Summer 2018 Lutherans Engage the World is published quarterly by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. © 2018 The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Reproduction for parish use does not require permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit Lutherans Engage the World as a source. Print editions are sent to LCMS donors, rostered workers and missionaries. An online version is available at engage.lcms.org. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are property of the LCMS. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Staff David L. Strand Pamela J. Nielsen Erica Schwan Megan K. Mertz Erik M. Lunsford Lisa Moeller Chrissy Thomas Rudy Blank
executive director, communications executive editor director, design services managing editor/staff writer manager, photojournalism designer designer webmaster
The Rev. Gary Schulte, LCMS area director for West and Central Africa, helps American and Sierra Leonean medical workers carry boxes of supplies for the Mercy Medical Team clinic, which was held in Yardu, Sierra Leone, in May. PHOTO: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ ERIK M. LUNSFORD
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United in the Gospel Here’s a sacred privilege and great blessing always on the hearts and minds of our LCMS team, whether in St. Louis or on the far side of the globe: We are simply the projection of you — a holy member of the Body of Christ among a multitude of neighbors near and far. You in ministry, in mission, in mercy. What was begun in you at the baptismal font — where you were “washed,” “sanctified” and “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 COR. 6:11) — now proceeds outward into the world. Having been freed from sin, death and Satan only by faith in the Word of the Gospel, now as the Church in union with her bridegroom, Christ, and in the genuine worship and obedience of the Lord Jesus, our life and work together is intentionally directed toward the benefit of others in body and soul. We pray that God’s Word would “not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve [God] and, in the confession of [His] name, abide unto the end” (Lutheran Service Book, p. 305). St. Paul counseled thus: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (PHIL. 2:1–4). What a cause for rejoicing! I see you on the pages that follow — in the Philippines, in Bangor, in Baltimore, in Puerto Rico, in Sierra Leone. Thanks be to our heavenly Father that the incarnate, crucified, resurrected and ascended Lord fills all in all with His life (EPH. 1:22; 4:10). He is risen indeed, Rev. Kevin D. Robson Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
From the Editor “From Fear to Hope” could be the theme for this entire issue. These are stories of God working through His Church — through YOU — to bring real hope to the inner city, after a disaster, in remote villages and through a man who remembers a child on a war-ravaged island 73 years ago. St. Paul writes about this hope: “[Christ] delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 COR. 1:10). Thank you for sharing the hope that is in you through your prayers, gifts and partnership! In Christ, Pamela J. Nielsen Associate Executive Director, LCMS Communications
Changed by Storms Pamela J. Nielsen and Kevin Armbrust
Walking in Wynekenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Footsteps Megan K. Mertz The Wyneken Project is promoting and preserving the Lutheran identity in the heart of Baltimore.
God is at work in Puerto Rico following the hurricanes that devastated the island last fall.
Christ in Concrete Kevin Armbrust Lutheran schools from L.A. to Miami are bringing Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Word to the children entrusted to their care.
From Fear to Hope Erik M. Lunsford In May, an LCMS Mercy Medical Team traveled to Sierra Leone, bringing physical healing and the Word of God.
Departments 6 Q&A Courtney Haag reflects on the Lutheran Young Adult Corps. 11 Witness Moment A grant supports outreach through a community garden. 16 Mercy Moment A joint program is bringing hope to children in Kenya. 21 Donor Spotlight A 1945 encounter is blessing children in the Philippines today.
Changed by Storms
God is at work in Puerto Rico following the hurricanes that devastated the island last fall.
BY PA MELA J. N IELS E N A ND K E VI N AR MBR U ST
“The hurricane changed
the life of everyone here.
They know they are vulnerable,” said William Torres, a lay evangelist for the Lutheran church in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, who is helping to coordinate the disaster response. “Being a native Puerto Rican, I know the need of the city and of the country.” Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017, devastating the island and leaving its residents without power and in grave need of assistance. “When the hurricane happened, a lot of water entered into the house through the windows, through the roof. The roof opened up in places. A lot of branches came down. A lot of garbage was carried along in the water along the
streets, around the area here,” remembered Sylvia Gonzalez, speaking through an interpreter. The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS) responded quickly through LCMS Disaster Response and the work of LCMS missionaries in the region.
Mercy Amid Chaos “The Lutheran Church was the first organization that gave help in this community,” said Gonzalez, who lives on the western side of the island in Mayaguez, where Principe de Paz (Prince of Peace) Lutheran Church is located. “When I heard they were offering food, I went there and received the donation of food right away.”
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The chaos created by the storms was met with mercy and compassion. As in most situations, the immediate needs of food, water and shelter were addressed. And with that work, God’s love was not just lived out, but proclaimed. “When we talk with the people, we said it is not just food for the body, but it is just the Gospel, saying important things for this life and for eternal life,” said the Rev. Arturo Gustavo Maita, pastor of Principe de Paz. “So, it is important to see Christ — not just the food, but also the work of Christ.” Maita, who is a native of Venezuela, recently arrived in Puerto Rico after completing his vicarage in the Dominican Republic. He was installed at Principe de Paz and is already
hard at work bringing Christ’s mercy and the message of God’s love to the people of Mayaguez. Eight months after the storms struck, Maita looks around and sees people struggling daily. “Everybody is suffering a lot. They need food. They need spiritual care. They need cash money,” he said. He notes that it isn’t always easy to provide care for them due to governmental and other restrictions, but the effort is worth it. “Being a pastor is like being Jesus’ hands and Jesus’ feet, helping people and preaching the Gospel for eternal life. It is really good to say to the people, ‘Jesus loves you, and you can come to the church and celebrate the new life in Christ.’”
Sylvia Gonzalez is welcomed warmly by parishioners and visiting pastors after being confirmed by the Rev. Arturo Gustavo Maita, pastor of Principe de Paz Lutheran Church in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Gonzalez visited and became a member after receiving aid from the church following the 2017 hurricanes.
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
“The Gospel is flourishing — mercy has provided a way to present the Gospel to people who otherwise would not have cared.” — Rev. Charles St-Onge, area facilitator for LCMS mission work in the Caribbean Residents leave a local community center after receiving bags of food and supplies from the Synod’s Casa de Amparo y Respuesta a Desastre (CARD) mercy center in Mayaguez.
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The Rev. Richard Schuller, LCMS missionary to Puerto Rico and pastor at Fuente de Vida (Fountain of Life) Lutheran Church, Ponce, sits with a homeless man on a street corner across from the church. Schuller brought the man a plate of food from the fellowship meal following worship.
‘A Way to Present the Gospel’
Ramon Cancel puts up an open sign outside of Fuente de Vida before worship on Sunday.
| L E A RN M O RE | lcms.org/puertorico
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The Rev. Charles St-Onge, area facilitator for LCMS mission work in the Caribbean, sees the present work bearing fruit, as well as the potential for ongoing outreach. “The Gospel is flourishing — mercy has provided a way to present the Gospel to people who otherwise would not have cared.” In both Mayaguez and Ponce, where a new Lutheran congregation began in February 2018, mercy work has and continues to connect people to the church, where they hear God’s Word. This work involves local officials and the community. St-Onge notes that as LCMS missionaries and relief workers continue to provide aid, “the community leaders are very aware and grateful for the Lutheran church. Through the
mercy work connected with the Word of God, the community is aware of the Lutheran church as a church who cares, who has mercy and who proclaims the Word.” Even as bags of food and other staples continue to be distributed weekly in Mayaguez and Ponce, the team is organizing to repair damaged roofs and homes in both communities, all while proclaiming the Gospel. In Ponce, Missionary Pastor Richard Schuller describes how he is working to bring Christ to people in a downtown storefront. “We’ve tried a lot of different things. First we started in a park in the gazebo, providing activities alongside teaching the Six Chief Parts [of Luther’s Small Catechism] and giving away Bibles,” he said. “We are reaching out where they are. We offer Bible studies in the mall, in a nursing
“Everybody was in need during that time, and I saw that they gave the help without selection, without choosing who was most deserving ... they gave to all.” — Sylvia Gonzalez, resident of Mayaguez
home, wherever people are gathered, that is our goal.” As part of the ongoing work in Puerto Rico, the missionaries are working to open a third congregation. And now a mercy center, called the CARD — Casa de Amparo y Respuesta a Desastre — is open next to the church in Mayaguez. The building formerly belonged to the Amparo family, and it is still known as such in the community. This apt name (amparo means “protection” in Spanish) was retained in the name of the facility, since the goal is for this to be a place where the community comes to look for mercy and help, both physical and spiritual.
Drawn to the Church It is easy to think about a disaster like this on a grand scale. The number of people affected is staggering. Yet the Word is proclaimed to individuals, and God works to bring each of His children into His Church. Gonzalez is one such person. She was drawn to the Lutheran church through the love she witnessed there. “When I entered the church, I met people who offered so much help and love, which drew me in and I wanted to help as well,” said Gonzalez. “Everybody was in need during that time, and I saw that
they gave the help without selection, without choosing who was most deserving ... they gave to all.” But there was more. “I was drawn by the doctrine of the Lutheran Church,” she said. “I took classes with [Pastor] Gustavo [Maita]. I also learned from the Small Catechism in classes at the church.” Sometimes God allows us to see the fruits of our labor and the blessings of His Kingdom. In April, a group of congregation members, missionaries and other workers gathered to witness Gonzalez’s confirmation. God’s faithfulness and provision were manifest in His gracious gifts given again. “When I received the Holy Supper for the first time as a communicant member, I was struck by the fact of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for my sins,” Gonzalez said. The storms created chaos and changed everything. And through that, God is working to create community around His Word and Sacraments through acts of mercy.
Evangelist William Torres (right) from the CARD mercy center, along with Maita (center), visit a resident of the community who was affected by Hurricane Maria.
Ruth Maita distributes bags of food and supplies from Principe de Paz and CARD to residents at a food distribution event in a local community center in Mayaguez.
Deaconess Pamela J. Nielsen is associate executive director for LCMS Communications. Dr. Kevin Armbrust is interim director of Editorial for LCMS Communications.
| WATCH | A video on the work in Puerto Rico: engage.lcms.org/puerto-rico-recovery-summer-2018
Torres distributes diapers to residents at a local community center in Mayaguez.
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Courtney Haag (left) prepares meals with Hayden Duncan, a fellow Lutheran Young Adult Corps participant, in New Orleans in April.
