Tag Archive for: missions

Taste of Missions school challenge and poster contest

The 2024 Taste of Missions School Challenge is now open! This year brings two different opportunities for students of all ages to learn about WELS mission work:

School challenge for grades K-8

All Lutheran grade schools are invited to participate in our annual Taste of Missions School Challenge! Visit tasteofmissions.com/schools to view Missions-themed activities that grade school teachers can use to help students in their classroom learn about WELS Home and World Missions and get involved with WELS Missions’ annual Taste of Missions event. Two classes (one from grades K-4 and one from grades 5-8) will be randomly selected to win a Taste of Missions party for their classroom, tickets to the event, and additional surprises. Get involved and submit the form on the Taste of Missions website by Fri., April 12, for your chance to win.

High school poster contest

Calling all WELS and ELS high school artists! Encourage high school students to participate in the first ever Taste of Missions high school poster contest. Students can express their creativity and learn about WELS mission work by crafting an 11” x 17” masterpiece capturing the heart of WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions. An overall winner will receive a $250 Amazon gift card, Taste of Missions swag bag, and their artwork will be displayed at the Taste of Missions event on June 15, 2024, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. All other submissions will be eligible to be voted Fan Favorite by attendees at Taste of Missions for another chance to win.

The deadline for students to submit their poster is Fri., April 26, 2024. Digital or mailed/dropped off submissions are accepted. Find official rules and specifications as well as submission information at tasteofmissions.com/postercontest.

 

 




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A community of digital disciples

The screens slowly appear one by one. Some cameras are focused on faces, some cameras remain off. Living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, stools, couches, bare walls, windows, the backdrops vary. I count nine screens. Nine people who clicked an ad on their phone. Nine people who entered their names and phone numbers. Nine people who watched a few hours of video lessons and learned about Jesus. Nine people who clicked to learn more. Nine people in whom the Holy Spirit is hard at work.

It is my first night teaching a TELL class to a group of students throughout Asia. I offer a prayer of thanksgiving that God has given me the opportunity to learn the Bible with these nine people.

These students have completed the first level of TELL self-study courses. The course I am teaching is “Work of the Savior.” It is their first live class as well as mine. Two of my students are new to faith. One young man from Pakistan lets me know that he has been reading the Bible for a month and is excited to learn more and grow in his faith. Four men introduce themselves as Pastors: two from India, two from Pakistan. They too share the excitement of having found an opportunity to learn and grow so that they can better lead their small congregations. One camera remains off, the microphone remains silent. Another young man from Pakistan lets me know that he has been a Christian his whole life. He is currently working on a master’s degree but believes God might be leading him to study at a seminary instead. The final picture is a young woman. Although she is the only female in the group, she confidently shares her faith throughout the night, proclaiming God’s power to heal our sin sick souls as we learn about Jesus healing the paralyzed man.

We talk, we listen, and we learn. I can see the joy in people’s faces as they relish the opportunity to study the Bible with fellow believers. I can see the light in their eyes as they hear about God’s plan of salvation. As we close our evening class, the screens disappear one by one. Nine screens, nine strangers, nine brothers and sisters were able to meet together in God’s Word. I am humbled to have had this incredible opportunity. I can’t wait until the next night where I will turn my computer on and find nine of God’s children ready to hear his Word.

Written by Mr. Jeremy Seeger, missionary on the Asia One Team and TELL teacher in Asia. 

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God allows for wonderful plans to unfold

Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho, is a Vietnamese congregation in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. We are thankful that the Lord allowed myself and Trung Le to study to be pastors through the Pastoral Study Institute (PSI) program. Pastor Daniel Kramer was the active pastor of the congregation while we were in training to be the pastors. Pastor Kramer was also a Vietnamese-speaking pastor, and he led the worship services, preached and taught in Vietnamese.

The congregation was always wondering what would happen to Peace in Jesus as well as the Vietnamese outreach ministry after Trung Le and I graduated from the PSI program. Everyone was excited for the work of the Lord, but the congregation was curious, “What would happen next for Peace in Jesus?” They didn’t know the answer at that time, and they prayed to God for direction.

Finally, that day came and God allowed for a wonderful plan to unfold. In 2023 there were a lot of blessings that happened at Peace in Jesus. Two Pastoral Studies Institute students, Trung Le and I, graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in May 2023.

That same month, Pastor Trung received a divine call to serve as a Vietnamese outreach pastor at King of Kings in Garden Grove, Calif., where there are a lot of Vietnamese living in the area. Pastor Trung accepted the call and moved to Garden Grove  in early October 2023.

L to R: Pastor Tao Nguyen, Pastor Daniel Kramer, Pastor Trung Le

Shortly after Pastor Trung received the divine call, Pastor Kramer also received three different divine calls. He accepted to serve at Crown of Life in New Orleans, La. Crown of Life is about one mile away from the Vietnamese community in New Orleans. He and his wife, Karis, made their move to New Orleans in early October 2023. We pray that if it is God’s will, many more Vietnamese in New Orleans will hear the gospel.

With Pastor Trung and Pastor Kramer leaving to serve God at other locations, Peace in Jesus extended the divine call to me to serve at as their pastor, and I accepted the call in August 2023. We thank God for all these transitions and that they have gone smoothly.

During the transition, many members have stepped up, served, and become more involved in church activities. Most of the members had mixed feelings. They didn’t want to see any of the pastors leave Peace in Jesus because of the strong bond developed by being a part of Christ’s family. Nevertheless, all of us also recognized that the Kingdom of God is way larger than any of us can imagine, and no one can measure his love for humankind. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God not only allowed for a wonderful plan for Peace in Jesus to unfold, but God also has a plan for everyone who believes in him.

We thank God for his wonderful plan for Peace in Jesus in Boise, Idaho. We pray that his kingdom continues growing in Vietnamese communities, not only in Idaho and in the States, but also abroad.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Written by Rev. Tao Nguyen, missionary at Peace in Jesus Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho

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Save the date! Taste of Missions 2024

Taste of Missions is back, and we couldn’t be more excited! Last year nearly 500 WELS members gathered in Mequon, Wis., to send off nine new home and world missionaries to spread the gospel in the far corners of the world. Even more celebrated with us online. It was a remarkable day, filled with engaging conversations with home and world missionary families, insightful Q&A panels, ethnic eats, and uplifting worship alongside brothers and sisters from across the globe. See what it was all about by exploring our Flickr album.

We want YOU to come join the fun again at this year’s Taste of Missions on Sat., June 15, 2024. Bring your family to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., to send off new missionaries in our special commissioning service, enjoy delicious offerings from food trucks, and connect with some of your synod’s current missionaries. Can’t make it in person? Virtual attendees can watch all the events via livestream, view exclusive video updates from missionaries, and even try their hand at cooking up some ethnic recipes from our website.

Mark your calendars—registration opens on March 11! While you’re waiting, visit tasteofmissions.com for some additional event details and catch up on any videos you may have missed from last year’s gathering.

We can’t wait to see you there!

P.S. The fourth annual Taste of Missions School Challenge and NEW poster contest for WELS/ELS high school students will open on February 19! View photos and activities from last year’s challenge and keep an eye out for future announcements at tasteofmissions.com/schools.

 




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So I am sending you

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ ” (John 20:21)

When was the last time you paused for a moment to reflect on how your life has changed? Consider where you are at now in life compared to one year ago, five years ago, or even further back. As Christians, we benefit from a time of reflection when we recognize God’s guidance of our lives through various experiences and encounters.

Years ago, the parents of Dan Kingsbury sought out a church whose teaching was faithful to scripture. After becoming WELS members, Dan was enrolled at St. Croix Lutheran High School. It was at St. Croix where Dan enjoyed interacting with international students from Asia. Over 50 percent of the world’s population resides in Asia, and it was on Dan’s heart to learn more about Asian people and their culture. While attending Wisconsin Lutheran College, Dan enrolled in Chinese Mandarin language classes with the hope of better connecting with others. While Dan had been encouraged to consider serving in full-time ministry before, it was a presentation from a Friends Network teacher that opened a new door. As Dan prayerfully considered his options, he reflected on the words of John 20:21 where Jesus speaks peace to his disciples’ hearts and sends his disciples to do the Father’s will.

Pastor Dan and his family

When Dan joined the Friends Network team and relocated to Asia in 2013, there were opportunities to help lead worship and Bible study. It was through serving both his mission team and the local believers that Dan grew as a leader. With the support of his team and his wife, whom he met in Asia, Dan eventually enrolled in Asia Lutheran Seminary. While his goal of wanting to be a better Bible teacher remained simple, the blessing of reflection reveals God’s incredible plan for Dan and through Dan’s work.

While attending Seminary classes, Dan helped with recruitment for the seminary and even taught pre-seminary courses. Following his graduation, Dan was called by Asia Lutheran Seminary to serve as Professor of New Testament and is one of several professors who can teach his courses completely in Mandarin.

God has guided Dan into a position where he now equips and helps to send others. As God guided and previously sent Dan, so God is now guiding and sending Dan’s students to further carry out The Great Commission. In January 2024, over a dozen students from various parts of Asia gathered with Dan to study the New Testament using only the Greek language. These Christian leaders take the gospel home to places where our mission teams cannot go.

Another large group of Asian Christians have identified four candidates from within their membership for future spiritual leadership. Dan and Asia Lutheran Seminary have the privilege to prepare this next generation. As a result, the older generation can apply the words of Jesus in John 20:21 to their own home mission field. As our Heavenly Father had previously sent them to share the Good News, so this new generation of spiritual leaders will one day be sent to serve their people.

When you look back over the last year or even ten years, how has God guided you?

Where do you see yourself when you read John 20:21?

Over the last decade, God has used the interests and abilities of Dan Kingsbury to reach the lost and encourage fellow believers. As Asia Lutheran Seminary continues to equip the Asian world with the Good News of Jesus, remember these professors, missionaries, and students in your prayers. Pray that they would enjoy the peace that only Jesus can bring. Pray that they would enjoy the courage to serve that only God can inspire.

Written by Rev. Neil Birkholz, Diaspora Ministry Facilitator for the Asia One Team. 

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Mission Journeys opportunities in London

The new world mission field in London has partnered with WELS Mission Journeys to establish a volunteer program in London. Through volunteering, you have the exciting opportunity to experience life and share the gospel in a global city rich with history and culture. London is filled with people from numerous nationalities and backgrounds, many of whom are in desperate need of hearing the gospel message. You will learn about new cultures, meet people from all over the world, and share the truth of God’s Word with those who are lost.

Short-term opportunities
We are looking for groups of eight to ten people to come volunteer for eight to ten days in London. Your time will be spent attending two Sunday church services at our WELS church, volunteering at various charities throughout the week, and exploring the city. You have the humble opportunity to serve your neighbor and let your light shine by helping others. You will also be a positive representation of what our Lutheran church teaches. When you’re not volunteering, enjoy spending time in London! Go to a pub, eat fish and chips, watch the changing of the guard, drink tea, and soak in the beauty of a city that has been around for almost two thousand years. You will leave London with a greater appreciation for the world we live in, the millions of people God has created, and a renewed fire to share the gospel with others.

Long-term opportunities
If you are interested in taking some time off of school, work, or you have time to spare, consider serving as a long-term volunteer in London. In this role, you will spend up to six months working one-on-one with the missionaries, serving at local charities, and growing in your understanding of a new place and culture. You will be able to encourage others in their faith as well as grow in your own faith. Spending extended time in a foreign country is a valuable experience that will leave a lasting impact on your heart and mind.

Interested in either opportunity? Contact WELS Mission Journeys for more information at [email protected] or call Mr. Shannon Bohme, Mission Journeys coordinator, at 651-324-4218.




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Impact of TELL teaching

Where will my mission field be? As I sit in class in my last year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, sometimes my thoughts drift toward the end of the year. A place. Faces waiting. People who need to hear about Jesus. But for now, waiting.

Or at least that’s how I thought I would feel.

As my wife, Grace, and I made the move back to Mequon after my vicar year, I learned that the TELL Network was looking for teachers for their live courses. I decided to sign up, thinking it might be a good way to practice teaching while I wait for parish ministry.

I underestimated the impact teaching for TELL would have on me.

Logging on for my first lesson, I was greeted by 25 names, faces, and voices. Separated by half a world, here were a couple dozen people who wanted to gather, learn, and grow in the word of God. An instant mission field. Bingo. I was excited to teach these eager students from South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and even Pakistan.

Once again, I underestimated the way this would impact me.

As we studied the stories of persecuted prophets and God’s faithfulness to the exiles, my faith was strengthened as I learned about God’s hand working through the lives of these ambassadors for Christ Jesus.

Like Isaac, a student who faced considerable danger. As we studied Daniel in the lion’s den, he boldly shared, “Even if Daniel had died, God wins. That is comfort for me.” Isaac and his classmates were committed to the study of the word in mission fields filled with danger. They live like modern Daniels, committing themselves to prayer and witnessing despite the obstacles.

Or Emmanuel, who would find a shady place under a tree to park his truck in the heat of the day. Taking a break from his commute to join live class. He is like that “tree planted by streams of water” as he thirsts for the Word of God.

Or Joseph, who recently gave me a reminder about witnessing to any mission field. As the class discussed the fears and apprehensions we have when sharing the Word of God, I reflected on failed opportunities and fears that I’ve had. I couldn’t help but think ahead, knowing that those fears will be there in the future. That’s when Joseph spoke up, sharing the verse he recalls whenever he has a witnessing opportunity: Luke 12:12, “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

I pray that this is my confidence and yours, too. That wherever the mission field might be, that God the Holy Spirit gives us the words to speak through his Holy Word.

Written by Seminarian Jacob Ungemach, senior at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. 

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Missionaries called to explore new world mission fields

The Board for World Missions, working alongside the various World Missions One Teams, has identified new world mission fields and is taking steps to deploy missionaries into three new areas. “Spreading God’s Word in any and every place is our high calling,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, World Missions administrator. “We ask the Lord of the harvest to use us to bring many into his kingdom through our work.”

Missionaries asked to relocate to Australia

Two missionaries from the Asia One Team, currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, have been asked to consider relocating to begin outreach based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Schlomer shares, “People in Australia have asked us for help. WELS members who have moved to Australia, brothers and sisters who have had to move from Hong Kong, and long-time partners in churches in the Brisbane area, have reached out. It is a joy to be able to meet these needs with WELS missionaries.” Both missionaries would remain on the Asia One Team as they continue their work with contacts throughout Asia.

Calls issued for Muslim outreach in Senegal

Two calls have been issued to explore new outreach in the West African country of Senegal. The goal would be for new missionaries to spend up to six months living with a Muslim family from the Wolof tribe, immersing themselves in the culture and language of the people they are trying to reach with the gospel. Once they have a better understanding of the culture and Muslim influence, they would develop more specific plans for outreach. The Board for World Missions is committed to supporting this new mission field for a minimum of two years in order to give the missionaries ample time to work within the culture. Learn more about this opportunity at wels.net/mission-work-approved-in-senegal.

New Native American outreach in Four Corners region

The Board for World Missions has approved a new missionary position to coordinate outreach to the Native American tribes in the Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. This new missionary would be tasked with developing a new model for Native American outreach, working closely with native Apache members who want to reach out to friends and family members from other tribes with the pure gospel message. He will work closely with Missionary John Holtz, who leads the discipleship arm of the Native Christians Network and is training Apache WELS members for service and outreach through the Apache Christian Training School (ACTS) program. This missionary also will coordinate with Christ the Rock, Farmington, N.M., to develop existing outreach to Native Americans in the area and work to expand digital outreach efforts.

“These new fields will allow us to bring the gospel to places where the announcement of pure grace is scarce or even nonexistent,” says Schlomer. “May God use these missionaries to bring joy in sadness and hope where darkness has hidden God’s face.”

Learn more about additional world mission fields that are being explored at wels.net/newworldmissionfields.

 

 

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New Home Missions administrator

WELS Missions welcomes Mark Gabb as the new administrator for WELS Home Missions. Gabb began serving in this role in January following a vacancy in the position since spring 2022, when previous administrator Keith Free accepted a call to parish ministry.

Gabb was formally installed as the Home Missions administrator Wed., Jan. 31, at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry weekly chapel service.

Gabb is not new to the work of WELS Home Missions. He has served as a member of the Board for Home Missions for ten years and as chairman for three, taking on additional leadership responsibilities during the vacancy.

Gabb says Home Missions has been part of his life for as long as he can remember. His father was a pastor and planted a mission church in Texas; Gabb’s first parish assignment was to a mission congregation in Ohio; his brother—also a pastor—was assigned to plant a church in New York. When Gabb moved to Florida, he was appointed to serve on the district mission board of the South Atlantic District in 2006. “I was eager to do what I could to encourage missionaries and existing missions and help plant new churches in our district. It never occurred to me that Home Missions would become a major part of my life and ministry,” says Gabb.

Gabb is taking on this role during an important time: A new initiative, “100 Missions in 10 Years,” officially was launched at the 2023 synod convention. “Together we can do what most individual congregations can’t do alone, and that is plant new churches throughout North America,” he says. “We bring a wealth of expertise from our district mission board members and mission counselors, and we have a partnership with WELS Church Extension Fund that provides grants and loans to our new missions. All this helps us to carry out the outreach aspect of Christ’s Great Commission.”

 

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Technology changes but the gospel message remains

486 million people speak Spanish. Could it be possible to reach all of them with an invitation to hear the gospel?

Technology allows us to do just that. From the jungle of Ecuador to the bustling city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, we can reach almost anyone right where they are with a simple click of a button.

Academia Cristo reached over a million people through an app that brought many blessings. Currently ten missionaries in Latin America travel to guide and encourage over 30 church plants. Missionaries and church planters teach Bible instruction courses almost every day of the week to hundreds of people eager to learn more about God’s Word.

The app was great, but we have now found an even better way to reach 486 million people.

Technology is all about ease of use. The platforms we use must be easy and user friendly. In Latin America and many other places around the world, the way to talk with people is through something called WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a messenger service that is completely free and easy to use. 92 percent of Spanish speaking people already use WhatsApp so why not build our Academia Cristo app on WhatsApp?

Six months ago, our team ensured that the entire Academia Cristo app was re-built for WhatsApp. Now, anyone can simply send a message to Academia Cristo and with a simple click get started studying the Word of God with us. Through an automated messenger system, anyone throughout the world can complete the four self-study courses. There is no need to download an app, just send us a message and complete 40 lessons to start a live class.

Working through WhatsApp is changing Academia Cristo in a good way. The previous application would have an average of 12 new live students every week. With our new messenger system, we expect 50 new live students every week. The quality of student is the same and the chances of finding more people who want to bring the gospel to their community increases exponentially.

Technology changes but the gospel message remains the same. Reaching four million people every week through social media and with an expectation of filling online live classrooms with 60 new students every week, Academia Cristo seeks to reach millions and to start churches throughout Latin America beginning with a simple messenger system that almost everyone already has.

May God bless this new way of reaching more people starving to hear the gospel.

Written by Mr. Jon Gross, Multi-Language Productions Producer for the Latin America Mission Team

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Seminary students assist home mission churches

Over the winter break, three groups of students from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary traveled to various home mission churches to learn first-hand what it’s like serving as a home missionary and assist in local outreach efforts.

Mount Calvary –  Redding/Anderson, Calif.

Mt. Calvary in Redding/Anderson, Calif., after “grocery canvasing”

Mount Calvary in Redding/Anderson, Calif., hosted 12 seminary students for 7 days. They spent this time exploring and studying the neighboring communities while helping with “grocery canvasing” to assist local nonprofits collect food. While gathering groceries, they also gathered information about the surrounding community and people.

Divine Savior – North Collin County, Tex.

Divine Savior Church in North Collin County, Tex., had the assistance of students from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary as it participated in a food drive to serve the surrounding community and learn more about the needs of their neighbors in Celina, Tex. The food drive was a success; by the end of the day they had collected and donated 1,864 pounds of food to fight hunger in the community! One student shared, “It’s been encouraging to see the community open up their doors to not only give to a good cause, but also help us reach more people with Jesus.”

Divine Savior Church Bible and Brews outreach event

The Way – Fredericksburg, Va.

The third group of 12 senior Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary students visited The Way in Fredericksburg, Va., to attend a special church planting course. This course was led by WELS mission counselor, Rev. Mark Birkholz, and a few experienced church planters—Rev. Matt Rothe, home missionary at The Way, and Rev. Lucas Bitter, home missionary at Intown in Atlanta, Ga.

Training the next generation of church planters is critical to the success of the 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative. Learn more about this ambitious goal at wels100in10.net.

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A little “hope for everyday” goes a long way

We live by the phrase “hope for everyday” here at Living Hope in Chattanooga, Tenn. The hope our Savior gives us is all encompassing. It’s eternal. And that hope for eternal life filters down to our everyday lives too. There’s hope for everyday life, everyday problems, and everyday people. So, that’s our mission: bring “hope for everyday” to people around us so they come to see the big-picture hope they have with Jesus. We’ve found that just a little “hope for everyday” can go a long way.

Jeanette would agree. Jeanette has been through some very dark and hopeless looking days in her life. As a child she grew up in the foster care system. Later, she got married and had two sons. But Jeanette’s husband became abusive and for 16 years she suffered severe physical and emotional abuse. Child Protective Services even had to step in and take her sons away from a home that had become dangerous.

After that incident, Jeanette left her husband but soon had another scary encounter. She was randomly attacked by a gang outside of a bar and may have been beaten to death if it hadn’t been for a kind stranger who confronted the gang with his shotgun and ran them off.

Jeanette continued to fall on hard times after this due to a back injury that left her disabled. She ended up homeless for more than seven years. She usually stayed on friends’ couches but had nights of sleeping outside in the cold, too. Jeanette’s life seemed broken and full of hardship. Hope seemed like a far-off thing. Definitely not an everyday thing.

Eventually, Jeanette got into affordable housing. Then one day hope showed up at her door. One of the ways Living Hope has tried bringing hope for everyday into people’s lives has been through an effort called grocery canvassing. We pack up bags of essential groceries and knock on doors in nearby neighborhoods that could use some love. The food is just one little way of spreading everyday hope, with the aim that we’ll be able to talk about our eternal hope in Jesus with people too.

When a Living Hope member knocked on Jeanette’s door with a bag of free groceries, she already knew who we were. She’d been saving a Living Hope Christmas flyer on her fridge the last few months. She didn’t know much about the Bible or her relationship with God but she wanted some answers and was willing to learn. Right at the door, Jeanette asked if she could come to church tomorrow. She just needed a ride. Some Living Hope members brought Jeanette to church the next morning and she’s been coming back ever since.

Jeanette took a Bible information class, got baptized, and joined as a member at Living Hope this past June with her sons there to share her big day.

