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.

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig

Posted on January 7, 2012 by Franklin Ishida

Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig served in Tanzania from 2004 to 2011, though they both had lived there when they were younger. Kristopher is a palliative care/hospice physician by training and Rebecca is a nurse. They both worked with a palliative care home-health team out of Selian Lutheran Hospital, helping terminally ill people with control of their symptoms, emotional and family support, and spiritual care.

To support any of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to


Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Marissa and Viking Dietrich

Posted on December 3, 2011 by Franklin Ishida

Viking and Marissa Dietrich served in Senegal from 1992-2009, and Ghana from 2009-2011. Viking’s call to mission service in Senegal was driven by the opportunity to use Christian witness in a Muslim context as a means of fostering community and peaceful relations. He served both international and Senegalese churches, as well as managed a post-literacy project. He also was general secretary for the Joint Christian Ministry in West Africa and later served as Global Mission’s regional representative based in Ghana. Marissa taught in international schools in both countries.

To support any of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Paula Powell

Posted on February 15, 2011 by Franklin Ishida

Paula was in South Africa with the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa where she worked with the HIV/AIDS program. She served July 2006 through June 2010. Prior to her service, Paula resided in Greeley, Colorado.

ELCA missionaries serving in Cairo back in the US

Posted on February 3, 2011 by Hand In Hand
Pastor Peter and son Liam at the Cairo Airport. Picture from the CNN website.

According to the latest ELCA news release, the 10 ELCA missionaries who serve in Cairo and family members are now in St. Paul, Minn., their temporary home until they are able to return to their assignments when the crisis in Egypt subsides. Members of Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, a congregation Johnson previously served and who now sponsors the Johnsons, met the missionaries at the airport. Members also provided the missionaries with supplies and personal items, such as winter coats. Members of Roseville (Minn.) Lutheran Church, longtime sponsors of ELCA missionaries and the apartments the missionaries are staying at, also provided support.”
Read more…

One of the members of St. Andrew United Church, where Pastor Peter and Intern Pastor Paul serve, filmed this video about recent violence at the church.

Pastor Peter commented by website on recent violence at their church:

Due to our location across from the High Court buildings, St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo has seen much activity in our neighborhood: protesters, tear gas, gun fire, etc. A few nights ago, the church was broken into by looters, though it appears nothing valuable was taken from the property. The next day, members of the church took church valuables to their homes in several locations around Cairo for safe keeping. The facade of the Guild Hall and a few windows have been damaged by bullets. Although the door of the sacristy was broken, the sanctuary appears fine.

Robert O. Smith, ELCA Global Mission Director for the Middle East, noting that none of the church’s symbols were harmed during the incident, observed that these looters were likely looking for something to sell rather than an expressing any anti-Christian sentiment.

The missionaries left with “mixed feelings,” according to the news release, and with the people and companions of Egypt in their hearts.  They look forward to returning when they can.

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Sister Ruth Ellen Rebelein

Posted on January 15, 2011 by Franklin Ishida

Sister Ruth Ellen, an ELCA deaconess, began her service as a teacher in the Senior Flierl Seminary in Logaweng, Papua New Guinea. She has spent the last 12 years as teacher at the Seminary and a voice in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea. Prior to her service with the ELCA Global Mission, Sister Ruth Ellen resided in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Benjamin and Margit Coltvet

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Franklin Ishida

The Rev. Dr. Benjamin and Margit were called to served as Pastor of the American Church in Berlin, Germany, in September 2002, where they served until June 2010. Prior to responding to the call to serve in Germany they resided in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Charles Fredrickson and Beth Borstad

Posted on November 1, 2010 by Franklin Ishida

The Rev. Charles and Beth were called to serve as Pastor in the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church. They served July 2006 through June 2010 in Nagoya. Prior to heading to Japan, Charles and Beth resided in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Marv Kananen and Jean Wahlstrom

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Franklin Ishida

Marv and Jean arrived in Arusha, Tanzania July of 1998. By invitation of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Arusha Diocese, Marv and Jean were called to serve at the Maasae Girl’s Lutheran Secondary School. During Marv and Jean’s 12 years at the school, they served as Teacher and Education Developer and Pastoral Counselor. Prior to heading to Tanzania they resided in Bellevue, Washington.