Tag Archive for: Europe

Update from Ukraine: Sept. 16, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


September. 15:

There has been a vacancy at St. John Lutheran in Lazarivka.  Lazarivka is located southwest of Ternopil.  Though in a safer area of Ukraine the economy has hit the people hard there as well.  Refugees from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Avdiyivka currently live in Lazarivka.  Pastor Serhiy Somin was able to visit this congregation, he held a worship service, and delivered food aid to them. Plans are being made to have services there once or twice a month.  Thank you, Pastor Somin for your love for these fellow believers, and your efforts to serve them with the Word and sacrament.

Izium was recently liberated from Russian control. We have heard from some of the members of the church, who thankfully are alive, but have not heard from everyone.  We pray for these believers and trust that they are in Jesus’ loving care. Izium is served by Pastor Victor Khaustov.  May God continue to bless his ministry to the people there.

September 14:

While there are reports of Ukrainian forces reclaiming territory, which is true, yet there is now increased rocket and missile strikes against key infrastructure targets.  There are now reports of water shortages, and even a complete cut off of water in a few locations.  In preparation for the cold of winter, and possible heating fuel shortages, many small stoves are being made and sold so that people can burn wood, coal, or peat for the heating of their homes and churches.  It suspected that Russia will continue to try to cut off utilities from the people with winter coming soon.

From gifts that our church gave to the ULC to buy more Bibles, over a year ago, they have now come and some were delivered to Kharkiv.

More Bibles and Catechisms will be needed in the future.  Many of these are being given out to refugees, who receive them with great joy.  Amazing how the Word of God can spread in times of adversity and war.  God’s ways are certainly not our ways.  We simply cast out the seed, God will give the growth.

September 6:

An example of another door that our Lord has opened to his Pastors in the ULC happened recently.  Pastor Yuri Tytski, who serves Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Bereznehuvate, but has moved his family to Kremenets until it’s safe to go back, encountered some people who came to the church in Kremenets for food and aid.  He found out that they were from Snihurivka, not far from Bereznehuvate.  He, along with Pastor Roman Anduntsiv, welcomed them to worship and they have now begun Catechism classes with them.

September 1:

Earlier this week, Pastor Khaustov who serves in Kharkiv was able to travel to some of his members who have moved to Poltava.  Poltava is located about 85 miles southwest of Kharkiv.  He held a worship service with them and delivered some People’s Bible Commentaries.  Many of the ULC Pastors are now serving smaller numbers of worshipers, due to the fact that so many people have moved to safer areas.  Yet, they continue to serve their members who have stayed.  We thank them for their faithful service.  Other pastors who have taken refuge in other areas help serve in those places.  The ministries continue, by God’s grace.


WELS World Missions provided this map to show where major Ukrainian cities are located and, more specifically, where the Ukrainian Lutheran Church has congregations.

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Missionaries receive support and direction during orientation

Six new world missionaries, one world mission vicar, and their spouses attended world missionary orientation at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis., from July 11-14. Attendees included

  • Rev. Keegan and Mrs. Kate Dowling, One Africa Team;
  • Rev. Ben and Mrs. Becky Foxen, One Africa Team;
  • Rev. Conifer Berg and Mrs. Ruth Nitz, Europe Team;
  • Rev. Luis and Mrs. Carolina Acosta, One Latin America Team;
  • Teacher Luke and Mrs. Rachel Beilke, One Latin America Team;
  • Vicar Caleb and Mrs. Emily Koelpin, One Latin America Team; and
  • Rev. Jonathan and Mrs. Kim Bare, Asia One Team.

Rev. Paul Nitz, WELS World Missions’ One Team counselor and former missionary in Africa, organized the training. He notes, “Our missionaries are very excited to get out into the world and help get that sweet message of Jesus and salvation into the hands and hearts of the lost. They would be a bit odd if they weren’t also going out with a bit of worry. They will confront challenges. We can all imagine the physical challenges. We think of things like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, learning how to shop and cook, and putting kids into a school. There are also cultural challenges they will face. As we are sending out our new missionaries, we want to help them with some encouragement and some perspective.”

“The orientation was immeasurably valuable,” says Mrs. Kate Dowling. “Before that week, I was drifting in a rough sea. During the orientation I learned that there is an entire well-organized team behind all the missionaries. The Board for World Missions administration is made up of experienced missionaries and an operations director who know the concerns we have and who know what to say to calm our fears. The most valuable part of everything was making connections with other people and feeling supported as we go across the ocean to a new place with a new culture. And all of this to serve the Lord—what a privilege.”

“To be welcomed and accepted by experienced missionaries like this was a very uplifting experience for all of us new to this calling,” says Rev. Keegan Dowling. “Priorities for what we should do when we first land on the field were clearly laid out. So were the core values of the WELS World Missions global team as well as our team’s goals and dreams of what we’d like to accomplish over the next few years—laying it all at the feet of our Father in heaven. For all these reasons, I came away from orientation feeling that we new missionary families were given clear and concrete direction.”

“Our prayer,” explains Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of WELS World Missions, “is that the Lord uses these few days as a way to help ensure our missionaries are not shipwrecked by difficulties that are common experiences for all missionaries. We want these families to be able to serve for many years in this most important task, to take the gospel to places and people that do not have it yet.”

For more information, including biographies about each family, visit wels.net/missions.

 

 

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Back to square A (Albania)

Luke and I moved to Russia in 1997 right after he finished seminary. We arrived in Novosibirsk with next to nothing. . . no cultural knowledge, language skills, children, ministry experience, or possessions. Gradually over the next 25 years, God gave us all those blessings and more. Russia became our home, the place where we felt comfortable, the place where we raised our three children. We knew where to fix the transmission, how to file taxes, which plumber to call, what to substitute for cream soup, and where to get stitches. We had one adventure after another at church, school, and home, and each adventure gave us new knowledge, appreciation, and experience.

Now we are living in Durres, Albania. . . and it feels like déjà vu!

Once again, we are the new guys, sorely lacking in cultural knowledge and language skills. We don’t know much about how ministry works in Albania. We are empty nesters. It’s like we’re newlyweds again!

We’ve spent a grand total of 87 days in Albania. That isn’t much, but we are having adventures and learning.

Albanians are hospitable and friendly. Pastor Nikola Bishka (Niko) and his family found us a lovely apartment to live in and let us borrow things we needed. They are always happy to help. (We especially appreciate their old espresso machine!) Church members have welcomed us warmly.

Albanians don’t want to tell you “No.” I learned this the hard way. Don’t keep waiting around if someone says they’ll do it “in 20 minutes.”

You can buy eggs one at a time. And there’s always a lady selling live chickens just down the block. (Should I surprise Luke some day?)

Locals advise me to look for goods imported from Italy. That is the signal for quality. My new favorite butter comes from Italy. And coffee. And small appliances. And laundry soap. And wine.

Don’t buy bread or baked goods at the grocery store. A nearby bakery will offer fresher goods and cheaper deliciousness.

In Durres, directions are given much like in rural Nebraska: by landmark. We don’t even have a street address. We’re in the apartment building by the pub, “Bar ZaZa.” Taxi drivers and pizza delivery guys know exactly where we are.

Don’t eat olives off the tree. They don’t taste good. Fresh olives must be brined for at least two weeks before eating. My favorite olive merchant is also an excellent, patient man to practice language with. So I buy a lot of olives!

You can keep your washing machine outside on the balcony. (This isn’t Novosibirsk!) I don’t think they are worried about freezing pipes in Durres.

Our apartment is on the 10th floor, and we have a beautiful view overlooking the Port of Durres on the Adriatic Sea. The deep turquoise of the sea at noon becomes a lovely light blue at sunset.

Sunset is the perfect time to wind down and take a walk. The sun is not so hot, the water is beautiful, and the ice cream vendors are still out in full force.

Though I can’t understand most of the words at church, I can see the fruits of faith. I see that the people are happy to gather for worship. They care about each other. They love their pastors. They sing praises with gusto. They are patient and loving with us.

Right now, we are in the U.S. for some family time, classes, and meetings. God-willing we’ll head back to Albania soon. We’re looking forward to learning more about life and work in Albania with new adventures!

Written by Jennifer Wolfgramm, wife of World Missionary Luke Wolfgramm.

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Your gifts are making a difference in Ukraine

“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

1 Timothy 6:12

The effort to support our brothers and sisters in Ukraine has been blessed by our Lord Jesus. As of this writing, WELS has received over $1,400,000 from many individuals and groups for the support of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and those affected by this conflict. We thank God for these gifts and continue to pray for peace.

After months of conflict, the war in Ukraine shows no signs of letting up. What a comfort to know that the Lord of the Church will always care for his people. Trusting his infinite care even in these perilous times, WELS members and friends have given generously to support those affected by the war, especially the members of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. During this time WELS provided well over $300,000 in aid to Ukraine (as they have requested it), which has been distributed as follows:

  • Approximately $200,000 for the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) for clothing, food, and medicine
  • Approximately $100,000 to Direct Relief to provide medicine and supplies through the Ukraine Ministry of Health and financial assistance for Ukrainians remaining in the country or who are refugees in Poland

Up to this day we have still been able to send gifts to Ukraine to support the ULC’s efforts to feed and house refugees and others in need, the travel of pastors to care for their flocks, and ongoing subsidy for the work of the church in Ukraine. More funds will be given as the ULC is able to buy the supplies that are a help to those around them and as the Lord allows them to rebuild churches and homes.

Today we are reminded of the many confessional Lutheran church bodies that are united with us in gospel proclamation around the world. WELS’ Board for World Missions has the high honor of connecting with these brothers and sisters in good times and in bad. We carry each other’s burdens and sorrows. We rejoice when our brothers and sisters rejoice and mourn when they mourn. Your tangible gifts in this time of need are another expression of God’s love through us to a world in desperate need. These times remind us of our high calling. We don’t know how the Lord has knit together the plans of nations and men to further his kingdom until he comes. We do know that he will continue to govern all things for the good of those who trust in him. May God grant us the continued opportunity to bring his love to a world that is lost without it.

Thank you for your generous support as we show the love of Jesus to people whose lives are torn apart by war.


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Faces of Faith – Anya and Sonya

“I always knew there was a God, but I didn’t know Him.” Anya is typical of many who grew up in the Soviet Union. Her parents were “believers” who didn’t know Christ. But Jesus knew her.

Many years ago, a friend invited Anya to our church in Russia. Sermon by sermon, class by class, the Holy Spirit changed Anya’s heart. Anya’s daughter, Sonya, was baptized as an infant. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Jesus. God is always with us and will be with us even if something bad happens.”

After the Russian people’s worlds changed in February 2022, Seminarian Andre Gydkov continues to spiritually care for Anya and Sonya and all our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iskitim. He says, “I’m preaching the same things I always did, but now it means more. People are coming to listen. We’re citizens of heaven who own eternal treasures no one can take!”

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Update from Ukraine: May 19, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


May 15, 2022

Pastor Yuri Tytski(Holy Trinity, Bereznehuvate) is now in Ternopil with his family and he is helping Pastor Taras Kokovski at St. John/St. James in Ternopil.  There has been some recent news about possible opportunities for mission work among Ukrainian refugees in Latvia.  That would certainly be wonderful.  God is good.  In a way this news reminded me of the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  The war in Ukraine has disrupted worship services in many places, but it hasn’t stopped the Lord’s work.  The church, empowered by God, marches on.  Our greatest joy and times of peace are found during those times that we are serving our Lord.  Thank you for these opportunities dear Lord.

An update, Hanna and Maryna from Mariupol, have been picked up by our German brothers and taken back to Zwickau.  They are safe where they are now. Thanks be to God!   The German brothers brought along with them, a large amount of aid for the people which is very much appreciated.  We thank the many, many people, and countries who provide help in Ukraine’s time of need.

Thank you Lord for the blessed fellowship of believers, who give of themselves to help others in their time of need.  Lord, continue to bless and keep the people of Ukraine.

May 16, 2022

Yesterday was a day of rejoicing in Kharkiv, not because the war is over, but because for the first time since the war began, back in February, they were able to meet for worship in the place they rent for services.  Pastor Khaustov commented, “there was no electricity, and it was a cloudy day, so it was nearly impossible to read from the books.”  They did however have battery operated equipment for filming the service.

Prior to the war, we were helping All Saints Lutheran, in Kharkiv, to purchase a building that would be their own.  They would have renovated the building to be used for worship and there were additional rooms for Sunday school classes.  If that building is still standing, it’s our prayer that it can still be purchased.

Services were also held in Kiev yesterday, Bishop commented that some people came back for the first time since the beginning of the war.

May 17, 2022

I mentioned a couple days ago that people from the German Church were coming to pick up the two ladies from Mariupol, Hanna and Maryna.  Pastor Somin drove them to the meeting place and the brothers from Germany met them and brought with them many donations of food, baby supplies, and medicine.

Bishop Horpynchuk wrote this letter of thanks to Pres. Michael Herbst of the ELFK:

“Dear Brother, thank you for the help we received from the ELFK that was brought by Petro Rudzik from Zwickau and by Pastor Serhiy Somin from Volodymyr. The help from Zwickau was delivered to the hospital in the eastern Ukraine. The help delivered by Pastor Somin was divided into three parts: canned food – for the military, children items for our sisters in pro-life as they deal with many refugees with babies, and the third part with food will go to the southern Ukraine, including German congregations. Thank you very much! Special thank you for the Varta power bank!”

He also added,  “We thank the Lord for such caring brothers. We also thank the Lord for brothers from Finland and Sweden. We also thank the Lord for all our American brothers and sisters.”

It’s so encouraging to see and hear about the love and concern, by so many, for the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church.  Christian love only speaks one language, and it is shown in one’s actions.  The love of Jesus does compel us.  And other people’s lives are touched and blessed by this.

May 18, 2022

Because people fled their towns and cities when it was winter, they have no spring and summer clothing.  Clothes are purchased for people.  Clothes are purchased at thrift stores or second hand stores, because many people fled with few personal items, or nothing more than what they were wearing or could fit into a small box.   There are many who are in need of clothing and shoes, etc.

In case you are wondering, or desiring to send them care packages, it’s not easy to send packages.  The cost for postage is high, and the delivery isn’t always convenient.  Giving money to purchase things there, in Ukraine, is much more practical.


WELS World Missions provided this map to show where major Ukrainian cities are located and, more specifically, where the Ukrainian Lutheran Church has congregations.

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: May 11, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


WELS World Missions provided this map to show where major Ukrainian cities are located and, more specifically, where the Ukrainian Lutheran Church has congregations. Read below for some updates from the last week.

 

 

 

May 10, 2022

Please keep Pastor Somin, as well as Odesa in your prayers.  Recent missile strikes have increased in that area.  Pastor Somin is hoping to leave there tomorrow.

More good news from Kharkiv as the suburb that Pastor Khaustov lives in has been totally cleared of the Russians.  The bad news is that mines and explosives have been placed in the streets and even in some homes.  It’s still not safe to go back.

May 9, 2022

Though the fighting and missile strikes are still occurring each day, there is, nevertheless, a growing sense of optimism in Ukraine.  The support that they are receiving from many nations helps them to appreciate that others do care about them and their current situation.

As more people return to public worship, others rejoice that they are still alive and back again in God’s house to hear his Word and receive the sacrament.  It certainly proves how true it is that Christians are happiest when they can gather together for worship.  Cherish every opportunity that you have to do just that.

Pastors who returned briefly, to their congregations, speak of the sadness they feel driving through areas that are devastated from the bombings.

May 5, 2022

One of the ULC Pastors, Yuri Tytski, has determined it is not safe to return to Bereznehuvate and will rent an apartment for his family, in a western city.  The apartment is unfurnished so I urged Bishop to use some of the gifts that have been given by WELS’ members and friends, to buy some furnishings for the apartment.

Pastor Somin’s van needed repair so that he could continue to take supplies, as well as lead worship services, in southern Ukraine.  The repair cost was about $1,000.00, because the cost of parts have also increased in price.  Your gifts have helped get the repair work done and he is now able to be on the road again, serving.

May 4, 2022

Today we say, “Happy Birthday” to Pastor Feschenko.  Pastor Feschenko serves congregations in Tokmak and Zaporizhia.  He will not be able to celebrate his birthday in his home this year, but thankfully will be with his family.  Such is the nature of the war in eastern Ukraine and the every day disruptions and changes that it has caused in people’s lives.  We are thankful that he, and his family, are alive and we wish him many more birthday celebrations in the future.

The Pastors of the ULC, for a number of years now, meet via Zoom for a weekly Bible study that they call their Concordia Conference.  Today they shared stories of what they have heard from their members, and people they know, of the atrocities in some of the cities where their congregations are.  Some of these cities include: Kiev, Kharkiv, Izium, Tokmak, Bereznehuvate, Kherson, and Malyn.  The stories are eerily the same, of brutal assaults and violence to civilians.  It makes their hearts sad to hear these reports, and even more so when it involves people who they know.


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: April 20, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


April 17:
Bishop Horpynchuk traveled back to Kiev to lead Palm Sunday worship service today. He assured me that he was safe and where they spent the night was in a safe location. Bishop said that the congregation was very happy to see him, and to be with one another. And they were happy to see each other alive. He also told me that the congregation expressed great thanks to the WELS and many others who are supporting them with their prayers and gifts.

Pastor Serhiy Somin traveled back to Mykolayiv to lead Easter worship with the German congregation he serves. Pastor Somin led the service today in the basement. I suspect they worshiped in the basement, being cautious because of the constant threat of bombings. After their service they had a good German pot luck meal.

April 18:
Today I asked Bishop to tell me about his trip back to Kiev to lead the Palm Sunday worship at his congregation, this past weekend. He said that the trip took twice as long to drive due to the many checkpoints, and detours that were necessary because of road and bridge damage. One bridge he had to use was damaged, but usable, though it was at a fairly steep angle. He made the comment, “I almost slipped into the river.” Most of the major bridges in Kiev are damaged or completely destroyed. He did arrive safely in Kiev and has returned safely. God be praised. Depending upon the intensity of the bombing, he will determine later this week whether or not he will return for Easter worship next Sunday.

April 19:
From Bishop Horpynchuk this morning: “Today I participated in the Ukrainian Church Council with the UN General Secretary Deputy, Mr. Martin Griffith and UN representative in Ukraine, Mr. Esteban Sacco on the request of the UN General Secretary. They asked to support an idea about Easter truce in Ukraine. We certainly supported the idea. Whether Russians agree is a question.”

April 20:
Please keep Pastor Serhiy Somin in your prayers. He went back to have Easter service with his congregation in Mykolayiv. Bombing has intensified there in the days since and some of his people have asked if he would drive them to a safer location in the west. He will be going back into a dangerous area, picking them up and driving them out, We pray that all goes well and that the Lord keeps them safe.

 

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: April 8, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Prayers are asked today for Hanna and Maryna who have fled from the atrocities and bombings in Mariupol and have been able to leave the country. They are ULC members of a mission church. Bishop has contacted leaders in Germany and Sweden to help find a place for them to stay until they can, Lord willing, one day return. It’s been a difficult trip for them, taking many days. We also pray for them because they take with them the baggage of memories of what they have seen done to their city, and their people.

I mentioned that Bishop was going to deliver some medical supplies today. He has done this and I also copied and included in this update a message that Bishop received from them, which he has allowed me to share.

They wrote, “Today we thank the Ukrainian Lutheran Church and its head V’yacheslav Horpynchuk for caring about our community. It is thanks to Mr. Vyacheslav, our utility company “Center of Primary Medical – Sanitary Aid” Goshanskoy Seli Council in the person of the general director Tatiana Polí щуuk received the medicine. A list of medical drugs has been formed by company doctors, so they are essential for patients today. The head of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church emphasized that the church together with American Lutherans with WELS, Pastor Roger Neumann and Bishop Mark Schroeder are still ready to help the Ukrainian people in its fight for the restoration of Ukrainian of the state. And our organization is still ready to cooperate with the Ukrainian Lutheran Church in all matters for the benefit of the community and Ukraine.”

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: April 7, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Today Bishop Horpynchuk shared with me what they are doing to help hospitals get supplies that are in critically short supply. This is a brief example of what they are doing and how they are doing it. Because of the increase in the number of people, hospitals need many different basic supplies. They make available lists of those things that are needed. Things like bandages, disinfectants, iodine, medicine for fevers, sterilizers, just to name a few items. Helpers then travel to various pharmacies, sometimes traveling in a radius of up to 50 miles to collect these supplies. This is what Bishop, and some of those with him, have been doing the past couple of days. Tomorrow they will deliver what they were able to purchase. Then they will start on another project to help get food supplies to the hospitals or places that house refugees. Similar examples like this are taking place in many other places that have an overflow of refugees.

I then asked how he and the other ULC Pastors are holding up under the daily stress and anxieties that accompany this war. How best to explain his answer is to say that, having themselves heard the many reports of brutality, and down right evil behavior by the enemy in a number of cities, has stunned and saddened them by the sheer magnitude of this brutality. But their faith in the Lord compels them to carry on in their ministry to the people. Believing that, in the Lord there is hope and certainty. They continue to offer words of comfort, from the Scriptures, and take time to pray with the people.

We ask a special prayer for one of their Pastors who said that renewed bombing was under way and that bombs were now falling within a half mile of his location. We pray that God will keep him and his family safe. Another Pastor commented that much of his recent days have been spent in long lines, registering for services that are needed for one of his children.

A Ukrainian newspaper reported the Bishop’s recent visit, by invitation, to the local Administration Building on the front page. The article covered his visit, and it also mentioned that, “American Lutherans are filled with compassion to Ukrainians and are willing to help with all means possible.” I certainly concur with that.

We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine. May God, who is rich in love and mercy, protect his people there.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 31, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow. One of the pastors, and his family, who were in a dangerous situation have gotten out of area. It wasn’t without a great deal of tension though, as their bus was stopped and detained for an extended period of time. A one hour and 15 minute drive turned into 6-8 hours. But news came earlier this afternoon, late evening for them, that they have reached their destination safely. Wonderful news, thank you Lord.

Today I asked about the work of distribution of goods to refugees. This will give you an idea of what they are doing on a daily basis. Refugees can get food and help at certain designated locations, or things can be delivered to homes where refugees are staying. Both methods and locations of delivery are being made. Two days a week people will go to purchase supplies. This would include flour, pasta, buck wheat, preserves, fish, pork or chicken, and chocolates for the children. Treats for the children bring smiles to their faces and reminds them of happier days. Then the goods are sorted and taken to places where they are needed. Sometimes prayers are spoken in the homes; people ask for them. Medicine and food is also taken to hospitals. No one anticipated so many people, so there is a massive effort by churches and local organizations to meet all the demands. This seems to be going quite well and efficiently.

Something that they are becoming more and more aware of, is that there are refugee families who are too shy, or scared, to ask for help, thinking no one cares about them. Bishop is going to encourage pastors to actively search for these people so that goods can be taken to them.

There are many people who come with little or no possessions. They only have the clothes that they are wearing. To help them, trips are being made to used clothing stores to purchase more clothing. Something one wouldn’t think of is that some of the homes, who take in refugees, don’t have enough cooking utensils to make meals. They ask for extra pots and pans, plates, table settings, etc. It makes me realize how many things in our lives we simply take for granted.

I hope that this gives you a little better idea of how the people are managing, and how they help one another. And how there is always work to do, and opportunity to do it, to help someone in need.

Tomorrow, the mayor of a nearby city has invited Bishop Horpynchuk to come and give a devotion and pray with the people. More and more, people are asking for spiritual support. Once again, what a wonderful opportunity to speak of the gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ. May God bless Bishop’s devotion and prayers, and that by hearing the Word, people’s hearts can be filled with peace and hope.

We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine and ask God to guard and protect them.

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Prayers for a church

In 2010, Caroline McCatty prayed that God would help her and her husband Lawrence to find a really good church. At the time, the couple was in the process of moving from England to the United States. Caroline knew the transition would take them to a new place, and she didn’t have any connections in the area to which she could reach out and ask for a church recommendation. As they settled in the East Coast of the United States, God led the McCattys to a small WELS church. The pastor there taught from the Bible, and focused on Jesus as the Savior of the world. Previously, the McCattys had attended a church in England, but not one that clearly preached the truths of Scripture. At the WELS church in the United States, they learned messages from the Bible that they had never heard before–and quickly grew to love.

Five years later, the McCattys returned to their home country as WELS members. Upon their return, they lifted up a different prayer – one that requested Scripture-based worship and instruction. The couple observed a different scene in England than what they had witnessed at the WELS church in the United States. They asked for that same Christ-centered gospel message to come to England: they wanted the solid meat that WELS offers, rather than a watered-down version of Scripture they saw throughout England. They prayed for six years; then God led WELS to start up mission work in England. Missionary Michael Hartman is leading the effort and is working with the McCattys and others in England to coordinate services and ministry.

The McCattys serve as an example to us of an existing core group of WELS and CELC members living in England. Thus far, members of the CELC church bodies on four continents are known to live in England. The goal is that this core group serve as a starting place for gospel outreach to the country. If you know a member or contact currently living in England, please contact Missionary Hartman. (Email: Michael.Hartman@wels.net / WhatsApp: +13058900560 or +447360712166.)

Read the rest of the McCatty’s story in their Forward in Christ article.

Written by Rev. Michael Hartman, world missionary in London, England.

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Update from Ukraine: March 27, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


I had mentioned that Bishop Horpynchuk was asked to have a brief devotion, to be taped and aired on National Radio. This recording will be heard throughout the country and replayed multiple times over the next few days and weeks.

These are some of the thoughts that he shared with the nation. Beginning with Psalm 45, he said that God is our refuge and strength. God is on our side. During these difficult times of need God is sending them help thru their Western friends, and many are praying for them. He read John 3:16, and spoke of the forgiveness of sins that is freely given thru Jesus Christ our Lord. He emphasized that Jesus Christ is the most precious gift that we possess. He prayed that God would provide victory so that there could once again be peace in the land. Finally he encouraged the listener to put their trust in God, because he will not forsake us.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Ps 95:1,2 Today was another day of worship for the Lutheran Churches in Ukraine. I will keep the names of the pastors, and their locations, hidden for the present time.

Bishop Horpynchuk wanted to make a few calls on people today so we will wait until tomorrow to talk again. He did comment that people are starting to come out again for worship in bigger numbers. Understanding that many have left these areas, who may not be back for some time.

He did want me to express to all of you his profound thanks for all of your support and prayers. This thanks is extended to you from their pastors and congregations as well. They appreciate your prayers and support.

I, too, thank you for reminding me, by your expressions of support and prayer, of David’s words in his Psalm; “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Ps 133:1. The Christian family is strong because of our love for one another, in Christ. May God be with you, may he bless and keep you today and always. And may God bless the people of Ukraine and grant them peace.

 

 

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 25, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Today Bishop Horpynchuk was able to give a devotion that was recorded on their National Radio. What a blessing to be able to reach out with the gospel message of Jesus Christ crucified, for the forgiveness of sins, to what should have been a very large audience in Ukraine. The gospel message will not be silenced, nor will God have his witnesses be silenced. If one takes the time to look, we can see clearly how God’s hand is at work, especially in times of deep and dark distress. What immediately came to mind, when I heard of this opportunity, were the words of Isaiah, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Is 55:11

Bishop was able to contact the Pastors in areas of danger, pray with them, and encourage them. We still wait for their evacuation and pray that God keeps them safe. But for now they are alive and we thank the Lord for this.

Many prayers are needed and many prayers are being heard. Thank you for taking time to read these updates. It means a great deal to the people in Ukraine that you are thinking of them and keeping them in your prayers.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Ps 90:1,2 AMEN

 

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 23, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Just a short while ago, one of the pastors and his family, who I asked you to pray for yesterday, has reached their destination safely. Their journey was a long one. The first day they traveled approximately 200 miles which took them 12 hours. Checkpoints congest traffic. At each checkpoint they need to show identification and have their vehicle searched. Saboteurs sometimes steal vehicles and infiltrate cities. Today their trip was equally as long, but they are safe. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

The other pastor, I asked you to pray for yesterday, is still in a dangerous area as plans to leave yesterday did not happen. They will try again, and Lord willing get to safety.

Right now there are three Pastors in areas of great danger. I’ve been asked to be vague about who and where these are. Prayers are asked for them, our Lord knows for whom you are praying.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 22, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Today I ask for special prayers, for two of the Pastors in the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. These pastors, along with their families, are now no longer safe where they are at. In one situation bombing has come very close to their home and the family is very fearful. They have chosen, for their safety, to leave. They are driving and have found, what for now, seems to be a safe route out of the area. I pray that continues to be the case. They will encounter a number of checkpoints on their journey. It may take days to get where they are going. They are keeping in contact with Bishop. When they reach their destination, there are people who will take them in.

The other situation is one in which FSB operatives are now arresting political leaders and deputies in that city. As they are in other cities too. There is grave concern that religious leaders would be the next to be arrested. In this situation the family is leaving by bus. Driving a private vehicle may be too dangerous. Those on the bus are allowed to bring only two packages with them. All the rest of their possessions will remain at their home.

I know that you will be praying for these families; thank you very much! Pray that God will keep them safe and that he will bring them to their destinations without incident. As Bishop keeps me informed of their welfare, I will relay that on to you was well. On a personal note, these pastors are friends I’ve worked with over the past few years. They, and their families are faithful leaders in their communities. I, as I know you do too, entrust them into God’s care and keeping.

Germany is now welcoming more refugees and our sister synod there is offering to house more families. Bishop Horpynchuk wished for me to once again extend his thanks for their care. Other church bodies in the CELC are offering the same; thank you as well!

May God continue to look with mercy and love upon his precious souls who are enduring this dreadful ordeal.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 18, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


It was good to have a conversation again today with Bishop Horpynchuk. Thanks be to God!

News today comes from Malyn that the Russians are attempting to seize the city. Why Malyn? What threat is there in this city? Pastor Didkivski has been actively helping with refugees. When life returns to some sort of normal, I truly believe these pastors and their congregations will be remembered by the people, in their towns and cities, as people who lived their faith, who truly cared for and helped others in their times of need. May God continue to bless their faithful labors of love and compassion.

Perhaps I need to write a few words about what it means to be helping with the refugees. Most of these refugees have left behind practically everything they own in their homes and have fled with little more than the clothes they are wearing and some meager possessions. Also, they left in haste with little time to separate needed things from desired things. I can’t imagine leaving everything in my home and fleeing with the real possibility that nothing will be left if, or when, I ever return. So when they come after days of traveling on the crowded roads they have run out of food, are in need of clothing, shoes, jackets, soap, medicine, and money to purchase fuel. Our pastors and churches try to help these people. I’m told that each day the churches deal with, on average, 15-30 families. Some are just stopping to sleep, get some food, clean up, and then go on. Others wish to stay longer and shelters or homes are found. But some places are already overflowing, still they try to find some room.

I hope these few sentences give you a glimpse of what our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing to help people in Ukraine.

The atrocities continue each day as more and more reports of evil and senseless acts of violence are perpetrated upon innocent people. It will be difficult to erase from people’s memories what they see, and what they have lost. It will take generations to heal, but we trust that our Lord not only can but will heal the brokenhearted.

Through this all, God has been with them and he continues to sustain them. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Cor 4:16

May God bless and keep them in his loving care.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 16, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


All the Ukranian Lutheran Church (ULC) pastors are alive and as far as can be told all the members of the ULC are alive. But more and more stories are coming out of friends and neighbors of our fellow Christians who have been killed and homes that are damaged or totally destroyed. There is active shooting near Tokmak and Bereznehuvate, and daily bombing and shooting in Kharkiv. Food and water in these areas, which are located in eastern Ukraine, are still available but prices are rising rapidly. Please keep Pastors Khaustov, Feschenko, and Tytski, along with their families and their members in your prayers. Along with all of Ukraine.

In Western Ukraine our churches continue to help the increasing numbers of refugees who are coming there. More sets of blankets, pillows and primitive mattresses are being purchased so that children and families can have something soft to sleep on.

There are many stories of personal suffering, and situations that people are forced to deal with. Medicines, doctors, and nurses are needed, it seems, almost everywhere. These stories are repeated over and over again, by many different people.

But there are also heart warming stories as well. Bishop’s music director and organist has arrived in Germany. She has been taken in by a family from the German Lutheran Church(ELFK). I’m told they have a piano and some of the family play violins. What wonderful music must now adorn that home. I know this because I’ve heard her play a number of times for services. Thank you to Pres. Michael Herbst and people in the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Germany for your help with people fleeing to your country.

With so many refugees in western Ukraine, our churches there are beginning to hold classes for the children. Most schools are closed right now due to the sirens going off numerous times each day. Efforts, such as this, are an attempt to re-establish a sense of normal for the children in such frightening times. Thank you to Pastors Serhiy Somin, Roman Anduntsiv, Taras Kokovsky, also to Nina and Vasul Andreychuk, and to the workers involved with The Gift of Life. Your efforts are being noticed and are appreciated. May God continue to bless your labors.

Thank you again for reading this and thank you for keeping Ukraine in your prayers.

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 13, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Bishop and I were not able to talk today. There is a lot of activity, near and in the city of Kiev. The fighting is intensifying. I know he’s very concerned about many of his members who haven’t yet been able to leave the city. He tries to work with them, in making arrangements for them to find ways to get out of the city. Bishop told me that one train with refugees, coming out of Kiev, was bombed today by Russians. It has to be emotionally draining, and time consuming for him. We pray for their safety. We pray for this to stop.

I was happy to hear that there was a public worship service in Tokmak today and that the service went very well. This despite the fact that Russia now occupies Tokmak. It’s so encouraging to hear that Word and sacrament are still being administered. Especially in such conditions and times.

I also saw that Rev. Taras Kokovsky posted, that toward the end of their service at St. John/St. James in Ternopil the siren went off causing people to leave and seek shelter. May God guard and keep them in his care.

I know that today, in many of our churches here in America, prayers were raised to God for the people of Ukraine. I know this because you have told me this through the many people who have communicated with me. Thank you and please continue to pray for the people of Ukraine.

I hope and pray that the Lord blessed your worship today. May God be with you all. The Lord strengthens us through each other’s prayers and support.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 11, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Today’s conversation was earlier than most days. A number of western cities have been bombed today. Where there was no fighting yesterday changed dramatically today. There is a growing sense of desperation among the people in Ukraine that other countries aren’t doing enough to help. They plead, help is needed now.

Another fear, that people have had, is that Russians will capture and arrest political leaders. This has become a reality in certain cities. Bishop [Horpynchuk, head of the ULC) fears that after the political leaders they will then come for the religious leaders. Bishop is particularly concerned for Oleksandr Feschenko in Tokmak. He asks our prayers for him and his family.

A comment that sticks with me is when Bishop said that it’s as though he is living in the times of Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet. Lamenting over what is happening to his people and his country. Which presented a good opportunity for both of us to be reminded that God is still in control. That in this world there will be suffering, but we have a greater hope, made certain for us by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Man can disappoint us, hurt us, and even kill us, but man cannot take our Savior from us, nor remove the hope that we have in Christ.

Our conversation today was a mixture of sadness, disappointment, frustration, and even anger. But when our discussion turned to Christ, it was as though there was a sense of peace and calm, and even a joy that interrupted and took over our conversation. The good news of salvation in Jesus Christ our Savior can and does calm troubled hearts and does give to us a peace that goes beyond all understanding. In the midst of everything that is wrong in this world, Jesus is the One that is always right. His words can do what armies and powers can’t, they bring comfort to hurting hearts.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Update on WELS relief efforts for Ukraine

Please feel free to share this latest update with you congregation.

  • The situation for our brothers and sisters in the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) remains very dire. Thankfully, we have learned that none of the pastors or members have lost their lives, but at least some members report that their homes have been destroyed. Some of the pastors and members have relocated to places that are relatively safe and removed from the heavy fighting, but others remain in areas where military activity is taking place every day. We continue to pray for their safety.
  • WELS members have already been very generous with gifts intended to support relief and humanitarian efforts both for members of the ULC and for the refugees and local citizens in need of help. We thank you to all those who have given gifts for Ukraine relief. Those gifts are being channeled through WELS World Missions, which remains in contact with the ULC and is still able to transfer funds to where they are most needed. To date, $25,000 has been sent, with additional funds to be sent in the coming days and weeks as long as the banking system remains intact. Individuals can give a gift by going to wels.net/give-ukraine or by sending a check payable to WELS and designating “Ukraine” in the memo line to WELS Attn: Gift Processing, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive, Waukesha, WI 53188. (Organizations may donate via check but not online.)
  • Currently, collecting physical relief items (blankets, water, canned goods, diapers, etc.) to send to Ukraine is not the best option for assisting those impacted by this war. The expense and logistical complexity of getting such items to those who need it make such an effort impractical. We will let you know when and if such efforts become possible.
  • In addition to gifts through the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, some have made gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR). With those funds, CAR has made grants to Direct Relief (directrelief.org) to get aid to those who need assistance, especially for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. To date, WELS Christian Aid and Relief has sent $50,000 to Direct Relief. This highly rated disaster relief organization specializes in providing medical assistance and supplies where they are needed most. They have both the inventory and infrastructure to bring medical aid to an area quickly. We have worked with this organization for many years and trust their work.
  • Pastor Roger Neumann is the WELS liaison to the ULC; he is in almost daily contact with Bishop Horpynchuk, head of the ULC, and keeps us informed of the latest news and challenges. There are periodic Ukraine updates on the WELS website at wels.net.

Lord God, in this world of darkness and evil, the light of your saving gospel continues to shine. Through that good news you have brought people around the world from the darkness of sin and death into your marvelous light. But evil exists, and Satan’s work in this fallen world continues. As many in Ukraine are experiencing unimaginable hardships and suffering, we ask that you would be with them. Protect them, provide for them, and, above all, strengthen their faith and trust in you and your promises. We commend them to your gracious care, knowing that you have promised to be with them always. Even though they are now walking through the shadow of death, enable them to fear no evil. We ask you, in your love and wisdom, to restore peace and safety to those now enduring the horrors of war and bloodshed and to continue to let your gospel message be the comfort and hope that so many desperately need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Serving you in Christ,
Rev. Mark Schroeder
WELS President

 

 

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Update from Ukraine: March 10, 2022

Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to Ukraine. He has been able to maintain regular contact with the leadership from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) and is providing regular updates about how our brothers and sisters in the ULC are doing. WELS has decided to share Neumann’s updates. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers.


Today I’ll begin with some quick updates on pastors and congregations in the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC), our sister synod. All are alive and well at this time. Thanks be to God.

Bishop talked with Pastor Victor Khaustov who moved with his family to a safer location in Kharkiv. Moving about in that city is dangerous now because one could easily find themselves in a crossfire situation between Russian and Ukrainian troops. So they make very limited trips out of their homes, only to get needed food or medical supplies.

Pastor Oleksandr Feschenko reports that the internet has been cut off in Tokmak. Each day, people bravely protest in the city, the occupation by the Russians. These actions let the Russians know they are not welcome there.

Pastor Dmytro Didkivski says that the city of Malyn continues to be bombed. The areas where this is taking place are mostly residential areas. The Russian actions show an undisciplined, almost degenerate mindset, harming and killing innocent, defenseless people, and needlessly destroying homes and buildings.

In Kyiv, it’s reported that their church building is unharmed from bombings. Praise be to God. Plans are being made to use the church to store some food in the event the city comes under siege. Members of the church are helping an elderly member who needs assistance getting food and water. Just one example of so many that happen every day.

Other pastors who aren’t in the immediate conflict areas continue to help with refugees. They assist people, who left everything behind to flee, to purchase shoes and clothing if needed, in addition to food and water. In Riven, sets made up of a primitive mattress, pillow, and blanket sell for about $40.00. These are being purchased so people have something more comfortable to sleep on as they stop for rest on their long, slow journey to the border.

