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.

Gifting From an IRA Makes Tax-Wise Sense

By Kate Tohal, MLC resource development counselor

A Minnesota District donor has been generously giving to Martin Luther College directly from her IRA, supporting the college she loves and reducing her tax burden as well.

Once a student and an organ instructor at DMLC, she knows how important it is to support the college that trains the much-needed teachers and pastors for our WELS schools and congregations. “How blessed the WELS is to have MLC,” she says, “a college that provides our students with such an excellent Christian education, whether they eventually become pastors, teachers, or lay people.

A special thanks to all the dedicated faculty and staff members. Obviously it takes a lot of money to support the operation of a quality school.”

She and her husband have been giving gifts to MLC for some time, even before they were eligible to use their IRAs. When they turned 70½, she simply checked with her investment firm and asked them to send the gifts from her IRA directly to MLC, thereby reducing the tax they pay and supporting the MLC students who are preparing for gospel ministry.

The charitable IRA rollover allows donors age 70½ or older to make transfers from a traditional IRA directly to a qualified public charity, such as Martin Luther College. The gift can count toward your required minimum distribution, and you can avoid paying taxes on it. The maximum annual contribution amount is $100,000 per person or $200,000 per couple.

If you’d like to know more about a charitable IRA rollover, please contact us.

Kate Tohal
Resource Development Counselor

Rev. Michael Otterstatter
VP for Mission Advancement

WELS Christian Giving Ministry

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

Record Summer 2018 Enrollment: 875

We’re thanking God for a record-setting summer semester enrollment: 875 seats were filled in 85 different courses on
campus, online, and on location. That number includes Spanish immersion students and students who took more than one course. Here, we’d like to highlight the grad studies and continuing ed numbers, which are a tribute to WELS teachers’ dedication to their ministries and their Lord:

  • 437 GSCE students enrolled online
  • 328 GSCE students enrolled on location
    (30 courses hosted by 20 cities in 10 states)
  • 54 GSCE students enrolled on campus

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

MLC Volleyball Wins Team Academic Award

NEW ULM, Minn. – The Martin Luther College volleyball team earned the Team Academic Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Monday.

MLC also earned a spot in the AVCA Academic Honor Roll with one of the top 25 team grade point averages (GPA) in all of NCAA Division III.

A total of 173 teams in NCAA Division III earned the honor, which goes to teams that finished the academic year with a team grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher.

During the fall semester, the Knights finished with a team GPA of 3.82. That was not only the top GPA among all Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) volleyball teams, but also the highest team GPA of any team from any sport in the UMAC last year.

You can see the full release from the AVCA if you click here.

To view the list of schools to earn the Team Academic Award from the AVCA, click here.

Volleyball Earns AVCA Team Academic Honors

Martin Luther College volleyball team, headed by Coach Becky Cox, earned the Team Academic Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

The Knights finished among the top 25 of teams in NCAA Division III in the honor.

A total of 150 teams in NCAA Division III earned the honor, which goes to teams that finished the academic year with a team grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher.

During the fall semester, the Knights finished with the highest team GPA among all UMAC volleyball teams at 3.71.

You can see the full release from the AVCA if you click here.

We join them in thanking God for their gifts and abilities and for using them faithfully and humbly. May he continue to bless them in the season ahead!



Spanish Immersion Equips for Ministry


Professor Paul Bases took 37 participants on this summer’s Spanish immersion experience to Argentina.

The annual five-week, six-credit immersion course includes homestay programs, seven hours of daily language instruction, guided excursions, tango classes, and a weekend gaucho ranch excursion.

Most notably, students are required to take a Spanish-only pledge, speaking nothing but Spanish for the entire five weeks. Since 1995, “Profe” Bases has taken 470 participants on immersion trips to Spanish-speaking South American countries.

Any MLC student may sign up for these courses, no matter what their level of fluency. Students from Bethany Lutheran College (Mankato MN) and Wisconsin Lutheran College (Milwaukee) also sign up for the courses, as do current teachers and pastors.

This year, for instance, Pastor Phil Hunter MLC ’11, WLS ’15 and his wife, Andrea (Steinbrenner) Hunter ’10, participated. Pastor Hunter led worship services—in Spanish, of course. “It’s open to any and all who wish to study Spanish in an intensive high-quality program,” Bases says. “It’s a great way for both current students and called workers to work on their language proficiency skills.”

For those who want additional experiences after their first immersion course, Professor Bases also offers satellite immersion programs in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Chile.

Of the 550 education majors on the MLC campus, 27 are Spanish majors. Another seven students carry a Spanish minor. And preseminary students see the value of the language as well, with 30% (52 out of 172) taking Spanish courses to fulfill their nonbiblical language requirement.

Learning a foreign language is not merely an avenue to greater cultural awareness. It also opens doors for the gospel. With about 400 million native speakers, Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world, making mastery of this Romance language a ministry training asset.

One Spanish course— Communicating Christ—is focused exclusively on sharing the gospel. (The most widely spoken language in the world, with almost a billion native speakers, is Mandarin Chinese, which is also offered at MLC.)

“Those students who graduate from MLC with Spanish language proficiency are well-prepared to share the gospel with millions of souls, both here in the States and abroad,” Bases says. “What a blessing to share the love of Jesus with people in their own language.”