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Water and the Word for Rural Schools in Kenya

2019–2021 Mission Grant #1 “Water and the Word for Rural Schools in Kenya” $80,000

Water and the Word for Rural Schools in Kenya

By Shurie Scheel with Eden Keefe, Mission Editor

The first time I stepped off the airplane in Nairobi, Kenya, I fell in love with the people and culture. As you often hear, that first trip was life changing for me. The poverty is unbelievable, but the people, their deep sense of faith and trust in God, and the work God is doing there are equally inspiring. 

It started with Rotary grants and working with schools to collect and filter rainwater. While in the country, we visited schools to bring soccer balls, books, school supplies, and washable sanitary pad kits to the schoolgirls, in an effort to keep them in school. In fact, the first grant received from LWML was a district grant that paid to ship sanitary pad kits to Kenya, a major expense for us over the years. 

The 2019–2021 LWML grant funded ten schools and much more. We worked closely with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK), knowing that we must be very intentional in relationship building at every level of the church. Our contractor, Isaac, spent a lot of time and effort, holding meetings in each of the five dioceses, or regions/districts, of the ELCK. He has trained pastors in each area about clean water, and they are all on-board with the project. The ELCK also chose only two schools in each diocese, in an effort to not show partiality — to make it fair to all.

In those ten schools, we asked the students, parents, and staff to help with the project and take care of the equipment. We worked with a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), Running Waters International. The Running Waters team takes care of initial school visits, installation, and education sessions with staff and students, as well as helping to facilitate a project commissioning. 

ELCK — working with the LCMS Office of International Mission — provides schools and support. A church worker or pastor makes a school visit periodically to check on the water project and leads students in a Bible study or preaches a sermon. This helps to ensure the success of the water projects and allows the children to hear biblical teachings from a trained pastor. The grant reimburses the expenses of the church in this effort. Due to financial restrictions, pastors aren’t often able to visit the churches and schools under their care. The children have been blessed immensely by LWML mite donations! 

Because the groundwork has been done and the relationships built and cultivated, any funds raised now can go directly to help another school or orphanage. The Kenyan church is so excited about the project. They have already raised enough money to fund one more school! This truly is God’s work, and He can do great things! Our plan now is to just start adding schools and rotating dioceses as we raise funds. Please pray for us. It’s only with God’s guidance and support that we are able to do this work. Please join us! All donations are welcome and greatly appreciated, and there are ways to volunteer. 

Shurie Scheel is the grant administrator for Water and the Word in Kenya. She is involved in LWML at St. Paul Lutheran in Thermopolis, Wyoming, has served as a YWR to both a district and a national convention, and has served in various offices — currently as the LWML Wyoming District Human Care Chair. Email Shurie at for their address or follow them on the Water and the Word Facebook page.

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This story was originally featured in the Spring 2022 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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Hope and Healing

2021–2023 Mission Grant #1 “Deaconess Ministry Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch” $81,680

Hope and Healing — Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

By Tammy Noteboom, Vice President of Communications at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor

“Growing up, I coped with my feelings the same way my Mom did — drugs. I thought it was normal. When I was 11, my Mom gave me up to the state, and I was in and out of foster homes until I was 13. I didn’t believe anyone really wanted me,” says one former resident.

“When I came to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, I was pretty much the same way I was everywhere else — I would scream, swear, hit, kick, and bite anyone in my path. But then I kinda realized that the staff are not here to get me mad or to ruin my life. They are here to help. I finally feel like I belong somewhere. My life is still hard, and my future is still very uncertain, but now I have hope.”  

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christ-centered, residential, treatment, and educational center for children ages 10 to 18. Children who are served at the three North Dakota campuses have experienced severe trauma, psychiatric issues, and/or developmental challenges; come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religions; and have had numerous foster care and residential treatment placements. While at the Ranch, kids overcome challenges such as conduct disorder, autism spectrum disorder, personality disorder, depression, anxiety, chemical dependency, and issues related to trauma, abuse, and neglect. 

With the help of highly trained and qualified staff who are readily available 24/7, children at the Ranch have a structured and safe environment in which to live, learn, and heal. They have access to resources they can't get anywhere else. The Ranch’s on-site clinical staff includes therapists, nurses, psychologists, addiction counselors, occupational therapists, and a psychiatrist. 

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch President/CEO, Joy Ryan, said, “For some of our kids, this is the first time they have slept in a bed, not gone to bed hungry, or had anyone listen to their deepest pains and fears. For many, it is the first time they have been told of Christ’s love for them. The kids come here with psychiatric and behavioral problems of the highest degree, but, if we look at where they have come from, we can understand them and help them to heal. Because of the gifts we receive from generous donors, these children can see the world differently, and feel the love of God through those who care for them.”  

A spiritual foundation has always been at the heart of the services to children. The Christian values children learn at the Ranch aid in their healing and provide a foundation of hope that often stays with them their entire lives. Understanding who they are in Christ helps the boys and girls succeed in treatment and positively shapes and influences their future. At the Ranch, these precious children, who have endured so much, have an opportunity to learn about Jesus and grow in their relationship with God through worship, Bible study, fellowship, music, and faith conversations. 

As her time at the Ranch was coming to a close, Sierra, a former resident, said, “I’ve grown so much in my faith, and I believe God is all-healing. He took my anxiety away and I haven’t had it for weeks. I had a huge breakthrough in my faith while I was at the Ranch. I know there is nothing I can’t do without God.”

We are thankful to God for the support of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League over the years. At the Lexington convention this past June, we were awarded a mission grant for our specialized Deaconess ministry. This ministry will bridge the gap for children — from their hard to handle trust-related issues to the transformational, powerful care of Christ.

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This story was originally featured in the Winter 2021 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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Thank You LWML video (2021)

A thank you from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for LWML Mission Grants. Originally shown at the 2021 LWML Convention in Lexington, Kentucky.

Download the Thank You LWML video

  • Instructions to download: Click the above link and the download page will open in a new window. From there, click the “Download” button/icon, then click “Direct download” in the pull-down menu that appears.

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God’s Perfect Timing in Africa

Mission Grant #15 “Pre- and Post-Seminary Training for Local Church Workers” $62,650 fully funded

God’s Perfect Timing for Pre- and Post-Seminary Training in Africa

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed … to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14–15).

nullThe Mission Training Center (MTC) program provides training for lay leaders and evangelists so that they can lead worship. Some of the evangelists have the opportunity to attend seminary and become ordained.

God's timing is always perfect and you, as God’s Gracious Givers, were part of His plan. In early November 2020, the first wave of the coronavirus had come through, and many African countries were beginning to relax some constraints and allow churches to gather again. This is when the 2019–2021 LWML Mission Grant #15 was paid in full — $62,650.

Project Manager, LCMS Missionary John Wolf, Africa Region, writes: “The grant offers the opportunities to strengthen pastors and evangelists in villages across Africa to better shepherd the congregations and communities God has entrusted into their care. In one particular country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a church body desired to bring their pastors together for theological training and to encourage church members in their response to the COVID situation in their country. This church, the Evangelical Lutheran Community in Eastern Congo (ELCEC), had just requested assistance, and through the LWML grant, we were able to help.

“Located in the eastern DRC where French and Swahili are commonly spoken, the ELCEC has about 6,200 members who are supported by only 12 pastors and eight evangelists, not all of whom received formal theological training before beginning service within the church. Through this grant, 20 individuals received two weeks of training on pastoral care, Luther's small catechism, liturgy, and theology to be better equipped to ensure quality teachings in a spiritual framework to their congregations. 

In December 2020, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) requested pre-seminary training for lay leaders who often lead worship due to the shortage of pastors. “Through the gift from the LWML, we are able to support the ELCK for their Mission Training Center program, which helps cover transportation and meals, plus the provision of training material.”

“Your support came at just the right time, as many in Africa struggle with the economic impacts and school absences that resulted from COVID-19. However, people are encouraged when they learn from a pastor or other church worker about the love of God and forgiveness through Christ. Through the efforts of the LWML and the mite offerings contributed, God's hand is already at work to bring even more people unto Himself. [We are deeply grateful] for the gift of support to equip pastors and evangelists to share the Gospel with so many on this continent who need to hear about their salvation through Christ.” 

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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Exciting News for KFUO Radio!

Mission Grant #17 “Christ for You, Anytime, Anywhere — KFUO Radio” $60,000 fully funded

Inspired to share His Gospel, Lutheran Women in Mission has partnered with KFUO Radio to expand its Gospel Outreach Ministry.

At the LWML 2019 National Convention in Mobile, Alabama, KFUO was awarded a mission grant of $60,000 with the purpose of improving KFUO’s current equipment and acquiring the latest technology. New technology will help increase listenership and bring the Gospel to more people around the world. This grant was PAID IN FULL in the Fall of 2020.

Upon receiving the grant, KFUO set into motion its first technology improvement project: creating a new KFUO app. This app will help KFUO’s listeners in a variety of ways. 

Reaching the Younger Generation: Each new generation incorporates more and more technology in their daily routines. The new KFUO app will make God’s Word and faithful teaching more accessible to its listeners, hopefully creating a daily habit for all generations, but especially those in high school and college. 

Supporting Our Military Men and Women: The new KFUO app makes the station’s Christ-centered programs accessible to people who are always on the move, including our military. Having the KFUO app on their smartphone means no need for a computer to bring great Bible teaching, sacred music, and Lutheran worship services to listeners. They will have access to God’s Word wherever their journey takes them. The app includes a feature called “Connected Car,” which enables traveling listeners to easily enjoy the KFUO live stream and on-demand programs in their car.

Helping Our Missionaries: Having the KFUO app means being able to hear the station’s programs in a simple and accessible way. They also can share KFUO with others. 

Making the Gospel Accessible to the Homebound: The KFUO app on a mobile device or tablet makes live and on-demand programs accessible for the homebound. Having the app on these smart device means having Christ-centered programming at hand, even if their mobility is limited. 

