Tami Ulland, North Dakota District Business Manager for the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, recently spent time in Chile visiting partner churches. It was a chance to visit with local ministries and see how they’re developing, what problems they may have and how to fix them, as well as address funding issues. But for Ulland it was also a journey of faith.
“It was such a re-energization, a re-invigoration,” Ulland said of being immersed in a different culture and witnessing how the people of Chile approach their faith.
Since they are partner churches, they do follow the same theology and practices of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, but what’s different is that a lot of Chile’s churches are mission-based.
“The mindset is so different,” Ulland said. “They’re true missionaries. They try to do something to give back to that community, and to provide a service where they can with an act of mercy. And the church grows out of that act of mercy, or that service that they’re able to provide to the community.”
One of the churches is attached to Bethesda Lutheran Home, which provides therapy services to people with disabilities. There are also churches with immigrant ministries and two attached to schools, one with around 200 children and one with 800.
Ulland said that the city of Constitución had a tsunami wipe out a large area in 2010 and the church went in to help by talking to people in camps. A church was started there and now there’s an after-school program at that location as well.
Ulland traveled with her daughter, Haley, who is a teacher in Park River. North Dakota District President Rev. Arie Bertsch and his wife, Doris, from Minot, joined them. The four attended a pastor’s conference in Santiago and Pastor Bertsch preached at a few local churches they traveled as well.
“We got to visit every single church that’s part of the Chile partnership with us,” Ulland said. “Their faith is so different, it’s hard to explain to people exactly what it is. There’s always such a joy coming through them of being able to confess and share their faith. And none of the churches are self-supporting, and that’s why we help.”
(This article was written by Brittany Brevik and was first published in The Walsh County Record.)