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Faces of Faith – Mrs. Tri

We take prayer requests verbally from our congregation and then pray about those very things in the moment. About four months ago, Mrs. Tri (pictured above 4th from right), raised her hand and went off on how her whole family is in chaos and disharmony, and how there is lack of respect and discord throughout the family. Her adult children’s families are all members of our congregation. Following that, our congregational president, Mr. Hưu-Trung Lê, and I visited members of the family, and Mrs. Tri, and prayed with them, shared key passages with specific members of the family over the following days and weeks. Later on a different Sunday, the same Sunday at Mrs. Phước’s baptism, Mrs. Tri raised her hand once again at the time of prayer requests. Internally I’m thinking, “Oh boy, here we go again…” Mrs. Tri then went on to say how thankful she was to God for bringing restored peace and harmony to her family. She is happy deep in her heart for what God has done to bring all the family members together again in harmony. Trung said Mrs. Tri came up to him after the service during fellowship time and said, “God has real power. To do what he did in my family—God’s power is real.”

From Dan Kramer, missionary at Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church in Boise, Ida.

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Faces of Faith – Phước Thị Trần

The picture above is Phước Thị Trần, who lived her first 85 years without God. She actively campaigned for her family members not to be Christian or attend services at our church. When she found out family members were in a Bible basics course, she told them to stop.

Over these last few years, Mrs. Phước has been more open, even open to attending worship services over the past months. On the last Sunday of September, after much witnessing, prayer and her daughter’s faithful devotion in bringing her to attend services, this lady was happy to be baptized. Everyone applauded at the conclusion of the baptism. One of the family members rushed over to her as she was sitting down and said congratulations. The daughter wanted to do the baptism in the first service so the great-grandsons who attend the first service could see the baptism. They both recorded it on their phones. After the second service, since we had the baptism banner up, I explained what had happened during the first service and everyone applauded again. Mrs. Phước’s name means “blessing.” She is a blessing to us just as she has been richly blessed by God.

From Dan Kramer, missionary at Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church in Boise, Ida.

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A cross-cultural camping trip to remember

On July 20-21, my church family (Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church) was able to take a beautiful camping trip to the Oregon Coast. With lots of laughter and some incredible food, the weekend was wonderful.

After a nine-hour drive from Boise to a little outside of Newport, my family and many others arrived at our group camp site. The site itself was quite sandy, and many trees guarded it from the wind and sun. Overall, we had a little less than ten tents set up around the large campfire, which was most certainly not the only heat source used to cook.

Peace in Jesus 2019

Over the course of our stay, all the people involved had been to the beach at least twice. As it was about a five-minute walk from our campground, we were able to see it quite frequently. Enjoying its views and doing fun activities there was the highlight of my (and I’m sure many others’) stay at South Beach State Park.

One thing that I would like to highlight is the high quantity of the youth on this trip. On the second night of our stay, all the teenagers went to the beach in the dark to play a very fun card game, strengthening friendships while having a great time. This was not the only activity young people enjoyed, as hacky sack and word games were also incorporated. Overall, the stay was very enjoyable for all ages.

Sunday morning was a service to remember. In the beautiful nature of our campsite, the church body was able to hear a meaningful sermon highlighting God’s amazing creation of the ocean. Not only this, but special hymns were performed and heard by many, leaving a lasting impression in the memory of this church camping trip. Even our church choir sang a meaningful anthem about God’s enduring love.

For every meal of the day, there seemed to be a delicious feast for all to take part in. The Vietnamese culture that makes up almost our entire church family had a heavy impact on the food made during the camping trip-I can assure you, no one complained. Although not specific to the culture, at one point an entirely whole (huge) tuna was cooked for people to eat, followed by spicy grilled squid the next day. One thing that can be said for certain is that hunger never entered our camp!

Peace in Jesus had a wonderful church camping trip to the Oregon Coast. Complete with full stomachs, endless fun, and the beautiful Word of God, this stay was one to remember; and leaving our temporary home was less than easy.

Written by Laura Hope Kramer, member at Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church, Boise, Ida. 

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Reaching the Vietnamese

Have you heard about Friends of Vietnam?

