Martin Luther College

Thalassa Prize


This award is given to recognize a Martin Luther College student or graduate who expresses clearly and beautifully, in image and word, a personal reflection on a ministry experience overseas.

2017 Winner:
“A Place of Honor”

Rebecca Wendland ’96 helps her husband, Pastor Robert Wendland WLS ’98, serve the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA) in Malawi. Rebecca designated half of her $1000 prize to the LCCA. This is the eleventh annual Thalassa Prize.

When I turned my head, I saw dozens of blinking eyes. Kids. Lots of them. They were crowding around and pushing forward trying to see. It wasn’t to stare at a screen. They came to worship.

Bursting-at-the-seams church services in Malawi, Africa, aren’t unusual. A church celebration is a highlight in village life. People dress their best. They walk hours and cover many kilometers to attend. For what? Dirt floors, brick walls, cement benches. It’s really God’s Word that people spend their whole Sunday to hear.

As I attended a special church event in a southern Malawi village, I was introduced to a dozen respected chiefs who traveled from nearby villages for the occasion. They were escorted to plastic chairs at the front. National pastors were also ushered to chairs. It wasn’t long before I was surprisingly offered a chair. What an honor. Sitting was a special privilege. That seat was my secured space for the next several hours while anthems were sung and sermons were preached. I looked around. The church was absolutely packed. Hundreds of people were crammed shoulder to shoulder sitting on benches or on the floor. Hundreds more were crowded into the doorways, standing, leaning, and straining to listen and participate.

It was a day of sharing Jesus and our hope in heaven. Scripture proclaims that believers can confidently look forward to their guaranteed place in heaven. John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Worship in heaven will no doubt transcend brick obstacles.

I look forward to the day I will sit or stand shoulder to shoulder with countless believers gathered from around the world to worship in our Savior’s presence. It will truly be a heavenly “place of honor” praising God together, forever.


Purposes of the MLC Thalassa Prize

  • To express gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve him in international venues.
  • To provide an opportunity for MLC students and graduates in international ministry to share their stories.
  • To motivate and inspire current MLC students to consider serving overseas.
  • To bring glory to God through excellence in the arts of photography and creative writing.
  • To reaffirm through image and word the dignity of the entire human race and the desire of God to save all people.

Entrance Requirements

  • Open to all MLC undergraduates and graduates who have done ministry or are doing ministry outside the United States.
  • Each entry must include
    • A completed entry form.
    • A color digital photograph taken in a foreign mission field.
    • A personal reflection on ministry in that foreign mission field.
  • Entrants may submit as many entries as they wish.
  • Deadline for all submissions: April 30, 2017
  • Check out photo and essay specifications, judging criteria, and tips for entrants here.


  • The Thalassa Prize recipient will be announced in May or June.
  • The prize will be divided equally between the winner and an international mission of the winner’s choice.