Archive for August 2012
Popular therapists often refer to healthy families and healthy people as resilient. The notion finds fertile ground among corporations, the government and churches because it captures the idea of being able to withstand struggle and adversity. According to the American Psychological Association, “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”
The Church calls pastors to Word and Sacrament ministries in order to nurture and sustain the men, women and children of their congregations. Pastors fulfill their callings by faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, administering the Sacraments and properly caring for their flocks. Every congregation is unique; yet, the common bond among them is the Word and the Sacraments.
Pastors proclaim the Word of Life in and out of season—personal struggles and needs are set aside for the sake of their flocks. Through their faithful preaching and teaching, parishioners grow in grace. Called to faith in Baptism, they grow “resilient” through ongoing Word and Sacrament ministry. This resilience is not merely a psychological ability to bounce back, but it is a spiritual growth and maturation in, by and through faith that hears the death knell of the law and seeks comfort in the righteousness of God through the atoning work of Jesus.
Bouncing back from adversity or difficulty is not a human endeavor, but it is the gift of God. God pronounces His forgiveness in the words of absolution proclaimed every Sunday, when pastors declare, “Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Such words are not only for the congregation, they are also for the called servants of the Word. Pastors may grow weary as they shepherd their flocks; yet, there is hope to bounce back but not by human endeavor. Rather, pastoral resilience is a gift of God, too.
Temptations abound to perform ministry by personal strength, intellect and persuasion. All such self-guided efforts lead to despair. There is hope, however. Resilient shepherds find consolation in the words of absolution, “. . . and for His sake forgives you all your sins.”
May every flock and every shepherd grow in resilience as they receive the forgiveness of sins and feast at the table of life.
“What is Resilience?” Copyright Information Online. n.d. http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/what-is-resilience (accessed August 16, 2012).
 “Divine Service Setting One”. LSB, page 151
Yesterday, we began the drive back from Moshi, Tanzania, to Arusha, Tanzania, back to Nairobi, Kenya. The scenery changed from the foot hills of Kilimanjaro, to the Mara / Serengeti which was very dry, to the hills of Nairobi.
In Arusha, Tanzania, we stopped at the Lutheran Centre, the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), to pay our respects to the leadership there, and to inform them that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA) were in discussions with one another. Bishop Alex Malasusa was not in Arusha when we visited. In fact, he was headed to Moshi, from where we just came. In Moshi, we did have an opportunity to meet with Rev. Ambele Mwaipopo, who is in charge of Mission and Evangelism for the ELCT. Mwaipopo also is responsible for ecumenical dialogs. In Arusha, we met with Brighton Killewa, the Secretary General of the ELCT, pictured above with Dr. Albert Collver and Rev. Shauen Trump.
View along the highway between Tanzania and Kenya.
From the highway between Arusha and Nairobi, we saw a compound for Chinese road workers. For the past decade, China has been investing heavily in Africa, and building the infrastructure such as roads to make it easier to remove raw materials from Africa for shipment to China. Some Chinese men also see Africa as the solution to the shortage of marriageable women in China. The arrival of the Chinese in Africa has created a mixed response with Africans, tending toward the negative. When we asked Church leaders where Chinese people could be found, the answer given was “on their compound.” The people we spoke to indicated that the Chinese laborers typically had little to do with the Africans. The average term of service for a Chinese worker in Africa is between 18 and 24 months before returning home to China. We asked several African church leaders were regarding the possibility of evangelism outreach toward the Chinese. The responses varied but ranged from a giggle to sure anything is possible (if you can get on the compound). One church leader said that the Chinese in Africa, which are estimated to be between 750,000 and 1 million divided among several African nations, are not a primary focus right now. He said the real challenge is Islam.
Pictured above is a mosque on the highway between Nairobi, Kenya, and Arusha, Tanzania. Along one stretch of highway between Kenya and Tanzania, sometimes literally in the middle of no where, one can find a mosque. Many of these mosques are built along the highway on Maasai land. It is not clear if the mosques are even used. In some cases, we were told other than the guard, the mosque remains empty. However, the thought behind building mosques in these remote locations is that eventually they will serve people.
Back in Nairobi, Kenya, we met for lunch at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden. Karen Blixen authored the book Out of Africa. It was quite a treat to visit this place made famous by the book and movie. For lunch, the Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, joined us.
After lunch, Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations, presented Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, with a Swahili Book of Concord. General Secretary Halahke said that he had heard about the Swahili Book of Concord but had not seen it until presented to him as a gift from the LCMS.
In the video above, Rev. John Halahke briefly speaks to the importance of the Swahili Book of Concord.