Having now served almost a year, what do you think makes a good corps candidate? Flexibility and passion. We do a lot of small tasks to keep the camp running smoothly, and we’re constantly switching gears to make sure people have what they need to serve to the best of their ability. The actual jobs sometimes seem mundane and unimportant, but as my supervisor once told me, “Anybody can do this job, but nobody is doing it. That’s why we need you.”
What will you miss when your service ends in May? I will miss cooking dinner for the volunteers with my 6 • LUT HERAN S EN GAG E | S U MME R 20 1 8
When Courtney Haag of Aurora, Colo., first heard about the Synod’s Lutheran Young Adult Corps, she was at the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering. As a volunteer with the Special Olympics, she already knew the joy of serving. She applied for both college and the corps, then decided that “a year of service in a new community would propel me toward finding my vocation and deepen my faith.” Haag was sent to Camp Restore in New Orleans to help neighborhoods still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Below, Haag reflects on her gap year with the corps, which wrapped up in May.
[co-worker] Kathy and calling the meal “Fine Dining Tuesday” because we put tomatoes in the salad or we served tacos. I’ll miss riding with the other interns in our 2001 truck with the windows down, singing to one of our four CDs. I’ll miss talking with the volunteers about their work. I’ll miss Pastor calling me “Courtneywithout-the-glasses” because the other Courtney wears glasses. I’ll miss the crawfish, river, lake and oak trees. I’ll miss the love of this city.
What was the most challenging part? Saying goodbye. Volunteers come in, and we welcome them, encourage them and share stories about our experiences, but at the end of the week, they always leave while we start another week. The job is emotionally exhausting, but I wouldn’t choose to stop engaging and building relationships. After all, the hardest part of our job — building
relationships with people who will leave in the end — is also the most fulfilling part.
What’s next for you? This summer, I am going back home to Denver to work. In the fall, I will attend Colorado State University to study Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering. What encourages you on the difficult days? My go-to Bible verse is Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” It helps me to remember who I work for, who I live for, where I’m going and that nothing I do is wasted.
Cheryl Magness is managing editor of Reporter Online and a staff writer for LCMS Communications.
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
Describe a typical day as a corps volunteer. There is no typical day. One day I’m making cakes, washing rags and cleaning sinks, and the next day I’m joining a volunteer group at a horse farm.
| L EA R N MO R E | lcms.org/young-adult-corps
BY CH E RYL MAGNES S
Q&A Courtney Haag
WALK I NG IN WYNEKEN’S F O OT S T E PS
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
The Wyneken Project is promoting and preserving the Lutheran identity in the heart of Baltimore.
BY ME G A N K . ME RT Z
engage. lcms .o rg
hen the Rev. Elliott Robertson, pastor of Martini Lutheran Church, Baltimore, wanted to help a sister congregation solve a current problem, he looked back — way back — to a time before the founding of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1847. Although the problem facing neighboring Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was new — significant membership decline during a long pastoral vacancy — at its core, it was the same problem that pastor and missionary (and future Synod president) F.C.D. Wyneken noted when he first arrived in Baltimore in 1838. Robertson and a group of area pastors got to work on a solution, and soon other struggling congregations were asking, “Can you help us too?”
Providing Stability The work at Redeemer laid the foundation for what is now known as the Wyneken Project, Inc., an LCMS Recognized Service Organization that helps Baltimore-area congregations begin the process of stabilizing and revitalizing after an extended pastoral vacancy. At the time, Redeemer “was down to five people. It hadn’t had a called pastor in a number of years. They were looking around to other churches to worship there. A couple of us pastors got together and said let’s offer stability in worship,” Robertson recalls. The pastors worked together to provide regular Word and Sacrament ministry at
Nazareth Lutheran Church, Baltimore
The Rev. Elliott Robertson (right), pastor of Martini Lutheran Church, stands with church member George Bresnick and community redevelopment expert Betty Bland-Thomas.
[Redeemer] was down to five people. It hadn’t had a called pastor in a number of years. They were looking around to other churches to worship there. A couple of us pastors got together and said let’s offer stability in worship.” — Rev. Elliott Robertson, pastor of Martini Lutheran Church, Baltimore
Redeemer, while encouraging members of the congregation to renew their 17-year search for a full-time, called pastor. In 2014, prayers were answered when the Rev. Roy Axel Coats accepted the call to Redeemer, where he now serves as a worker priest. And by the grace of God, Redeemer’s membership has increased tenfold, thanks to
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a connection with the large Liberian population that now resides in the surrounding neighborhood. Now the Wyneken Project answers with a resounding “Yes!” when congregations ask for assistance, since the congregations to which the pastors are called support them in this work and consider it an extension of their ministry.
After Redeemer, the Wyneken Project went on to assist Our Saviour Lutheran Church, which was later able to call the Rev. Charles McClean in 2013, and Nazareth Lutheran Church, to which the Rev. Arthur Boone came in 2016. “We didn’t always know what we were doing, but we knew what God prescribed in how a church works in a beautiful pastoral relationship,” Robertson says. The organization, which is directed by a five-person board representing four area congregations, operates according to one principle: Pastors need churches to be pastors, and churches need pastors to do what God calls them to do. In return for this assistance, the Wyneken Project requires that a church commit to five things: regular worship, visiting the sick and shut-in, attending Bible study, engaging in intentional outreach that tells of Jesus Christ crucified, and giving outside the congregation.