LWML President Debbie Larson (in Colorado) is “handing” the check to KFUO’s Andy Bates and Sarah Gulseth, hosts of “The Coffee Hour” (in St. Louis).

KFUO Radio broadcasts a variety of Christ-centered programing to people all around the world, including Bible studies, daily devotions, sacred music, apologetics, and more. “KFUO’s listenership has increased greatly since the beginning of COVID-19,” stated Gary Duncan, Executive Director of KFUO. “People want to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ now, more than ever. We are thankful for LWML and their generous grant, allowing us to stay current in this digital age.”


For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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A Dream Come True

Mission Grant #9 “Wind River Indian Reservation Transportation — Wind River Lutheran Mission” $40,000 fully funded

By God’s grace, and LWML faithful giving, Mission Grant #9 Wind River Indian Reservation Transportation — Wind River Lutheran Mission has been PAID IN FULL.

What dream came true with this mission grant? The dream of a new van!

With the purchase of a church building near Fort Washakie in the spring of 1978 by the LCMS Wyoming District, the mission work with the Shoshone and Arapaho Native American tribes began. A large part of this ministry is focused on outreach to the children of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Due to the distance from their homes, and with transportation options being limited, very few children are able to attend the Bible classes in Fort Washakie (an 88-mile round trip) and Crowheart (a 60-mile round trip). A 2001 Ford Econoline van with over 200,000 miles was starting to show its age, even with maintenance and repairs. 

Wind River Lutheran Mission (WRLM) works with the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes and is currently the only existing full-time mission with a pastor living on site. That pastor is Rev. Gregory Sonnenschein with his ministry partner and wife, Rachel.

The Bible classes at Fort Washakie and Crowheart are the mission’s best, and in most instances, the only, opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ with the children living on the Reservation. Even when there is little active involvement from the parents in either the children’s education or church attendance, the parents grant the WRLM staff permission to pick up their children and take them to Sunday school or VBS. There, the children learn about Jesus and become Christ-bearers, shining their light and pointing their families to the Savior. 

Jeffrey Snyder, Business Manager for the LCMS Wyoming District, shared, “The specific type of van required to make the weekly trips was difficult to obtain, given our remote location and few options nearby. Thankfully, the right type of van was found in Southern Utah. The Ford Transit 350 Medium cab is the perfect van for small children and also the taller children (who can be taller than Pastor and Rachel!), and the enhanced safety features are a great benefit.  In our world, snow tires will definitely be needed, and new stenciling with the church’s name will be added soon. We give thanks to God for this wonderful and generous gift that should give years and years of service to Pastor and Rachel Sonnenschein and the children of the Wind River Reservation!”

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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Reaching the Poorest of the Poor

Mission Grant #8 “Lights for Christ Scholarships in Guatemala — Divine Savior Lutheran Church, Zacapa, Guatemala” $95,000

Reaching the Poorest of the Poor

By Linda Tape, Holy Cross Guatemala committee chairman with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor

Guatemala struggles to address the needs of its people, especially of those who are the poorest of the poor. In Zacapa, people who have lost jobs or do not have the means to support themselves live in the local landfill and try to meet their needs by rummaging through the waste.

Divine Savior Lutheran Church in Zacapa, Guatemala, is partnering with Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, to help the children who live there. Six years ago, the two congregations developed the Lights for Christ program. Divine Savior has a tuition-based Lutheran school and, through donations from Holy Cross, 14 elementary-aged children (up to grade six) are receiving a Christ centered education — free of charge.

Many of the students begin their day early in the morning, traveling by bus to school where they receive breakfast before attending classes. They are also given lunch and then spend their afternoons with a tutor who helps them with homework. During this time, the children receive additional Christian love and education.

Last year, five of the Lights for Christ children graduated and proceeded to middle school. Thanks to an LWML grant, these children will be able to continue their education. The grant, so lovingly approved, will pay many of the costs associated with their education. Without a middle school education, these five have little chance of escaping the landfill.

Schools in Guatemala have been closed since March 2020 because of COVID-19. The Lutheran school in Zacapa sends lessons to students via text or email or by providing hard copies when families have no electronic devices. Because the children in the landfill have no electronic access, they, of course, receive the paper copies. The Director of the Lights for Christ Program, Cory Vargas, has been traveling to the landfill, taking lessons to the children, working with them, and helping the tutor who meets with them.

Having to work on lessons in the landfill has been a challenge for the students, but, through the love and commitment of Ms. Cory and the program’s volunteers in Zacapa, the students have continued to learn. Recently, Holy Cross sent more monetary donations to purchase a computer which is located at the tutor’s home in the landfill. This grant also pays for internet access.

Because of the loving and committed work of friends in Zacapa, the children in the landfill continue to learn! The Wichita Lutheran Women in Mission are thrilled to know that the five students who started with the program graduated at the end of 2020!

Thank you, LWML, for helping Holy Cross work with these children and our friends in Zacapa to provide them with a Christian education. The program is reaching them, sometimes one child at a time! We pray and hope each one will continue to learn and grow in their faith, so that, one day, they can, in turn, help their community in the landfill.

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Summer 2021 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

View More Grant Updates and Thank You's


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