Tag Archive for: WELS Missions

Latin America Mission – Fall 2023 Update

As of October 2023, Academia Cristo has two million followers on social media. The social media platforms used by Academia Cristo include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Through these platforms, Academia Cristo manages over 30 million engagements every month. Over a million people have downloaded the Academia Cristo mobile app that launched in February 2020. 2,400 people have completed the self-led courses offered in the mobile app or through WhatsApp since March 2020 and are signed up for live courses. 696 people have completed one live course since March 2020 with a WELS missionary or national partner. 85 students in the Academia Cristo program have gone through a doctrinal agreement process designed for leaders and church planters. There are 29 groups that Academia Cristo leaders have taken through at least seven lessons of a two-year program of worship and study. One congregation formed through the program has joined Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional and several others will soon be reaching the criteria required to apply for membership.

A snapshot of blessings from August through October 2023:

  1. An alternative to the mobile app was identified and tested.
    • Through a platform called respond.io, those interested in studying with Academia Cristo are guided in WhatsApp through the same four self-study courses that have been offered in the app.
    • This alternative, self-study through WhatsApp, produced more students with less spending on advertising. It also offered several other positive features, such as the opportunity to engage with students while they are in the self-study process and collect their contact information.
    • Because of the success of the app alternative, it was decided at the 2023 annual meeting to use this alternative instead of the app.
    • Going forward, the “Self-Study Level” through WhatsApp will be the way for students to move from social media to participating in live courses.
  2. A music summit was held in Quito, Ecuador, with representatives from the Latin America mission team and Multi-Language Productions (MLP). Plans were adopted to produce more hymns and liturgical music for use by church planting groups.
  3. The instruction function of the Latin America team focused on incorporating course and lesson objectives into the Academia Cristo curriculum.
  4. An admissions coordinator was hired to help enhance the student onboarding experience.
  5. A program was started to identify and recruit volunteers and match them with needs within Academia Cristo and church planting groups.
  6. Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional held their first convention in Moca, Dominican Republic.
  7. The Latin America seminary program (Seminario Cristo) is wrapping up year two of test courses and has plans in place for 2024. Artemio Garcia from Mexico is currently teaching Old Testament Isagogics.
  8. Plans are set for Rev. Larry Schlomer to lead the Diaspora Ministry Program, continuing the foundation that was laid by Rev. Carl Leyrer through Hispanic Outreach Project in the United States.

 

 




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Port of calling

“Port is where the heart is.” If you’re stitching a saying onto a pillow or a quilt for a sailor, maybe you can use that one. Port is important: It’s where a sailor reconnects with land and with all the comforts to be found there—if only for a short time, until the ship is ready to sail again.

L to R: Stefan Felgenhauer, Dan Witte, Joel Hoff, Dan Kroll, Keegan Dowling

I was once a sailor on the M/V James R. Barker, a thousand-foot-long freighter ship hauling coal and taconite pellets back and forth across the Great Lakes of North America. Did you know that we have a system of Great Lakes here in Africa, too? My favorite port-of-call was Duluth, Minn. I enjoyed the beautiful book and music shops, as well as Erbert & Gerbert sub sandwiches. However, I had been hoping for more. I had hoped to find a WELS pastor who could visit me and give me communion. But there was a vacancy, a situation far too familiar to many of us in today’s WELS, some 20 years later.

The Port of Douala is one of the greatest port cities on the continent of Africa. In fact, it is the largest city in the country of Cameroon. When it comes to WELS mission work in West Africa, the Port of Douala actually functions like a spiritual port. When several of us missionaries met with pastors in September, only one of them was from Douala. All the rest of us were “ships,” so to speak, coming to Douala simply for the purpose of meeting around the gospel of Jesus Christ! Douala—for WELS mission work—is nothing more and nothing less than a “port of calling.”

Missionaries Dan Witte and Dan Kroll were studying and meeting with pastors from three West African synods: Christ the King and All Saints of Nigeria and the Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC). Because of the multi-dimensional security threats present in the region, for the moment WELS missionaries are not able to travel to Nigeria or to Cameroon, apart from just one city in Cameroon: Douala. Because we couldn’t meet them where they were, our brothers came to meet us in port. Missionary Joel Hoff flew in from Zambia, to give a presentation about the very successful TELL online outreach program, which pastors can use both to teach their congregations and to discover new prospects in their own country. Director of Missions Operations Stefan Felgenhauer also flew in from Wisconsin.

Missionary Keegan with Pastor Israel, professor at the seminary of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon

I, Missionary Keegan Dowling, also ended up in Douala, our port of gospel calling. I met with yet a different church body: Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod. They hail from a distant part of Cameroon, where there is a violent and dangerous conflict. Yet, a group of leaders trekked down to Douala, so that we could study the Bible together and talk about Holy Trinity’s mission plans. Holy Trinity is not yet in fellowship with WELS, but this is their desire. So, my job is to work with Holy Trinity along a pathway of studies and discussions that the One Africa Team uses to bring church bodies into fellowship.

An interesting thing about Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod is that many of the leaders and members speak French! In fact, they are our first French-speaking partner church body (although God is blessing our efforts in other parts of francophone Africa, too—stay tuned for future blog posts!) When we “drop anchor” in our “port of calling” we read the Bible together in French. We discuss the issues in French. And outside of class, walking around the Port of Douala, guess what? Missionaries like Pastor Kroll and I get to practice a lot of real-life French! Each trip adds to our capabilities. It further increases our ability to call: to call our fellow sinners to our common Savior throughout French-speaking Africa. This is why the Port of Douala is our “port of calling.” And, God willing, it will be joined by more ports of calling, too.

Written by Rev. Keegan Dowling, world missionary on the One Africa Team, based in Lusaka, Zambia. 

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What’s the deal with the name?

On Aug. 2 of this year, following a rousing address to convention delegates by Rev. Tonny Quintero of Medellin, Colombia, the hundreds of delegates assembled in the Michigan Lutheran Seminary gymnasium to officially recognize fellowship between WELS and Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional.

I had the privilege of attending the convention with Rev. Quintero (being by his side for what some have called the most energetic 20 minutes in synod convention memory) and was able to hear the warm response both from the convention as a whole and from countless individuals who approached the Colombian visitor with a warmth that transcended the language barrier. One question, though, that did come up multiple times was something to the effect of, “So what’s the deal with the name?” And, “Why wouldn’t the word “Lutheran” appear in the name of a Lutheran church body?”

It’s a fair question. First of all, it is not because the church body is ashamed of its “Lutheran-ness.” Quite the contrary. When I meet with the founders of this synod, the words “luterano confesional” constantly find their way into conversation and the first article of the synod’s constitution proudly proclaims, “El nombre de este Sínodo Luterano Confesional es: Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional.” – The name of this confessional Lutheran Synod is . . .

The founders of this synod chose the name it did not because they have a low regard for being Lutheran, but rather because they have such a high regard for the Lutheran-ness they have received. They love that WELS had such a love for the truth that they brought them a Lutheran-ness that was not degraded by compromising what the Bible says, but that stands on scripture alone. They love that WELS had such a love for the lost that they offered their treasures and talents to send missionaries south to share the precious truths of grace alone and faith alone with them. So, these church leaders brought to faith and to Lutheranism by “us” adopted the name “WELS” in a hope to also emulate the confessional stance and mission zeal of their sister synod to the north.

Additionally, there is one other parallel worth mentioning. The WELS was founded by a tiny group of church leaders who met in equally tiny Granville, Wis., many years ago. When the synod met at convention this past August, there were hundreds of delegates present who represented hundreds of thousands of WELS members from across the country.

The month after I was with Rev. Tonny Quintero in that packed gym in Saginaw, Mich., the two of us traveled to the first annual convention of the Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional in the rural outskirts of Moca, Dominican Republic. The convention there had just 12 attendees. Although the gathering was small, they look forward to the possibility of welcoming many more into their fellowship. As they made their plans Isaiah 55:10-11 came up many times. That group, now so small, made bold plans built on the confidence that the Word will not return empty; plans made with the prayer that their small synod will soon swell with churches formed through the training provided by Academia Cristo.

