The body is a unit: Malawi mobile clinic update

‘The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ . But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, EVERY ONE OF THEM, JUST AS HE WANTED THEM TO BE. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.’ 1 Corinthians 12:12, 17-20

Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you can make a difference as an individual. This broken world is such a big place and the problems so great and numerous. It is easy to feel as though what you have to offer by way of time, talent or treasure is insignificant or inadequate. Yet God tells us that each one of us has an important role to play in His Kingdom, one he made just for us. He says that together we are a perfectly organized team, the body of Christ, where each member is critical to the carrying out his plans. LMC is a perfect example of the body of Christ at work. An incredible variety of gifts of all kinds are needed to run LMC every day; gifts of time, talent and treasures, some big, some seemingly small, some apparent to all and some very inconspicuous. Regardless of the gift’s size or obvious importance by worldly standards, they are all undeniably critical to what LMC does in Malawi. As with everyone and everything in God’s care, it is amazing how indispensible every size and type of contribution is to LMC and the body of Christ everywhere.

My friends Beth and Gary Evans recently visited us in Malawi and brought some of those contributions with them. Beth was in choir with me at my home congregation of St. Marcus in Milwaukee and happens to be a CAMM committee member as well former LMC nurse in Malawi. Although they were on vacation, they used quite a bit of their luggage allowance to bring gifts of all kinds and sizes for the clinic. They brought things like sunscreen for our albino patients, a laptop for us to use for clinic administrative work and staff development, a new vacuum cleaner to try to keep up with the dust and dirt that fills the house and office and the Visa application paperwork for the next LMC volunteer. All of these things were donated through contributions of CAMM supporters.

That suitcase filled with such a variety of gifts is a great example of the endless ways individuals contribute to LMC. The CAMM committee volunteer their time and talents in numerous ways to manage all aspects stateside in support of our efforts in Africa. Pastor John Holtz’s official role with LMC is to serve as our spiritual support system and clinic advisor in Malawi, but he also graciously (and patientlyJ) spent much of his valuable time recently at the Malawian equivalent of the DMV to ensure that our ambulances were able to operate legally on Malawian roads. It is probably easy for you to picture Amanda working hard with our staff to provide the best care possible at clinic each day (and does she ever), but you’d likely never imagine she also spends countless hours reviewing old clinic statistics to look for ways to improve care or that she used her experience working in a grocery store and a bakery to develop a more efficient way of purchasing and using medications. We often buy our maize and soya for our nutrition program from one of our employees and his wife who sells it as her business. This typically involves her leaving Lilongwe around 3 or 4am on hired transportation to travel 2-3 hours to buy it in surrounding villages and returning the same day after dark with what she’s purchased. Because prices are so much higher this year, she still wanted to help us buy it, but they did not want to make any money on it because they wanted to help LMC because LMC helps them. He and his family live on our property, but make the least of all of our full time employees. The amount typically made for selling one 50kg bag of Maize in Malawi would not buy a large coffee at Starbucks, but their offer was one of the most generous I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, after choking back the tears, I insisted he let us pay them for their hard work, and he accepted…eventually.

These are just a few of the amazing examples of God’s team contributing to his kingdom in just the way he had intended. Whether you gave a vacuum cleaner, $1, a bottle of sunscreen or a minute of your time to tell your friends about CAMM and say a prayer, your impact on God’s work here and the witness it provides at home is immeasurable and irreplaceable. God doesn’t measure our gifts the way the world does. He just asks that we give what we are able with the gifts he’s given us. Whether he has blessed you with material wealth, the patience to deal with bureaucracy, the heart for comforting others, organizational skills or the enthusiasm of sharing what CAMM is doing in Malawi and Zambia and lifting our mission up in prayer, God uses your gifts to advance his plans and lift up others of the body of Christ in countless ways, many of which you may never know this side of heaven. One thing you can be sure of is that each one of you is appreciated and making a difference in the lives of others and God is smiling with every ‘little’ thing you do in love and service. Thanks for all you do for CAMM and the body of Christ every day. There are a lot of smiles all over the world and in heaven because of the love you show through your very unique and special gifts.

Yours in Christ, Alison Westphal

The 1,000-year storm

They’re calling it “the 1000 year storm.” To give you an idea of how weird it has been, much of South Carolina received the equivalent of half the annual rainfall within 48 hours. South Carolina was pinched. From the west, there was a slow moving low pressure system that brought moisture from the gulf. Then on the east, 200 miles off coast, sat Hurricane Joaquin. While it was too far away for the winds to affect us, it fed moisture into the atmosphere which was drawn toward that low pressure system. And so it just came down in buckets non-stop. For comparison, Hurricane Hugo, the big disaster of 1989, dropped about seven inches of rain inland and about 14 at the coast. This storm dropped about 20 inches of rain inland and about 24 at the coast. The ground was so saturated that even without much wind, trees would fall over because there was nothing solid for their roots to hold onto. Coffins/crypts began popping out of the ground in some cemeteries.

It’s a bit too early to tell what the impact will be. So far we know 13 people have died. But there are a bunch of people missing. Tens of thousands of homes are flooded. How many of those are salvageable? Who knows right now? But they’ve turned Summerville High School into a shelter for people who can’t live in their homes right now. There were amphibious water vehicles doing rescue missions within three miles of the Summerville Church on Saturday night. There are bridges that are just gone. Some roads too, as erosion took out the soil under it. But it’s still going on. As I write this, the rain is really almost nonexistent. (Though we’re expecting more.) But as all this water moves to low ground, it’s expanding rivers and creeks and canals wider and wider. So this will take a couple days. There have been curfews in place, where no one can be on the streets after 6 p.m. for non-essential reasons.

Church wise, the members are all fine. A few have water in their homes. However, at this time, I haven’t heard of anyone whose home will be unsalvageable. Just some clean up. The church was pretty much unaffected – tiny bit of water leaking in. When the district mission board bought this property decades ago, there was nothing on Trolley Road. They looked at a plot map and picked the highest spot. Wise.

The bigger impact to our church is just people trying to help their neighbors. We have some members who have taken in displaced people. We have others who are helping neighbors with cleanup.

It actually could have been MUCH worse. When you see the pictures and videos, it’s breathtaking. There are videos of people driving down a street, not realizing that what they think is a puddle is four feet of fast moving water. It would stall the car, then the car would start to float away as people jumped out the windows. Every human measure—sandbags, trenches, water pumps—could not deal with it. It was so frustrating to people as they watched water very quickly encroach upon their homes, and then engulf it. It serves as a useful reminder of how completely unable we are to REALLY control our situation. We THINK we have life under control, and then our powerlessness is proven dramatically by something like this. Which is good. It forces us to better rely on the one who IS in control.

Rev. Jon Hein, Beautiful Savior, Summerville, S.C.

With God, a little maize can go a long way!

As I reflect back on my 15 years of relief work with WELS Christian Aid and Relief, I think of all the times volunteers would come up to me and say, “They need so much, and what we are able to give them seems so little. I wish we could give them more.” This is the heart of a compassionate Christian speaking out in love for the victims of a disaster. To comfort that heart we must remind them that it is not the amount of what is given that matters most, but the motivation in which it is given. Christ gave us the ultimate gift of eternal life by giving his life on the cross. We then are compelled to show that same love and compassion to others out of thankfulness for that gift Christ gave to us. If we have that motivation in our hearts, amounts and material challenges become insignificant.

With God, A Little Maize Article 1As I watch the trucks get loaded with their 40Kg bags of maize for this food distribution project in Malawi, I say to myself, “That is a lot of maize.” But when we get out to the villages and the families get their 20Kgs (which is about a medium sized bucket full), I say, “That seems like so little.” As I relayed this thought to one of the Malawian pastors he said to me, “You must remember, ten minutes ago this family had no maize and they don’t have much money at all to buy maize. Now they have more than they had and it was given freely to them. Remember, nothing is free in Malawi so, this is a huge blessing to them. And, to know that this gift of love and compassion came from their Lutheran brothers and sisters from around the world, is for many of them more than their emotions can handle.”

So, when we catch ourselves saying; “When Lord, did we see you hungry and fed you?,” remember what Christ said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40. With God, a little maize can go a long way.

With God, A Little Maize Article 2To date, the food distribution project has delivered 4,018 bags of maize to Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA) congregations that were affected most by the floods back in January. We have another 5,977 bags to deliver before the rainy season starts in November. So far, by the grace of God, we are on track to do that. Please keep this project of Christian love in your prayers.

This project has only been made possible because of the generous donations made directly to the WELS Christian Aid and Relief flooding fund for Malawi. On behalf of the members of the LCCA, we thank you so very much.

Mark Vance
WELS Christian Aid and Relief
Director of Operations

Food for Malawi

Greetings from Malawi!

These are bags of maize. A full one weighs 50 kilograms, which is just over 110 pounds.

Yesterday, we bought a bit of maize… about 881,500 pounds of it, which is about 441 tons, or roughly 8,000 of the bags you see pictured here. I’d love to show you what 441 tons of maize looks like, but I don’t think that I have ever seen that much maize collected in one place.

Maize is the staple food of Malawi. Grind it into flour and boil it into a stiff porridge and it is called nsima (NSEE-mah). You can eat it with your hands for lunch and supper. Or make it a little runnier and people will call it phala (PAH-lah). You can eat it with a spoon for breakfast, or just scoop it with your fingers and feed it to the baby.

I said, “Yesterday, WE bought maize,” but actually, I should be more precise. YOU bought all this maize… 441 tons of it for the members of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA).

Earlier this year, the southern region of Malawi was hit by very severe flooding. Thousands of LCCA members had damage to their homes, and many lost their homes entirely. Some fields were completely eroded. Others were buried under several feet of sand. Fertilizer was washed away. Crops failed. Even in other areas of the country, the harvest was very small. Everybody in Malawi knew what this would mean. These people are subsistence farmers. They depend upon their harvest to survive. But for many Malawians, this year’s harvest did not come. There will be hunger in the coming year. Malnutrition. Even some starvation. Nsima

 So “we” went out and bought some maize. Mr. Mark Vance, the Director of Operations for WELS Christian Aid and Relief, was the one who manned the pen. He signed both copies of the contract and initialed every page. So did Mr. Lawson Tewesa, the Malawian maize vendor with whom we made our agreement. Mr. Stefan Felgenhauer and I were looking on as witnesses. So was our lawyer, Mr. Elton Jangale.

Hundreds of hours of work had preceded the actual signing of the document. The WELS Christian Aid and Relief committee tirelessly discussed the various options for relief together with the leaders of the LCCA. They considered all the possibilities. Kingdom Workers gracious donated Mr. Stefan Felgenhauer’s time and considerable expertise. We grilled the vendor with questions and inspected his warehouse. We hired the lawyer and hammered out a contract. Stefan, almost singlehandedly, arranged the complicated logistics of buying, storing, treating and shipping almost 450 tons of maize to something like 20 different distribution sites. LCCA national pastors were assigned to oversee the handouts and to conduct devotions and prayers at the time of distribution. There were many, many planning meetings, personal visits and conference calls. Gradually, a plan came together that almost 4,000 families in the LCCA would receive 20 kilograms of maize each month for the months of September, October, November, December and January. It was a ton of work… actually, more like 441 tons.

Yesterday, we signed the contract. But we have never forgotten that none of this could have happened except that hundreds just like you donated thousands and thousands of their own hard-earned, personal dollars to make this project possible.

Some surly and unhappy people might wonder why you did that. But as for us over here in Malawi, I think we all know why.

Thank you.
Missionary Mark Panning Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa

God bless Malawi

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.

But 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!

malawi-02052015-350We 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

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.

Destroyedhome-01192015-350The 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.

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!

Womanhome-01192015-350Whatever 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.

Missionary Mark Panning, Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA)-Malawi

WELS members volunteer help in Black Forest restoration project

On June 11, 2013 a fire started in the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo., 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

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.

It 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.

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

Humanitarian Aid grants released

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

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

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.

Blood, Sweat and Capri Sun

Pastor Roebke

Lamb of God, Madison, Ala., pastor Rev. John Roebke shares his account of the recent tornadoes.

Last night, I hunkered down in a storm shelter for two hours with about 150 of my neighbors as tornados tore through North Alabama. People were scanning the Internet with their smartphones, desperate for the latest damage reports. While there was the occasional crying child, for the most part everyone maintined a civil tone. Shelter volunteers waded through the sea of humanity with pitchers of cool water. Their hospitality is greatly appreciated.

As we waited for the atmosphere to settle, I wondered what was waiting back at our cul-de-sac. Missing shingles? Stripped off siding? Splintered wood? Thankfully, all was as we left it – with the exception of our supper, which in our haste was left for the cats to devour.

But others did not fare as well. On a country road about 20 miles west of my home, I saw downed trees and power lines, mud-splattered homes, debris fields and a bare spot where a trailer once stood. Thanks be to God, there were no fatalities on that stretch of road. I was not there to gawk, snap and post, but rather to offer cleanup supplies and our church’s sympathies and prayers. I thank WELS Christian Aid & Relief for the funds to purchase these supplies, as well as our church members for putting these “tornado tubs” together.

In the big picture, this was only a small gesture – but it was greatly appreciated. One resident shared how a neighbor and her daughter had driven up and down the street offering pouches of CapriSun drink to their neighbors. In the midst of tragedy and terror, even the smallest acts of kindness bring relief.

Jesus said, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42) Whether it’s a cup of cool water, a bin of cleaning supplies or a plastic pouch of sugar water, we have so many opportunities to show Christian love to others. Whatever it may cost us in time or money to serve others, it certainly will not cost us the place Jesus purchase for us with his holy, precious blood. That is the most precious gift of all.

Spring Storms Sweep South

Dear Lord God, Heavenly Father,

We entrust to your loving care the people affected by the tornadoes in the southern United States.

Bless the relief efforts. Help these hurting families to rebuild their homes and lives. These times of tragedy remind us that we live in a fallen world. Help us to look to you alone as our source of strength and security in a world of hardship. We pray that the hurting people affected by this disaster would turn to you as their refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Amen.

The news has reported 27 people confirmed dead with the latest tornadoes that have swept through the Midwest and South. Many small towns and rural areas have been heavily damaged with the possibility of additional damaging storms in the forecast.

Mark Vance, Director of Operations for WELS Christian Aid and Relief, has been in contact with our WELS congregation, (King of Kings, Pastor Weiss) in Little Rock, AR. He shares that the church facilities and all the members are unharmed. There is one snowbird member who lost both his home and car to the storm. In addition, the surrounding community was heavily damaged and 6 people were killed. The congregational leadership is assessing the affected member’s immediate needs and how they can assist with community recovery. WELS Christian Aid and Relief has offered emergency funding and made them aware of the resources that are available.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief thanks God for your support and prayers on behalf of all who have been affected by the storms.

“Nepal – Where monkeys are gods and many people are blind.”


Click to watch Nepal Life Line

On February 11th of this year Christian Aid and Relief sent their Director of Operations, Mark Vance to the country of Nepal to assess the effectiveness of the humanitarian aid grant program established with the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nepal. In conjunction with the WELS Board for World Missions, CA&R grants funding for humanitarian aid projects to help the CELC of Nepal leaders and members to build bridges to Gospel sharing opportunities throughout their country. Currently, the CELC of Nepal has funding for 7 different projects that range from health clinics, to fresh water boreholes, to sewing clinics for women, to orphanage support and others.

Vance writes; “Until you actually travel to a country like Nepal and see the culture that Christians are up against, you can’t fully understand the magnitude of the challenge they have in living and sharing their faith.”

Nepal is a country whose religious culture is a mixture of Hindu influence from the west and Buddhism from the North. This mixture of beliefs and traditions has led to a culture of; “there are millions of gods and all are worshiped here.” It is clear to see this culture as you travel throughout the country as you will see shrines and temples to just about anything from monkeys to snakes to even an 8 year old girl they call “The living goddess.” It is sad that so many people are blind in their beliefs.

Most of the Christians in Nepal were once blind too. They tell their stories of how lost and hopeless they were in the emptiness of these beliefs. And now, how thankful they are that their eyes have been opened by the Word of the one true God.

There are almost 4,000 confessional Lutherans now in Nepal and almost all of them were initially brought to the knowledge of Christ their savior through the humanitarian aid projects conducted by the CELC of Nepal.

Purely by the grace of our Lord, the CELC of Nepal is growing daily in its numbers as eyes are being opened.

During this Easter season as we rejoice in the triumph of our Lord over sin and death, let us also rejoice and give thanks for the Christians in Nepal and pray that the Lord continue to strengthen their faith and their burning desire to “go make disciples of all nations.”

Christian Aid and Relief holds first Relief Trailer Coordinators Conference

WELS Christians aid and relief held its first ever relief trailer coordinators conference on April 4-5, 2014 in Milwaukee.

CA&R created their disaster relief trailer program in 2004 after multiple hurricanes hit Florida and the gulf coast that year. Two initial trailers were purchased and maintained at WELS congregations in Bradenton, FL and Mobile, AL. Church member coordinators for those trailers were appointed with the responsibility to coordinate the delivery of the trailer to disaster response sites as needed and to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the trailers and equipment.

In 2010 a third trailer was purchased and located in Appleton, WI. In 2012 a fourth trailer was purchased and located in Stillwater, MN. And, in 2013 a fifth trailer was purchased and located in Oskaloosa, IA. Until this conference, the coordinators of these trailers had never met in person as a group. All of the trailers and coordinators have assisted CA&R volunteer disaster relief projects over the years except our newest trailer and coordinator in Oskaloosa.

CA&R Director of Operations, Mark Vance, explains the value of the conference this way; “Our trailer coordinators are all wonderfully dedicated Christ-like servants in their congregations. They are true leaders who stepped forward and said “this is a way I want to serve our synod and our Lord.” CA&R has done our best (with the help of some generous donors) to equip these guys with everything they needed to do that, everything except a way to build a network of resources to expand and enhance their relief service opportunities in their local communities. That is what this conference was all about. We wanted to give them a chance to build a relational network among themselves and then give them a network of local and national resources that they could tap into as they strengthened their local disaster relief preparedness and response efforts.”

The conference was seen to be a good foundational start for the coordinators and all agreed that these conferences should continue if possible on a yearly basis with future conferences focusing on disaster relief equipment, safety, and leadership training.

CA&R wishes to thank the Antioch Foundation for funding this conference and all of the presenters listed below who helped make this conference such a success.

Steve and Beth Zambotrailer conference

Mr. Neil Hankwitz (Kingdom Workers)

Pastor Robert Hein

Dr. Myles Tonnacliff (WLCFS)

Pastor Richard Warnecke

Prof. John Schuetze (WLCFS)

Mr. Paul Wittkamp

Also, our deep appreciation for our trailer coordinators:

Mr. Robert Kaylor (Saving Grace, Mobile, AL)

Mr. Jay Franklin (Victory, Jacksonville, FL)

Mr. David Bunnow, (Bethany, Appleton, WI)

Mr. Dennis Palmberg (Salem, Stillwater, MN)

Mr. David Pfeifer, Grace, Oskaloosa, IA)

CO Mudslide

We pray that God be with the families of those who have been swept away in the mudslide in Washington. May the Lord’s name be exalted as we lean on him for comfort and peace during this time of sadness. May we also be reminded of the brevity of life, to number our days aright and seek God while he may be found.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;  he burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”  The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46

Live Well – Laugh Often – Love Much

Shirley 1“Shirley Ann Klawitter will be fondly remembered as a member the Christian Aid and Relief family. Her Christ-like servant attitude was an inspiration to everyone she met and touched. Her Christian light shown bright in her days here on earth and is shining even brighter now in heaven. We both mourn her passing with Darryl and rejoice with him in her journey’s end to her eternal home with Christ.” Mark Vance – WELS Christian Aid and Relief, Director of Operations. Shirley Ann Klawitter of Centuria, Wis., died, unexpectedly at her home on Thursday the 27th of Feb. 2014. She was 68 years old. Shirley, who was fondly called “Chester” by her loving husband Darryl, “Mrs. K.” by her many, many cherished students and “Grandma-at-the-farm” by her grand daughters, was born Aug. 25th, 1945 in Hillsboro, Wis., to her parents, Harold and Leilah Leak. When Shirley was a small child she lived in Kendall, Wis., with her mother, father and siblings: Roger, Duane, Bobby, Sherry and David. When Shirley was seven years old she was stricken with Polio, which required her to be admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Lacrosse, Wis.Shirley 2After receiving treatment, she was unable to return home to her family because she was unable to walk to the country school in Kendall. This unfortunate circumstance required her to live in Lacrosse, Wis., with her foster family, Dallas and Arness Miller, who she remained in contact with through her life. At the start of high school in 9th grade, Shirley was able to return home to the farm in Kendall and rode the school bus to High School in nearby Hillsboro. She received her diploma in 1963. After high school graduation, Shirley once again left the farm, this time to attend college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education in 1967. While attending UW-River Falls, Shirley had a roommate named Cheryl Klawitter, who had a brother named Darryl. Darryl, who was newly discharged from the U.S. Navy, was quite taken with Shirley and they were married on Aug. 2nd, 1969 at Saint Matthews Lutheran Church in Ontario, Wis. Together they had one son, Kirk, and one daughter, Annette. Shirley’s life long passion as a teacher began as a substitute for the St Croix Falls and Unity school districts in Wisconsin. Shirley 3Shirley retired from the St Croix Falls School District with 34 years of service as a teacher. She left her wonderful thumbprint on many, many young people and helped shape many lives. In addition to her career as an educator Shirley was a full time farm wife, mother, foster mother, day care provider and grandmother. Shirley enjoyed crafting, sewing, cooking, baking and facebook. Shirley is survived by her husband Darryl of Centuria, Wis, her son Kirk Klawitter and his wife Glenn Hoffman of Pensacola, Fla, and her daughter Annette Nesius and her husband Sam of Fargo, N.D. Shirley is also survived by her step grandson Coe and his wife Liz Hoffman and step granddaughter Scotti Hoffman, all of Pensacola, Fla., her granddaughters Michaela Ann Nesius and Davin Rae Nesius of Fargo, N.D. and lastly her step great grandsons Noah and Luke Hoffman of Pensacola, Fla. Her siblings Duane Leak of Maustin, Wis, David Leak of LaValle, Wis. and Sherry Shields of Richland Center, Wis. also survive Shirley. Her brothers Donald, Roger and Bobby Leak preceded Shirley in death. Shirley’s funeral was held at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 14940 62nd St N. Stillwater, Minn. Shirley Ann Klawitter had a sign in her kitchen that read as follows: “Live Well – Laugh Often – Love Much” and that’s exactly what she did.

Costa Maya Lutheran February Newsletter – 2014

Costa Maya Feb 2014It is always a joy to see some new faces in church. Over the past month, Deb has been kindly bringing in some folks from Río Indio (north of Mahahual, but before Pulticub). They started attending the soup kitchen and also have come to worship services. Most of these people are living very simply. A few of them can read, but most cannot. They do not have a church close to their homes. We are excited to see their eagerness to come to church and participate in the various events offered throughout the week.

Just this past Thursday, Pastor Briones began a Bible study out in Río Indio, at the restaurant of one of the gentlemen we have recently gotten to know. There were six men and women in attendance. They were completely engrossed in what Pastor shared with them. The studies will continue each week.

Will you please pray for these Bible studies? We hope for many more to know Christ and rejoice in their salvation. For your gracious encouragement, generous support, and glad prayers, we thank you!

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

John 7:37-38

Direct Relief International

Cross tornadoWhen a disaster strikes or humanitarian aid is needed in an area of the world where the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) does not have a church or missionary close by, WELS Christian Aid and Relief will now direct those designated donations through Direct Relief International when possible to meet the needs of the people. Cash donations that are earmarked for a location where the WELS does not have a presence will be donated to Direct Relief. $25,000 was donated to WELS Christian Aid and Relief for relief in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan devastated the villages along the coast. These dollars will now go to help the people of the Philippines with the support and help of Direct Relief. 100% of donated relief dollars given to Direct Relief goes to relief efforts. Thus $25,000 of the $25,000 donated to help those in the Philippines will go for relief from the typhoon.

The following is from the Direct Relief webpage.

Direct Relief is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. Thanks to generous material and financial contributions from individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment manufacturers, Direct Relief can work with healthcare professionals and organizations on the ground and equip them with the essential medical supplies and equipment that they need to help people recover from a disaster.

