Stories from the Global Church

Here you will find stories from the global church by ELCA global missionaries, scholars, and churchwide staff, brought to you by the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship team.

Nurturing and nutrition

Posted on June 11, 2013 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dana Nelson and Tom Ososki are nearing the end of their service as ELCA missionaries in Peru. To support any of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries in the global church, go to

Italo, center, who lives alone, relies on the congregation’s food program for his breakfast.

Italo, center, who lives alone, relies on the congregation’s food program for his breakfast.

June 1, 2013

Greetings from Talitha Kum (Little Girl Get Up!) Lutheran Church in Cusco, Peru. We have exciting news to bring to you. The Sembrando para el Futuro (Sewing Seeds for the Future) program started up again the first week in May and is now in full swing. We are excited to report that the congregation is providing nutritious breakfast to 50 children (and two elders) five days per week.

Italo is 13 years old. He is wearing his red school uniform, sitting next to the tiger in the photo.  He rents a room a few blocks from the church and lives alone (without parents). Thanks to the Sembrando program starting up again, neighbors told us about Italo and invited him to breakfasts and into the life of the church.

This year we collaborated with the local health post, and nurses came to Talitha Kum to measure the height and weight of all the kids so we can mark their progress during the year to see if the Sembrando program is helping them to grow. The nurses found that six of our children have “chronic malnutrition” or are “at risk of chronic malnutrition.” So it makes Sembrando para el Futuro feel all the more urgent.

Thank God for teachers! We are so grateful to have found Alicia, who is a second-year student at a teachers training institute in Cusco. She comes to our congregation four days per week to tutor the Sembrando children, especially the ones in second through sixth grade, since those are the grades Alicia is being trained to teach.

We have windows! Upstairs and downstairs and even way up in the parsonage on the third floor of the church we have all of the windows and doors installed now, so everyone is warmer. Tom painted the windows in the sanctuary red, blue, white, purple and green — the colors of the church seasons. When we have worship in the morning, the colors are projected onto the floor by the sun and move across the sanctuary as the earth turns. It’s so pretty!

I can’t believe we will only be here in Cusco for four more Sundays before we move back to Minnesota. We are going to miss Peru very much. Thank you for making it possible for us to have served here in the church since 2007.

Que Dios les bendiga muchísimo.

Even though we won’t be living here as missionaries in Peru in the near future, we encourage you to keep Talitha Kum and all the congregations of the Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in your hearts and prayers.

Dana, Tom, Tana and Anthony

Greetings from Peru!

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dana Nelson and Tom Ososki are ELCA missionaries in Peru. Here are some of Dana’s thoughts from her April newsletter. To support Dana and Tom, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries in the global church, go to

Palm Sunday included a procession through the neighborhood.

Palm Sunday included a procession through the neighborhood.

Greetings to you from Cuzco, Peru!

The kids in Peru, including our own (Tana, 10; Anthony, 6) are back in school after a nice, long summer vacation. Summer in Cusco has certainly been different from our summers spent in Lima. When we lived in the capital city we often went to the beach to play in the sand and in the ocean waves. (And we once had a Sunday worship service with Cristo Rey on the beach.) Here in Cusco we are enjoying the beautiful mountains, with lots of hiking and horseback riding. Our next-door neighbor’s son, Fabricio, is Anthony’s age and they played and played, and Tana had a lot of slumber parties inviting (on a rotating basis) all the girls at church to come over. The church kids played at our home with great imagination, ate Tom’s good cooking, had fun, and got very little sleep but have created awesome bonds of friendship. This is one aspect of being a “missionary family” that has been a delightful surprise for me — how the Spirit’s life-giving and joyful presence manifests in children of different languages and cultures playing together! I may be the one in the family who went to seminary, but most days I am convinced that it’s my partner, Tom the architect, and Tana and Anthony who are the most gifted in accompanying the church and the most effective in nurturing love and building trust in the Lutheran community. I love my family.

On Palm Sunday we had more people in church than I have ever seen in Talitha Kum. The palm-bouquets in Peru (created especially for this holiday) are so beautiful. The palm branches are bent and braided into elaborate shapes of flowers or crosses and then woven together with native plants and olive branches. They are a work of art. After worship the families bring them to their houses to hang them on their doors as a special house blessing to last throughout the year.

On Palm Sunday we also processed through the neighborhood Sol de América singing “Hosanna!” which inspired some people, when they saw us, to set aside what they were doing and run to catch up with our parade.

God bless you, and thank you so much for having supported us. I can’t believe our time in South America will finish in just over two months, after six years of missionary service in Peru. Please do prayerfully consider sponsoring a new missionary through the ELCA Global Mission unit. We are so grateful to you who made it possible for us to be here since 2007. Now it is time for us to pass the torch to a new missionary, or missionary family, who would be so blessed by your care and support as we have been.

Paz, amigos nuestros,
Dana Nelson, Tom Ososki, Tana and Anthony

Parable of the healing garage

Posted on July 31, 2012 by Hand In Hand

Kate Lawler and David Wunsch are ELCA missionaries in Bueno Aires, Argentina. They are also the regional representatives for South America. To support them or another of the ELCA’s 225 missionaries, go to

David and representatives of the ELCA’s Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod meet with the church council of the Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (ILEP) in the new offices.

David and representatives of the ELCA’s Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod meet with the church council of the Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (ILEP) in the new office.


Greeting friends!

How can we have eyes that see the hopeful signs of God’s inaugurated — but not yet realized —  Kingdom already in our midst? Sometimes these are revealed in the most unexpected places … like a garage that has been converted into the churchwide offices of the Lutheran church in Peru. Recently I was accompanying a visit from Lutherans in the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod and we spent some time in the new offices of our companion church in Peru. So why is this newsworthy? Because this news item is all about signs that God’s reconciling mission to the world is on the move and we’re in the thick of it. Let me explain.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Peru suffered a terrible internal conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead or disappeared. Tens of thousands of mostly poor Peruvians living in the highlands and the jungle were caught in the middle of the violent tactics of The Shining Path terrorist group and the government’s brutal and repressive response. As human rights violations spread, hundreds of thousands of Peruvians fled to the cities to escape the violence, many landing in the slums that were mushrooming to the south, north and east of Lima. Today these are places that cry out for healing and reconciliation and are  precisely where the Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (ILEP) has established nearly a dozen faith communities. As such, it should be of no surprise that the converted garage that houses the Peruvian church’s new offices until recently was a reception point for reparation claims under a 2005 law that compensates victims of human rights violations.

So where is the parable in this ho-hum story of a church moving into a new office? Jesus’ parables took common elements of everyday life — like garages— and made them so absolutely new and surprising that his listeners couldn’t help but run off to write home. How else could a mustard seed — the cause of the biblical-era equivalent of a kudzu vine epidemic — become such a powerful symbol for God’s Kingdom? In God’s inaugurated kingdom, healing garages point to a time where the sinful actions that open a gulf between God’s design for humankind and the actual state of affairs will be reconciled. At this time, the broken pieces of our lives and our world will come together and be healed as we are reconciled with God and with one another.

The ILEP is God’s agent of reconciliation and is reaching out from this healing garage into a broken world. Where others see only poverty and hurt, the ILEP sees signs of the promised Kingdom that keeps coming through the power of the gospel. This is why each year the ILEP plants a new faith community, responds to disasters like the recent mudslides in Chosica, advocates on key issues like water and the environment, and has expanded the Wembrando education and health ministry to nearly all it congregations. I ask that you keep the church in Peru close to your hearts as their recently elected leaders seek to respond to the gift of God’s grace in their lives!


‘Today, we have made history!’

Posted on July 14, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dana Nelson and Thomas Ososki are ELCA missionaries in Peru serving in parish ministry. To support Dana and Thomas, or another of the ELCA’s 225 missionaries, go to

The Rev. Dana Nelson and Thomas Ososki

The Rev. Dana Nelson and Thomas Ososki

Grace and peace to you from Lima!

We had our first ecumenical wedding in the Peruvian Lutheran Church (ILEP) this spring. In Peru, it is not easy to find a church that will marry a Roman Catholic and Protestant couple. I know that may sound strange, but, unfortunately, there is still a big divide between many “catolicos” y “evangelicos.

Maria del Pilar and Franklin, two bright, talented, young people, knocked on the door of Cristo Rey because they heard the Lutherans are “open minded” and would welcome them just as they are, and respect and honor the religious histories and traditions of their two families. At the same time, they were concerned about what Franklin’s family, especially his brothers, would feel about having a woman preach in church. They admitted that at age 37, they had never seen a female minister administer sacraments before until they started coming to the Lutheran church.

So after a few weeks of searching, and about fifty phone calls, we found, thank goodness, a priest, Father Diego, who was comfortable with the idea of this “mixed marriage.” He had served as a missionary priest in countries outside of Peru, so it was not so strange for him. In fact, when asked if he would be interested and willing to co-officiate the ceremony (for the sake of Franklin and Maripili and their 400 guests), Padre Diego actually said he would be “encantado” (delighted, enchanted) to participate. It was so much fun! We had a long and elaborate ceremony with Holy Communion and everything (because that’s what the couple wanted) and when it was over, and the guests filed out of the church to go on to the reception, Maripili and Franklin, with big smiles on their faces, said to Padre Diego and me, “!Hoy hemos hecho historia!” “Today, we have made history!”

So to be a Lutheran missionary in Peru is very special. The Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church has always promoted ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, and above all gender equality. In fact, when the church was first formed, and the first Peruvian national pastors were ordained, three of the five were women.

Que Dios les bendiga, May God bless you.
Pastora Dana

Working to stop domestic violence

Posted on January 24, 2012 by Hand In Hand

Dana Nelson is an ELCA missionary in Lima, Peru. To support Dana, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to


Among the participants of a recent workshop on domestic violence was a woman, third from the left, who had been attacked with boiling water.

Among the participants of a recent workshop on domestic violence was a woman, third from the left, who had been attacked with boiling water.

Dear sponsoring congregations, friends and family,

Domestic Violence is a serious issue all over the world as we know.  Peru, where there is a lot of machismo, is no exception.

I am thrilled to have found an excellent program to prevent and stop domestic violence in Peru. It is called Alto a la Violencia (Stop the Violence). In the Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, we have hosted, so far, three of these trainings.

The photo included here is a small group that gathered in Cristo Rey for a workshop.  The tall woman in the photo (third from left and next to me) survived her boyfriend pouring a huge pan of boiling water over her face and body when she was sleeping. Now that she has recovered and healed, she is speaking out, teaching others in Lima what to do if they are in violent relationships, how to get help, how to be safe, how to seek justice and protection, and know their rights as human beings.

In St. Paul, Minn., before I went to seminary, I worked for a time as an advocate in the Latina organization Casa de Esperanza in their domestic violence shelter. I am passionate about ending domestic violence in the world and grateful that God has called me here to Peru to continue this struggle in a small way.

God bless the people of the Alto a la Violencia project as they carry on their important work! They do such good and effective trainings that there is talk of replicating the project in other South American countries.

Have a wonderful new year! Que Dios les bendiga mucho. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Pastora Dana


For the Sake of the World, con much amor

Posted on June 27, 2010 by Hand In Hand

The English class of Cristo Rey Lutheran congregation (Lima, Peru) studied the script and watched For the Sake of the World, a video presentation that explains how ELCA global ministries are funded. 

This was more than an English-language exercise for the class, for they are “hand in hand” investors in ELCA global ministries.  Their English teacher and pastor, Dana Nelson, is a sponsored ELCA missionary.   During Lent, the class used the ELCA World Hunger 40-day calendar and coin box.  “When Easter came,” writes Pr. Nelson, “we emptied all of our boxes together on the classroom table and found that together we had collected 87 Peruvian soles  (about $30 U.S. dollars) to donate to ELCA World Hunger.   The students collected this money con mucho amor (with much love).   They were so excited to watch the video presentation and see how their gifts are being used to help people all over the world.

Find the six-minute video presentation online at or contact to request a DVD.–Sue Edison-Swift.

Giving thanks: Pr. Dana Nelson and Thomas Ososki

Posted on November 26, 2009 by Hand In Hand

This is the next in a series of “Give thanks!” moments offered by ELCA missionaries and sponsors. Learn more about Operation Thanks-Giving at –Pr. Twila Schock.

Pr. Dana Nelson and Tom Ososki write, “On our first Thanksgiving here in Peru as a missionary family, it was really important to me that our kids get a chance to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Yet, I didn’t have time to cook!   So we made a ton of unsuccessful phone calls and drove all around the huge city of Lima trying to find a restaurant that served  “Thanksgiving food.”   We finally found one, after it was already dark out.  It was inside a golf-hotel far on the other side of the city.  I remember looking at our small kids across the table in a huge formal dining room that was practically empty.  Our second year in Lima, Thanksgiving was totally different.  We were not alone!  We found a church that has a big, welcoming pot-luck Thanksgiving supper and an ecumenical worship service.  Dozens of people were there from all around the world.  I met other missionaries working in Peru and many other folks as well.  My husband and kids and I shared a table with a Peruvian family.  It was a wonderful evening!

NelsonThomasELCA missionaries Dana Nelson and Tom Ososki work in parish ministry in Peru.   The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru (ILEP) is a young church of over 1100 members, committed to working with the most vulnerable in society.  Its congregations are mostly in Lima, with one each in Cusco and Iquitos.  The ELCA accompanies the ILEP in the areas of leadership development and mission outreach.

Peru prayer request

Posted on June 11, 2009 by admin

invitacion-793827The Rev. Dana Nelson and her husband, Thomas Ososki, are ELCA missionaries serving in Peru. Pastor Nelson sends this request for our prayers.–Sue

Please, from wherever you are, pray with us for an end to the violence in the Amazon rainforest of Peru where the native people and national government officials are killing each other over land rights. The area where the native people have been living for generations has oil and gold in it.

Please pray with us. The Church of Sweden is joining us in prayer together with our Peruvian Lutheran Church (ILEP) and churches of all denominations around Peru.
Pastora Dana in Lima