To The Ends Of The Earth -Second-Generation Americans at MLC

The late 19th-century classrooms of our predecessor institutions, Northwestern College and Dr. Martin Luther College, were full of second- and third-generation Americans. These students’ parents and grandparents had emigrated primarily from one country: Germany. More than a century later, many WELS schools are seeing an upswing in second-gen Americans again—not from Germany, but from Laos, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela—almost every corner of the globe. We’d like you to meet two of them: Buok and Sam, second-generation Americans who are excited to one day serve in the pastoral ministry.

Buok Chuol ’21
Sophomore, Preseminary Studies

“I just really love people,” says Buok Chuol (Good Shepherd- Omaha NE). “And there’s a great need for darker-skinned people in the ministry, so I decided to come to MLC.” Buok was born in the USA, but his family emigrated here from South Sudan in 1997, eventually finding a home and a church in Omaha, Nebraska.

Buok’s dad, Peter Bur, had been a pastor in South Sudan—leading a congregation within the Nuer tribe and staying true to God’s Word. “When we came to the US, we were looking for a church that matched our faith,” Buok says. “We came across the WELS, and we loved that it was Bible-based and that God was always first.”

After some training, Pastor Peter Bur was ordained as a WELS pastor. Now he serves at the church that first welcomed them.
has seen how God has blessed his father’s ministry at Good Shepherd, and that led him to pursue pastoral training too.

Sam Lor ’18
First-year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

“I was born here, but my parents were born in Laos,” says Sam Lor ’18. “My father is Hmong, and my mother is Mien. After the Vietnam War, they fled Laos and grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand until they received passage to the United States.

My father is now a pastor serving in Kansas City, and three of my uncles are also WELS pastors.” Sam didn’t attend MLC immediately. He began college at the University of Kansas, hoping to study medicine. After a semester, he realized that science was neither his strength nor his passion.

“A year later I enrolled at MLC. In response to God’s forgiveness, I found I could do nothing but serve him through the new life he’s given me through his death on the cross. I’m now at the seminary, and I hope to serve the Lord as a pastor wherever God may send me.”

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

To The Ends Of The Earth – International Students

Twelve international students from five different countries are enrolled this year at MLC. We’d like you to meet one
of them:

Jiacheng (Nicholas) Liu Senior,
Secondary Physics Ed & Secondary Math Ed

Jiacheng (Nicholas) Liu (St. Martin-Watertown SD) is a native of Shanghai. He graduated from Great Plains LHS in 2015. How did he know about GPLHS back in China?

“This is one of the most common questions I have been asked. I knew nothing about that school. I came here as a foreign exchange student, which meant that I could not pick where I went. I was a little scared because I knew it was a Lutheran school, and I knew nothing about God.

“At GPL, I had my first religion class and got my first Bible. God showed me my sin and my Savior, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit started my faith. I was baptized on March 10, 2014, and confirmed on May 25, 2014.

“Now here I am, a senior at Martin Luther College, training to be a called worker. As an international student, I think more about the outreach mission all around the world—for China, with 1.3 billion people, most not knowing their Savior.”

International Graduates- Where Are They Now?

Cecilia Díaz ’12

I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, and my family belonged to the Lutheran church there. I chose MLC after a group of MLC Spanish students visited Colombia in 2007 to get to know our church and school. I met some MLC professors as well, and they told me about the option to attend. I decided to take a leap of faith and do it. I graduated in the spring of 2012. I’m currently teaching at Reformation Lutheran School in San Diego. I love it here! The city is beautiful, and by the grace of God, our school is growing a lot. I even went back to school to get my master’s degree.

MLC gave me the knowledge and the confidence I needed to do my job well. It also fueled my relationship with Jesus. I love to be able to bring Jesus into the lives of people from all over the world. I believe God is using not only my education but also my background as an international student to reach more people for his kingdom.

YoungKwang (Frank) Kim ’16

I was born and raised in Suwon, South Korea, until I was 14. I was a Presbyterian until I met Pastor Young Ha Kim. After I met Pastor Kim, I became a Lutheran (ELS) and came to Great Plains LHS.

