Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans 8:35-39

On June 14, 1985, Christian Zimmermann expected to perform his duties as Flight Engineer for a routine flight from Athens to Rome. Others had different plans for TWA flight 847. En route to Rome terrorists hijacked the Boeing 747. Terrorists, armed with a pistol and grenades, broke into the cockpit and beat Pastor Zimmerman, a graduate of Concordia Seminary, and commanded the pilot to change course. Ultimately, following 16 days of captivity, the hostages were released save one Navy diver who was murdered by the terrorists while negotiating to refuel the aircraft.

Throughout the ordeal, passengers were subjected to interrogation, beatings, and threats. Pastor Zimmermann’s father, who was very ill, died during his captivity. The terrorists reported it to him expecting him to lash out with rage. Rather than responding with anger, he shared the hope that his father had in Jesus Christ. His response baffled his captors and provided a further opportunity for him to speak to them about the saving work of Jesus.

Whether or not any of the terrorists ever came to faith is unknown. What is known is that during this most horrifying experience, God used His baptized servant to share the Gospel with men violently opposed to the faith.

This past Friday, June 14, 2013, was another day to remember in our Synod’s history. Thirty career and “GEO” missionaries were sent to the mission field to bring the Gospel to those who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Church sends them to people in all parts of the world in order that those who live in sin and darkness may hear that Jesus has died for their sins and risen from the dead conquering sin, death, and hell.

Violence and hatred, so prevalent in our world today, will remain until our Lord returns. As our Lord tarries, the Church has the opportunity to bring the message of eternal peace to men and women who live under the oppression of sin and death. The Church sends Her missionaries to the oppressed that they may receive the Word that frees them, that they may receive the water of life that redeems them and the eternal food at the altar that sustains them.

Pray for our missionaries that God will bless their ministries and sustain them and that the lost will hear and believe the Good News of forgiveness of sin and life in Christ. Amen.

Rev. Greg Williamson
Chief Mission Officer