Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) is a nonprofit ministry of the Church so fiscal year end operating results are put right back into mission and ministry. Due to the successful partnership between strong LCEF investors and faithful borrowers, LCEF provides annual grant funds for our Minnesota South (MNS) District - Lutheran Church Missouri Synod organizations.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Mountain Lake, Minn. was one of six grant recipients this year. A small farming community of roughly 2,000 people, Mountain Lake was founded as a Mennonite Community. When skilled laborers were needed years ago, German Lutherans were brought in. “Although the times have changed, people are still coming into our small community,” said Trinity’s Pastor Peter Kufahl. “No longer is it a community of solely Norwegian and German immigrants, but it is a community that has become home to many Laotian refugees.”
In his grant application, Kufahl wrote, “Nearly fifteen years ago, Trinity began her outreach to share the Good News of Christ crucified with our Laotian neighbors. This started with the formation of a Cross-Cultural Outreach committee, to find ways of welcoming the Laotian people into our congregational life with Jesus. Over the years, many and various outreach attempts have been made through means of English as Second Language classes, Laotian worship and Bible studies, and just genuine care and concern for the physical well-being of the Laotian people. It is that Christian care and concern towards our Laotian neighbors that has provided a wonderful blessing of bringing people into the church to enable them the opportunity to learn about and come to know who this Jesus is.
Currently, members of the Laotian community in Mountain Lake have shown a desire to become citizens of the United States. Trinity has many times over, offered citizenship classes and many Laotian people have benefited from the class and have become United States citizens…. and in thanksgiving, active members of our congregation.” The challenge is that many who initially plan to take the class do not have the means to pay the $680 per person that it costs to become a citizen so they drop out. Throughout the year, Trinity’s Cross-Cultural Outreach committee and Laotian members do various fundraisers to help raise funds to offset the cost of classes however the demand is becoming too great.
Last spring, Trinity had 20 Laotian people sign up to take the citizenship classes, 13 of which were people who had no relationship with Jesus. Due to the wide variety of ages and learning abilities of the Lao people, the classes can last at least 6 weeks. The classes are hosted at our church on Sunday afternoons. Many of those who attend the class choose to also come to Trinity’s Laotian Bible class in the mornings and even the English worship services.
“Our Laotian ministry leaders, the Cross‐Cultural Outreach Committee, is a wonderful blessing to our community. Committee members have been blessed with a great heart for caring for people. They also have a great recipe for egg rolls which they use for fundraisers to support the needs of Lao people in need and others. Each summer, we make at least 5,000 egg rolls to sell at our local festival, and almost always sell out. All the proceeds go to assist people in our area who have a need (food, utilities, clothing, water heaters... you name it). Sometimes people pay back, other times no, but it is shared that the reason we help is because of Jesus. It is an awesome way of sharing Jesus with those who may not have any idea who He is. For those who are Buddhists, it can be very interesting!” said Kufahl.
With the funds received from the LCEF MNS grant plus the congregation members’ fundraising, Trinity will assist individuals with their citizenship process. “We desire that these people may know that we do genuinely care for them and want to help them in their physical needs in order that we may show them that we care for their eternal needs as well,” said Kufahl. “The Good News of Jesus is contagious. It is by this Good News that our Laotian membership continues to grow as we serve our Lord as we serve one another.”
In addition to Trinity, Mountain Lake, the remaining 2014 LCEF MNS Outreach Grant recipients were:
Trinity First Lutheran School in Minneapolis, Minn. (Summer Bridge to Success education program)
Samaritan's Hill Lutheran Church in Rogers, Minn. (Summer day camp for four weeks in a neighboring manufactured home park)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Winnebago, Minn. (Community workshops)
Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove, Minn. (Family Fun Day)
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Minn. (Community garden)