This week the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) celebrates their Diamond Jubilee (75th Anniversary). Nigeria was one of the first mission efforts of the Missouri Synod after India, Brazil, and Argentina. The Lutheran Church of Nigeria began with 16 congregations in 1936 and now has 339 congregations in 38 districts. President Ekong invited President Harrison to send the keynote address for their anniversary. Later this week, we will post the address.
As part of our Life Together with our sister church in Nigeria, we give thanks for the LCN’s 75th anniversary. We are called to remember them in prayer, thanking the Lord for their faithful confession and witness to the Gospel of Jesus in Nigeria, and praying for their needs. Below is President Harrison’s video greeting to the Lutheran Church of Nigeria.
— Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations
The Lutheran church has a tremendous missionary heritage. President Emeritus Pfotenhauer said in 1937, “Here and there it is asserted that Luther and the Lutheran Church of his time neglected missions. What a foolish notion. Luther is, after the apostles, the greatest missionary… Luther in his day filled all Europe to the threshold of Asia with the Gospel. Lutheran preachers carried the Gospel into many lands, and some sealed their message with martyr’s blood.” (At Home In The House Of My Fathers, 804.) The Missouri Synod has had a tremendous heritage in missions also, both in home mission and world mission. Up until the end of the 19th Century, the Missouri Synod focused on home mission — among Native Americans, immigrants, and African Americans. At the end of the 19th Century, the Missouri Synod began mission work in India, Brazil, Argentina, and China. By the middle of the 20th Century, the MIssouri Synod expanded into Asia — Papua New Guinea, Japan, South Korea, and so on. At its peak, the Missouri Synod had several hundred missionaries overseas at any given time. Times have changed, new opportunities present themselves, former mission efforts lead to the formation of partner churches, and the number of missionaries changes. What doesn’t change is the challenge of finding and funding missionaries to go overseas.
In 1895, District President Pfotenhauer in a sermon titled, “Dig Wells and Keep Them Pure,” noted the great need for missionaries in India and China with more than 500 million people. He noted because the Synod did not have an immediate need for pastors (there wasn’t a shortage of pastors), there was a shortage of missionaries. He writes, “Every communicant member of our Synod throws an average of only 20 cents into the treasury for missions, for the digging of wells in the mission field.” (At Home In the House of My Fathers, 711.) Keep in mind that there is not an exact parallel between how missions were accounted for at the beginning of the 20th Century and today at the beginning of the 21st Century. What is parallel is the challenge in funding missionaries.
Today, the funding of international missionaries in the LCMS is handled primarily through a program called Network-Supported Missionary (NSM), where each missionary intentionally works with a body of supporters, including individuals, congregations, and organizations, before and during field deployment. So while the missionary is not technically “self-funded” as the missionary has an entire support network based at the International Center (including pension, health insurance, travel support, housing support, human resources, IT support, et. al.), there is a greater responsibility placed on the missionary to assist in the raising of support for the mission work. While there are advantageous and disadvantageous to this method of support, after many years of having fewer missionaries on the field, it has allowed the LCMS to increase the number of missionaries over the past few years.
With that brief introduction to missionary funding in the Missouri Synod, we wanted to take the opportunity to draw attention to a particular missionary who has specific needs at a given moment. In the future, we hope regularly to feature different missionaries. Today, we would like to feature Rev. Alan Ludwig, who received a call from the Board for International Mission in June 2011 to serve in Russia. We have a goal of getting Rev. Ludwig to Russia by October 2011. Time is short to meet this goal. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce Rev. Alan Ludwig to you.
Rev. Alan Ludwig serves the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Siberia, Russia. He is a theological educator, which includes teaching seminary courses, working with team members in developing theological education in Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union and, upon request, teaching and preaching at a local Lutheran congregation in the city of Novosibirsk in Siberia. Since 1998, Alan has worked with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) and taught seminary courses at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, which is operated by the SELC, a partner/sister church of the LCMS. The seminary was founded in 1997.
Alan graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1989 with an M.Div., and earned an S.T.M. in 1992. From 1992-98, Alan served as the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, Cresbard, S.D., and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Wecota, S.D. Alan also served on the staff of LOGIA, a Lutheran theological journal. Prior to attending seminary, Alan graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor of Music and worked as a private music teacher. His hobbies include music, art, poetry, literature, computers and walking.
Please pray for Alan as he serves in this capacity. He asks, “Pray that my wife, Patricia, and I would adjust to the new roles God has given us, and for me, that I may faithfully fulfill my call to serve the church in Siberia. We desire prayers for the SELC: for the bishop, the pastors and the deacons—that the Lord keep them faithful in preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments; for the laity—that they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God; for the continued spread of the Gospel throughout the vast territory of Siberia. Finally, we request prayers for our seminarians—that they be molded by the Word of God into faithful and worthy candidates for the holy ministry, and that our seminary rector would be sustained in his demanding role.”
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations
Here are some links to pages on the LCMS website that will help you find out more about LCMS relief efforts with Hurricane Irene.
Check back often, as this is a developing story.
Main Landing Page: www.lcms.org/irenerelief <http://www.lcms.org/irenerelief>
Giving Catalog: www.lcms.org/givenow/irenerelief <http://www.lcms.org/givenow/irenerelief>
LCMS Video Gallery: http://video.lcms.org/archives/tag/hurricane-irene
LCMS YouTube Channel Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLCMS#grid/user/D4CB8100F8C1C022
LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison, using Matthew 9:38 and his own experience with a vicar from his youth, urges existing church workers to identify, inform, and encourage LCMS high school students to consider serving in a church-work vocation.
What a Way is a LCMS church-wide initiative to rebuild active recruitment and retention of church workers as an integrated part of the LCMS culture and lifestyle at the local congregation level.
Today, Rev. James Fandrey, Executive Director of Lutheran Heritage Foundation, and Rev. Walter Otten, Chairman of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation Board, visited the LCMS International Center. They presented President Harrison and some of his staff with a translation of the Book of Concord into Swahili. This project has been in the works for some 15 years and was begun and was a significant focus of Dr. Anssi Simojoki’s work in Africa. This is a great accomplishment and will be of potential service to the 100 million Swahili speakers worldwide.
This is a fine example of the synergy between the LCMS and LCMS Recognized Service Organizations (RSO). RSOs according to the Synod’s bylaws “fosters the mission and ministry of the church, engages in program activity that is in harmony with the programs of the boards of the Synod, and respects and does not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod.” (LCMS Handbook 2010, Section 6.2.1, page 204) The production of the Book of Concord in Swahili complements the work of the LCMS, LCMS missionaries, LCMS partner churches and even non-partner churches such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). LHF has translated Lutheran materials into nearly 100 languages in nearly 80 countries. Such works have been of great service to missionaries, professors, and partner churches.
Also discussed were ways that LHF and the LCMS could work together in better ways to maximize the resources of both organizations, which are provided as gifts from the Lord’s people. In some ways, this is a follow up to the Global Impact Meeting held at the end of June with the LCMS seminaries, LCMS Mission department, and Lutheran Hour Ministries. The RSOs and Auxiliaries of the LCMS are a great blessing to the church and have tremendous potential to maximize our work and Life Together. These sorts of meetings also provide for the opportunity to discuss areas where better coordination and cooperation can occur and how past and future problems can be avoided in our Life Together. We look forward to more meetings such as this in the future. Thank you Jim and Walter for visiting with us.
–Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations