August 19, 2011

This blog has moved...

If you follow this blog, you've noticed it hasn't been updated for a while.  Sorry about that.

We invite you to follow new ministry updates on these blogs:  --  Ministry updates on the work of the WELS Latin American Traveling Theological Educators team (LATTE).  This blog focuses on the ministerial education that is going on in the national churches of Latin America in fellowship with WELS, including periodic updates on the Dominican Republic.  --  Missionary Phil Strackbein and his wife Kathy were relocated from the Dominican Republic to Bolivia to assist a national church there more directly.  This blog focuses on the ministry and culture there.

Please note that the ministry here in the Dominican Republic continues through national pastors, even though their work may not be updated here.  So please keep the gospel ministry here in your prayers!  We thank God for you!

The Lord bless you with his Peace,
Missionary Wagenknecht

March 19, 2011

Goodbye, Santiago

During the past few months we have made several trips to the capital city of Santo Domingo. The purpose of our trips has been to acquire the necessary official papers that we will need to enter and live in the country of Bolivia. The decision has been taken that we will move there in March of 2011.

We have been in Santiago for the past five years and the blessings have been numerous and abundant. God has blessed his work among the people of Santiago, creating faith and removing barriers to the common faith that we have in Jesus as our Savior who continually forgives us all our sins. We have watched the people grow in their faith and love of the Savior.

One special memory we will carry with us is the faith worked in the heart of Juan. Having been a pastor of a Pentecostal church, he continually expressed his great joy in hearing the truth of the Scriptures and his profound appreciation of being convinced of these truths. One of Juan's favorite hymns is: "How Great the Joy of the Forgiven" (Cuanta Dicha La del Hombre). This hymn became a normal part of the liturgy that would be sung after the confession of sins. In spite of being a pastor teaching his members false doctrine, God had mercy on Him and sent a messenger to share with him the truth of His Word.

We also rejoice that the Lord has worked in the members a zeal for evangelism and spreading the good news of salvation in Jesus to their neighbors and friends. Through His work in their hearts and with His blessing, the people have taken up this responsibility as the work of all the congregation, not only the leaders.

We thank God for the opportunity He has given us to serve Him here in Santiago. The blessings have been His, given in abundance in spite of our weaknesses, and all the glory is also His only.

Thank you to all our faithful readers many who have written personally to give us their support and assurance of their prayers. Now, with the Lord's help we will continue serving in His kingdom in our new location, La Paz, Bolivia. We will continue to inform you of the Lord's continued blessings at our new location:

March 12, 2011

Island Wealth

During the past few weeks we have made several trips to the capital city of Santo Domingo. There are several bus lines that provide service for the two hour bus ride between the cities. Every time we make the trip we are amazed at the beauty and the variety of crops that we see just on this stretch of road.

My favorite is the rice fields. They have a special hue of green when growing that looks just wonderful. There are many miles of rice fields and their harvest helps to provide for the feeding the the nation.

We also see many orange orchards, plantain and banana fields and some tobacco fields. The DR produces cigarettes and cigars and many people have come to prefer the flavor of the Dominican cigar over that of the Cuban.

We also drive past the area where there are gold and nickel mines, but these cannot be seen from the road.

In just two hours, we see how richly God has blessed this small island with a variety of wealth. His mercy knows no bounds.

March 8, 2011


Hearts that desire to serve, people willing to participate in the work of the church, time dedicated to telling others of their Savior. With these objectives in mind, the women of the congregation Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God) decided to initiate a Ladies Group.

The group has already met several times and has elected evangelism as their primary goal. Some of the activities that will move the group forward are: to motivate and help parents to be faithful in daily devotions with their children, to make evangelism visits to neighbors and family members and to invite people to worship services and others activities in the church.

What a wonderful blessing to see the love the Holy Spirit has poured out in these hearts. The meetings have been well attended and the women are motivated to serve. May God continue to bless their work and grant them continued wisdom and zeal to serve and to bring the gospel to their Dominican neighbors.

February 20, 2011

Faithful workers

Work on the mission field is often slow and tedious. There are often setbacks in the work. When the work does go well, we give thanks to the Lord for this great blessing. "All that we have accomplished YOU have done for us" (Is. 26:12).

The work that Pastor Juan is doing in Pueblo Nuevo is very admirable. His congregation had previously been affiliated with a Pentecostal group. When he learned the true doctrine and teachings of the Bible through the witnessing of one of our seminary students, his desire was to share this teaching with his congregation. As can be expected, many of his members questioned this "new" teaching and many left his congregation.

Those who have remained are a small group. They receive much persecution from other surrounding churches and former members. Some Sundays, people who live close to the chapel will play loud music making it hard to concentrate on the message.

How have the members responded? They have been faithful. Pastor Juan diligently continues with his Bible studies and evangelism visits. The nucleus of members continue witnessing to their family and friends. Pastor Juan faithfully prepares sermons that are excellent and wonderful messages filled with clear law and gospel preaching.

We keep Pastor Juan and his congregation constantly in our prayers. They are thankful that the Lord sent the gospel to them and that they have been turned from their false beliefs by the work of the Holy Spirit. We ask God to bless their faithful efforts according to His will.

February 15, 2011

Heaven's Nursery

These past three weeks we have been rejoicing over the many baptisms that the Lord is sending to the Cordero de Dios congregation. This week has been no exception. The Lord, in His grace and mercy, granted another infant baptism again this week.

