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God Willing, No Waiting in India

One-third listening; two-thirds waiting.  Imagine you’re teaching in a classroom and for every 10 seconds that you talk you have to pause for 20 seconds as your students sit there and wait for more.  That means you’re only teaching for one-third of the time you have with your students.  And if you’re a student that means you have to fight the temptation to drift off and zone out for two-thirds of the time you’re sitting in class!

This is just a taste of the challenge we friendly counselors in India face with our students for each seminary class we teach.  There are 22 official languages in India.  The students at the CELM Seminary primarily come from the regions of Andhra Pradesh (and Telangana) and Madhya Pradesh, where the primary languages are Telugu and Hindi, respectively.  Since our students come from the lower, Christian castes their English level is often not very high.  This means that, if we want to teach them about being shepherds for God’s flock, the English sentences we speak have to be translated into both Telugu and Hindi for each class.  One-third listening; two-thirds waiting.

Two-thirds listening, or even one-hundred percent listening in a second language?  The friendly counselors and their wives try to overcome this great challenge in a few ways.  One way is by offering English classes.  Teaching English to the students slowly increases that 1:2 listening to waiting ratio over their time at the seminary.  And God willing, by the last few years of classes they’ll be able to learn in English-only classes.  While it would still be using their second and not native language, it does give our counselors more class time to teach them God’s Word.  This also allows the students to use the numerous English resources available for Bible study and to converse more with the counselors on a deeper personal level.

One-hundred percent listening to a non-native speaker?  Conversing with the students both on a personal level and in class without a translator is the ideal situation for the friendly counselors.  Because of this, the counselors are also in the process of learning the Indian languages.  While this presents its own immense challenges, it provides another opportunity to improve that one-third listening amount.  It also equips the counselors to respond better to questions asked in class and during study periods.

One-hundred percent listening to a native speaker?  That’s the goal.  In order to get there the seminary is using a method that has already been mentioned: providing in-class translators.  How does that overcome the current listening-to-waiting ratio?  If members of our national faculty do the translating then it allows the seminary to transition better to national-led classes in the future.  The faculty members doing the translating are then, in essence, auditing the classes and preparing themselves to teach the class in the future.  This naturally leads to the ultimate goal: seminary classes in India being led and taught by Indians.  One-hundred percent listening; no time waiting.

With God’s help, the friendly counselors in India are overcoming the three-language challenge more each year.  Once one-third listening becomes one-hundred percent listening, the Lutheran pastors in India will become more effective pastors and evangelists.  That means not only will there be more listening and learning in the CELM seminary, but someday there will be even more voices singing and praising God in heaven whatever their language on earth may have been.

Brock Groth, Friendly Counselor to India


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You fed Jesus today!

Dear Friend,

You fed Jesus today! You brought him medicine and supplies in a time of crisis. You even helped rebuild his home after a tornado swept through the area.

Now you may wonder, “When did I feed Jesus? When did I help rebuild his damaged home?”

Remember what he said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

What a privilege! What an opportunity! In this life we get to serve as God’s hands, helping people in need and reflecting his love through our words and actions. But it’s even better than that! When we act in his name to help others, Jesus says we are actually serving him. He doesn’t need our help, but hurting people do, so Christ encourages us to show our love and gratitude to him by expressing love and kindness to others.

This is also the mission of WELS Christian Aid and Relief. On behalf of WELS members like you, we provide financial assistance, food, medicine, and supplies to people suffering from natural disasters and extreme medical financial difficulties. We also support humanitarian aid projects in our home and world mission fields.

These projects help our missionaries reach out to the people of their communities with love and concern to build bridges to proclaim the gospel. Missionary Ken Pasch greatly values the health clinics that we support in Thailand. He has seen many people come for physical healing who were also touched by the gospel as their pastors shared the love of Jesus with them. He says, “It’s a great strategy we use to connect people to the gospel.”

This year these humanitarian aid projects totaled $327,000, and included:

  • Providing fresh water wells for people in India, Malawi, Zambia, and Nepal
  • Medical equipment and supplies for health clinics in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Thailand
  • Food, clothing, and medicine for people in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Mexico, and Indonesia
  • Medical supplies and financial assistance for WELS Central Africa Medical Mission
  • Midwife training in Pakistan and sewing classes in Nepal
  • Teaching English to youth in Vietnam
  • Providing support and encouragement for orphans, widows, widowers, and prisoners in Nigeria
  • Welcome packets and assistance to new legal immigrants through several home mission congregations serving in cross-cultural neighborhoods

Our missionaries look for ways to use humanitarian aid as a bridge to proclaim the gospel. Please consider a gift to improve the earthly and spiritual lives of others. Our ministry is funded entirely by special gifts from people like you. Remember, whatever you do for people in need, you are doing for Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Robert Hein
Chairman, WELS Christian Aid and Relief

P.S. For more on how your offerings are helping people in need and to view a Lifeline video, go to wels.net/relief. Also, “like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/WELSChristianAidAndRelief.

“I had no idea WELS was doing so much!”

Dear Friend,

“I had no idea WELS was doing so much!” Have you ever had a similar thought?

WELS partners with over 700 congregations and preaching stations outside of North America to help spread the good news of salvation through Jesus. Over 400 national pastors have been trained in our WELS world mission fields. There are 14 countries where new mission work is currently being explored. The Lord is using WELS in mighty ways as his gospel goes to work.

WELS members need to know that our missionaries and partners are reaching souls around the world, so that more can join the celebration of the angels in heaven. And yet many are unaware of what God is doing in WELS missions.

One of the tools we use to get the word out is the WELS mission festival. Our missionaries and their families spread out to WELS congregations each year to lead celebrations of what God is allowing us to do together. As they preach and present, they connect you and many others to the work you support.

Our missionaries leave encouraged by the outpouring of love and support for their work. Our congregations are amazed at what God is doing. Most importantly, we are all invigorated to reconsider our role in the Lord’s Great Commission.

It is important that we do not begin to lag behind on the many opportunities the Lord is providing for us in his kingdom. I mentioned the 14 countries where we are exploring new mission work. New requests for help in gospel work arrive at our WELS Missions office every week. The Lord is throwing open the door for his gospel to reach every tribe, language, and people. Current monies are being stretched thin to try to meet these needs.

You are invited to help. You might volunteer to organize a mission festival at your congregation. Visit wels.net/missions to request a speaker, reserve a display kit, and download other information to share about a particular field.

As we are reminded of the work God has set before us, pray that God would keep the opportunities rolling in. We want to be light on a hill in this dark world for those who are lost.

Thank you for the offerings you give to the Lord at your church, which help the WELS Board for World Missions with investigating new fields for spreading God’s kingdom by the power of his Word. Please also consider making an above and beyond gift to help World Missions start new missions.

“I had no idea WELS was doing so much!” With your help, prayers, and gifts I know God will help us do even more.

God bless,
Larry Schlomer
Administrator, WELS Board for World Missions

MLP reaching Malawi and beyond

Imagine if you could speak 47 different languages. Suppose you are able to…

Greet someone in Nuer.
Ask for directions in Burmese.
Order food in Kurdish.
Say a prayer in Urdu.
Read a book in Tagalog.
Explain a concept in Mizo.
Tell an idiom in Russian.

Sound improbable?  Even impossible to speak so many languages?

Rev. Nate Seiltz1 can!

Well, to be more accurate, Multi-Language Publications can.  Rev. Seiltz, former WELS missionary to Dominican Republic and Haiti–and a Spanish speaker himself –is currently the Director of the Multi-Language Publications (MLP).  He travels the world making sure that the Word is getting out and the Word is getting in.

In homes.
In schools.
In congregations.
In hearts.

Try to wrap your head around these numbers: in its 20+ year history, MLP to date has printed over 2.9 million items2 in 47 languages!  I guess the Word has gotten around and is getting around.  But now consider Rev. Seiltz’s vision and MLPs goal:

“To reach 100 million people with the gospel in the next ten years with the additional goal of having at least 2 million people using discipleship training media produced by MLP.”

“это не мелочь”

In Russian, “It’s no small thing!” You might say, “That’s no small potatoes!”

100 million people hearing the gospel never is. Reaching even just one is not insignificant. Heaven rejoices when even one coin is found.3

If you want to meet someone passionate about reaching out to lost souls, sit down with Rev. Seiltz. He realizes the MLP potential and knows that it’s not merely about ordering food or asking for directions in many languages.

He shared this story:

“I met a young Indian man in an airport in India. He was Christian pastor…I asked him if he had any converts from Hinduism and he said ‘yes.’ I asked, ‘What are some good ways to reach them?’” He replied: ‘Really the only thing that works is the gospel.’”

Good answer. No…great answer.

So just think, in that respect, then, it is about food: Jesus, the Bread of Life4 and the Living Water!5  And it is about directions:  the one way to heaven!  Jesus is it!  John emphasizes, “no one comes to the Father except through him.”6

According to the Scriptures, not only is there only one road, it’s also a bit narrow.7

But there’s room for all.

Because of MLP, some people who speak and read Nuer or Burmese or Kurdish or any of the other 44 languages can now discover the amazing, bewilder-ing, perplexing wonders of God in Christ Jesus.

By the way, I’m just borrowing those words, “amazing, bewildering and perplexing,” from Acts 2. There you will find the story of the original MLP, the Multi-Language Pentecost. That’s the day when people of different nations suddenly heard Galilean locals speak their own native tongue. It raised eyebrows as well as accusations. It probably would have been headlines in the Daily News. More than surprising and greater than astonishing, it was…

Amazing!
Bewildering!
Perplexing!

Not just the men, but the message. Especially the message.

Sin and Savior. Law and Gospel. Hell and heaven. Works and Grace. Repentance and forgiveness. Ah, yes, forgiveness.

Really?  I, too, am forgiven?

The message of today’s 21st century MLP is the same message as the first-century MLP:

Yes, you are forgiven in Jesus Christ!  Believe it!

No wonder Nate writes in MLPs 2016-2017 Catalogue: “The majority of MLP products are evangelism and Bible Study materials.  These can be used by anyone who sees a need for ministering to others in Christ.”

After all, who doesn’t need that kind of message?

We, on the Malawi field, were blessed to have Rev. Seiltz visit us this month of March 2017.8 He took time to travel to “The Warm (and these days, rainy) Heart of Africa” to share information, goals and visions of MLP.  He met with the Lutheran Mission missionaries and with some of the national pastors in the Lutheran Church of Central Africa, Malawi Synod. (LCCA-MS).

His visit revealed, not only his work but his joy.

His joy?

“Being able to put gospel materials in different languages so many people can learn of their Savior and grow in their faith. Working with national churches and missionaries, brothers and sisters in the faith as they minister in their Savior’s Kingdom.”

Dear Mission Partner, do you have a friend who speaks Spanish?  Got a Ukrainian neighbor?  Is there a member in your church whose mother tongue is Chinese?  Anyone you know come from Korea or Japan?

Do you speak his/her language?

Even if you can’t, MLP can.  If it can’t, it’ll do what it takes to speak that language, too.  After all, it wants to help you in…

Declaring the Wonders of God.9

By Missionary John Holtz, Malawi, Africa

  1. Seiltz is married to Natalie and they have 3 children Brett, Carlos, Angela. They live in Jackson, Wis., and are members of Morning Star Lutheran Church.  His MLP office is at the Synod Headquarters, (Center for Mission and Ministry) in Waukesha, Wis.  Rev. Seiltz regularly travels internationally and domestically for MLP promotion.
  2. Items such as Sunday School materials, The Promise, Bible Stories in Pictures, Evangelism movies, What the Bible and Lutherans Teach, Book of Prayers, etc.
  3. Luke 15:3-10
  4. John 6:25-59
  5. John 4
  6. John 14:6
  7. Matthew 7:14
  8. On this same trip to Malawi, Rev. Seiltz also visited Cameroon and Zambia for the same purpose of promoting MLP and its materials.
  9. Acts 2:11

 


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The how’s and why’s of a new program Academia Cristo update

It started with some statistics and became an “aha” moment. These are the beginnings of a new program for MLP.

In January 2013, the Excelsior newspaper in Mexico reported that the average citizen in Mexico read only half a book a year and that 35% of those surveyed said they had never read any book (www.excelsior.com.mx/2013/01/18/879972). Anecdotal evidence from other countries in Latin America seems to reflect similar experiences. Don’t misunderstand: it’s not that they can’t read, it’s just they don’t have the habit of reading for pleasure.

When Missionary Mike Hartman came across those statistics, he started observing that at bus stops and at home, in waiting rooms and restaurants, you rarely saw anyone with a book. But you did see people with smartphones, reading Facebook posts and watching videos.

That led to the “aha” moment.

Missionary Hartman approached Multi-Language Publications and asked the question: What if, instead of spending our budget on printing and distributing books that might never be used, we converted those books into videos and distributed them over the Internet? MLP was willing to give it a try.

And so, MLP partnered with Latin American missions to launch “Academia Cristo.” The initial vision became a detailed plan with this goal: to use everyday technologies to empower Spanish speakers to plant and develop churches that faithfully proclaim God’s word.

You could say there are two phases to Academia Cristo. Phase one involves “sowing seeds” to become a known entity among Spanish speakers. It starts with sending evangelism fliers to literally millions of people through social media, especially Facebook. Those fliers invite people to visit the Academia Cristo website where they can access devotions, movies, hymns, liturgies, streamed church services, and prepared Bible studies that they can use on their own or to lead a group – all for free.

Over 2.3 million unique visitors have visited the website, and hundreds of thousands have downloaded resources. We thank God for these resources and the many partners who develop and allow us to share them… Thank you!

Phase two involves personal contact with individuals. Every Spanish speaker in the world is invited to take Academia Cristo’s introductory class. This 10-lesson course entitled Here I Am is taught live over the Internet or face-to-face. In the class, students learn essential truths about God’s word as well as a simple way to teach Bible stories and God’s amazing good news to others.  For a final project, students take a video of themselves sharing one of the Bible stories they learned in class with someone else.

Those who successfully complete Here I Am are invited to continue to study in the Academia Cristo Live program. Many of these students are connected to a pastoral mentor. The mentors encourage and guide these individuals as they grow in the knowledge of the truth, work to share God’s good news with others, and ultimately strive to plant and develop churches in their communities that clearly and faithfully teach God’s word.

Almost 2,000 new contacts have registered to study the Here I Am course, and 120 of those have expressed the desire to continue their training while at the same time gathering others around God’s word to form new churches.

You don’t have to speak Spanish yourself to participate. Just share the www.academiacristo.com website with anyone you know who speaks Spanish. And pray in whatever language your heart speaks that God continue to bless this united effort to empower Spanish speakers to faithfully proclaim God’s word to the world.

We invite you to watch a video update to learn more.

 

 

MLP PRODUCTS

View a complete catalog of Multi-Language Publication’s products.


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MLP as partner in mission fields

When the gospel hits the hearts of people and excites them to share Christ’s love with others, the Holy Spirit does amazing things. Look at the impact of Apostle Paul and the rest of the early Christian Church! Read about centuries upon centuries of people passionately stretching out with the good news of Jesus into territories where people never heard of him.

But that doesn’t mean it always goes well. It didn’t always for Paul. There are plenty of accounts throughout history of reduplication of efforts or clashes over direction. Often it detoured God’s people from a clear focus and cooperation in our great co-mission: making disciples of all nations so all can know Christ’s love and live with him forever. How do we maximize the gifts and responsibilities of our mission workforce and minimize the obstacles?

The One East Asia Team is an example of bringing different groups together to marshal all the forces into a cohesive team. Individual ministries that have developed independently with their own unique focus and administration have come together to fit into one larger plan for the field. Life-Net, Asia Lutheran Seminary, Friends of East Asia, 360 Now, WELS East Asia mission work, East Asia Lutheran Synod and Multi-Language Publications joined together under the umbrella of One East Asia Team. At least annually all the individual group leaders come together to look at the bigger picture, share insights and resources, and make plans to carry out their unique segment of it. Also brought into the dialogue are efforts happening in the States and Canada – like Chinese outreach work in Vancouver and digital outreach carried on from Minneapolis. During the year regular interaction takes place with each of the groups to collaborate on further development and carrying out the goals of the One East Asia Team.

At the beginning of November 2016, MLP sat together with the East Asia Team in Hong Kong as Larry Schlomer led them through the Traction training and the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) long-range planning process. The discussions converged on the passion to reach the lost and to see discipleship multiplied through culturally appropriate ministry so that new churches can develop. We left with appreciation for our joint efforts and a renewed sense of urgency to fulfill our roles.

MLP-Asia is honored to be included as an integral part of the team to envision, plan and develop digital and print resources that help facilitate the direction or priorities of the field. We also hope to eventually provide a tool-kit for gathered groups. MLP-Asia also is working on the same type of partnership approach where it intersects with Asia Pacific Rim, South Asia, Hmong, Vietnamese and other global cross-over mission work.

Want another great example of this?  Check out Latin America with the 1LA team. It is another type of partnership with Multi-Language Publications that could be duplicated throughout our world mission efforts. To find out more, contact your MLP area coordinator or Nate Seiltz for more information.

 

 

 

MLP PRODUCTS

View a complete catalog of Multi-Language Publication’s products.


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A Hidden Gem, Malawi, Africa

It’s a travel cliché describing an intriguing place that is little known and seldom visited.  These “must-sees” are often not seen because they are off the beaten track in “out-of-the- way” places.

But they are worth the effort. Those who stumble upon them feel as though they’ve found, well, a hidden gem.

There are a few of them in Malawi, Africa.

Now there is one more.

This one, however, is not a place, but a person. Her name is Amanda E. Artz. She is the new Administrator for the Lutheran Mobile Clinic (LMC).

The Central Africa Medical Mission Committee (CAMMC) first “stumbled upon” her when they received her application for the position.  As Christians, however, we know it was not a mere “stumbling upon.”  This did not happen by chance.

God had His hand in the whole process!

Amanda saw the ad from CAMMC at her church1 (By the way, an Africa-size thank you, Pastors,2 for including the announcement in the bulletin!).  God then stirred in Amanda a desire to ask questions and eventually apply for the position.  God then moved the committee to select her.

What God ordains is always good.3

So here we are now in Malawi – and in particular at the Lutheran Mobile Clinic – so very blessed because God has ordained that Amanda be here!4

God has given us a kind, compassionate Administrator who is a good listener and hard-worker.  She’s eager to learn and ready to take on challenges.  Respectful, dutiful and humble.  Active church goer.  Bible Study participant. Accomplished musician.

A hidden gem.

In case you might be interested in the work of an LMC Administrator, Amanda gives us peek into it:

“As clinic administrator I attend clinic each week, keep track of the day to day and monthly finances and financial transactions, manage payroll, manage clinic, house, dog, and vehicle maintenance and schedules, stock and inventory house supplies, maintain regular communication with each member of the staff, hear and attend to staff requests and concerns, manage staff employment documents, participate in planning landscaping and gardening projects, request and attend meetings as needed with businesses and organizations in Lilongwe,  pay the bills, submit payroll taxes, pension and life insurance payments, and various other duties as needed and as necessary.”

So if you assumed that you’d always find Amanda in her Lilongwe home office, sorry, you just won’t.  On any given day she’s “off the beaten track in out-of-the-way places” doing what LMC Administrators do and being found where LMC Administrators are found:  the rural villages, government offices and health care facilities.

But be forewarned:  if you are going to find her, you may just need a 4 X 4 Land Cruiser to do so.

As you might well imagine, living and working in a developing country like Malawi brings not only unique joys and adventures but also its challenges.  Amanda humbly yet confidently begs your prayers.  For what specifically can you pray?

I’ll let Amanda answer that:

“Pray that in the thick of the daily stresses of living in Malawi, the people representing the Lutheran Mobile Clinic are clear displays of Christ’s love.  Pray that in everything we say and do, and in our interactions, approaches and executions of tasks big and small we are fit ambassadors to those who don’t know God as well as those who do.  Pray that we remember we are involved in something much bigger than any one of us and that we always re- member our Father is watching and interested and eager to help.”

Well said, Amanda.

Yes, to be “a clear display of Christ’s love.”

A sparkle off a precious Stone.

An eye-catching ray of light off a polished Jewel.  The glint off a discovered hidden Gem.

Is not the Kingdom of heaven actually likened unto a Hidden Treasure and a Pearl of great Price? (Matthew 13:44-46)

Is not Jesus, our resurrected and living Easter Surprise, also THE HIDDEN GEM?

Even though the Lord has revealed Himself in Holy Scriptures as the Pearl of Great Price, not everyone finds it.

Even those who have, at times, take it (Jesus) for granted. (Forgive us, Lord!)

While Amanda was contemplating the question whether or not to apply for the position in Malawi, she had other questions rolling around in her mind:

Will I fit in?

Can I do the work?

Should I give 3 years of my life to this venture?

What will I do for a job when I return to the States?

These questions circled around her heart like vultures around a dead animal.  But Amanda’s mother kept focusing her on Jesus.  Amanda appreciatively recalls that her mother’s (Mary) most frequent response to her concerns was:  “Trust in the Lord.”

Just what Amanda needed to hear.

And just what she did.

So when the plane landed at Kamuzu International Airport on 22 November 2016 one of the passengers who disembarked without a return ticket was Amanda E. Artz.

We are glad – and blessed – because she was.  For those of you in the States, yes, Amanda is now a bit “off the beaten track” and a bit “out of the way.”  But for the Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Malawi, it has been worth all the effort to get Amanda on field.

Oh, by the way, did you notice that Amanda’s middle name starts with an “E?”

Maybe you guessed it already…

Emerald. : )

Amanda Emerald Artz.

A hidden gem.

___________________________________

By: Missionary John Holtz, Field Coordinator, Malawi


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New missions initiatives

Dear Fellow Witnesses,

Over the past year we have made a special effort to share with you God’s amazing blessings in our mission fields and how he is opening doors for us.

Members have been asked to consider supporting new missions initiatives—opportunities God is giving us that we haven’t been able to address. The response has been great: more than $600,000 so far!

These gifts are already funding new efforts, like the sending of a WELS Hmong pastor to Vietnam to train leaders in a church body of 70,000 that wants to be in fellowship with WELS (this church body also has connections with another church body of 800,000 in East Asia!). Gifts have helped add a second pastor at Mt. Lebanon, Milwaukee, who will focus on connecting with school families. And the list goes on.

While the goal of reaching the whole world with the gospel continues, this special push to gather funds for new missions initiatives is wrapping up as of July.

If you haven’t had the chance to give yet, please consider donating today to help us reach even more people with the message of salvation through Jesus.

Working together for him,
Larry Schlomer
World Missions administrator

Facing Challenges While Remaining Faithful, Thailand

Working in a foreign field is not only exciting, it’s challenging.  We are faced with cultural and language barriers that are unfamiliar to our work in the USA.  The devil is also very active in the foreign mission field.  In Thailand where 98% of the people are devout Buddhists, it is often difficult to break through the superstition and work righteousness that have such a strong hold on the people.  Add to that the fact that the very culture of everyday life is permeated by Buddhist philosophy and it can seem like a long uphill struggle to reach out with the gospel.

Today the Lord blessed me with something that brought a smile to my face in the midst of adversity.  As I said, the devil uses every opportunity to exert his power to thwart the efforts of the gospel.  But he cannot win.  One of our young national pastors is a 27-year-old man who was married a year ago.  He graduated from our seminary in Thailand two years ago and has served as my assistant, a translator, and a co-worker in the administration of our Thailand mission field.   We are in the process of applying to the Thai government to establish a Thailand Evangelical Lutheran Synod Foundation that will benefit our missions and the communities we serve.  This young pastor is listed in the application to become the first president of the Foundation.

He had not been feeling well for the past couple of months and frequent visits to a medical clinic were unsuccessful in treating his condition.  The symptoms were alleviated for a couple of weeks only to return again and again.

Today he was diagnosed with cancer of the lymph glands.  I was at the hospital with him and his wife when the doctor told him the results of the CT scan they had taken.  He was 95% sure of his diagnosis and a biopsy of the lymph nodes was sent out to confirm his findings.  As the doctor told Pastor Ching about the results of his test, I watched him closely.  Most people would react with a certain degree of shock or disbelief or distress when first hearing the news, but Pastor Ching did not.  He remained collected and listened intently as the doctor explained everything to him.

His wife too, sat quietly and listened.  She did not break down, but when the doctor was finished, she did show signs of becoming teary eyed and it was her husband who then comforted her in the face of the news.

I had a devotion with them and we prayed before I left the hospital.  As I was walking to my truck, I reflected on everything that had just taken place.  I thought about his future and the dreams he and his wife may have for a family.  I thought of his age and how sad it would be for someone so young to face such a great trial.  I thought of our work in establishing the Foundation as well as all the other important work he carries out for the church.  And for a minute I thought the devil was applauding what might seem to be a victory in his effort to thwart our mission work and the proclamation of the Gospel.  But then I smiled to myself, because the victory is still ours–it’s the Easter message.

Today Pastor Ching demonstrated a strong faith and confidence in the Good Shepherd.  Even if there are personal set backs for him and detours for our mission work, the devil did not and can not win in his battle to stop the message of salvation.

Please keep Pastor Ching and his wife Khu in your prayers.  And please continue to pray that the Lord will use these trials not only for their benefit, but also for the benefit of his church.  He not only can do that, He will.  Pray that He does it mightily.

By: Missionary Ken Pasch, Field Coordinator, Thailand

Post Script:  The biopsy results have come back and the diagnosis was confirmed. Pastor Ching will begin chemotherapy treatments as soon as additional tests have been completed to determine the exact course of treatment.


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Multi-Language Publications reaching Malawi and beyond

Imagine if you could speak 47 different languages. Suppose you are able to…

Greet someone in Nuer.
Ask for directions in Burmese.
Order food in Kurdish.
Say a prayer in Urdu.
Read a book in Tagalog.
Explain a concept in Mizo.
Tell an idiom in Russian.

Sound improbable?  Even impossible to speak so many languages?

Rev. Nate Seiltz1 can!

Well, to be more accurate, Multi-Language Publications can.  Rev. Seiltz, former WELS missionary to Dominican Republic and Haiti–and a Spanish speaker himself –is currently the Director of the Multi-Language Publications (MLP).  He travels the world making sure that the Word is getting out and the Word is getting in.

In homes.
In schools.
In congregations.
In hearts.

Try to wrap your head around these numbers: in its 20+ year history, MLP to date has printed over 2.9 million items2 in 47 languages!  I guess the Word has gotten around and is getting around.  But now consider Rev. Seiltz’s vision and MLPs goal:

“To reach 100 million people with the gospel in the next ten years with the additional goal of having at least 2 million people using discipleship training media produced by MLP.”

“это не мелочь”

In Russian, “It’s no small thing!” You might say, “That’s no small potatoes!”

100 million people hearing the gospel never is. Reaching even just one is not insignificant. Heaven rejoices when even one coin is found.3

If you want to meet someone passionate about reaching out to lost souls, sit down with Rev. Seiltz. He realizes the MLP potential and knows that it’s not merely about ordering food or asking for directions in many languages.

He shared this story:

“I met a young Indian man in an airport in India. He was Christian pastor…I asked him if he had any converts from Hinduism and he said ‘yes.’ I asked, ‘What are some good ways to reach them?’” He replied: ‘Really the only thing that works is the gospel.’”

Good answer. No…great answer.

So just think, in that respect, then, it is about food: Jesus, the Bread of Life4 and the Living Water!5  And it is about directions:  the one way to heaven!  Jesus is it!  John emphasizes, “no one comes to the Father except through him.”6

According to the Scriptures, not only is there only one road, it’s also a bit narrow.7

But there’s room for all.

Because of MLP, some people who speak and read Nuer or Burmese or Kurdish or any of the other 44 languages can now discover the amazing, bewilder-ing, perplexing wonders of God in Christ Jesus.

By the way, I’m just borrowing those words, “amazing, bewildering and perplexing,” from Acts 2. There you will find the story of the original MLP, the Multi-Language Pentecost. That’s the day when people of different nations suddenly heard Galilean locals speak their own native tongue. It raised eyebrows as well as accusations. It probably would have been headlines in the Daily News. More than surprising and greater than astonishing, it was…

Amazing!
Bewildering!
Perplexing!

Not just the men, but the message. Especially the message.

Sin and Savior. Law and Gospel. Hell and heaven. Works and Grace. Repentance and forgiveness. Ah, yes, forgiveness.

Really?  I, too, am forgiven?

The message of today’s 21st century MLP is the same message as the first-century MLP:

Yes, you are forgiven in Jesus Christ!  Believe it!

No wonder Nate writes in MLPs 2016-2017 Catalogue: “The majority of MLP products are evangelism and Bible Study materials.  These can be used by anyone who sees a need for ministering to others in Christ.”

After all, who doesn’t need that kind of message?

We, on the Malawi field, were blessed to have Rev. Seiltz visit us this month of March 2017.8 He took time to travel to “The Warm (and these days, rainy) Heart of Africa” to share information, goals and visions of MLP.  He met with the Lutheran Mission missionaries and with some of the national pastors in the Lutheran Church of Central Africa, Malawi Synod. (LCCA-MS).

His visit revealed, not only his work but his joy.

His joy?

“Being able to put gospel materials in different languages so many people can learn of their Savior and grow in their faith. Working with national churches and missionaries, brothers and sisters in the faith as they minister in their Savior’s Kingdom.”

Dear Mission Partner, do you have a friend who speaks Spanish?  Got a Ukrainian neighbor?  Is there a member in your church whose mother tongue is Chinese?  Anyone you know come from Korea or Japan?

Do you speak his/her language?

Even if you can’t, MLP can.  If it can’t, it’ll do what it takes to speak that language, too.  After all, it wants to help you in…

Declaring the Wonders of God.9

By Missionary John Holtz, Malawi, Africa

  1. Seiltz is married to Natalie and they have 3 children Brett, Carlos, Angela. They live in Jackson, Wis., and are members of Morning Star Lutheran Church.  His MLP office is at the Synod Headquarters, (Center for Mission and Ministry) in Waukesha, Wis.  Rev. Seiltz regularly travels internationally and domestically for MLP promotion.
  2. Items such as Sunday School materials, The Promise, Bible Stories in Pictures, Evangelism movies, What the Bible and Lutherans Teach, Book of Prayers, etc.
  3. Luke 15:3-10
  4. John 6:25-59
  5. John 4
  6. John 14:6
  7. Matthew 7:14
  8. On this same trip to Malawi, Rev. Seiltz also visited Cameroon and Zambia for the same purpose of promoting MLP and its materials.
  9. Acts 2:11

 


Comments

A Water Festival at Easter Time, Thailand

In Thailand the month of April is often considered to be the most unpleasant month of the year because as the impending summer heat mounts, the humidity levels rise, and the air becomes heavy with moisture.

April is also the month in which the Thai celebrate the traditional Thai New Year.  It is based upon the Buddhist calendar and the date of the Buddha’s birth.  In Thailand, the official calendar year is 2560, though 2017 is also used.

During the New Year observance known as “Songkran,” the Thai set aside three days to officially ring in the new year though the festival usually stretches out to a week. The actual new year date is tied to the lunar calendar, but for the past century, it has been fixed to April 13-15.  Throughout the country, most businesses, schools, and government offices are closed. People travel to their home towns and villages for large family gatherings (similar to our Thanksgiving traditions) and religious observances.

Many people visit the Buddhist temples during this time to make merit and seek forgiveness for their past sins.  Water is poured over the Buddha statues as an act of purification.  Food and offerings are given to the monks.  In the home, everything is cleaned and washed.  We might call it a thorough Spring cleaning.  Children pour water on the hands and over the shoulders of their elders as a sign of respect and a wish for good luck in the coming year.

Over time, the festival evolved into what has become a country wide water festival.  The hot, humid April days have no doubt contributed to its development.  People young and old gather on the streets with hoses, water blasters, buckets, and pails of water to douse anyone and everyone that passes by.  Those riding on motor scooters are often soaked to the bone before they arrive at their destination.  In the cities, pickup trucks patrol the streets filled with party revelers and garbage pails of water.  Anyone within reach as they pass by is likely to be doused with water.

It’s all done in fun and is an accepted (and expected) part of Songkran.  For many, it is a time to stay off the streets, not just to keep dry, but to avoid the long traffic jams that inevitably accompany the water festival.

It is also a time to reflect upon the deep seated history and beginnings of the festival.  Westerners and those who are not of the Buddhist faith may find it to be a fun-filled holiday, but underscoring the festivities are the sad tenants of work righteousness and merit-making that are carried out in an effort to appease the conscience, cover one’s sins, and seek good luck for the future.  For Christians, joy is found in the fact that Jesus has covered us with his merit and righteousness, granting us full and complete forgiveness of sins.  Luck does not play a part in our lives for we walk hand in hand with our Savior who guides us each step of the way on life’s path.

Pray for our work among the Thai people as we reach out with the gospel of Christ to bring hope to those whose lives are guided by superstition and the teachings of work righteousness.

By: Ken Pasch, Thailand


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Easter in a Cemetery, India

Indian Christians have a wonderful Easter tradition. Like Christians throughout the world, they gather before the sun comes up. But unique to India, Christians here gather in the cemeteries where their Christian family members have been buried. Tombs are white washed and decorated the day before.
They light small candles and place them on the graves of their loved ones who are now in heaven Easter morning.

There they give thanks for their parents and others who taught them about the Savior. There they hear God’s promises about the resurrection and sing of those promises.  There they celebrate in the most tangible of ways the results of Jesus’ resurrection.

What a wonderful way to proclaim the truth of the empty tomb!

The Christians of India do not have this prayer in their hymnals (as we do in CW on page 60), but they know it in their
hearts: “For the faithful who have gone before us, who have shared with us your good news, whose souls are now at rest in your heavenly kingdom, we give you thanks, O Lord.  Thanks be to God.”

A blessed Easter to all of you.

By: Friendly Counselor Mark Ricke, India


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Peace in Jesus, Hong Kong

When I was a pastor in the States, I often encouraged our members to go into all the world and make disciples of all peoples. God gave me the chance 33 years ago to go to Taiwan to be a missionary. Every day I learned the native language and culture. Every week I had a chance to share the good news with East Asian people. Every year I got to see how God loved the East Asian people and wanted them to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.

Thirteen years ago, God called me to Hong Kong. There I was able to go into East Asia and start meeting even more people.  Through contacts made by American Christians who served as English teachers, we had a chance to meet together with East Asian people to study the Bible. Some were already Christians, but many were not. For some of them, it was the first time they had ever seen a Bible. Adults and children had the chance to get to know Jesus.

East Asian children are like all children. They like to run around. They like to play with friends. The children in this picture are blessed because their parents bring them to church. But most of their friends don’t know Jesus yet. We are making some Sunday school books in in their native language so they can hear and see Bible stories in a language they can understand.  We are training pastors and teachers who can teach them and their parents to know the Bible better. With your encouragement, prayers, and support we are able to share Jesus with them.

Do you see their fingers? Everyone in East Asia likes to pose for pictures like this. I don’t think they know what the “V” means. Maybe it’s “Peace.” I like to think of it as “V”ictory in Jesus.  Whatever it means, our mission is to help children and adults in East Asia know that Jesus has won peace with God for us. He’s the Savior of all the people in the world – wherever they live – whatever language they speak!

God be with you in the New Year!

By: A missionary in East Asia

 


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Registration open for 54th annual LWMS convention

The 54th annual convention of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) will be held June 22-25, 2017, in Orlando, Fla.

The convention kicks off Thursday evening with an opening worship service led by WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder. Friday and Saturday feature speakers from various WELS mission fields, including Rev. Daniel Sargent, who serves in Africa; Home Missions missionaries; WELS Home Missions Administrator Rev. Keith Free; and WELS World Missions Administrator Rev. Larry Schlomer.

This year, the Thursday night opening worship service and the Friday and Saturday missionary presentations will be streamed live at livestream.com/wels.

In addition, attendees can choose to attend workshops about the LWMS kids c.a.r.e program, evangelism, and the multi-site congregation model.

For recreation, attendees can opt to visit the Holy Land Experience, a biblical-themed museum, or an airboat ride for Florida wildlife viewing.

The conference will conclude on Sunday with a closing worship service led by South Atlantic District President Rev. Charles Westra.

Registration information can be found at lwms.org. This year, mail-in and online registration is available. Early bird registration ends April 1 and is $190. After April 1, the convention fee is $210. There are special rates for students and children.

Visit lwms.org for complete convention information and registration.

 

 

 

Home mission connections lead to world mission opportunities

“The Lord is opening some pretty big doors around the world,” says Rev. Keith Free, administrator of Home Missions.

Why is the home mission administrator talking about world mission opportunities? Because the two areas are coming together in an exciting way. “When leaders in the late 1980s and 1990s began working with cross-cultural ministries, little did they know that what we would do in the United States would have impact and ramifications around the world,” says Free.

When men like Rev. Peter Bur, a South Sudanese refugee who settled in Omaha, Neb.; student Matthew Cephas, a Liberian in St. Paul, Minn.; and Rev. Bounkeo Lor, a Hmong pastor in Kansas City, Kan., hear and learn confessional Lutheran teachings, they want to share it—and not just with their neighbors next door. “What drives us so much overseas are Pastoral Studies Institute graduates who want to go back home,” says Prof. E. Allen Sorum, director of the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI).

This fall, PSI team members, who work to train, mentor, and equip confessional Lutherans around the world, visited Africa and Asia to further explore new mission opportunities and how best to serve the people in these areas.

Kenya

Bur and Sorum have made multiple trips to Ethiopia and Kenya to train South Sudanese pastors and spiritual leaders who are serving South Sudanese refugees. “We are training trainers to train trainers,” says Sorum. In 2015, they distributed copies of Bur’s translation of a simplified version of the Small Catechism, complete with artwork by Rev. Terry Schultz, a member of the WELS Multi-Language Publications team.

This fall, Sorum, Bur, and Schultz spent three weeks in Nairobi, Kenya, furthering the training of men living in refugee camps in Kakuma, Kenya.

But are these men really taking what they learned to heart? As Sorum puts it, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

Or in the worn-out catechism.

On this trip, Sorum asked the group how they used the catechisms they received in 2015. James Machar, who leads a flourishing church in what Sorum calls “one of the most rugged spots to try to even survive let alone start a church,” said, “I handed out 150 certificates of completion to the people who completed every lesson in the catechism course.”

Then Sorum saw the catechism of Evangelist Michael, one of the men who had been trained by Machar. He had traveled three days to continue his training in Nairobi. His catechism was worn out.

“I asked him, ‘Do you have it memorized?’” says Sorum. “He said, ‘Almost.’”

Sorum continues, “These people are starving not only literally but also spiritually for a lack of resources. They come to us for materials and training and then they go home and do incredible things with them in the most difficult of circumstances.”

Liberia

Sorum also traveled to Liberia with Rev. Robert Wendland, a missionary in Malawi, to see what the opportunities were for ongoing training and for working with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Liberia. Connections had been made through PSI Bible Institute graduate Isaac David and Rev. Matthew Vogt of Las Vegas, Nev., and WELS pastors had already traveled to Liberia to start training congregational leaders.

“We talked to many congregations and met stunning leaders and committed men,” says Sorum. “In one village they said I was the first American to set foot in their church. It was one of the most intensely foreign feelings I ever had. But they are a warm and friendly people, who are anxious and eager to become more Lutheran.”

Vietnam

Jon Bare in Vietnam

In November, Rev. Jon Bare, international recruitment director, and Sorum traveled to Vietnam with Rev. Bounkeo Lor and Evangelist Vicar Hue Thao to meet with 60 leaders of the Hmong Christian Fellowship, a church body with 600 pastors and more than 70,000 members. These men were contacts made through Lor, who has been traveling to Vietnam for the past three years to lead similar workshops.

Besides conducting training classes in Hanoi, they traveled to several village churches in the mountains. Bare, who has visited Vietnam on vacation, says, “You look at it in a completely different way than just seeing it as a tourist. They want our training, and their lives have been changed by the gospel message of Jesus. It’s just a beautiful thing to be able to experience that.”

Sorum says the church has grown since the leaders have been teaching the law and gospel lessons they learned from Lor, adding 2,400 members and 40 churches in the last six months. “It was one of the most inspiring, uplifting trips I’ve ever made,” he says.

Says Free, “Who would have thought a step Home Missions took many years ago to reach more cultures in the U.S. would lead to the opportunities we have today? These blessings are just another encouragement that we need to remain faithful in sowing the seed and then watch in amazement as God blesses the sharing of the gospel where and when he wills.”

Learn more about these opportunities at wels.net/missions.

 

 

 

Graduation at Asia Lutheran Seminary

Six men from East Asia were among 27 students who received a degree or certificate Oct. 30 from Asia Lutheran Seminary (ALS), Hong Kong, at the school’s seventh graduation since its establishment in 2005.

According to Dr. Steven Witte, ALS president, this is the first ALS graduation that includes pastors who do not live in Hong Kong. “These six students planted eight groups and five local churches during their student years,” he says. “Now they are no longer full-time workers and full-time students—just-full time workers. So things should pick up in terms of planting additional groups in East Asia.”

Ten men—including the six men from East Asia—received Master of Divinity degrees (which means that they are fully trained to serve as pastors); eight received Bachelor of Theology degrees. Others received degrees in Christian Studies as well as certificates for Greek and Hebrew.

Witte says ALS graduates serve in various ways. Some are full-time workers in the nine established congregations in South Asian Lutheran Evangelical Mission (SALEM), our sister synod in Hong Kong; others are starting groups that will eventually turn into local congregations. Many are laypeople who are looking for a deeper understanding of confessional Lutheranism as they serve in leadership roles in their local congregations.

Special guests at the graduation included Rev. Larry Schlomer, Board for World Missions administrator, as well as the members of the East Asia Administrative Committee. Dr. John Lawrenz, who was instrumental in establishing ALS, and Rev. Karl Gurgel, who served as a long-time visiting professor, also attended.

WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder traveled to Asia Lutheran Seminary the week before graduation to visit with the students and staff and meet with SALEM leaders. “It meant a lot for the students to see President Schroeder at ALS,” says Witte. “It helped them know that WELS values ALS and the work they are doing as students—and especially the work they are doing in the kingdom. We tell the students that there are many in America who know about them, pray for them, and support them, but seeing President Schroeder really helped put weight to those words.”

Schroeder says he was greatly encouraged by the graduation of fully-trained pastors from East Asia and by the work ALS is doing to train future workers. “It is especially encouraging for me to see the work that is being done through the faithful and generous support of WELS members, who through their gifts are taking the gospel to places they will never visit and to people they will never meet until they gather with them around the throne of the Lamb.”

Currently 53 students are attending Asia Lutheran Seminary, most part time or for single subjects. Another 11 full-time and 24 part-time students are taking courses through a satellite seminary in East Asia. ALS also works closely with Multi-Language Publications to provide theological courses to equip current and future translators of Christian literature. It has also developed an online course in Chinese called “Bible Background” that has reached more than 20,000 people in East Asia. Plans are in place for future online courses.

Learn more about WELS mission work at wels.net/missions.

 

 

 

 

Expanded Efforts to Produce Christ-Centered Materials: The crown jewel of World Missions

THE CROWN JEWEL OF WORLD MISSIONS

Adam M. Goede

“I like to call Multi-Language Publications the crown jewel of World Missions and also one of the best kept secrets,” says Phil Koelpin, former chairman of the Board for World Missions.

Multi-Language Publications (MLP) produces confessional Christian literature and other mass media in different languages for the purpose of mission work. Its history goes back to 1975 when the synod began producing Spanish materials for work in Latin America. MLP was started in 1996 with the vision of working in many languages worldwide.

350x263-MLPold

In years past, MLP reached out to Spanish-speaking people through the Spanish Correspondence Program, in which Spanish self-study books were distributed in places like Colombia, South America.

God’s hand has been evident in the expansion of MLP’s efforts. In 2002, two countries hostile to Christianity, reached out to WELS for help within months of each other. Working with these contacts, MLP distributed biblical literature that has reached thousands of people. “We virtually established fields without ever having personnel there,” says Koelpin. “That was pretty significant, especially at a time with declining resources.”

Other steps forward have included utilizing the popularity of the Internet in Latin America to offer resources, training, and worship through a website called Academia Cristo and calling regional coordinators for Spanish and Asian publications, which provides the benefit of working more closely with target audiences.

Currently MLP has 700 publications in 47 different languages. It has printed more than 2.9 million items. Its goal is to reach 100 million people with the gospel in the next ten years.

Future efforts will expand on what has worked well, like providing more digital materials through the successful Academia Cristo model. Nathan Seiltz, MLP director, says, “It is great to see how much success it has had. We want to duplicate the idea in other cultures.”

350x263-MLPnew

Now MLP has moved from sending physical books to developing online video courses on the Academia Cristo website.

“Overall, this is an economical way to do missions because there is no missionary on the ground there,” he says. “It also encourages the nationals to take ownership in the mission and figure out how to spread the gospel where they are.” He hopes that online connections lead to relationships with potential workers.

National workers are also helping MLP develop a new frontier in their publications—worship materials. “Church planting is what triggered the idea,” says Seiltz. “Worship resources are part of the gathering of the group around the Word and sacraments.” MLP’s focus is developing music and hymns for different people groups. “It’s going to match their culture a lot better,” says Seiltz. “They can have something that appeals to them, applies to them.”

Koelpin summarizes how God has richly blessed MLP: “The Lord has just kept opening doors and blessed everything we have done, so the work keeps multiplying.” He just hopes that WELS can keep up with God’s pace. “My biggest concern is that we need more resources if we’re going to get done all the challenges that God has put before us. We’re only limited by our resources.”


Adam Goede, supervisor for the Ministry of Christian Giving, is a member at St. John, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

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

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Author: Adam M. Goede
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Mission Updates

MISSION UPDATES


Philippines

350x263-Phillipines

Phillipines

Pastor Alvien De Guzman, a native Philippine missionary, serves a small flock of faithful believers in a suburb of Manila. They are using videos and printed materials from Multi-Language Publications to reach out to the unchurched in their community and are looking to begin ministering to prospects in outlying areas. WELS supports De Guzman and Law and Gospel Evangelical Lutheran Church with monthly contact and additional resources.


Romani

350x263-Romania

Romania

Iliyan Itsov, a pastor in the Bulgarian Lutheran Church, has a new mission project in Europe: outreach to Roma (gypsies). A Roma himself, Itsov has a unique understanding about how to share the gospel with the western world’s most mistreated ethnic group, a group numbering about 10 million people. He ministers to the Romani in five villages in Bulgaria, including training leaders in each village to conduct worship. Pictured is a new group in Zlataritsa, Bulgaria, where a core group of 17 Roma worships weekly using sermons Itsov provides. Itsov is also working with WELS sister churches in Europe to gather groups of Roma workers and immigrants whom these sister churches will then serve.


Liberia

Liberian spiritual leader Isaac David is reaching out to legal immigrants in Las Vegas, Nev., as well as working to establish the Confessional Lutheran Church in Liberia. He opened a church in Las Vegas—the Chapel of Improvement Christian Fellowship—and is working closely with Water of Life in Las Vegas. He also is studying with local WELS pastors. David and several WELS pastors traveled to Liberia in April 2016 to train leaders and members (pictured in top photo) and to attend the church body’s first convention.


United States

The Board for Home Missions authorized eight new mission starts in 2016, five of which are second sites for established congregations. The new ministries include:

Rockwall, Texas: Connected with Divine Peace in Garland, Texas, this multi-site mission will have two locations for worship, but one leadership team and budget. More than 20 members from Divine Peace are living in the target area.

Victoria, Texas: A second pastor will be needed to serve this new multi-site mission outreach by Redeemer, Edna, Texas, as the pastor at Redeemer offers both English and Spanish worship each Sunday.

Stevens Point, Wis.: In 2015, Divine Word, Plover, Wis., called a second pastor to focus on campus ministry at UW–Stevens Point as well as reach out in the community. Recently, Divine Word purchased a building for a campus center and second worship site.

Meridian, Idaho: Cross of Christ, Boise, Idaho, is starting this multi-site mission to serve families living in the neighboring city of Meridian.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Members of St. Matthew, Spokane, Wash., will support this new mission, located about 35 miles away. More than 25 adult members will make up the launch team that will work with the mission pastor.

Lehi, Utah: Prince of Peace, Salt Lake City, is starting this mission south of Salt Lake City in an area that has a strong Mormon presence.

Fredericksburg, Va.: Members from Trinity, Woodbridge, Va., are eager to start a mission in this growing community about 40 miles away.

Atlanta, Ga.: The city of Atlanta is ringed by seven WELS churches. Over the past two years, WELS members have been holding Bible studies in the city, and a core group has been established.


THANKS, LWMS!

For 53 years, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) has been increasing awareness of, interest in, and support of WELS mission outreach. More than 1,100 women met at the recent 2016 national convention in St. Charles, Ill., to learn more about missions and to show their support. About $53,000 was gathered during the convention for mission projects, and more than $143,000 was received throughout the year.


MISSION STORIES

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

FOLLOW THE LATEST WELS NEWS

Get missions updates and other ministry news with the Together e-newsletter and video updates. Subscribe today!

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Author: Various Authors
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

New Partnership To Broaden Outreach Efforts: Asia

MINISTRY TRAINING IN ASIA

Linda R. Buxa

Each year, pastors originally from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Korea meet at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary to discuss their plans for reaching out and expanding their ministry. These men are the spiritual leaders and drivers of outreach to Asian peoples in North America and overseas.

One of these pastors (name withheld for safety reasons) is from a country that is in the top 30 countries that persecute Christians. Those who reject ancestor worship, animism, or Buddhism are either removed from their villages or beaten.

This graduate of the Pastoral Studies Institute could safely stay in the United States and pastor the people he serves. Instead, he and his wife choose to spend their own money to travel back to their country of origin. There they risk their lives to tell people about the one true God.

“As I go into the country, they ask if I am going to talk about God,” he says. (They hold his passport and threaten not to give it back if he does.) “I said, ‘No,’ but in my head I said ‘Yes.’ ”

On his first trip, he spoke to a group about marriage. “The women were crying. I was teaching the husbands that God says to love their wives,” he says. They had never heard that before, and it brought them to tears. They begged him to bring Bibles the next time he came.

So he did, even though it could put him in grave danger.

As he walked through security, he had Bibles in his backpack. “At the gate they searched all my luggage. Except my backpack. I went through and gave away all the Bibles,” he says.


OFFERING PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL HELP

Meet a medical assistant in Southeast Asia who travels from village to village on his motorbike to share his medical skills with his patients. He also shares the gospel.

This man, who became a Christian when he was a child, wants to learn more about his faith so he can share more with others. To do that, he takes classes through the seminary’s Pastoral Studies Institute via Skype. Twice a year, he travels to the United States to take classes.

He isn’t quite sure where his studies might lead. “For now, his focus is on studying and reaching others,” his translator shares. The people he reaches are hungry for the gospel and are looking to WELS for even more support. “They are excited to hear from the national church body.”


Linda Buxa is the communications coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin.   

MISSION STORIES

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

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Author: Linda R. Buxa
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

New Partnership To Broaden Outreach Efforts: Ethiopia

MINISTRY TRAINING IN ETHIOPIA

Linda R. Buxa

The Rev. Dr. Kebede Yigezu is the founder and president of the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE). With more than three hundred members, the LCE proclaims a solidly Lutheran confession to the people of Ethiopia. The LCE’s Maor Theological College serves as a strong anchor for this heritage.

Three years ago, Kebede contacted WELS to discuss fellowship possibilities. In 2014, Peter Bur and Prof. E. Allen Sorum met with this group of believers. In September 2015, Kenneth Cherney, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and a member of the WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations, visited Ethiopia and participated in Maor Theological College’s first graduation ceremony.

“A huge amount of amazing things are already done. The LCE is on the way to being in fellowship with the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. Through gifts of WELS people for Maor college and seminary program, the group is stabilizing its presence by purchasing land and building the first floor of a multi-floor facility,” says Sorum.

That building will provide more ways to support this growing church body. In addition, through the world mission seminary program, a professor will visit the church in 2016 to teach a course.

“Rev. Dr. Kebede continues to meet other people in WELS, and every time he meets someone, it’s another person who is appreciative of his unconditional, confessional heart,” says Sorum.


Linda Buxa is the communications coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin.   

MISSION STORIES

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

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Author: Linda R. Buxa
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Using Cultural Connections to further Outreach: St. Paul, Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA

Julie K. Wietzke

With 230 members, Immanuel Hmong, St. Paul, Minn., is the largest US WELS Hmong congregation. But it’s not only concentrating on spreading the gospel message in Minnesota. Since fall 2015, Immanuel Hmong has been livestreaming its worship services to broaden the spread of the gospel to Hmong people around the world. “This will help us to share the gospel to places where we are not able to go or where our people do not have a church,” says Pheng Moua, pastor at Immanuel Hmong. WELS Hmong members also can tell their loved ones around the world about this opportunity for weekly worship. About 50 people watch every week from places such as Thailand, Vietnam, France, Australia, East Asia, Laos, and the United States.

Immanuel Hmong also was the site of the recent WELS Hmong National Conference (pictured), in which Hmong pastors and laymembers from around the world strengthened their faith through worship and Bible study and learned more about each other’s ministries.

More than 165 people came from Hmong congregations such as

• Grace Hmong, a home mission in Kansas City, Kan., that recently obtained its own worship facility through a special grant and loan from WELS Church Extension Fund.

• Faith Hmong, Anchorage, Alaska, which shares a building with Faith Anglo, a congregation reaching out to Spanish-speakers.

• Mount Calvary Hmong, a congregation supported by La Crosse, Wis., area WELS churches.

• Trinity Hmong, Manitowoc, Wis., a congregation that grew out of a 30-year mission of First German to reach an immigrant community in Manitowoc.

• Christ’s Gospel Hmong, Clovis, and Faith Hmong, Fresno, two newer California congregations reaching out to family and clan members in the area.

One pastor and his wife from Thailand also attended.

“The encouraging moment is when I see members who live in places where we do not have a church or the church is very small come and see that we have many people worshiping and praising the Lord,” says Moua, who helped plan the conference. “The gathering is uplifting to the members and will encourage their walk with Jesus Christ.”


Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ magazine.

MISSION STORIES

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

 

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Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Using Cultural Connections to further Outreach: Combining Home and World Mission outreach efforts

COMBINING HOME AND WORLD MISSION OUTREACH EFFORTS

Julie K. Wietzke

“Around 15 million Hmong are living in darkness. They are oppressed, not only by the power of the devil but also by the power of men,” says Bounkeo Lor, a native Hmong man trained as a pastor through the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Lor has a passion for reaching out to his Hmong brothers and sisters. With a foot in outreach in both the United States (pastor at Grace Hmong, Kansas City, Kan.) and abroad (teaching leadership workshops in Vietnam), he is a natural pick as one of two Hmong pastors serving on the WELS Global Hmong Committee, a group that oversees Hmong ministry around the world.

Started as a pilot project in 2015 by the Joint Mission Council, this four-person committee allows the Hmong to have a greater input and responsibility for outreach to their people group. This includes weighing outreach opportunities—both domestic and international—and determining where funds should be spent. “It’s not a bunch of white guys making a decision of what’s best for Hmong ministry, but it’s guys on the front lines who know the culture,” says Robert Raasch, World Missions representative on the Global Hmong Committee. “You get the best of both worlds: men with a strong theological foundation and a passion for outreach—and it’s their culture.”

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In January, the Global Hmong Committee met with Hmong national pastors and lay leaders in Thailand to share ministry developments and to discuss further opportunities for working together.

Worldwide in WELS, 25 Hmong pastors serve 8 ministries in the United States and 15 congregations and preaching stations in Thailand and the surrounding area. In addition, there are new opportunities for further Hmong outreach in Vietnam and East Asia and potential for new ministries in the United States.

Lor shares that family, or clan, connections are strong in the Hmong culture, tying these world and home mission fields together. This, he says, makes a joint committee all that more important. “We need each other for the growth of the Hmong ministry,” he says.

He continues, “Sometimes the gap of doing ministry across cultures is so wide that without Hmong representatives, we may lack insight into the best way to do Hmong ministry.”

Both he and Pheng Moua, the other Hmong pastor on the committee, are thankful to be part of a group that is working to further Hmong outreach around the world.

“It is an honor to serve the Lord in this capacity and to touch the lives of the Hmong in different locations and walks of life spiritually,” says Moua. “I serve them to the best of my ability as a bridge builder, to connect and to share their concerns and to walk alongside them. It is not my intention to enforce programs and plans for the mission field; it is my intention to let them grow and take ownership of the mission and ministry.”

He continues, “Hmong outreach is a part of the Great Commission inside the Lord’s church. We will do as much as we can to reach out to them so that their souls will be saved.”


Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ magazine.

MISSION STORIES

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

 

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Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

A New Way to Reach Spanish Speakers: From home, reaching thousands

FROM HOME, REACHING THOUSANDS

Rachel Hartman

After serving as a Lutheran pastor in Mexico for 10 years—a role he treasured—Carlos Cajas retired.

Before stepping away from the ministry, Cajas’ health wavered and then faltered. He was diagnosed with heart troubles and diabetes. “Sometimes I had to sit down while preaching a sermon,” he recalls.

The future for Cajas in his retirement looked as bleak as his health conditions. Over time, however, he saw God still had a plan for his life and, better yet, he saw an opportunity to reach thousands with the gospel message from his own home.

Cajas had always had a strong desire to share God’s Word with others. After working in a factory in Mexico for 15 years, he decided to leave his position as supervisor behind to be a pastor.

He completed his seminary training and went on to serve in various places in Mexico City and Puebla, about 60 miles southeast of Mexico City.

As his years of service drew to a close, Cajas faced a debilitating heart condition and also open heart surgery. Then diabetes struck his eyesight, leaving him legally blind.

Today, he can see a little on some days; other days, nothing at all. “When my sight darkens—these are the worst days for me,” he explains. “I am, as they say in Mexico, ‘on the knife’s edge.’ At any time, I could have a heart attack due to my artery problems.”

Cajas lives with his family in Puebla, where his wife, two grown children, and other relatives help oversee his medications, doctor visits, and daily activities.

Not long ago, his son gave him a tablet. Cajas found that by holding the tablet inches from his face and using a magnifying glass, he could read the words on the screen.

Cajas saw this gift as a tool to share God’s Word. He started posting Bible verses and images on his own Facebook page. “Today there are lots of Facebook addicts,” he explains. “Everybody has a smartphone.”

His efforts coincided with those of Academia Cristo, a site that offers free Christ-centered resources to Spanish speakers around the world. Those involved with Academia Cristo’s Facebook page spotted Cajas’ efforts and asked him to participate.

Today, Cajas volunteers as an administrator of this page, which shares God’s Word every day and has more than 285,000 followers. “The little that I can see is enough to create posts with texts and images about appropriate topics,” says Cajas. “It is a wonderful opportunity to share the message of salvation with thousands of people.”

Cajas’ messages uplift and inspire those who follow Academia Cristo’s page. At the same time, the chance to serve encourages Cajas and reminds him of his purpose. “I am a disciple of Christ,” he says. “And God has given me certain abilities—he hasn’t taken them all away.”

Instead of feeling anxious about the coming days and health issues he may face, Cajas finds confidence in his new role. “God hasn’t retired us,” he says. “God wants us to serve him until the end of our days, and to serve him with joy. We already have this wonderful gift—eternal life in paradise—waiting for us after our time here.”


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

MISSION STORIES

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

 

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Author: Rachel Hartman
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

A New Way to Reach Spanish Speakers: Serving both sides of the border

SERVING BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER

Rachel Hartman

Many Hispanics in the United States have close ties to other areas in Latin America. For Hispanic Lutherans, the desire to share Christian resources with relatives and friends in other areas is often strong. Occasionally, Hispanic members are even looking for a new church home as they head back to Central or South America.

In the past, sharing gospel resources with those south of the border was frequently a challenge. Congregations are spread out, and travel distances between them are often great, making it difficult for those interested in attending worship.

Today, through online resources such as academiacristo.com, which offers free Christian materials to Spanish speakers everywhere, that is changing.

“We have such a diverse congregation,” notes Abe Degner, pastor at Christ the Lord, Houston, Texas, which serves a Spanish-speaking population in the area.

With members from more than ten different Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, when it comes to the opportunity to use sites like Academia Cristo, “there’s a lot of potential,” he explains.

Twice when members moved back to areas south of the border where there were no nearby Lutheran churches, Degner directed them to these online resources.

Two women involved at Christ the Lord lived in El Salvador during their early years. Now in Houston, they have used Academia Cristo as a way to share the gospel with family members back home.

Not long ago, one of the ladies pulled Degner aside and asked how to do a baptism if there wasn’t a Lutheran church. “I talked her through it,” notes Degner. “That’s an example of where those resources can be so useful.”


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Dalila Campos

Meet Dalila Campos, originally from El Salvador, now living in Houston. She attends Christ the Lord in Houston and appreciates the resources from Academia Cristo, as seen in her Facebook post: “Thank you, Academia Cristo, for your faithful work in preaching the gospel to all people. Having you has been a big blessing for me. As I meditate on your publications, I renew my faith in Christ my Savior, but I also review things I learned as a girl and thought I knew but am now remembering. In this way I am ready, every day, for the work of spreading the gospel to others through this fresh and simple method, which is easy to understand. May God continue blessing you. I truly love you in the love of Christ our Lord.”


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

MISSION STORIES

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

HELP WELS REACH THE WORLD

Your offering to WELS Missions will help more missionaries go to more places and share the gospel with more people.

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Author: Rachel Hartman
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

New Partnership To Broaden Outreach Efforts

MEETING EMERGING NEEDS FOR TRAINING GOD’S PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

Linda R. Buxa

“We live in a world of rapid change, and this is true also in the area of theological education as the line between home and world missions disappears,” says Bradley Wordell, world mission seminary professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis.

One of the changes in education comes because of circular immigration. As God brings refugees and immigrants to the United States, congregations reach out to them with support and the gospel. “Then they have the desire to learn more, to share the gospel with other immigrants, and to bring the gospel back to their home countries. They introduce to us candidates for gospel ministry,” says Wordell. This circular immigration gives us a complete partnership in the gospel.

The second group of people who are changing the education landscape are Christians throughout the world who have already gathered together in groups, churches, and communities. They want support, training, and connection to a church body that shares the good news that Jesus has done it all and that the Bible is true.

Until now, the seminary has handled these requests through two programs, the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (PSI) and the world mission seminary program. The PSI helps non-traditional students through its preseminary and seminary training. PSI director E. Allen Sorum works with local pastors to help provide training for North American-based students. For the world mission seminary program, WLS professors travel throughout the world teaching courses in seminaries that are part of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. In 2015–16, 7 members of the seminary faculty administered 10 different courses in 9 countries to more than 100 students as well as 100 pastors and a few members.

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PSI director E. Allen Sorum (far left) traveled with Peter Bur, a South Sudanese pastor, to Kenya in 2015 to meet with and train spiritual leaders for South Sudanese refugees as well as pastors in a Kenyan church body looking to establish fellowship.

Today, more than 300 potential students are contacting our church body looking for support and training in their journey toward becoming confessional Lutherans. With the abundance of people reaching out, the scope of requests is beyond that of missionaries to handle while serving their people and is more than the seminary faculty can undertake while maintaining a high level of education on the Mequon campus. To address this God-given opportunity, the Synodical Council approved a position of international recruitment director. Jon Bare, a 2008 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, began serving in this position in summer 2016.

“The creation of this team connects World Missions, Home Missions, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in a new and exciting way,” says Bare. His task is to coordinate with the world mission seminary professor and the PSI director to implement a culturally informed vetting process for individuals as well as church bodies who wish to become part of our church body’s worldwide outreach. This team will administer a curriculum for men in America and abroad who want to serve as pastors in these church bodies. Bare will work closely with Sorum and Wordell to also develop an appropriate assessment of skills and abilities in ministry and negotiate the appropriate degree or certificate that the student would receive upon the completion of his given level of training.

“The three of us each bring our unique gifts, strengths, and experiences to this new team. This partnership will serve to meet the emerging needs for training God’s people at home and around the world,” says Bare. “I am excited to see how God will continue to grow his kingdom and equip new workers.”

Through all these changes, one thing that doesn’t change is the seminary’s mission. “We prepare pastors and we provide continuing education for pastors,” says Paul O. Wendland, seminary president. “At the same time, the ministry is adapting. The Mequon campus is more a base of operations than a single venue for theological and pastoral training. With more than 300 potential students from around the world asking for help, we have an incredible opportunity.”

Opportunities to reach every neighbor and every nation. The time is now.


Linda Buxa is the communications coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin.   

MISSION STORIES

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

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Author: Linda R. Buxa
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us