Direct Relief works daily to equip healthcare providers who care for vulnerable people on an ongoing basis and during emergencies. Our strong network of trusted partners enables Direct Relief to assess immediate healthcare needs, understand the situation on the ground, and respond quickly and efficiently when a disaster strikes. This solid and extensive network is the foundation of our emergency principles and preparedness work.

Direct Relief’s approach to disasters is to support the immediate needs of people by working with local partners that are best situated to assess, respond, and prepare for long-term recovery. Each emergency is unique and has specific characteristics that are dependent upon local facts and circumstances.

Coordinating with local, national, and international responders to avoid duplication of efforts and logistical bottlenecks, Direct Relief’s efforts are always in direct response to specific requests from partners and are coordinated to ensure the most efficient use of resources.

This is in keeping with WELS Christian Aid and Relief’s mission to reflect Christ’s love and compassion to souls suffering from disasters and hardships. Because of what Christ has freely done for us, we eagerly show we care by offering our time, talents, and treasures to those in need.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

Mahahual Volunteers

IMG_1810The Mexican national church-WELS sister church body-begins a new mission of their own in Mahahual, Mexico. Volunteers from WELS parasynodical groups and schools help with on-going outreach.

Life Line – Living Hope Response to Tornado in IL

Watch the latest Life Line concerning the severe November tornado and the response of Living Hope Lutheran Church and WELS Christian Aid and Relief.


New Opportunities in Malawi

Malawi 1The Lutheran Mobile Clinic in Lilongwe Malawi was approached in 2013 to provide basic health care to an orphan feeding station in Yossa. The station currently provides daily lunches and after school programs to 340 children and is home for about 30 teenage girls. The area is extremely poor and is a long distance from a health care clinic. Twelve children died in the past year due to little or no health care.

Megan Behl, the current Nurse in Charge of LMC, writes: Monday, November 4th was the first day to visit the site. Even with all of the meetings, planning, and preparation, we really had no idea what to expect. We took our entire medical staff out to the feeding center, and drove up to the site with all of the children playing outside on the playground. We coordinated some logistics with the Yossa staff and then began the day as we do at every clinic site: a morning welcome, devotion, and health teaching. An LCCA pastor has agreed to accompany the staff to Yossa and provide devotions for the children and their guardians.Malawi 3
The Yossa director, Fred, had asked all of the guardians (whether bringing a sick child or not), to attend the first day in order to receive instruction on how the clinic would run that day and in the future. There seemed to be good participation and understanding from the crowd. We then began the clinic day, just seeing children who attend the feeding center who are sick. I remember thinking to myself, ”Since we were working with a population of 342 children, how many of them really can be sick? 20? 30?” I was proven completely wrong. We saw 180+ children in our sick line. Mostly we treated worms, skin diseases, and eye infections. Over 20 children tested positive for malaria. We cMalawi 4ould have seen more than double the number of children if we had opened it up to the community, but we have only agreed to the feeding station children at this time.” Kari Belter, LMC Clinic Administrator, and I were definitely thankful that our entire staff was along to see the children and also to help direct the crowd. When all was said and done, it was a great day. Small things here or there will need to be tweaked or brought along for next time, but we know that this is a learning process. We look forward to holding clinic again at Yossa on December 23. What an opportunity to share the birth of Jesus on this date with so many children and guardians!

Go…You Won’t Regret It

Oklahoma-15My advice: Go!

You may have the following questions: Is the timing right? Is this the best way that I can serve? Do I have the skills to contribute? How will I fit in with the rest of the group? If the Lord has placed this opportunity in front of you, he will bless your efforts.

There is no time like the present to serve. If you have a caring heart and willing attitude you will be valuable to the project, and will fit in.

I waited a long time before I finally decided that “I am just going to do it and go.” I am very thankful that I went. I ended up feeling like everyone else in my group…I got more out of it than I contributed.

I helped with the tornado damage in Oklahoma this summer, a partner project between Kingdom Workers and WELS Christian Aid and Relief. The people on our team were of all ages and came from all across the county, but all shared a common bond. All were motivated by God’s love for them in Jesus and simply wanted to serve him by helping others. Our common faith and motivation led to a welcoming environment and a true sense of camaraderie. Some of the projects were simple like picking up trash and hauling away debris, other projects required more technical skill and expertise. All the projects were tackled with a sense of teamwork and service.

A word that comes to my mind when I think of the group dynamics, the work on the projects and the overall undertaking is: “Simple.” I suppose when people are of one heart and one mind things are simple. There were glitches, setbacks, and frustrations to be sure. But these were handled with a sense of understanding and simple service. When we are able to use the servant’s heart that the Holy Spirit has placed in each of us, it feels right. It also feels simple because we are doing what we are made to do as God’s redeemed children.

