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In coordination with the Lutheran Church in Guatemala and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Disaster Response team, staff from LHM—Guatemala are assisting people affected by the country's most violent volcano eruption in more than 100 years. The June 3 eruption of the Fuego volcano sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing or injuring several dozens of people and leading local authorities to believe the death toll will continue to rise with many people still unaccounted for. Although the initial eruption has ended, its aftermath will continue to impact 1.7 million people, with the possibility for additional eruptions and mudslides containing volcanic material.

As with all of its outreach activities, LHM staff and volunteers in Guatemala are sharing the Good News of Jesus with those affected and delivering hope as they begin to pull their lives together. As native residents, LHM's staff and volunteers understand the unique needs of their people and how to demonstrate Christ's love to them.

"On behalf of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala, I want to thank Christ for All Nations (LHM in Guatemala) for participating in our visit to the victims of the eruption of the Fuego volcano and bringing along Bibles and literature that allow us to give spiritual encouragement to the people who are suffering," said the Rev. Dr. Abdiel Orozco, president of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala.

While we thank and praise God for His continuing grace and mercy in keeping our staff members safe during this tragedy, we also ask that you please pray for the people of Guatemala, especially those who have been injured or lost family members or their homes.

To support LHM's ongoing ministry work taking place in Guatemala, visit https://www.lhm.org/give/forms/formgeneral.asp?id=16.

LHM's Project JOEL program continues to have great success providing youth throughout Latin America with biblically-based guidance in making healthy lifestyle choices. The program has been integrated into school curriculum in some countries, but also supplements its educational content by incorporating opportunities for holding sporting and cultural events. As a strong outreach program throughout the region, Project JOEL is now reaching more than 35,000 students in public and private schools annually who are being impacted by God's Word in their lives, and consequently impacting their families.

In Paraguay, this impact on families is being seen through a new program offered to the mothers of students in some of the public schools where Project JOEL was being carried out. The "Bread of Life" program, developed and implemented by LHM - Paraguay Director Victor Verruck and his wife Estefana, was offered for free as a three-month training course consisting of weekly six-hour classes where the ladies from low-income families are taught how to bake different kinds of bread and pastries. Estefana, who previously owned her own bakery, volunteers to lead the classes and offer her professional baking skills with the attendees.

For some of the ladies, this program has led to a source of income by not only teaching them how to bake but also sell their homemade products within their neighborhoods. During the time of fermentation during each class, Victor and his wife offer short presentations on topics such as parenthood, home violence, marriage relationships, communication, and sexuality that are of concern to the women in the class. It also provides time for God's Word, the eternal Bread of life, to be shared and impact the lives of the women, many who knew very little about Christ before participating in the classes.

"I learned a lot and had the opportunity to participate and interact with members of the Lutheran Church to learn more about our Savior Jesus Christ," says one attendee. Another participant added, "This course taught me about the importance of work and therefore I changed my attitude towards it. I learned that the Bible says that the one who does not work does not eat."

Have you ever been told, "the longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives"? This was the case for LHM's Thailand ministry center when it celebrated its 25th anniversary Nov. 11 - approximately one year after its official anniversary date. The original anniversary celebration was scheduled for November 2016, but was postponed due to the death of the Thai king a few weeks before the event.

This year's celebration dinner was attended by nearly 200 donors and supporters of the ministry. The event began with a time of worship and special songs and dances performed by ministry partners followed by Rev. Dr. Douglas Rutt, LHM's director of international ministries, sharing a message based around the anniversary theme of "Thank the Lord for He is Good." LHM President & CEO Kurt Buchholz provided an overview of LHM's worldwide work and Gunya Na Thalang, LHM's regional director for Asia and the original director of LHM-Thailand, thanked donors for their continued support.

"I feel joy and give thanks to God that we have been able to continue doing ministry for so many years without opposition," says Monta "Boom" Ekwanit Denow, LHM's director in Thailand. "I'm also thankful for the leaders and staff in our St. Louis headquarters who provide encouragement, prayers, and financial support and for our advocacy board, radio speakers, and staff who work so hard."

LHM-Thailand primarily concentrates on using mass media technologies to proclaim the Gospel to the Thai people and to support local churches and LCMS missionaries in their evangelism efforts. LHM's work is rapidly expanding out of Bangkok into the central, southern, and northeast portions of Thailand. According to staff members, there is great potential for bringing the Savior to millions of Thai people who don't yet know Him since the government and people are currently quite open-minded and receptive to this message.

The ministry has impacted thousands of people through its outreach activities over the last 25-plus years, but Denow says two memories immediately come to mind.

"We assisted victims of the December 2004 tsunami by providing kitchen supplies, life jackets, transistor radios, and fishing boats," she says. "We then worked together with two local Lutheran pastors and church members who continued doing follow-up activities with the victims. As a result, 35 people who received our help were baptized.

"I also remember how God used our radio ministry with a man who listened to our broadcasts on a transistor radio while selling ice cream from his motorcycle," says Denow. "He told us that he learned about God from our programs and he never felt alone while he was listening because He knew that God was with him. He got baptized and is now very active in his church."

We give thanks to God for blessing our work in Thailand and pray that He will continue to show us the
way toward the accomplishment of His mission.

"I like to invite my classmates to activities at our church!" says David. David is a sixth-grade student at Jesús en los Pobres School in Loma Cova, a suburb of Panama City. He is also a volunteer for Project Timothy, an emerging outreach program of Lutheran Hour Ministries-Panama.

"Project Timothy grew out of our Project JOEL program," says the director of LHM's Panama ministry center. "We have seen tremendous success with Project JOEL, which uses biblical principles to teach values and healthy life choices to children and youth." The program has been approved by Panama's Department of Education and recognized for its excellence.

"But since Project JOEL focuses on character-building," the director says, "we saw there was room for a program whose purpose was evangelistic."

As in most places, pastors and churches are not permitted to interact directly with teachers and students in Panamanian schools. But children may invite their classmates to a Sunday school, youth group, or congregational activity at their church. Project Timothy helps local congregations coordinate events like that and also trains and motivates children to reach out.

"So Project Timothy is targeted at children and youth in the community that is served by a particular congregation," says LHM Panama's director. "The goal of the project is to connect the children with that local church."

David grew up learning to know Jesus at Dios es Grande (God is Great) Lutheran Church in Loma Cova, a congregation that has long enjoyed a close relationship with LHM-Panama. Project Timothy has provided him a context for putting his faith to work by inviting his fellow students to know Jesus as he does.

"For the Glory of God, David is the result of the interplay of Project Timothy and the leadership of the Lutheran Church in Loma Cova," the LHM director says.

"I have learned things from God and values that I really enjoy sharing!" David says.

Look for more on Project Timothy as the LHM-Panama program grows.

"We are celebrating with a very cool project," says Lutheran Hour Ministries Uruguay Director. "It's called 'Luteraventuras'!"

Luteraventuras, or Luther Adventures, features the Special Edition Martin Luther figure made by international toy manufacturer Playmobil. Students at San Pablo Lutheran School in Montevideo can take the Luther figure home for a week, along with a copy of Paul L. Maier's book Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World. They are encouraged to take Luther with them on their daily adventures, snapping photos of him, uploading the images to social media such as Facebook, and including the hashtag #luteraventuras.

Little Luther has been getting around. "To our surprise, many kids have had fun with the idea and have had great adventures with Martin! We are delighted that our ministry can be 'godparents' of this initiative to help make know our legacy as Lutherans in this special year."

Read more stories from our ministry centers around the world:

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