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WELS Christian Aid and Relief approves humanitarian aid grants

The administrative committee for WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved $466,212 for humanitarian aid work in fiscal year 2019-20. These are projects developed by WELS home and world missionaries to reflect Christ’s love to the people of their community and open doors to share the gospel.

Christian Aid and Relief Chairman Rev. Robert Hein, says, “Humanitarian aid projects help our missions put Christ’s love into action by meeting community needs. As missionaries develop relationships with the people they serve, they also find opportunities to tell people about Jesus. In some world mission fields, hostile to Christianity, humanitarian aid is essential to keep the doors open to share the gospel.”

All projects originate in the mission fields as the missionaries discover opportunities to help. Then the projects are brought to the Christian Aid and Relief administrative committee as well as to the WELS Missions administrators for approval.

Some of the approved projects are:

  • New or repaired water wells in Zambia and Malawi.
  • Medical clinic renovation in Zambia.
  • Rural medical clinic and medical care in Nigeria.
  • Food assistance for the poor in Indonesia.
  • Medical, vacation Bible school, and English training in Thailand.
  • Outreach programs in Bulgaria and Russia.
  • Assistance for war refugees, orphans, and the poor in Ukraine.
  • Food and transportation programs in Mexico.
  • Water projects and medical equipment in India.
  • Medical clinics, sewing classes, clothing for poor, and flood assistance in Nepal.
  • Medical assistance and skill training program in Pakistan.
  • African immigrant assistance in Las Vegas.
  • Welcome programs for immigrants in Toronto.
  • Various outreach and assistance programs in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, College Station in Texas and Denver, Colo.

To view a complete list of humanitarian aid projects, visit wels.net/relief.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

 

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Hope after the storm in Puerto Rico

Three visitors! No big deal on some Sundays . . . lost in the crowd at some churches . . . a below-average turnout on many occasions.
Certainly nothing to write home about (or for Forward in Christ).  

But this is different. There hadn’t been one single visitor at Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God) Lutheran Church in Puerto Rico for months. In fact, there hadn’t even been a worship service there for almost year and a half! 

When Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico in September 2018, it devastated much of the Island of Enchantment, as it is known. Buildings were destroyed, power grids were damaged, and cell phone towers were knocked down. Tragically, lives were lost. Morale deflated quickly. As the days and weeks and months passed with no electricity, water, Internet, or cell phone service, tensions started to rise, hope began to depart, and a feeling of helplessness set in. 

Our brothers and sisters who are members of the three congregations of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church in Puerto Rico were also affected. While one church building was damaged, another wooden chapel was completely destroyed. Worship services at Cordero de Dios in Humacao stopped. There was no place to gather! 

As news of the devastation brought by Maria spread, WELS members responded quickly in love. Generous donations were received for hurricane relief. WELS leaders visited Puerto Rico and assured our fellow believers that we would walk through this together. WELS Christian Aid and Relief provided shortterm help and a longer term plan of assistance. Retired Pastor Larry Schlomer and his wife Marlene spenseveral months in Puerto Rico coordinating relief and reconstruction efforts. Volunteers from the States came to lend a hand. Pastors and leaders and church members worked together to rebuild homes and churchesand hope. 

On Feb. 10, the newly rebuilt (in concrete) chapel in Humacao was dedicated to God’s glory. Members from the three island congregations gathered together to thank God and celebrate his goodness. During the service, long-time member and seminary student Kelly Alvarez was ordained and installed as pastor of Mi Dios Verdadero (My True God) Lutheran Church in San Juan. The message from God’s Word that day included the reminder that we are a holy temple in the Lord, being built up together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:21,22). 

What will happen next in Puerto Rico? Two pastors currently serve in the town of Guayama. One pastor and one student pastor serve in San Juan. A rotation of pastors leads worship in Humacao. There are still jobs to finish, but now plans for gospel ministry can be worked out in order to share the good news with those visitors as well as to reach out to those who likely won’t come on their own. 

What can we learn from all this? God in his wisdom allowed Hurricane Maria to pass through Puerto Rico, but the Lord will not abandon his people or his church. In fact, he often creates opportunities out of challenges. Think of those visitors from the neighborhood who saw the work on the church progressing, shared the excitement, and wanted to be part of that special day. People do notice the fruit of our labor, but they need encouragement. Let’s keep on encouraging, inviting, witnessing and pointing other to Jesus.  

What can we do now for Puerto Rico? Please pray for those three visitors in Humacao. Pray for our three congregations in Puerto Rico, which still face challenges. Pray that the gospel might be preached and believed in Puerto Rico, to God’s glory.  

Because as we look forward to the Last Day, this is our attitude as we live and work for God’s glory and the spread of his kingdom today and tomorrow: The best is yet to come!


Timothy Satorius, WELS liaison to the Puerto Rican church 


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Author: Timothy Satorius
Volume 106, Number 5
Issue: May 2019

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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God’s eternal dwelling place

Originally appears on the One Africa Team Blog. To subscribe to receive future updates directly in your inbox, visit oneafricateam.com. “Like” the One Africa Team on Facebook at fb.com/OneAfricaTeamWELS


Come along with me. . .

I’m weaving through villages and fields, traipsing down narrow foot paths and trudging through muck. I’m jumping over mud puddles and broken bricks. I’m skirting around fallen walls, bent roofing sheets and twisted trusses. I’m stepping over soggy blankets and dirty clothes.

Malawi 2015 revisited. What happened? A deluge of rain: rivers overflowed, Maize fields flattened, Bridges demolished, Roads cratered.

Different year, different people, different location, same result: devastation.

Rains are a double-edged sword. Just enough and wells fill, fields drink, crops grow and the land produces.Too much and houses collapse leaving them useless; pit latrines overflow rendering them a danger. It all happened in Malawi.

Again.

People are reminiscing that this same thing happened just four years ago. The Malawi 2018/2019 wet season had a great start. A great balance of rain and sunshine. Crops were looking good.  Tobacco. Maize. Groundnuts. Farmers were ecstatic!

It’s going to be a bountiful harvest! We can sell our cash crops, our granaries will be full, we will harvest plenty to eat good, our bellies satisfied. . . no hunger this year!

Then came the March 6, 2019. Ash Wednesday arrived, and so did another rain. Well, not just another rain, but a downpour. The heavens opened. Water fell by the bucket. Cats and Dogs. Didn’t let up for 3 solid days. This time the land and the areas most affected are quite flat so the water didn’t have a natural run off. When rains fall that rapidly and that powerfully, mud houses just don’t stand a chance against such force and pressure of water. The torrent was enough to bring down the roof.

It did.

LCCA-Malawi member’s home destroyed by flooding

Many houses were destroyed. Families are displaced. Women and children are sleeping in church buildings. Husbands and fathers are staying in any manageable place that they can find in what is left of their houses. A makeshift shelter. A tiny covered corner of a room. Some are sleeping under the stars. All who are affected are trying to pick up the proverbial pieces. And lurking right around the corner? Disease. It’s what happens when outhouses collapse and the holes brim over. It’s a stream you don’t want to be near. But there is a stream you do. A river actually. A river of living water.

“Though the earth give way. . . though its waters roar and foam. . . there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” (Psalm 46:2-3)

The one who wrote those words also wrote these: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) 

To the people who are sitting in the rubble, asking themselves questions and trying to make sense of it all, the pastors in the Lutheran Church have been able to bring this kind of message: God indeed is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Though many people have many questions, there’s another question that rises above all the others. It stands tall and strong like a beacon in the storm:

“Who or what can separate us from the love of Christ?” We know what is written in Romans 8:35. A bunch more questions that answer that first one. (If you’re not sure, check it out). But what about the questions on the minds of the homeless people in Malawi who are wondering how they are going to start over and rebuild?

What can separate them from God’s love? Rains? Floods? Unusable toilets? Obliterated fields? Collapsed houses? Lost property? Can these things remove God from their world of broken walls and caved-in roofs?

NO.

Paul, what do you mean, “NO”?  Tell us more!

“NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. None of these things shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Ah, yes. Good words, Paul. The people need to hear those words. So do I. . . when things in my own life collapse! You, too? For three days we surveyed the destruction and assessed the damage. So much rain, so much ruin. With such incalculable devastation I could only imagine incredible loss. What I didn’t imagine–or even think about–was the incredible gain.

Incredible gain? 

Members from the LCCA-Malawi rejoice in their Lord

As the people shared their stories, I noticed that they had gained something: a new appreciation for the goodness of the Lord. A renewed indebtedness to the grace of God. Gratitude for something bigger than earthly comfort. Heavenly blessings! When we arrived, they not only spoke of the rains that came down from heaven but of the promises of God that do, too! They shared with us how God spared them, protected them and saved them. We paused here for a prayer. Sat there for a devotion. Spent time with the families in meditation and thankfulness. We were invited to so many places we didn’t have time for everyone. We brought our phone cameras, but took more than pictures and videos.

We took heart! (The people encouraged us!)
We took assurance! (The presence of problems doesn’t mean the absence of God!)
We took with us a renewed sense of joy! (Our Lutheran members know the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus despite the trials that come)

After seeing one collapsed house after another, what falls like rain upon my heart are the words of Moses: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. . . from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:1,2)  Like Paul said, “. . . we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) His is a house that will never fall. The roof won’t leak and the walls won’t collapse. The foundation is strong and the rooms are safe.

Meanwhile, here on earth, whether in Malawi or the USA or somewhere in-between, we groan and are burdened. All creation, too. Apparently, that includes the rains. And the mud from which many houses are built. But we look forward to a time when all those in Christ Jesus we will be safe and secure in . . .

God’s Eternal Dwelling Place.

Your Malawi Mission Partner,

Missionary John Holtz


Dear Mission Partners,

Maybe you know and maybe you don’t, but our beloved WELS is showing faith in action by getting involved with both prayer support and financial aid.

The Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Malawi Synod (LCCA), the WELS Board for World Missions, and WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR) have been working hard at evaluating the immediate needs of those in our Lutheran congregations who are greatly affected by the floods, especially in the southern region of Malawi. (It was the southern region that was affected in 2015, too). Through funds made available through CAR, the LCCA members affected by the floods will receive some much-needed practical items. Things like buckets for clean water, blankets for warmth, and plastic sheeting for temporary roofing can meet immediate needs. A church building that has collapsed can be rebuilt.

Your Africa Missions team would like to encourage anyone whose heart is moved to give a gift to help people in need (due to flooding or other disaster) to please donate to WELS Christian Aid & Relief. 

 

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Church dedication in Puerto Rico

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria swept over the island of Puerto Rico causing great devastation and destruction.

WELS members responded generously with gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief. But the devastation caused by the storm made communication with fellow Christians in Puerto Rico difficult. It was hard to know what needed to be done to help and how that help could be delivered.

Early last summer WELS Christian Aid and Relief sent retired missionary Rev. Larry Schlomer Sr. to the island. He was asked to stay for up to a year to help the church leaders determine what needed to be done and then to help organize relief and rebuilding efforts.

God has graciously taken care of the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico and restored their church in Humacao. On Feb. 10, 2019, this church celebrated the completion of the rebuilt church with a dedication service. Many of the national pastors were in attendance along with Rev. Larry Schlomer Sr., WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder, and Rev. Tim Satorius.

View a slideshow of the dedication service.

WELS CAR - Puerto Rico Church Rededication

Volunteers begin cleanup after Hurricane Michael

WELS Christian Aid and Relief is now coordinating volunteers to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Michael. Efforts are primarily focused on Amazing Grace, Panama City, Fla., which was hit directly by the storm. Amazing Grace’s church and parsonage experienced extensive damage, as did homes of several members and many in the community.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief quickly mobilized two of its relief trailers after Hurricane Michael struck the Panama City area and began coordinating volunteers to help with the cleanup project, including a group of 10 students from Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.

