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A true family

At its 67th biennial synod convention, WELS expanded its family of believers by declaring fellowship with Obadiah Lutheran Synod of Uganda. It also affirmed fellowship with Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional, a new synod that was formed in 2021 through the partnership of WELS sister churches across five countries throughout Latin America.


While Makisimu Musa, president of Obadiah Lutheran Synod of Uganda, was not able to travel to Michigan to attend the synod convention, he did address the delegates via Zoom from Zambia, where he was meeting with members of WELS’ One Africa Team.

“To all of you, I express thanks on behalf of my church body,” Musa said to the delegates in his address. “May the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, graciously bless this new fellowship to be fruitful for church ministry in Uganda and the world over.”

Musa shared a short history of the church body with the delegates. Obadiah Lutheran Synod started in 2008 when Musa learned about the Lutheran faith. He reached out to others who were then part of the Anglican church, and after discussion they decided to start a Lutheran church in one of the first members’ home. They named the church New Hope.

Benjamin Foxen with Makisimu Musa, wife, Mary and son Nathanael Evan, in Zambia, Africa convention
One Africa Team member Benjamin Foxen with Makisimu Musa; his wife, Mary; and their son Nathanael Evan, in Zambia, Africa, from where Musa addressed the convention. They have four children, two of whom are named after the WELS missionaries they first met in 2018.

The church body grew rapidly, with new congregations springing up in peoples’ homes. It first came into contact with WELS via e-mail—“an e-mail by God’s grace,” says Musa—in late 2017, with ensuing visits from missionaries and a Malawian national pastor for fellowship discussions and leadership training. When the church body went to register with the government to become a legal entity, it chose the name Obadiah Lutheran Synod. “Obadiah is one of the minor prophets in the Bible who was not as much recognized by the people of his generation, but God chose and sent him to take his message to the people,” says Musa. “As Obadiah Lutheran Synod that is what we are in Uganda.”

Obadiah Lutheran Synod has grown from one congregation with seven members to 28 congregations, 9 preaching stations, and 1 mission field of South Sudanese refugees. Seven pastors, 6 evangelists, and 24 lay leaders serve more than 5,000 baptized members. The One Africa Team continues to work with Obadiah Lutheran Synod, including helping it develop a worker training program that best fits its context.

Having the support of Christian brothers and sisters means the world to Musa, as Obadiah Lutheran Synod reaches out in this land of 48 million people. “By having this fellowship, I feel happy that Obadiah Lutheran Synod has got a true family that holds to the teaching and doctrine of the Bible,” he says. “To me it means that God has answered our prayers by giving us a Christian home—WELS—where we can meet together with brothers and sisters from different parts of the world to share the gospel of Jesus for encouragement.”

Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional

When 17-year-old Tonny Quintero walked up the hill in the barrio of Medellín, Colombia, in 1980, he thought he was going to learn English. But Larry W. Schlomer, a WELS missionary, taught him something else. “I didn’t learn very much English, but I learned something much more beautiful,” says Quintero. He was confirmed by Schlomer three years later.

Tonny Quintero and Larry W. Schlomer at convention 2023
Tonny Quintero and Larry W. Schlomer, former missionary to Colombia. Quintero refers to Schlomer as his “padre espiritual,” translated “spiritual father.” It means the person who brought the Word of God to you. Schlomer and his wife, Marlene, were with Quintero at this year’s synod convention.

Now he stands before the 2023 synod convention, representing Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional, with which WELS affirmed fellowship. When addressing the delegates, Quintero, pastor at Most Holy Trinity in Medellín and secretary of this new church body, brought greetings and thanks. “Instruments that God used were sent by you to share the Word of God with me and others,” he says. “I give thanks to [the missionaries] and all of you because it is you who sent them.”

He went on to share how the Word of God has grown in Latin America to the point that in 2021 Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional was formed by five WELS sister churches—all of which originally started as WELS missions—from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bolivia, and Venezuela. This new church body is the landing point for new congregations in Latin America that grow out of Academia Cristo, a multi-faceted program that shares the message of God’s grace with as many people as possible, identifies and trains potential leaders, and encourages these leaders to make more disciples who plant churches. “Why was Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional formed? So that these new churches that are being formed aren’t left alone but they have a group to become a member of,” says Quintero. A church in Bolivia recently was accepted into this church body; 25 more are working through the process.

Quintero concluded, “Thanks be to God and thanks to you for your work together with us in this great task that God has given us.”

Learn more about these mission fields at

Author: FIC
Volume: 110, Number 09
Issue: September 2023

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