By Cindy Novak
Julie Pavri understands Christ’s Great Commission: to proclaim the good news of the gospel throughout the world.
“There are certain people with certain gifts who can go into other cultures and do a wonderful job,” she says. “And for those of us who can’t, we need to support them, as well as support our local missions.”
As an ELCA missionary sponsor, Julie has discovered a way to answer Christ’s call. She supports Dana Nelson and her husband, Tom Ososki, as well as their two children, Tana, 9, and Anthony, 6. And supporting Dana couldn’t be easier, Julie says, referring to the opportunity to support missionaries through ELCA Missionary Sponsorship.
The support Dana and Tom receive from sponsors like Julie helps make their calling to mission work in Peru a reality. And Julie, who also is Dana’s aunt, cannot think of anyone who could do the job better, she says. “She is very culturally sensitive and at ease about speaking about her faith. She has a lot of qualities that make her really good.”
Dana serves as pastor of Talitha Kum (which means “Little Girl, Get Up!”) in Cusco, in the Andes Mountains, near Machu Picchu. Prior to that, Dana was “pastora” of Cristo Rey in Lima.
“I am constantly surprised by how God creates all people in God’s image,” Dana says of her service. “The more I learn about the world, the more I realize how incredible wonderful, great and mysterious God is. I feel very lucky and humbled.”
Working in the Southern Hemisphere, far from her Midwestern roots, keeps Dana “constantly challenged and on the learning and growing edge,” she says. “There are so many different languages and cultures in the world, and each one reflects new ways of seeing, living and learning.”
In her role in Cusco, Dana ministers in word and sacrament: preaching, baptizing, distributing the Eucharist, and leading worship. She also leads Bible studies, teaches confirmation classes, and assists with such programs as serving breakfast to 50 at-risk school children. Dana also looks forward to helping with an after-school tutoring program, which will take place in the future.
And Julie enjoys staying up-to-date with Dana’s work, via the newsletters she sends to sponsors. “When you can make something that is happening globally personal if you can hear the stories and see the photographs, it makes it much more meaningful. It is not just a concept anymore.”
“I am particularly moved by the concept of the worldwide church, and the thought of different cultures proclaiming and celebrating the gospel based on thousands of years of tradition,” Julie adds. “The vision of people saying the Lord’s Prayer around the world for thousands of years … I find that very moving.”
Cindy Novak is a member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill. She lives in Lisle, Ill., with her husband, David, and her children, Sam and Emily.