Lutheran Engage the World | Fall 2019

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Fall 2019 Lutherans Engage the World is published quarterly by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. © 2019 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 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 manager, photojournalism designer designer webmaster

the world

Alive Under the Lord’s Grace Jesus is the subject matter expert on you. He knows your flesh like the palm of His nail-scarred hand. Rather than saying, “To hell with you” unto death, He came. He intentionally subjected Himself to a broken world in order that the world — including you — might be saved through Him (JOHN 3:17). The members of Christ’s Body, His church, resolutely step forward on that firm foundation. The Word of the Lord endures forever; those who are baptized take it to the ends of the earth. Along the way, the energy of our youth and the wisdom of our elders unite in ways that surprise and delight. It’s a sweet symphony of movement and speech, compassion and joy. It can be loud — have you ever joined the 20,000plus crowd at an LCMS Youth Gathering mass event? — or quiet — as when one human being in silent humility ministers to another in the midst of their suffering. It can look like final-year seminarians sweating over essays and exams before graduation or a team of folks cleaning up someone’s yard and painting their house. People need nourishment to live; who will feed them? Jesus said: “You give them something to eat” (MATT. 14:16). The long, lively tradition of the faith thus engages the contemporary culture, and things happen. The love of Jesus — in the genuine proclamation of the Gospel and in mercy work toward our neighbor — cannot be contained or marginalized.

Cover image

A Community Life Builder (in yellow) welcomes teens and adult leaders to a July 11 mass event at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during the 2019 LCMS Youth Gathering.

If you think the church is on the verge of collapse these days, think again. As we are encouraged by the truth that the coming of the Lord draws near (REV. 22:20), we are most assuredly alive under His grace. And then we thankfully live toward the goal of making His disciples for life.


In Christ, Rev. Kevin D. Robson Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


We’d love for you to join us on the journey. To receive the magazine in your mailbox, please call the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267). To be notified when new issues are posted online, visit

Editorial Office

314-996-1215 1333 S. Kirkwood Road St. Louis, MO 63122-7295 888-THE LCMS  |

From the Editor “I just really felt the loving hand of God through this church.” The words of a young mother who was embraced by the members of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Sanford, Fla., echo throughout this issue of Lutherans Engage the World. From Tanzania and Malawi, to the mass events and service projects at this summer’s LCMS Youth Gathering, to the ordination of pastors in Latin America, God is at work through His church. We hope you’ll join us on the journey to see what God is doing and how He is blessing your gifts given for this work. Thanks be to God for your loving hands folded in prayer in support of our missionaries and mission efforts. In Christ, Pamela J. Nielsen Associate Executive Director, LCMS Communications



Leaving the Darkness, Proclaiming the Light Kevin Armbrust

Many Lutherans in Tanzania seek to learn and teach the truth of the Scriptures as found in the Lutheran Confessions, and they are asking the LCMS to join them.



Unconditional Love and Undeserved Grace Pamela J. Nielsen Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries in Sanford, Fla., is a small ministry that’s making a big impact in the lives of expectant mothers in crisis.



‘Real. Present. God.’ Kevin Armbrust Teens, leaders and volunteers descend on Minneapolis for the Synod’s 14th triennial Youth Gathering.

The cathedral at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania diocese headquarters in Mbulu, Tanzania.

Departments 2 Q&A  With MMT volunteer Hayden Rensner 7 Mercy Moment  A grant provides for Lutherans in Malawi.

20 Witness Moment  The first class graduates from the Dominican seminary.

Q &A





Although 20-year-old Hayden Rensner describes herself as a “homebody,” she’s traveled to Sierra Leone twice — first in 2018 and again in 2019 — to help provide medical care to underserved people through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Mercy Medical Team (MMT) program. The Effingham, Ill., native first learned of MMTs from a missionary who spoke at her home congregation. When the program was discussed again at Concordia University, Nebraska, where she is a student, Rensner was finally ready for the challenge and old enough to apply.


How did you get involved with MMTs? Freshman year of college I joined my campus mission club, and a brochure was handed out about Mercy Medical Teams. … Before I knew it, I had applied, gone through the phone interview, and been accepted on the LCMS’ first MMT to Sierra Leone.



Why did you decide to return to Sierra Leone? As soon as I was back in the States and had a few months to process the trip, I was itching to go back. … My dad actually ended up serving as the chaplain [on the second MMT]. It was a very unique and rewarding experience to be able to do something like this with my father. I was able to reconnect with Sierra Leone nurses and pastors whom I had met the previous year. When he saw me this year, local Sierra Leone Pastor Stephen Ngaujah said, “My sister! You came back!”


What is most challenging about serving on an MMT? The most challenging thing is processing everything throughout the week and upon returning to the States. MMT weeks are physically and emotionally exhausting. … Last year, I was so focused on working to the best of my abilities that I kind of pushed some things to the back of

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my mind. When I returned to the United States, I was really overwhelmed at the poverty I had witnessed and felt guilt and anger at the unfairness of our world. What is most rewarding? In just one week, I fell in love with the people and country of Sierra Leone, and I saw God at work in amazing ways. While I might not see the people of Tuyama again, I can remember the absolute joy that I experienced during my time with them, and I can look forward to Jesus coming again, when all God’s children will be brought together from all around the world.


ways that I can help further God’s mission here at home and abroad.


What would you say to someone thinking about going on an MMT? The rewards far outweigh the challenges. Spend focused and intentional time in the Word before, during and after. As you embark on the MMT, be present in the moment, and be watchful for the things that God is trying to teach you. Megan K. Mertz is managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and chief copy editor for LCMS Communications.


How did the experience impact you? [It] changed me in ways I didn’t think possible. I went from being a strict homebody that would not even spend the night with friends, to taking a trip to Africa with people I didn’t know, to falling in love with Africa and searching for

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Love and Grace


REDEEMING LIFE OUTREACH MINISTRIES in Sanford, Fla., is a small ministry that’s making a big impact in the lives of


expectant mothers in crisis.


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Deaconess Liz Borth (center), director of Program Ministries at Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries in Sanford, Fla., greets little Shamiah and her mother, Veronica Jordan, before worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

I really came to know the true meaning of grace,

living in that home, and even though I made mistakes in my life, … God still loves me — and His grace, I can’t earn it.” It’s a story most people would want to put under lock and key. But Veronica Jordan was eager to tell it as Bible class wrapped up at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Sanford, Fla., one Sunday in August. “I was homeless, I was in a bad situation just all around, I was trying to turn my life

around,” Jordan says, recalling the series of events that led to her ending up on the streets and, eventually, entering a rehab program. But Jordan was also pregnant, and the rehab center was not set up to provide care or housing for a pregnant woman. Her caseworker searched the internet for an agency that could help. That’s when Jordan first heard about Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries (RLOM), an LCMS Recognized Service Organization in Sanford. Established almost a decade

|   WAT C H A V I D E O  |

|   LE A R N M O R E  | About RLOM:

|  R E A D  | About RLOM’s founding:

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ago by the Rev. Ed DeWitt, pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, and his wife, Sheryl, who serves as executive director, Redeeming Life is “a Christ-centered maternity home offering love, hope, and a future to single pregnant women in crisis.” “Our guiding verse is 1 John 3:18, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth,’” says Sheryl DeWitt. “That is what we strive to do.”

The Push “Miss Sheryl” and “Pastor Ed” have been the driving force behind Redeeming Life ever since their own family’s experience with a crisis pregnancy. “Our grandson is 9 now. He was the impetus for this,” says Sheryl DeWitt. “You mourn for the future you had planned for your daughter when she comes

home and tells you she’s pregnant, you mourn for all those things she may miss out on, but what a blessing,” exclaims Sheryl DeWitt, as she speaks of her grandson and how his life led to RLOM. A passing conversation at a district convention with then-LCMS Life and Health Ministries Director Maggie Karner connected the DeWitts with a number of resources and agencies. It also paved the way for grant funding from LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WRHC), which helped turn a big dream into reality. “You gave us the push,” says Sheryl DeWitt, referring to the countless LCMS donors who regularly pray for and invest in the Synod’s mercy work. A lot has happened at Redeeming Life since those early days. The initial grant of $25,000, awarded in 2013, helped the congregation

purchase a duplex home across the street from the church Ed DeWitt serves. Over the years, WRHC mercy grants, totaling just over $70,000, have helped firmly establish RLOM in this Orlando bedroom community. There was hesitancy and fear about launching the maternity home among the members of the parish, Ed DeWitt recalls. The frequently voiced concern was, “What if it pulls the church down?” It’s understandable. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer’s modest building sits in an economically challenged neighborhood, and the congregation has about 100 members, with half in attendance on any given Sunday. Fear did not stop them from moving ahead with RLOM — or from establishing both a community garden and a thriving food pantry that make monthly provisions possible for more than 200 families. RLOM has grown with the full support of the congregation and the LCMS Florida-Georgia District. The duplex was remodeled and turned into a single, large home able to house six expectant mothers and a live-in house mother. Deaconess Liz Borth joined the staff two years ago and interacts daily with the women by providing spiritual care, counsel and programming designed to move the women

toward sustainable, independent living. In addition, the new house mother is a certified doula, who provides daily guidance and support throughout the pregnancy and delivery.

Caroline Nielsen and her son, Maxwell, lived at the maternity home in 2015.

The Program Borth has worked to “take the Word of God and put it into the program.” She’s adamant that each resident should bring a Bible to every session so that she can lead them into God’s Word along with the practical teaching. “Jesus is in the middle, in the center, in the core,” she says. “The deaconess came and held my hand,” says Jordan. “She really helped me to grow spiritually, she helped me to grow closer to God.” “I walk with each one of the women through the time she walks in the door [of RLOM] until the time she leaves,” says Borth, who meets with each resident every week for 12 weeks to work through a program devised to help the women gain life and parenting skills. The women take turns cooking the evening meal, and they perform other chores around the house according to a posted schedule. During the day, most of them work off-site. “It is such a blessing to see the Word of the Lord taking root in the hearts of these precious women,” says Sheryl

One of the former residents — Caroline Nielsen — now volunteers at RLOM, serving as the weekend house mother, so she can give the kind of support she once received.