Jeanette says that walking into Living Hope “felt like joining a whole ‘nother family.” A void in her life had been filled by Christ. She’d always wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing and finally, through studying the Bible and being at church, she knows Jesus has made her right. In Jeanette’s words, “It’s a feeling of freedom.”

A free bag of groceries may seem like a small thing. But it’s the little things, the little actions of spreading everyday hope, that can turn someone’s life around when they get connected to their eternal hope in Christ. A little “hope for everyday” can go a long way for lost and hurting souls.

Written by Rev. Eric Melso, serving Living Hope Lutheran Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Teach with TELL

TELL Network’s exponential growth has resulted in an immediate need for male instructors to teach TELL classes in English. What is TELL Network? TELL Network is an online leader training program of Multi-Language Productions, providing an in-depth Bible study curriculum in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Tagalog to students in places where WELS does not have a presence. Learn more about the program at wels.net/tell.

TELL offers a unique chance to connect with believers around the world and support them as they begin sharing the gospel with their community.

What to Expect

  1. TWO 1-hour Zoom classes per week for 4 weeks.
  2. 2 weeks to review Final Projects.
  3. WhatsApp communication with students (sending class materials, sharing Zoom recordings, answering questions).
  4. An honorarium of $300 per course taught.

Course materials, including slides and teacher guides, are already made for you!

Requirements

  1. A male called worker in fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod OR a current Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Student in their Middler or Senior year.
  2. Strong organizational and administrative skills.
  3. Above-average digital literacy (or a willingness to learn).
  4. A WhatsApp account (free and easy to set up).
  5. A passion and excitement for training future church leaders around the globe!

If you or someone you know might be interested in this opportunity, learn more and apply at teach.tellnetwork.org.




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CAMM January 2024 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

As I write this letter, it is late December and it’s amazing how it feels just like yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of 2023. Now that we are just a few days away from ending 2023, there is so much to be grateful for—especially the gift of life that the Lord has granted us throughout the year.

Here in Malawi, December always comes with heavy rains. It’s the time when all the farmers plant their fields knowing that the rainy season has arrived. However, this December was different because a lot of districts had not received any rain until mid-month. This brought so many worries to farmers as they had no hope on when the rains would start. But because our Lord is good, by December 20, Lilongwe and other districts received heavy rains. People were happy and ready to work in their fields.

Despite being happy about the rains, during this rainy season the clinic faced challenges in so many ways. December 20 was a clinic day at Suzi, and because it had rained heavily we had difficulty traveling to the clinic site. The road was bumpy and very muddy making it hard for driving. Despite all these difficulties, we still made it to the clinic as our land cruisers are good, even on bad roads.

Upon reaching the clinic, we found a large crowd of people—men, women, and children—sheltering under the roof of the clinic and some under the trees as it was still raining. The people were happy seeing us as they thought we wouldn’t make it due to the bad road. When our staff were setting up the clinic, our clinicians had already started seeing the patients that were triaged by the village staff before we arrived. These people were very sick and the complaint that presented the most was malaria.

Malaria is a condition that worsens during the rainy season and is one of the leading causes of death in Malawi. From the month of October on, our clinic started registering an increase in malaria cases that worsened in November and December. Not only has this malaria affected children under five, but it is also affecting adults. As a clinic, we are always prepared for this as we carry enough malaria testing kits and medication for uncomplicated malaria. Not only that, but we also carry with us medication for complicated malaria, which we give to patients before we refer them to hospitals for continued management. As always, our staff, who are hardworking and team players, did an outstanding job in dealing with the large number of patients we saw that day. When a staff member sees that a colleague needs help, they can be relied on to jump in and assist without being told to do so. We thank God for this and may he continue blessing all of the staff.

Written by Violet Chikwatu, nurse in charge at the Central Africa Medical Mission Lutheran Mobile clinic in Malawi. 

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Celebration in Uganda

Last summer, our synod declared fellowship with the Obadiah Lutheran Synod (OLS), a small confessional Lutheran church body in the African nation of Uganda. On Jan. 13, the OLS held a synodwide worship service celebrating its fellowship with WELS. Members of the OLS traveled from towns and villages through southeastern Uganda to attend—some for more than six hours. More than 800 people attended the special worship celebration. Missionary Howard Mohlke and I were blessed to attend as the representatives of WELS.

The morning began with heavy rains. Because the celebration was to be held outdoors and the dirt roads leading to the location were impassable, the service was delayed for several hours until the rain stopped. But the weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of those who came to worship. The service began with songs by the youth choir and with the robust singing of many hymns by the worshipers. The service also included the ordination of a new OLS pastor, an address by OLS President Makisimu Musa, and words of encouragement from many of the OLS pastors in attendance. The celebration also included words of greeting from the WELS representatives as well as encouraging words of congratulations by local and national Ugandan government officials.

Just as the delegates at our WELS convention last summer were overjoyed to establish fellowship with the OLS and thanked God for the blessing, so the people of the OLS shared in that joy and thanks.

The OLS is planting new congregations in towns and villages throughout Uganda, and it is being blessed with a growth in membership. Along with that growth comes challenges, especially when it comes to the need for all-wheel drive vehicles that can negotiate the bumpy and muddy roads to enable contact with remote congregations. And while the synod builds its own churches with locally made mud-fired brick, it is in need of funds to provide roofs for those buildings.

WELS members have been generous in their support for these projects, and the OLS is very grateful for what has been received. But additional funds are needed to complete the necessary projects. If you would like to support the OLS in the gospel ministry it is faithfully carrying out, you can send your gift to WELS World Missions, designated for the OLS in Uganda, or donate online.

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder

Learn more about the work in Uganda.

 

 

 

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A picture is worth a thousand words

Originally appears in the One Africa Team blog. Subscribe to future updates from Africa at oneafricateam.com.

A picture is worth a thousand words – in any language. Members of the Obadiah Lutheran Synod (OLS) in Uganda speak English, Luganda, Lusoga, and many other Bantu dialects. It is a challenge to communicate Scriptural truths across linguistic and educational barriers. It’s even more challenging to explain abstract concepts like justification, redemption, and Christ’s humiliation and exaltation to students in confirmation class. But a well drawn picture can tie timeless truth to a tangible target.

Rev. Dr. Terry Schultz is an experienced WELS missionary who creates print and music materials for WELS Multi-Language Productions. Schultz supports WELS mission work around the globe. OLS President Maksimu Musa requested One Africa Team’s assistance in training Sunday school teachers. One Africa Team turned to Schultz, who has graphically portrayed the Apostles’ Creed with full color illustrations. He and Missionary John Roebke engaged 35 Sunday school teachers and OLS pastors with the task of translating these illustrations into lessons.

The pictures

The 1531 edition of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism contained 23 pictures printed from woodcut images. Like these images, Schultz’s drawings help a teacher tell a simple story to explain a complex teaching. A courtroom scene depicts a young man standing before a judge with his accuser to one side and his attorney at the other. The next scene shows him standing before God, flanked by Satan and Jesus.

Another picture unfolds the drama of a kidnapping and payment of ransom. The next scene represents the divine story of Christ’s redemption – not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood. A comic book panel of pictures illustrates each of the stages of Christ’s humiliation.

A composite illustration presents the stages of his exaltation. Schultz carefully crafted each picture to maximize understanding and teaching. A teacher’s manual with minimal text supplements each picture, bearing in mind the target audience’s literacy level. WELS Multi-Language Productions has produced three booklets to date – one for each of the three articles of the Apostles’ Creed. Schultz is finalizing the illustrations for the Sacrament of Baptism, with the other chief parts of the Catechism to follow.

The teachers

Attendees began each day of the workshop with animated singing and dancing. In addition to performing local melodies, the group learned a few African American spirituals from Schultz. OLS pastors delivered inspiring devotional messages in English. Schultz infused his own energy into the workshop as he introduced each picture to the participants.

After this, the Sunday school teachers broke into smaller groups of three to five people. In each group, an OLS pastor walked through the concepts behind the picture. Thirty minutes later, each small group took turns teaching the lesson to the larger audience. Some teachers appeared more confident than others, but by the week’s end all of them had made significant improvement.

Next steps

Unfortunately, time did not allow for Schultz to present all 45 teaching posters the group. The teaching posters and manuals remain with the OLS in Uganda. We encouraged the pastors to work through these materials with their Sunday school teachers. The pastors have a much better grasp on both Lutheran teachings and local culture.

Regardless if Schultz returns to Uganda, the OLS now has a powerful instrument for instructing youth and adults. Can you picture their faces gathered around Jesus’ throne some day?

Please pray for those working in fields that are ripe for harvest. Share their story, engage with future news, and receive updates. Learn more about our mission fields in Africa and how the Holy Spirit is working faith in people’s hearts.

Written by Rev. John Roebke, world missionary on the One Africa Team.

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It’s just sand, you can’t grow anything there

The story goes that the farmers of Alabama and panhandle Florida weren’t interested in the lands now known as Panama City Beach – an area across the Hathaway Bridge from Panama City, Fla. They referred to it as worthless property because you “can’t grow anything there.” Looking back, I wish I had lived back then and bought up a lot of the worthless sand. With foresight, Gideon Thomas purchased land right on the water in the 1930s. In 1936 he had a formal opening to what is now titled “Panama City Beach” – complete with his beach hotel and 1,000-foot pier. The rest is history for this bustling community.

A lot has changed from those times when it was fondly dubbed “the Redneck Riviera.” The latest growth spurts means more stores, support services, and construction crews that draw in more workers. A main driver behind many of the new planned communities is the St. Joe Company. The development that gets the most attention is Latitude Margaritaville Watersound 55 – an affordable retirement community a bit like “The Villages” of mid-Florida. Presently 3,500 homes have been built and pre-purchased by people from 49 of the 50 states. They anticipate 160,000 new homes in the next 40 years. A new airport was built a few years ago to accommodate growth and now a new hospital and medical facility are in the process of construction. A recent news article wrote, “There’s no sign of Bay County slowing down when it comes to people moving to our area.” They recognize the unchanging asset here – the beautiful beaches. We would like to see a new solid gospel community in the middle of it built on our unchanging asset – the good news of Jesus.

Besides Panama City, the closest other WELS church is two hours away. But Amazing Grace in Panama City has some very active core members living in the middle of the growth areas such as families like Andrew and Tian with their four primary school children. Or Keisha, with her two teenagers and two preschoolers, who drives at least an hour to church (depending on traffic) from Santa Rosa Beach area. These families find it difficult to convince others in the area to make the long drive to “the City” over the Hathaway Bridge. For the last year we have been offering weekly a Bible class that swells to 30 in attendance when the snowbirds arrive. It has attracted new people like Jevone from Jamaica or Susie, a retired school music teacher. To provide even more points of contact, we volunteer as mentors at the West Bay Elementary School and provide occasional lunches or treats for the teachers and staff.

We are thankful the South Atlantic District Mission Board saw something special in our proposal to begin an outreach mission there and included it in the first round of picks for the “100 missions in 10 years.” Now comes the waiting portion as calls go out to pastors to lead the mission endeavor.

In the early 1930’s there was little use for what some referred to as “the ugly white sand.” Today it is often referred to as one of the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” What will the future be like for WELS gospel outreach there? Pray for it (and if you are looking for a warm place to retire and be a part of the outreach, join us). We pray this effort develops a church home for many others to enjoy the world’s most beautiful message.

Written by Rev. David Kehl, serving Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Panama City, Fla. 

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Where city and country and college meet!

As you enter town, you cannot help but notice the sign welcoming its guests, “Morgan – where city and country meet.”

It does not say anything on the sign about college. There is no university there. There is no community college there. But what is there, is a congregation that cares about college students! As some of their families were out in the harvest fields surrounding this community of under 1,000, they did not lose sight of their Lord’s harvest field. Zion Lutheran Church held a mission festival. Specifically, they were thinking of those harvest fields on college campuses. The area of focus that they wanted to both explore and support was our WELS Campus Ministry.

As they made plans for this special weekend, the Women’s Guild got together and talked about ways they could specifically support campus ministry. In those conversations they wanted to support both the work of our synod and the work right before their eyes there at Zion Lutheran Church. They included these young adults and the ministries that point them to Christ in their prayers. They supported our synod with a special gift for WELS ministry. And they decided to assemble care packages to greet their own members in college when they came home for Thanksgiving. What a welcome! What a way to encourage young adults to stay faithful to their Savior! What a way to assist our ministries to college students as they also look to point those on those mission fields to their Savior! Zion Lutheran Church, where city, country, and college meet!

Pastor Andrew Schmidt from Zion stated “The congregation has done well this year with intentionally trying to stay connected to our members off working on undergraduate degrees at different colleges. And what has been the best part of this blessing for the Zion family is that the handful of college students who are members are remaining connected! I have received calls from students asking that when they are back home, even though it may not be a communion Sunday, if they could come in and receive private communion. During the current semester, a student has sent a text stating they were worshiping with us that morning online from a dorm room. Because of this connection, two of our college students came back to read for the annual Advent by Candlelight event. How awesome is that?”

Zion Lutheran Church is not alone. We thank God for the many partnerships in the gospel that we have across our church body. These special mission festivals are opportunities to learn about, explore, and reach out to many harvest fields that the Lord puts before. College campuses are one of these fields. What they did at Zion Lutheran Church is what our WELS Campus Ministry under our WELS Board for Home Missions encourages. We ask that you keep this demographic in your prayers. If you are in a town or city with a college or university campus, include them in your outreach and evangelism plans. With your own college students, welcome them home, ask them about ways that you can stay in contact with them, and make sure that they/you have shared their names and contact information with our synod so that contact pastors and congregations can reach out to them while they are away from home.

If you’d like to learn more about what Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod does to serve college students, please reach out at [email protected] and visit our Campus Ministry page. If you’re interested in hosting mission festival, you can request a mission festival speaker.

Written by Rev. Daniel Lindner, serving as the Campus Ministry Mission Counselor. 

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CAMM December 2023 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love toward us is strong. The Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever!” – Psalm 117:1-2

This Bible verse certainly describes the work of the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) in 2023. God’s faithful love has been strong toward both of our clinics in Zambia and Malawi. God’s blessings have reached the staff and patients in countless ways; they have been abounding! And we thank and praise him for his love and faithfulness.

CARE OF PATIENTS:
In 2023, we saw over 70,000 patients. The patients came for physical healing or preventative care, and we were able to provide treatment, medications, testing, and health education. At the beginning of 2023 we were challenged with the thought that cholera would continue to spread and possibly create a pandemic. Thankfully, this was not the case and it quickly receded. HIV rates have chronically been high in the past several years. By God’s grace, while testing at our clinic sites has been increasing, the number of positive HIV tests has been decreasing. Staff continues to educate and test visitors at the clinics. At the Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre in Zambia, the clinic continues to be recognized by the Zambian government for exemplary care.

CLINIC LOCATIONS:
By the blessing of God, all our clinic sites were remodeled and have been in full use in 2023. The improvements in lighting, privacy, and safety not only help patient care but also give staff a safer and more enjoyable place to work. During the COVID epidemic, CAMM placed hand sanitizing stations at each of the clinics and grass fencing at the Malawi clinic sites. These remain in place for the patients and staff to use because they are good practices to promote hygiene at the clinics. In Zambia, we were blessed with generous donations this year so that we could install permanent metal fencing around our clinic. The fencing was needed to keep livestock and goats out of the clinic buildings. It has now been successfully installed, is effective in banning the livestock from the clinic buildings, and the grass around the clinic has started to grow back.