“These students had so much energy and enthusiasm,” says Elizabeth Zambo of Christian Aid and Relief. “They gutted the church and parsonage that had been flooded, ripping out drywall and insulation. It was messy work, but they never complained.”

“It was an eye-opening experience,” says Hailey Stade, a sophomore at MLC and a member of Immanuel, Farmington, Wis. “I had no idea what to expect until we crossed the bridge to Panama City. Buildings were flattened. Every tree you saw was on the ground or bent in half. Power lines were all over the sides of streets and sidewalks. Large boats were tipped to their side in the water, and a building was considered lucky if it even had some of its roof intact.”

“This experience was definitely life changing,” notes Becky Pruss, a junior at MLC and a member at Redeemer, Fond du Lac, Wis. “When people who have lost so much still greet you with a smile and genuine conversation, it puts everything in perspective. Our God is definitely greater than the storms that may come our way in life. It really showed me that every day is an opportunity to live your faith.”

Zambo notes that volunteers will continue to be needed for months as work progresses on the church, parsonage, six to eight members’ homes, and homes of those in the community. Amazing Grace is currently worshiping at a nearby Christian camp facility, and its vacancy pastor, Rev. Jerome Enderle, and his wife are living in rented housing provided by Christian Aid and Relief.

Christian Aid and Relief has provided $108,000 toward this relief effort to this point, and more grant requests are expected. Monies distributed have been allocated for items such as supplies, building materials, gift cards, and volunteer expenses.

“The members of Amazing Grace have been overwhelmed by the love and support of their Christian brothers and sisters around WELS,” says Enderle. “This has served as an encouraging reminder that our small flock of believers is a part of a much larger family. The support and assistance of Christian Aid and Relief and the outpouring of gifts from people too numerous to begin to name cause us to thank and praise our Savior God. Truly he is the God of Amazing Grace.”

Christian Aid and Relief is partnering with Kingdom Workers’ Builders for Christ as the rebuilding process begins. Builders for Christ provides volunteers with building skills to serve alongside Christian Aid and Relief volunteers. To apply to serve as a volunteer to help with cleanup and relief work through WELS Christian Aid and Relief, visit wels.net/relief and fill out the volunteer form.

 

 

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Christian Aid and Relief Oct. 2018 update

When Hurricane Michael made landfall, Amazing Grace, Panama City, Fla., took a direct hit. Rev. Jerry Enderle, pastor at Amazing Grace, reports the church and parsonage suffered extensive damage, as did several members’ homes, along with the entire community. Rev. Joel Russow, pastor of Faith, Tallahassee, Fla., also reports trees down in the neighborhood, but the church and parsonage are okay.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief chairman, Rev. Robert Hein, reports:

“We have mobilized relief trailers from Mobile, Ala., and Jacksonville, Fla., to assist in cleanup and recovery efforts. Right now, some areas are still hard to reach and power is still out. For the short term, Risen Savior, Navarre, Fla., served by Rev. Craig Born, is serving as the relief staging area. Members of the local WELS congregations in Florida and Alabama are eager to help out once it is feasible to go into the affected areas. We have also made funds available to local pastors to provide immediate aid to those in need and to purchase needed supplies. Efforts are underway to provide temporary housing for those displaced from their homes.

“Many homes suffered roof damage, so our first priority is putting plywood and tarps on top of the parsonage and sanctuary at Amazing Grace and salvaging sanctuary furniture, and then repeating those steps for members with major loss. We will bring in a project manager soon to help us assess damage and opportunities for assistance throughout the community. We also made a $10,000 gift to Direct Relief, which provides immediate assistance to people affected by this hurricane.”

While Christian Aid and Relief is working to assess and help with the recent hurricane damage, it is also conducting ongoing rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of last fall’s Hurricane Maria. Missionary Larry W. Schlomer accepted a call to Puerto Rico in June 2018 to assist in coordinating the rebuilding and repairing of churches and pastors’ homes as well as aiding in the ongoing training of our sister church body’s future called workers.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved a $150,000 hurricane relief grant for phase one of repair and rebuilding in Puerto Rico, which includes rebuilding the church building in Humacao, repairing the church in Guayama, and repairing pastors’ homes. Schlomer reports that rebuilding in Humacao began earlier this fall.

To support WELS Christian Aid and Relief hurricane relief efforts, you can donate online (select “Hurricane Disaster Relief” in the designation field) or send it to WELS Christian Aid and Relief, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr. Waukesha, WI 53188, and designate it for the “Hurricane Fund.” If you’d like to volunteer to help with clean up and repair work, visit wels.net/relief and fill out the volunteer form.

 

 

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Christian Aid and Relief Florence update

WELS Christian Aid and Relief has been monitoring damage to WELS churches, members, and communities in the Southeastern United States following Hurricane Florence. So far, only Ascension in Jacksonville, N.C., has reported significant damage. The congregation’s rented worship facility lost shingles in the wind, allowing torrents of rain to destroy the ceiling and fill the worship space. Christian Aid and Relief is still awaiting reports regarding how other area WELS members and communities fared.

Rev. Bob Hein, chairman of Christian Aid and Relief, reported that Christian Aid and Relief approved a $10,000 gift to Direct Relief, a secular relief organization that is providing immediate relief to people affected by Hurricane Florence. Hein reports, “We are also assessing ways to personalize our relief efforts by working through our churches in the affected areas.”

To learn more about or support WELS Christian Aid and Relief, visit wels.net/relief.

 

 

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A helping hand home and abroad

The administrative committee for WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved $317,403 for humanitarian aid work in fiscal year 2018-19. These are projects developed by WELS home and world missionaries to reflect Christ’s love to the people of their community and open doors to share the gospel. Projects range from providing school supplies, outfitting medical supplies, drilling drinking water wells, and offering literacy and skills classes. Eighteen mission fields, both home and world, will be receiving humanitarian aid funding.

Christian Aid and Relief Chairman Rev. Robert Hein, says, “Humanitarian aid projects help our missions put Christ’s love into action by meeting community needs. As missionaries develop relationships with the people they serve, they also find opportunities to tell people about Jesus. In some world mission fields, hostile to Christianity, humanitarian aid is essential to keep the doors open to share the gospel.”

Hein explains that all projects originate in the mission fields as the missionaries discover opportunities to help. Then the projects are brought to the Christian Aid and Relief administrative committee as well as to the WELS Missions administrators for approval. Every project that met the criteria received funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

While many initiatives are carried over year after year, new projects are also funded each year. Hein says, “Traditionally we have supported humanitarian aid projects in our world mission fields. Recently more of our home missions are bringing us requests, especially in cross-cultural situations. One new grant provides assistance to a mission in Colorado helping needy families in their community with school supplies. A new project in Haiti helps establish a sewing institute at the site of one of our Lutheran orphanage schools. They will help orphans, widows, and lower income adults learn a useful trade. It’s also a great way to build connections.”

To view a complete list of humanitarian aid projects, visit wels.net/relief.

View photos:

 

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Plans underway for long-term relief strategy in Puerto Rico

WELS Christian Aid and Relief has announced its plan to call a disaster response coordinator for Puerto Rico who would serve for one year and work with the national pastors of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico to identify and prioritize specific needs, plan construction and repair projects, and coordinate volunteer efforts. He would also help to coordinate continuing theological training for two men whose training was interrupted by Hurricane Maria last fall.

The decision was made after President Mark Schroeder, World Mission Administrator Rev. Larry Schlomer, Director of Missions Operations Mr. Sean Young, and Rev. Tim Satorius, WELS Liaison to Puerto Rico, went to Puerto Rico in January to meet with national leaders and discuss further the most effective ways Christian Aid and Relief could help the hurricane-devastated island. Christian Aid and Relief approved the Puerto Rican church leaders’ request to engage a Spanish-speaking WELS pastor for one year.

This pastor will help coordinate the logistics of rebuilding the church in Humacao that was taken out by the hurricane and repairing the damages to the church building in Guayama. He will also oversee the relief efforts of WELS resources and volunteers in Puerto Rico. Finally, he will encourage and guide two young men in their pastoral training so they can lead these churches into the future.

Schlomer says, “The whole country is in a recovery mode. The leaders of the church have other jobs and have their hands full with the spiritual care of the members. This missionary would be able to spend time on the many logistical questions that will be needed in rebuilding and repairing. He will also be able to quicken the pace of training for the two young men that the church in Puerto Rico have chosen as leaders.”

Following Hurricane Maria, Christian Aid and Relief already has helped provide groceries to families in need and sent an immediate gift of $5,000 through Direct Relief. An additional $5,000 was provided for meals for people in the church and community suffering from this disaster. This enabled members of the national church to provide meals for 50 people a day for four weeks.

“[Creating this position] will help the community in Puerto Rico see our Lutheran churches in an active recovery mode with recovery help available for many. Knowing that their partner, WELS, is ready and willing to assist them will be a shot in the arm at a time when they very much need it,” says Schlomer. “Our prayer is that the church infrastructure is repaired and even better than before. We hope that the two new national leaders are well on their way down the path to becoming fully trained pastors. We pray that the partnership with our church in Puerto Rico is vibrant and active to reach the many still lost in darkness.”

Learn more about Christian Aid and Relief at wels.net/relief.

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Cleaning up after the storms

By now, everyone knows about the impactful hurricane season last fall. Countless people in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean were affected. Some of these people were WELS members and their communities. That’s where WELS Christian Aid and Relief stepped in to offer assistance via immediate financial support and long-term clean-up and repairs. Christian Aid and Relief has been coordinating volunteer efforts, enabling WELS members to help their Christian brothers and sisters affected by the storms.

In Florida, volunteers used Christian Aid and Relief trailers filled with supplies as they assisted with clean-up efforts in several affected communities. Local congregation members and school children helped with the efforts as well as canvassed the neighborhoods. Financial grants were also distributed to help families refurbish and repair their homes.

Financial assistance was provided to families from Barbuda who were displaced from their homes. Some are staying at members’ homes from St. John’s, St. John, Antigua.

Hard-hit Puerto Rico, home of WELS’ sister church body the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Church, was visited by WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder; WELS liaison for the field, Rev. Tim Satorius; and World Mission representatives in January. One church there was completely destroyed, and several members’ homes were damaged. Groceries were provided to families in need, and Christian Aid and Relief has been getting bids for repair projects. An immediate gift of $5,000 through Direct Relief was made to assist those in need as well as $5,000 to provide meals for people in the church and community.

Perhaps it was Texas’ Hurricane Harvey that had the biggest impact on WELS members. Several members’ homes were flooded, resulting in mold and rot issues. Christ Our Savior church and parsonage in Angleton, as well as Sienna Lutheran Academy in Missouri City, suffered considerable damage.

In the days following the hurricane, 40 WELS members from the greater Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth area traveled to the affected areas of Edna and Victoria to offer support and relief. Christian Aid and Relief provided two trailers filled with generators, chain saws, and other supplies and equipment to use for the clean-up of at least 50 homes.

In the weeks and months following the hurricane, after full assessments had been made, Christian Aid and Relief coordinated a steady stream of volunteers to help remove, repair, and replace damaged drywall, floors, trim and molding, and roofs of members’ homes.

Rev. Marc VonDeylen and his wife Monique, Lord of Life, Friendswood, live in a neighborhood that experienced heavy flooding during Hurricane Harvey. The night the storm hit Marc had to sleep at the church because the waters were rising so fast that he couldn’t make the short drive home. Meanwhile, at their house, Monique hosted unexpected visitors . . . neighbors she didn’t even know from down the street who couldn’t make it the few blocks to their driveway. While the VonDeylen’s home was spared from flooding, the area around them wasn’t.

The day after the storm, the VonDeylens called their members and found out that eight or nine homes were flooded. They started getting everyone together to help each other. “We started seeing a great outpouring of love from our members at that point,” said Marc. Congregation members went from house to house to remove damaged items. They even opened their homes to their fellow Christian brothers and sisters whose homes were being repaired.

While the support from one another brought their congregation closer together, Monique says, “People wanted to get back in their homes, so we were so glad when we found out that Christian Aid and Relief was going to come down here and help us out.”

Marc says, “God uses these things to give us opportunities to show our faith, practice our faith, and let others see the love of Christ.”

WELS members have given more than $1.5 million for hurricane relief. “We thank our WELS brothers and sisters for their prayers, their support, and their generous gifts,” says Rev. Robert Hein, chairman of WELS Christian Aid and Relief. “What a privilege to serve as God’s instruments to bring his blessings to those in need!”

Visit wels.net/relief to learn more about WELS Christian Aid and Relief.

Hurricane Relief Update – Nov. 22, 2017

Hurricane Relief Update—Nov. 22, 2017

Thank you for your prayers and support of the ministry of WELS Christian Aid and Relief.  We are using the generous gifts of God’s people to help those suffering from disasters and medical and financial trials, as well as  support humanitarian aid projects, which help our missionaries build bridges to proclaim the gospel.

Here is a Hurricane Relief Update:

Christian Aid and Relief personalizes our efforts by working through our congregations and missions in the affected areas.  We work through our pastors and congregational leaders to make assessments and to distribute aid.  We bring in volunteers when requested to assist in the recovery effort.

Puerto Rico

Our liaison to Puerto Rico, Pastor Tim Satorius has been in contact with pastors and leaders of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico.  Pastor Satorius and a representative from Christian Aid and Relief made a personal assessment visit to Puerto Rico in October.  One church there was completely destroyed and several homes of members were damaged.  Groceries were provided to families in need.  We are getting bids to consider for repair projects.  We sent an immediate gift of $5000 through Direct Relief to assist those in need.  We also sent $5000 to provide meals for people in the church and community suffering from this disaster.  The present plan is for members of the national church to provide meals for 50 people a day for four weeks.

Texas

Volunteers from neighboring churches helped with the initial cleanup efforts in several affected areas.  We have a project coordinator and volunteers in place repairing a parsonage and church at Christ our Savior, Angleton, Tex., the school at Sienna Lutheran Academy, and about 17 member homes in the Friendswood, Tex., area.  The work is going smoothly and the volunteers are finding joy serving the Lord as they serve these people in their time of need.  We have also provided grants to replace furnishings and appliances which were ruined by the flooding.  We continue to consider new opportunities.

Florida

Volunteers, with the help of our relief trailers, assisted with the cleanup efforts in several affected communities.  Those who have received assistance are most appreciative and wish to express their gratitude for a job well done. Pastors in the affected area continue to bring requests to us for immediate aid for their members through our District President Chuck Westra.  This includes generators and equipment, rental assistance while being displaced from home, and assistance with cost of repairs and replacement of furnishings.  We also assisted Abiding Grace, Covington, Ga., as their church suffered water damage from the storm.

Antigua and Barbuda

Assistance is being provided to families displaced from Barbuda, who are staying with members and friends of our WELS mission, St. John, Antigua.  29 families received $18,000 in immediate aid so far.  Our liaison Pastor Tom Spiegelberg visited Antigua last month to help us make further assessment of needs and opportunities.

The Thanksgiving holiday offers another opportunity to count our blessings and praise God from whom all blessings flow.  When we consider the physical and spiritual blessings God lavishes upon us by his grace, we realize that our cup of blessings richly overflows.  One way we express our gratitude to the Lord is by reflecting his love and compassion to others.  May the Lord bless our efforts to show love and kindness to those in need!

God’s Blessings,

Pastor Robert Hein, Chairman, WELS Christian Aid and Relief

 

VOLUNTEER FORM

Sign up to volunteer with Christian Aid and Relief efforts as they help our members and neighbors in times of need.

PARENTAL CONSENT VOLUNTEER FORM

The parental consent volunteer form needs to be filled out by the parent or guardian of any minors wishing to volunteer for Christian Aid and Relief projects.