Borth (left) eats lunch with Veronica Jordan (facing away from camera), Maxwell Nielsen (center) and Caroline Nielsen at RLOM on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.

I was homeless, I was in a bad situation just all around, I was trying to turn my life around.” — VERONICA JORDAN

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DeWitt. “It is particularly moving when former residents call just to say hello or to ask for advice. That’s our true mission — to become family to our residents, not just another program.” RLOM has come full circle. One of the former residents — Caroline Nielsen — now volunteers at RLOM, serving as the weekend house mother, so she can give the kind of support she once received. Nielsen attends church regularly with her son, who was baptized at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. “That makes everything we do, every struggle we have, a great joy, and it’s priceless,” says Sheryl DeWitt.

A Work in Progress “We are dealing with broken and deeply wounded women. … They’ve been told they are nothing, they are worthless. They come to us after years of being crushed. You can’t fix that in a year, there’s no way,” says Borth, who pauses before saying, “The Lord can.” She’s seen it time and again. “Yup,” she continues, “this is a hard job, I’m going to tell you up front. I didn’t know it’d be this hard. But every day, I say, ‘Wow, Lord, thank You. I had no idea that was going to happen the way it did.’” Borth is eager to provide a tour of the nearby transitional home, the next phase of RLOM, which opened in August 2018 after a complete

renovation. The addition allows them to continue to provide supportive care with greater independence for women who are ready to move on from the maternity home program. This extra layer of support and service is often critical to their stability and future independence. Currently, one mother and her twins are in the transitional home, which can accommodate three mothers and their children as they learn to manage the demands of school, work and parenting. “I am still a work in progress,” says Jordan, “I feel like I’ve grown so much in the past two years since living in the home, and I was given another amazing opportunity to be able to move into the transitional home after that. “This church has been like a family to me, they really have,” she continues, her eyes lighting up as she tells how this small parish helped organize her wedding this past year. “I just really felt the loving hand of God through this church and through the deaconess, especially. “I want to make sure that you understand,” says Jordan, “this was unconditional love and undeserved grace.”

Deaconess Pamela J. Nielsen is associate executive director for LCMS Communications.

Top: The Rev. Ed DeWitt blesses Shamiah Jordan during the Lord’s Supper at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Sunday, Aug. 4. Top middle: Rachel Jones (right), residential manager at RLOM, greets Shamiah and Veronica Jordan before worship. Bottom middle: Jules Johnson listens to Ed DeWitt during Bible study at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Bottom: Borth walks out of RLOM’s transitional home after a visit.

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Grant Provides Emergency Assistance F O R L U T H E R A N S I N M A L AW I BY S HARA O SIRO

The 2018 growing season was off to a good start in Malawi. But as the maize grew to knee height, an infestation of fall armyworms and stalk borers swept through much of the African country, decimating crops. The poor harvests affected thousands of Malawians, including members of the Confessional Lutheran Church—Malawi Synod (CLCMS). The Rev. Davis Wowa, president of the CLCMS, visited his congregations in late 2018 and saw the scarcity that was affecting pastors and many of the 2,050 Lutherans around the country. Wowa reached out to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) for help, and the Synod responded to the crisis with a $15,833 grant to help provide food to starving people.

In January, the CLCMS received the grant and purchased 970 50-kilogram bags of maize — 20 more bags than anticipated, thanks to lower-than-expected transportation costs. Wowa and his fellow pastors and church leaders distributed the maize throughout the CLCMS’ nine congregations. “Doing it this way will make it open so that all is carried [out] in a transparent manner and everyone would see that things are done to the glory of God,” Wowa said. The church members who received the maize expressed their joy through song and

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dance. Rather than spending all day searching for food and still coming up short, they were able to feed their families and begin working in their gardens to prepare for the next harvest. Thanks be to God, this year’s rainfall has reduced the number of pests in the fields. In addition, the Malawian Lutherans are implementing lessons learned from several agricultural missionaries from the LCMS who have visited in recent years. These new methods have helped address the root of the problem, even as rain has given their gardens a head start.

“We live by their lessons. We are thankful for the agricultural missionaries and the LCMS East Africa field office for sending them to Malawi,” Wowa said. Shara Osiro is an LCMS missionary and communication specialist for the Africa region. engage. lcms .o rg   •  7

Leaving the Darkness, Proclaiming the Light Many Lutherans in Tanzania seek to learn and teach the truth of the Scriptures as found in the Lutheran Confessions, and they are asking the LCMS to join them.

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unflowers opened their petals to allow the light to give life, as the abundant African sun washed over the mud and dirt road in northern Tanzania. As representatives from The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS) traveled down the dusty road, the scenery almost looked like Kansas.

The LCMS is not in fellowship with any church body in Tanzania. Yet, plenty of work and many invitations to join together in the Word of God remain. And there are many opportunities to influence and encourage the Lutheran churches in Tanzania. As with many churches throughout the world, the Lutherans in Tanzania are facing challenges from within and without. A small herd blocks the road in Moshi, Tanzania.

Tanzania is commonly known for two things: Mount Kilimanjaro and safaris in the Serengeti National Park. Yet, this nation in East Africa is also home to many Lutheran churches and cathedrals. Since Lutherans have been in Tanzania for generations, they make up one of the leading Protestant denominations in the country. But as happens in many cases, Lutheran church bodies in Tanzania have started to embrace components of Pentecostalism, adhere to a theology of glory and ordain women.

The windows and Luther Seal at the Lutheran cathedral at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania diocese headquarters in Mbulu, Tanzania.

There are some Tanzanian bishops and pastors, however, who believe, teach and confess theology in concert with the Lutheran Confessions and the LCMS. These leaders within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and neighboring Lutheran church bodies are asking the LCMS for help in training their pastors, evangelists and deacon-

true teaching of the Lutheran church.” In order to facilitate instruction in the faith, the LCEA established St. Peter Lutheran Seminary in Himo (Moshi), Tanzania. “I want everyone to know the teaching of the Bible — the Word of God and the Sacrament,” said Angowi. “Not just knowing the Bible, but knowing the truth of the

The Rev. Godson Justine Mlay, pastor of Kahe Lutheran Church, prays with guests in the village of Kahe, Tanzania.

esses in the doctrine that the LCMS teaches. Many long for teachers and support, so that the truth might be shared and pastors might be instructed to better teach the people in their care.

Building a Confessional Church “We are coming from the liberal Lutheran church, which has been in Tanzania for over 120 years,” explained the Rev. Jesse Angowi, archbishop of the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA). “We want to have a confessional Lutheran church … and we have found that the teachings of the Missouri church [LCMS] is the

Bible through the teachings of the Lutheran church. … I want people to become strong Lutherans.” To that end, LCMS missionaries serve the people of the LCEA and teach at St. Peter Lutheran Seminary. This semester, LCMS missionary Rev. Jonathan Clausing is teaching Greek, Hebrew, Introduction to the New Testament and Luther’s Small Catechism. The content of these classes closely mirrors what seminarians learn at both Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL). “The church needs thoroughly prepared pastors,” said engage. lcms .o rg   •  9



Top left: LCMS missionaries Sarah Kanoy and the Rev. Jonathan Clausing talk with a pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Seminary in Himo, Tanzania. Top right: The sun sets over Shinyanga, Tanzania. Bottom right: LCMS missionary Shara Osiro (right) prays with the Rev. Jesse Angowi, bishop of the Lutheran Church of East Africa, at St. Peter Lutheran Seminary.

Clausing. “We want to give a very solid preparation and training for the pastors.” Clausing learns from his students, even as he instructs. The men who come to learn from him bring with them experiences foreign to American understandings and circumstances. Even though the doctrine is common to the whole church, application requires mutual conversation and understanding.

Providing Education and Care Located just outside of Moshi, Kahe Lutheran Church’s building preserves the past and points toward a hopeful future. The Rev. Godson Justine Mlay serves as pastor

for the congregation, which currently meets in a small structure prone to flooding. New but incomplete brick walls surround the current structure. This new building will provide a better space for a congregation begun under a tree a generation ago. LCMS missionaries are working with the LCEA around Moshi to encourage this church to grow in the knowledge of Scripture and to provide education and care. “My joy is when I see the look on people’s faces when I teach them something about their own bodies that they never knew before,” said LCMS missionary Sarah Kanoy, who serves as the community health nurse and educator for the LCMS East Africa region.

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“And when that teaching connects them to the church … that’s my true joy.” Kanoy, who is a registered nurse, lives in Moshi and provides medical education to the people in the surrounding areas, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. She also works with the LCMS Mercy Medical Teams (MMTs) that come to East Africa. Kanoy hopes to start new work in Kahe, including health education lessons with a tie to the Scriptures. Miriam Kimath, who just received her deaconess certification (sponsored by the LCMS), is planning to receive further training to assist Kanoy in her service to the community. Kanoy and Kimath hope to train the women of the Lutheran congregation in

Kahe, so that they can teach their neighbors. Kimath, who grew up Muslim, learned the Gospel from Mlay at Kahe Lutheran Church. “Pastor Godson talked to me about the Word of Christ. He advised me and encouraged me. I’m so thankful that I became a Christian,” said Kimath. “God used Pastor Godson to tell me about the work of God in Jesus Christ. In my life now I am a Christian and I live that life.” Kimath now seeks to serve as a deaconess to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone, especially the people who live near her hometown of Kahe. Deaconess Miriam Kimath expresses her joy while discussing her faith during an interview at Kahe Lutheran Church.

‘Now We Know the Truth’ “Because we are baptized, we are in Christ,” said the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Joseph Makala during his sermon on Eph. 5:1–2. “We bear fruit with Christ.” Makala preached and baptized two people at a celebration service for the dedication of Macedonia Middle School outside of Shinyanga on May 12.

Makala serves as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania—South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELCT—SELVD). This area of the ELCT strives to stand on the Scriptures and the truth of the Lutheran Confessions. This means Makala is often the lone voice for a biblical view of doctrinal issues when the ELCT gathers. He desires support for his pastors and within his church body.

