Moments with missionaries: Dan Laitinen

Moments with missionaries: Dan Laitinen

Go and TELL

(Top) Live classes between Samuel and TELL missionary Dan Laitinen. (Bottom) Samuel and his family in Guinea, Africa.

In 2018 WELS World Missions’ Multi-Language Productions had a vision to reach the world with the gospel in a new way. Its vision was to equip people with the truth of God’s Word using digital resources in English. Like the Latin America mission field’s Spanish Academia Cristo, TELL (Think, Evaluate, Learn, and Lead) would use English to reach people through social media, self-led Bible lessons, and live video classrooms.

Three years later, God has blessed that vision. The TELL Network has 1.2 million followers and likes on its main Facebook page. Across the globe, 7,000 active users do self-led Bible lessons on the TELL app and website. Currently I, as the full-time TELL missionary, meet several times a week with students from Africa, India, and the Philippines. I also work closely with several national pastors in fellowship with WELS who help create culturally appropriate and diverse online content.

One of my students, Samuel, is a teacher from Guinea, Africa. “My greatest desire is to be well-equipped for mission work,” says Samuel, “I won’t miss this opportunity by God’s grace.”

Like thousands of others, Samuel found TELL on Facebook. TELL’s Facebook team posts daily Bible passages and short devotional videos called #TELLtalks. The team answers questions online and invites people to start free Bible training on the TELL app or website.

Samuel downloaded the TELL app and within seconds began the first self-learning course (TELL Tier 1). He completed three of these courses. Each course has nine lessons that include a Bible reading, teaching video, and quiz.

When Samuel completed TELL Tier 1, he received his first certificate. Then I contacted Samuel and invited him to join live online classes (TELL Tier 2).

Today Samuel meets twice a week in a video classroom with me and other students. We study in depth about the work of Jesus, Old and New Testament history, and law and gospel. Each of the 11 courses in Tier 2 take about a month.

After students finish these courses, they move on to TELL Tier 3. These live courses focus on how to share the gospel in the community: gathering, teaching, and discipling. God-willing, someday I, along with a local missionary, will visit Samuel to grow the relationship and support Samuel as he starts a small group.

When Samuel began studying through TELL, he had been praying for just that: an opportunity to share the gospel. Since then God opened a door! A friend gave Samuel airtime on the local radio station. Every Sunday evening Samuel takes the Bible lessons he has learned with TELL and reuses them on-air to an audience of up to half a million. Many of them have never heard the gospel.

By God’s grace, Samuel has found a place where he receives real gospel training right from God’s Word. “I used to believe in a gospel that was preaching prosperity and miracles mostly,” says Samuel. “But I discovered this misleads believers. It focuses on earthly things and makes us forget heavenly things. Now I’m mission-minded.”

Learn more about the work of WELS World Missions and other areas of ministry in this month’s WELS Connection, which takes a look back at ministry in 2020. Also check out WELS’ new annual report, which will be available online in January at wels.net/annualreport.

Author: Dan Laitinen
Volume 108, Number 1
Issue: January 2021

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