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Unshackled — Breaking the Hmong People's Bondage

2021–2023 LWML Mission Grant #28 Christ-Centered Materials for Hmong Language School and Outreach, St. Paul Hmong Outreach Ministries — $70,208

9 Hmong adults standing and smiling

Unshackled — Breaking the Hmong People's Bondage

By Beverly Vietor and Rev. Doua Xiong with Eden Keefe, Mission Editor

February 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the release of 591 American prisoners of the Vietnam War. Our nation prayed for these soldiers and thanked God for their release. As Christians, we pray and seek release of the innocent from prison.

Do you remember the Hmong people of Laos, who served alongside the United States to defeat the Communist party during the Vietnam War? Afterward, they sought refuge in the USA. When they came, they brought with them their culture and religious beliefs. About 85% of the Hmong people are animists, believing that there are spiritual powers inherited in all things, living and non-living. The Hmong culture practices shamanism and praises the spirits of their ancestors but not the Creator. People who are influenced by spiritism are afflicted, oppressed, and in constant fear — prisoners in their own souls. It is only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ with the power of His Holy Spirit, that Satan’s bondage of the Hmong people can be unshackled, freeing them from this inner prison.

A strongly held tradition among the Hmong is their New Year Celebration. In the U.S., it begins in Green Bay, Wisconsin, travels out to Merced, California, and ends in Fresno, California. The Fresno celebration draws thousands of Hmong from all around the world to meet, greet, send off the old or current year, and welcome the new one. Because of LWML mite offerings and prayers, Pastor Doua, his wife, Sue, their children, and his mission team were able to have a booth at the 2022–2023 Hmong New Year Celebration in both Merced and Fresno, California. They shared the work, words, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ to many Hmong people and met two Hmong individuals from Southeast Asia (Laos and Thailand). They were rejoicing after they heard and believed that Jesus loves them.

The New Year celebration is also a great way to inform parents about the Saturday Hmong Language School. With the help of the Lord’s Spirit, 35 adults and students, grades pre-K–college, enrolled. Since this was after the pandemic, the numbers were a great blessing.

The Gospel of the Lord also unshackled the chains of four sinners and brought them to St. Paul Hmong Outreach. They were catechized and baptized on Easter Sunday, 2023. What joy!

St. Paul Hmong Outreach Ministries has been actively reaching out to the Hmong communities in their native tongue for more than 19 years, visiting the prisoners with the truth and knowledge that through Christ Jesus there is no other way to be free. Romans 10:17 states, faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. The Gospel is being heard by the Hmong families in their own language. Families are being baptized and confirmed.

And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Jesus is unshackling the bondage of Satan’s power and opening the doors of their soul’s prison. Welcome home, Hmong POWs — to the eternal home of the one true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Rev. Doua Xiong, a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, is married to Sue and they have four children. Rev. Xiong began his vicarage assignment in Merced, California, at St. Paul Lutheran Hmong Outreach in 2014, under the supervision of Rev. Kou Seying, and has been with the Ministry ever since. Beverly Vietor, Vice President of Gospel Outreach, LWML California-Hawaii-Nevada District, has supported missions in SE Asia over 45 years and has partnered with Pastor Xiong in Hmong Outreach since he took the call to California.


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This story was originally featured in the Fall 2023 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 (2023)

A thank you from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for LWML Mission Grants. Originally shown at the 2023 LWML Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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MOST: Making a Difference to the Ends of the Earth

2021–2023 LWML Mission Grant #18 “Ends of Earth” Scholarships — Mission Opportunities Short Term (MOST) Ministries" $50,000

group of 6 people smiling

MOST: Making a Difference to the Ends of the Earth

By Marty Moro

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3).

Now, how would I do that? How can I share the Gospel among the nations? Is it enough to be content as a member of a church body that sends people into the mission field, or is there a way for me to personally take an active role in carrying out the Great Commission?

There is a way! You can travel to another part of the world and share God’s love in word and deed by dedicating a week or two of your life to a short-term mission trip. You can join like-minded Christians, led by an experienced team leader and an organization that manages all aspects of the trip, from start to finish.

Mission Opportunities Short Term (MOST) Ministries has been providing short-term mission opportunities for 35 years. MOST teams are made up of mission-minded individuals, often formed by LCMS congregations, deployed to help missionaries and local pastors at host sites around the world. Sometimes, teams are made up of individuals from multiple congregations who get connected to each other through MOST.