Friends of Vietnam, Inc. (FOV) is the international outreach arm of Peace In Jesus Lutheran Church (a predominantly Vietnamese congregation) in Boise, Idaho. FOV endeavors to reach out through educational opportunities by supplying English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers to Vietnam in order to witness about Jesus in private settings. FOV also strives to bring students into the United States to study at WELS schools. FOV is building bridges for the gospel between Vietnam and the U.S. through education. The FOV Board was established in August 2016 and has an aggressive plan to bring the gospel to Vietnamese souls. There are some exciting things happening in Vietnam! What follows is an interview with Mr. Hưu Trung Lê, President of the Friends Of Vietnam Board:

Q: What are the goals of FOV?

Friends of Vietnam is an exciting and new ministry striving to accomplish two main goals: 1) prepare and send individuals to Vietnam to teach English and also share the Good News in private settings, and 2) assist students in Vietnam to come study in schools of our fellowship in the United States. The vision includes bringing students from Vietnam to study at WELS elementary schools, high schools, and colleges. In pursuit of fostering friendships and understanding between Vietnamese and American cultures, Friends of Vietnam endeavors to connect more Vietnamese souls to the gospel.

Q: Why is FOV important, in your view?

FOV is really important because we are striving to share the gospel with some areas still in the dark. We would like to share the correct teaching about Jesus with Vietnamese people. The bridge of the gospel is important, so FOV is trying to build many such bridges.

Q: What FOV success stories might you be able to share?

Our first FOV teacher is in Vietnam right now! He had a very difficult time at first in Vietnam due to the challenges of living in a new country, the language barrier, etc., but now he is settled in and has a good job teaching English at ILA English center in Saigon. He continues teaching four classes a week, on Saturday and Sunday. Our teacher’s manager at the school did an evening classroom observation and he was really impressed with the class, and he thought our teacher was doing a good job. Our teacher plans on continuing his contract with this school through October 2018.*

*name withheld due to security concerns

FOV President Hưu Trung on a survey visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Q: What is your dream for FOV?

My dream is that we bring more students to our WELS schools so the young generation of Vietnamese people can know more about the gospel, and to place more teachers in Vietnam. Maybe someday we will have our own Lutheran high school in Vietnam! And more importantly, I dream one day we will have a Vietnamese Lutheran Church in fellowship with WELS in Vietnam, so we could have regular worship. My dream is that more people in Vietnam will hear the gospel and believe in God. We try our best to follow what Jesus taught us in Matthew 4:19: “’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’” That is what FOV is trying to do.

To learn more about Friends of Vietnam, visit their website at www.friendsofvietnam.net or check out their Facebook page.

If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved with Friends of Vietnam, please call the general line at (208) 912-8283, or Hưu Trung Lê at (208) 891-5344.

Interview conducted by Rev. Daniel Kramer: Peace in Jesus Lutheran Church – Boise, ID

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Reaching the Vietnamese at Home and Abroad

Truly valuable

Mrs. Quý Thi Nguyen has always been a strong woman. Shortly after beginning a Bible Basics course in their family home, I found out that I basically got kicked out because Mrs. Quý (her name means “valuable”) did not approve. She explained to me how she believed in Buddha, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eight-Fold Path. I thanked her for sharing and continued to find opportunities to witness to her.

Mrs. Valuable’s husband was the first adult confirmand of our congregation. He also was the first Christian funeral. His last words were: “I regret that I was unable to live to see my adult children emigrate from Vietnam. My desire is for my children to follow my faith. I am at peace.”

In the months following the funeral, Mrs. Valuable allowed me to come and visit, even resuming the Bible course in her home. One day, Mrs. Valuable was quite talkative—I couldn’t get a crowbar in the conversation. She spoke of how bad things were when she was living in Vietnam waiting to come to the U.S. She talked of how difficult things were in Vietnam once again. I was pray-ing the whole time she was telling me her stories. Finally, I said, “Mrs. Valuable, I regret to hear of your difficult past. I am thankful for your present. But I am worried about your future.” And for the first time that I had ever seen, Mrs. Valuable began to cry. The walls she had put up began to come down.

