In November, Pastor Jon Bare, International Recruitment Director, and Prof. E. Allen Sorum, Pastoral Studies Institute Director, traveled to Vietnam. There they met with and taught 60 leaders of the Hmong Christian Fellowship (HFC), a church body with 600 pastors and more than 70,000 members. These men were contacts made through Pastor Bounkeo Lor, a Hmong WELS pastor in Kansas City, who has been traveling to Vietnam for the past three years to lead similar workshops.
“What we saw was a group of pastors who had been longing for training for many years and were overjoyed by what they had been receiving through WELS. What made them most excited was the fact that they, for the first time, understood that they were set free by Christ’s redeeming work and now had the certainty of heaven,” said Bare, who trained the 60 leaders on spiritual leadership during the week.
“We weren’t Christian before,” one leader shared, “I have to confess: I oppressed my members with the law in the past. But now I trust the power of the Gospel; it isn’t my own power and authority.”
The church body is not yet a member of the CELC, but is willing to work toward becoming a confessional Lutheran church, and is eager for whatever training they can receive through WELS. Though no decision has been made yet about how to best serve and train the pastors of the HFC, this visit helped WELS representatives get a better idea of how this partnership might work. “They are looking to us to help train the leaders first so that they can then work on developing a training system for the rest of the pastors,” said Bare.
The training took place at a location rented from a Vietnamese church in Hanoi, where the Hmong training was legally registered. In addition to this training, the team members traveled with Pastor Bounkeo Lor, Evangelist Vicar Hue Thao, and two of the HFC leaders to visit several churches in the north. “We saw first-hand how the training is impacting the members of those churches and how future training will best prepare leaders,” said Bare.