Yes, when you are considering volunteering for the first time you will have hesitations and many questions. In the end you will have a sense of camaraderie, a sense of joy and a sense of simple servant hood. Go! Go, whether it’s the first opportunity you have to volunteer, or if you are like me and have considered going for many years, but have always come up with a “good” reason not to go.

Go. You won’t regret it.

Dave Reinemann is assistant athletic director at Wisconsin Lutheran College and a Kingdom Workers Board Director

Prayers for the Ukraine

Please keep Bishop Horpynchuk and the members of our sister church, the ULC in your thoughts and prayers.

A critical situation in Ukraine –

Please pray for Bishop Horpynchuk and the members of our sister church, the ULC. He writes: “This is just to let you know that today between 4 and 5 p.m. there were two men dressed in civilian knocking our office door hard (the door bell worked but they believed it was not sufficient). Since all were out of the office at that time a woman from nearby came and asked what was happening. The men introduced themselves as policemen and said they were looking for someone named Kuzmenko. (We do not have any worker or a church member with this name). After they learned that nobody was in, they departed. It might be they were mistaken indeed. However, during that last few days police were also “mistaken” at many other offices and were destroying and confiscating equipment and detainig people. I would like you to know in a case something like this happens to anyone from the ULC, we are not involved in politics. As Bishop I have not made any political statement. I did join other All-Ukrainian Church Council members who appealed to the citizens to avoid violence – that were many similar appeals during last years. I did appeal both to police and citizens to stop and avoid violence on December 10-11 in Kyiv. I wish you to be informed about this latest happening and ask you to keep us in your prayers.”

Christian Aid and Relief responds to November storms


The unseasonably strong November storms in the Midwest on Sun., Nov. 17, 2013, hit hard in central Illinois. WELS Christian Aid and Relief has been in contact with Rev. Paul Schulz, pastor at Living Hope in Peoria, Ill., which neighbors the city of Washington where a tornado tore through the town.

So far, there have been no reports of any significant damage to any WELS churches or members’ homes. However, the damage to the community of Washington prompted Living Hope to try to help its neighbors. Christian Aid and Relief sent an initial $2000 to Schultz, so the congregation can purchase gift cards to help storm victims out with basic needs.

Also, following the typhoon in the Philippines, Christian Aid and Relief sent an initial $5000 to the Philippine Red Cross. Christian Aid and Relief’s usual practice is to work through our missionaries and contacts in these areas. Presently WELS does not have a world mission presence in the Philippines.

Christian Aid and Relief urges you to pray for all the people, both in the U.S. and the South Pacific, who have suffered from these recent natural disasters.

Learn more about Christian Aid and Relief at

Borehole Olachor

Pastor  Doug Weiser serves as the WELS liaison to our sister synods in Nigeria.  Weiser writes about how offerings give to WELS Christian Aid and Relief help members share the gospel with their community.

Olachor congregation“Members of All Saints Lutheran Church in Olachor, Nigeria, recently presented a letter of welcome to our WELS Liaison Pastor Douglas Weiser. In it the congregation’s members expressed their thanks again for a 2005 Christian Aid and Relief grant that made a deep water well, or borehole, possible. The congregation listed the following benefits of having a bore hole.

“The borehole makes the eradication of water-born diseases possible for the surrounding community. This his has provided access to inter-marriage with neighbouring communities who formerly were afraid to marry our young men due to water scarcity. Clean water is much closer and more accessible now. This has also helped local citizens to be more aware of our congregation. Civil servants now feel free to stay in our community because they have access to clean water (an added community benefit).”

The Olachor congregation tries to match its water delivery schedule to its morning devotions or Bible studies. This way, people coming for pure water can be invited to stay a while with the congregation to praise the Lord. In order to present a more inviting place to host visitors, the congregation is laboring with its hands to build the cement-block walls of their permanent church to replace their tin-roof shelter. Their church is just 20 yards away from their borehole, which lies right next to a road soon to be paved.

A Surprising and Promising Start

Pastor Doug Weiser serves as the WELS liaison to our sister synods in Nigeria.  Weiser writes about a new bore hole dedication and the start up of a new medical clinic.

Early this year I visisted All Saints Woleche, along with a member of the world mission board, to inspect and dedicate their new borehole. Our bright Sunday morning bouncing and careening along the 20-mile broken up road to see the latest All Saints borehole donated by WELS Christian Aid and Relief seemed the promise of a great day.

The day at Woleche brought more than we expected. Woleche is the largest congregation among the ten or so in the Yala-speaking area southwest of Ogoja. The congregation has built their own parsonage, dug a shallow well, and built a large-church foundation and walls dwarfing the little worship shelter standing inside those walls. And now in 2013 the Woleche church has a deep, pure water borehole for the entire community to enjoy.

Pastor Sunday Orim, resplendent in cream-colored suit, welcomed us for “Children’s Sunday.” A lively worship service cranked up with the participation of about 125 children. “These are from the area congregations, right?” I asked. “No,” said Orim, “They are all from this congregation.” What a surprise! What a joyous morning of worship!

View photos on flickr

After the service, everyone walked out front of the rising church building to dedicate the new borehole. It’s the usual pattern: deep casing and  pump, small gasoline generator, cement block water house with delivery water pipes poking out, and plastic storage tanks on top of the water house. The festivities were short, including a prayer for blessing on the water and a drink of the sweet water. In a general area with frequent salt deposits in the earth, this water is more welcome than we commonly think.

We had also planned a meeting with the All Saints Rural Health Services group. It consists of about 16 health workers on various levels, all of them members of All Saints synod. “But first,” their Chairman Peter Ogbudu said, “You must come see our new clinic.” It was just a few more yards forward on the church property, much closer to the main road.

Of course I had seen the foundation and three-foot block walls rising up to greet us on our way in. But what a surprise to take a good look. Over a dozen rooms. On the east side of the long hallway, maternity rooms for reception, delivery and one bedroom for new mothers. West of the hallway, stretching southward about 50 feet, rooms for reception, office, storage, minor medical treatment, pharmacy, and a few more. We took pictures of ASRHS members standing in the different rooms. What a great start! How ambitious!

In the planned meeting I asked how they were paying for this start. They use proceeds from their existing pharmacy for this construction, in addition to restocking their pharmacy shelves. The rented pharmacy building is just a few miles west of the Woleche church property. Now I am impressed. Not only does ASRHS manage its affairs well enough to run the pharmacy, they use profits to build for the future.

You see, like many African countries, Nigeria is a place for people to get cheated when they buy drugs. Many medications are cut or just plain counterfeited. So customers come to All Saints Rural because they know they can trust our pharmacy to stock pure drugs from good sources. Even the students from a nearby government school for midwives make use of the ASRHS pharmacy.

Yet even all this is just a start. ASRHS tailors all its work and plans to government health goals. Malaria control, midwifery, health education – all are “in line” with national goals. For the clinic they are building now, they plan to link up with the midwife school so that the students can get their practice hours in at the maternity ward of the ASRHS clinic. They will continue with a larger pharmacy. They plan to give basic health treatment in their clinic and refer serious cases to hospitals. And they plan to branch to the east of Ogoja, building a pharmacy to provide services on that side of the All Saints synod’s footprint. Even now, ASRHS board members give health lectures at women’s meetings, youth meetings, and church meetings in the rural areas of All Saints and in the city of Ogoja too.

Most of what All Saints Rural Health Services is doing is by their own effort. WELS Christian Aid and Relief assists them with a modest annual grant to pay for just a portion of what ASRHS needs and plans. Otherwise, it’s these brother and sister Christians not waiting around to be served, but serving for the love of Jesus.

Fox Valley Tornado Relief Effort

005WELS United, a group of congregations from the Fox Valley Area, has responded to the tornadoes that swept through that area on Tuesday, August 6. The storms that swiftly rolled through spawned 4 – EF1 tornadoes and 1 – EF 2 tornado. Thankfully, the swift moving storms did minimal damage to homes and business. The brunt of the damage was to roofs damaged from downed trees. There was, thanks be to God, no loss of life from these tornadoes.

In a partnership with WELS Christian Aid and Relief, groups in Appleton, WI (WELS United) and Stillwater, MN (Salem Lutheran Church) have organized teams to respond to local disasters. Christian Aid and Relief has supplied funding for the disaster relief trailers and equipment they use in their responses. These teams then are also on call to Christian Aid and Relief in the event of larger disaster relief projects such as Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey and the killer tornado in Moore, OK. It is our hope that these groups will be models for future groups who may also want to form local disaster relief teams.


Christian Aid and Relief is working with WELS United and the local congregations in this response as well. Whereas WELS United is supplying the volunteers for cleanup and minor repairs, WELS Christian Aid and Relief is in contact with the local congregations (and WELS United) to lend assistance with any critical financial needs that may also present themselves.

Dave Bunnow, Emergency Relief Coordinator for WELS United and the Appleton area disaster relief trailer coordinator for Christian Aid and Relief said, “There is never a good disaster, but instead of traveling 900 miles with the relief trailer it is easier that the travel time is only 10 minutes from home.”

During this project the work of the volunteers has been mostly cutting up fallen trees, some from rooftops, and brush removal. Generators were loaned to those without power.


Work was completed at Bethany Lutheran Church’s Our Shepherd Childcare where fourteen trees along the fence line had fallen and needed removal. While the group of volunteers were working the neighbors came out and asked why they were helping remove the portion of the trees on their property as well. The volunteers responded with the verses from Matthew 25:35,36 & 40 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “That’s what servants do.” Dave Bunnow also added, “We do all this disaster relief as willing volunteers serving the Lord.”

Once WELS United realized there was a need for help Dave Bunnow put out the word for volunteers at the local churches. Volunteers have been working since the day after the storm and will continue to work until they find no one in need. Since the storm, WELS United has been blessed to serve 11 families with four more families needing assistance and waiting for approval.


For any disaster victims who would still like help or volunteers who would like to serve, please contact:

Dave Bunnow

Emergency Relief Coordinator

WELS United