This month’s “This is WELS” features photos from congregations about how their members show Christian love. Here are a few stories behind the photos:
St. Croix Lutheran Academy, West St. Paul, Minn., welcomed about 220 guests with special needs, ages 14 and older, to its annual Night to Shine event, where they received a night of dancing and VIP treatment (including a red carpet). About 65 percent of the student body was involved in some way. “Night to Shine is a priceless opportunity for St. Croix to celebrate God’s precious gift of life, to show the love of Jesus to those in our community, and to unite as volunteers—both students and adults—behind the common cause of showing love to all of God’s people,” says Lorna Kapanke, co-chair of the event.
Johnathan Khang, a member of Redemption, Milwaukee, Wis., was visiting his family in Vietnam and met Sung, his friend’s younger sister. Sung and Johnathan were married in Vietnam and then came to the United States. For Sung, it was bittersweet to leave her family to start a new life in the United States—a country whose language she didn’t know. Redemption hosted a baby shower for the parents-to-be as an expression of Christian love and support. The members wanted to treat Johnathan and Sung like family—especially Sung, whose own family is not able to be here during her pregnancy or for the birth of the baby.
Several sister WELS churches joined Bethel, Menasha, Wis., in donating hats, coats, blankets, and snowpants for the annual Bethel Bundle. “At the heart of the Bethel Bundle is Christian love for our neighbors’ souls and bodies—especially those who recently arrived from warmer climates,” says Phil Hunter, pastor at Bethel. Immigrants, refugees, and Spanish-speaking families were invited to come and take anything they could use. Nearly 70 souls then attended Bethel’s Spanish worship service and enjoyed a Thanksgiving-style feast cooked by the members. Through this event, Bethel was able to speak God’s Word and reflect his grace to families from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Members of the Teens for Christ service organization at Lakeside Lutheran High School, Lake Mills, Wis., met after school to make freezer meals to support area foster families. “As these families serve their community by caring for children in need, Teens for Christ wish to serve them by lightening their load at mealtime,” says Ruth Hirschfeld, Teens for Christ faculty advisor.
John Schwartz, pastor at Redeemer, Pierre, S.D., spends time serving at a local women’s prison. There he works with the warden to provide free WELS Prison Ministry materials to the inmates. These devotional booklets are popular. “An inmate who works at the library said that sometimes they have to fill the ‘Free Rack’ more than twice a day with WELS Prison Ministry books!” writes Schwartz. When asked what the books mean to them, the inmates replied that they know they are loved; they know they are not alone; and they are able to grow in their spiritual life. These women reflected their newfound faith by raising funds to donate to WELS Prison Ministry. “These women may not be able to wash Jesus’ feet with their tears and their hair, but they are showing him much love by studying his Word and showing love to others by spreading his Word,” says Schwartz.
Illumine, Rock Hills, S.C., teamed together with Feed the Hungry, a local non-profit, to provide a full Thanksgiving meal for the hungry. Hosted at Illumine, the event brought together volunteers from Illumine and the community at large, who donated and prepared more than five thousand dinners. About 250 turkeys and 1,100 pounds of turkey breast were smoked over a two-day period. “At Illumine, we talk about the Christian cycle of worship, education, and service,” says Nathan Loersch, pastor at Illumine. “This is a simple way we could support an effort already going on and give our members—and the greater community—an opportunity to come together to serve and to tangibly show love in a physical way.”
Volume 107, Number 02
Issue: February 2020