Now in a new house and with her adult children emigrated from Vietnam, I concluded the Bible course around their kitchen table. As I was packing up, one of the adult daughters inquired, “Baptism, Pastor?” We are careful not to pressure people to be baptized and often use a mediator to discuss Baptism and church membership. However, when the daughter asked, I was glad to offer this tremendous blessing. The family passed the calendar around, and we settled on a date. Even Mrs. Valuable nodded her head.

When the day came, seven individuals from the family, including Mrs. Valuable herself, stood before God’s altar with wetted brow, all to God’s glory. Now Mrs. Valuable is faithful in worship and even participates in our new senior choir.

During a Christmas season, Mrs. Valuable came to see me. She said, “Pastor, I can’t remember things. I’ll go into a room and not remember why I went in there. I am forgetful. But the prayers in this book . . .” (she held up a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism in the Vietnamese language, which we had introduced during a recent sermon series on prayer) “. . . I can memorize these prayers having read through them just a few times!”

And with that, Mrs. Valuable began reciting Luther’s Morning Prayer in Vietnamese by heart. I must have said and heard that prayer a thousand times, but it had never been more beautifully spoken. Valuable, indeed.

Daniel Kramer is pastor at Peace in Jesus, Boise, Idaho.


The church that helps people

“A lot of people that don’t know English—they come to our church for help,” notes Trung Le, president of Peace in Jesus, Boise, Idaho.

Once they enter the building’s doors, these individuals receive a warm welcome and various offers for assistance. “We like to show them the love of God,” adds Le.

After receiving aid in the form of language classes, translating services, counseling or citizenship classes, many stay to learn more. Congregation members invite visitors to come on Sundays for worship or attend classes that teach about the Bible.

Starting out

Peace in Jesus first formed in 1998, when it began as an exploratory congregation aided by other groups in the area. During the following years, it carried out efforts to reach the Vietnamese community in the Boise region. The pastor of the congregation, Daniel Kramer, learned Vietnamese to connect with those who knew little or no English.

This focus on language caught the attention of many, including Le and his wife. When they moved to Boise in 2006, Le’s wife was a Christian and wanted to attend a Vietnamese-speaking service. “Some of my friends at work told me that at Peace in Jesus the pastor spoke Vietnamese,” recalls Le. His wife wanted to worship there, so he took her.

Le wasn’t a Christian at the time, however, so he didn’t usually go to church with his wife. Then one Sunday in 2008 he decided to come to church with her. “I said, ‘How come this white guy is trying to speak our language?’” Le remembers. “It touched me.”

A few days later, Le met with the pastor and asked to be baptized. After becoming a member, Le decided to continue studying. He is currently in a training program to become a pastor and involved in various forms of outreach and ministry.

Making connections

“The Vietnamese community is growing every year,” notes Le. He estimates the current Vietnamese population to be close to three thousand, with more coming as relatives and friends of residents move to the area.

To reach this group, the congregation offers English classes regularly and helps with translating services. “Sometimes someone comes in and has a doctor’s appointment coming up but doesn’t know much English, so we go along and act as an interpreter,” explains Le.

From its facility, the congregation also offers U.S. citizenship classes, which are open to anyone who needs help. “We have had individuals from various Southeast Asian countries come,” notes Le.

Members of the community can also attend classes that have biblical themes. Vietnamese proverbs and pictures are often incorporated into lessons to help communicate principles. One course, for instance, is entitled “Sau Con Mua, Troi Lai Sáng,” which means “After the Rain, the Sun Shines Again.” Its theme centers on the impact of sin as well as the bright future Jesus provides.

Reaching out globally

As Peace in Jesus has gained a reputation in its community as a church that helps people, its members have continually sought ways to provide further assistance. That desire stretches to an international level, as many have connections with family and friends currently living in Vietnam.

Due to this, an independent entity called “Friends of Vietnam” has formed to reach souls on a global level. “Our goals are to send individuals to Vietnam and bring students from Vietnam to study in schools of our fellowship,” explains Kramer.

Those traveling over to Vietnam will work as teachers in schools there and look for ways to bring the gospel message to those in the country. Students coming from Vietnam to the United States will attend Lutheran schools, where they can learn about the Bible and enjoy spending time with other Christians.

Looking to the future, Le points to God’s guiding hand. “We’ve seen how God works in our congregation,” he explains. “He can make things happen out of nothing. Now it’s our chance to work hard as a way to say ‘thank you’ to him for everything.”

Rachel Hartman and her husband, Missionary Michael Hartman, serve in León, Mexico.

 


This is the first article in a series about cross-cultural outreach in the U.S. Check out “Home mission connections lead to world mission opportunities” (p. 23) to learn how contacts made in the U.S. are leading to mission work around the world. Learn more about Peace in Jesus in this month’s edition of WELS Connection.

 


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Author: Rachel Hartman and Daniel Kramer
Volume 104, Number 2
Issue: February 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Sharing The Good News With Every Neighbor: Home Missions: More Home Missions

God is richly blessing the work of WELS Home Missions. Missionaries and their members are finding ways to share God’s good news with friends, relatives, neighbors—and sometimes even strangers at local fast food restaurants. Here are some of their stories.

Nicole R. Balza


ARIZONABRINGING HOME THE GOSPEL

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Santo Tomas, Phoenix, Ariz.

Santo Tomas, Phoenix, Ariz., has been reaching out with the gospel since 1997. Every week Jorge and his wife, Gaby, along with their daughter visit homes throughout the west valley of Phoenix. They lead adult and children’s Bible classes and activities, all with the goal of bringing Jesus and his love into their lives. Jorge is a volunteer evangelist for Santo Tomas and serves on its church council.

As Tom Zimdars, home missionary to Santo Tomas, explains, “These home group classes break down the barriers and fears that some may have about attending a church at first. It is an informal setting as they gather in living rooms and at kitchen tables growing and learning about their Savior.”


IDAHO

Dan Kramer, home missionary at Peace, Boise, Idaho, in Jesus, says, “As the ministry and opportunities our congregation is given to continue to become broader and more global, we keep clear and primary our call to reach out to the Vietnamese souls in the greater Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho, area)with the true treasure, which is Christ and his gospel.”


NEBRASKAFOSTERING PERSONAL EVANGELISM EXCITEMENT

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Blair, Neb.

Dan Johnston arrived in Blair, Neb., in July 2015 to open a new WELS home mission congregation, Living Savior. The congregation’s first services began taking place this summer. Johnston says, “Living Savior is trying to create an environment—both individually and corporately—that fosters personal evangelism excitement. There is a coffee bar in our leased space that is open to the public during office hours. The members are also being instructed in reaching out to people in their personal lives. Friendship evangelism and forming real connections are where the rubber hits the road for us.”


NEW YORK

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Redemption, Watertown, N.Y.

Gunnar, the son of a member family, goes to a university about an hour-and-a-half away. While away, Gunnar began dating Holly. When Gunnar would come home, he came to church. Holly came too. After the first couple of visits, I noticed that Holly was really attentive during the sermons. Since Gunnar would usually stay for Bible class, she would too.

After a while, she approached me and asked what it would take to get baptized. So I told her, “Let’s begin a Bible basics class. We’ll go through a few lessons and see if you still want to be baptized and then finish it and you can take communion.”

She would come with Gunnar almost twice a week to study Bible basics. She would ask insightful questions like, “Why do some teach this when Scripture obviously says this?”

So we got to celebrate an adult baptism—one more 20-something the Lord added to our small group. As a congregation, we were ecstatic.

I know that the “nones” (those who say their religion affiliation is “none”) are on a rise, but I have evidence in our small congregation that the Word of God is still powerful enough to change people. We are a congregation meeting in a conference center with digital music and with a small group of people, Who would want to come? On paper, it doesn’t make sense. But it doesn’t have to, because our message is the power of God for salvation.

Aaron Goetzinger, home missionary at Redemption, Watertown, N.Y.


Nicole Balza, a staff writer for Forward in Christ magazine, is a member at Bethlehem, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. 

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

HOME MISSIONS

Learn more about WELS missions in North America.

 

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Author: Nicole R. Balza and various writers
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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