Written by Rev. Andrew Johnston, world missionary on the Latin America mission team, in Doral, Fla.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Athens of America

My wife and I were walking in the Boston Logan Airport after returning from a trip and on the wall there was a timeline of many Boston and greater-Boston area inventions. There was a picture of the first disposable blade razor put out by Gillette, a picture of the first microwave oven, a picture of Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm room inventing Facebook, and those are just a few of many others. Why do you think the city of Boston chose that exhibit to go on the wall of their airport? I wasn’t sitting in on the meetings that decided it, but I would guess it is because Boston is proud of their many inventions. They want you to know, before you have even stepped out of the airport, that Boston is a city of great minds, inventions, and innovation.

What does this have to do with starting a church in Boston? That’s a good question. I think there are several facts about our mission that do make it innovative or different than other settings. For one, WELS has never had a church in Boston. Secondly, seventy-five percent of the people who gathered in our house for Bible study last week don’t own a car. Finally, my wife and I live in the most densely populated city in all New England. Maybe that makes this mission start “innovative.” But the more I thought about it, and the more time you’d spend here, you’d realize that we really aren’t that innovative.

What does your normal day look like? This question is asked all the time, and for good reason; people want to know what it is like starting a mission church in a big city. Again, in so many ways, it isn’t all that inventive. My wife and I find different ways to get involved in the community and meet people, we spend time with people over food, and we grow with them in our love for our community and Savior. We study the Word, we pray for each other, and the Holy Spirit continually uses that Word to work faith in people’s hearts one by one. Do we have to be innovative with how we meet people? Sure. Will we have to be innovative with finding space to have worship when we are ready for that? Probably! But our tools for doing church planting are the same tools that have always been used for church planting – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure the first word you would use to describe our small mission church at this time is innovative or inventive. Yes, we have creative people and come up with new ways to reach the community, but our foundation is rooted in the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17). Thanks be to God for this opportunity to share the gospel to the many people of Boston! All involved on starting the church in Boston ask for your continued prayers as we continue to love God and love our neighbor in this great city.

Written by Rev. Joshua Koelpin, home missionary at the new start mission in Boston, Mass.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Outstanding ministry blessings in Vancouver

Sometimes God just blesses us with blessings piled up on top of each other. At Saviour of the Nations in Vancouver, BC, we were blessed to have such a weekend on Oct. 1-2. Taking advantage of a local holiday weekend we were blessed to do a discipleship training with our mission counselor, Rev. Matt Vogt. But we packed much more into this weekend.

“The Story of the Bible” initiative

Since Sept.10, we have been doing an “all ministry Bible information class,” meaning every Bible class is a Bible information class. In place of a traditional sermon, we are substituting in a modified Bible lesson connecting an Old Testament story to Jesus in John’s gospel and the relevant doctrines. On Oct. 1, we had 50 people in worship, including five people who have never heard the gospel. And it happened to be on the day we had the clearest presentation of law and gospel. Among them was a gentleman who was raised a Hindu who called the message “beautiful”, a Muslim woman who had never attended a church before, a Japanese woman who had never heard of Jesus before, and a skeptic who was attending worship with his family member. Our Sudanese members came from Surrey and sang as a choir in worship to everyone’s delight.

Sampling dishes from the International Food Festival

The gospel message was doubly reinforced by also celebrating four adult confirmations in the same service. Our other prospects who regularly attend got to hear these four confirmands—Cindy, Taehoon, Chanmuk (Danny), and his wife May—publicly confess their confidence and faith in Jesus. It was a day we all pray the Holy Spirit can use to work in the hearts of those who heard the gospel for the one-hundredth time, and especially for those hearing it the first time.

International Food Festival

To celebrate all that was going on, including Korean Thanksgiving weekend and the Chinese mid-autumn festival, we had an “International Food Festival” after the service with 60 people attending, our highest attendance ever for a meal. We counted 14 countries from four continents represented in various groups among our attendees. Everyone brought dishes from their home country. We tried all kinds of food and had fun voting for different categories like “veggie magic” and “Instagram perfect.” One of our prospects who worked very hard on her Indian dish was so happy she won—it was a big hit for everyone!

Congregation annual meeting

After the food festival wrapped up, we had our annual meeting where we elected two new council leaders: Taehoon Kang from Vancouver and Hakim Kon from our Surrey Sudanese mission. I shared an overview of the church’s past year and what we are doing to share the gospel through building relationships. Rev. Matt Vogt was conveniently present to explain what WELS is to prospects and how we are planting new missions. Our chairman, Volo, presented about the budget and shared gratitude for the financial support we receive through synod subsidy.

Discipleship training

Discipleship training with Mission Counselor Matt Vogt

Twenty-one members, Pastor Matt Vogt, and 13 kids came back on Monday to do an all day discipleship and leadership training. Pastor Vogt shared with us what Biblical leadership looks like and inspired our members to be more involved with the day-to-day operations of our ministry. At the end of the session, both our Sudanese leaders and Vancouver leaders put together respective lists of areas where laypeople can step up and help with the ministry. We hope to be implementing a few each quarter and working on the lists in the coming months.

We ended the day with fellowship over a dinner of Mexican food and celebrating one of our Sudanese kid’s seventh birthday with a cake, singing, and a Lego present to top it off.

God really piled up the blessings for us this weekend. He let us lean into our mission name, “Saviour of the Nations”, to build more meaningful relationships with people through music, food, and above all, the gospel.

Shared by Rev. Geoff Cortright, home missionary at Saviour of the Nations in Vancouver, B.C., Canada 





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Taking the gospel to the people

How much time do you spend on the internet every day? Do you know? Is it more than you read your Bible? More than you pray? More than you exercise?

If you’re like me, then the answer to all of these questions is yes. This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip though, but rather to draw our eyes to an opportunity! Yes. God has given us an opportunity in the internet. We could become discouraged by the fact (as I do sometimes) that the internet is stealing our attention from the most important things in life and we should all just set down our phones and computers and enjoy each other’s company. But. . . that’s not the world we live in. We live in a modern age in which technology has improved our lives immensely. And now, as always, we will go to where the people are whether that’s by a river, in a village, on the “other side of town,” or on the internet.

In some parts of the world, like North America, COVID hasn’t been a big deal for a while, but in other parts of the world, mask mandates and PCR tests hung on for a long time. We in Asia felt the full brunt of that. COVID is basically over here now too, but it’s just been in the last six months or so that all restrictions have been lifted. That means that for the past three-plus years pretty much everyone has been doing almost everything on the internet: buying clothes, groceries, watching movies, finding partners, etc.

What does this have to do with the gospel?! Well, #theinternet. That’s how people do everything so that’s where the gospel must go as well. And we must go there and be present there with all our might, in the best way we possibly can.

And so, that’s what we’re doing. Asia Lutheran Seminary (ALS) and Multi-Language Productions (MLP) have partnered up to reach all in Asia with God’s grace.

MLP has produced an online training platform called TELL Network. TELL Mandarin is a translated version of the TELL Network high-quality self-study courses called TELL which includes videos and quizzes. TELL Mandarin helps people read and understand God’s Word on their own and then teaches them how to lead others to do the same. MLP has translated and contextualized TELL for a Mandarin speaking audience, so that Mandarin speakers in East Asia and all over the world can learn of God’s love for me. After completing TELL Mandarin, ALS guides these students through its degree programs so that, in the end, they can become church leaders and shepherds for God’s people.

TELL Mandarin has enrolled thousands of students in Asia and the number of those who enroll is growing every day. We thank God for all those precious souls he brings to us through these digital means. We are blessed to be able to have such a far reach with such an incredible tool as TELL Mandarin to educate and bless people all throughout Asia!

Written by Tony Barthels, world missionary for the Asia One Team and recruiter for Asia Lutheran Seminary.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Being part of the event

“What are some outreach strategies that you use?” “How do you meet new people?”

These are examples of the kind of questions that people ask me when they find out that I’m a pastor at a new church. My answers to these types of questions are usually pretty basic; make friends, work networks, get involved in the community, etc. When people ask those types of questions they are sometimes looking for specifics and ideas. With one year under my belt, I haven’t been at this long enough to know what is effective or not in the long run. However, one of the best outreach strategies that we employ at Amazing Grace started years before I even got here.

The active city of Dickinson has many vendor events throughout the year. Each one is sponsored by a large entity in the city. The Dickinson Press puts on an event called “The Women’s Expo.” The name makes it clear that the event is tailored to appeal to the women of the community. A member of Amazing Grace knows the person who runs the event and made a deal with her five years ago. Amazing Grace will provide entertainment for the children that come to the event in return we get a free booth space. It’s simple, a win for everyone; the mothers can shop or take a break while they or dad brings their children to play, The Dickinson Press has another thing to attract people to the event, and Amazing Grace has a booth presence as thousands of people walk by and are seen as a sponsor of the event.

Some years Amazing Grace sets up arts and crafts tables, other years we bring in a bouncy house. This year we had a bouncy house and six volunteers from the congregation to help manage all of the children. From 9 a.m. through 4 p.m., the bouncy house was full of kids.

So, why is this an effective outreach strategy for us? Maybe you can see it already. The dad or mom stays by the bouncy house to watch their child. This leads to a natural, unintrusive conversation environment. I and the members of Amazing Grace meet so many wonderful people and couples, some of whom are interested in checking out our new church. We had invitations to our launch service on October 15th out on the table if anyone was interested and had exposure to thousands of people in the community. Plus, over the years we’ve built a reputation with a major entity in Dickinson, the Dickinson Press. Five new prospects have connected with us from the most recent Women’s Expo.

Each situation is unique. We can’t run a whole vendor event on our own, but we can provide a valuable service for the event and the community through the Women’s Expo. If you are asking yourself the question, “How can my church meet new people?,” think about providing a service to a big event that’s already happening. Setting up a booth at an event is great, and the way I see it, being a part of the event in any way you can is even better. All of this is to open up more doors into people’s lives so we can share the saving gospel message with them.

Written by Rev. Joel Prange, home missionary at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Dickinson, N.D.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Giving God the glory. . . on and off the field

Jack Strand is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bloomer, Wis. Jack played quarterback for Bloomer High School and was recruited to play in college. During the recruiting process, he and his parents, Jim and Veronica, made sure that the colleges that were recruiting him had WELS churches with campus ministries in their areas. It was important to Jack to keep God’s Word, what Jesus called the one thing we need most, at the center of his life.

Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) offered Jack a scholarship to play football. Ascension Lutheran Church was five minutes from the college campus. Rev. Jordan Uhlhorn from Ascension and Rev. Daniel Sprain from Shepherd of the Valley in West Fargo, N.D., lead the campus ministry each Thursday night for college students in the area. He committed to playing football for them in 2022. Jack is now a sophomore at MSUM where he plays football, studies engineering physics, and goes to church and campus ministry.

Another WELS member, Josiah Behm from Appleton, Wis,, is a junior who plays linebacker for the MSUM Dragons football team. Jack and Josiah go to church together on Sundays, the campus ministry studies on Thursdays, and to the various campus ministry events. About ten students attend the campus ministry studies and events. Jack and Josiah’s teammates see that their faith is important to them as they let their lights shine on and off the field.

Here’s what Jack has to say about being a student athlete:

“It gives you a different perspective than a non-Christian student athlete might have, because you are doing everything for a different reason. God says to do all things for his glory, so not only are you playing for other people and earthly reasons, but most importantly to give God glory. Being a student athlete is stressful and takes up a ton of time, so finding time to be in the Word and talk to God can be difficult, but absolutely necessary. It’s a blessing to be able to go to God in prayer in good times and bad. When things aren’t going well, you ask for his guidance and help, and when things are going well, you give him thanks and praise. Being a student athlete is also a great opportunity to let your light shine and show by example how a Christian lives their life.”

Here’s what Jack has to say about what campus ministry means:

“It’s a great opportunity to meet and connect with people your age who have the same faith, beliefs, and values in life as you do. Too often, people get sucked into college life and what they might see and do on campus, and so having a group of students who share the same faith is very valuable while continuing the walk of faith during the college years. Having gone to a public high school, I didn’t know a lot of WELS people my age. Now with campus ministry, I have the opportunity to meet WELS people my age and make friends with them, and continue to strengthen my faith while I’m in college. During our Bible studies we learn, talk to one another, and ‘encourage one another and build one another up’ as Paul said, and it is a blessing from God to be able to do so.”

Written by Rev. James Strand, serving at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Bloomer, Wis., and father to Jack.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The brotherhood in Nepal

The gospel creates a brotherhood. Jesus taught the gospel to his twelve disciples. They became his brothers. Yes, Judas betrayed him, forsaking the brotherhood. But when Jesus called Judas, he called him as a brother. Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:34,35).

WELS missionaries enjoy a brotherhood in their mission fields. The Holy Spirit calls them to teach the gospel to church leaders in other nations. As they grow together in the gospel, they become friends and brothers. Yes, some, like Judas, will betray the cause of the gospel. But many will remain loyal. The brotherhood continues.

We enjoy a brotherhood with the church leaders of the CELC of Nepal. Our brotherhood grows when we study God’s Word together. Recently I traveled to Nepal to teach the book of Isaiah to ten church leaders.

We learned the gospel from Isaiah. We learned gospel encouragement from Isaiah. As we studied the call of Isaiah, we thought of ways to encourage others who have a ministry like Isaiah. God called Isaiah to “Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes” (Isaiah 6:10). Isaiah had a difficult ministry, announcing God’s judgment on his unbelieving people.

The students composed messages of encouragement to share with WELS missionaries and national church leaders in difficult situations. The Nepal leaders have also suffered persecution for their Christian faith. Their own experience helped them express their encouragement.

One leader wrote, “I heard you are having trouble in your ministry, sometimes people come to beat you and hinder your work. I’m very sad to hear about that. Sometimes they will blame you with false things. But don’t worry. God is with you. God will help you in your ministry and work there. Don’t be discouraged. God will give you strength. Wherever there is persecution the believers remain. I’m praying for you and your ministry.”

We sent the messages through WhatsApp to our WELS missionaries. They rejoiced to receive such messages. They asked to share the messages with others. The brotherhood grows.

Praise God.

Written by WELS Asia One Team missionary.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One in Christ

They are home now.

Tired, but home.

Pastor Musa, his wife Mary, and son Nathanael are now back home in Buwembula Village in Eastern Uganda. Back to their family and everything familiar.

For the month of August, they were far from anything familiar. Why? They came to the United States. And what an eye-opening – and taste bud – experience it was! Waffles? What are those? 4-D movie – a what? Cactus? What’s that? Where are all the pedestrians and motorcycle taxis and potholes?

Not only was it their first time in the USA but it was their first trip overseas. If you felt a breeze in the month of August, it may have been from the whirlwind tour that Pastor Musa and his family were on. In addition to the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, they visited seven congregations, eight schools, and the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis.

The Musa family at the Ark Encounter

A special thank you to the Musa family for also taking the time to visit Peridot-Our Savior’s and East Fork Lutheran schools on the reservations, as well as Open Bible in White River, Ariz., and Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lakeside, Ariz. The kids enjoyed seeing some animals and fish of Uganda, but even more importantly they got to see Ugandan children learning God’s Word, singing God’s praises and dancing for the Lord. Our Apache children had lots to think about after seeing and hearing about the plentiful harvest in Uganda.

God’s Word gave us all something deep to ponder as Pastor Musa based his sermon on Jesus’ prayer found in John 17. One in Christ.

And we think the ark is impressive!? Indeed, it is, but nothing compared to the immensity of God’s grace in Jesus Christ!

One faith. One baptism. One Lord and God. No matter where in the world we are living, as fellow believers we have a tie that binds us: Jesus.

Same Father.

Same Brother.

And that puts us in the same family – God’s family.

After Pastor Musa’s presentation at Open Bible, Rev. Kirk Massey shared his thoughts:

“Over the years I have often been asked to speak about our world mission field here on the Fort Apache and San Carlos reservations, but this is the first time we have had the honor and privilege to have a representative of our WELS world mission fields come to share with us. What a blessing this has been, Pastor and Mrs. Musa! Thank you!”

President Mark Schroeder, Pastor Musa, Nathanael, and Mary

Indeed, a blessing. Thank you, Pastor Musa, Mary, and Nathanael, for making the trip, sparing your time, sharing the Word, and giving us insights into God’s kingdom work in Uganda.

We thank God that you arrived home.

Rest well, my brother and sister. (and our little brother, too!)

Written by Rev. John Holtz, Native Christians counselor for the Native American mission field and former One Africa Team contact to Uganda. 

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latin America Mission – Quarterly Update

As of July, 2023, Academia Cristo has 1.9 million followers on Facebook, 138,000 followers on Instagram, 18,400 followers on YouTube, and 2,121 followers on TikTok. Academia Cristo manages over 30 million engagements every month through their various communication platforms. Over a million people have downloaded the Academia Cristo mobile app that launched in February 2020. 2,090 people have completed the self-led courses on the mobile app since March 2020 and are signed up for live courses. 667 people have completed one live course since March 2020 with a WELS missionary or national partner. 79 students in the Academia Cristo program have gone through a doctrinal agreement process designed for leaders and church planters. There are 25 groups that Academia Cristo leaders have taken through at least seven lessons of a two-year program of worship and study. There is one official congregation from the program.

A snapshot of blessings from May through July 2023:

  1. Academia Cristo follows an hourglass church multiplication strategy. They try to meet as many people as possible on social media, guide them through an intentional training program, and equip them to plant groups to reach more people. Implementation has begun on changes to the bottom part of our hourglass strategy. These changes focus on revisions to their church planter (Grupo Sembrador) program, where groups gather regularly around God’s Word using a two-year packet of worship and Bible study materials provided by Academia Cristo.
  2. Missionaries guided 39 church planters (sembradores) and four adjunct professors through the divine call process. This was done one-on-one. It included a review of the doctrine of the call, best practices for considering a call, and how to accept or decline a call.
    • All four of those called to serve as adjunct professors accepted their calls (three from Mexico and one from Ecuador).
    • 33 of the 39 who were called to be church planters have accepted (two declined, four are still deliberating). The 33 church planters who accepted are in 11 different Latin American countries.
  3. A plan is in place to start a student services team. It will focus on welcoming students into the Academia Cristo program, setting up live courses, and maintaining student records.
  4. On June 18, 2023, eight students graduated from the Discipleship Two portion of the program. These graduates successfully completed 21 live courses, each with a final project. Several of these graduates will be invited to study in Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional seminary test courses.
  5. The new version of Aprendan de mí, our Bible information course, is almost ready to be sent to Multi-Language Productions (MLP) for production. A specific plan is in place to have the course (videos, teacher’s guides, and student handouts) published by October 2023.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How’s it going?

“How’s it going?” Many have asked me that question lately. That likely doesn’t surprise you, because it is such a common, generic greeting employed by many of us. Often, we don’t even expect a real answer. The people who have asked me do want a real answer. They ask for a specific purpose. They know I have experienced a big change – the ministry I serve has experienced a big change. They finish the question like this, “How’s it going working with another pastor?”

In March of 2023, Divine Savior Church – Sienna submitted a request through our district mission board to the Board for Home Missions for an enhancement grant – financial support to allow our church to call for a second pastor. Under God’s careful watch and blessing, the Board for Home Missions granted that request. Our leadership crafted a clear job description for a Pastor of Discipleship, then moved quickly to extend call number one. We knew it was a strong possibility we would need to extend call number two, and three, four, five, maybe more, but God had other plans. Our faithful God worked through that process, Rev. Dan Laitinen was the first pastor we called and he accepted the call. He moved with his family to Sienna in July 2023, and we celebrated his installation on July 30 with worship and a massive serving of Texas-smoked pulled pork.

That celebration kicked off a massive change, both for me and for our ministry. Honestly, I was nervous. How well would we get along? Would I be a good teammate? What information is the most important to share immediately?

So. . . how’s it going? I’m learning how to better communicate, and let go, and many other ways in which I can grow as a pastor. I struggled at first to remember to say, “I’m one of the pastors here.” Yet, all of that puts too much emphasis on myself and Pastor Dan, we are under shepherds. I want to put the emphasis on Jesus, the great Shepherd, and his mission to reach more for his flock.

How’s that going? Incredibly!

As we partner with Divine Savior Academy on our campus, there are so many opportunities for ministry. This year, the school has grown to 350 students in PreK – 11th grade. We anticipate more students next year with the completion of a building project. So much ministry can happen! While I serve 10th graders and teach the Old Testament, Pastor Dan can study the Bible with Kenneth, our security officer, and Keith, our technology specialist, progressing towards membership at Divine Savior Church. While Pastor Dan invites them to his home to encourage and equip Connect Group leaders for our small group ministry, I am the invited guest at the homes of academy parents like Jake and Amanda or Will and Jordan, who take our START class to becomes members. While I take time to engage and interact specifically with worship visitors and guests, Pastor Dan leads a Sunday morning small group study. While Pastor Dan works with our youth group leaders to plan consistent events to connect teens to Christ, I work with the Outreach team to plan our Soccer Camp and Easter Egg Hunt.

How’s it going? Thanks for asking! I have a real answer to give: More kingdom work is happening. More people are equipped to serve in our mission. More souls are connected to Christ!

Written by Rev. Kevin Boushek, home missionary at Divine Savior Church in Sienna, Texas.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hope in Houston

“Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20, CEB)

Hope Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, started a capital campaign earlier this year with the theme “Beyond” based on that verse from Ephesians. We were in a bit of a tough spot at the time. A few months earlier we had a meeting with the owner of the dance studio we currently rent, and she let us know that unless something changed, she would have to close down by the end of the year. Without many other options, we decided to take on a substantial portion of her lease payment in exchange for more access to the space. But this was hardly a long-term solution. We knew we needed to act quickly to get into a permanent space. We started looking around, but in the middle of a big city like Houston, real estate is hard to come by. We searched for several months and toured several properties without finding any good options.

Current worship space for Hope Lutheran Church

Meanwhile, our members were busy showing just how true it is that God can do “far beyond all that we could ask or imagine.” Our leadership team had conducted an informal poll months earlier to assess how much we could expect our members to contribute when it came time to purchase a building. The total came in around $400,000. So, trusting that God would provide, our leadership team set our fundraising goal at $500,000. After only two months of fundraising, we held our Celebration Sunday, where we revealed how much our congregation had raised. The total came to $607,153 with an additional $120,000 pledged over the next two years! Sure enough, God provided far beyond what we asked or imagined.

Around the same time we were celebrating the results of our capital campaign, we found a church for sale in our target area. It was a Church of Christ that was built in 1927 and remodeled in the late 1950s. It is situated on its own block within a neighborhood in our target area. There is a large parking lot, ample street parking, and plenty of green space for kids to run around. We quickly put in an offer, and it was accepted. We are currently under contract, and if all goes well, we will close in the next few days.

It’s an incredibly exciting time in the life of our church. Thanks to the Church Extension Fund’s grant program for new missions, we get a 4:1 match on the land value and a 2:1 match for every dollar we spend on the remodel. Because of this, we can afford the necessary renovations to make the almost 100 year old building our home for the future. And because Church Extension Funds grants keep the cost down for us, we will be able to taper off of synod subsidy faster, which enables WELS to start more missions in the future. We are extremely grateful to Church Extension Fund for partnering with us on this project!

The original Church of Christ building in 1927

We hope to have the remodel completed by late 2024, when we will be able to move in and open our doors to the community. We cannot wait to see what kind of impact we’ll be able to have in our community once we have a permanent space. Our people have been very involved throughout the process and have all kinds of great ideas for how to use our new space. We’re very optimistic about the next stage of our congregation’s life, knowing that God will do “far beyond all that we ask or imagine.”

Written by Rev. Andrew Nemmers, home missionary at Hope Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas. 

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

All over the map

Ministry in Thailand is…all over the map.

In January, I became the Asia One Team champion for the ministry in Thailand.  Part of my role is to catch up on the history of ministry in Thailand.  One way to describe Thailand’s past ministry: three-tracked.

In the past 30 years, the WELS helped start three different ministries with three different focuses in Thailand.  One ministry focused on ethnic Thai people, another on Hmong people, another on various people groups around Northeastern Thailand.  As they focused on different people, they focused on different regions in Thailand.  Hence, the ministries were all over the map, literally and figuratively.

Unfortunately in those 30 years, some ministries fell off the map.  Support changed.  Circumstances changed.  Ministries changed.  Thailand also suffered from this change when some ministry fell off the map.  The devil worked hard to push the entire ministry in Thailand off the map.  But, God is good and he kept ministry on the map.  He kept it on the map through the dedication of many leaders, both local and missionary.  Therefore, ministry in Thailand continues today.

But ministry is not just about the past, but also the future!  In the past year, the leaders in Thailand officially decided to pool their knowledge and start working together.  All three-ministry tracks have connected and joined.  The three strands have woven together.  After two conferences of discussion, they started mapping out a plan for ministry going forward in Thailand.  Their main purpose: to strengthen each other in faith, build unity, and spread the gospel.  Their name (translated into English): the Lutheran Christian Confederation.

The Confederation asked the Asia One Team to help support their ministry.  So, the Asia One Team continues to find ways to support.  The Asia One Team supports conferences to encourage and build each other up in God’s Word.  It supports the growth of the local leaders in God’s Word.  It connects local ministry to other resources, such as Multi-Language Productions and Christian Aid and Relief.  Lord willing, the Asia One Team will help the Lutheran Christian Confederation build up local leaders to then add new leaders.

As the various groups in the Confederation use the same ministry road map, Lord willing, he will put more ministries all over the map.  As this happens, the more his Word can lighten the dark places off our map.  After all, that’s what a map is for, to see where we have been and to see where we can be going.  A map helps us see where the light is and where it needs to go.

May the Lord guide the ministry of the Lutheran Christian Confederation and the Asia One Team as they spread God’s Word all over the map.

Written by Missionary Mark Zondag, Asia One Team champion in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus

Jill walked up to our front door, and I could tell she was nervous. With a smile and hopefully a friendly greeting, I gave her a bulletin and welcomed her to church. That Sunday she heard about Jesus’ love for her.

Jill sat in her living room, and I could tell she was distraught. Her husband had passed away a few months ago, so she moved closer to family. That past Sunday was the first time she had been to church in a while. But it wasn’t just her husband. Her story was all too common: shame, regrets, broken relationships. These weighed on her conscience. That afternoon, she heard about Jesus’ love for her.

Jill began to attend Sunday worship, and I could tell she loved it. She talked to the other members of Our Savior. She participated in Bible Class. She told me how she was working to invite her family to come and visit her new church, a place that told her about Jesus’ love. Jill studied God’s Word in our new member class, and I could see evidence of the Spirit’s work. She learned the depth and the glory of God’s love for her in Jesus. She surprised me with how well she applied what we learned to her life and her religious background.

The worship facility at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Not long after Jill suffered from a fall. Jill lay in the nursing home after her fall and I could tell she was confused. She couldn’t talk very well and the pain was bad. She questioned why God would allow this to happen.  I told her about the forgiveness we have in Jesus and the hope of eternal life we both shared. We prayed that God would grant her healing and recovery.

As God saw fit, he did not grant her that full recovery. Over the next few weeks, her condition worsened. Jill was moved to a hospital, so I visited her frequently. I continued to tell her about Jesus’ love for her. Sometimes she was “there.” Other times, the medicine made it hard to remain engaged.

Her eyes are what I noticed. The medicine wasn’t as strong now because she was in hospice. Every time I walked in, her eyes lit up. She knew I was there. I held her hand; she squeezed back. I told her about Jesus’ love for her. Her eyes followed along as I read from the Psalms, from the Gospels, and from Paul’ epistles. Her family was there sometimes. They heard too. I had opportunities to share Jesus’ love with them directly. She and I prayed that God would keep her eyes firmly fixed on her Savior, Jesus, and that Jesus would bring her home to heaven.

God answered. Within a span of about 3 months, Jill visited our church, worshiped with us, grew in Bible class, fell sick, and entered into glory. God granted me in those last months the wonderful opportunity to tell her about Jesus’ love for her. God granted me in those last months the wonderful opportunity to witness to her family about Jesus’ love.

Jill lives now in heaven, rejoicing in paradise. I know she couldn’t be happier.

Written by Rev. Orie Thomford, home missionary at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Burlington, Iowa. 

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Summer quarter in Sweden

“To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1).

That’s the way James begins his powerful little book. The apostle wrote to encourage God’s people and to spur them on to renewed service.

That’s exactly why European Summer Quarter is so important. WELS has a dozen sister synods in Europe. The brothers and sisters in these small church bodies are often scattered. Congregations tend to be small. It’s easy to feel isolated. Two weeks of Bible study and fellowship can lift spirits for healthy ministry.

Pastor Holger teaching

This year twelve pastors, seminary students, and church leaders gathered at St. Mark’s congregation in Ljungby, Sweden. These representatives from seven different countries came to dig deeper into God’s word, to grow in personal faith, and rededicate their hearts to service. During the first week, Pastor Holger Weiss, from Germany, led a course on Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. In these letters the Holy Spirit speaks especially to pastors:

  • Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2),
  • And the things you have heard me say … entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

Missionary Luke Wolfgramm teaches the class; included in the class in Missionary Conifer Berg

During the second week, Missionary Luke Wolfgramm led practical meditations on the life and ministry of Elijah. Participants came to appreciate James’ observation: “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:2). God’s great prophet faced temptations and struggles remarkably similar to contemporary pressures in post-Christian Europe. Nevertheless, the unchanging LORD equipped Elijah to serve his 7,000 elect. The same mighty God remains faithful to his people today.

Everyone enjoyed the studies, but nothing can compete with the fellowship participants enjoyed outside of class time. Evenings and weekends gave plenty of opportunity for discussions, collaboration, and mutual encouragement. Members of St. Mark’s congregation also enjoyed Sunday sermons from three guest preachers during Summer Quarter.

Hearty spiritual food and unhurried contact with brothers and sisters strengthens European fellowship and reinvigorates zeal to proclaim Christ. Please pray that God would continue to bless pastors and people through ongoing Bible study together.

Written by Rev. Luke Wolfgramm, world missionary on the Europe One Team, based in Leipzig, Germany.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Unexpected blessings in Paraguay

The Unexpected
It wasn’t a part of the plan. We weren’t supposed to be there. We were on our third move to another new country, with two kids under two years old in less than a year . . . this was certainly not on our radar.

When my wife and I were sitting in the Seminary auditorium for the vicar call service and we heard that we were assigned to Medellín, Colombia for vicar year, we could not have imagined what lay before us. We could not have imagined ourselves living with a wonderful family in Ecuador for two months and going from asking them what “dinner” is called to a tearful and prolonged goodbye as we left them to go to Colombia. We could not have imagined that in only the first two months of our time there, we’d get to know Pastor Herrera, and his wife, Eliana, well enough to leave our daughter with them so we could go to the hospital and welcome our son into the world on Christmas Day. And we could not have imagined getting to meet the mission team in Paraguay to close out the year.

With the help of missionaries, synod workers, lawyers, friends, and family, the plan was made to start us out in Ecuador for two months to learn Spanish full-time and get to know the Academia Cristo Mission Team based there. From there we would go to Medellín, Colombia for the rest of our time to work with Pastor Herrera and the wonderful congregation there. As we neared the end of our time in Medellín, we had some visa issues and so an impromptu plan was made to send us to Asunción, Paraguay, where another Academia Cristo Mission Team is based.

The Blessings
It wasn’t a part of the plan, and it certainly wasn’t on our radar. But it was a part of God’s plan for us. God put us there and we could not have imagined the additional blessings he had planned for us in Paraguay.

As we went from the city of eternal spring – Medellín, Colombia – to a city in the southern hemisphere in the dead of winter (it was still 50s and 60s Fahrenheit so not too cold) – Asunción, Paraguay – we were blessed with the opportunity to learn about another culture and people. We were blessed to learn some Guaraní words as we met with some local Paraguayans and blessed to worship together at the mission house run by a WELS church in Florida. We were able to see God’s wonderful creation at Iguazu Falls in Brazil right across the border from Paraguay. We were fortunate to travel with missionary Abe Degner to Bolivia and meet with church leaders there, in addition to preaching for the new church formed by an Academia Cristo student in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We were blessed to celebrate our daughter’s second birthday with the mission team and have a Paraguayan-style grill-out after church. I also was blessed to visit Academia Cristo students in Argentina, with missionary Joel Sutton, as they considered starting Bible Study Groups that will God-willing turn into churches someday.

Our experience in South America was filled with unexpected challenges and blessings start to finish. But it’s amazing to see how God turns those unexpected plans and challenges into unexpected blessings.

Written by Caleb Koelpin, vicar for World Missions in Medellín, Colombia during 2022-2023.

Subscribe to future Missions Blogs at wels.net/subscribe.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Register for Taste of Missions 2023!

Registration for Taste of Missions 2023 is now open! We invite you to join us in person or online for a day of fellowship with our WELS home and world missionaries and volunteers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis.

There will be multiple opportunities for fellowship, a worship service to commission new home and world missionaries, displays from our various mission fields, and activities for the whole family! In-person attendees can sample ethnic dishes from various countries where WELS conducts mission work as missionaries present on their experience and answer questions about life in a mission field.

For those attending the event virtually, everything will be livestreamed for your participation. You can witness the commissioning worship service, hear our speakers from home and world mission fields, and try the ethnic recipes that will be shared online.

View the full list of activities for the day and register at tasteofmissions.com. Registration is $15 per person, with children 13 and under attending for free. Those attending in person will receive food tickets to sample ethnic cuisine and can purchase additional food from the food trucks. Or attend virtually for free! Sign up today at tasteofmissions.com/register.

We hope you will join us!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Save the date! Taste of Missions 2023

Taste of Missions is back! Almost 500 people attended last year’s event at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and another 200 individuals participated online. It was a wonderful day of experiencing WELS mission work through fellowship with home and world missionaries, various Q&A panels and presentations, delicious ethnic cuisine, and inspirational worship with brothers and sisters from around the world. Check out photos from the event in our Flickr album.

We want to invite YOU to join us again to learn about WELS mission work at this year’s Taste of Missions event that will be held on Sat., June 10, 2023. Bring the family to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., to enjoy some ethnic food trucks and get to know some of your synod’s home and world missionaries. Can’t attend in person? Virtual attendees can watch all the events via livestream, view additional video updates from missionaries, and try their hand at making one of the many ethnic recipes shared on the website.

Registration will open on February 20. In the meantime, visit tasteofmissions.com to view more event details and catch up on videos you might have missed from last year’s event. We hope to see you there!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home mission milestones – Winter 2022/2023

Join with us in celebrating and praising God for the major church milestones that these home mission congregations experienced in Winter 2022/2023:


Grace Lutheran Church, Minot, N.D.

Grace Lutheran Church in Minot, N.D., dedicated their newly remodeled worship facility in a special Reformation service on October 30, 2022. Thanks be to God! They purchased an old Baptist church and remodeled it to fit their ministry needs with support from WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF).

 

View photos of their new church and other home mission activities in the Dakota-Montana district in the Flickr album.


Peace Lutheran Church, Trinity, Fla.

Home mission congregation Peace Lutheran Church in Trinity, Fla., dedicated their new church on November 20, 2022 (pictured above). Board for Home Missions chairman Rev. Mark Gabb preached for the service. They also hosted a Fall Festival and Open House for the community on November 12, 2022 (pictured), complete with free food and fun for the entire family. We thank God for this wonderful blessing as Peace looks forward to the next phase of their ministry in their new building!

View photos of their new church, their Fall Festival and Open House, and other home mission activities in the South Atlantic district in the Flickr album.


Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 134 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home mission milestones – Summer 2022

Home mission congregations celebrate a variety of milestones as they grow and develop into self-supporting congregations. We celebrate with them and praise God for growing his church!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4


Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, N.C.

On June 4, home mission congregation Beautiful Savior in Fayetteville, N.C., was finally able to hold an open house for their community after dedicating their new worship facility in August 2021. The weekend was filled with food, games, a bounce house, and worship on Sunday.

We thank God for the 80-plus individuals who attended and the opportunities for many more to be reached with the gospel through the mission work being done at Beautiful Savior.

 


The Shore Lutheran Church, Parrish, Fla.

Another home mission congregation has officially opened its doors to the community for public worship! The Shore in Parrish, Fla., held their first public worship service on June 5 at a rented golf clubhouse.

We thank the Lord for this new gospel outpost, and we pray that the Holy Spirit continues to touch hearts through the Word that they proclaim into their community!

 


Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Candelas, Colo.

On June 27, Shepherd of the Valley closed on a five acre piece of land where they will build their church building. WELS Church Extention fund provided the loan and a matching land grant totaling $610,000. We thank God for this exciting next step as Shepherd of the Valley continues to reach out into their community with the gospel.

 

 

 


Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 141 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home mission milestones – Spring 2022

Join with us in celebrating and praising God for the major church milestones that these home mission congregations experienced in Spring 2022:

Good Shepherd – North Liberty, Iowa

Good Shepherd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, launched worship at their second site in North Liberty on Palm Sunday. They had 93 people at their worship service on Sunday (pictured above), and they kept the momentum going by offering various activities and additional worship opportunities throughout Holy Week. They offered a 12 Day Easter Treasure Hunt for families, hosted a special reading with Korra the Comfort Dog at the local library, held a big Easter Festival for 300 kids on Saturday, and worshipped with 70 people on Easter Sunday. From those activities, they had 20 families interested in worship, and five more who indicated they were interested in learning more about baptism.


The Vine – Hayden, Idaho

The Vine, originally located in Coeur d’Alene, purchased an existing church building in nearby Hayden, Idaho, in February of this year. The hosted a grand opening event for their community on April 24, complete with a celebratory worship service and outdoor barbecue with a bounce house, face painting, games for kids, raffle prizes, and live music. Read Home Missionary Kevin Schultz’s reflection on the process of buying a new church building in this Missions Blog from February 4, 2022.


Illumine – Rock Hill, S.C.

Illumine purchased an existing in church in October 2021 and began an extensive remodel shortly after with loan and grant support from WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF). They dedicated their newly remodeled church on April 3, and held an open house for the community on April 9, Invitations to Easter worship were shared, along with roasted marshmallows, bouncy houses, donuts, sidewalk chalk, popcorn, an Easter egg hunt for the kids, and more.

 


Living Hope – Chattanooga, Tenn.

After closing on their new church building in December 2021, members at Living Hope came together for various work days throughout spring to spruce up their facility for a formal church dedication that was held on March 27. They also held a grand opening service and pig roast for the community on Palm Sunday, where 90 people came together for worship.

 


Living Shepherd – Laramie, Wyo. 

Living Shepherd was able to purchase the church building they had been renting for the past year in March 2022. They are now working through plans to complete a remodel of the facility to better reach out with the gospel in their community.

 


Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 141 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Registration now open! Taste of Missions 2022

Registration is now open for Taste of Missions, a hybrid event that will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022. Join us in person at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., OR online to get a “taste of missions” no matter where you might be around the world.

The event kicks off with a special worship service where we plan to commission new home and world missionaries. Sample ethnic cuisine from some of our mission fields while enjoying fellowship and presentations from home and world missionaries alike. View displays, participate in outdoor family-friendly activities, and ask questions about the ups and downs of mission work during panel discussions.

Virtual attendees will be able to watch all events via livestream, view additional video updates from missionaries, and try their hand at making one of the many ethnic recipes shared on the website. View the full itinerary at tasteofmissions.com.

Registration is $15 per person, with children 13 and under attending for free. Those attending in person will receive food tickets to sample ethnic food and will have the ability to purchase additional food from the food trucks. Or attend virtually for free! Sign up today at tasteofmissions.com/register.

See you there!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

 

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home mission church milestones – Fall 2021/Winter 2022

During the past few months, many home mission congregations have been blessed in a variety of ways. The following five congregations have either held a groundbreaking, launched public worship, purchased an existing facility, or dedicated their new church building. God is truly blessing mission work and the sharing of the gospel throughout the country.

Carbon Valley Lutheran Church, Firestone, Colo.

Carbon Valley, a home mission congregation in Firestone, Colo., dedicated their new church building on November 14, 2021. They converted a former plant nursery into a new space where people will grow in their faith.

Carbon Valley received more than $575,000 in matching grants and their building loan through WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF), a valuable partner of WELS Home Missions.


Living Hope Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Members at Living Hope Lutheran Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., got an early Christmas gift in 2021. . . a new church building! After months of searching for land and/or a space to remodel, an existing church structure came up for sale. They closed on the building, which was converted from a former auto garage in 2013, in December and were able to hold Christmas services in their new space.

The facility has a modern entrance space with a coffee bar, a worship center that fits 230+ worshipers, as well as offices, a nursery, and four classrooms. Living Hope received matching grants and a loan from WELS Church Extension Fund.


Citrus Grove Lutheran Church, Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Citrus Grove Lutheran Church in Wesley Chapel, Fla., held their grand opening worship service on Sunday, December 5, 2021. They kicked off the weekend festivities with a Family Christmas Fair on Saturday. Children received a free mini-tree to decorate, frosted cookies, sang carols, and got to take home a Christmas book that shared the true meaning of Christmas. People were then invited back for their grand opening worship on Sunday, where fresh squeezed orange juice was served after the service.


Good News Lutheran Church, Mt. Horeb, Wis.

Good News Lutheran Church in Mt. Horeb, Wis., held a ceremonial “groundbreaking” for their new church on January 2, 2022, after cold weather forced them indoors. With God’s blessing, their new church home will be completed by the end of 2022.

Good News purchased a six-acre piece of land in April 2021 with assistance from WELS Church Extension Fund. They received a loan and matching land and facility grants totaling $747,914 for their building project.

 


CrossLife Church, Pflugerville, Tex.

After almost twenty years of dreaming, planning, designing, discussing, researching, redesigning, gathering financial gifts, permitting, and finally a construction project during a pandemic, CrossLife Church and Christian Academy in Pflugerville, Tex., celebrated their grand opening on January 23, 2022. The facility features a worship center, kitchen/cafe, and indoor and outdoor gathering areas. It also includes eight classrooms and staff offices for the new Early Childhood Ministry, and they have plans to add elementary grades in coming years.
 
“It’s been a gigantic effort, full of perseverance, faith and prayer,” reports Pastor Daron Lindemann. “Just when we feel like we made it, we’ve realized that this is just the beginning. God’s mission is not this building, but what he plans to do with it. We made it to the starting line!”

Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 132 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

African outreach trips – Fall 2021

During 2021, missionaries from the One Africa Team were able to make several trips to visit various church groups throughout Africa. Many of these trips were originally delayed due to COVID travel restrictions. Missionaries and other national church partners traveled to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. Here’s a recap of each visit:

Tanzania

The One Africa Team looks to partner with various churches in Africa to ensure unity in doctrine and practice, and to combine resources to continue reaching the lost.

The African Mission Evangelical Church (AMEC) formed in 1993 after they split with the main group of Tanzanian Lutherans. In April 2021, Missionary John Hartmann made a preliminary visit to Tanzania to meet with a dozen AMEC pastors to learn more about their history and introduce them to WELS doctrine and beliefs. In November, Missionary John Roebke and Missionary Hartmann returned with Kenyan national pastor Mark Anariko Onunda to continue potential fellowship discussion. It is the prayer of AMEC to partner with WELS to provide solid confessional Lutheran training for their pastors. The One Africa Team will return in 2022 to continue their discussions. We thank God for this opportunity for a potential ministry partnership in Tanzania! Read more about their visit in this article from the One Africa Team blog.


Kenya

Missionary Dan Witte and three LCMC – Kenya pastors

In 2019, the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) – Kenya joined in fellowship with WELS. Because of the pandemic, no One Africa Team members were able to visit. Finally, after months of video conferencing and e-mails, Missionaries Howard Mohlke and John Roebke were able to travel to Kenya in August 2021 and meet with the members and leadership of the LCMC – Kenya. On this trip, the two missionaries traveled to various LCMC – Kenya congregations to see some of the buildings WELS helped build and share messages and encouragement from the Bible.

The attendees listening to the Bible and watching the Jesus film

They held leaders’ workshops where they gave presentations on the Bible, principles of stewardship, and Church and Ministry. The attendees also received microSD cards with audio Bibles and a Jesus film in both English and Swahili; immediately the SD cards were put to use. Read more about their trip in this article from the One Africa Team blog.

Then, in October 2021, One Africa Team Missionary Dan Witte traveled to Kenya to teach a course on African Church History to three pastors of the LCMC – Kenya. He was also able to participate in the dedication of St. Peter’s Kindu Church in Eastern Kenya. Read Missionary Witte’s reflections from his trip.


Uganda

Missionaries John Holtz and Dan Kroll visited Obadiah Lutheran Synod in Uganda in early October 2021 . They were evaluating and preparing the last steps needed before recommending that Obadiah Lutheran Synod be brought into fellowship with WELS and visited some of their churches. Missionary Holtz was also able to meet with seven students who gathered online to study Luther’s Small Catechism during the pandemic. Read more about their trip from Missionary John Holtz.


Cameroon

One Africa Team missionaries Howard Mohlke, Dan Kroll, John Holtz, and Africa Business Manager Stefan Felgenhauer traveled to Cameroon in October to meet with a group of pastors and laymen of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC). After not meeting in-person for two years, this gathering was appreciated. The group discussed the partnership in the ministry that these groups share, the future of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon seminary, ministry training opportunities, and other ministry topics.


Ethiopia

In October 2021, One Africa Team missionaries Mark Panning, John Holtz, Howard Mohlke, and Africa Business Manager Stefan Felgenhauer traveled to Ethiopia to visit WELS’ sister church, the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE). God greatly blessed mission work in Ethiopia through a Lutheran elementary school. The original plan was for the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE) to start a nursery school in Bishoftu, but God had other plans. Read how God’s bigger plan ultimately brought more blessings than they could ever imagine in this One Africa Team blog article.


God is truly blessing mission work in Africa! Please keep the One Africa Team missionaries and the family of believers in Africa in your prayers. We thank God for all the blessings poured out on mission work in Africa, and we pray he continues to bless this work in the years to come.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Save the date for Taste of Missions 2022!

Join your brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world for Taste of Missions, a hybrid event that will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

What is a hybrid event? We will be back in person conducting a one-day event at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. However, if you are not able to be there in person, you can also join us virtually.

This family-friendly event will give all WELS members a “taste of missions”, no matter where you might be around the world. The event kicks off with a special worship service where we will, prayerfully, commission new home and world missionaries. Sample ethnic cuisine from some of our mission fields while enjoying fellowship and presentations from home and world missionaries alike. View displays, participate in outdoor family-friendly activities, and ask questions about the ups and downs of mission work during panel discussions. Virtual attendees will be able to watch all events via livestream, view additional video updates from missionaries, and try their hand at making one of the many ethnic recipes shared on the website.

Registration will open on February 21. In the meantime, visit tasteofmissions.com to view the event schedule and catch up on videos and activities you might have missed from last year’s online event.

We hope you can join us!

 

P.S. – The second annual Taste of Missions School Challenge will also open on February 21! View photos and activities from last year’s challenge and keep an eye out for future announcements at tasteofmissions.com/schools.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Merry Christmas from WELS Missions!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 ).

Can you hear the excited children’s voices? Can you see the expectation and joy-filled faces of God’s littlest believers as they recite these familiar words? We learn in Isaiah about God’s priceless treasure given in perfect love to his children. In a world that is often filled with pain, confusion, anger, and sadness we, as believers, can hold strong to the promises of God. He sent his Son to be perfection for us and to suffer for our sins, and we thank him for this priceless gift.

Our WELS home and world missionaries and those in their mission fields wanted to share a message of thanks for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support in this special video. It is because of God working through people like YOU that we are able to share this priceless gift in 64 different countries and 132 home mission congregations across North America. We are so grateful.

Let’s raise our voices together in song as we worship the Christ child this Christmas season and thank our Heavenly Father for fulfilling the promises of old.

Together with you, we sing with joy and gratitude celebrating our Prince of Peace!

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions


 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[fbcomments num=”5″]

World Missions shares updates and blessings

WELS World Missions has been able to continue the Christian’s Great Commission to spread the Word throughout the world, even during a global pandemic, reported WELS World Missions Chairman Rev. Paul Janke and WELS World Missions Administrator Rev. Larry Schlomer.

While COVID-19 certainly impacted in-person mission work and travel, Janke says, “To paraphrase Isaiah, this has been a time for strengthening the stakes so we can lengthen the cords. So when things open up it can be a time of sharing the gospel with more and more people. Because so much of our work these days has been able to go online, this has actually been a time when world mission work has been able to flourish through vehicles like Academia Cristo and TELL, the English-language version of Academia Cristo.”

Janke says the number of people being reached through these two gospel and outreach training apps from Multi-Language Productions—more than three million—is “evidence that the Lord is using these difficult times to turn people to his Word and to the living hope that we have in Jesus Christ and his resurrection of the dead.”

Janke concludes, “I want to speak a word of thanks for the generous offerings that come from congregations and individuals, even during this time of pandemic. Because of the generosity of WELS people, World Missions is well funded and can take advantage of the numerous opportunities that have been handed to us by the Lord.”

Schlomer continued the World Missions presentation by providing an overview of the work and blessings around the world.

He reported that in East Asia, a particularly dark place for the gospel where few people have heard the Word, the number of house churches has doubled—throughout the pandemic.

In Vietnam, more than 60 future pastors are being trained to reach the Hmong people in that country. Throughout the shutdowns, these men were able to continue their training digitally. This first group of pastors is about a year away from graduating. There are about 135,000 members that make up the Hmong Fellowship Church.

In Latin America, online outreach efforts through Academia Cristo have connected the Latin America missions team with potential church planters in many different countries. Additional manpower is needed to follow up with these contacts and continue training new Christians in grace-starved Latin America. Plans are underway to add up to five new positions to the team, which could be made up of pastors, staff ministers, teachers, and laypeople.

World Missions has plans to send missionaries to two new fields, London and Senegal. The London area is already home to more than 50 WELS families who could serve as a nucleus for outreach. In addition, due to government policy changes, more than 20 percent of members from WELS’ partner church in Hong Kong have moved to the United Kingdom, including two pastors.

Schlomer says Senegal is a “raw” mission, but it appears that the country is open to missionaries and mission work. “We are not going here because we have a contact; we don’t have an invitation. We are going because we know those people don’t have the gospel.” Two missionaries will go to learn the language, meet the people, and seek opportunities to share the gospel.

Schlomer says that it is possible, especially with the growing church in Vietnam, that the number of Christians in our fellowship around the world could exceed the number of members in North America.

“We think this is significant for us as a confessional Lutheran church body, standing on the rock-solid Word of God, and now with the privilege of having these connections all around the world.”

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

New Home Missions goal set for 2023–2033

On Wednesday morning, delegates approved an ambitious new Home Missions initiative that will begin in 2023.

“Being fully convinced that grace received is grace to share,” reads the resolution, “we commemorate the 175-year milestone of our synod’s history (1850–2025) by challenging ourselves, under God’s grace and with his blessing, to set a goal of establishing 100 new missions and 75 new or enhanced ministries throughout North America over the next 10 years, starting July 1, 2023, under the auspices of Home Missions, working together with WELS areas of ministry and their traditional mission partners.”

A task force of WELS Home Missions is exploring the challenges and opportunities that this initiative presents.

“The task force’s work has already been rewarding,” says Rev. Mark Gabb, chairman of WELS Board for Home Missions. “It’s clear that we have men and women in all areas of ministry of our synod who are dedicated to this initiative. They want to do their part in reaching more souls with the gospel. In fact, we can see how we stand on the shoulders of present and past leaders who have encouraged and supported worker training, home missions, world missions, and all the other important areas of our synod.”

“Starting and supporting missions in North America doesn’t just happen through the efforts of those in Home Missions,” notes Rev. Keith Free, administrator of WELS Home Missions. “Home Missions needs and appreciates the support of many in WELS to reach many outside of WELS with God’s Word.”

To learn more about WELS Home Missions, visit wels.net/homemissions.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Milestones for home mission congregations

Over the past several months, seven different home mission congregations have had milestones in their ministry such as grand openings, facility dedications, ground breakings, land dedications, and more.

Living Word Lutheran Church – Waukesha, Wis.

Living Word’s church dedication worship service on May 9, 2021

Over the past year, Living Word has been putting the finishing touches on their new facility in Waukesha. On May 9, they were able to hold the first service in their new church building. With the assistance of WELS Church Extension Fund, Living Word was able to purchase land and build a new facility. Pastor Borgwardt explained the impact that WELS CEF has had on their ministry, “They helped us with purchasing land, something Living Word would have never been able to do, without the help of WELS CEF and their matching grants.” The members are so excited for this new facility and to continue outreach in many new ways, including utilizing a coffee shop in the new building to invite their friends to church for casual conversation about God’s Word.

Living Shepherd Lutheran Church, Laramie, Wyo.

Members setting the sanctuary up for the first service in their new church building

In March 2021, Living Shepherd was able to hold their first worship service in their new facility. The opportunity to rent this building came up at the perfect time, and the congregation is looking forward to new outreach opportunities and growth with this new ministry center. Over 80 people attended the Easter worship service in their new building, about 35 more than a regular Sunday worship. From that service, three families expressed interest in taking Bible classes to prayerfully join the congregation. Living Shepherd looks forward to potentially purchasing this new building as well as doing some remodeling to carry out God’s work even further. We thank God for the growth and outreach opportunities Living Shepherd is seeing.


Redeemer Lutheran Church – Victoria, Tex.

New building dedication

Redeemer Lutheran Church has two locations, one in Edna, Tex., and their newest site in Victoria, Tex. On October 18, 2020, Redeemer Lutheran, worshiped for the first time at their newly rented facility.  Many members pitched in to help prepare their new site for worship, helping with building renovations and cosmetic updates. They pray that this new stand-alone building on a major road in town will provide additional visibility to help their outreach into the community.

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church – Beloit, Ill.

Construction progress on the church building

Amazing Grace broke ground on their new church home in April of this year. They have been making quick progress on their new building and look to start worshipping in it late this summer. Since COVID-19 hit, the 81 baptized members at Amazing Grace have been worshipping at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Beloit. Amazing Grace is looking forward to focusing on community outreach in different ways than before. Pastor Burow, in a local newspaper article, stated, “We pray and we hope our permanent location will help us not just grow in terms of membership numbers, but grow in what we are able to offer. We are looking forward to doing much more. We are able to do it thanks to the ‘long haulers’ who didn’t lose faith.” We praise God that even through these difficult times, ministries such as Amazing Grace are still being blessed in countless ways.


Good News Lutheran Church – Mt. Horeb, Wis.

The land dedication for the future church building of Good News

Good News is a growing home mission congregation that was looking for more space and flexibility. God blessed them with the opportunity to purchase 8 acres of land in Mt. Horeb with plenty of room to grow. Good News members gathered in April this year to dedicate their new land and pray for a new, permanent church facility for their ministry. This home mission is making plans to build a 9,000 square foot facility and praying that it provides an opportunity to make an even bigger impact with the gospel.


Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Richland Center, Wis.

Around Christmas in 2020, Bethlehem purchased a new full-time ministry center, an old school building. Their first service was a Christmas Eve candlelight service held in the old gymnasium. One of Bethlehem’s primary outreach events is an annual “Journey to Bethlehem” Live Nativity event, which is how they ended up with the name of their church. It was very fitting and special that Bethlehem was able to celebrate both a new church home and our Savior’s birth.


Peace Lutheran Church – Trinity, Fla.

The groundbreaking ceremony held on June 27

On June 27, 2021, members at Peace Lutheran, gathered for worship and a  groundbreaking celebration for their future church building. Peace Lutheran is currently worshipping at a banquet hall but are patiently anticipating the completion of the new building. Please keep Peace in your prayers as the building kicks off and ministry continues.

 


Please keep these home missions in your prayers as they continue to share the pure message of the gospel with more people in their communities. To stay connected with these and the other 133 home mission congregations scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and English-speaking West Indies, follow WELS Missions on Facebook at fb.com/WELSMissions.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tag Archive for: WELS Missions

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria