Christian Aid and Relief | WELS Christian Aid and Relief

Malawi Update from Rev. Riphat Matope, President LCCA Malawi Synod

The Lutheran Church of Central Africa

Malawi Synod

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?  (1 Thessalonians 3:9)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings from Malawi in Jesus’ name! In the past few weeks, many of you have heard about the severe flooding in Malawi. Unusually heavy rains have caused extensive damage, especially in the Southern Region of Malawi. About 80% of our LCCA churches are located in this area. Thousands of our Lutheran members have been affected by these floods. Many have lost their homes. Others have lost their fields and gardens. Many have been injured, and some have even lost their lives. With one united voice we cry to our gracious God in heaven that he may have mercy on all who are suffering from this disaster.

HouseBut how can we thank God enough for you, our brothers and sisters in America! You have poured out your earnest prayers like a mighty flood before God’s throne. You do not know our names and we do not know yours, yet you have come to our assistance with your generous gifts and offerings. Even now, the affected congregations of the LCCA are receiving disaster relief from the WELS – warm blankets, plastic roofing sheets, nails, and a bucket to carry water. These gifts of love do more than warm our bodies in the cold hours of the night. They warm our hearts, for now we know that you are one with us in Christ!

House 2We thank the WELS Christian Aid and Relief Committee for their generous and ongoing financial contributions. We thank the Kingdom Workers for supplying manpower to assist in the distribution of relief. Most of all, we thank everyone who has offered heartfelt prayers and generous gifts to help us in our need. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

God is always good to us, but these hardships in Malawi will continue for some time. We humbly ask that you will continue to hold us up in prayer, just as we will always pray for you. We ask that you will continue to support us with your financial contributions, just as you have been doing right up to this time. May the God who loves us and who has washed us of our sins in Jesus’ blood bless you for your kindness.

Your brother in Christ,

Rev. Riphat Matope, President LCCA Malawi Synod

Deep Water: Update from Malawi

Missionary Mark Panning, serving the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA)-Malawi, writes about severe damages from recent flooding, and the people who continue trusting in a loving God who will see them through. To support our brothers and sisters of the LCCA-Malawi, donate online A gift designated to Flood Disaster Relief will help make sure members of our sister church receive care.

Greetings from Lilongwe, Malawi!

Things have been a bit unsettled since I wrote my last Malawi Update. Our Missionary of Education and Publication, Rev. Peter Martin, has taken a call to serve as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Radcliff, KY. He and his family left Malawi in the beginning of December. In addition to this, another of our missionaries, Rev. Stephen Lawrenz, will be returning to the United States by the end of March. Rev. Lawrenz will not be replaced. We are still waiting to see if there will be a replacement for Rev. Martin. So temporarily, at least, the number of missionaries in Malawi has been reduced from six to four. That hurts.

The Malawi Mission Council has been meeting with the leaders of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA) to develop a strategic plan for ministry in Malawi. To be sure, it is a wonderful thing that the LCCA is undertaking this important work. More than that, it’s a great opportunity to structure the work in Malawi in the very best possible way so that the preaching of the gospel can go forward. At the same time, however, it also involves a lot of very weighty questions, and creates a good bit of uncertainty. How many missionaries will be serving in Malawi in the future? Will even some of the remaining four end up going home? If they remain in Malawi, what specific jobs will they be asked to do? Is the national church happy and content with what missionaries have been doing in the past? These are questions that weigh heavily on the minds of world missionaries. It is not a lot of fun when you are the one who needs to wade through them.

Malawi 1

If I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, swamped as I am beneath the “grievous burdens” of my supposedly miserable condition, recent events in Malawi have taught me to count my blessings. There are a lot of people in Malawi who are wading through much deeper water than I am. In the past few days, Malawi has been hit with very severe flooding. No one can know at this time the full extent of the damages or loss of life. At the time of writing, at least 176 people are confirmed dead, and perhaps a quarter of a million no longer have a house in which to sleep. The damage to buildings, bridges, roads and crops is immense. Nevertheless, Malawi is still filled with people like those pictured above – people who just can’t help but smile, even as their strong-armed sons or brothers tow them by the hand through waist-deep rushing water. How stupid and arrogant of me to think that MY life was so difficult!