The Rev. Arthur Boone, pastor of Nazareth Lutheran Church, leads an English-as-a-SecondLanguage class. Row houses along a Baltimore city street
Community residents gather for a monthly meal at the Lutheran Outreach Center for the Blind at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Baltimore.
Worshipers gather for evening prayer at St. Thomas Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Charles McClean explains the parts of the sanctuary to the young members of his confirmation class at Our Savior Lutheran Church.
| WATC H | A video about the Wyneken Project: engage.lcms.org/wyneken-project-summer-2018
‘Button-holing’ for the Gospel “While Wyneken was here in Baltimore, he was shocked at the deplorable nature of the German Lutherans who had come and knew everything but Jesus Christ,” Robertson says. “He was known to button-hole Germans — truly, put his finger in the button hole of their coat and talk to them until he had told them about Jesus Christ. He wanted people to know their Savior.” That same missionary zeal exists today among the churches in Baltimore. The Wyneken Project is dedicated to preserving the Lutheran identity in the city — promoting Lutheran worship and
Lutheran theology — but that doesn’t mean preserving a primarily Anglo church. Today, they are not only “button-holing” Germans, but they are telling everyone they meet about their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At Redeemer, growth has come from Liberian refugees and immigrants who moved into the surrounding community. The connection started when one Liberian man, who had become Lutheran through the Synod’s overseas mission work, knocked on Redeemer’s door. He was looking for a Lutheran church in his new home. Over time, other Liberians — most of whom had no Lutheran background — also joined the church. engage. lcms .o rg
The LCMS offers resources, grants and training to support urban ministry through two related — but distinct — ministries.
Passersby read signs posted in Spanish at Nazareth Lutheran Church.
LCMS URBAN & INNER-CITY MISSION boosts revitalization efforts in city ministries while sharing the Gospel across cultures. It also provides resources to help churches provide a spiritual home for people searching for hope and healing. lcms.org/citymission LCMS CHURCH PLANTING sends national missionaries to underserved areas and provides resources to assist in planting distinctly Lutheran churches through the Mission Field: USA initiative. Visit the webpage to check out the Mission Field: USA guidebook and online learning resource for a step-by-step approach to planting an LCMS congregation.
The Rev. Roy Axel Coats greets people at the Lutheran Outreach Center for the Blind‘s monthly meal.
“I’ve been blessed by the faithful five who remained and the Liberians who have come in,” Coats says. “We are united by the common liturgy we have — we do Setting 3 from the Lutheran Service Book. … We also have very strong catechesis, which unites us in the common confession of the Church.” Around Nazareth, Boone walks the streets and, much like Wyneken did, strikes up conversations with people (in Boone's case, in Spanish) about their Savior. The church continues to strengthen these ties through English-as-aSecond-Language classes, monthly activities for families, free winter coats for children through a partnership with Maryland Orphan Grain Train, and a full-day summer
Coats distributes the Sacrament to members of his congregation, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
program for children. God has blessed these efforts, and the church now welcomes some 30 Spanishspeaking people to worship each week, where just two years ago there were none. Hispanic members now outnumber Anglo members in the congregation. “We think of Midwest Lutheranism as vibrant and rich, and there is every reason for a resurgence of vibrant, rich Lutheranism here as well, especially as we see God at work in these Word and Sacrament ministries,” Robertson says. “Part of our Lutheran identity is upholding Wyneken himself, who was a very important Lutheran pastor here in Baltimore. It’s through his work that we exist today. He was very active in reaching
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out to immigrants, and we continue to do that today.”
Reversing the Trend Robertson and Coats are grateful for the support they’ve received from their congregations and other Baltimore Lutherans — there are 18 LCMS congregations in the greater Baltimore area — as well as from LCMS leaders at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis and the Synod’s two seminaries. “While the footprint of the church continues to shrink in our cities, the Wyneken Project is an excellent example of how we can organize and work together to reverse the trend,” says the Rev. Dr. Steve Schave, director of both LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission
and LCMS Church Planting. “They are committed to both expanding the mission field of existing struggling congregations and also starting new missions to new people groups in Baltimore, which is at the heart of our Mission Field: USA initiative.” Historically, Baltimore has always been a very Lutheran city, and it still retains portions of the infrastructure built by the faithful fathers and mothers of the church. Now, thanks be to God, the Gospel is making Baltimore a Lutheran city once again — one congregation at a time. Megan K. Mertz is managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and a staff writer for LCMS Communications.
BY RAC H EL BOM B ERG ER
A grant for a community garden supports a Maine congregation’s outreach to its neighbors.
PHOTOS: REBECCA REEVE
s community gardens
go, the Giving Garden at Hope Lutheran Church in Bangor, Maine, isn’t all that big — at least, not yet. For that matter, as Lutheran churches go, Hope isn’t all that big, either — at least, not yet. Two decades after the tiny mission outpost was planted in 1997 — one of only three LCMS churches currently located in the state — the church welcomes around 20 worshipers each Sunday, and its members still see themselves as being part of a mission congregation. This mission-plant mindset helped inspire longtime member Rebecca Reeve to start a community garden on the church grounds last year — and it helped inspire nearly a third of the church community to pitch in and help. “I’m not a foodie,” said Reeve, “but I thought: We have land available on the church property. It would be simple enough to clear it and create some community raised beds. Then people could come in and grow food for themselves, and we could welcome them to hear Christ’s Gospel message at church.”
Hope’s Giving Garden started small, with three raised beds prepared for the 2017 growing season, and volunteers soon found that keeping the dream alive during its first year required faith, perseverance and a willingness to adapt. When the people who signed up to work the raised beds free of charge failed to follow through, Reeve and her fellow gardeners decided to cultivate the beds themselves throughout the summer, growing baskets of fresh vegetables to donate to a local agency that assists seniors living with food insecurity. When a windstorm damaged several trees in October 2017, the Hope gardeners took advantage of the opportunity to clear more ground for raised beds, fruit trees and berry bushes. Now, the Giving Garden is starting to take root. Equipped with strong hands, willing hearts, a year’s experience and a $4,500 grant from the LCMS Office of National Mission, the intrepid gardeners have rolled up their sleeves for another season. They’re using their grant money for planned
improvements, including a garden shed, a fence, additional raised beds, berry bushes and a new sign. They’re also drawing on lessons learned last year to formalize the hybrid approach they plan to use going forward: free garden space for those in the community who can and want to grow their own vegetables; free vegetables for those who can’t; and “a peaceful garden setting where they can come, sit and contemplate” for everyone, said Reeve. As neighbors come in to grow food, take food or just enjoy the garden, the congregation welcomes them with the message of Jesus Christ and His life-changing Gospel. “We have grand plans,” added Reeve. “I honestly don’t know when we’ll be finished. Everyone involved has realized this is our way of reaching out into the community. It’s something important. “We’re supposed to be serving and loving our neighbor in Christ — and that’s exactly what this is.” Rachel Bomberger is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
The Rev. Michael Awe, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, South Sioux City, Neb., holds Fatmata’s hand as she undergoes treatment at the LCMS Mercy Medical Team clinic in Yardu, Sierra Leone, in May.
IN MAY, AN LCMS MERCY MEDICAL TEAM TRAVELED TO SIERRA LEONE FOR THE FIRST TIME, BRINGING PHYSICAL HEALING AND THE WORD OF GOD. BY E R I K M. LUN S F OR D
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The Rev. Gary Schulte, LCMS area director for West and Central Africa, leads a devotion on the first day of the clinic.
xpect what you cannot anticipate. For those whom God leads to serve on one of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Mercy Medical Teams (MMT), anticipation and fear compete with anxiety and hope for prominence. The journey from America to West Africa is long. The struggle begins in trying to stave off jet lag on the flight. Arrival in Africa ushers in culture shock on top of exhaustion. For the seven-person team that traveled to Sierra Leone in May for the Synod’s first MMT there, work and challenges were ahead. It was, as one team member said, “mercy for those who know no mercy.” By God’s grace, their efforts helped people, and they hoped the effect might be eternal.
Be Calm; Work Hard In the year leading up to the trip, Stephen Ngaujah, a local pastor and trained nurse, worked tirelessly with LCMS missionary and nurse Stephanie Schulte to
The opportunity to play a small part in the Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone’s efforts … has been such a blessing.” — Stephanie Schulte
| P H OTO G A L L ERY | engage.lcms.org/sierra-leone-summer-2018 | L EA RN MO RE | lcms.org/mercyteams
prepare the way for the team. Meanwhile, LCMS area director Rev. Gary Schulte and the Rev. Douglas and Angela Thompson — missionaries based in Sierra Leone — worked with the country’s national Lutheran church body on logistics. Before the clinic could be held, they scouted locations, secured medications and government authorizations, and visited with local chiefs and residents. Long before that, Fatmata
was sick and in pain. She believed that Allah was cursing her for her wickedness. She believed she deserved it. She didn’t see any hope out of her situation from the hand of Allah. And yet she heard that people were coming to set up a clinic for medicine and care. And she hoped. Perhaps she could receive some relief. The people in the village of Yardu, outside the predominantly Muslim city of Koidu in
the northeast corner of Sierra Leone, anticipated this team’s arrival. News spread of people from America with medicine and skills and relief for suffering. Some walked miles to the clinic, such as those who came from the Lutheran church 50 miles away. When the team arrived on-site for the first day, the grounds were already packed. “Be calm. ... Work hard, share Christ,” wrote nurse Lauren Awe as she reflected at the hotel one night. Come what may, those on the MMT did just that. The team established a temporary clinic in the former home of the Rev. Ricky and Kim Jacob, who served in Sierra Leone from 1988 until 1993, when they were evacuated because of the country’s civil war. It was hot — African hot. The team saw hundreds of patients and worked through interpreters to communicate in the local native tongues of Kono and Krio. Patients overflowed the registration area. Many complained they couldn’t be seen. The day, according to one team engage. lcms .o rg
member, was “disorganized, difficult to manage.” Over five days, Ngaujah withstood barrages of insults and accusations because he refused to show favoritism for any reason save the severity of the medical condition. Without his presence, the clinic would have dissolved into chaos. “Surreal, insightful and heart-breaking,” said retired nurse Bonnie Hartmann at the end of the first day. Nurse Donna Mulholland called the experience an adrenaline rush: “Study every gesture. Try to understand every word.” Each evening, the team was tired and hungry. “The numbers of people and their desperation is daunting,” said the Rev. Daniel Mulholland, who served as team chaplain. “As I walk among the throngs, many appeal to me to attend to them or their loved ones.” Yet as the week progressed, so did the team. “Teamwork makes serving together a joy,” noted missionary and nurse
Molly Christensen. Later in the week, she summarized the experience as “dedicated workers serving and doing our best. Happy, thankful patients.” After the clinic closed for the day, Concordia University, Nebraska, student Hayden Rensner made friends with local children. By Wednesday morning, the travails to survive Africa gave way to the anxiety and hope for the day to come. There was a noticeable calm-before-thestorm feeling in the clinic. During the day, a patient came in with infant twins. “Babies … many very sick with high fevers. Concerned mothers seeking help and hope for relief. How very precious to hold these little ones with a silent prayer for God’s protection and care! So many people expressing ‘Thank you!’ in words and motions,” reflected Hartmann. A man walked in wearing a Michigan baseball cap. He needed treatment not for his missing hands, but for a recent bout of malaria. The man was
