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.

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.