I had never heard of MLC until my junior year at GPLHS. I was always interested in becoming a teacher. However, I never expected to become a teacher at a Lutheran school in the United States. When I heard about MLC, I thought it would be a great school for me. I could be trained under God’s words with my friends in Christ. I am currently teaching at Huron Valley LHS in Westland, Michigan. I teach math, from Algebra 1 to Calculus, and I coach the junior varsity basketball team. I also coached baseball and soccer the last two years.

When I was in South Korea, I never expected to be teaching at HVL. I was a young boy who did not know anything. However, God has guided me with his words and people. God held my hands and trained me as a teacher—a teacher who teaches math but also God’s words. God had planned everything.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

To The Ends Of The Earth -STUDY ABOARD

Martin Luther College’s International Services Office and various professors help students coordinate long- and short-term study abroad trips that can change their lives and their future ministries. In the 2017-2018 school year, 73 students studied abroad, almost double the number of just two years earlier. Here are a few of their stories.


Abby Enstad ’21 (St. Paul-New Ulm MN, pictured) studied in Galway, Ireland, the spring semester of 2018. She remembers the bike ride along the coast of Galway Bay, the live street music, and the beef and stout pie.

“It was the best challenge I’ve ever given myself,” she said. “I gained confidence in my ability to handle and even thrive in new situations. And I learned that the gospel goes so far beyond the reaches of the WELS. I encourage every college student to study abroad and experience the world.”

Find Abby’s blog, and several others as well, at


Eleven students stood in awe at the foot of the Colosseum, peered into the canals of Venice, and tried world-famous pizza and gelato. An MLC-organized trip brought the Knights to Florence, Venice, and Rome while earning them a college credit.
“I’ve taken Latin for years, so I’ve been hoping to travel here for a long time,” says Brea Biebert (Shepherd of the Hills-Inver Grove Heights MN, pictured). “It was life-changing and so much better than I expected!”


“Studying abroad was easily one of the best decisions of my college years,” said Collin Wenzel ’18, who studied in Germany the spring of 2017. “Attending a university in Berlin gave me the opportunity to study the exciting history of 20th-century Europe from a professor who lived in it, to study classical music in a continent so rich in the arts, and to learn the German language by being immersed in it every day.”

Now a first-year student at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Collin says his European experience went far beyond historical and cultural education.

“Putting yourself in a foreign city will give you the practice of connecting with people of different cultures and backgrounds every time you turn the corner. This invaluable ministry experience prepares you to take God’s Word ‘to every nation, tribe, language, and people’ (Rev. 14:6).”


Many MLC students join students from Bethany Lutheran College and Wisconsin Lutheran College on a Christmas flight to balmy Jamaica for a marine ecology course. This every-other-year trip takes them to a lab in Discovery Bay, where they snorkel through coral reefs to study the octopus, barracuda, jellyfish, eel, and stingray.

“It was incredible seeing so many different creatures living in the same ecosystem,” says Madison Ott (Faith-Sussex WI, pictured).

Spanish Language Immersion


Several students have completed Mandarin immersion studies in China in recent years, and a large number have signed a Spanish-only pledge and flown to South American countries like Argentina and Ecuador for five weeks of language classes and culture exploration. When they return, their Spanish skills are drastically improved, and they have a deeper appreciation for other cultures.

Nicole Wood ’18 and Josh Brands (Christ the King-Palm Coast FL) learned how to tango in Buenos Aires (pictured).

“The music, architecture, food, language, and people brewed a culture that was beautiful and authentic,” said Nicole. “My trip blessed me with friends, perspectives, experiences, and a growth in the Spanish language unlike any other.”

“Being immersed added a whole new level to learning Spanish that I will never forget,” said Josh.

Not Just for Undergrads

Last summer Barb Olsen (Senora Olsen to her Spanish students at Kettle Moraine LHS) studied in Buenos Aires with MLC immersion students. Barb’s husband, Tim, came a couple weeks later to make this a 25th anniversary vacation (Barb and Tim pictured in the Plaza de Mayo).

Barb studied with the students and their instructor, Julian, in the mornings and then took city excursions in the afternoons. She stayed at an apartment with a gracious Argentinian couple, and—when Tim arrived—at a vintage hotel in the city.

Dancing the tango, visiting gaucho ranches, enjoying the pizza, traveling to Uruguay and the waterfalls of Iguazu National Park, and having weekly devotions—in Spanish, of course—made for a great trip. Barb said, “Celebrating our anniversary and enjoying Argentine culture together was beyond phenomenal!”

Emily (Hughes) Seeber ’14 had taken an immersion trip after her sophomore year at MLC, but last summer she decided to go again—this time with her husband, Justin, and their one-year-old daughter, Isabelle (pictured).

Emily says Ecuador didn’t have car seats and aisles of baby food like the US, but “what it did have was friendly, kind people.” Izzy came to love their host family and the teachers at Vida Verde—and enjoyed all the sights and sounds of Ecuador.

After three weeks, it was back to Milwaukee where Emily teaches upper grade English at Salem LS, but she says, “Ecuador will always have a special place in our hearts,” and they speak Spanish at home with Izzy every day.

Whether you’re a Spanish teacher or just an interested learner, you can participate in the Spanish immersion trips. Contact Professor Paul Bases at

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

To The Ends Of The Earth – TEACHING ABROAD

The Gospel in VIETNAM

James Schlieper ’16 taught English to three levels of children (age 4, 8, and 12) at an ILA English Center in Ho Chi Minh City for 15 months in 2017 and 2018. His teaching overseas was coordinated by Friends of Vietnam, a nonprofit started by members at Peace in Jesus in Boise, Idaho (

Although teaching English provides a valuable service, James says his main goal was to share the gospel and assist Vietnamese students who wanted to attend a WELS high school. It was exciting work.

“It’s such a blessing to not know exactly what the Lord has planned for me each day,” he says, “but to know that he will present me with opportunities to spread the gospel. Last Easter I was able to teach my friend’s daughter about Christ’s death and resurrection. That was one of the best days of my life.”

Teaching with Love in LIMA

After two years at MLC, Hannah Ruehrdanz (Jerusalem-Morton Grove IL, pictured) and Seth Weide (Christ-Big Bend WI) couldn’t wait to enter the public ministry, so they flew to Lima, Peru, to teach English. “Overcoming a language barrier opens a million doors to people you might never have been able to talk to otherwise. I had a million opportunities to share God’s love with all my kiddos,” says Hannah. “How awesome is that!?”

Seth and Hannah taught at Colegio B-group started by the Berrospid family. “It’s just so obvious that God is working through them,” says Hannah. “Please pray that the mission here in Peru grows more and more!”

“My time there changed my life,” says Seth. “It was incredible experiencing another culture and language while living with a wonderful Christian family. I loved spending time with the kids learning English. They’re filled with energy to learn.”

This year, sophomore Alex Dimke (Good Shepherd-Cedar Rapids IA) is teaching in Peru.


Jenny Proeber ’07 says God has led her on this Spanish journey from day one. The Mexican family who worked on her family’s farm introduced her to the language. Teachers and textbooks imparted the skills, and several study abroad experiences sharpened them. She taught English to Spanish speakers in the Dominican Republic for a year before she graduated from MLC, and then she taught Spanish to English speakers at Great Plains LHS for eight years after she graduated.

In 2015, she moved to Chile to teach English, and in 2017, she founded her own language school, Grace Educational Center, in Linares. She has about 30 students of all ages. People come to the center to learn a language that will make them more employable in Linares, an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. But what they learn goes far beyond language.

“It’s a place where people can come to learn English, but above all,” she says, “a place where I can build connections in the community and share the powerful news of God’s undeserved love for us.”

She also started an “English Corner,” free intermediate and advanced conversation classes at a local café on Wednesdays.

And she studies the Bible with friends and connects them with Iglesia Luterana, an ELS mission in Linares. Volunteers like Caleb
King ’18 (see below) help teach the English classes and read the Bible with new friends.