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a victim of the country’s devastating civil war. Yet his needs — like those of the people around him — are not historical. They are real and present, bearing scars from the past civil war and Ebola outbreak. It was for these that the team came. By Thursday evening, many in the team felt they had hit their stride. The interpreters and local medical workers were on the same page. Yet amid rejoicing in their service, the end was upon them. Friday was the last clinic. “We have evolved into an efficient team, delivering medical aid to many, many people, plenty of whom have suffered from their wounds or afflictions for over a year,” said Daniel Mulholland. “I am saddened that we have come to the end and heartbroken for those who weep and plead, but will not be helped.”
Share Christ One day of peak efficiency. That efficiency gave team leader Rev. Michael Awe the ability to sit with Fatmata and teach her
that she was not being cursed by Allah. While the team saw other patients, Awe shared with her the truth of God’s grace in Christ. As Sierra Leonean nurse Rugiatu Kamande treated Fatmata’s maladies and also witnessed about Christ’s love, Awe held Fatmata’s hand and prayed for her out loud. Her sister heard the prayer. And Fatmata’s tears flowed with the release from the fear of Allah to the hope in Christ. Overall, 1,450 people were treated during the week. But the MMT is just one small part of the work God is doing through His Church in Sierra Leone. “The opportunity to play a small part in the Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone’s efforts to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their families, friends and neighbors has been such a blessing,” said Stephanie Schulte. The Rev. John Bundor, president of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra
MMT participants and Sierra Leonean medical workers take patients’– vital signs.
Pastor Nathaniel S. Abu, of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, prays with patients after they have been treated at the clinic.
Leone, described this project as the “striking of the match and lighting of the candle. And now we are not going to blow that candle out or hide it away. I pray that these efforts will be fruitful and a blessing to our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone.” “What a humbling privilege to spend three-and-ahalf hours with 29-year-old Fatmata… She needed an IV, a comforting hand to hold and
Jesus,” said Michael Awe. “I praise God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that she left a Christian!” Through it all, Fatmata came in fear and left in love. “Even though I may not be able to see the people of Yardu again, I know that I can pray for them and that despite their spiritual and physical needs, God has been holding them since before they were born, and He will continue to hold them,” said Rensner. The church in Sierra Leone
works every day to share the love of Christ through His Word and Sacraments. The MMT and LCMS missionaries assist this good work. “Our congregation benefits from the medicine, it helps greatly. … People will come to receive the medicine, and when they are coming and waiting, we preach to them. … Christ is the only way, the truth and the life,” said Patricia Missah, a member of the Sierra Leone church. “If we receive medicine, it is from Christ, and not from us. So, when people come for the medicine, we tell them
Christ is the way and not us.” “Every day our church is growing,” said Aia Joe, an elder working for the district of the Lutheran church in Sierra Leone. “There are two schools — the Muslim school and the Lutheran school. And the Lutheran school is growing. … We added literacy so that the people can read the Word of God in their own language. … We read along with them and teach them.” Erik M. Lunsford is managing photojournalist for LCMS Communications.
The LCMS and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya are bringing hope to children experiencing trials.
BY ME GAN K . ME RTZ
or Migwa Stephen Ochieng, a joint program between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) made all the difference. When Ochieng was a boy, his education nearly came to a premature end, despite the fact that he was one of the top students in the village. Ochieng’s father died and his mother was unable to pay the fees to send him back to school. The village chief heard about the family’s difficulties and looked for someone who could assist them. He found that help with the ELCK, and Ochieng was enrolled in 1001 Orphans, a joint program of the ELCK and the LCMS that provided support for education and food for children
in need. As students graduated from the program, they became eligible to receive an ongoing stipend to pursue higher education. Thanks to 1001 Orphans and generous donors around the Synod, Ochieng recently graduated from Kenya Medical Training College and passed his certification exam to become a registered nurse. “I want to take this opportunity to … thank the LCMS for the help they have given me til now. I am a graduate because of LCMS. LCMS gave me hope when I was hopeless, LCMS made me smile when I was [shedding] tears. I am now a nurse courtesy of LCMS,” Ochieng wrote in an email to the LCMS field office in Nairobi, Kenya, after his graduation. He also offered to volunteer with the LCMS and its Mercy
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Medical Teams “as a way of saying thanks to the Church and to everyone who made me [smile] during my difficult times in life.” Although 1001 Orphans no longer exists, the work continues and has even expanded. The Synod’s Christ’s Care for Children: Kenya program now matches sponsors in the United States with children at the ELCK’s Project 24 boarding-school facilities, where children receive schooling, food, medical care and the Word of God in a residential setting. The cost to sponsor a child is just $90 per month. Sponsors receive an initial packet of information on their child, as well as updates, photos and the ability to correspond with the child throughout the year. There are currently five
Project 24 sites throughout Kenya, and a sixth site is slated to open in July. The new site, Nyambiri, will be able to provide for 40 boys and 40 girls from the area. “Not only do the children receive great care and an education, but more importantly they grow in their faith in God,” said Britt Odemba, an LCMS missionary in Kenya who works with Project 24. “It is wonderful to see how the local Lutheran church has answered the call to help the children within their congregations. It is a joy to see how the Body of Christ works together and assists their own.” Interested in sponsoring a child? Visit lcms.org/make-a-gift/ christs-care-for-children-kenya or contact Jennifer Hummel at email@example.com or 800-248-1930, Ext. 1326.