The trip to Tanzania and Kenya was very good. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this trip.
- Posted on 18 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations
Some of you may be wondering how Lutherans came to Tanzania. Lutherans first arrived in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in 1836, sent by the Leipzig Mission Society. Around the this time in the 19th century, European Churches typically did not send missionaries from the State church. As a result pious lay people and pastors formed mission societies to send “missionaries” to the jheathen. Bible Societies also formed during this period. In fact, the LCMS was built in part by the mission society efforts of Wilhelm Loehe. Article VI of the Missouri Synod’s Constitution prohibits work with “heterodox tract and mission societies.” The first and immediate context of this for Dr. C.F.W. Walther would have been mission societies like the Leipzig Mission Society.
The sign says “Jesus is the Victor.” Other parts of Tanzania were settled by other mission societies — from Scandinavia etc. The Leipzig Mission Society introduced a liturgy from the Leipzig Agenda, Which was based off the Saxon Agenda used by Walther. Thus the Tanzanian Lutherans around Kilimanjaro have a liturgy very similar to the Missouri Synod.
A Lutheran Church of East Africa congregation in the foothills of Kilimanjaro.
Sun setting against Mount Meru, from grounds of the Leipzig Mission Society in the foot hills (1 mile elevation) of Kilimanjaro.
Rev. Dr Collver on 16 August 2012
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When we arrived in Mdawi parish, I had the opportunity to show a draft copy of the forthcoming ELCK Swahili hymnal.
The bishop and pastors immediately began singing the liturgy from it.
The bishop and pastors made excited comments to each other in Swahili. Occasionally, a comment in English would emerge — “Good,” “I like that.”
Rev. Shauen Trump pictured with the bishop.
Dr Mike Rodewald asked if the hymnal was similar to others. The bishop said,”It is the Leipzig liturgy. This is good.”
After examining the hymnal, the Bishop asked when will it be available? We could use this.
- Poster on 15 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver
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Location:Arusha – Himo Rd,,Tanzania
Bishop Jesse Angowi of the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA) requests closer ties to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) near Moshi, Tanzania. The Lutheran Church of East Africa was formed in the shadow of Kilimanjaro in 1999.
In the car ride between churches, a discussion of “Missouri” emerged. “Missouri” to a Swahili speaker sounds like “Mzuri” / “Nzuri” which means “good.” Bishop Angowi said, “When we hear Missouri Synod, we hear ‘good’ church.” He said the Missouri Synod is a good church because it holds the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. He also said Missouri Synod is a good church because it does not support the liberal agenda other churches support.
Dr. Collver presents Bishop Angowi with the Book of Concord in Swahili.
Bishop Angowi distributes The Book of Concord to his pastors. The pastors noted that they had used a different version of the Book of Concord in Swahili before receiving their own copy recently published by Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Apparently, the Germans previously ha translated it. The pastors were very pleased to receive a copy.
Later in the day, a gift was presented to President Harrison, “African Cake.” Bishop Angowi said we needed to decide what to do with the gift. We could wrap it up and take it to President Harrison if we wished. After a brief consultation, we decided that TSA and US Customs would not allow us to return with a roasted goat, so we suggested that we all enjoy the “African Cake” together.
Bishop Angowi served Rev. Shauen Trump the “African Cake.”
The women who prepared the food sent greetings to the women of the Missouri Synod.
As we traveled to different churches, we stopped at a mine, where volcanic rocks are quarried with mâchés. At the mine, we discovered an orphanage for children.
The pastors of the Lutheran Church in East Africa prayed with the children. We also saw a turtle that was able to entertain the children. We asked if the turtle was food for the children. With a somewhat puzzled, then amused face, the pastor replied, “No. We do not eat turtle — the Chinese do.” Recently, many Chinese have entered Tanzania to build roads for Chinese companies to more easily export natural resources. The Chinese road crews live in Chinese camps and have little interaction with the Tanzanians. A positive contribution has been greatly improved roads. A negative is that none of this has created new jobs for Tanzanians, as the Chinese companies import all their workers from China. Because the Chinese live in self-contained camps, there has not been opportunity for the churches in Tanzania to evangelize the Chinese workers.
On the wall of the mine, a miner had carved in Swahili, “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.”
At the mine a worker carries volcanic rock.
Bishop Angowi said without the mine for volcanic rock, his churches could not afford to build churches because cement blocks are too expensive.
The back of the church.
We also visited St Peter Theological Seminary. Today and tomorrow we visit parishes in the shadow of and on the slope of Kilimanjaro.
- Posted 15 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver.
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