Chile is a predominantly Christian country, with most people knowing Jesus and identifying with either the Catholic or the Evangelical churches. “Not everyone, however, has had the chance to know what Jesus is truly all about: grace,” Jenny says. “Hence, the name of my school, Grace Educational Center. The name itself is a chance to let people know about the beauty and power of God’s undeserved love.”

“Recently both Caleb and I were able to witness to a student as he struggles with a dear family member’s last days of life.

His grandma is a believer, while he struggles with organized religion. What a blessing to be able to reassure him that if she believes in Jesus as her Savior, then she is going to be dancing in heaven eternally—and without her oxygen machine!

“And then there’s Julio, a retired teacher who wanted to use his extra time to do something he always wanted: learn English. Julio was also caretaker for his very ill wife. A few months after starting English classes, his wife’s health declined and she passed away. The next week he came to class with tears in his eyes and confusion in his heart. ‘I’m both very sad and relieved. Is that ok?’ During the next few classes, we were able to talk about his hope. I could tell that Julio was lonely, so I told him I wanted to introduce him to my church family. He started coming rather regularly to church services and has shown interest in taking Bible classes. Praise God for all the blessings and grace he continues to show Julio!”

The Holy Spirit continues to work through the Word shared at Grace Educational Center. And Jenny isn’t sure just what the future holds, but she’s excited for it. “I’ve had so many plans in my life, and God always goes around changing them on me! I of course have lots of dreams of what I would like to accomplish through Grace Educational Center—like offering other languages or workshops—but I’ve learned to be content with enjoying the present and all the blessings God continues to pour out on his work here in Linares.”

La Aventura Sudamericana

Caleb King ’18 (St. John-Lomira WI) admits he started taking Spanish at Winnebago Lutheran Academy simply because his favorite soccer team was Real Madrid. As a preseminary student at MLC, he continued with Spanish to fulfill his nonbiblical language requirement.

Today he’s a few months into La Aventura Sudamericana, his South American Adventure: a year in Linares, Chile, where he teaches English with Jenny Proeber at Grace Educational Center (pictured below left), assists with worship at La Iglesia Luterana, and reads the Bible with new friends and fellow Christians.

“I know this time away will be an amazing time for personal growth as a Spanish speaker, as an independent person, as someone with a severe case of wanderlust, and as a future minister of the gospel to God’s people of every tribe and language,” he says. “Already, one of my students has asked that I talk about the Bible and God with him in English! It’s been an incredible blessing and opportunity to witness to him!”

Next fall Caleb will matriculate at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary for his final four years of training before becoming a WELS pastor. What a journey! From Lomira, Wisconsin, to Linares, Chile— and maybe someday to your congregation. Read Caleb’s blog at

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

Welcome, Class Reunions

Five groups totaling more than 250 attendees came to campus to celebrate, reminisce, and reunite in the past few months.

Are you part of a class celebrating a milestone year in 2019? Looking to bring your team, cast, or friend group together on campus? We’d love to have you here on the hill. Contact the Alumni Office for assistance in facilitating your event.

Hosting Student Teachers— A Ministry of Hospitality

It was easy for Ginger Oestreich (Morning Star-Jackson WI) to list a dozen reasons why she and her husband, Mark, have hosted MLC student teachers.

“Being able to see what the Lord was doing with these kids and knowing some lucky classroom was going to receive one of them is probably the best reason,” she says.

Over the last five years, Mark and Ginger (pictured, center, with their family) have hosted nine student teachers, eight women and one man. The college students stay in the bedrooms her older boys used to sleep in, and since she makes suppers every night anyway, the student teachers make an easy addition to the family.

“I like to discuss their day with them at night,” she says. “We can sometimes answer questions or listen as they work out difficulties. The result is growing friendships that last a lifetime. We’ve been invited to weddings. We get pictures of babies. We even receive plain ‘how are you doing?’ notes. It’s like we have a large extended family all over the US.”

Professor Paul Tess DMLC ’77, MLC director of clinical experiences, is deeply grateful to families like the Oestreichs who host student teachers. “Giving student teachers a comfortable place to stay helps them put forth the best effort in the classroom,” he says.

About 100 MLC student teachers need housing every year, primarily near Wisconsin cities with an abundance of WELS schools—like Milwaukee, La Crosse, Watertown, and Appleton—but also near area Lutheran high schools in outlying districts. The teaching semester is 10 weeks, and MLC offers up to $790 in reimbursement for room and board, although many families donate some or all of that money back to the college.

The only requirements are a private bedroom for sleeping and studying, bathroom access, internet access, a parking spot for their car, and simple meals. Some families are fairly involved in their student teachers’ lives, and some are more hands-off, just offering a relaxing place to eat, study, and rest.

Hosting called workers and workers-in-training is a ministr y of hospitality with a rich scriptural histor y. We all remember Lydia, the seller of purple, who said to the apostle Paul very simply, “Come into my house and stay.” Professor Tess hopes that even more WELS families will participate in this tradition, joining families like the Oestreichs and saying to MLC student teachers: “Come into our house and stay.”

Would you like to learn more about hosting a student teacher in your home? Contact your school principal or Professor Paul Tess at

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

Best Online College in the Nation!

SR Education Group just named Martin Luther College’s Graduate Studies program the 2018 Best Online Christian College in the nation!

Using affordability and academic rigor as its criteria, this group evaluated all 328 accredited Christian colleges in the United States that offer at least one fully online program. MLC offers three degrees
comprised of eight programs:

  • MS-Education (ed tech, special ed, instruction, leadership)
  • MS-Educational Administration (principal, early childhood director)
  • MA-Theological Studies

Other colleges notching in the top 25 are Hamline University (MN), Augustana University (SD), and Valparaiso University (IN). Check it out at college.

We are grateful to all WELS congregations and individual donors who support MLC. Your gifts allow us to keep our tuition low and the quality of our professors and programs high.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

A Summer of Serving our Savior

by Julia Schibbelhut ’21 (St. Paul-Onalaska WI)


What’s your idea of a perfect summer? For 22 students at MLC, there’s no place they’d rather be than Camp Phillip—a summer camp in Wautoma, Wisconsin. These camp counselors don’t just jam out with kids around the campfire, lead adventures on the ropes course, and perform nightly skits, they also share the gospel with the children in their care—up to 1,200 campers throughout the summer!

“It is such a huge blessing to work directly with kids and with people who are so inspiring and passionate about ministry,” says Kasandra Wagner (Good Shepherd-Sioux Falls SD). Camp Phillip loves the MLC students in its crew, and MLC loves the real-life ministry experience that these students get at camp.


Mykenna Schneiter (Faith-Fond du Lac WI, pictured) spent a week this summer at Sure Foundation-Queens NY teaching kids
about color, creativity, and Christ. Mykenna and fellow MLC students Rachel Goddard (St. Paul-Saginaw MI) and Gabe Jacobsen (Shepherd of the Lakes-Fairmont MN) taught Bible stories and led art activities connected to the stories.

“At first, most of the kids wouldn’t answer any questions during Bible time,” she says, “but by the end of the week, they were raising their hands and sharing the Bible knowledge they had learned. It was so cool to see God’s Word at work!”


“This summer, I had the opportunity to spread Jesus’ love to people in Ukraine,” says preseminary student Caleb Christopher (Faith-Sharpsburg GA, pictured, front left, with his new Ukrainian friends). “This trip was the experience of a lifetime. It changed my outlook on outreach and the power of God’s Word.” For over a month, Caleb assisted two churches—aiding them in worship services and VBS programs.

“I was able to convey Jesus’ love to kids whose language I hardly spoke,” Caleb says. “The experience gave me friendships that will last into eternity and taught me that God’s love spans cultural and linguistic borders.”


Moriah Poehlman (St. John-Maribel WI, pictured) and Donovan Waege (St. Paul-Tomah WI) got their hands dirty (and their faces too!) while teaching kiddos at St. John-Maribel’s summer camp.

“I learned to treasure the kids and how much fun they are,” says Moriah. “Seeing their unique personalities made me look forward to my first call and meeting my future students!”

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.