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
A During Difficult Times
Concrete Lutheran schools from L.A. to Miami are bringing God’s Word to the children entrusted to their care.
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD
BY K E VI N A R MBR UST engage. l cms .o rg
The Rev. Dennis Bartels, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School, North Miami, leads chapel.
Students sing during chapel at Pacific Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School in Gardena, Calif.
Students line up before announcements at Holy Cross Lutheran School.
Students are dismissed at the end of the school day at Pacific Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School in Gardena, Calif.
iami and Los Angeles are both ethnically diverse concrete jungles built around beaches and sunshine. But they have one other surprising thing in common: Lutheran schools. Pacific Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School in Gardena (L.A.), Calif., and Holy Cross Lutheran School in North Miami teach the Word of God to the children of their respective cities. The schools’ unique settings and situations require continuous adjustments. Yet the administration and faculty of both schools work hard each day to serve whomever the Lord brings to their classrooms. By His grace and mercy, the Word is bearing fruit in the lives of the children and their families.
Lutheran high schools have struggled to survive. Since the 1960s, five Lutheran high schools have closed there. Pacific now stands as the only Lutheran high school in L.A. “What I enjoy about being at a Lutheran school is that I get to expand my knowledge in Lutheranism and hear the wise words of Luther constantly,” said Luciano Diecedue, a ninthgrade student at Pacific and a member of Ascension Lutheran
Church in Torrance, Calif. “I love that Lutheranism has such a firm foundation in the Bible and that all of our doctrine is biblical.” In the middle of an ostensibly non-Lutheran setting, Principal Lucas Fitzgerald works with the board, administration and faculty to ensure that the approximately 100 students at Pacific hear God’s Word daily and learn the truths of Lutheran doctrine as they
The administration and faculty of both schools work hard each day to serve whomever the Lord brings to their classrooms.
Joyfully Lutheran in L.A. “Putting Christ first. Learning for life. Honing life skills. Serving church, school and community.” Pacific’s website plainly states the direction and mission of the school. But the reality is always harder than writing a slogan. In the middle of Los Angeles,
receive an excellent education. “Lutheran education is so important. In this school, we try to keep the Lutheran ethos,” said the Rev. Bruce von Hindenburg, pastor of The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Inglewood, who teaches religion and leads chapel for Pacific. “I try to make sure they are hearing the purity of the Lutheran doctrine, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Pacific is currently leasing a building that previously housed an Assembly of God (AOG) school and remains the location for an AOG congregation. The congregation has been a gracious partner in allowing Pacific full theological autonomy in theology classes and chapel each week.
Diversity as Opportunity LCMS School Ministry serves as a national advocate for the Synod’s 2,029 Lutheran schools and affirms, equips and empowers leaders of Lutheran schools to impact the lives of children and their families with the love of Jesus and His grace.
| WATC H | A video on these schools: lcms.org/urban-schools-summer-2018 | L EA RN MO RE | lcms.org/school-ministry
“We are the most — or at least one of the most — ethnically diverse schools in the Synod,” said Fitzgerald. “Our student body is 25 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic, 25 percent African-American and 25 percent Asian.” This reflects the diversity of L.A. Not only is engage. l cms .o rg
Faculty members welcome students to class at Holy Cross Lutheran School in North Miami.
Currently, the school is composed of six additions to the original building, including what used to be the parsonage, but the growing student population — 400 students this year — needs even more facilities. “The problem is I have no space,” said Mackey, “So we will have to turn away students who want to come next year.”
Longevity and Legacy
there ethnic diversity among students, there are few lifelong Lutherans. Over the last two years, 10 students have been baptized at the school and are being cared for by local LCMS pastors and congregations. The students are from China, South Korea, Vietnam and the greater Los Angeles area. Students’ questions are always welcome, and different points of view are common in the classroom, including those of students who are not from a Christian background. All of these inquiries and discussions are brought to the cross of Christ, who died and rose for all. And the Good News of justification by grace through faith because of Christ is proclaimed and modeled for all. “My favorite thing about attending Pacific Lutheran is that it’s a Christ-centered school, and I appreciate being around people who are Christians,” said Mike Mollura, a senior at Pacific. “I’ll miss the teachers the most because they helped me mature and move on to the next stage of life and they’re a big part of me growing up and keeping my faith strong.” The school works in the
middle of L.A. to continue to teach the Word of God to whomever God allows them to teach. And for those opportunities, they rejoice. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith” (Heb. 12:2). Pacific’s theme verse, vision and goal. Simple, difficult and, by God’s grace, bearing fruit.