The efforts of the pastors, and leaders in the church, are wonderful to hear about. People are naturally most interested, each day, in how go things on the battlefield. Yet when one starts a prayer, or begins reading some Bible passages, people pause to listen and are comforted and encouraged. It reminds them that in the midst of death, there is life in Christ. Sometimes pastors are torn by the desire to be helping in the conflict but they also know how important it is for people to hear the word. They preach, have short Bible studies, pray, and encourage daily readings. For a few brief moments, it takes people’s minds off what is going on around them and they find peace in Christ. This teaches us both the value and the need for those who preach and teach God’s Word. We thank them for their efforts, and want them to know that their efforts are not in vain.

 

 


 

WELS is supporting the Ukrainian Lutheran Church with emergency needs as their country is torn apart by war.

 

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Together Video Update – March 8, 2022

Rev. Mike Hartman recently began serving as a missionary in London. Learn more about his ministry there and all the opportunities that are available for sharing the gospel in this multi-cultural area.


Want to learn more about Missionary Mike Hartman and his family’s experiences in the mission field? Watch this “Together” extra featuring Hartman’s wife, Rachel.

 

 

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WELS President’s Comments on the situation in Ukraine

The world has watched in horror as the country of Ukraine has been invaded by neighboring Russia. Entire cities have been decimated. Civilians have become the target of relentless strikes by bombs and missiles. Over a million Ukrainians have been forced to flee to neighboring countries, leaving behind loved ones, homes, and all they possess.

While our attention has been on the conditions throughout Ukraine and the human suffering the war has caused, we also have special concern for the members of our sister church body, the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC). Congregations of the ULC are located in many of the places that you have heard about in the news. Many of their members have been forced to take shelter from shelling or to flee from their homes; some have had their homes destroyed.

The head of the ULC, Bishop Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, has been in regular contact with WELS liaison to the ULC Pastor Roger Neuman. Pastor Neumann has been providing daily updates on the situation in Ukraine, especially relating to how our fellow believers are being affected. I’ve also been in contact with the bishop to hear first-hand about the challenges he and his congregations are facing and to assure him of our synod’s continuing support through prayers and offerings.

WELS members have generously sent gifts to WELS World Missions in support of relief efforts. Last week, WELS sent $25,000 to the ULC, with the assumption that this is only the first installment of assistance that WELS members will provide. The funds are intended to provide needed help to refugees and others affected by the war. WELS Christian Aid and Relief also authorized a $25,000 grant to Direct Relief, an organization that is providing medical supplies and support necessary during a time of war. We realize that the ability to send funds to Ukraine may be lost at any time.

Some of the ULC congregations were able to hold worship services last week (most of them virtually). We praise God that his Word continues to provide them with comfort, strength, and renewed faith in God’s gracious promises.

We will continue to look for ways to provide assistance to the ULC and, if possible, to ULC families who have made their way to other countries and need assistance. Our sister church in Germany is also looking for ways to help.

This entire tragic drama is another stark reminder of the wickedness and depravity that infects the human soul. And yet, even in these darkest of days, we remain confident that the Lord of lords is still ruling with his grace and power. We trust that the gates of hell itself cannot withstand the power of the gospel. We pray for a quick end to the war. We ask God for his forgiveness for taking his blessings for granted. And we commit our ULC brothers and sisters—and all Ukrainians—to God’s care and protection.

In Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder

 

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Ukrainian bishop with sons on front lines shares realities of war

On March 2, FOX19 Now from Cincinnati, Ohio, featured a story on Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) Bishop V’yacheslav Horpynchuk and his two sons who are defending their home country. His one son, Vlad, previously served as a vicar at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Cincinnati. The ULC is WELS’ sister church in Ukraine.

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An update from Ukraine

WELS Ukraine liaison Rev. Roger Neumann has been able to maintain regular contact with leaders from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC), WELS’ sister church body. As of Tuesday morning, Neumann is reporting that so far the members there remain physically unharmed. However, all but 2 of the 17 congregations, comprising approximately 600 members, are in the direct line of the Russian advance. Two of the pastors have been cut off from communication. Many were able to hold online or in-person worship during the invasion on Sunday morning.

Neumann reports, “There’s a lot of fear, mixed with anger and bewilderment, as to why this is happening. They are very encouraged by the international support; very encouraged by the prayers of WELS people that are going out.”

According to Neumann, some members have been able to flee the country. However, at this time, all Ukrainian men between ages 18 and 60 are required to remain to defend their country as needed. The people who have stayed are taking shelter at night in the underground subway stations and come out during the day to find food and supplies. So far, limited supplies are still available, but the shelves are getting emptier.

WELS is financially assisting two ULC churches in western Ukraine that are setting up refugee centers to welcome Ukrainians who are fleeing from war-torn areas in the east, but space and resources are limited. Hundreds of thousands of people are currently on the move. Money is also being sent to help buy supplies for these refugees. At the time of this writing, banks and supermarkets are still open. The situation is being closely monitored regarding how funds can be safely and effectively sent and used.

“When this is all said and done—and Lord willing, it’s going to be soon and Lord willing, it’s going to be where they will keep their sovereignty—there is going to be a tremendous need for humanitarian aid,” Neumann predicts. “Pray for Ukraine; pray for the people. That’s the number one thing, and the rest God will take care of in his way.”

If you’d like to give a gift to support these relief efforts, visit wels.net/wmgift and select “Ukraine” from the dropdown menu.

 

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World missionary commissioned to London

Missionary Michael Hartman was commissioned as a new missionary to London, and Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bare and Rev. David Bivens were installed as part of the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) team at the opening worship service of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Mission & Ministry event on February 8. Missionary Hartman and two other World Missions representatives left for his second exploratory trip to London the day after the service.

Plans are being made for ministry, and details such as visa applications, school details, etc. are being sorted out for the family’s eventual move to the country. You can view photos from the service on the Flickr album.

Please keep these missionaries in your prayers as they continue to serve God’s people in their new positions.

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Different mission field, same mission

Joey’s last day in the office

Last year, my husband and I decided to emigrate from Hong Kong to England after much discussion and prayers. One of my struggles is that I must leave the Hong Kong office of Multi-Language Productions (MLP) and my lovely colleagues. I had been working for Multi-Language Productions (MLP) as a full-time staff in Hong Kong for around 10 years, mainly translating, editing, and proofreading the layout of various books and Bible resources in the Chinese language. I enjoy the work very much and I would like to continue to serve God in this way. After discussing with Yvonne, my supervisor, and Nate Seiltz, director of MLP, and getting MLP’s approval, I continue working for MLP in the form of Contract Service.

Joey and her husband in the countryside of England after quarantine

My husband and I finally boarded the plane at the end of June this year. Due to COVID-19, we had to spend 10 days in a home quarantine after arriving in the United Kingdom. This was my first time in a quarantine. Thank God, a local friend gave us great help and made it easy for us to get through the 10 days.

Although the Hong Kong people used to receive British education and are familiar with the British culture, there are big differences between the East and West. I have also experienced various cultural differences. The most significant is the language. Not only are Chinese and English different, but British English and American English are also different, including pronunciation, spelling and the meaning of certain words etc. Besides, some people here speak in strong accents and even the local people can hardly understand.

In terms of food and drink, the choice of food, cooking methods, and serving ways are different. Bread is the staple food of Westerners while rice is our staple food. The food we often eat in Hong Kong may not be found in the United Kingdom.

In terms of housing, residential houses in the United Kingdom are generally larger than those in Hong Kong. When the United Kingdom people want to rent or buy a house, they will check how many rooms in the house, whereas Hong Kong people will check the saleable size of the house.

In the United Kingdom, pedestrians can cross the road first (in the circumstance without a traffic light), but it is the opposite in Hong Kong. In the early days after we arrived at the United Kingdom, we would stay on the pavement waiting for the car to pass. We were surprised that the car stopped, and the driver would give us a signal to ask us to go first.

After a month for settling down in the United Kingdom, I started to work in August. My job duties are translation and editing, and since we experienced work from home last year, I was able to perform my work as long as I have a computer and internet access. I thank God, who lets me continue to serve Him.

I’m now working on updating the Chinese Catalog and editing the People’s Bible – John. One of our goals is to produce good materials for the Christians in East Asia to help them understand the Bible better. To produce the Chinese version of the People’s Bible Series is one of the projects we want to achieve. May God give me strength to continue contribute on this big project.

Written by Joey Chow, translator and editor for Multi-Language Productions (MLP)


More than 20% of members (including Joey Chow and her husband) and two pastors from WELS’ sister church in Hong Kong, South Asia Lutheran Evangelical Mission (SALEM), have moved to the United Kingdom. Read more about the plans WELS World Missions is pursuing to place a missionary in London in this article from the Together e-newsletter.

 

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New mission opportunities in Europe

A new mission in London is one step closer to reality. After a trip to England earlier this month, Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of the Board for World Missions, is recommending that the board call a full-time missionary to London.

During his trip, Schlomer met with a group of WELS families in London to talk about the possibilities. These members will serve as the “core group” for this mission and its work. “They are more than excited,” says Schlomer. “A couple of the members even shared with me that they have been praying for a pastor.”

In the past, this group in London—about 30 people—has been served with the Word and sacraments by the WELS European chaplain, who travels monthly from Germany where he is based. The chaplain, part of WELS Military Services, ministers to WELS military personnel on large bases in Germany as well as serves civilians and troops in Germany, England, Switzerland, and scattered throughout Europe. Currently Rev. John Hartwig fills that role.

According to Schlomer, besides serving current members weekly with the Word, a new missionary will be able to explore opportunities for reaching out to the many immigrant populations that settle in London. WELS already has connections with several groups, including members and pastors from WELS’ sister synod in Hong Kong who have recently relocated to London. Once initial exploration has been completed, a second missionary may be called to work specifically with these immigrant groups. Funding has already been approved for both positions. “Right now our priority is to get someone there with this group of believers, and we’ll let the Spirit guide it as the Spirit will,” says Schlomer.

Phil and Sandy Parker, who have been members of this group in London since 2000, are excited about the possibilities. “London is such a multicultural area, and we think that the field amongst these immigrant populations will be particularly ripe because we can offer useful services, such as English as a foreign language classes, that can benefit them as they try to integrate into their communities,” says Sandy.

They also recognize the need for their English friends and family to hear the pure gospel message, something that is in short supply in London. “We know that the Holy Spirit is stronger than even the most stoic Englishman, and so, with a missionary here to help us with these conversations, we might be able to rest assured that our loved ones know God’s salvation too,” says Sandy.

During Schlomer’s visit, Hartwig led worship in person for the group for the first time since he arrived in Germany in June 2020. COVID-19 had made it impossible for him to travel to England, so the group had been worshiping through Zoom video meetings.

“It was such a happy experience,” says Hartwig about the service, which included communion and a baptism affirmation. “And on top of that, seeing that we may have an opportunity to have a permanent pastor—we’re definitely excited about that.”

He continues, “The European Chaplaincy has been thankful to have the opportunity to work with the military and the civilians in the U.K. for many years. We’re excited about the new turn this is taking and want to do everything possible to help that to happen.”

London is one of five new world mission opportunities being explored by WELS Missions. Learn more.

 

 

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Finding a way to gather

David works in a sausage factory in Finland. Ingvar delivers the mail in Sweden. Artur teaches history in the local university in Portugal. Not only are the European CELC (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Synod) pastors scattered across a dozen countries, many serve as “tent ministers.” They preach and teach on weekends and support themselves with secular work during the week. (St. Paul was the original “tent minister.” See Acts 18:3.)

Tent ministry saps time and energy for serving souls. It also limits face-to-face meetings for professional growth and encouragement.

Early this past spring, Pastor Holger Weiss (Germany) and Pastor Ingvar Adriansson (Sweden) were struggling to organize logistics for study and fellowship. By tradition European pastors gather for a regional conference and/or Summer Quarter study. But this year borders were closed. Travel was nearly impossible. So, Holger and Ingvar proposed a workaround: “Let’s organize an online study with time to share news and pray for each other!”

Using the theme: “Worldwide Judgment and Deliverance: Then and Now,” local pastors supplied four Bible studies on the early chapters of Genesis. About twenty different participants prepared for online meetings by viewing videos ahead of time. Then we gathered to share observations and discuss practical application for life and ministry. The format was so interesting that small-group discussion time came to be known as “The Fastest Fifteen Minutes of the Week.”

After small group and plenary discussion, we shared news and prayed for each other. It seems Pastor Artur Villares from Portugal is dealing with the greatest blessings and challenges.

First the good news. After years of dialogue with an LC-MS (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) trained pastor from Brazil, the Portuguese church finally colloquized Rev. Denício Márcio Godoy and received him into fellowship. Denício (pictured in photo above) lives in Belo Horizonte, population 6 million, the 18th largest city in the Americas. What an outreach center! The pastors in our Zoom meeting welcomed Denício and wished him well before our connection was cut. Please pray that God will soon reopen travel to Brazil!

Please keep Pastor Canoa in your prayers as he recovers from the stroke and God-willing continues to serve the flock in Lisbon

We have another reason to pray for our brothers and sisters in Portugal. Antonio Canoa, the only other pastor in the Portuguese church, recently suffered a crippling stroke. At this point Antonio is unable to serve his congregation in Lisbon. Artur, who lives four hours north in Porto, is doing his best to keep in touch with church members online. Please pray that God would care for Antonio and his people in Lisbon. Please pray also for the Portuguese speakers Antonio was befriending in Europe, Africa, and South America.

Travel restrictions might prevent us from seeing each other, but nothing can limit our Savior’s mighty gospel call! Help us, Lord! We trust in You.

Written by Rev. Luke Wolfgramm, world missionary in Europe

 

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