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Hope, Texas

WELS Home Missions authorized funding for one new mission in 2019—Hope, Houston, Texas. A dedicated group of core members from other WELS churches around Houston are starting this mission in an urban neighborhood that is seeing a resurgence in popularity as people are looking to be closer to the city center. Rev. Andrew Nemmers, a 2019 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, was assigned to serve as Hope’s home missionary. Pictured are some members of Hope’s core group as well as a group from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who helped the new mission in January 2019.


Did you know?

WELS Home Missions supports 18 cross-cultural missions. Either the mission is serving a certain people group such as Hispanics, Vietnamese, or Hmong, or there is a multi-ethnic membership. Ten of those 18 are Hispanic ministries, reaching out with the gospel to the largest ministry people group in the United States.

Shepherd of the Valley, Candelas, Colo.

Shepherd of the Valley, Candelas, Colo., held its official launch service on Oct. 6, 2019. Rev. Jeremy Belter, home missionary for Shepherd of the Valley, reports: “Every seat was filled. We counted 140 people in attendance and nearly 70 first-time guests! I was also privileged to baptize three little children that day from the same family. That family is currently taking class for membership. We have contact info from 10 families for follow up and lots of positive conversations. Several people commented, ‘We’re looking for a church with a more traditional structure and solid sermon from the Bible. We want a church that is true to the Bible.’ . . . To say that God is good is an understatement. He did more than we asked or imagined as he always does. The launch team is excited to continue working as missionaries, inviting and welcoming people to hear the message of Christ crucified!”

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Qiang Wang (pictured standing reading) is a recent graduate of the Pastoral Studies Institute. “My happiest thing,” says Wang, “is to share the gospel with others.” The Conference of Presidents has called him to be a missionary to the Chinese population of Coquitlam, a growing suburb of Vancouver. City planners believe 30,000 more Chinese people will move to Coquitlam in the next decade, and the city is already underserved for Chinese churches. Wang’s outreach in Coquitlam is a mission partnership between WELS Joint Missions; WELS Canada; and Saviour of the Nations, Vancouver.

Mission Journeys

WELS Mission Journeys offers WELS members the opportunity to engage in Christian service to WELS mission fields at home and abroad through church- or school-based volunteer trips. Pre-trip training led by a congregational team leader equips volunteers to have significant impact during their trip. While volunteering, the learning and sharing of outreach ideas allows teams to explore how they can use their God-given abilities to lead an outreach event upon their return home. Pictured is a teen group from St. Martin, Watertown, S.D., that volunteered to canvass and help lead a summer Bible camp for Living Hope, Chattanooga, Tenn. Interested in going on a WELS mission journey?
Visit wels.net/missionjourneys to learn more.

Christ, Denver, Colo.

His body language spoke loud and clear. Arms crossed. Slouched down. A toothpick pursed between his lips as he stared at the floor. Avoiding any sort of conversation. Refusing a bulletin. He didn’t want to be there, but his girlfriend had convinced him to join her in church that morning.

Then he came back the next week, this time looking up a couple of times during the sermon. The next week, he followed along in the bulletin. The week after that, he left the toothpick in the car. A few months later, he asked about classes where he could learn more about the Bible and ask some questions that have been on his mind.

Fast forward to mid-November 2019. His brother is on life support, making it hard to finish up his classes for church membership. He asks his other two brothers if it would be okay for him to invite the pastor to stop in at the hospital for a visit and prayer. It takes a week of convincing, but they finally give in. Their body language was speaking loud and clear. They didn’t really see the need or want this Spanish-speaking white guy in their brother’s hospital room. It seemed like they were paying more attention to their phones than to this stranger in the room. The conversation was short, and God’s Word was shared.

On the way home, I got a message: “Thanks. They’d like you to come again soon.”

“For the word of God is alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12).

Written by Rev. Paul Biedenbender, home missionary at Christ, Denver

Campus Ministry

The WELS campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point had a great turnout for its first Bible study of the 2019–20 school year. WELS Campus Ministry, a ministry of WELS Home Missions, provides resources, support, and encouragement to WELS congregations that serve college students in the United States and Canada. These congregations are vital in connecting college students with fellow Christians, strengthening their faith with the gospel message, and encouraging them to share that faith with other college students. To learn more, visit wels.net/campus-ministry.

Training disciples around the world

Academia Cristo provides online and in-person training in doctrine, sharing Bible stories, leading worship, and discipling others. Activating people to share the Word with others is an emphasis from early on. For example, a Colombian man disciples men in other parts of Colombia and Venezuela. They, in turn, lead churches and train others to lead groups in other places. Some are churches with buildings, others are groups meeting in houses. WELS’ Latin America missions team mentors those identified, trains them to be faithful to Scripture, and trusts the leaders to then disciple others. In 2019, two missionaries on the Latin America missions team began working in Paraguay with students who are excited to share the gospel with their countrymen (pictured is one such student and his family).

The world’s best preacher

WELS’ friendly counselor to South Asia shares this story: “As Hakim preaches a sermon to people sitting on the ground outside a house church, a cow stares at him intently. His friends tease this humble, faithful servant who is deeply loved and say, ‘You are the world’s best preacher. Even the cows listen to you.’ He is like a father-figure to many in the church. Hakim is also a filmmaker and has made many video vignettes of Bible stories such as the lost son in Luke 15. He is also a student in the first Pakistan Bible institute. He visits three to five house churches every week to teach what he learns in the Bible institute.”

New missionaries commissioned

On July 13, 2019, three new world missionaries were commissioned at the first Taste of Missions event sponsored by WELS Missions. Pictured from left are Rev. Daniel Witte, missionary to Africa; Rev. Abram Degner, missionary to Paraguay; and Rev. Bounkeo Lor, who serves as coordinator of Hmong Asia Ministry and is training the leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam. More than 400 WELS members gathered at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., for Taste of Missions, which gave WELS members an opportunity to hear firsthand from WELS home and world missionaries, sample food from around the world, visit mission displays, and participate in a worship service during which these new world missionaries were commissioned. WELS Missions is planning the next Taste of Missions for July 11, 2020, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Visit wels.net/tasteofmissions2020 for details.

Vietnam

In 2018, God’s grace opened the door to an unprecedented mission opportunity for our synod. The communist Vietnamese government invited WELS to build a theological education facility in the capital city of Hanoi to train leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church. In December 2018, WELS World Missions embarked on a synodwide campaign with the goal of receiving $2 million to pay for the land, building construction, and first two years of operating expenses. WELS members quickly responded with their prayers and financial gifts. In December 2019, that goal was met. Our Lord blessed this opportunity and moved his people to contribute or commit offerings totaling more than $2 million, which will allow WELS to provide seminary-level education for 350 pastors and catechism training for an additional 2,500 leaders. Countless others may be blessed by this training in the future.

“This is just the beginning,” notes Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of the Board for World Missions. “There are more than 120,000 members of the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam and 2 million Hmong people throughout Southeast Asia. Imagine what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through the 2,800-plus pastors and leaders who will be equipped to share the truth of God’s grace with their Hmong brothers and sisters.”

Continue to follow along on this journey at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.


Discovering True Peace

“I want to say thank you to WELS because you have given me peace,” says Pastor Chaplai, a Hmong pastor in Vietnam. “I did not have peace until I learned the gospel in these classes. All of us here are learning so many things. We take the things we learn here and teach them to our people. The printed materials, translated into our language, are very useful to us. All of us are baptized now, including our babies. We have peace and joy from the true teaching of God’s Word.”