Whatever manner of “deep water” you might be in, we have a powerful and loving God who promises to see us through. He has shown his infinite love for sinners like you and me by sacrificing his only Son to pay for our transgressions. He has shown his almighty power by raising Jesus from the dead and seating him at his right hand. This is the God who says to us:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

Perhaps some of those smiling people in Malawi have put their trust in Christ, and appreciate God’s promise even better than I do. I hope so, because for many of them, the waters have just gotten that much deeper.

Sadly, disasters such as this are not limited to Malawi. They happen all around the world and affect many different people. The Wisconsin Synod provides disaster relief assistance through the WELS Christian Aid and Relief Committee. We thank God for all who offer their prayers and support to help suffering people all around the world.

Mulungu akudaletseni nonce,

(God bless you all)

Missionary Mark Panning

Pictures of Lutheran members houses


On Friday, January 16, WELS Missionary Robert Wendland visited members of the St. Nathanael’s Lutheran Church in Mpemba Beni, Malawi. This is one of the areas that has been hit especially hard by the flooding. Although only a few pictures are shown here, Rev. Wendland has about 100 more that show essentially the same story repeated over and over. And this is only one small village in Malawi.

At least one LCCA member has received his eternal crown of glory as a result of the flooding.

The house below collapsed on him.

Acr3472698863060-29947-300x260An injured woman stands in front of the wall that fell on her.


A Breath of Hope

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

At the end of October, one of our Russian members, “Olga,” suffered a stroke and ended up in the hospital. Why does God allow His believers to suffer troubles? But God had a plan.

There in the hospital, Olga met “Irina.”1 Irina had traveled from her village seeking treatment for COPD (a respiratory illness). Olga listened as Irina described her long struggle to breathe. Doctors had now prescribed a nebulizer for her, but Irina couldn’t afford it. Irina was frustrated and depressed.

Olga suggested that our church might be able to help. And so Irina called and spoke with our humanitarian aid manager, Marina.

Marina recalls, “When Irina phoned, she wasn’t demanding at all. She simply said that she reached the end of her hope and had nowhere else to turn but to God.”

Marina purchased the nebulizer and passed it on to Pastor Arkady Sedelnikov. Then Arkady went to the hospital to visit Irina. He delivered the nebulizer, a package of Christian literature, and a large dose of hope in the form of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ the Savior from sin and death.

Irina soon traveled back to her hometown. The whole episode lasted only four days.

This is the work Jesus has given us: To share His gospel wherever we have opportunity. And He Himself promises to bless His word.

Pray that God would give His word success so that Irina, her family members and others in her village may enjoy eternal blessings!

Praise our wise, heavenly Father who lovingly uses our troubles for good!


“If one part [of the body] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:26-27)”

Today, some of our fellow members of God’s church are suffering. Just a few months ago, the country of Malawi was suffering a severe drought, and the government was having difficulty in providing water to people. Last week, Malawi went from one extreme to another. Days of heavy rains resulted in widespread and severe flooding throughout the African nation, destroying homes, crops, and lives. Many congregations and perhaps thousands of members of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa-Malawi, our sister synod live in the devastated areas and have been severely affected by the floods.

together-malawiWe are not yet aware of the full extent of the damage, since many LCCA congregations in remote areas are hard to reach on the best days. With travel and communication abilities limited, a full assessment of the damage to LCCA churches and members’ homes is ongoing.

WELS missionaries in Malawi have been in contact in WELS Christian Aid and Relief to begin a formal request for relief aid. Christian Aid and Relief is making an initial grant to help with immediate needs and will be able to offer more assistance as ongoing needs are determined. Christian Aid and Relief has also reached out to the Central Africa Medical Mission, which operates a mobile health clinic in Malawi, as medical needs are expected to increase in the flooded areas.

This situation is one in which members of one body can show our love to others who are suffering. To help our Christian brothers and sisters in Malawi, you can donate online or send checks to WELS, Re: Christian Aid and Relief, flood disaster relief fund, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive, Waukesha, WI 53188-1108.

Read more from Malawi Missionary Mark Panning.

Serving in Christ,

President Mark Schroeder

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.