More than 7,000 people groups in the world live without access to the good news of Jesus Christ. With these unreached people groups in mind, three world missionaries were tasked with researching where WELS might have the opportunity to plant new world mission fields.
“Sixty years ago, WELS World Missions sent missionaries to find prospects, plant churches, and raise up leaders,” says Larry Schlomer, WELS World Missions administrator. “Today, most of our current missionaries are involved in mentoring and training leaders. We are searching for opportunities to go back to square one: where the only reason for heading to a new country is that they do not have Jesus.”
Three new unreached people groups were identified as potential mission field opportunities:
Ethnic Thai in Thailand: While WELS has had a presence in Buddhist Thailand before, the Thai people have been largely unreached by previous efforts. WELS has a small foothold with the Thai people, something other mission groups cannot claim after decades of work.
Wolof people in Senegal: The country of Senegal in Western Africa has a population of almost 17 million people. The Wolof tribe makes up about 40 to 45 percent of the total population and is less than 0.01 percent Christian. Although Senegal is overwhelmingly Muslim, the constitution staunchly defends freedom of religion.
Tequila Villages of Mexico: Three WELS missionaries and a handful of other confessional Lutherans have visited villages in this region. No religious group other than Roman Catholics were found working there. This may be one of those places where little to no gospel ministry is occurring at this time.
World Missions is also exploring outreach opportunities in London. More than 50 WELS-connected families have been identified for a potential new congregation. “With the Lord’s blessing, it is the prayer that such a congregation could provide a springboard for further work on the continent,” says Schlomer.
Plans are currently being made for more thorough follow-up research as well as multiple exploratory trips to each location. The goal of these trips is to find out if two missionaries can be sent to work in these settings.
Schlomer says, “We pray that these explorations will allow us to send missionaries who will learn a language and culture from scratch, plant churches, and start the long journey of raising up leaders who will be able to pastor them in the future. While much more time is needed to investigate work in these areas, please pray for these efforts as we look to share the gospel message in more places!”
Learn more about WELS World Missions at wels.net/missions.
Volume 108, Number 4
Issue: April 2021