Esther was born on Thursday evening. After nine months, her parents and family welcomed her into their family with great joy. There are two older boys in the family, so as the first girl, her arrival was eagerly awaited.

She came home on Friday. But after being home for less than 24 hours, it became evident that all was not right. On Saturday the parents decided to take her back to the clinic. After an examination by the doctor, he decided that the seriousness of the case merited a transfer to a larger hospital with an intensive care unit specifically for infants. On the ambulance ride to the hospital, the mother, seeing the suffering of her infant baptized her newborn baby girl. After they arrived at the hospital, the doctors were unable to do anything for Esther. She died on Sunday evening.

After hearing about baptism for three weeks in Pastor Alex's sermons, these promises came to life today. Esther not only received baptism, she has already received all the benefits of that baptism. How much comfort theses promises offered to the parents. Baptism also now saves us! In the midst of their grief, the promises become more precious and shine a light in the midst of such pain. This little one is already in the Savior's arms. The Lord in His great love and mercy granted her life, just long enough to be able to be saved. What mercy, what great love. He made a way for Esther to be saved. Our rejoicing knows no end. Praise be to our God, who does all things well. Through the blessings of baptism He has welcomed another soul into the joys of His heavenly mansions.

February 6, 2011


There have been three Sundays in January, and on all three Sundays the Lord has blessed the congregation of Cordero de Dios with baptisms of new members. In 2010 there were a total of nine baptisms in the year. In 2011, we have had six baptisms just in the month of January.

Today, again, three children were brought by their parents to receive the sacrament of baptism. Three times Pastor Alex repeated the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost". Three souls received the forgiveness of their sins and were received as children of God. Three hearts were given the gift of faith in Jesus as their Savior.

These three children join the growing number of infant members at Cordero de Dios. Here is a photo of some of our "newest" members. Parents are bringing their children to hear the Word and the Lord is building up a future generation of believers. Today these infants heard "My Faith Looks Up To Thee" as part of their first worship service as believers. "Let the little children come to Me". And when they come, He blesses them with forgiveness, faith and eternal life.

January 31, 2011


Imagine that you work from 8AM to 6PM from Monday through Saturday. On Monday and Friday nights you attend Bible study at church. On Wednesday night you go to choir practice. On Sunday morning you attend worship service. What would you do on Sunday afternoons?

Recently, I was invited to accompany a friend, who is a member of the Moca congregation, on her Sunday outing who actually has this as her weekly schedule. We did not go out for coffee. We didn't see a movie. We didn't go to visit her family. Instead, she took me to a different area of the city I had not previously seen. The roads were not paved and most of the homes were made of wood with tin roofs. We visited two homes where I was able to participate in three different classes, two with adults and one with a group of teenage girls.

After working all week, this young lady dedicates Sunday afternoon to carrying the good news of the gospel to families who have not heard the message of free forgiveness. It was a wonderful thing to witness and a tremendous motivation to continue working for the Lord.

After a long week working as a secretary, her only free afternoon is spent teaching others about their Savior. The Holy Spirit has motivated her to share the gospel with others so He can create faith in their hearts. Thank you Lord for such zeal. May He work the same in me!

January 23, 2011

Baptisms, January 2011

What thoughts went through your mind when you held your firstborn for the first time? While your heart brimmed over with joy and contentment at seeing your child for the first time, what were you thinking? Didn't you promise yourself that you would do everything in your power to protect this new life from any harm? Wouldn't you face any enemy, stand in front of a speeding train, tear out your heart to protect your child?

While you were promising yourself to dedicate all your efforts to protect this new life, were you also promising yourself that you would baptize your child as soon as possible, that you would have daily family devotions to feed that faith and that you would faithfully bring this child to church to strengthen that faith?

With questions such as these, Pastor Alex encouraged his congregation to keep their focus on the spiritual welfare of their children. The physical things have their importance in the life and development of the child but the spiritual blessings carry an eternal promise. His message was directed especially to the parents of the two families who brought their children to be baptized today: Laura, 9 days old and Alexander, 3 yrs.

Praise and thanks be to God who continues to work faith in the hearts of those who hear His Word. Today, according to His promise, a child of 9 days and another 3 years of age, received the gift of forgiveness and faith. We rejoice with the angels.

January 9, 2011


Do you promise to remain faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures? I do.
Do you promise to support to work of the church with your time, talents and treasures? I do.

With promises such as these two new members were received into fellowship in the Moca congregation. It was a wonderful way to start the new year and there was much rejoicing among the other members of the congregation.

As we were rejoicing over the work of the Holy Spirit in creating and sustaining faith in these new members, someone tapped me on the shoulder and pulled me aside to tell me that their spouse had been unfaithful.

Do you promise to love and cherish..? I do
Do you promise to remain faithful and to forsake all others? I do.

Promises, when given produce much joy for the person who receives the pledge. But when promises are broken many hearts are crushed and lives thrown into disarray and sadness. How easy it is for us to move closer and closer to the "gray" areas of sin, so that when the prowling Satan attacks all he has to do is "pounce" and those promises easily become broken marriages and delinquent members. Satan doesn't have to run us down because we are already so comfortable dancing around in the gray areas.

There is someone who keeps all his promises. Someone who runs after us, seeks us out, calls us - our Savior. When we are unfaithful, he remains faithful. He keeps all His promises. And when we are unfaithful - He forgives.

Promises, promises. May He give us the strength to remain faithful to the promises we have given. May we always rejoice in Him - the only one who always remains faithful. With Jesus, a promise given is a promise kept.