STAFF:
We are grateful for the staff that CAMM has been able to employ. From the guards and drivers to the nurses, clinicians, laboratory technicians, and midwives, everyone is critical to the work that CAMM is doing. We have 14 employees in Zambia and 17 employees in Malawi. We also have church and government volunteers who help us every day. We are thankful for the care they give to patients, and for treating patients in a Christian manner—with respect and dignity in support of the mission of CAMM to provide “Christ-Centered Healthcare Supporting Gospel Ministry.”

EXPANSION:
In 2023, we were given the green light to explore expansion opportunities for clinic care. The expansion could include new sites within the countries of Malawi and Zambia or in an entirely new country. There are many factors to consider when looking at a site for expansion. One of the most critical is to have the support of a Lutheran church body in fellowship with the WELS at the site. With the aid of WELS Board of Missions, WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and the Lutheran Church of Kenya, we are making plans to hold a five-day short-term clinic in Kenya in February of 2024. What an amazing opportunity to be able to heal the physical needs of the Kenyan people, while also filling their souls with spiritual guidance!

GRATITUDE:
It would not be possible for the Central Africa Medical Mission to carry out our work for over 60 years without our faithful and generous supporters:

• Your interest in staying informed with presentations, requests for promotional materials, and e-mails keeps the mission of CAMM present in your congregations, schools, social circles, and church groups.
• The continued monetary support all of you promote by sharing information about the needs of CAMM.
• The boxes of medical supplies and clothes you carefully gather, package, and ship to Zambia and Malawi.
• God hears your many prayers for the continued success of CAMM, the continued care of our patients and staff, the safety of the countries we are located in, and prayers for the expansion into Kenya in 2024. May God continue to bless CAMM every day!

While reflecting on the past year, we are reminded that God’s faithfulness does last forever! Let us all worship and praise him for our many blessings!

Written by Angela Sievert, Central Africa Medical Mission Chair.

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This feels like a Hallmark movie!

Do you open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Do you love the neatness of the artificial tree or would it be unthinkable to not have the sap and scent of a real tree in your house? Is the highlight of Christmas dinner Mom’s special ham or is it grilled salmon, beef brisket, or even Grandmother’s tamales? Families have different traditions when it comes to celebrating Christmas. But the best traditions are the ones you make.

If participation makes memories, then Christmas on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation this year was a success.

On Wednesdays in December, the members of Peridot and Grace Lutheran Churches gathered to prepare for Christmas. After worshiping together by spending time in the Word and singing Christmas carols, the evening transitioned to a beautiful, organized chaos. Confirmation students worked hand-in-hand with the Women in Christ and church council members to clean and make each sanctuary sparkle. Then, out came the Christmas decorations. The tree was assembled and each member of the family decorated from oldest to youngest. Adults took the tops of the trees while the littlest hands and smallest people decorated the bottoms. Teens climbed ladders to hang banners on the walls. The garland was wrapped, the nativity scenes were placed, and the lights and candles were tested and twinkling. In the background a quartet of musicians played Christmas music on piano, guitar, flute, and mellophone. (Yes, there is such an instrument and it is as delightful as the name suggests!). A steady stream of Christmas cookies and hot chocolate provided ample opportunities for rest, laughter, and fellowship.

Peridot Lutheran Church

As some church members took it all in near the end of one evening, the remark was heard, “This feels like a Hallmark movie.” Another replied, “Yes, but better because this is real.”

The true value of the Christmas traditions was revealed in subsequent weeks as more than three dozen adults and children joined together to tell full churches the magnificent true story of God coming from heaven to earth to save us. The ancient story was proudly passed on from parent to child and grandparent to grandchild.

These are the traditions that matter because this is the story that matters. These are the memories that we want to imprint on the minds and hearts of each new generation because we want them to last into eternity. An event so momentous and beautiful deserves that.

Written by Rev. Daniel Rautenberg, field coordinator for the Native American Mission. 

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Eagerly awaiting the Women’s Workshop

Early on a November morning in South Asia, four women arriving from Thailand carefully stepped along a narrow path between rice paddies to a remote church where over a hundred women had gathered for a workshop. As we neared the church, we could hear the drum beats and songs of praise to our Savior welcoming us in.

We had been preparing for this workshop for about three months. “We” are three WELS missionary wives including Christine Doebler, Linda Marquardt, Mary Witte, and one Friends Network evangelist, Lydia Schultz, all stationed in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Eager to serve our Savior and these women in South Asia, we thoughtfully planned three days of Bible study, crafts and activities centered around the story of Jesus’ birth. We all had varying degrees of experience in cultures different from our own, but none of us had been to this country. So we began the workshop a little unsure of how our plans would be received, but confident that our love for Jesus would shine through.

Having already served on mission fields, we recognized the need for flexibility and teamwork in situations like this. Our carefully planned schedule quickly became a loose guide of things we wanted to do each day. Opening devotions became late morning devotions since the pastors leading these traveled to the church by slow tuk-tuk. There were more women than materials that we had brought, but we had activities where all could participate. Teaching through a translator took some practice and patience. We identified some English speakers who could help bridge the gap of language. Some of us were struggling with sudden family distresses back home. But this only spurred us on in love for the women in front of us.

The women were entranced with the Bible teaching, crafts, and activities. They cut out hearts and hands to represent our love for Jesus and our eagerness to serve him and then strung them up on the walls. The women diligently placed all the pieces of a nativity scene with Velcro fasteners for each day in December before Christmas. After we modeled a pageant of the nativity story, the women giggled and posed as they performed the drama in the roles of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, magi, soldiers and King Herod. By the end of the workshop, the women could easily tell the story of Jesus’ birth to each other using a booklet of pictures. We shared Bible songs in English that we knew and they shared even more beautiful Bible songs in their language for us. We worshiped together, sang together, prayed together, and laughed together. And…there may have been some dancing.

As the days went by, we were amazed by the eagerness of the women to participate, their hunger to learn, and their love and compassion for each other. They spent their days and nights of the workshop in and around the church building, eating and sleeping together, spending time talking, praying together, and caring for each other, especially for the elderly and children. Some of the women had traveled more than six hours by bus from their remote villages to the workshop. This time together with other Christian women was precious to them.

Some women and local pastors shared their testimonies and struggles in coming to Christ and as Christians. We were humbled to hear of the trials they had been through just to be there and confess their Christian faith. The difficulties we faced to get to the workshop – leaving our comfortable homes in Thailand where we can easily share our faith, the long travel of three different flights, cold showers, mosquito nets over our beds, riding over bumpy roads and hiking through the rice paddies – seemed so very small compared to their daily challenges of being a Christian.

We are thankful for this opportunity to share our faith and love of Jesus with these women in South Asia. We look forward to meeting, sharing, laughing, praising God, and maybe dancing with them again someday either in their country or in our heavenly home.

Written by a WELS world missionary wife in Asia.

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“Pastor, you get seven minutes!”

It is our largest and most time intensive outreach event of the year. It involves over 60 participants and volunteers, months of preparation, with practices on Sunday afternoons often going past 5 p.m. All leading up to Hope Lutheran Church’s annual free Christmas concerts for the community.

Why Christmas concerts?

Honestly, to me, Hope seems unusually blessed with musical talent in voice and instruments. Standing out among the instruments is Hope’s steel pan orchestra, which has been a part of Hope’s worship from the start and reflects the Caribbean roots of many members.

Years back Hope was searching for a church building to call its own. A building became available in an area of the city that typifies Toronto’s population, which encompasses over 50 percent first generation immigrants from all over the world. This diversity is reflected in languages, foods, customs, and religious beliefs.

Hope was searching- searching for different ways to reach out to our new and present community. A mission counselor visited and simply said, “Make use of your strengths. Share your strengths. You love music. Share your music.” From that encouragement, Hope has used music for outreach. In the summer, Hope plans a music camp for children, and in December, Hope offers free Christmas concerts for the community. Many non-Christians see the outward signs of Christmas and are interested in learning more. And who doesn’t love free?

This is where, “Pastor, you get seven minutes” comes in. The concert is planned out in detail and to the minute. Every year I am reminded that I get seven minutes for a devotion. If this is our biggest outreach event of the year why only seven minutes?! Is it because I am the least musically gifted of all people? Perhaps.

Or as a church leader said to me when I first came and got my first seven minutes, “People are coming for a concert, but we want our community to know you, see you, hear you. Tell everyone the message of Christmas – and please do it in seven minutes.”

And so I plan and prepare a message for those seven minutes for so many who are searching but don’t really know the Christ of Christmas. Then I sit down and realize once again that it’s more than seven minutes. From the start of the concert to the finish; in words, songs, and the re-enactment of Luke 2, the message of Christmas is shared – and shared in a beautiful way. From parking lot guides and greeters welcoming, to refreshments and fellowship afterward, Christian love is shown and invitations are given, “Christmas Eve is coming, won’t you join us?”

Written by Rev. Mark Henrich, home missionary at Hope Lutheran Church in Toronto, Ont. 

To view Hope Lutheran Church’s full concert by visiting the Hope Toronto Youtube channel.

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Merry Christmas from WELS Missions

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Aren’t star-filled skies overwhelmingly beautiful? What about that incredibly special star above Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus? Every December, millions of people look up to the skies and recall the account of the birth of the Christ child. In Matthew 2:10 we read, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with overwhelming joy.” And just like the Magi of old, we, along with Christians around the world, rejoice to think of God’s greatest gift to mankind, Jesus Christ. What joy this gift brings to our sin-sick world!

Thank YOU for your prayers and special gifts for Home, World, and Joint Missions. WELS Missions has created a year in review video of the many blessings made possible by your generous support. God tells us to share his message of salvation with every nation, tribe, people, and language. There is always someone new who has not yet heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

As we celebrate this Christmas season and share gifts, love, and joy with our family and friends, we are reminded that Jesus Christ, our perfect substitute, humbled himself, was born as a man, and lived among us. He lived a perfect life, then ultimately died on the cross for all believers. Let’s pray for God’s continued blessings as we share this joy-filled message to the lost in the U.S. and around the world.

Together with you, we rejoice with overwhelming joy. Merry Christmas to all!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

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Faces of Faith – Angel and Maribel

Hispanic ministry in Deltona, Fla., seems like a natural fit. Over 40% of the population speaks Spanish at home. But, how does a WELS congregation in Deltona without any Spanish speaking leaders get started? Well, as is always the case, what human eyes couldn’t see, God had already figured out.

In 2017, Angel Otero and his wife, Maribel, moved to Deltona. Angel was born and grew up in Puerto Rico and like many U.S. citizens there he joined the U.S. military. After serving, he was able to retire at 55 and settled in near Good Shepherd , a WELS church in the Deltona area, where they became members.

That was not all that the Lord had planned for Angel and Maribel. The Good Shepherd School reflected the community. Over 40% of the children in the school came from Hispanic homes. The church leadership and Angel began to explore how they might find a way to share the good news. They were introduced to our WELS Latin American mission efforts and the use of a Spanish training program called Academia Cristo. This program has been designed to train up interested Bible students using online materials. It had been designed to train people where there were no other Lutherans around. Of course, Academia Cristo was never intended to just be an online platform. The program has a focus on training and providing materials in such a way that those who have studied can begin to share what they have learned with others near them. It did not take long for the leadership in Deltona to realize that it would also work at Good Shepherd where there were no trained Hispanics to carry out ministry. Angel enrolled in Academia Cristo. He couldn’t get enough. The more he studied the more he wanted to share with others. Now, Good Shepherd in Deltona has a Spanish speaking outreach leader. Angel and Maribel are very active in reaching out to the school families and the community. Angel leads weekly Bible studies in Spanish at the church using the Academia Cristo program.

And, that’s not all. Angel was still connected to his family back in Puerto Rico. He heard that WELS World Missions was working with a church that had been planted there. The next time Angel visited Puerto Rico he made contact with the local church. The church in Puerto Rico had pastors who had been trained by WELS missionaries, but there was a growing concern that new candidates for pastoral ministry on the island were not being identified. Angel knew that the Academia Cristo program could serve them well in Puerto Rico as well. This connection has also been blessed. Recently the church in Deltona hosted a Puerto Rican pig roast and invited members from the church in Puerto Rico to attend. Thirteen members bought plane tickets and joined them for a delightful weekend of food, fellowship, and planning for the future. All reported a delightful time full of hope for the future. There are now four Academia Cristo students beginning studies in Puerto Rico.

It still may not be clear to our human eyes exactly what the Lord has planned for his saints in Deltona and Puerto Rico before they get to heaven. Even so, what we can see is a reason to rejoice. Economic distress in Puerto Rico, made worse by recent hurricanes, has led many from Puerto Rico to move to Florida. This Puerto Rican diaspora is well networked and keeps the family ties strong to the island and around the US. As the gospel is proclaimed in their midst, we know God has promised to go to work. Please, join us to ask our Lord to bless the work of his gospel through Angel and Maribel. May he raise up the next generation of Puerto Rican gospel proclaimers to build his church.

If you are interested in learning more about how Academia Cristo can help you in your community share the good news in Spanish, please, contact WELS Missions at [email protected].

Written by Rev. Larry Schlomer, Hispanic diaspora ministry facilitator and WELS World Missions administrator.

Hear more from Angel and Maribel about how you could reach out to Hispanics in your community in this special Faces of Faith video.

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Isolation and gathering together

If there were 100 Thai people in a room, how many would be a Christian?

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

How would it feel to be the only Christian in a room with 99 unbelievers?

Let’s change the question.

If there were 100 Thai Christians in the room, how many would be Lutheran?

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

How would it feel to be the only Lutheran in a room with 99 other Christians?

If you answered “isolated,” you would be correct. Often, Lutherans end up feeling especially isolated in their communities. On one hand, they are different from the 99% of unbelievers around them. On the other hand, in the small Christian group, they are different from the 99% of other Christians. They don’t preach in a non-Lutheran worship service. They don’t commune with Christians in other churches. Due to fellowship problems, they will not participate with other Christians in evangelism or church activities. They are isolated.

Yet, they aren’t. Lutheran members gather regularly for church and fellowship. The pastors meet twice a year for conferences. During the conferences, they grow together, encourage each other, update each other, and preach the gospel to each other. They remind each other that they are not alone in their struggles.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds his readers to think about each other. He reminds them to stir each other up to love and do good works. Meetings face to face give Christians the time and place to spur each other on as well as encourage each other.

The leaders in Thailand take these reminders to heart. They encourage each other. They encourage each other with God’s promises: God no longer remembers their sins (Hebrews 10:17-18), God’s Word is powerful and active (4:12), and God is with them (13:5). They especially remind each other that God is with them in their lives and ministry, always (Matthew 28:20) even if they feel isolated. God is with them, even when they are the only Lutheran in a room with 100 other people.

Please keep the Lutherans in Thailand in your prayers, especially their leaders. Pray that they continue to encourage each other with God’s promises. Pray that they continue to stir each other into acts of love. Pray that they continue to gather—and all the more as they see the day of Jesus’s return approaching.

Written by WELS World Missionary to Thailand..

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Small beginnings lead to great endings in Vietnam

“In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace” (Colossians 1:6).

Colossians 1:6 served as the theme of our synod’s Grace-Hmong Outreach in Vietnam initiative that began December 2018. God’s grace and the gospel message has continued to work in the hearts of the Hmong people in Vietnam, and we are witnessing firsthand how the “gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world.” We celebrated with the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in July 2023 as a group of 55 students graduated and became the first fully trained pastors in their church. We also praised God for the dedication of the new theological education center in Hanoi. God’s blessings on this effort are clearly evident.

And those blessings have not stopped. The small mustard seeds of the gospel continue to grow in ways we never could have imagined. Since 2018, the HFC has grown from 55,000 to more than 145,000 members. The second group of 60 students began their pastoral studies in 2022, and the third group of 60 pastoral students started in July of this year. Men like Num and Zag are learning how to differentiate between law and gospel and are sharing that freedom that comes from the gospel with those in their communities. It is the prayer that the Hmong Fellowship Church will enter into full fellowship with WELS in the relatively near future.

In addition to the seminary training being provided, a new rural training program developed by WELS missionaries Bounkeo Lor and Joel Nitz is training 700 rural church leaders in the basic truths of the Bible, with 700 more church leaders targeted for future training. Twelve of the new HFC graduates were commissioned to serve as instructors in the program, including Rev. Chong Chee Yang, who shared his experience in the December edition of Forward in Christ magazine.

God has opened an opportunity for WELS to support gospel outreach to more than two million Hmong who reside throughout Southeast Asia. We thank God for giving the members of the Hmong Fellowship Church a love for his Word and an eagerness to spread the gospel. We pray that a similar spirit spread across the world so that the Lord’s kingdom continues to grow according to his will!

Learn more at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder

 

 

 

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Faces of Faith – Zag

“John 3:16 says that God loves me, but I did not see or understand it until I started my training. . . Now it is the most precious and special verse to me. God has revealed to me, ‘my love is here’.”

Meet Zag Yaj, a church leader in the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam who is in the second group of 60 students studying to be a pastor. Hear how this training has been “the most rewarding experience in his life” in this special Faces of Faith video.

Learn more about theological training and mission work with the Hmong in Vietnam at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

Faces of Faith – Num

“Before, I worked hard to earn grace, but I now know grace is free. God sent his son to die for us.”

Meet Num Ntxawg Yaj, a Hmong regional church leader in Vietnam who’s benefiting from WELS’ rural training program. He also began his pastoral studies in July 2023 as a member of the third cohort of students. Hear how this training has revealed the truth that sets him free in this special Faces of Faith video.

Learn more about theological training and mission work with the Hmong in Vietnam at wels.net/vietnam.

Overflowing with opportunities

When 40,000 cars drive past your church’s campus every 24 hours, you know that there will be opportunities to meet people.

That statistic was among the first things I was told about our congregation’s location after being assigned to a mission restart on Long Island, N.Y. Our campus is located more or less dead center on the island, right at the intersection of a main north-south artery and the Long Island Expressway, or “LIE.” (The joke we tell around here is that the lie in LIE is “express.” At rush hour, it resembles the world’s largest parking lot.)

Forty thousand cars a day; close to a million people within a twenty minute driving radius; certainly there’s opportunity for us to meet people! So we put out some new roadside banners and cleaned up our roadside landscaping; we put out a big clothing donation bin; and we pop out for every flat tire that pulls into our parking lot (probably three a week) with a water, a smile, and an invitation to church.

There’s other opportunities to meet people, of course! There’s street fairs and festivals every weekend from June to September, where smiling people from a small, friendly local church can hand out some frisbees and tote bags and. . . you guessed it. . . an invitation to church.

And when you’ve taken all these opportunities to meet people that present themselves, the funny thing is, you end up meeting people!

You meet people who’ve been in church all their lives and people who’ve never darkened the door. You meet people whose home lives are very buttoned up and neat, and people whose home lives are anything but. You meet people who want to ask every question under the sun, and you meet people who fear the sound of their own voice. You meet people who are happy, who are sad, who are kind, and some who aren’t.

And with the eyes that our Savior gives you – eyes like his own eyes – you love them. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them” (Matthew 14:14).

New Yorkers are busy. Every time I leave our island, I see how much more slowly everyone else lives life. Not New Yorkers. Our lives are fast-paced, and our days are full. And being that busy, we don’t always interact well with one another. The caricature of New Yorkers (“I’m walkin’ here!”) isn’t terribly inaccurate. We’re “peopled out.” It can be hard to love at every opportunity when you can easily bump shoulders with hundreds of strangers on a normal day.

But it’s what makes Christians stand out.

New Yorkers guard their affection. It’s doled out sparingly. But the love God puts in our hearts, as his children, doesn’t need to be guarded and measured. We let it spill out, out our front doors and into our commutes and our workplaces, our schools and our supermarkets, and into every interaction we have. Why? Because while we may have new opportunities to meet people every day, we just can’t be sure how many opportunities any one of us has left.

Maybe 40,000 cars don’t drive by your church by every day. Maybe you don’t see new people on every trip to the supermarket. Maybe it doesn’t feel like the same opportunities exist for you to show love. But I promise you, and more importantly, God promises you: They do.

Written by Rev. Timothy Walsh, serving Grace of God Lutheran Church in Dix Hills, N.Y.

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CAMM November 2023 Newsletter

Originally appears on the Central Africa Medical Mission website. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

The Zambian government through the Ministry of Health and its partners is working hard to provide the necessary commodities to end HIV/AIDS by 2030. In Zambia, there are more than 1,190,000 people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART). As of October 2023, the Mwembezhi Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre services about 892 clients currently on ART, making it the second highest in Shibuyunji Health District.

The facility also offers other services to help eradicate HIV by intensifying identification of new positives, prevention of mother to child transmission, provision of pre-exposure/post-exposure prophylaxis, cervical cancer screening, voluntary male circumcision, viral load monitoring, condom distribution, adult/pediatric nutritional assessment for people living with HIV, and tracking of late clients.

Even though the facility receives support from the Ministry of Health and other implementing partners in the eradication of HIV and AIDS, adult nutrition programs is one area that has not received much funding or support. As the Mwembezhi area is rural and has a high poverty/illiteracy rate, it has been bit of a challenge to implement adult nutrition programs for people living with HIV.

Currently the facility has over 100 clients on HIV treatment with body mass index less than 18, which is below normal rate for an adult. This is mainly related to the non-availability of a nutritious balanced diet in their homes because of they do have the money to purchase adequate food. There is also a lack of understanding regarding the importance of having a balanced diet. Weight, height, and age play a very big role in certain ARV prescriptions and recording such high malnutrition cases hinders and slows boosting of immunity.

After the facility recorded such high numbers of adult malnutrition in many people living with HIV, a staff meeting was held to discuss on how best we can help our clients and some of the interventions than can be put in place before end of December 2023. These measures include:

  1. Continuously give informed information education and communication to not only people living with HIV, but also to the community at large.
  2. Lobby for more height boards and scales to be used during outreach programs so that all client’s height and weight will be assessed regularly to enable early detection of new cases.
  3. To order high energy proteins, an instant porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy growth
  4. Enforce responsibility in keeping appointments so that monitoring of our clients will be easy and all needs are met on time.
  5. Revamping of the support group for people living with HIV at the facility

As the Zambian government continues adopting tolerated regimens and other models of care with established benefits, our clinic in Zambia,as a health facility and as community health care workers, will continue to put in the effort to meet our patients’ expectations by providing cost effective solutions to help maintain our client’s good health and nutritional status.

Written by Mr. Jackson Kalekwa, Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) clinic officer in charge at the Mwembezhi Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre in Mwembezhi, Zambia

 




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