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WELS WORLD MISSIONS UPDATE – 2011 October World Mission Update
Cameroon – “Teach and Train” are the two pillars of the work in Cameroon. The resident missionary family is constantly teaching and training pastors and wives to be more effective, to understand the Bible better, to make applications to their culture, and to live their faith in their words and actions. The certified assistants are also being trained in their understanding of the Scriptures as well as in their ability to assist the pastors with some preaching. New men are also being trained to become certified assistants. Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC) women are being trained in how to live as a family according to God’s plan. The LCC leadership is working to be more organized, more pro-active, and more plan-oriented. The youth is being trained in evangelism. The training is being carried out through teaching, mentoring and role modeling.
Malawi – Twenty new students have begun the first year of ministerial training. The academic caliber of student seems to be improving with each tri-annual intake. October marks 25 years of mission work in Africa for Rev. Steve Lawrenz. His recent years in Malawi as a sort of roaming associate pastor give him a challenge that matches his experience. He cooperates with national pastors to help them carry out the ministry of the Word to their own congregations and vacant congregations. Malawi has a ratio of 4.5 congregations to each pastor.
Nigeria – The immediate challenge of division in Christ the King Lutheran Church Nigeria may be over. But it remains to be seen how well the new leaders will include all parties and yet remain faithful Lutherans. It is hoped that this would soon be opportunity to spend more time with the new leaders. Both All Saints and Christ the King are working toward attendance at an African regional CELC gathering.
Zambia – The CELC Planning Committee has encouraged a regional CELC meeting for the Africa Synods of Malawi, Cameroon, Nigeria and Zambia. The meeting is scheduled for the 17th to the 19th of April 2012. Much will depend upon the West African representatives attaining passports and visas from their respective countries. The venue for the meeting will be the Seminary Guest House in Lusaka. The next GRATSI class, scheduled for April 2012, may include two men from the Nigeria Synod.
Albania – Faithful evangelists are carrying on gospel ministry in two cities in Albania—Tirana and Durres. Friendly Counselor John Vogt’s steady work as part-time instructor is strengthening and improving that ministry at a slow but steady pace.
Bulgaria – The people of the Bulgarian Lutheran Church (BLC) continue to preach and teach God’s Word in four separate areas including the large urban area of Sofia in the West, Varna along the Black Sea in the East, and in Dunavtsi in the North among the Roma (gypsy). It seems that there are good kingdom opportunities in Bulgaria. The people of the BLC are taking important steps to continue ministry despite an economy that lags behind the rest of Europe and declining support from the USA.
Russia – Two American missionaries serve congregations in four cities. One missionary focuses on care of the congregations and teaching adult instruction classes. The other concentrates on outreach in the four congregations. Three seminarians and two deaconesses are studying with a visiting teacher from the U.S. in the seminary and Bible institute.
Bolivia – A Latin American Traveling Theological Education (LATTE Prof.) has been in La Paz, Bolivia, since March of this year. His purpose is to help a small church body in its effort to become a confessional Lutheran church. The instructor reports that there is good progress, but also a lot of resistance. The pastor of the La Paz congregation is starting to preach and practice sound Biblical doctrine and other leaders are also gladly receiving Biblical instruction. However, there is a strong opposition on the part of certain families and individuals who are campaigning for a different doctrine. There have also been visits from World Prayer League officials who malign the teaching.
Brazil – Despite church break-ins and unexpected bills from the city, God is helping the members of the Gravatai congregation to slowly increase support for their local ministry. Another two baptisms and five confirmations show God’s grace in action. The Brazilian Lutheran Church (ILB) is in the process of producing evangelism tracts that deal with current issues in Brazilian culture. Plans have been made for the national pastors to gather around God’s Word for spiritual growth and mutual encouragement in October. In November, WELS representatives will meet with the ILB to discuss options for how the WELS and the ILB might work together so that the gospel may continue to be proclaimed in the world’s fifth largest country.
Colombia – The growth of the church in the Medellin, Quibdó and prospective Pereira area is encouraging. The willingness of the church of Medellin to relocate Pastor Herrera to a new city and partially support him shows the seriousness it takes mission work. This idea is under strong consideration and is an objective for the immediate future once more prospective members are added. This outreach commitment merits support and encouragement. The growth in Bogota has been very limited. There is a conflict between the purpose of Colegio de Los Angeles and the church of Bogota that needs to be resolved for better definition of the mission field in the metropolitan area. Training of one pastor continues via Skype and with personal visits from LATTE professors. Training of two more student candidates is under consideration.
Dominican Republic – The Dominican mission field has experienced many great blessings in the first half of this year. The members and workers there are passionate about the gospel and have a great mindset for evangelism. The Pastor in Santiago has been considered capable by two LATTE pastors of teaching seminary-level courses to his fellow Dominicans. The Dominican field receives no subsidy at the present.
Haiti – The Haitian outreach has also experienced tremendous blessings this year. The connections with Haitian orphanages have resulted in 62 orphans receiving saving faith through the washing of Holy Baptism. It is the hope that the partnerships with Gesner and other orphanage leaders can continue and even expand (with the hope of also reaching out to the area of La Descubierta) so that more souls may be reached and may hear the gospel in a country where voodoo and other false practices are the norm.
LATTE – The LATTE professors are continuing to carry out the teaching according to its established plan and schedule. Trips to Bolivia, the Caribbean, and Colombia have been made. National churches were encouraged in their evangelism efforts and were provided with the theological education that they had requested. A plan for finalizing the seminary training of a pastor in Santiago in the Dominican Republic still needs to be worked out, so that he can continue the training of future students in that country. A final trip to Puerto Rico (PR) to finish the class work with a seminary student is still planned for January 2012. After that no trips will be planned except at the express request for continuing education by the Puerto Rican church and the CICR liaison to PR (Satorius).
In Mexico the last full-time seminary student has resigned. A recruitment effort is planned with the national church, with the hope of beginning a new class of seminary students in July of 2012. Meanwhile the two LATTE professors residing in Mexico are using the unexpected time to do course work, increase the number of hours taught over the internet to various students, and make several teaching trips during this time period. This time may also give LATTE the ability to help Colombia with the training of two new pastoral students.
Mexico – In September the Mexican Lutheran Church (IELC) celebrated its 20th annual national convention at the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) congregation in Monterrey. National pastors and delegates attended from throughout the country, coming from as far away as northern Sonora and the Yucatán peninsula. For the first time an online ministry meeting was held the day before the convention to discuss how to coordinate the various ministries being carried out in a number of the congregations. For the first time the average weekly worship attendance is over 400.
ACTS (Apache Christian Training School) – Gary Lupe is the first graduate of ACTS to be ordained into the preaching ministry. Gary is currently serving the people of Cibecue, as well as preaching in Apache on a regular basis on both the northern and southern reservations. The ACTS program currently has about 40 students enrolled, with a hand-full of men enrolled in the pre-seminary program.
Apache Congregations – Congregations at East Fork, Canyon Day, Whiteriver, Peridot, San Carlos, Bylas, Cibecue and McNary continue to be served by 3 WELS missionaries on the northern reservation and 2 WELS missionaries on the southern reservation. Each location continues to focus on building Christian leaders for the future long-term stability of the church.
Apache Schools – East Fork and Peridot schools both have dedicated staffs of teachers who are sharing God’s Word with about 75 students on the northern reservation and about 70 students on the southern reservation.
Indonesia – The Gereja Lutheran Indonesia (GLI)) church is being richly blessed by God. A resident WELS seminary professor is now teaching at the GLI seminary in central Java to assist the national “dosens” (instructors) in laying a stronger doctrinal foundation and in providing training in the original languages of the Bible to the men who will serve as national pastors and evangelists. The members of GLI are taking the first steps toward financially providing for their own pastors and evangelists. The members of GLI are also showing a willingness to pay a meaningful portion of the costs and labor to provide their own church buildings. Hundreds of new people have become members of GLI, particularly on the island of West Timor. The Lord is providing tremendous blessings and opportunities in Indonesia as His Word is being proclaimed. For these blessings, GLI needs new buildings. Funding plans are underway.
Japan – The Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church (LECC) is blessed with spiritually mature members who love the Lord and His Word and His people. With gospel patience they continue to hold out the Word of Life to the people around them. The LECC is thankful for all the prayers and counsel and gifts (for ministry and for relief) that WELS continues to provide. The LECC treasures the fellowship they enjoy with member churches of the CELC. While the members do not know how a possible dual-role call would work practically, they continue to trust that the Lord will guide and bless, and they are excited about the possibility of supporting publications efforts in other Asian countries.
Life Net and Asia Lutheran Seminary serve the Lord Jesus by patiently laying a solid foundation for a gospel-centered church in the Chinese speaking world by training and nurturing Christian leaders.
India – A part of the work in India that many may not know about is that due to the generosity of certain individuals and organizations in WELS, all Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries seminary graduates have been provided with basic computers. Additional gifts have provided internet connections and software such as The People’s Bible. These tools have greatly enhanced the communication between WELS coordinators and the men in their areas of supervision. Even more important is the ongoing training and education that takes place monthly as well as the additional resources that are available to the men on the net. At least one portion of the quarterly pastors’ institute is devoted to exploring the web for helpful web sites. When the CELM web site is established within a month or two, pastors and other CELM workers will be able to download sermons, textbooks, evangelism lessons, Bible classes, Sunday school materials, etc. God willing there are plans to provide the same benefits to the seventeen men who will graduate in July of 2012. This program is also the ultimate backup plan in case all WELS counselors are asked to leave the country.
Nepal – Two visits in 2011 have strengthened the ministry of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church in Nepal. The first visit allowed the leaders of the church to grow spiritually through an Old Testament study led by Dr. John Lawrenz. The second visit reached 86 members of the church who studied the entire New Testament using 16 stories from the book of Acts. The third visit of 2011 commenced on September 22nd. Nepal Coordinator Joel Nitz had his first visit to Nepal along with veteran Paul Hartman to lead the fall training workshop. Pakistan – “The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” In spite of the opposition of militant Islam the gospel is going out to the people of Pakistan. The Bible Correspondence and Teaching School has enrolled more than 28,000 adults and children. More than 125,000 books have been distributed. The Sunday school ministry is growing. 1,800 children are learning about Jesus in 41 Sunday schools. Luther’s Catechism will soon be translated into Urdu. The Lord is opening a door for the possibility of a television program that will deliver the gospel message to millions of souls who live in darkness. Workshops are being held to teach the teachers. What is learned at the workshops will be taught in house churches in various communities. Humanitarian aid is provided in medical clinics, flood and earthquake relief and midwife training. These acts of mercy open many hearts and minds to hear the gospel.
WELS Multi-Language Publications provides a comprehensive listing and assists in the production of confessional Christian literature and other mass-media in the languages of countries where our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is working and in other areas or language groups where we may never work, so that many more people throughout the world may come to faith in Jesus and know him as their crucified and risen Lord and Savior and thus have the hope of eternal life.
1. World Mission Collection at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary now contains 2,443 titles in
65 languages (cf Seminary Library online catalog)
2. The NPH inventory for MLP lists 710 titles in 45 languages
3. Two million items in print
Distance learning programs, using primarily the Bible Teachings Series, have touched as many as 40,000 people in South Asia and Latin America (based on estimates from Pakistan, Nepal and Latin America).