He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Beautiful Savior Lutheran in Fayetteville, N.C., is like all our WELS home missions in some ways. We are (as our congregational motto states): “Christ preaching! Bible believing! People caring!”
We are perhaps more unique in that we are a regional church. The nearest WELS church is at least an hour and a half away in any given direction, so we have members who drive over an hour to attend.
The most unique aspect to our mission, however, is over half of our membership consists of active duty military families, mostly Army. There are around 380,000 residents in the Fayetteville metro area. Of those, over 52,000 are active duty soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg. Military members and their families find in our congregation a refuge, a church home where they can be refreshed, a place to hear about God’s healing provided for us through the suffering of his Son Jesus.
Why does our synod support mission congregations like ours? Pastor Paul Ziemer, national civilian chaplain to the military and WELS armed forces liaison, understands the unique challenge our congregation faces in getting to a self-supporting level. “We need to be in fields like this to serve troops and their families that come and go in waves.”
Luke was our congregational president while serving at Fort Bragg. When talking about supporting our military families, he explained, “The church has the opportunity to bring the Good Shepherd to the sheep who volunteer to be sheepdogs for a season” (“sheepdogs” run to danger to keep others out of danger).
Here’s where the mission at Beautiful Savior overlaps with a larger mission. If WELS/ELS military members would arrive without a WELS church in the area, many would likely either fall away or seek another church to attend. This is why having a WELS church here is critical! We not only serve the lost in the community but also these military families, even if it is only for a short time. We consider it a privilege to strengthen them in the gospel and then transfer them on to the next WELS/ELS church.
Please join with me in praying that God would bless these dedicated military families through our ministry efforts.
I also thank you for your support of our gospel work through your offerings made at church or directly to WELS Home Missions. They help us to serve our members and many others by pointing them to the blessing of eternal life with Jesus Christ. Please consider a gift to WELS Home Missions to help meet the unique ministry opportunities here and at other home missions across the country.
Serving Christ together,
Rev. Thomas Glende
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, N.C.