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Global Mission Update: Willy Gaspar's Story (July 2012)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9 ESV).
One of the many faithful saints whom God is using to grow His church through witness and mercy is on the island of Hispaniola. It's Pastor Willy Gaspar — father, husband, dentist, professor, Lutheran pastor — and project manager or the LCMS’ disaster relief work in Haiti. Pastor Gaspar has been an instrument of God throughout his life. Even before he knew Christ as his Lord and Savior, God was orchestrating the details of Pastor Gaspar’s years on earth, preparing him for service.
He studied to be a dentist, and worked as one for a number of years. In 2005, after viewing the film, “Luther,” Gaspar and a group of his friends became interested in learning more about Lutheran theology and the formation of a Lutheran church in the Dominican Republic. When the first LCMS-supported missionaries were installed there in August 2005, Gaspar and a group of 13 others went to Santiago to meet them.
While continuing to work as a dentist, Gaspar began studying for the pastoral ministry under the guidance and instruction of missionaries Rev. Walter Ries and Rev. Ted Krey. In the summer of 2007, he and his wife, Santa, began hosting Bible studies, Sunday school and the occasional Vacation Bible School out of their home in Las Americas, in the hopes of one day planting a new congregation.
In July 2009, the first Baptisms were performed in the Gaspars’ home, as 80 people worshipped together in their garage. Later that year, the Lutheran mission was able to purchase land across the street from the Gaspars’ home for a church building.
Then, on Jan. 12, 2010, a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. In the aftermath of the quake, the LCMS engaged Pastor Gaspar to serve as on-site project manager for the Building Homes and Hope in Haiti program. He oversaw the building of homes in “Lutheran villages” in Leogane, ordered supplies, prepared for and accompanied short-term teams that built homes, and managed other details.
Throughout this time, Pastor and Santa Gaspar have tirelessly made a point of sharing the Gospel of Christ and examples of His mercy with the children and families in their neighborhood, in other cities and in Haiti. Whether it was as a dentist, project manager or pastor, the Lord provided Pastor Gaspar with opportunities to be involved in His work of mercy.
God has blessed this work in the Dominican Republic, and in September 2010 the first six members of a new congregation, “Amigos de Jesus,” or Friends of Jesus, were confirmed. On Oct. 9, 2011, the new building of the Amigos de Jesus congregation was dedicated in a worship service that also included the baptism of 15 youth and children and the confirmation of three adults.
This story gives me the opportunity to talk with you about the mission priorities set out by President Harrison for our Synod to accomplish our work together. They are as follows:
- Plant, sustain and revitalize distinctly Lutheran churches.
- Support and expand theological education.
- Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
- Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
- Nurture pastors, missionaries and professional workers to promote (among them) spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
- Enhance elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.
Willy Gaspar’s story demonstrates these priorities in action. What the Lord has accomplished through Pastor Gaspar’s life and ministry is truly marvelous.
I ask you to pray fervently for our pastors, teachers, missionaries, deaconesses and other workers, both here and around the world, as they share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Word and deed. I ask you to personally pray this prayer as a part of your daily faith walk with the Lord:
Father, I celebrate Your name among the nations for it is the name above every other promising forgiveness, life, and peace. May I, Your servant, boldly proclaim the saving work of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and may I daily bear witness to this faith given in the waters of baptism. For this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Finally, I ask you to continue your strong financial support, believing that God works through His people and the blessings He has bestowed upon them. He’s blessed us in our life together. Your financial gifts are important as we work together to change lives for eternity. Please give to this work with your continued financial support, giving as the Lord has blessed you.
The mission priorities of our church are very important, and I ask you to provide an abundance of gifts for “where needed most” so that new mission fields, like the Dominican Republic’s emerging church, can be started; so that current partner churches are strengthened and new pastors and missionaries like Pastor Gaspar can be prepared and installed into service.
Your gift of $50, $100, $250 or more can go a long way in helping to move our church forward in Witness, Mercy and Life Together.
Rev. Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer