WELS Director of Missions Operations Mr. Sean Young just returned from a month-long visit to Vietnam to discuss next steps for the theological education center in Hanoi. Hmong Asia Ministry Coordinator Rev. Bounkeo Lor accompanied him. The Board for World Missions released this report about the trip:
From the beginning of this initiative, WELS has known that that there would be potential challenges and unexpected setbacks due to this being a brand new mission field in an unfamiliar country. COVID also complicated the process, but we’re thankful that the Lord continues to guide these efforts and “work all things for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
This was the first visit to Vietnam since COVID-19 shut down international travel in March 2020. Certain conversations and building plan discussions were held via Zoom, but concrete plans for the next steps needed to be discussed in-person. Conversations with the Hmong Fellowship Church leadership went well and continue at the time of this writing. If all goes as planned, it is WELS World Missions’ goal to have the theological education center open by Easter 2022, pending no other COVID-19 complications.
Rev. Dr. Terry Schultz from Multi-Language Productions and Rev. Ger Lor from Grace Hmong Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Kan., accompanied Rev. Bounkeo Lor and Mr. Sean Young on the trip. Schultz trained Hmong Fellowship Church leaders how to use evangelism materials he created to train their members, and he gained valuable insight into the Hmong culture for the creation of future materials. Multi-Language Productions will be purchasing flip-book versions of these visual teaching aids. They also identified three Hmong Fellowship Church students with drawing skills who potentially could help develop future educational resources.
In the meantime, the second wave of visiting professors are currently in Vietnam to have their religious visas renewed/approved and conduct training. Rev. Joel Nitz is there for the first time since being called to serve the Hmong in Vietnam in February 2020. Training continues, in-person (thank the Lord!) and via Zoom, for the first 60 men who will prayerfully be ordained as pastors. These men also continue to lead rural training workshops throughout the 13 districts to share what they are learning with other Hmong Fellowship Church members.
The Hmong Fellowship Church grew by 12,000 people in 2020, and the church body now numbers 138,000 members. Stay updated on progress and learn more about Hmong outreach in Vietnam at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.
Serving with you in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder