Christian Aid and Relief | WELS Christian Aid and Relief

WELS members volunteer help in Black Forest restoration project

IMG_0310On June 11, 2013 a fire started in the foothills of Colorado Springs, CO in a section of the Black Forest. The fire spread quickly to the suburbs and in the end consumed 486 homes and did over $85,000,000.00 in damage.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief was contacted shortly thereafter by Pastor James Seiltz of Salem Lutheran Church. (One of two WELS churches in Colorado Springs). Pastor Seiltz reported that the fire came close to his home and the church but, that by the grace of God both were spared. He further reported that only a few members had some damage to their homes and thankfully no members lost their homes completely. With that said, Seiltz also reported that he knew that many friends of the congregational members of both his church and the other WELS church in town, Fount of Life were affected.

Christian Aid and Relief immediately dispatched funds to help those affected. The two WELS congregations created a joint committee to organize relief efforts and to prioritize needs to be addressed.

ccIMG_0336It has been a slow but steady recovery process for the affected communities but they now are starting to restore public access areas in the forest that were damaged by the fire. The joint committee has seen this to be a wonderful opportunity to help in the restoration project and to reach out in Christian love and compassion for their community. The committee decided to use some for the granted funds to have t-shirts made to help identify their volunteers and to also assist with the cost of feeding the volunteers.

We thank our gracious Lord for providing these opportunities to our Colorado Springs congregations to “let their light shine” in service to their Lord and their communities. And we pray that the Holy Spirit would use these volunteers to share the saving Gospel with those who may not know their Savior yet.


PS. Christian Aid & Relief is helping to support Gospel outreach among the deaf in Russia

Deaf Club in Berdsk

Deaf Club in Berdsk. Gennadi is second from the left in the front row in the brown suit coat.

At age five, Gennadi was thrown from a horse and lost the hearing in both ears. For the next 70 years, Gennadi worked, fished, tended his garden – and knew nothing about his Savior. But God knew Gennadi and had plans for him.

About two years ago, Gennadi’s friends invited him to deaf Bible class in Berdsk, and he started coming to weekly classes. He came to socialize with friends, but he also listened to God’s Word. He heard how God created the world and all things, including our first parents. He heard how Adam and Eve fell into sin, and how God promised them a Savior. For the first time, he heard what Jesus had done for him, how He had died and risen from the dead, and how God promised His believers eternal life.

Then one week’s Bible lesson focused on baptism. We learned that Gennadi had never been baptized. “Gennadi, would you like to be baptized? God wants to give all these wonderful promises to you personally.” “Oh, no, pastor, I’m too old for that kind of thing!”

But Gennadi kept coming, and he kept listening. And God kept working in his heart. Finally, about a year after he started attending Bible class, Gennadi announced that he would like to be baptized. What a happy day that was!

And Gennadi kept coming. And he kept listening. And God kept working. About six months later, Gennadi came to Bible class and announced that he would like to be confirmed. Why? Gennadi wanted to take Lord’s Supper with us.

John Lange and Gennadi

John Lange and Gennadi

I think the Lord Jesus instituted His supper just for Gennadi. Do you remember how Jesus once spoke sign language to a deaf man He intended to heal? He put His fingers into the man’s ears. He touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and sighed before speaking one powerful word: “Ephatha!” “Be opened!”

The Savior does the same thing now for Gennadi. “Look! Take and eat! This is My body, which I gave for you. Look! Take and drink! This is the blood that I shed for you on the cross. Gennadi, go in peace. All your sins are forgiven!”

On Gennadi’s confirmation day, I said, “Gennadi, we all know you like to fish. Jesus is a fisherman too. The only difference is that Jesus catches people. Gennadi, when you catch your fish, you take them home and you eat them. When Jesus catches His fish, He takes them home and gives them eternal life. And now, Gennadi, Jesus has caught you too, hasn’t he!” And Gennadi nodded and smiled. Thank God for the work He is doing in Russia and around the word! – Missionary Luke Wolfgramm

PS. Christian Aid & Relief is helping to support Gospel outreach among the deaf in Russia.


HUMANITARIAN AID GRANTS RELEASED

together-humanitarianaid_0At its June meeting, WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved grants worth $324,460 for fiscal year 2014-15 humanitarian aid in home and world mission fields.

“Many of the people we wish to reach with the gospel in our world mission fields have great physical needs,” says Rev. Robert Hein, chairman of WELS Christian Aid and Relief. “They lack fresh water, medical care, food and nutrition. Christ’s love compels us to lend a helping hand in their time of need. As our missionaries provide humanitarian aid, they also develop caring relationships with the people of their communities. As we build relationships, we also build bridges to proclaim the gospel to them.”

This is the third year in a row that grant money for humanitarian aid has increased. “We rejoice that God has moved the hearts of his people to provide the special gifts needed to increase our funding of humanitarian aid grants,” says Hein. “We are eager to ‘tell our stories’ of how humanitarian aid is building bridges for the gospel, and the members of WELS have responded generously.” Christian Aid and Relief relies entirely on special gifts and is not funded through Congregation Mission Offerings.

Hein says more aid also is being distributed because there are more opportunities. Besides continuing aid in countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Russia, Mexico, Haiti, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Japan, new projects are being funded in Thailand and the Dominican Republic.

A new project here in the United States is refugee/immigrant outreach in Las Vegas, Nev. Several WELS churches in Las Vegas have been working with Chapel of Improvement Christian Fellowship, a group of 90 souls from 16 different African nations being served by two men who are training to be WELS pastors through the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI).

“Pastor Isaac David (one of the men we are training with PSI materials) was himself the first African refugee brought to Las Vegas through the immigration agency ten years ago,” says Rev. Matthew Vogt, pastor at Water of Life, Las Vegas, Nev. “Now he and the other refugees he serves feel blessed to be in a position to pass on the Lord’s kindness to them by showing the love of Christ to the newest refugee immigrants. They seek to share the love of Christ by providing useful items as a gift from the church to help these families set up a home, which will then also—prayerfully—serve as a wonderful bridge to the gospel and an opportunity to witness to Christ’s love for us.”

With grant money from Christian Aid and Relief, this African ministry hosted a gathering July 4 for 35 new immigrant families. Each family received a voucher that they could use to buy discounted household items. Says Vogt, “A number of those families have since been attending the church for worship and Bible study.”

Christian Aid and Relief works closely with the WELS Boards for Home and World Missions, WELS missionaries, and sister congregations in the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference in determining humanitarian aid grants. It also provides money for disaster relief efforts and people dealing with extreme medical emergencies, distributing more than $300,000 in 2013 for these purposes.

To learn more about the work of Christian Aid and Relief, watch this month’s edition of WELS Connection or go to www.wels.net/relief.


The WELS’ Wells of Tadipatri

Dedication of India Well

Dedication of Bethany Calvary Lutheran’s new well – May, 2014

WELS Christian Aid and Relief supports Gospel bridge building projects in India and around the world. Danamiah, his congregation and the people in Tadipatri, Andhra Pradesh are just a few of the people who are benefiting from the generosity of our WELS members. Through the giving and building of this well, there is clean water to drink and, at the same time, the living water of the gospel is able to be shared with the people dying from spiritual thirst.

The Samaritan woman of John 4 was very familiar with the well outside the village of Sychar. She carried water from it every day. But she had a greater need. She needed living water from the Gift of God. Through the power of Jesus’ words she got it.

A gospel worker named Danamiah from Tadipatri, Andhra Pradesh, India had the opposite problem. He had freely dispensed living water for a number of years. He had gathered a group of believers on the edge of Tadipatri. Through the generous donation of an individual, the group was able to construct a humble worship facility and parsonage. The land wasn’t great, but you couldn’t beat the price. It was free. The only problem was that lots of living water was being dispensed, but there was no regular water to drink.

Danamiah’s land was near a railroad track and across the road from a government “new colony.” “New colonies” are government land development sites in which lots are given away and foundations are put in, if people agree to finish the house themselves. Electricity and city water will follow at an indefinite time in the future. That future never came for the empty colony across the street from Danamiah’s parsonage and church. With no drinking water available, Danamiah’s family and congregation had to order water from a government truck. It was expensive and its purity was questionable.

Danamiah & Wife

Danamiah and his wife in front of Bethany Calvary Lutheran Church

There is one more interesting piece of the story that led to Danamiah and his church being approved for a WELS Humanitarian Aid well. At a time when salary subsidy to gospel workers was being cut back by our mission board, Danamiah came in one day and said, “Stop giving me subsidy. Give it to someone who needs it more. My congregation can support me. God will take care of us.” Now there’s a faithful worker with a faith-filled service attitude!

So when Danamiah applied for a well installation in his neighborhood, he was approved. His family and his congregation now have clean drinking water. They no longer have to buy it from the government. If the new colony develops across the road, the neighbors too can help themselves to water from the well put in by WELS. And living water from Danamiah and his congregation will also be available. That too is free of charge!


Sharing God’s Word

Beaver DamPastor Briones and family recently had the opportunity to travel to the United States for two weeks. While there, they gave presentations with regard to the mission work in Mahahual. Some of the people to whom they presented were the students of a Lutheran gradeschool, the ladies at an LWMS circuit rally, the Sunday school children and an adult Bible study group. It was a blessing to be able to share the ministry with all of these people.

One of the joys of the presentations was the chance to share one of our most recent projects – something called Proclaimers. This is a device with the New Testament recorded on it (in our case in Spanish). It can be charged by crank, outlet, or solar panel. As we work with many adults who cannot read, the Proclaimers are a godsend. Pastor Briones gives a Bible study with these folks once a week, but now they have the means to listen to God’s Word all week long. You can read more about these devices at faithcomesbyhearing.com.

One of the gentleman who has been listening to the Proclaimer commented, ¨It’s the pure Word of God. That’s what is important.¨

Please continue to pray for God’s Word to take root in many hearts here in Mahahual.