Tag Archive for: WELS World Missions

An update from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church

God has not forgotten or forsaken his faithful in Ukraine in the midst of war. The work of the pastors of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) is an inspiration to many. There are many new opportunities to pray with people, read portions of Scripture, have devotions, and even hold services in new mission stations. Since the beginning of the war, four new missions have begun. The Word of God comforts people in times of sadness and despair, and this is evidenced in large measure to the pastors and those lay people who have remained in their homes.

With support from WELS and WELS sister churches around the world, Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) pastors have been able to buy and distribute needed food, medicines, fuel, and clothing to help those desperate for these daily needs. Many times these are distributed after a worship service. This way the people receive spiritual food as well as physical provisions. Bishop Horpynchuk, who serves Resurrection Lutheran Church in Kiev, said, “We thank the Lord for our brothers and sisters in WELS, and sister church bodies, for your aid that helps so many people to survive physically. Thousands of the needy around all of Ukraine have received and continue to receive food, clothes, and basic medicine. But you rescue not only bodies. All these people hear also the Word, the law and the gospel. And the Word does its work! Hundreds of people became communicant members of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church and attend the worship services faithfully.”

Resurrection Lutheran in Kiev has had many visitors and has now gone to two Sunday morning worship services, averaging nearly 150 worshipers each Sunday. On Pentecost Sunday in 2023, more than 70 people were confirmed in the Christian faith and now commune with their fellow members. Of those 70, nearly all of them continue to worship regularly each week.

Another example of how God can use even the worst of times to bring about wonderful blessings is told by Pastor Yuri Tytski who serves in Bereznehuvate. Due to the Russian invasion, Pastor Tytski relocated with his family to the city of Kremenets, about 500 miles away. While helping distribute aid in Kremenets, Pastor Tytski met two families who were from Snihurivka, a town very close to Bereznehuvate. He met with them, prayed with them, and began having devotions with them. After some time, when it was safe to return, Pastor Tytski went home to Bereznehuvate and the two families to their homes in Snihurivka. Pastor Tytski then continued to meet with them and have Bible studies; some of their neighbors even came. A few months ago, 30 of these people were instructed and are now members of a mission church where services are held once a month. How can one not see the hand of God at work? God caused these people to travel 500 miles where a pastor was led to them, and now they are redeemed children of God, through the blood of Jesus their Savior. It’s safe to say that the war brought them together. We don’t always know how or why God allows the things that he does, but we rejoice in how God continues to grow his church here on earth during what we would consider the worst of times.

All the ULC Pastors are providing an invaluable service to the people of Ukraine by comforting those who they meet with God’s Word and prayer. It reminds us that the kingdom often grows one person at a time. There continue to be so many people who are hurting; those who have lost loved ones, are not certain where their loved ones are, or if they are even alive. Prayers offered by pastors bring these hurting and grieving people true comfort and hope. It also reminds them that there are people who care about them, that they are not alone. Bishop summarized the attitude of the pastors and people of the ULC this way, “The war brought so much suffering, ruin, and death into our country; yet they cannot separate us from Christ’s love and life eternal he has won for us by his holy suffering, death, and resurrection. He lives and we live in him.”

Thank you for your love and concern for the people of Ukraine, the pastors, and Bishop Horpynchuk, their spiritual leader and guide. Your prayers are being heard and God has been protecting his people. May God, in his mercy, bring this war to an end soon.

Written by Rev. Roger Neumann, WELS Liaison to the Ukrainian Lutheran Church




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Native Strength Network

If you previously have not heard of Native Strength Network (NSN), well, it’s because it never was.

Now it is. It’s a newborn nonprofit organization. The Native Christians Network is seeing an opportunity to reach Native American tribes across the country with the gospel and provide other help.

But isn’t our synod doing that already? Doesn’t the WELS Native American Mission already have a long history of bringing the good news of Jesus – and other help – to tribal lands?

Good question. Answer: Indeed, so. Currently, there are nine congregations, two elementary schools, and an Apache Christian Training School on two reservations, Fort Apache and San Carlos. There are worship services, Sunday Schools, youth groups, ladies’ groups, men’s groups, Bible studies, and sermon studies already going on. Builders for Christ, Kingdom Workers, Lutheran Women’s Mission Society, and so many others have contributed manpower, prayer support, and financial help in various ways at various times.

Then why are we partnering with the Native Strength Network?

Missionary Daniel Rautenberg explains:

“Oftentimes when we’re going through a difficult time someone will tell us, ‘Be strong.’ That’s not always comforting. The truth is we don’t have enough strength on our own. But God does. He is our strength. And when we connect to him and connect with each other in a network we are stronger together.”

Ah, yes…connection. God connects with us through Word and sacrament. At that very same time – through those very same means – we connect with one another. Native Strength Network aspires to see more connections made as Native community members emerge as leaders, service providers, and helpers. Stronger together.

Through a generous grant, the vision of a nonprofit became a reality. In 2023, the Native Strength Network was able to hire an executive director, Andrea Semmann. With her enthusiasm, experience, and especially her love for the Lord driving her, she hit the ground running; she’s been plowing the sticky ground of red tape to meet government requirements and obtain such things as an Employment Identification Number (EIN), a National Provider Identifier Standard (NPI), the Articles of Incorporation, a 501(c)3 tax exempt status, and a community service agency (CSA) status.

Whew.

But that’s not all. The logo that they use? The name that it is? The board of directors? The website? All these things didn’t simply come into existence with a brief four-word command like, “Let there be light.” (Oh, that it could be that easy!) It has taken lots of work, teamwork, to brainstorm and “create” Native Strength Network for what it is. And for what it will become.

And what is that?

Native Strength Network exists to serve Native American communities across the country in a holistic, peer-led approach to wellness, meeting an individual’s identified needs with love and compassion.

Andrea adds these thoughts:

“Every community has its own strengths that can be used to help and support fellow community members. The communities that Native Strength Network intends to serve are no different. With training and support, members of these communities can bring needed care in the areas of mental health, substance use, and overall wellness and resilience. Trained peers and mentors from the community offer support and help navigating the healthcare system to ensure that proper care is received for those struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder. By seeing every individual as a physical, emotional, and spiritual being, Native Strength Network will care for the whole person. This whole person approach is one that creates lasting change throughout a community that is caring for one another. I would love to talk to more community members about opportunities.”

What fuels her passion for Native Strength Network? Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Ah, yes. Love. Easy to talk about it. Not always easy to show. Especially when it comes to challenging and complicated life situations. So it’s important to keep in mind Martin Luther’s insightful comment:

God doesn’t need your good works…but your neighbor does.

What good works might our Native American brothers and sisters in Christ appreciate? Maybe these following statistics and information give us a hint as to what needs are there and how we, together, can reach out to love one another . . .

Native communities in the U.S. face challenges:

• 300% higher drug addiction rate than the national average.
• Suicide rate over 3.5 times higher, especially in youth aged 10-24.
• 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than white adults.
• The unemployment rate frequently exceeds 70%.
• Numerous Native communities are situated in Health Provider Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
• Most Native Americans do have access to healthcare but may need assistance to navigate benefits.

Wow. Where does one even begin?

Hmmm… How about on one’s knees in prayer for Native Strength Network?

Written by Rev. John Holtz, world missionary on the Native American Mission. 

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Praying dangerously in Africa

Have you ever heard people use the phrase, “Pray dangerously?” It means to ask God for things that he will almost certainly grant, but that will also probably mean challenging times for the person praying.

For example, you could pray each day that God would bring challenges into your life so that you would be drawn closer to him. You could pray each day that God would you give an opportunity to witness about Jesus with somebody. These could be considered “dangerous” requests because God will likely grant those requests, but it might mean hard or uncomfortable times for us.

In the outreach group for the One Africa Team, we often pray the prayer, “Lord, present us with more opportunities to reach more people with your gospel in Africa.” You could call that a dangerous prayer. What if God actually granted that request? What would we do with all the opportunities?

By God’s grace, that’s exactly the position we are finding ourselves in. We find ourselves high in opportunities and low in the ability to take advantage of them all in the way we would like. In addition to the eight partners we’re already in fellowship with in Africa, we are currently actively working towards fellowship with another eight church bodies! These are located in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (two church bodies there), Liberia, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia (two church bodies here, different from the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia). We are also offering support to two of our sister churches as they reach out to establish fellowship with other churches in their areas. In addition, at any given time we usually have around 40 individuals who come into contact with us online that we are trying to get to know better to see if we can work together in gospel ministry. Finally, many of the churches and contacts we are beginning to work with are in countries where the predominant language is French, so we find ourselves in need of more people who are capable in this language.

Admittedly, these are great challenges for us to have to face! We thank God for his grace in leading us to all these opportunities. Now we ask that he also give us the capacity to overcome the challenges facing us. Please join your prayers to ours about these things! Pray that God would send us more workers to fill the three empty positions on our team. Pray that we can excel in language learning so that we can better communicate the truths of the gospel in different countries. Pray that these new groups would have a love for the pure word of God and that we would find ourselves in agreement with them on doctrine so that we can work together for the sake of the gospel. And yes, pray that we would have even more opportunities for gospel outreach in the future! It may be a “dangerous” prayer, but is one filled with God’s blessing!

Written by Rev. Ben Foxen, world missionary in Lusaka, Zambia.

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CAMM May 2024 Newsletter

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is April and people have started harvesting their maize fields. The harvest has happened a little bit earlier this year as people are trying to protect their crops from theft. These theft cases have risen because a lot of people have empty fields due to the prolonged dry spell that Malawi experienced in January and February. This dry spell has really affected this country and the harvest is worrisome to the point that the Malawian President declared Malawi in a state of disaster.

Newa Amos

The Lord has been faithful to the Lutheran Mobile Clinic and all its staff. He is keeping us healthy so that we can continue serving his people. However, we are still experiencing a huge number of patients in all the clinic sites. The top diagnosis at all these sites remains malaria. For the past weeks, our Mwalaulomwe Clinic has seen a huge turnout of patients. So much so that we ran out of medication during clinic hours and had to send our ambulance back to our pharmacy in Lilongwe for restocking. This is happening because the government hospitals have a low supply of malaria commodities, includes malaria testing kits and medication. We hope that the supplies will be available soon and that God brings healing upon his people.

I would like to tell you about our disabled kids at Msambo Clinic; the Lord has been so faithful in their lives. Newa Amos is a four-year-old little boy. In 2022, at two years old, Newa suffered cerebral malaria and was admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe. This malaria affected him such that he lost developmental milestones. He could not sit, stand, or walk. He lost speech and started drooling. After he was cured of malaria, the boy was discharged through the physiotherapy department and the mother was told to visit three times a week. Due to transportation problems, the mother was unable to visit the hospital as required and was just staying at home with the little boy. After a few weeks, this mother together and her boy came to our clinic at Msambo to find out if we could help in any way. Our clinic was able to help with money for transport and the boy started getting physiotherapy sessions at Children of Blessings Hospital which is a little bit closer to her home.

2024 marks two years since Newa started his physiotherapy sessions at Children of Blessings. He visits the hospital two times a week. The mother was taught how to do the physiotherapy at home. Both the physiotherapists and the mother play a great role in making sure that Newa gets back on his feet. Today, Newa is four years old, and he can sit, stand and walk alone without support. He is now in a speech class, and he can utter a few inaudible words, but there is hope that he will be able to talk.

Currently, our clinic supports five kids with transportation money so that they get their physiotherapy at Children of Blessings. There is a great improvement in all four kids, and there is hope that they will be able to live normally. The mothers and the kids’ families are very happy and thankful for the help they receive.

The medical mission’s work in fighting disease and malnutrition in children, especially the disabled ones, helps to prolong their lives and gives them and their parents a chance to hear the gospel and be saved. We are so very thankful for all who give to the Central Africa Medical Mission to make it possible. May God continue blessing you.

Written by Violet Chikwatu, Nurse in Charge for the Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Malawi

 




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From information to experience

There’s a difference between knowing something and truly experiencing it. During my time at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, we learned the Greek terms “oida” (possessing information) and “ginosko” (understanding through experience). As the saying goes, “hearing is not the same as living it.” This truth struck me during a recent visit to Nicaragua.

Julio Vargas, one of our church planters, arranged a visit with Amy, a woman he ministers to in the village of San Benito, 40 miles from Managua. I had met Amy and her family seven months prior. She was a hardworking mother of five and had recently taken in a five-year-old boy abandoned by his mother as she was seeking work abroad. Despite her limited income and heavy responsibilities, Amy said, “I couldn’t say no. I knew this child was brought to me so he could learn about Jesus.” Her heart reminded me of the widow of Zarephath, who had almost nothing but offered what she had to God first.

L to R: Missionary Luis Acosta and Mr. Julio Vargas

Amy seemed more subdued than before. When I asked if something was wrong, she tearfully said, “Thank you for visiting. You’re the answer to my prayers. I’ve been battling depression, questioning if God has abandoned me. Only my responsibility to God’s children keeps me going. I’ve been praying for a sign, a reminder that he’s with me.”

This was a powerful and emotive moment. I went from having “oida” knowledge of Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,” to experiencing its truth firsthand. Amy’s gratitude for my visit, the timing of it, solidified my understanding. When I said to her this is what the Lord says, “Never will I leave you, never will forsake you,” I knew I was not just repeating a Bible verse, the Lord was talking to her.

To comfort Amy, I pointed to the ultimate symbol of God’s love: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection. I assured her this promise guaranteed God will never abandon her.

I told Amy that sharing the gospel with her was a true privilege, but it wasn’t a solo act. Our ministry at Academia Cristo thrives and is possible thanks to the prayers and support of countless believers who share our same faith and pray and care about her and her family.

Thanks for walking alongside us; your feet are quite beautiful. Please keep Amy, her family, and our ministry at Academia Cristo in your prayers.

Written by Rev. Luis Acosta, world missionary on the Latin America mission team based in Doral, Fla. 

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CAMM April 2024 Newsletter

The Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) mobile clinic in Malawi depends on having reliable ambulances for our daily trips to our clinics. While the Toyota Land Cruisers we use are rugged and tough, after a few years they start to require more and more maintenance. So, if we are going to use them on a daily basis, we cannot have them sitting in the shop waiting for repairs. For that reason, we replace them every five years.

Unfortunately, if we want to buy a new ambulance in Malawi, we cannot go down to the local dealer, pick one off the lot, pay for it, sign the paperwork, and drive it home that day.

Instead, we use a company called Toyota Gibraltar. They are named after where they are located, on the rock of Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory and city located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. Toyota Gibraltar specializes in providing vehicles to non-governmental organizations, such as ours, who operate in third world countries within South America, Africa, and Asia. The advantage of using them is we see significant cost savings over the local Malawian Toyota dealer. The bad news is that it takes a while for the vehicle to arrive, and we (CAMM) must deal with all the local customs and vehicle registration issues instead of the dealer. As clinic administrator, Lusungu Mwambeye handles these challenging details with help and guidance from me.

We ordered and paid for the vehicle in September of 2023. It arrived in Lilongwe on March 30, 2024. To get here, the vehicle traveled from Japan to Gibraltar. There, it was put in a container where it left Gibraltar by ship in late December enroute to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, via Oman and Jakarta. Once in Dar es Salaam the container was put on a truck for the 1,000-mile overland trip to Lilongwe. The ambulance is now at the clinic house/office in Lilongwe, but it will be a while before we can put it on the
road. Lusungu still needs to get final customs clearance before we can begin the registration process. As we use the vehicle as an ambulance, we can import it duty free. A savings of $35,000, but duty-free status requires a lot more paperwork.

For registration, the vehicle first needs to be checked by Interpol to make sure it is not stolen. Then it must be inspected by Malawi Road Traffic to check the engine and chassis numbers match the paperwork, then it can be registered. Visits to the road traffic office are not for the faint-hearted; your local DMV is a haven of efficiency and serenity by comparison. Once registered it will go to Toyota Malawi to complete the delivery inspection and installation of the roof rack and any other remaining parts. Finally, it needs a government safety inspection called a Certificate of Fitness, throw in some insurance and we are ready to go. I’m praying that it will be ready for the road by late April. Then we can worry about selling the old ambulance.

It is getting toward the end of the rainy season in Malawi and Zambia. Malawi had a period of three weeks with no rain in the middle of their growing season, but rains had returned to the central region by early March. Unfortunately, a little too late. People are not expecting a good harvest. In Zambia this year, rains have been very sparse. The government has already declared a state of emergency and began scheduling power cuts because of low water levels in the Zambezi River – the country depends heavily on hydroelectric generation for its power needs. Normally by this time of year the fields are lush with freshly grown maize. I am no farmer but much of the maize I saw when I visited Zambia in March looked brown, stunted, and poor. Very likely, this is not going to be a good harvest, and hunger could be a very real possibility.

Thank you to everyone who made our new ambulance a reality and please pray for our brothers and sisters in Malawi and Zambia. They are going to need a lot of prayer and support this year.

Written by Gary Evans, CAMM Field Director

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Building trust in the heart of Japan

In the heart of Japan, gospel outreach is blossoming through the power of building relationships and serving the community.

Kanon, the son of Pastor Haga of Megumi church in Mito, spearheaded an impactful English camp. With meticulous planning and heartfelt efforts, Kanon orchestrated an enriching experience for 15 children. From engaging geography and science classes taught by Sam of Kingdom Workers and Annalisa from Friends Network, to fun-filled activities like kickball and board games, the camp was a hit! The kids enjoyed a scrumptious pizza lunch that allowed them to creatively construct their own pizza. This camp not only provided a refreshing break for parents but also played a pivotal role in building trust within the community. The experience mirrors the experiences Kanon had as a child as well, learning about the church through these community activities where people can see Christians as loving and generous people right in their own town—not a strange and mysterious western religion.

Further strengthening the bond among Christians, a recent BBQ event by the members of the Tokyo church took place at Koganei. Here’s what one member, Yuki, said: “We had a BBQ event at Koganei Park. There were 12 brothers and sisters present. We brought all the ingredients ourselves. Takahashi-san bought and cut all the meat and vegetables for us! We are very thankful to her! It was a little windy that day, making it hard to start a fire; however, we still enjoyed cooking because everyone helped each other and seemed so happy! The meal was delicious!”

One attendee suggested we play some sports after the meal, so he went back to his house to gather equipment. We had our meal for around an hour and a half, then started singing hymns. One had the same melody as “It’s a Small World,” but the lyrics were about praising God. The other was “Jesus Loves Me.” Takahashi-san prepared the lyrics for us. She accompanied us with her guitar, making our singing even more amazing!

After singing, we all joined in playing frisbee with one another. We tried to make a game out of it and see how many times we could catch a frisbee in one minute. It felt like we had returned to our childhood.

Thank you, God, for giving us this gracious time with our brothers and sisters!

These stories are not just about the events; they are about the transformative power of relationships, community service, and faith. Whether it’s through educational camps or fellowship over BBQ and hymns, the gospel is being shared and relationships are deepening. The Lutheran church in Japan is actively and creatively reaching out to build trust within the community. Since the camp, two of the children attended the Easter service in Mito, and after finding belonging and purpose among the brothers and sisters in Tokyo, one of the East Asia members was recently baptized. Join me in continuing to pray for the spread of the gospel in Japan and thank God with me for all he has done in Japan.

Written by Rev. Peter Janke, world missionary for the Asia One Team.

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A growing faith leads to a growing group for TELL student

On a recent trip to Africa, Joel Hoff, TELL Missionary to Africa and I were visiting many TELL students in Kenya. One remarkable student is John Omondi. “I built a patio onto my house so we would have room for my group to meet, worship, and study the Bible,” says Omondi. Omondi is already leading a group and preparing to plant a church, following the TELL multiplication plan.

It is in the heart of Kenya, amidst the bustling city life in Kisumu, that Omondi is leading a Bible study group in his home. There is no WELS presence in his neighborhood – yet. But, by way of TELL Network, for the first time, Omondi is getting real gospel training online with the goal of sharing the saving message of the gospel with others. Omondi found TELL’s unique online training platform through Facebook during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. His story is a testament to the power of Christian faith and the impact of TELL around the world.

John Omondi and Rev. Nathan Seiltz

“It was during the pandemic that we first started to meet, and I had to get permission from the local leaders so we could gather together,” says Omondi. Despite some challenges, he gathers 50 to 70 people together weekly, all eager for deeper study of God’s Word and fellowship. Imagine colorful matatus (minibuses) whirring by with graffiti painted on the sides, loud music from all directions, and sidewalks lined with vendors selling street food. Omondi’s home is more than an escape from the clamor; it’s become a sanctuary where people gather every Sunday to worship and learn from the Bible.

But Omondi’s ministry is not limited to Sundays. Every Thursday, spiritual life is breathed into various homes among his group members. These get togethers are intimate—a blend of worship, prayer, and sharing the Word of God, culminating in a shared meal. Teaching his brothers and sisters in Christ is all part of Omondi’s journey to grow closer to the Lord and encourage others to do the same. His path, however, is not without obstacles.

John Omondi with Rev. Joel Hoff, TELL Missionary to Africa

The transient nature of new Christians, the lack of resources like cell phones and internet access in rural areas, and the language barrier with materials that require translation from English into Kiswahili and Masai present significant hurdles. Yet, Omondi remains undeterred, committed to continuing study and leading his group.

As an advanced student, Omondi was paired with Missionary Joel Hoff as his personal TELL Counselor. Based in Lusaka, Zambia, some of Hoff’s time is spent mentoring TELL students who complete at least eight courses and making personal visits throughout Africa to continue guiding students as they organize groups of their own. Hoff says, “I was John’s teacher for several of his online TELL courses, and I finally got to meet him in person last month in Nairobi, Kenya. It was such a pleasure to see him and hear about his ministry and how TELL has motivated and impacted his life and his ministry.”

“TELL has been such a blessing to me and my ministry. I know the Bible so much better, and I know how to teach the Bible to others. TELL is different because it focuses on the Bible, not on people’s opinions,” says Omondi. Omondi has now come into doctrinal agreement and has met leaders of the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), one of the national church partners of WELS.

Please pray for our brother John Omondi. That he continues to grow in his faith and in his leadership, that his group may grow in number and in faith, and that it may multiply to plant a new church to serve his community. And, pray that many will hear and be inspired by the precious gospel message he shares.

TELL instructors continue to teach and encourage students like Omondi in Africa, Europe, Asia and places in-between. If you’re a trained WELS pastor, or teacher, and would like to become an online TELL instructor, visit, teach.tellnetwork.org

Written by Rev. Nate Seiltz, director of Multi-Language Productions and TELL Network. 

Rev. Nate Seiltz and Rev. Joel Hoff took time during their travel to visit with Rev. Davison, the national pastor and president of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa -Zambia. His choir performed a few of their songs at Malembo Onse in Chongwe, Zambia.

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CAMM March 2024 Newsletter

Almost three years ago, Pastor Mark Anariko Onunda from Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ—Kenya approached the One Africa Team (OAT) and the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) with a proposal to hold a week-long medical camp at a Lutheran congregation near the town of Sagana, Kenya. These medical camps are common in Kenya, and the government approves of them to reach people in rural areas with free screenings and medical care.

The CAMM committee prayerfully considered and agreed to this, knowing that nothing should be done that would detract from the work we are doing at the Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Malawi or the Lutheran Mission Rural Health Center in Zambia. OAT was in favor, because Pastor Onunda’s main goal was to bring patients to the church by providing evangelists to lead devotions and share the gospel of Christ with people coming to the camp. With a generous grant from WELS Christian Aid and Relief, the cost was covered. After almost a year of preparations by our Field Director Gary Evans, Pastor Mwangi, John Michoro, and other leaders of the congregation at Karima Lutheran Church, together with the Kirinyaga County Health Department, the four-day camp became a reality from February 26-29.

Six volunteers from the CAMM committee arrived four days early to complete the work of sorting and organizing supplies and medications in the storage room and setting up the camp in a large field near the church, joining Gary and Pastor John Roebke. They met with key government staff to confirm what supplies were still needed and which services would be provided. Tents and toilets had already been installed. Volunteers from the congregation were available to help set up chairs, tables, handwashing stations, and rope lines. Everyone worshiped together under one of the tents on Sunday prior to the start of camp. There was a sense of unity of faith and joy in the mission ahead.

The government staff included clinical officers, nurses, nutritionists, laboratory technicians, a pharmacist, pharmacy techs, and record keepers. There was a truck in which women could be screened and even treated for cervical cancer. American volunteers assisted wherever they could, whether taking blood pressures, checking blood sugars, doing triage, weighing patients, finding equipment, running to the storeroom to bring medications to the pharmacy, placing garbage and sharps containers, and monitoring the overall workflow. The church volunteers registered and numbered patients, directed them where to go, answered questions, emptied garbage, cleaned, translated the Kikuyu language, spent time talking with patients, and led Bible studies, and hard-working women made traditional African food lunches for 70 people each day!

All patients were screened for hypertension and diabetes and received nutrition advice, health education, and medications as needed. Over the four days, 1,400 patients were seen. One 12-year-old girl with a very painful ulcerated rash on her ankles for two years was finally treated with the correct antifungal and antibiotic medication, and follow-up was arranged. A woman who had dangerously high blood sugar but had not been taking medication for diabetes was treated with IV fluids and insulin. She could go home with oral medication and was taught how to change her diet to help keep her glucose levels down and to follow up at a local clinic. “Asante sana” (thank you very much) was heard often. We were told the community had benefited greatly from the camp, and the church leaders knew that there would be many new visitors to church the next Sunday.

Although the volunteers were tired, dirty, and sensory overloaded at the end of each day, it was gratifying to know that it was mainly the Kenyan peoples’ initiative and efforts that made the camp happen. We were watching God’s plan unfold for people to hear about their Savior as well as have their health needs met. Will there be more Lutheran medical camps in Kenya? God willing, yes. Meanwhile, our clinics in Zambia and Malawi continue to thrive.

Thanks be to God!

Written by Beth Evans, CAMM Nurse Advisor

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Mission Journeys: Connecting with cultures in the U.K.

“John 3:16 tells us that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Our sins are forgiven and heaven is our home because of Jesus!”

This was our response to a question moments earlier. We were attending a course on Christianity and a young man had asked, “But why did Jesus need to die on the cross?” As lifelong WELS Lutherans, we were eager to provide the answer we knew so well. But, as we surveyed the room, we were met with blank stares and raised eyebrows. The course leader moved on quickly with another question, “So, do you guys actually think Jesus rose from the dead?” People went on to debate theories and opinions, never once mentioning the Bible. We left the class with heavy hearts. In a room full of 30 questioning Christians, why did our words have little to no effect? Why did the Bible cause so much confusion and offense? We realized that for those British Christians, evidence, emotion, and reason determined faith; not God’s Word.

How do we communicate God’s word in a culture that is not our own? During our six months of volunteering for WELS Missions in the United Kingdom, Pastor Michael Hartman challenged us to answer this question while working to start a church in Central London. By visiting other churches and building relationships with locals, we have learned that the vast majority of London churches lack a clear understanding of the Bible and disregard the Means of Grace entirely. They view Jesus as a good role model and God as our benevolent cheerleader. People in the U.K. are missing the real hope found in the Bible.

Realizing that Biblical illiteracy would play a role in how we communicate Christ, British members of the U.K. mission effort decided to name the church, “Holy Word – Your Hope.” This name and tagline communicates that our church values God’s holy word as its foundation. Through Scripture-based worship services and quality Bible courses, we plan to spread our hope to searching souls in London and across the U.K.

Connecting with cultural values provides opportunities to share God’s Word in an unfamiliar setting. In the past, WELS has done this in various countries by providing free medical care, English classes, and soccer camps. In the United Kingdom, we have found that charity work is highly valued. There are thousands of charities sprinkled throughout London, with programs to help protect the environment, make and distribute meals for the poor, and provide companionship for the lonely. Many people, including the royal family, dedicate hours of their time to volunteer work. We plan to reach out within our communities by providing volunteers for various charities in London throughout the summer. We hope to build relationships through these volunteers and connect people to Holy Word.

God’s Word transcends cultural barriers. Because London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, our church has the unique opportunity to teach God’s Word globally. We experienced this when we had an opportunity to serve our Christian sister from Pakistan, who left her home to pursue a master’s degree in London. We helped her through extreme culture shock. Despite the vast differences between our cultures, were able to connect and encourage her through our shared faith.

Our experience volunteering in the U.K. has shown us that the Bible is both deeply needed and immensely powerful. In a country struggling with loneliness and doubt, God’s holy word is a sure and certain hope. Our prayer is that God continues to bless the members of Holy Word as they consider how best to communicate the Bible in the U.K. and abroad.

Written by Ben and Abby Hillmer, Mission Journeys volunteers in England.

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Celebrating God’s goodness forever

May you keep celebrating birthdays until the year 3000! This is the last line in the Colombian version of the song Happy Birthday. Recently, members of Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Medellín, Colombia, sang these words when celebrating their congregation’s 50th anniversary. In addition to singing, there was a worship service with record attendance, a meal, and fellowship time. Former and current WELS Latin America missionaries had the opportunity to attend, share greetings, and participate in a question-and-answer session. There were also visitors from other congregations in Colombia, many hugs, laughter, and tears of joy.

When WELS missionaries began outreach in Medellín 50 years ago, their efforts spanned from teaching English classes to managing Christian Information Centers to cultivating friendships to training leaders. The Lord blessed this work. Today, Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is an active, growing congregation. Members meet for worship and Bible study. Children and youth are taught God’s Word in Sunday School and Catechism class. The congregation uses small group Bible studies as an outreach strategy. These studies, held in the homes of members in various strategic locations of the city, create an opportunity for their members to invite their friends and neighbors to learn about Jesus.

From Medellín, the work spread to other parts of Colombia. Congregations were established in other cities. A Confessional Lutheran synod was formed. Recently, this synod helped form a new, Latin American synod called Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional. The congregations in Colombia also partner with Academia Cristo to promote church planting in new parts of Colombia and throughout Latin America. Most importantly, over the past fifty years, Most Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is a place where the good news of Jesus has been preached, taught, and applied to countless hearts and lives.

Celebrating the 50th birthday of the church in Colombia was a special occasion. Will the church still be celebrating its birthday in the year 3000? Its members can look forward to something even more amazing. They get to celebrate God’s grace, goodness, and mercy without end. Through faith in Jesus, we can look forward to sharing with them an eternal celebration in heaven. Praise God for his 50 years of grace in Colombia. Praise him for his unending love, blessings, and salvation!

Written by Rev. Matt Behmer, world missionary on the Latin America Mission team.

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CAMM helps address healthcare challenges in Africa

The need for affordable and adequate healthcare is a hot topic for all countries. The Central Africa Medical Mission helps alleviate the need in Malawi, Zambia, and most recently, Kenya. Why is this need so great? Is the healthcare need the same in every country?

Kenya

There is minimal free healthcare in Kenya. If you are sick, the cost for a general consultation is about $14. If surgery or more treatment is needed, and the patient cannot pay, then they may go without care or try and raise funds from their community and family. Recently, CAMM held a four-day medical clinic just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, to do basic health screenings including blood pressure, blood sugars, cervical and breast cancer screenings. We saw many chronic conditions that patients had been suffering through due to the expensive healthcare in the country. With CAMM’s help, the care we provided was free and the cost to CAMM and our Lutheran partners during our short-term medical was about $17 per patient. We pray that those afflicted with illness and disease can find some healing with the therapy and medications received.

Malawi

Thunga Clinic in Malawi

CAMM has been operating the Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Malawi since 1970. Staff travel to four rural villages for a day of clinic each week. The clinics focus on providing Christian counseling and education, HIV testing and treatment, malaria treatment, wellness checks, immunizations for children, prenatal care, and treatment of other minor injuries or illnesses. The cost to each patient is about 60 cents, and the cost to CAMM to provide care is about $2.92 per patient. A huge challenge for Malawian patients is medications. One of the main reasons patients visit the CAMM clinics is that they have the medications readily available. Most medications, including antibiotics and blood pressure meds, cannot be found at government run pharmacies. What a blessing that God has provided CAMM with the care and medications the Malawian patients need at an affordable cost.

Zambia

Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre

The CAMM Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre, a permanent clinic in Zambia, has been in existence since 1961. It provides preventive health services and outpatient care as in Malawi. In addition to those services, the clinic staff deliver babies, treat patients for HIV and tuberculosis, and do home visits. CAMM is also able to provide the care for the many diabetic patients in the region who cannot receive treatment at the government clinics. The care CAMM offers to each patient arriving at Mwembezhi is free, costing CAMM about $4.94 per patient.

With God’s blessing and healing hand, the clinics in Zambia and Malawi saw over 70,000 patients in 2023 and saw over 1,400 patients in Kenya during the four-day medical camp in February 2024.

Written by Angela Sievert, Central Africa Medical Mission chair.

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A reason to celebrate

February 10 seemed like any other Saturday in Birmingham, England, but it was a special day for Allie and Kelly. It was Lunar New Year in East Asia. Allie is in England on a work visa, and Kelly, a former volunteer in that area, is taking a few months off from work to assist the WELS mission in Europe. They came to our Airbnb to celebrate and make dumplings, a special Lunar New Year dish in some parts of East Asia. It turns out they had many shared acquaintances who participated in Christian churches in East Asia, and that Allie had even stayed at Kelly’s apartment.

The next day, they joined us for a special small-group worship service followed by yet another meal, this time provided by Zarah and her family. The Pakistani meal featured chicken tikka, a popular dish in Pakistan, as well as rice, dal, and lamb kebabs. Zarah and her husband, as well as her sister and her husband, are medical doctors who immigrated from their South Asian homeland.

These are some of the people serving the WELS mission in Europe. Immigrants from Zambia to Colombia and from Asia to continental Europe, as well as the United States, have been connected to the mission through our churches and missions around the world. Together with native-born British citizens, the church is starting outreach to both a rapidly growing immigrant population and millions of citizens who do not know the good news about Jesus Christ.

Among Lunar New Year celebrations, one such practice included taping red paper on the sides and top of an outside door frame to keep out a monster who would kill the firstborn. The custom seemed eerily familiar to the Passover when the Israelites in Egypt painted blood of a lamb on their doorposts and lintels so that the angel of the Lord would pass over their homes and spare their firstborn sons. Possibly, Christians from Persia brought the Old Testament story to East Asia many centuries ago. Even in other countries, some stories and practices seem to echo God’s Word, like this particular Lunar New Year tradition.

Very few people in England, as well as other parts of the world, know what the Bible teaches. The goal of the Europe One Team is to continue to teach God’s Word, in it’s truth and purity, to every nation, tribe, people and language.

Written by Paul and Carol Hartman, long-term volunteers in London, England

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A community of digital disciples

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

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

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

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

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

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So I am sending you

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

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

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

Pastor Dan and his family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Technology changes but the gospel message remains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teach with TELL

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

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

What to Expect

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

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

Requirements

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

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




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CAMM January 2024 Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A picture is worth a thousand words

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

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

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

The pictures

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

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

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

The teachers

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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

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

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CAMM December 2023 Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Angela Sievert, Central Africa Medical Mission Chair.

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This feels like a Hallmark movie!

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

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

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

Peridot Lutheran Church

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

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

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

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

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Eagerly awaiting the Women’s Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by a WELS world missionary wife in Asia.

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“Pastor, you get seven minutes!”

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

Why Christmas concerts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Merry Christmas from WELS Missions

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

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

WELS Home, World, and Joint Missions

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Isolation and gathering together

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

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

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

Let’s change the question.

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

One.

Let that sink in for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by WELS World Missionary to Thailand..

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CAMM November 2023 Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 




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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. 

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Medical camp in Kenya planned for February 2024

Originally appears in the Central Africa Medical Mission October 2023 Newsletter. Learn more and follow updates at camm.us.

The work of the One Africa Team has been blessed as they continue to build relationships with various Lutheran synods throughout Africa. One of those is the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) in Kenya. The synod is led by Pastor Mark Onunda. Pastor Onunda and several other pastors left the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and began the task of building the LCMC from scratch. LCMC is now in fellowship with WELS and has congregations scattered throughout the country. Pastor Onunda spends much of his time on the road, (Kenya is about the size of Texas) encouraging and training leaders and bringing God’s Word to the congregations. We pray God gives him the strength to keep up this monumental effort.

In Zambia and Malawi, our clinics have demonstrated God’s love for all people by looking after their physical and spiritual needs. In fact, part of WELS’ early success in Zambia in the 1960s was due to the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) clinic in Mwembezhi. To help grow the church in Kenya, Pastor Onunda has proposed something similar: a medical camp. The members of thee CAMM stateside committee have prayerfully considered expanding their work to help in Kenya based on several investigative visits by Gary Evans and One Africa Team Missionary John Roebke.

Short term medical camps, which last about a week, are common in Kenya and are used by church organizations to bring people to church properties where they are given physical and spiritual care. A camp might expect to see 3,000 to 4,000 patients over a four- or five-day period. The local government health care agencies support these camps as they are a means of health screening to populations who might otherwise have no access to health care.

CAMM is partnering with the One Africa Team, Christian Aid and Relief, and the LCMC-Kenya to conduct a medical camp in late February 2024. The camp will be held on the grounds of St. Paul’s Church, Kwiangachi, Kirinyaga County, which is located about a 3-hour drive northeast of Nairobi. The church has land, but no buildings, making the camp quite a logistical exercise. Two large 100-seat tents will be provided for shelter and privacy; one will be used as a reception/triage/devotion area and one as a pharmacy. Smaller tents will be used as individual consulting rooms on nutrition, cancer screenings, outpatient services, dental work, eye treatments, and mental health. We will provide the medications and medical supplies. We will also rent port-a-potties and provide a tank for drinking water. Medical staff and some medical equipment will be provided by the government. Transport and accommodation will be provided for staff and volunteers.

The LCMC-Kenya is engaged in much of the ongoing planning and coordination. They will also provide volunteers for security, administration, and making lunch time meals. Pastors from the LCMC-Kenya will hold ongoing devotions and provide pastoral services during each day of the camp. Patients who need follow-up and referral will be directed to go to local health agencies. We have met with Kirinyago County Health Officials who have approved the camp and will provide 25 medical staff, medical equipment, and an ambulance in case of emergencies.

CAMM has agreed to manage the clinic on behalf of the One Africa Team. The camp provides an opportunity for U.S.-based medical and non-medical volunteers to provide assistance. As this is the first of what could be many medical camps, CAMM stateside committee members will be the first set of volunteers to attend the camp. If this camp is successful, we hope to offer similar camps in the future, which will open volunteer opportunities to more WELS members.

Please pray for the success of this camp as it provides an opportunity for healing; and, most importantly, sharing God’s Word with so many people.

Written by Mr. Gary Evans, Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) field director.

 




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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.

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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.

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