Tag Archive for: Faces of Faith Home Missions

Faces of Faith – Sean

“It was amazing. It was the greatest thing. . . just to know that Jesus still loved me and still cared about me and wanted me to be part of his family again, that meant the world to me.”

Hear more from Sean O’Doherty, member at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Nampa, Idaho, about how the gospel shared with him through a WELS home mission congregation brought him back to his Savior.

Learn more about the WELS 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative at wels100in10.net.

Faces of Faith – Laura

Northcross in Lakeville, Minn., sent six members to Nong Khai, Thailand, where we visited missionary Tom Chaleunsouk, his wife, Kaysone, and the congregation there. Facilitating a Vacation Bible School at the church was rewarding for all involved! We all worked together to make cross-cultural connections. I knew traveling to Thailand would be an enriching experience for myself, but I was amazed by how many people across the globe were encouraged in their faith by the trip. It was an honor as well as humbling to be sent as an ambassador to this world mission congregation.

One of the most memorable moments was standing barefoot on a Sunday morning, worshiping with Christian brothers and sisters singing a song I knew in a language I didn’t. It was a small glimpse of what’s to come in heaven!

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Faces of Faith – Angie

Many may think Christianity can no longer impact the highest levels of academia or the arts. I’m convinced the opposite is true.

Welcome Weekend at Redeemer in Ann Arbor, Mich., is our annual September outreach event for our Campus Ministry program. That weekend in 2021, I met someone new. Angie was born in China, but her family moved to America when she was young. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s in piano performance at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City. Now she’s earning a doctorate at the University of Michigan. One of her classmates, Allison, who was in the same program had already been attending Redeemer. After church, Angie decided to stay for lunch and then came to Starbucks to help us plan our Campus Ministry activities for the semester. She then started attending our Campus Ministry Bible studies. When she asked about being baptized, we found a spot in central campus, and I listened to Angie share more of her story. That conversation led to starting Bible 101 classes—often meeting on Zoom until 10 p.m.—after she finished classes and I put my kids to bed. In April 2022, Angie was baptized and confirmed, and many other campus ministry students shared that special day with us. Now as a member of Redeemer, Angie shares her talent by playing for church. We’re so thankful to hear her beautiful music in worship, but we’re even more thankful for what God has done in her life.

From Jacob Haag, campus pastor at the University of Michigan

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Faces of Faith – Shawn

Shawn grew up in South Florida and attended a Baptist church for part of his early life, but never felt like he was good enough to be baptized and be a “real” Christian. As he grew, his life took some twists and turns into darker things. While he would say he never really rejected God, he felt far from him. He eventually moved to Michigan and fell in love with a girl from Ontario. When they got married, he moved to Ontario and they built a family together, but something was still missing.

At the suggestion of a WELS family member from the U.S., Shawn came to visit Cross of Life one Sunday. He appreciated the straightforward preaching right from the text of God’s Word. When I found out he wasn’t baptized, we scheduled to have him baptized at the next Sunday service in February 2023. He is currently taking Bible Information Classes to join our church family in Communion!

From Caleb Schultz, home missionary at Cross of Life in Mississauga, Ont.

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Faces of Faith – Dillon

It was one of my first Sundays as a pastor when Dillon walked into the Community Center. He had a Mariah Carey cap and necklace on, dried mustard in his beard, and fell asleep during the sermon. Members were a little tentative at first. He said he was surprised that he found a church meeting in the Community Center. It was his third service of the day and was excited to worship with us.

I found out from Dillon’s mom that he suffered from schizophrenia and hadn’t found a place where he had been welcomed in the community. He told me no one had taken the time to teach him the Bible. So, over the next year we walked through our Bible Information Class together, and Dillon came to every worship service. Members also came to love Dillon. Every time he walked into service, you would hear everyone chime in “Good Morning, Dillon!” Eventually we got through class, and I asked him if he would like to join our Good Shepherd family. He answered, “I thought I already was?”

Dillon was baptized and became a member in May 2022. He faithfully attends worship and has invited his mother, stepfather, and grandparents to join. You can find Dillon on Sunday morning helping set up church, enjoying the coffee, or talking with other members.