A Neighborhood School in North Miami Most people come to Miami because of the beaches and the weather. But the people at Holy Cross Lutheran School, North Miami, stay because it’s a family. “Every day they tell me great things about Jesus,” said Jude Francois, a fourthgrade student at Holy Cross, when asked what he likes best about his school. He said that he loves to be an acolyte at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Sundays. Holy Cross is unique among Lutheran schools. The student body is almost 90 percent Haitian, reflecting the neighborhood surrounding the school. Though the property is across the street from the public high school and middle
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school, many non-Lutherans choose to send their children to Holy Cross. Holy Cross offers something unique. Principal Sherri Mackey, who grew up in the neighborhood, commented that many parents seek a safe place for their children that will also provide a quality education. Holy Cross does that and even more. Here, the children learn about God’s love in Christ. Holy Cross has been around since 1951. The original school was housed in the church building, using the rooms in the church during the week, then setting up for church use every Friday. Throughout the years, the church and school have continued to work together to bring the Gospel to the surrounding community in North Miami. The Rev. Dennis Bartels, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, leads chapel, has taught religion in the school and works closely with the faculty. “The school and church intertwine well. [It’s] not us and them,” said Bartels, “This year, I’ve baptized 17 kids from the school. … Many of those families are now connected to the church.”
Through all the changes, Holy Cross has remained focused on its mission as found on the church’s website: “Christ is the center and focus of all that we do and the spiritual development of our students is nurtured and encouraged. Holy Cross is a family and each member of the family is important and special!” “Family” is an important word and feeling at Holy Cross. Many family members return and bring continuity in the midst of transitions and modifications. “A lot of people have been here a long time,” said Beverly Thompson, a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, who teaches eighth-grade home room and various classes in addition to serving as the athletic director. “We are a very close-knit group.” Thompson’s children all graduated from the school. Her story is not unique at Holy Cross, as many alumni have sent their children there. “I’ll never leave this school. I’m gonna stay here ’til I’m 100,” quipped first-grader Sebastian Papillon. “I love this school.” Lutheran schools share Christ and welcome children into God’s family — in L.A., Miami or wherever the Lord allows. The challenges are different. The situations change. But God is faithful to His promises, and Lutheran schools continue to teach God’s Word.
D O N O R S P OT L I G H T
Trusting God in War and Peace
An encounter in 1945 has resulted in blessings for children in the Philippines today. BY M E GAN K. M ERTZ
eventy-three years ago, Melvin Bockelman, currently a member of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Olathe, Kan., had an experience that he says he will “take to his grave.” At that time, he was a young man — just 17 years old — serving in the Merchant Marine during the last year of World War II. He had left high school to become a mariner the previous year because
“the government was calling for young boys to do that. Our troops were not going to get their supplies” without more manpower for the ships, he recalls. He signed up and was put to work on a ship that delivered aviation fuel to American aircraft carriers in the Pacific. On a hot day in 1945, his ship docked for repairs in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and he and several crew members were sent ashore,
PHOTOS: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD, MELVIN BOCKELMAN, U.S. AIR FORCE/STAFF SGT. NICK WILSON
even though there was active fighting nearby. “There was death and destruction everywhere,” Bockelman recalls. Bombs were still exploding in the distance, and the ground was littered with the bodies of Filipino civilians who had been killed by retreating enemy combatants. Among the chaos and destruction, Bockelman saw a little boy — maybe 7 or 8 years old — running around crying. He took the boy back to the ship, where he cleaned him up and gave him some food. Although the boy spoke English, he was so “shellshocked” that Bockelman wasn’t able to learn his name or what had happened to his parents. “Being young, I wasn’t aware of laws the [U.S. government] had on bringing civilians home,” Bockelman says. He just knew he wanted to take care of the boy. But his captain heard about the situation and directed him to take the boy to the Philippine Red Cross, which he reluctantly did.
A few months later, the war in the Pacific officially ended, and Bockelman returned to high school in his hometown of Concordia, Mo. He went on to serve in the military — attaining the rank of chief master sergeant in the Air Force — married Harriet (née Klingemann) and had three children of his own. Even so, “I never forgot that little boy, waking up at night off and on,” he says. “I saw this little boy crying for help.” When Bockelman recently read about Concordia Children’s Services (CCS) in Manila, Philippines, he was eager to show Christ’s mercy to the children there. CCS, which the LCMS helped found in 1983 and for which it still gathers support, provides residential care for abandoned or orphaned infants, while also providing Christ-centered after-school programs for some 120 area children. He sent a donation to LCMS World Relief and Human Care for CCS, along with a handwritten letter sharing his story. Although Bockelman will never know what happened to that boy in 1945, he trusts the Lord to continue to do His work both in the Philippines and around the world. The encounter with this boy has resulted in blessings for children in the Philippines today. At 90 years old, Bockelman still clings to his baptismal verse, which he often recited during World War II: “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Rev. 3:11). engage. l cms .o rg • 21
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