Thanks to the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, several MOST team members have had a portion of their costs covered by the “Ends of the Earth” grant approved at the 2021 LWML Convention. Funds from this grant make it possible for more people to join MOST mission teams. In response to requests from missionaries in the field, these teams are sent to help those communities in a number of ways, including water filtration projects, construction projects, medical clinics, and eyeglass clinics. Each team addresses a specific need which will improve the lives of the people, and each trip provides opportunities to share the Gospel and support the work of the local church.

woman helping child with their eyeglasses

MOST’s January 2023 mission trip to Tanzania was only possible because of the “Ends of the Earth” grant. The team was short on members, and the trip would have been canceled without funding from the LWML. This eyeglass team struggled to find the right prescription for Dora (pictured above with team members and her family), but eventually found a -13.25 prescription that improved her sight tremendously. MOST eyeglass clinics are made possible through the work of volunteers who collect used eyeglasses or work to refurbish them at the MOST Mission Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. These glasses, previously ready to be discarded, make a big difference in the lives of people in areas where the cost of a pair of glasses can exceed a person’s monthly income. And just think about the potential economic impact of these glasses: they can restore a person’s ability to read, to hold a job, to provide for their family, and to have a positive impact on their church and community. Thank you to MOST volunteers, team members, supporters, and the LWML for making all this possible!

To learn more about how to connect with MOST, please visit the MOST Ministries website at or follow us on social media.

Marty Moro is the new Executive Director of MOST Ministries. Prior to starting at MOST he served as a Lutheran school teacher and administrator, and as a development professional for Lutheran organizations. Contact him at to find out how to become a part of MOST’s valuable ministry.


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This story was originally featured in the Summer 2023 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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Serving the Littlest and the Least of These

2021–2023 Mission Grant #15 "The Littlest and Least of These, Dallas, Texas — St. Paul Lutheran Church and Christian Academy" $42,000

adult with many children next to large van

Serving the Littlest and the Least of These

By Jean Addison, Director of St. Paul Christian Academy with Eden Keefe, Mission Editor

Don’t worry! You aren’t the only one questioning the grammar in the title of this article (Littlest) … so were my iPhone and computer. One thing that needs no correction is God’s Word. When contemplating what Scripture reference to use in correlation with our LWML Mission Grant, “The Littlest and Least of These,” and our project’s focus, Matthew 25:40 came to mind. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.’” In this case, I wanted to personalize it for the families we serve at our childcare center — the children, who are the “littlest,” and the low-income families, who are the “least.” 

two young girls holding winter coats

Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Reverend Byron R. Williams, Sr., shared his vision with our congregation, Trinity Lutheran Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, to establish a daycare. Fast-forward to 2006, he echoed that same vision with our congregation, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas. Overcoming many obstacles, that vision became a reality in August of 2019 when we opened the doors of St. Paul Christian Academy: a full-time childcare center for children six weeks–four years old and before and after school care for K–5th graders.

With God’s blessings and many prayers, enrollment increased from three to 55 children within four months. With that growth, the need to provide transportation, additional space for parent trainings, as well as to hold food, clothing, and school supply drives became apparent. St. Paul Lutheran Church and Christian Academy answered its call to become a mission ministry for our low-income, unchurched, childcare families, as well as to the elderly, the local school, and the community.

During our ribbon-cutting ceremony, God placed an angel in our midst, Christine Weerts, Editor of the Black Lutheran Ministry Timeline Newsletter, who provided a wealth of information regarding available grants and resources that would support our improvement and expansion efforts. With her guidance, we applied for an LWML Texas District mission grant. We received $20,000 to purchase a van which we use to provide children transportation to and from school, as well as transportation for families to attend worship service and church/childcare activities.

man and woman standing next to tables full of filled grocery bags

As a recipient of a $42,000 LWML Mission Grant, “The Littlest and Least of These,” we completed needed repairs, renovations, and updates to our Fellowship Hall and kitchen. There is now adequate space and updated equipment/ appliances for childcare and fellowship meals, bi-weekly worship services, special services/ministry events, training classes, and physical activities when weather prevents outdoor play. Our childcare families, church, and community have been impacted by this building improvement tremendously! 

Thank you, wonderful women of LWML, for supporting our mission ministries through your mission outreach as we reach those in need of God’s Word while expanding His Kingdom!


Jean Addison served as a 20-year educator in the New Orleans Public Schools before relocating to Dallas, Texas, following Hurricane Katrina. She then served 15 years in the Dallas Independent School District before assuming the role as childcare director at St. Paul Christian Academy.

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This story was originally featured in the Spring 2023 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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Feeding Both Body and Soul in Lima, Peru

2021–2023 Mission Grant #17 "Spiritual and Physical Food for Children of Peru — La Mision Luterana del Peru" $56,750

two men serving a group of smiling children food at the table with cross in background

Feeding Both Body and Soul in Lima, Peru

By Deaconess Caitlin Ramirez with Eden Keefe, Mission Editor

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8–9).

This grace from God, which we have received, is now at the core of who we have become at Castillo Fuerte in Lima, Peru. It inspires, motivates, and compels us to every good work in His name. These works are not our salvation, but they can be used by the Lord to bring faith to the lost. In Lima, the faithful missionaries of the LCMS continue to labor, motivated by this grace and sharing the love and mercy of our Lord with others. We care for children and families on the streets of the city and faithfully provide them physical food for the body and spiritual food for the soul. With the help of mission grant #17, the work of Castillo Fuerte and La Mision Luterana will continue to prosper and grow, sharing the Good News of Jesus with the lost, and showing them God’s mercy and love in action.

Lidia with Pastor Walterson as Lidia publicly confessed her faith and joined the Lutheran church.

Each weekday, Castillo Fuerte is able to provide a nutritious and filling lunch to the children of the neighborhood. Last year, Miranda began to attend the mercy house for this lunch. After a few months, she invited her Grandmother Lidia to come to an event that the church and mercy house were holding. Lidia came to watch over her granddaughter, but she also heard the words of the pastor. She began to come with Miranda more and more, listening to the Good News of who Jesus is, and the free gift of salvation that He has prepared for Miranda and Lidia. The Lord used this daily lunch to show His mercy to this family, and it brought them into His house to hear His message. The physical food prepared them to receive the more important spiritual food — the food which brings eternal life. After a year, Lidia and Miranda became faithful attendees at worship, and, in February 2022, Lidia asked to be confirmed. Her faith was nourished while she studied the Bible and the Small Catechism. On July 31, 2022, Lidia publicly confessed her faith and joined the Lutheran church (pictured left with Pastor Walterson). Praise the Lord for Lidia and Miranda who were given faith through the Word, faithfully taught at Castillo Fuerte and by the pastors of La Mision Luterana!

While we cannot boast that our works save us, we can rejoice that God has inspired us to use the overflow of His abundance to further His mission here on earth. Because of the grace we have been given, our response to that gift, our acts of mercy, and by feeding the children on the streets of Lima, God is reaching more people with His saving grace, giving them faith through His Word and salvation through His Son.


Deaconess Caitlin Ramirez has been an LCMS Missionary in Lima, Peru, since 2013. She serves as Executive Director for Castillo Fuerte and Professor for Seminario Concordia El Reformador. Feel free to write Caitlin with any questions at

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This story was originally featured in the Winter 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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Video from Mercy House Belize

2021–2023 LWML Mission Grant #21 "Mercy House Belize Lutheran Campus" $100,000

Mercy House Belize Lutheran Campus — Belize Mission Society is our mission focus for November. Cathy Dulgar, Executive Director for Belize Mission Society sent LWML an update on the progress happening at the Mercy House.


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

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Phil’s Friends: Prayers and Cares

2021–2023 Mission Grant #6 "Hope of Christ for Cancer Patients — Phil’s Friends" $70,000

Phil's Friends: Prayers and Cares. man standing next to boxes inside Phil's Friends building.

Phil’s Friends: Prayers and Cares

By Pastor Michael Salemink, Executive Director, Lutherans for Life with Eden Keefe, Mission Editor

In 2010, Phil’s Friends received a grant from LWML, and women from all over the country began praying for the ministry.

Phil’s Friends sends care packages around the nation to comfort those affected by cancer. The care packages open doors to a relationship and bring opportunities to share the Gospel. With the help of the LWML, they have distributed 45,000 Bibles and delivered over 1,000,000 Cards of Hope containing Scripture and prayer. They have prayed for thousands of people at hospital bedsides, in homes, over the phone, and in support group meetings.

Former LWML President Betty Duda said it best. “Receiving a grant is wonderful, but all the prayers that come along with it are even more powerful.” In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Prayer is our communication tool with God. The more time we spend with God, the deeper our relationship with Him grows. Through prayer, God penetrates dark situations with light.

Cancer is dark and widespread. It is often a debilitating disease that brings physical, emotional, and psychological problems. Thankfully, Jesus has the power to brighten any dark situation, and that’s why Phil’s Friends is about spreading light.

Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 9:37–38, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” God has blessed this organization with workers because they go about the Father’s business. He uses the seeds that are scattered and causes them to grow.

When they work, people take notice. Dave had stage four cancer and eventually went home to be with the Lord. After he passed away, his daughter, who was in her 30s, was baptized. What was her reason? She had never experienced love in such a pure form from a community of believers who wanted nothing in return. Thank you, Jesus, for changing lives and defeating sin, the cancer of this world.

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:36 NIV). In verse 40, Jesus goes on to say, “The King will reply, ‘Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Through prayer, God brings healing to the sick — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven (James 5:15 NIV).

group of people praying over care package boxes

Prayer touches every aspect of this ministry. Sherry decorates boxes and prays over each one (pictured top). Jason prays with patients on the phone. Laurie prays over every card that is sent. Groups of volunteers pray over every completed care package (left).

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things …” (Revelation 4:11).


Phil Zielke is a two-time stage four cancer survivor and founder and president of Phil's Friends. He lives in St. Charles, Illinois, with his wife Carrie and two sons, Graham and Hudson.

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Fall 2022 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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