Oct. 26–28. The event commemorated the beginning of WELS World Missions sharing God’s Word on the Apache reservations of Arizona. In the months before the celebration, many mission teams volunteered on the reservations to help repair and clean the facilities and to share the gospel with the Apache. Pictured are Rebekah Patterson, who helped with vacation Bible school during the summer, and one of her students from Whiteriver, Ariz. For more photos and information from the anniversary event, visit wels.net/apache.

 

Did you know?

WELS Missions launched a new program known as Mission Journeys in 2018. The program coordinates short-term trips for WELS congregations and their members to help home mission churches, world mission fields, and existing congregations with outreach events. In 2018, teams traveled to Ecuador, East Asia, the Apache mission, Mozambique, and Paraguay. Want to get involved in WELS Mission Journeys? Learn more at wels.net/missionjourneys or by contacting missionjourneys@wels.net.

Vietnam

The Vietnamese government has invited WELS to build a theological training facility in its capital city of Hanoi, an unprecedented opportunity for our synod. WELS is currently the only Protestant church with official government permission to work with the more than two million Hmong living in Vietnam and surrounding countries. Hmong Christians in Vietnam are grateful for the message of free grace from Jesus that WELS has been sharing with them since 2012.

One Hmong pastor in Vietnam, Wasa Lau, says, “Many members would come and ask me to share the Word of God with them, but I didn’t know how to do it. Since receiving training [from WELS], I have grown in my confidence in what I believe and in sharing God’s Word. . . . The Hmong Fellowship Church currently has more than 300 congregations, but we still lack many things—especially training for all of the leaders of these congregations. That is what we are looking for now—for generation after generation to grow in the proper understanding of Scripture. That is what WELS can do for us.”

To learn more about Wasa Lau and his journey of faith, read the full article from the December 2018 issue of Forward in Christ at wels.net/pastor-lau. For information about how WELS has been serving Hmong Christians in Vietnam, visit wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

Malawi, Africa

Pastor Wisick Jeffrey (pictured with his wife) of Malawi is a member of the Yao tribe, a people group of two million people, which is predominantly Muslim due to historic contact with Arab slave traders. While he was growing up, Jeffrey became friends with children who attended Sunday school at a local Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA)—Malawi congregation. He accepted their invitation to go to Sunday school with them. Over time, the Holy Spirit worked through the gospel message Jeffrey heard in class and he began confirmation instruction. At about the same time, his mother began to pressure him into memorizing passages from the Koran. On the day of his confirmation, Jeffrey told his family his intentions to convert to Christianity. His family then refused to help pay for his schooling.

Eventually Jeffrey continued his education in the town of Zomba, where Deverson Ntambo, the first Malawian pastor of the LCCA—Malawi, was serving. Ntambo is also from the Yao tribe, and he gave Jeffrey the encouragement and Christian guidance that was missing in his life. Ntambo encouraged Jeffrey to consider studying for the ministry and began taking him through the LCCA’s pre-worker training courses. Jeffrey was ordained in 2008 and currently is serving at Kanyepa Lutheran Church, the oldest LCCA congregation in Malawi.

Intown Lutheran, Atlanta, Ga.

Rev. Lucas Bitter had the joy of performing Intown Lutheran’s first baptism for his daughter, Gabrielle Marie, in August (pictured, above). Bitter reports that soon after, he baptized a one-year-old whose mom, Melissa, was an atheist when she stopped at Intown’s booth at a fall festival in 2017. Out of curiosity, Melissa signed up for Intown’s free Bible Basics class.

“Through 12 lessons of instruction in a local coffee shop,” says Bitter, “the Holy Spirit changed Melissa’s heart and brought her to faith. She has now become one of our most active members, regularly attending church with her whole family and helping out in a variety of ways.”

“Bible Basics was a great way for me to get reacquainted with God,” notes Melissa. “It had been awhile for me, and Pastor Lucas was always open to answer questions and didn’t judge me. I now feel so much closer to God and welcomed back into the fold.”

“After starting out last fall with a core group of 21 souls,” says Bitter, “it looks like we will end 2018 with more than 40 souls in our church—and more scheduled to take Bible Basics in the new year. We are so thankful to be located in this densely populated, mostly unchurched mission field, where there are so many opportunities to connect people with their Savior.”

Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wis.

WELS assists more than 550 campus ministries across the United States and Canada. The mission of WELS Campus Ministry is to help WELS college students grow in their faith so that they can reach out to other college students with the gospel. Campus Ministry also supports full- and part-time campus pastors, and provides assistance for WELS congregations as they reach out to college students in their area. Rev. Jon Bilitz, full-time campus pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wis., shares this story:

“A student arrived at the chapel, seeking answers about God’s Word. Through several contacts with the Word, the seed of gospel truth was planted and watered, and God made it grow. In late October, Manaporn ‘Mint’ Phaosricharoen was baptized—but not in our chapel. She requested the opportunity to be immersed, because that picture of washing away sins was important to her. So we braved the wind and chilly temperatures and entered the brisk waters of Lake Mendota for Mint to receive the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (pictured).

Redeemer, Edna/Victoria, Texas

Redeemer, Edna, Texas, began worshiping at its second site in Victoria in December 2017. The congregation flooded Victoria with fliers, billboards, and doorhangers with little response from the community.

In January, Magdalena and her high-school-aged granddaughter, Nikandra, (both pictured) attended worship at Redeemer, Victoria. Rev. Aaron Glaeske, pastor at Redeemer, followed up by taking a welcome gift to their home. As Glaeske sat at their table and visited, he addressed Magdalena’s spiritual concerns and questions. Then he asked Magdalena how she had found out about Redeemer. She pulled out Redeemer’s Christmas invitation that offered “Peace for the broken” from her Bible and said, “I saw this and knew I needed peace. So I came.”

Magdalena and Nikandra then studied with Glaeske nearly every week in their home and seldom missed worship or Sunday Bible study. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, Nikandra was baptized and both women were confirmed.

Nikandra used the opportunity of her baptism and confirmation to invite a friend and her mother to worship. Glaeske reports that these women have also started attending worship and are considering Redeemer’s Bible 101 course as well.

 

Did you know?

WELS Church Extension Fund supported Home Missions with a $1 million grant in September 2018, which led to funding for three new home missions being approved.