Established twenty years ago as the first secondary school for girls among the MaaSai, Bethel has had the privilege of being a partner with the school since the very beginning. In 1997, the congregation funded the construction of the chaplain’s residence (the Hottle House), and, in 1998, began to sponsor the full tuition, room, and board for many different students. Among these many students is Nanyoke Nasira, the first female physician from the MaaSai people. Bethel sponsored her entire medical school. In 2015, a group of 9 Bethel members ventured to Tanzania to help celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the school (and 50 years of Operation Bootstrap Africa).
Selian Lutheran Hospital
In 1986, the Lord led Dr. Jack and Jane McAllister to an interesting relationship with Dr. Mark Jacobson, an ELCA missionary and executive director of the Selian Lutheran Hospital near Arusha. The McAllisters eagerly raised money and materials for the construction of what has become a state of the art hospital, one of the most widely recognized hospitals in East Africa. The hospital is unique in its intimate connection of faith and health. “Doctors are remiss if they don’t pray with their patients,” Jacobson says. In 2008, Bethel members participated in a mission trip to Tanzania in time to help celebrate the opening of Selian’s sister hospital, Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre, which will serve the urban poor in Arusha.
Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre is another state of the art hospital for the city of Arusha and all of East Africa. Dr. Mark Jacobson has moved on from Selian to serve as Executive Director at ALMC. Recently, ALMC has opened a nursing school that is already a tremendous blessing to the health area. Bethel has committed to help equip and support both ALMC and the new nursing school.
The Plaster House
Several years ago, Howard and Earlene Kemnitz began a mission of love with children in The Philippines. Living and working in Hong Kong, the Kemnitz’s were introduced to the enormous number of street children, particularly in Manila. That’s when the Lord led them to a struggling Lutheran orphanage there. After numerous visits and prayer, they helped begin a day program for the homeless children, with special emphasis given to older children in school. The program has grown to include nearly 100 children.
In the fall of 2004, with the help of Bethel’s Servant Ministry Board, the Kemnitz’s initiated The Philippines Missions Team at Bethel, with hopes of raising additional interest and funds. In June 2005 the director of CCS in The Philippines, Beth Caces, visited Bethel, leading Sunday School and a special Global Missions dinner that evening.
In March 2006, Bethel members Terri Hollingsworth and Susie Beyer accompanied Howard and Earlene Kemnitz on a missions trip to The Philippines, and visited Concordia. “It was an amazing experience,” Terri Hollingsworth said. “I’m already planning to go back!”
In 2013, Howard Kemnitz was elected to the Board.
In 2003, one of Bethel’s members was invited to serve on the Board of Directors for Bethania Kids. Bethania is a Lutheran-affiliated foundation that funds and supports orphanages, day care centers, and after school programs in south India. (Visit their website at www.bethaniakids.org.)
After making two trips to India in 2004, we began the process of introducing Bethania to the members of Bethel – something that reached a dramatic climax once the December 26 tsunami devastated portions of southeast Asia. Members of Bethel initiated a fundraising project that eventually raised $100,000 and built three orphanages for children newly orphaned by the disaster.
Since 2006, teams from Bethel, including some of our high school students, have conducted several mission trips to Bethania Kids in India. Our most recent trip took place in 2014.