From Lucas Callies, home missionary at Good Shepherd in North Liberty, Iowa

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Faces of Faith – Allison

After a painful life event, Allison moved to Houston looking to start over. Throughout the years she tried different churches, but nothing ever really felt right. When discussing church options with her neighbor, she agreed to try out a church called Hope in the Heights. Her first service was July 4, 2021, and she has come ever since. There are many things Allison has come to love about her church, including the music selections, the sermons, and the friendly people. However, the gospel and power of Jesus’ grace is superior to all of that. When asked about her faith, Allison shared, “I used to feel that I wasn’t worth anything, but now I know that Jesus wants to remind me of his love daily. Something I used to not feel was possible or even true! My faith is developing each day.”

From Emilee Nemmers, member at Hope in the Heights in Houston, Tex.

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Faces of Faith – Jarrod and Jessica

Sometimes God plays the “long game.” I met Jarrod and Jessica Bakker when I was first canvassing in Brandon, S.D. They had recently visited our sister church, Good Shepherd. They were interested in our church plant, but we weren’t worshiping yet (we didn’t even have a name yet). We lost touch after a few months, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Two years later, we had an Amazon package delivered to the wrong house two doors down. They came over to drop it off, and sure enough, it was the Bakkers. They began coming to worship and have since taken classes and become members. God certainly played the long game here, and what a cool thing it was to witness!

From Craig Wilke, home missionary at Sure Foundation in Brandon, S.D.

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Faces of Faith – Reno, Nevada

“Vicar, we’ve been delivering new mover bags for almost three years and never had any response. I want you to come up with another way to get information to people moving into our community.”

That was the assignment in week two for our Vicar Nathan Holz (pictured second from left). He did his homework and came up with a recommendation. But before we pulled the trigger, Vicar delivered new mover bags for what we thought was the last time, one of which landed on Claudia’s doorstep.

Claudia (pictured left) had just moved to Reno from a small town in Nevada. But three years prior, she moved to the U.S. with her family from Chile. Claudia was looking for a community, so she decided to check out the church that dropped off a bag of popcorn that said, “Just poppin’ in to welcome you.”

She wasn’t the only one. Keith and Wendy (pictured right) were looking for the same thing. And just like Claudia, they had a new mover bag dropped on their doorstep. Within two consecutive weeks, we had three first-time guests “pop” into worship.

Fast forward six months. Having completed our Bible information class, Claudia, Keith, and Wendy were all confirmed and communed together. Now Keith has even delivered new mover bags himself (We decided not to scrap the idea).

From Joel Heckendorf, home missionary at Light of the Valleys in Reno, Nev.

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Faces of Faith – Chanti

Our path to understanding the immeasurable love of God and the absolute forgiveness through our Savior began shortly after our first son Colton was born. My husband Zach and I had recently moved to the area when I heard about the Mornings with Mommy program at Christ Alone in Keller, Tex. We felt so loved and cared for, we continued signing up along with Power Hour.

The interactions and relationships with the people from Christ Alone made us want to learn more. I was invited for a cup of coffee with a member, who is now a dear friend, and she shared with me about her faith in Jesus as our Savior. After Zach and I attended worship with our boys, another member delivered a care package to our door just to thank us for attending. Shortly thereafter Pastor Seeger came to visit us at our home. Each of our interactions personified the selfless love of Jesus. There were no expectations, no strings attached; just genuine love offered from people who kept pointing us to the cross.

When Pastor Seager taught us about God’s Word in Faith Builders classes, Zach and I felt like we were finally beginning to understand the Bible and what it means to receive the gift of salvation through Jesus. We had no idea the wonderful plan God had for us, but I clearly see his hand in all of it when looking back.

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Faces of Faith – Fredericksburg, Va.

“Let’s not go back!” That’s what Will (pictured left) and Sydney decided after their first visit. But the gospel seed was planted, and they did come back. Someone studied God’s Word with them, including what the Bible says about close communion. Will and Sydney not only came back, but they took our Foundations class and joined as members.

Then Will brought his friend, Chris (pictured right). Chris had questions about the Bible and church. Again, someone studied God’s Word with him, including what the Bible says about baptism. And so, months after Will decided “Let’s not go back!,” Will was a witness as Chris was baptized.

“I’m not going on a second date!” That’s what Chris decided after his first date with Mischa. But they did go on a second date. There were even dates to Foundations class. Now they’ll be married in their church in fall.

“I’d like to come back and learn more.” That’s what Chris’ roommate Matt said after his first visit. Matt grew up unchurched and had many questions (even more than Chris). And now Will and Sydney, Chris and Mischa, and an entire group are studying God’s Word with Matt.

How did this all happen? The gospel seed is planted and someone “hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23).

From Matt Rothe (pictured center), home missionary at The Way in Fredericksburg, Va.

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Faces of Faith – Sonny and Lucy

I met Sonny and Lucy at the funeral of their daughter. They were obviously devastated. I asked them if I could come for a visit, and we started on a year’s long study of the Bible while they tried to teach me Mandarin. Lucy grew up in the Christian church in Indonesia, but at age 12 she moved back to China and never went back to church. Her husband Sonny was a stubborn atheist, a professor of philosophy, and member of the communist party in China. But the death of their daughter had shaken them. After eight months of study, Sonny said to me one day with tears in his eyes, “Pastor, before I met you I never thought about God. Now all I do is think about God.” I baptized Sonny not long after that in his home, and two months later the Lord took Sonny home to heaven. Lucy joined Living Hope, but later moved to New Jersey to live with her son. Before she left, Lucy convinced her friend Shu Ling, who had recently gone through a terrible divorce and was a Buddhist, to meet with me. Now Shu Ling and I meet once a week to study the Bible. She hasn’t been to church yet, but I can see the Spirit at work in her life and her thinking.

From Joshua Sternhagen, home missionary at Living Hope in Commerce City, Colo.

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Faces of Faith – Michaela

As most college students headed out to their spring break trips, 12 students from UW-Madison and UW-Stout campus ministries used this time to come together. We traveled down to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Deltona, Fla., to serve the Lord and his people through a Mission Journey.

On our Mission Journey trip, we cleaned up an area of land outside the school, washed tables and walls, and hung 500 door-hangers in the surrounding neighborhoods for the upcoming Easter events at the church in hopes of bringing in more members of the community. We were also able to attend the Lenten service where the congregation was having a Puerto Rican themed dinner and presentation to update the congregation on future evangelism goals.

In our down time, we were able to enjoy time by the pool, go to the beach, see the manatees at Blue Springs, go on an airboat ride, and have a game night. All the while, we were able to form and build connections between the two campus ministries, the congregation, the pastors who guided us, our host families, and those we met in the community along the way. The Christian fellowship we experienced was invaluable.

Good Shepherd showed us the perfect definition of Christian love and hospitality. This Mission Journey fanned the flame for all of us on the trip as well as those surrounding us. As we returned to Wisconsin, we were all invigorated to do more in our own congregations and continue to serve the Lord in our everyday lives.

Written by Michaela Hansen, a member of the University of Wisconsin – Stout campus ministry.

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Faces of Faith – David

David is a freshman at the University of Arizona who is majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He was born into a Lutheran family and has been part of the Lutheran church since he was very young. As he grew older, he reflected on his faith and investigated parts of it, finding that it was an integral part of his life.

When he started applying for college, he explored WELS Tucson Campus Ministry (TCM) because of its familiarity with his home church, Shepherd of the Hills, in Tucson, Ariz. He realized that in college there are a lot fewer people that share the same faith, some even outright deny it. Therefore, he wanted a place to share his faith and worship with others. He feels that TCM has allowed him to study God’s Word in an environment that is supportive and kind. He is also a student assistant at TCM and he helps plan events to bring people into the faith.

One personal experience he had that helped him as he grew older was attending the LYFE group (high school youth group) at his home church where Jonathan Rhodes, a LYFE group leader, was a role model for him and remained a role model even during David’s college years. He hopes to grow stronger in his faith and remain a member of TCM next year as well.

Written by Rev. Tim Patoka, campus pastor at WELS Tucson Campus Ministry.

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Faces of Faith – Merle

I was walking our dog through the neighborhood, and out walked this nice man with a cross in his hand and a smile on his face. It was the first time I met Merle. I knew I didn’t want it to be my last as I returned home with my new gift: a handmade wooden cross. After 92 years, Merle still didn’t have anyone to share in learning about what our Savior does for us. Because of our new home mission, we can keep sharing our God-given faith of our eternal life to come. It’s the same reason Merle continues building wooden crosses in his garage. Together, we let our lights shine. You never know how God is going to use us to connect others to his life-saving word, just as he did for Merle.

From Hans Thomford, home missionary at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Amarillo, Tex.

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Faces of Faith – Peter

Peter Hollins was raised in a religious household and regularly attended an Episcopal Church with his mother. However, he fell away during high school and later found himself to be unhappy. He started attending church again and sought to find one with true doctrine and where he fit best. Peter chose to attend Grace Lutheran Church in Tucson, Arizona, and became a regular attender at Tucson Campus Ministry Bible studies. He is grateful that the Holy Spirit was able to bring him back into the faith and once again finds joy in attending church. Many gifts and blessings can be found in Christianity; Peter found this to be true as he is comforted in knowing that God is with him no matter what comes his way.

From Hailey Brandt, student assistant at WELS Tucson Campus Ministry

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Faces of Faith – Kimberly

Redeemer Lutheran Church’s Campus Ministry has played such a crucial role in the growth of my faith during my time at the University of Michigan. When entering college, I did not have a mature understanding of how to live out my faith. It can be so easy to get led astray during college, regardless of if a person grows up as a Christian or not. I am a living testimony of this; I tried to fill a God-sized hole with all sorts of worldly things. But the truth is that nothing can fill a God-sized hole except God himself. Redeemer’s Campus Ministry helped me come to this realization, and my entire perspective on life has changed. WELS Campus Ministry has helped me mature in my faith and has fostered an understanding of what it means to truly have a personal relationship with the Lord. Campus Ministry has also equipped me with the necessary tools to share my faith, how to approach difficult questions, and has taught me how to reflect Christ’s love in everything I do. I cannot stress enough how important Campus Ministry can be, and I am so excited to see the Lord continuing to work through these programs.

From Kimberly Beckerman, University of Michigan, Class of 2022

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Faces of Faith – Alfredo

From a young age, Alfredo knew God. Raised in a religious family, he was regularly exposed to the idea of Christianity, but it was ultimately his grandmother that really showed him what it meant to be someone of faith. Alfredo’s grandmother took him to church, taught him how to pray, and she truly showed him what it meant to have a relationship with God. This strong relationship with God has been there through the years, despite his ups and downs. Alfredo has always been grateful for his strong faith. His favorite Bible passage comes from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though an attacker can overpower one person, two people together can stand up against him.” Alfredo really believes in the importance of relying on others. Throughout his life, he has been blessed with a strong Christian community, a gift that he attributes to faith in his Lord. Alfredo has been involved in our WELS Tucson Campus Ministry, growing his faith while he attends the University of Arizona. He studied Agriculture Technology Management and graduated in May 2022!

From Maren Steffen, student assistant at WELS Tucson Campus Ministry.

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Faces of Faith – Belniz

How do you reach out cross-culturally when there is a language barrier? By seeing the barrier itself as an opportunity.

Jonatan Hernandez’ niece, Belniz, came to stay with family in an apartment complex in Appleton, Wis. The whole family is made up of immigrants from Guatemala. Belniz was set to start school in the middle of the year with hardly any knowledge of the English language. A neighbor, who happens to be a member of Eternal Love Lutheran Church in Appleton, wanted to help. She saw the language barrier as her opportunity. She drove Belniz to Bethel Lutheran Church in Menasha to talk to the Spanish-speaking pastors she was aware of but had never met. Two months later, when Jonatan and his family had just arrived from Guatemala themselves, she drove the whole group to Bethel’s Spanish service at noon on Sunday.

Jonatan and his family have no experience with Lutherans. Few of them speak any English at all. All of them are facing the daunting task of beginning a new life in a land that is utterly foreign to them. But because one lady was determined to be helpful and to leverage the language barrier as a meaningful ministry connection, Jonatan and his family have been welcomed to their new home by being brought before the Means of Grace in their heart language. Whatever comes of it, this is how outreach is supposed to work. Barriers are opportunities to show Christian love, which is universal.

From Ethan Cherney, home missionary at Bethel Lutheran Church in Menasha, Wis.

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Faces of Faith – Colleen

One Sunday in August, Colleen and Megan walked into our church for the first time. We learned that they were freshmen, roommates, and members of the softball team at Agnes Scott College here in Atlanta. We also learned that while Megan is a WELS member from Houston, Tex., Colleen had never attended a worship service in her life. They continued to attend worship regularly and quickly became staple attendees of our Tuesday night Campus Ministry Bible Study, bringing lots of laughter and joy, and often several other softball team members with them.

In January they asked, “Would it be possible for Colleen to have communion?” When I welcomed Colleen to join the Bible basics class we had just started, they high-fived in excitement. Colleen diligently attended our weeknight class, working around her busy school and sports schedule and squeezing in makeup lessons over Zoom during her free hours.

In April, Colleen was baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran. Later in the service she came up to receive Communion. Standing beside her, with a huge smile on her face, was her roommate Megan. Colleen and Megan illustrate the “double blessing” of our Campus Ministry Program. It gives WELS members a chance to grow in their faith and share that faith with others!

From Lucas Bitter, home missionary at Intown Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Ga.

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Faces of Faith – Mackenzie

At such a large university like the University of Michigan, it can be hard to meet other students who want to grow their faith and participate in Bible studies and weekly church services. Consistent weekly gatherings offered through Campus Ministry have really strengthened my faith and my relationship with God as I experience this new stage of life. It has provided me with a support system when faced with lifestyles and ideas that are different from my own and what I grew up with. The Bible study topics are engaging and especially relevant to me and help prepare me to answer difficult questions and ideas that I have been faced with. Campus Ministry has helped me stay connected to church and other Christians while at college.

From Mackenzie Zabel, University of Michigan, Class of 2022

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Faces of Faith – Fan

I was born and raised in western China until I was 18. I grew up happily without being bothered to think about where we all come from and if there is ultimate truth. Shortly after I came to college, I met my now husband, Dan, and was introduced to Christianity. It all sounded very interesting, so I thought I would explore it more at the local Presbyterian church. Even though I was impressed by the worship itself, I was confused at the terms and not able to understand the messages in the sermon. I quickly lost interest and moved on to other parts of school life. Over the years, I had more and more questions: why do Americans cherish tradition in a certain way? What is my way of living and how do I find guidance? Fast forward 10 years, and Dan and I learned about Intown Lutheran Church from our good friend Stephen. We stumbled across a Bible basics class led by Pastor Lucas Bitter, and I unleashed the questions I had boxed up in my head. I sought answers, and I found grace. The true gospel I found at Intown prepared me for baptism. I was never this connected with spirituality before. After this many years, it is never too late to begin!

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Faces of Faith – Grandma Marian

Grandma Marian brings a generation of Navajo knowledge and history to the members of Christ the Rock. The Lord blessed her with the gift of faith from a very early age. She remembers walking a few miles to church every Sunday with her mother and treasures those memories. She attended a Christian boarding school as a child and can still picture the day the U.S. Marine Corps walked into her brother Edmund’s classroom and chose him to train as a Navajo Code Talker. Grandma Marian’s faith carried her throughout her life as an interpreter for the hospital in Rehoboth, New Mexico, as the wife of a Navajo Police officer in Ft. Defiance, and as the mother of her four children. Her greatest joy is knowing Jesus as her Savior and being able to share that joy with her family and others. She wants the entire Navajo Nation to know that Jesus died and rose again for them! Even with the challenges of using a walker and losing her eyesight, she doesn’t miss a worship service. If she can’t make it to Bible study, she joins online with her daughter Myra and the rest of her family. Whether she’s here in person or online, her laughter fills the room with sunshine.

From Jon Brohn, home missionary at Christ the Rock Lutheran Church in Farmington, N.M.

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Faces of Faith – Alicia

Alicia first came to church with her family for a special worship service in the fall of 2019. Although her family came to church as a courtesy to someone who invited them, they agreed to a follow-up visit with me. The next week, I arrived at their apartment around 10 p.m. for a visit.

At first, they were skeptical of this pastor they didn’t know. However, they kindly shared they were new to the country—having emigrated from Honduras—and didn’t have a church home. Alicia convinced her family to give our church a shot. Over time, they attended worship, baptized their son, and took Bible information classes. By summer 2020, Alicia and her parents were confirmed in the faith they now professed.

When her parents can’t come to church due to work, Alicia drives on her own. She often brings her younger brother and has brought various friends. She participates in our online adult Bible studies. She even helped start our small choir. Then, she asked if she could start a youth group. We gathered a few other teens from church and launched “Palabra Youth.” Now she’s a part of a thriving small group of teens centered on Christ.

Alicia is an amazing example to follow. She’s an immigrant teenager who is making friends at school, learning English, and keeping up with her studies. In all things she looks to glorify God and to contribute to her church’s mission!

From Ryan Kolander, home missionary at Palabra De Vida in Detroit, Mich.

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Faces of Faith – Travis

My life changed in a tiny room in the back of a music store. I was at one of the lowest moments of my life, playing my hurt into one of the store’s guitars. Ten minutes earlier I had called out angrily to God, saying that I was tired of living with my trauma and that if he was going to do something, he should do it now. God responded by sending Pastor Paul Bourman. He walked up and asked if he could help me in any way. I responded under breath, “You sent me a pastor? You’ve gotta be kidding me.” The tears flowed down my cheeks. Embarrassed, I tried to hide my tears, but God had plans to wipe them away.

I didn’t think that it was possible to truly heal from my trauma. I had anger in my heart that was eating away at me. I was convinced that I had no chance at having any real relationship with anyone ever again. When I learned about Jesus, I learned what forgiveness truly is. And now, that forgiveness overflows in my life. I can even forgive those who hurt me. By grace alone, in all my hurt, Christ has become my salvation. I became a member at Hope Lutheran Church in Tigard, Ore., this past fall. I proposed to my now fiancé, Frankie, after a worship service this winter, and my son is coming to believe that Jesus died for his sins. It is by grace I have been saved!

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Faces of Faith – Ivan and Gina

It had been a year since Ivan and Gina first received an invitation to Cross of Christ. When they first came to a service, a year later, they came by themselves. Gina said, “To be honest, we were terrified to go to a church. Really just scared of being judged or not fitting in. But we finally decided we needed to have God in our lives and didn’t know where to turn. We remembered you guys and saw that you meet at a restaurant. We came and everyone was so welcoming. The whole service—it was just what we needed. It felt like home.”

When Ivan and Gina started going through our basic Christian instruction class and we started talking about grace, they said, “We’ve never heard it quite like that before. God will just forgive us because of Jesus? We don’t have to try to be good enough first?” Grace is always a beautiful surprise.

Since then, Ivan and Gina have been bringing their four children with them to church. They finished instruction and joined as members at Cross of Christ. They have found a place they can call home and a community that’s like family. Gina said, “This church is everything I asked for and more.”

From Kurt Wetzel, home missionary at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in North Nampa, Ida.

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Faces of Faith – Jesse

The pandemic had disrupted any sense of normalcy. As a newer church plant, we instantly lost our public school worship location. We had property with an old plant nursery on it, but construction hadn’t started yet. When you don’t have a building, aren’t formally worshipping in person, and you get a phone call asking more about your church, you tend to scramble a bit.

Jesse Jensen had recently moved to Firestone with his folks. He had just graduated from nursing school and was working full-time, but he knew something was missing. He grew up “Christian” in the sense that he knew of Christ and knew of church, but he had never actively practiced or been a member anywhere. What he did have was a grandfather who was a believer and had an interest in knowing more, so he made a call.

I told Jesse, “We aren’t actually worshipping in person . . . and we don’t actually have a building . . . but I’ll buy you a coffee.” He said yes, and his journey to Christ and Carbon Valley began. Over the next year and a half, we systematically walked through the Bible. Jesse couldn’t get enough, which meant our classes went long and we added about four or five “bonus” lessons. It was incredible to talk through the Ten Commandments with someone who had never read them before.

Jesse stuck with us. He learned what worship can look like online, in a rented Methodist church on Saturdays, as we set up and took down on artificial turf, and finally in our very first worship facility. He built relationships and watched how our members treated one another and modeled Christian living. But most of all, he heard about his Savior over and over again, and that Savior worked in his heart. So much so that when Jesse’s grandfather died, his family asked Jesse to say something and lead the memorial. I gave him some prayers and thoughts, and he took them and led his family to give thanks for his grandfather’s life, but also to see Jesus. And after all that, Jesse was the first adult baptism and new member in our new building.

Jesse is an example of a post-Christian America, the willingness of mature Christians to be patient, to model, and to teach . . . but most of all the power of God’s Word.

I bought the first cup of coffee, and now Jesse says he’ll buy the next as he continues his Christian journey.

From Tim Spiegelberg, home missionary at Carbon Valley Lutheran Church in Firestone, Colo.

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Faces of Faith – Mike

When Mike first commented “Good morning!” in the Facebook comment section, none of us knew who he was. It was the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic when we were doing online-only worship. Somehow Mike had found us while scrolling through Facebook. He didn’t respond to any of my follow-up messages, but he did continue to log in to our services on a regular basis.

Nine months later, Mike finally sent me a Facebook message. It had been a hard year. His brother had died, his mom was sick, and Mike himself had just been diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. It was time to figure out his faith. The first time I met Mike in person, it was to give him a binder for Bible Basics class. I learned that he had a vague Mormon background, little church experience, and had never been baptized. Through Bible Basics class (taught online over Zoom), Mike had a great opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of his Savior Jesus.

The second time I met Mike in person, it was to baptize him—during a private ceremony at church. Just two days later he began chemotherapy treatments for his cancer. After his baptism, Mike sent me another Facebook message: “I really liked coming to the church building—I’m so glad we did the baptism there. I look forward to tuning in to tomorrow’s service online. I’m going to start the book you gave me right away. (“Prepared to Answer,” by Mark Paustian) There is just so much more I want to learn.”

Praise God for the gift of technology, the gift of baptism, and the way he brought it all together to give Mike a powerful dose of spiritual comfort at the time of life when he needed it most!

From Lucas Bitter, home missionary at Intown Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Ga.

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Faces of Faith – Allen and Rosalind

An invitation to blueberry pancakes. That is all it took. A friendly gesture, the simplest thing, led my wife and I down a path to God that we never knew we would take.

I am the youngest of my family and the only son. My wife is the youngest of six. I am originally from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and she is from Houston, Tex. Our backgrounds are remarkably diverse and vastly different at first appearance. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she was raised Baptist. Our paths were filled with many losses and obstacles, just as many Christians have experienced. So how did an invitation to blueberry pancakes change things? My wife met a genuinely nice man by the name of Jim Bruland. She invited him over for pancakes. During conversation he mentioned Cross of Christ, and she mentioned something about it to me. It was a small gesture, one that did not even come to fruition for an entire year. As an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, it was taboo to even go to another church. We searched for churches for many months after that conversation, but nothing materialized. One day the Holy Spirit motivated me to ask Mr. Bruland if we could go with him to church. The genuineness of the people and God’s grace culminated in our confirmation on my 52nd birthday on April 18, 2021.

From Allen Braun, new member at Cross of Christ in Liverpool, N.Y.

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Faces of Faith – Levi, Jennifer, and Cameron

Levi is a young, single dad living in urban Milwaukee who wanted nothing more than for his young son Cameron to get a good education. So, he enrolled Cameron in our church’s school confident his son would get not only a good education but a good Christian education. Levi also was convinced he wanted to become a member of our church, completed Bible information classes, and was preparing for membership. Then tragedy struck.

On January 27, 2013, Levi and Cameron were riding in a car with Levi’s best friend, Mark. There was an accident. Mark died, and Levi was left in a wheelchair. There were many pieces to pick up—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But God brought good out of this tragic situation. After the accident, Jennifer, a mutual friend of Levi and Mark, became caretaker for Levi and mom for Cameron.

The ensuing years were challenging for this young family. But God’s grace was persistent and there have been some amazing victories as well. Cameron graduated with honors in 2018 and is now attending Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis. In 2019, Levi once again took Bible information classes and became a member of our church. In August 2020, Levi and Jennifer were married (despite the pandemic). And just this year, Jennifer started Bible Information Class for membership in our church.  We all at Mt. Lebanon are truly thankful for all that God has done for this special family!

From Nate Bourman, home missionary at Mt. Lebanon in Milwaukee, Wis.

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Faces of Faith – Greg

One Sunday after church Steve asked me, “Hey Pastor, will you visit Greg?” I said, “Sure! Who’s Greg?” Turns out, Steve had come from New York and had become a member of Greg’s Jiu Jitsu gym here in Texas. Over time Steve had talked to Greg about Jesus and his new church, Christ Alone. Greg was intrigued, but he had no background in Christianity. He had moved to Texas from Los Angeles and did not know his Savior.

So I went. I met Greg at his Jiu Jitsu gym on a cold February day in 2019. I didn’t even know what he looked like! We met at a local restaurant, and I got to know him and his family a little. I went back the next week and met him at that same restaurant. There I explained God’s law and gospel to him. At 45 years old, it was the first time he had ever heard it. He was blown away. Greg came to faith in Jesus that day. He was baptized later that year, and he recently became a member. I know who Greg is now. He’s not only a fellow believer, but a dear friend in Christ.

From Paul Seager, home missionary at Christ Alone in Keller, Tex.

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