The Rev. Mathias Masele (right), assistant pastor of Macedonia Lutheran Church in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania—South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELCT—SELVD), assists the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Makala, bishop of the diocese, with a Baptism during a celebratory worship service at Macedonia Middle School in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

Just south of Lake Victoria, men and women of the ELCT— SELVD receive instruction to serve the church at the Bishop Makala Training Center outside Shinyanga, Tanzania. There, women can receive deaconess training and men can learn to be evangelists and pastors. Makala, who attended Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, for his doctoral studies, has invited professors from the LCMS to provide instruction at the training center. This relationship has borne tremendous fruit for the congregations of the ELCT— SELVD. Members of the first cohort graduated in 2015 and were ordained or commissioned. Today, those men and women are serving as pastors

and deaconesses in the surrounding communities. The Rev. Lucas Mwigulu, a member of that 2015 class, serves as pastor of Ebenezer Cathedral in Shinyanga. Mwigulu explained how his time at the center helps him in his daily ministry: “Education at the training center helps me a lot. … [I learned] to differentiate between the Gospel and the Law, the importance of the Lord’s Supper.” Another member of the 2015 cohort, the Rev. Frank Mdindi, served as a parish pastor after graduation but is now enrolled at Matongo Lutheran Theological Seminary in Kenya, where he is pursuing an accredited academic degree. “If I have a degree, I can talk to the liberals who engage. l cms .o rg   •  11

The Rev. Frank Mdindi comforts a young child who was crying at Ebenezer Cathedral, an ELCT—SELVD congregation in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

At first, I … believed the gospel of glory … Now, I preach the Gospel of the cross. We did not know that we were wrong. But now we know the truth and we teach the truth. We have to stand firm in the Scriptures and the Confessions as Lutherans.”

have degrees. If I don’t have a degree, they wouldn’t listen to me,” he said. The constant struggle to proclaim the truth of Scripture is no mere academic exercise for Mdindi. The truth of God’s Word changed his faith during his time at the training center. “At first, I … believed the gospel of glory. Now, I preach the Gospel of the cross,” he said. “We did not know that we were wrong. But now we know the truth and we teach the truth,” he continued, describing not just his experience, but also that of many of his classmates. “We have to stand firm in the Scriptures and the Confessions as Lutherans.” “I go neighbor to neighbor,” said the Rev. Mathias Masele, assistant pastor of Macedonia

Lutheran Church, Shinyanga, and also a member of the 2015 cohort. “From house to house, they come and focus on Jesus.” During his years as pastor, serving with the Rev. Harold Mkaro, senior pastor at Macedonia, his neighbor-toneighbor evangelism has resulted in the Baptism of many former Muslims and pagans. “We first go door to door. Then in the afternoon, we bring dancers in under a tree. And the whole village comes,” said Makala, describing the evangelism process in many villages around Shinyanga. “Then we teach them and preach the Gospel.” “Muslims are trying to reach those in darkness. If we don’t reach them, the Muslims will,” said the Rev. Dr. Daniel Mono, who

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attended CTSFW for his Doctor of Ministry degree, and who now serves as pastor of Agape Lutheran Church and School in Kahama. “The little power we have we are using to reach people. And they are coming to Christ. …

We hope that by the grace of God we can reach them.” Many Muslim families send their children to the church’s school and day-care programs. This allows staff members like Deaconess Mariam Daniel, Mono’s wife, who was a

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Mono, pastor of Agape Lutheran Church and School, Kahama, Tanzania.

Deaconess Stella from the ELCT—SELVD serves the albino community at the deaconess house in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

Church art at a parish of the ELCT—SELVD near Shinyanga, Tanzania.

|   L EA R N MO R E  | |   WATC H A V I D EO   | The altar at Ebenezer Cathedral in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

member of the 2015 cohort, to reach out with the Gospel. Mono sees the Gospel bearing fruit. “I see people coming to Jesus. I see people leaving the darkness,” he said. “When we go to people in darkness, we tell them the Lord will fight for you,” he continued. “I was just a Christian pastor,” explained the Rev. Yohana Nzelu. “In 2014, I became a Lutheran pastor when I studied at Fort Wayne. … The LCMS has done a lot in my life — in my family and in the church. I have now seen the light. I want to go only to the light.” Nzelu convinced Mono to study with the LCMS, advice

that Mono is thankful for. “As I kept studying, I found it is all right,” noted Mono. Since what they learned from the LCMS is not what is predominantly taught in Tanzania, those who have learned the truth are vigilant to invite professors and others to teach. They also encourage those who have already learned, and they work to find more men to send to the Himo seminary and the Makala training center.

Mercy Alongside Word and Sacrament In the late 2000s, people with albinism were often cut up

and their body parts sold, because witch doctors taught that having these body parts would bring good fortune. This destructive teaching replaced the traditional view that albinism was a curse. The government of Tanzania built centers to house and protect people with albinism. The church supported the residents of these centers as they could. But many were uncertain that the support was getting to those who needed it most. Now, the ELCT—SELVD runs a house for women with albinism. Currently, the house has 17 residents, who are learning life skills, especially sewing, so that they can earn a living when they return to their villages. Thankfully,

people with albinism are no longer killed. “We teach health, Bible studies and Sunday school,” said Deaconess Stella, who works at the deaconess house. “We want them to grow in their faith.” The residents of the deaconess house attend worship at a local congregation each week and have chapel at the house throughout the week. Recently, some pastors of the ELCT—SELVD played soccer with the witch doctors from the region. This provided an opportunity for dialogue and for education to the community concerning albinism and the Gospel. According to Nzelu, who serves as headmaster at the Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School, engage. l cms .o rg   •  13

The Rev. Brent Kuhlman, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Murdock, Neb., teaches at a pastors’ conference held in Mbulu, Tanzania, in May.

The Rev. George Ondieki of Lutheran Heritage Foundation listens during the pastors’ conference.

The altar of Kahe Lutheran Church, outside Moshi, Tanzania.

the witch doctors admitted that the pastors represented “the Big God.” In Tanzania, as in America, there are many competing theologies. The church continues to speak truth and to point all to the Word of God in Christ Jesus.

‘Learning to Walk Together’ “When you are bound to the Word of God, you are free,” taught the Rev. Brent Kuhlman of Trinity Lutheran Church in Murdock, Neb., during a pastors’ conference in Mbulu, Tanzania. “Freedom is when your conscience is captive to God’s Word.” Kuhlman addressed about 70 pastors concerning the teachings of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions on the Office of the Holy Ministry, the order of creation and the role of vocation. “As part of our getting to know each other, we like to go to theological conferences, because it’s a great way to see what the teaching and practice of the church is. [Bishop

An elderly woman stands outside Kisaseni Lutheran Church, part of the Lutheran Church of East Africa near Moshi, Tanzania.

Nicolaus Nsanganzelu] invited us to one of their pastor conferences, and they asked if we could bring a presenter,” explained LCMS missionary Rev. Shauen Trump, area director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “In the course of that conference, we found a lot of overlap and a lot of ways we can work together. There was great eagerness for the teaching we bring, and there was great excitement about what we heard from them. “The conversation … is going to continue to move forward about learning to walk together. The first steps we want to take in that is doctrine and theology — our strengths,” said Trump. “And then on raising up and encouraging them in planting the church and spreading the Gospel.”

Tanzania is one of the top 10 producers of sunflower oilseed in the world, exporting over 350,000 tons of it annually. Like America, this nation is full of friendly people and many Lutherans. And like America, the church is facing challenges to the historic and orthodox faith. “We have relationships developing in pockets within this church body. We are not keen to cause division or conflict. We are keen to walk together, particularly in celebrating God’s Word. We look for opportunities to speak to pastors about what the Word of God says,” noted Trump. “Pray for our brothers. Support programs the LCMS has — those that provide Bibles and other materials, send professors and supply scholarships. Support

roofing projects, Recognized Service Organizations and auxiliaries of Synod that share what we have as Lutherans — like Lutheran Hour Ministries and Lutheran Heritage Foundation who translate and help supply materials in foreign languages.” “Faith has to be spread from one generation to another,” said Mono. “It is important to teach the next generation the truth.” “All of us pastors are missionaries,” said Nzelu. “We are only here because of the Gospel.” Even as the LCMS sends missionaries and professors to Tanzania, we learn from them in their fervent witness and desire for the truth. New friends enjoy learning about each other. And so many in the LCMS are blessed in this growing relationship, all because of God’s love for all in Christ Jesus. Dr. Kevin Armbrust is director of Editorial for LCMS Communications.

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Teens, leaders and volunteers descend on Minneapolis for the Synod’s 14th triennial Youth Gathering.


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“I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, … AND IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD …” U.S. Bank Stadium [during the evenings] was amazing and a great reminder of the vastness of Christ’s church,” said the Rev. Mark Kiessling, director of LCMS Youth Ministry. “Amid the crowds, it’s also awesome to pause, consider and give thanks to God for the many LCMS congregations where these young people were baptized, welcomed into God’s family … [and] taught the faith,” he continued. “We give thanks for the churches, parents, pastors and church workers who invest in these young people and adult leaders and pray for them in their daily walk with Jesus.”

center, 70 serving sites and countless places of business downtown how incredible our youth are in showing great kindness, giving high fives to everyone, raising the energy of the city and caring for the town.” Psalm 46 provided the text for the Gathering theme. With the psalmist, the youth were encouraged to be “real” with

mass events were not worship; rather, they gave all participants at U.S. Bank Stadium (where the Minnesota Vikings play) the chance to laugh, dance, sing, listen, pray and be challenged to live out their faith back in their home churches and communities. The primary master and mistress of ceremonies at the evening events were the

Joyful in Behavior and Witness The teens’ witness to the city consisted not only of their many acts of service but also their conduct. Residents and workers in the Minneapolis area observed that many of the rules instituted to prepare for the onslaught of teens were relaxed due to the group’s excellent behavior. These Lutherans were joyful — even as exhaustion set in during the event’s waning hours. “This Gathering had special meaning for me in that it was hosted by a district and place that I called home for 22 years of my life,” said the Rev. Derek Broten, Gathering program director. “It was amazing to see the impact of more than 22,000 youth and adults on a city — making this the biggest mission opportunity our Synod has on a whole city. We heard from hotels, U.S. Bank Stadium, the convention

Participants pray during a July 11 mass event at the 2019 LCMS Youth Gathering in Minneapolis.

God through honest and authentic discussion about their lives. They were encouraged to be “present” through the removal of things that distract from devotion to God and love for one another. More importantly, they heard that God is the One who is “real” and “present” for them in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Living and Loving in Christ Several evenings’ worth of mass events culminated in a July 15 Divine Service. The

amiable A.J. Vega and Emilie Stooksbury, directors of Christian education serving at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Memphis, Tenn., and The Point Church in Knoxville, Tenn., respectively. Other speakers addressed the audience by connecting real-life situations to the real and present role that God plays in people’s lives. The youth were encouraged to see their whole lives as lived in the light of God’s love in Christ. For Olivia Hartwig, a member of Hales Corners Lutheran Church in Hales Corners,

engage. l cms .o rg   •  17


Over 22,000 people spoke these words in unison at the 2019 Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS) Youth Gathering, giving evidence to the work of the Holy Spirit, who keeps the whole Christian church on earth “in the one true faith” (Luther’s Small Catechism, Third Article). Even more remarkable was the demographic of the group: the vast majority of those confessing the faith were teenagers. Many adults wring their hands and wag their fingers at the current generation. Many bemoan the secularization that is all around. Pundits talk about how young people are walking away from the church and becoming “nones” (individuals who answer “none” when asked about their religious affiliation). But for five days in Minneapolis, July 11–15, Lutheran youth woke up to listen to God’s Word in their morning sessions and closed their day with “mass events” centered on the Gathering theme, “Real. Present. God.” Toting their ever-present, purple backpacks, the teens of the LCMS converged on the Minneapolis Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis. Their numbers were so staggering that, at times, the escalators could not withstand their weight. But those inconvenienced by the slowdown did not complain. Instead, the long lines to board the escalators singlefile and every-other-step were opportunities to converse and get to know each other. “Seeing the crowds at the Minneapolis Convention Center [during the days] and

Wis., and a recent graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., that message came through loud and clear. “I grew up in the Lutheran church, and I went to Lutheran grade school, middle school and high school,” Hartwig said. “Going into medicine, I want to use what I’ve learned from my faith, such as serving others,

teenager. Topics included bullying, a Christ-centered approach to sexuality, vocation, facing transitions and dealing with fear. The vast “Interactive Center” offered a place for fun, exercise, rest, learning, freebies and social connections. Displays for LCMS ministries, districts, Recognized Service Organizations, the Synod’s

have all these Lutherans in one place. … We are all gathered here, and we are all the same religion. Everyone is on the same page.” Yet the week wasn’t only about the teenagers and their learning, growth and enjoyment. Thousands participated in some 72 servant events — both on location at the convention center and throughout the Minneapolis area. Youth packed food for the hungry, served in neighborhoods in need of repair, worked at private homes, painted, cleaned, helped at an event for the disabled and canvassed neighborhoods for local congregations. Ethan Schumacher of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brandon, Fla., participated in Bethesda Lutheran Communities’ Carnival for

the Disabled in Coon Rapids, Minn. Schumacher said, “Serving is a really good way to spread God’s Word and to show other people what God has done.” Traci Kohls, director of Christian education at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fremont, Neb., and director of the Gathering’s Off-Site Servant Events Team, said, “We see the servant events as a key piece of our youth being able to live out their faith and be the hands and feet of Jesus. … Our hope is always that, in whatever city we’re in, we’re serving in that city, but also equipping those kids and adults to go back into their own communities and serve.” Added Kiessling: “Gatherings provide participants the opportunity to shine

Participants at the LCMS Youth Gathering in Minneapolis walk through the Gathering’s “Interactive Center.” Youth in attendance represented 49 states and 13 foreign countries.

putting others before yourself and loving like Christ has loved us.” Each morning of the Gathering began with smallgroup Bible study. Throughout the day, scores of breakout sessions provided time for each youth to listen to experts addressing an array of concerns in the life of today’s

universities and seminaries, and other friends of the Synod allowed participants to see the breadth of their church body. As youth meandered through the convention hall, they saw thousands of Lutheran teenagers just like themselves. Elizabeth Bott of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, Kan., said, “It’s crazy how we

The Rev. Jonathan Ruehs (left), assistant professor of theology and director of the Center for Church Leadership at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., talks with participants following his session during the 2019 LCMS Youth Gathering.

During the 2019 LCMS Youth Gathering, participants …

By the Numbers

Packed more than 1.5 million nutritionally balanced meals for malnourished children in Africa in cooperation with the Minnesotabased Feed My Starving Children organization.

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Made 1,128 fleece stocking caps for the poor. Created over 1,000 kits for the homeless.

Contributed 926 inches of hair to Wigs for Kids.

the light of Christ through acts of mercy and service and share the Good News of Jesus in the host community. Also, our young people often

point to Jesus,” Broten said. “We could never do this event without the 270 volunteer planners, 200 Community Life Builders and 600 Young

clear. We sinners stand before a real, present God. If He were to deal with us according to our sin, we would receive what we deserve — His wrath and punishment. But because of Jesus, the One who came to be our real, present God, we receive forgiveness — by grace through faith on account of Christ.

As LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison said during his sermon at the Gathering Divine Service, “God has planned to send Christ for you from all eternity. “Amen. It’s in the bag.”

|   L EA R N MO R E  |

During the Gathering, participants also spent time studying the Bible and learning from breakout session speakers. Teens participate in a servant event. During the 2019 Gathering, participants spent more than 12,500 hours serving the Twin Cities area.

acquire a new understanding of cultures and people, learn what God does through Christians when we partner together, and gain confidence in their ability to serve and lead in a different context or circumstance.”

‘Church at Its Best’ The Gathering could not happen without the direct support of many volunteers from LCMS congregations across the country. “The heartbeat of the Gathering is the 1,300-plus volunteers who lead with a servant heart and

Wrote 574 letters of encouragement to veterans.

Adult Volunteers. Many of our planners sacrificed a lot of personal time in the past two-and-a-half years to help frame each key area of the Gathering. We also had 300 on-site volunteers,” he added, “most of whom were local to Minnesota and Wisconsin. This on-site volunteer pool was about six times more than past Gatherings. This team approach is certainly the church at its best.” No one knows each person’s reasons for spending a week of their summer focused on Christ in Minneapolis. But the message to all who came was

Spent an estimated

Donated 463 units of blood to the American Red Cross.

12,500 hours at servant events in the Twin Cities area.

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Isaac Machado of Venezuela was one of eight men to graduate on May 24.


Inaugural Graduation BY JA N A I N G LE H A RT


n May 24, the first class graduated from Concordia the Reformer Seminary in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic. Among the eight new graduates was Isaac Machado of Venezuela. Machado wasn’t always planning to become a pastor. Beginning at age 5, he developed a passion for music that led him to play in the national youth orchestra and to study at a prestigious music conservatory. He later landed his first job at a local television station and advanced

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quickly in the field of audio engineering. He had just received an amazing job offer with Venezuela’s national soccer team when word came that he had also received a scholarship to study at Concordia Seminary in Argentina. Machado’s parents, first-generation Lutherans in Venezuela, had instilled in him that the preaching of the Gospel was the most important thing. As the bedrock of the Lutheran mission in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Caracas, these college professors made

Seminarian Elvis Carrera accompanies his supervisor, LCMS missionary Rev. Joel Fritsche, on a weekly community visit in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic.

During a home visit in Palmar Arriba, local pastor Idjon Fritz, LCMS missionary Rev. David Preus and seminary students join a shut-in church member and her family for prayer.

“The professors were excellent, not only in the classroom but in the car, in their homes. They taught me by example, not only how to be a pastor but also how to be a good husband and father. I did not expect to learn all of this.”


—Isaac Machado

certain that he and his two sisters were taught the faith and attended Lutheran schools. There was no question about what he would do. Machado attended the Argentine seminary for two years. Then he moved to the Dominican Republic to spend two more years at Concordia the Reformer Seminary. “I am so glad that God put in my mind and my heart to come here to Concordia el Reformador to study,” Machado said. “I thought that I knew a lot about theology, but when I arrived in the Dominican Republic and began my classes I realized I knew nothing!” he continued. “The professors were excellent, not only in the classroom but in the car, in their homes. They taught me by example, not only how to be a pastor but also how to be a good husband and father. I did not expect to learn all of this. Not only were the classes and

the theory good, but also the practice. And the practice is in the church, in their lives and their families and how they relate to other people.” On graduation day, the eight eager graduates — who

jubilant family members, who were watching the event via livestream, were caught up in the unspeakable joy of the day. Due to the shortage of Lutheran pastors in Latin

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hail from Bolivia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela — lined up in their caps and gowns under the bulky tent that had been set up by the professors, students and missionaries earlier in the day. Smiles, hugs and congratulations abounded between the students and the professors, family members and special guests in attendance. Even thousands of miles away, the seminarians’

America, the new graduates will likely serve two, three or more congregations. However, because of the current civil unrest in Venezuela, Machado will likely serve in Spain — although he will return to Venezuela regularly to teach and encourage the pastors and church workers there. With the launch of the seminary’s new deaconess program this past spring, the Lord of the harvest is also

preparing nearly 140 deaconesses through intensive courses taught around the region. These deaconesses will serve alongside pastors throughout Latin America. “It has been a joy to teach these young men inside and outside of the classroom in their formation for ministry,” the Rev. Joel Fritsche, LCMS missionary and director of Concordia the Reformer Seminary, said about graduation day. “It was an even greater joy to see them graduate and receive recognition for all of their diligent and faithful work. We rejoice with them, their families and their church bodies as they go forth with the Gospel to plant new churches.”

Jana Inglehart is an LCMS missionary and communication specialist for the Latin America and Caribbean region.

engage. l cms .o rg   •  21


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