At 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.