Lutherans Engage the World | Summer 2017

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Summer 2017 Lutherans Engage the World is published quarterly by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. © 2017 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 Annie Monette Chrissy Thomas Rudy Blank

executive director, communications executive editor director, design services managing editor/staff writer manager, photojournalism designer designer designer webmaster

Cover image

A young parishioner retrieves Bibles before worship at Amigos de Cristo Iglesia Luterana in Las Americas (Friends of Christ Lutheran Church) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. PHOTO: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ERIK M. LUNSFORD


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  |

the world

God Is at Work Through You I thank God for you. Your faith in action — your prayers, gifts and service — provides thousands of opportunities to proclaim Christ and His mercy to those who may hear it for the first time. Thank you. Across the U.S., our congregations and districts reach out with the Gospel, planting and revitalizing churches in cities, suburbs and rural communities. Our schools, universities and seminaries faithfully prepare students to lovingly serve their neighbor in their vocations. As the Body of Christ, we share His mercy in every conceivable context with those who suffer. Over the past four years, the number of career missionaries has nearly doubled. They plant churches, teach the faith and bear mercy alongside congregations, districts and international partner church bodies. In this work, your continual support is vital. The world is noticing God at work! Right now, 22 Lutheran church bodies are seeking fellowship with us. They crave our faithful biblical teaching. World Lutheranism is undergoing a historic transformation, returning to the teachings of the Reformation. God generously gives all we need to support this body and life, including the work of His Kingdom. The question “How well are we stewarding the resources God provides?” has been on my heart for months. It’s time for a bit of straight talk about funding our work together. It’s no secret that the Synod’s finances mirror the American economy. The past 18 months have been particularly challenging. Presidential politics and the lackluster economy have depressed giving. We’ve reset priorities and reduced expenditures, and yet we move boldly, trusting that God’s kingdom continues to advance and His Church stands against the attacks of hell itself. We are thankful for the record number of congregations and other entities that are supporting missionaries. God is always in control. He continues to bless His Church, and through His Church, the world. This issue of Lutherans Engage the World is filled with stories of what God is doing through you! In Jesus, sub cruce, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

From the Editor From Gary, Ind., to the Gambia, this issue of Lutherans Engage the World is focused on missionaries and how you, with many others, help them to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Who is your missionary? Do you have one? This summer, nearly half of our missionaries will be on home service to visit congregations and families, inviting new partners, prayers and financial support for their work at home and abroad. In Christ, Pamela J. Nielsen Associate Executive Director, LCMS Communications


the Lord 17 Bringing of Life Home Erik M. Lunsford

The Rev. Delwyn Campbell’s love for Gary, Ind., brought him back home to serve as a national missionary to the city.



Different Paths but the Same Mission Megan K. Mertz The Rev. Dr. John Loum and Joanna Johnson are among the Synod’s newest missionaries.



‘A Global Perspective’ Kevin Armbrust The Together in Mission program links congregations and missionaries in God’s mission.



Sharing God’s Word in Santo Domingo and Beyond Roger Drinnon Behind the Rev. Joel Fritsche stands a network of supporters who have partnered in the work in the Dominican Republic.

Departments 6 Q&A with the Rev. Kou Seying 11 Mercy Moment A grant helps provide Christian care kits for a community. 16 Mercy Moment A grant enables outreach to families with special needs. 21 Update Recovery continues in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew.

Different Paths But the Same Mission

H AV E Y O U E V E R THOUGHT ABOUT BECOMING A M IS SIONA RY ?” David Fiala, assistant director of Missionary Recruitment for The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS), asks this question on a regular basis as he recruits church workers and laypeople to serve in a variety of roles on the international mission field. Fiala often gets tips from his contacts — pastors, current missionaries, seminary professors and others — about people who might be good candidates for missionary service. He follows up on every lead, whether they come over the phone, in text messages or emails, or scrawled across scraps of paper. Sometimes, potential candidates come right up to him and start a conversation.

From Contact to Candidate

That’s how Fiala met Joanna Johnson, a 2015 graduate of Concordia University, St. Paul, St. Paul, Minn. He was staffing the Synod’s booth at the LCMS Youth Gathering in New Orleans in July 2016, and she was serving as an adult leader with her congregation’s youth group. They struck up a conversation in the exhibit hall, and she expressed interest in becoming a missionary. It was an idea that had been planted in Johnson’s head several years earlier, when a speaker visited Concordia to talk about being a missionary. Her friend went up to talk to him after the presentation, and Johnson followed. “He ended up talking to me a lot, actually,” Johnson

said. She told him about the short-term mission trips she had taken to Russia and Alaska with her home congregation, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Conover, N.C. “He said, ‘You’re missionminded.’ I said, ‘I’m not; my church is,’” she recalled. “That was where [the idea] really started.” After meeting Fiala, she realized the time was right to apply. She later learned that there was an opening for a missionary teacher in Taiwan. “I had wanted to work on a cruise ship playing the trombone and then go to grad school,” Johnson said. “But I thought if mission work is what I wanted to do big picture, then in a way this other stuff is kind of a waste of time, even though it would be awesome.”


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The Rev. Dr. John Loum, director of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and new career missionary to Africa, walks to his office on the seminary campus.

A Long Process Although Johnson started the application process last summer, she won’t land in Chaiyi, Taiwan, until August — just in time for the start of the school year. She will teach English and Bible classes at Concordia Middle School and its after-school program for elementary students, while also assisting a congregation of the China Evangelical Lutheran Church. “You don’t just get hired and sent on a plane,” Fiala said. “It’s a long process.” After expressing interest, a candidate goes through a self-evaluation process that can take several months. Fiala and his team help the candidate work through questions like: How well do you understand the doctrine of the Church? Are you healthy enough — both physically and emotionally — to live overseas? How well do you function under stress? “Living overseas is very stressful,” Fiala said, speaking from his own experience as a missionary in Slovakia for 10 years. “Why would we turn your life upside down when you

could do ministry right here? We need missionaries domestically almost as much — maybe even more — than we need them internationally.” Along the way, many candidates realize that missionary service isn’t right for them or their immediate family members.

Equipped for Service In March, Johnson was among a group of new missionaries who completed a one-week orientation at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis. During the week, the new missionaries learned about fundraising, building a

The Rev. Dr. John Loum prays during chapel at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Those who complete this process are submitted for consideration by the LCMS Board for International Mission, the Synod’s sending organization. The board then reviews the candidates and extends calls for ordained or commissioned ministers or solemn appointments for laypeople.

network of support, communicating with donors and other aspects of their new roles. “This orientation provides intensive training specifically geared toward preparing each missionary to go out to congregations, sharing the message of the work that each will be doing, asking for partnership in accomplishing the work of

telling others about Jesus,” said Christian Boehlke, director of Missionary Services for the LCMS. Orientation also provides an opportunity for the missionaries to meet their new regional director as well as the staff who will be supporting them from the International Center. “It’s nice to know who you are talking to [by phone and email] and to just have conversations and think things through,” Johnson said. “Most of them have mission experience, and some of them have been to the same school in Taiwan where I’ll be teaching.” The Rev. Dr. John Loum, director of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, also attended orientation. He recently accepted a dual call to serve part-time in his native country, the Gambia, in addition to his role at the seminary. “I’ve been a missionary before, but this orientation has been fabulous. It widened my horizon,” Loum said. He moved to Sierra Leone at the age of 17 and spent many years in ministry there before immigrating to the United States after the nation’s 10-year civil war.

Joanna Johnson practices her missionary presentation with her father, the Rev. Scott Johnson, pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Conover, N.C.

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|   PRAY  | For new missionaries: |   L E A RN AB OUT  | Mission service opportunities: |   G E T TO KNOW  | Missionary Joanna Johnson:

Missionary Rev. Dr. John Loum:

In between his duties at the seminary, Loum will travel to the Gambia twice each year to provide training and encouragement to the country’s small Lutheran church body. There is only one ordained Lutheran pastor, who tends a small flock with significant potential for growth. Loum specializes in outreach to Muslims, which he says will be useful to Lutherans in the Gambia, since approximately 90 percent of the country is Muslim. “This people, surrounded by so many Muslims, should know they are not alone. They have bigger brothers in the States,” he said. “I want to help them feel encouraged and blessed and invigorated with the message of the Lutheran church.” According to Fiala, Loum’s dual call is a “new concept” for the LCMS Office of International Mission — one that allows special skillsets to be used effectively in multiple locations. “When the need is not great enough internationally to have a full-time person, but the need is still there, our ability to be flexible and really work as a Synod is necessary,” Fiala continued.

The Right Time Although the recruitment process can be complicated, Fiala said it is “good, orderly and in line with the Scripture and Lutheran Confessions.” Its whole purpose — from initial contact to deployment — is to ensure, as much as humanly possible, that candidates have everything they need to be successful in their new positions. For Loum, this preparation started long before he ever began thinking about paperwork or logistics. “I’ve been praying and longing for the day when I will return and help my own people come to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said. The time has finally come for both Loum and Johnson. Although they took two different routes to missionary service and have been sent to two very different parts of the world, they had the same response when they heard God’s call: “Here I am! Send me.”

INTERESTED IN MISSIONARY SERVICE? Contact David Fiala at David. or 888-THE LCMS (843-5267).

Megan K. Mertz is managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and a staff writer for LCMS Communications.

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Rev. Kou Seying


The Rev. Kou Seying (Kxf. Nyaj Kub Thoj) says he is a

“living witness of God’s grace and mercy.” Seying grew up in the mountains of Laos during the Vietnam War. His family lived in a refugee camp and faced many dangers before finally finding a safe haven in the United States. Years later, Seying became the first Hmong pastor in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and served Hmong congregations in California and Minnesota, where he also taught at Concordia University, St. Paul. In 2015, he joined the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he serves as professor and associate dean for Urban and Cross-Cultural Ministry.


What brought you to the U.S.? I was born in Laos. The family resettled in Indianapolis as a result of the Vietnam War. We were co-sponsored by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. We’ve been with the Lutheran church ever since.


What was it like? For us from a communal society, plucked out of that into new life in America, it was not easy, especially for my parents. But we were loved by the church, and that gave us new life and new identity.


What advice do you have for reaching out to ethnic communities? Don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone. Learn to tell your faith story. It doesn’t have to be a theological exposition. Just witness naturally. Get to know your neighbor. If you see the same guy in your neighborhood a couple times a week, a relationship is built. They may even open the door to you: “I see you go to church. Why?”


How does the seminary prepare people to serve ethnic communities? Beyond the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology and

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Center for Hispanic Studies, I have the responsibility for bringing cross-cultural emphases to seminary life. We are also building cross-cultural components into the new curriculum — in the classroom and experientially. … The moment a student steps off the seminary and into the ministry, he is going to be in a cross-cultural setting from day one, even in a rural area.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Besides John 3:16, probably 1 John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out fear.” That’s my go-to verse because much of my ministry prior to [joining the] seminary was in the animistic context. People that adhere to spirits are very, very fearful. To have Christ as that perfect love that drives out all fear is so meaningful for people.


What are the opportunities for ministry? The opportunities are so great. The people movement in the 21st century is unlike any other time. The U.S. is a ripe mission field; you can reach any people group right here. Those people, in turn, will be missionaries back to their country of birth. The church has the opportunity to equip the leaders and train pastors and deaconesses. That’s why a position like mine was created — a call right here to St. Louis precisely to take advantage of



these opportunities to reach so many around the world through the people right here in the U.S.

Sharing God`s Word


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The Rev. Joel Fritsche, career missionary to the Dominican Republic, tells children at Zion Lutheran School, Staunton, Ill., about his life and work in the Caribbean country.

When you support a missionary, you’re supporting someone who is working hard to prepare a brother or sister in Christ in a country of service to continue the work of the Gospel there,” says the Rev. Joel Fritsche, an LCMS career missionary in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. “In other words, not only are you supporting the work of one individual, you are laying the groundwork for more pastors, deaconesses and other church leaders to plant churches and to share the Gospel for generations to come in that country and beyond,” he adds. In his missionary role, Fritsche works to plant new churches in a country encompassing the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (the western third being Haiti). The Dominican Republic’s population is roughly 10.6 million — including around 3 million living in Santo Domingo. The area is known for its tropical climate and its rugged highlands and mountains interspersed with fertile valleys.

In Santo Domingo, Fritsche forms and develops groups of believers into mature, selfsustaining and self-replicating congregations through Word and Sacrament ministry. He also serves as the director of Concordia Seminary (Centro de Misericordia Seminario Concordia el Reformador) and Mercy Center in Palmar Arriba. As director, he teaches courses and helps prepare men to be pastors — pastors who then proclaim God’s Word not only throughout the Dominican Republic but also throughout the Caribbean and parts of Latin America. “Last fall, a young man named Miguel from one of our Santo Domingo missions asked me if I would teach him Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament,”

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Fritsche says. “He wants to be a pastor someday. His parents were among the first to be baptized early on in the mission, and now, by God’s grace, a new generation of [Lutheran] pastors is on the rise.” Fritsche says preparing Dominican church leaders for tomorrow would not be possible without the support of the generous people who are vital partners in the mission work being accomplished in Jesus’ name. This partnership is central to the NetworkSupported Missionary (NSM) model — a coordinated effort to link LCMS missionaries directly with a dedicated group of financial and prayer sponsors. At certain times, international missionaries return home to visit with

congregations and individual network partners. During these visits, they report to sponsors on what Christ is doing around the world and offer more people the opportunity to be personally involved in His important work. In his April-May mission newsletter, Fritsche outlines his family’s “home service tour,” which began with travel back to the United States April 6 and concluded with their return to the mission field in mid-June. During such whirlwind visits, he reconnects with supporting congregations. His recent itinerary included visits with several congregations in Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin. “During the weekend of April 29-30, we had the privilege of visiting the saints of St. John [Lutheran Church] in Plymouth, Wis.,” he writes. “St. John’s has invested in the mission for a number of years, supporting our family as missionaries [and] also sending short-term teams to the Dominican Republic. “Missionaries are the Lord’s hands and feet on the ground in certain places, near and far,” Fritsche says. “However, the Lord makes use of a vast network of individuals, groups and congregations to spur each missionary on through

The sun rises over Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

In Santo Domingo, Fritsche forms and develops groups of believers into

mature, self-sustaining and self-replicating congregations through Word and Sacrament ministry.

Fritsche leads a Bible study at a home in Santo Domingo.

Fritsche looks out the entrance of Amigos de Cristo Iglesia Luterana in Las Americas (Friends of Christ Lutheran Church) in Santo Domingo.

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prayers, financial gifts and even assisting with the smallest of tasks — like printing and mailing a missionary newsletter. It’s a partnership where every supporting role is significant and vital to the work of the Gospel.” The Fritsche family includes Joel’s wife, Clarion Fritsche, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Concordia

University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis. Before heading to the mission field, she taught at several Lutheran schools. Joining them on the mission field are their three children: Viktor, Sergei and Andrei, who are home-schooled by Clarion. “Charitable contributions and spiritual support are so vital to missionaries and their families,” Clarion says. “Not

only are prayers and monetary donations greatly appreciated, they are necessities in the daily life of a missionary. We could not do any of the work that we do without our generous supporters.” Roger Drinnon is director of Editorial Services and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.

|   L EA R N M OR E   | Get to know missionary Rev. Joel Fritsche:

|   WH I T E PA PE R   | Detailed information on the NSM model is provided in the Synod’s white paper, “Missionaries Raising Money? Genesis of the LCMS Network Supported Missionary Model.” Visit, or request a hard copy of the document by calling the Synod’s toll-free Donor Care Line at 888-930-4438.

“The Lord makes use of a vast network of individuals, groups and congregations to spur each missionary on through prayers [and] financial gifts.” — REV. JOEL FRI TSCHE



Christopher Columbus explored and claimed the island of Hispaniola on his first voyage in 1492. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The 10  •  LUTHERAN S EN G AG E   |   S U MME R 2 0 17

remainder of the island sought to gain its own independence in 1821 but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years. The country finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans

voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book


A Brief History of the Dominican Republic


Comfort F

our-year-old Journey Hudson has lovable

brown eyes and adorably chunky cheeks. On the day I met his parents, Michelle and Parker, in the small town of Fairmont, Minn., at the crossroads of friendly Americana and gorgeous spring weather, he was playing in the backyard of their humble home. I came to ask him what he thought of his fuzzy fleece blanket adorned with little dinosaurs. He loves it, he said. “I use it when I sleep.” Marge Thiesse, director of development at Martin Luther High School in nearby Northrop, stood next to me almost in tears. As she looked at the boy, she saw the impact her high-school students, who made the blanket, had on this family. Over the course of several days, 55 students from the high school made about 500 blankets and bundled them into Christian care kits with Bibles, Pillow Pets, books from Concordia Publishing House

Journey Hudson and his parents.

for Body and Soul

A grant supports a project that provides Christian care kits for the community

and other devotional items. The blanket project is very The kits were later delivered special, I think, in that it to a food pantry, a pregnancy pairs a physical comfort, a resource center and a funeral super-soft blanket, with a home. comfort for people’s hearts For the project, the high and minds in Jesus.” school received a $25,000 On a Wednesday in May, grant through the “Stand students gathered in the With Your Community” gym to make the last kits. program, which was made Music played over the loud possible by a partnership speaker, while students sang between the LCMS, Thrivent together as they carefully Financial and Lutheran snipped blanket edges for Church Extension Fund. knotting. “It’s really neat to see so “It was heartwarming many people — kids my age — seeing how our students all working together for this pitched in and owned the project,” said high-school seproject, working hard and nior Deborah Watt. “I became having a wonderful time even more motivated when we doing it,” Thiesse said. “It heard about the direct impact was touching praying with our blankets were having on students over the bundles, the community. Sure, we knew asking for God’s blessings on where they went and what those who receive them.” they were for, but before we The program initially got had that direct off to a rocky feedback, they start, howwere just cute ever, when the |   L EA RN MO RE  | fuzzy blancommunity’s we made health servicgrants-enable-mercy and never es department |   V I D EO   | saw again. told Thiesse

they couldn’t distribute anything Christian. But God led her to three organizations that were delighted to have the bundles. A spokesperson for the Options Pregnancy Center, an abortion alternative center in Fairmont, said a client had asked for more Bibles after receiving one of the bundles. It’s all part of God’s plan. Paxton Gravlin, a sophomore at the school, summed it up this way: “I hope that these people that receive these blanket bundles come to know Christ, believe in Him, and know that He has saved us from our sins and is our Savior.” It may be a super-soft and snuggly blanket, but for the Hudson family and others on the receiving end in this little town, it’s so much more. Erik M. Lunsford is managing photojournalist for LCMS Communications.

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Supporting a missionary gives our members a global perspective,” observed the Rev. Douglas Breite, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Trinity has been a Together in Mission (TIM) congregation for the last 20 years. The TIM program links congregations with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) missionaries to foster a relationship to spread God’s Word both domestically and throughout the world. Congregations involved in the program support one or more missionary families through ongoing pledges of support.

Connected to the Church At-Large The LCMS sends missionaries to both foreign and domestic destinations, and Trinity supports one of each. The Rev. Micah Glenn serves in Ferguson, Mo., where he leads outreach to youth and adults, and the Rev. Peter Kolb, based in Hong Kong, serves as the Asia regional chaplain. While some missionaries are sent to plant new Lutheran churches, others support the

Gospel proclamation efforts of indigenous Lutheran church bodies. By participating in the TIM program, congregations like Trinity are connected to the global mission of God. Together in Mission is designed to cultivate a partnership between missionaries and congregations, groups and organizations within the LCMS. This relationship proves mutually beneficial in many ways. “When a missionary comes to visit, it is an encouragement for us to share our stories and to make sure that we are in mission here,” said the Rev. Chip Winter, director of ministries at Christ Lutheran Church, Norfolk, Neb. He said the missionary also visits with the children at their school, which gets them excited “about mission work and opens to them another avenue through which they consider church work.” The congregation has a long history of supporting LCMS missionaries, and it currently supports five. In addition, Winter noted that the congregation also goes on short-term mission trips and seeks opportunities in the community to share the love of Christ.

The Rev. Micah Glenn, LCMS national missionary to Ferguson, Mo., prepares to preach during the Divine Service at Trinity Lutheran Church, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Trinity is one of the Together in Mission congregations that supports Glenn’s work.

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A‘ Per

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Shara Cunningham, a career missionary to Eastern and Southern Africa, arranges logistics for an LCMS Mercy Medical Team as they provide medical care in a remote area of Turkana, Kenya, in June 2016.

A Partnership in the Gospel Together in Mission has linked career and long-term missionaries to LCMS congregations and groups since 1982. Often, a TIM congregation makes a one-year renewable commitment to support a missionary family. The congregation, as it is able, can seek to increase this commitment over time as the Lord allows it to fulfill its pledge. This ongoing support helps facilitate the work of missions across the globe and in the United States. Missionaries work in situations in which they cannot earn what is needed for daily bread from those whom they serve. Their support comes from people who are often geographically removed from their work. Yet that support is

essential and brings geographically disparate people together in the common work of the Gospel. The missionary benefits from the support to care for his or her family with all that is needed for this body and life. This support allows the missionary to work in the mission field as God has called him, according to His will.

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The congregations, groups or organizations involved in TIM benefit from their connection with the Church and the Gospel in a larger context. Regarding his congregation’s involvement in the TIM program, Breite observed that this experience has “given our members a worldwide missional perspective. We have a school and meet the needs of

|   L EA R N MO R E  | Read tips on how to prepare for a missionary’s visit to your congregation:

Learn about the Synod’s missionaries:

our community the best we can, but this helps us recognize that the Gospel is needed throughout the world.” TIM congregations also benefit from the relationship developed with the missionaries and their families. Regular communication — through newsletters, social media and occasional Skype calls — helps the congregation stay current with the work taking place on the mission field and the status of the missionary family. When the missionaries are home, Trinity invites their missionaries to preach at their Sunday services and to lead a Bible class. Breite said these opportunities allow the members of Trinity to “stay up-to-date on their mission activities” and to reconnect with the people involved in the work.

Support a Missionary TOGETHER IN MISSION

The Rev. Peter and Kristie Kolb, career missionaries to Asia, are recognized during a Service of Sending at the LCMS International Center in February 2014.

Congregations are invited to pledge support for the Synod’s missionaries through the Together in Mission giving program ( Contact Debbie Feenstra at 800-248-1930, Ext. 1651 or to learn more.


Individuals have a similar opportunity through the Mission Senders program (

The Rev. Micah Glenn receives congratulations after getting his call to serve in Ferguson during the Call Day service at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in April 2016.

Opportunities to Connect In 2013, the Synod in convention set before the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) Resolution 1-11, a challenge to double the number of career missionaries. The resultant efforts have been blessed so that over 100 missionaries now serve in various locations. Each deployed missionary returns to the U.S. for a visit every two years. This trip provides the opportunity to visit congregations either to thank current donors or to broaden their base of support, and it also allows them to rest and reconnect with family and friends. Many of the missionaries called and placed as a result of the 2013 resolution are scheduled to return home this summer for this home service.

This also is a time for the Synod at-large to renew her commitment to pray for the work of the Kingdom done through missionary families. Daily family and individual as well as corporate prayer is an important component in the church’s support of her missionaries. These missionaries are all able to serve thanks to your support. “The support that we get from donors is what makes the work we do possible. It provides for my family’s school, house, food and so many more things,” Glenn said. “Most importantly, it keeps me in the field to preach the Gospel to people who have never heard it.”

Contact Michelle Beckmann at 800-248-1930, Ext. 1047 or to learn more.


Mission Central in Iowa ( helps link Lutherans with opportunities to support missionaries and projects around the world. Contact Gary Thies at 712-882-1029 or

Dr. Kevin Armbrust is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications. engage. l cms .o rg

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A Prom for People of All Abilities A G R A N T E N A B L E S O U T R E A C H T O FA M I L I E S W I T H S P E C I A L N E E D S I N F L O R I DA BY ME GAN K . ME RT Z

|   L E AR N M O RE   | Read about the “Stand With Your Community” program: Find Reformation resources:

2017 was the second year St. Paul held “Night to Shine,” a prom experience created by the Tim Tebow Foundation to celebrate people with special needs. During the event, guests received the royal treatment: hair and makeup, shoe shining, limo rides, dinner, dancing and swag bags. The Rev. Stephen Carretto, senior pastor of St. Paul, said the event has taught the congregation “what having joy and celebrating life really looks like,” as hundreds of guests and volunteers danced the night away together. But for Carretto and his leadership team, it’s about more than throwing a fun event each year. There’s a larger plan to provide respite for parents and caregivers and to connect these families to the congregation. In 2016, St. Paul received a $25,000 grant through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s “Stand With Your Community” program to host a series of events — including Night to Shine, movie nights and other events — for families with special needs. The program, which comes as Lutherans around the world prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation later this year, was made possible by a partnership between the

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LCMS, Thrivent Financial and Lutheran Church Extension Fund. It focuses on inspiring and empowering laity for local witness and mercy outreach opportunities as a reflection of Martin Luther’s passion to share the Gospel. For Sandy McGilvray, the love and care shown to her teenage son, Tyler, at Night to Shine was “overwhelming.” “I was able to see my ‘special’ son experience a night like no other in his life. Not only was he able to participate, but he was ‘honored’ by attending this event,” she wrote in a thank-you note. “I could see on the face of your volunteers their sincere appreciation and admiration for these special young people.” And the congregation isn’t stopping there. Carretto said they are working to make the sanctuary more welcoming for people of all abilities by creating a wheelchair-accessible communion rail and soundproofing a space where families like the McGilvrays can sit without worrying about disrupting the service. “We’re creating that relationship with the hope that Christ can be glorified,” Carretto said. “We hope they feel comfortable coming into our church so that they can be involved in our Word and Sacrament ministry.”


Red carpets are usually reserved for celebrities and other A-listers. But on Feb. 10, they were rolled out at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, Fla., for some 150 people with special needs.


Bringing the Lord of Life




he Indiana air had a peculiar smell of cap-gun

residue from the U.S. Steel plant down the road. “It’s like the twilight zone,” said the Rev. Delwyn Campbell, new national missionary to his hometown of Gary, Ind., as he drove under the highway and saw the plant in front of him. On that April afternoon, the clouds over unseen Lake Michigan loomed darker than the Gary skyline behind.

|   WATCH  | An interview with the Rev. Delwyn Campbell:

|   DOW N LOA D  | Mission Field: USA resources and learn how you can get involved:

On the previous page: The Rev. Delwyn Campbell, national missionary to Gary, Ind., walks past his parish, St. John’s Lutheran Church, as he tours the surrounding neighborhood.

Campbell sees opportunity where others perceive roadblocks. After arriving at the steel plant, he bypassed the roped line to greet employees. After exchanging pleasantries, he told them about his return to his childhood home of Gary as an ordained pastor and national missionary for The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS). Campbell is on a mission, and he’s God’s pick for Gary. He never passes up an opportunity to witness — even at a steel plant. His call is to the flailing city of 77,000 people, which is down hundreds of thousands of residents since its peak in 1960 as a flourishing commercial and industrial city. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 37 percent of Gary’s residents teeter on the brink of poverty. It’s hard to miss the dilapidated buildings and the lack of activity in the city. As Campbell drives down Broadway, the architecture and signage change noticeably,

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indicating the progression from boom to bust. Yet, this city does not deserve its ghost town reputation.

A Long History Campbell has a history with the city. His grandfather owned the largest trash company in the area, which was given to him by the previous owner when his grandfather found the owner’s wallet in the dump and returned it. His father lived in a nearby house — now abandoned by the current owner — and Campbell remembers making errand runs as a kid to the convenience store while men played checkers outside. Like all missionaries, Campbell needs financial and prayer support. He can’t proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ without it. It’s hard for him to be a parish pastor for one church; a fill-in for another; a missionary to school families of an old

Lutheran school under renovation; a husband to his wife, Lenita; and a father to their three children without the tangible means to carry out the ministry. But it’s not just about Campbell in Gary. Other missionaries in the United States under the Synod’s Mission Field: USA initiative need support to proclaim the Gospel in their own part of the country. All around America, national missionaries are proclaiming the Gospel right in our own backyards. St. John’s Lutheran Church, founded in 1870, protects the city from a foe they don’t even recognize. The grand steeple, built in 1922, towers over the surrounding buildings. The sanctuary is stunning — classic early 20th-century altar, gleaming gold cross in the center, soaring stained-glass windows and arched ceilings. It’s definitely Lutheran. Campbell walks into the church office. He dances a finger across records of church history, landing on lists of baptisms handwritten in German. The phone rings and Campbell picks up. He’s both parish pastor and, occasionally, church administrative assistant.

The Rev. Delwyn Campbell (right) witnesses with Melody Jefferson and Anthony King at a home in Gary, Ind.

All around the country, national missionaries are proclaiming the Gospel

right in our own backyards. A painted mural of the Baptism of Jesus at Ascension Lutheran School in Gary, Ind.

A parishioner hugs Campbell following a Lenten service at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

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The Rev. Delwyn Campbell arrives at St. John's Lutheran Church for a Lenten service.

It`s here in this warm sanctuary,

on a frigid and icy night, that God brings His gifts to this little city and its devoted flock of Lutherans.

Low-slung storefront buildings slink along the street. Step out of St. John’s doors, and Full Gospel Church of God, Inc. is straight ahead. Turn to the right, and you’ll see the sign of Spirit of God East Fellowship. Drive around a corner, and there’s St. John Universal Temple. Down that road is Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church. There are a lot of churches in Gary. Campbell said he once talked to a woman who thought there was a curse on the city. She reached this conclusion because even with churches on every corner, Gary is so poor. Campbell’s conclusion? The Lord’s sheep are being led astray by false hopes. The decline “didn’t happen all at once,” he said. “It happened slowly and steadily, like the rain on some of the roofs out here, till we got to where we are now.” Jobs evaporated as retailers left town. “Life got sucked out of here,” he said.

A Shepherd for This City Nestled into a residential neighborhood close to St. John’s is St. Philip Lutheran Church. If you’ve ever seen

an A-frame house, then you’re familiar with this church’s architecture. It’s in a tantalizing location for ministry, and the single-digit congregation can’t afford the pulpit supply. When Campbell came back to town, he found a congregation “desperately trying to hold on.” Anthony King lives right across the street from St. Philip. Occasionally, he mows the lawn at the church, but King mainly cares for his aging parents at the house. Campbell had struck up a conversation with King on a previous visit and learned that if only there was a ramp for his wheelchair-bound parents to ascend to St. Philip, they would attend services at the church. A new family would effectively double the church membership. Campbell searches now for a way to have the ramp installed and hopes to encourage their fellow neighbors to come. Why drive 15 minutes away when the Lord’s gifts of Word and Sacrament are in your own backyard? Earlier, Campbell stopped into Ascension Lutheran Church where work is underway through an initiative of the LCMS Indiana District

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Parishioners sing during a Lenten service at St. John's.

to renovate an old Lutheran school. Church member Ron Webster wiped the sweat from his brow as he removed a stubborn locker door. Inside, he and Campbell found a dusty, circa 1974 Hong Kong Phooey lunchbox complete with Penrod Pooch leaping away in his Phooeymobile. If you forgot your lunchbox because your locker door wouldn’t open and attended the little school in Gary, you’re welcome to come and pick it up. They saved it for you. The gunmetal gray sky matches the color of the city streets, and as the light fades in the evening so does the demarcation of ground and sky. At St. John’s, Campbell opens the church doors for a Wednesday Lenten service. The warmth of the lamps in

the church narthex is like a toasty fireplace hearth. During hymns, a member plays the piano, apologizing as she makes mistakes. But no one minds; they love their church. And it’s here in this warm sanctuary, on a frigid and icy night, that God brings His gifts to this little city and its devoted flock of Lutherans through an ever-smiling, soft-spoken pastor named Del Campbell. From his childhood, Campbell still remembers Gary’s streets and that same cap-gun smell from the nearby steel plant. His love for this place and its people has brought him back home — and with him he’s brought the Lord of life to the place where he was raised.


The Rev. Jacob Deal of Sharon, Pa., talks with children in Haitian Creole at a deep-


father thankful he can give his child “water to drink that won’t make him sick.” A pastor whose new roof better equips him to care for his congregation and community and to preach the Gospel. Those are just two of the people “who were constantly coming up and thanking us,” said the Rev. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response, after returning from a mid-February trip to Haiti to check on recovery since Hurricane Matthew ravaged the poorest region in one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest countries. The area of devastation in Haiti’s southern Tiburon Peninsula also is home to the greatest concentration of Lutheran congregations — “congregations that are the hub for much of the charitable work in Haiti, the feeding programs, the orphanages and other children’s programs,” Johnson said. “Helping the pastors and their families get back on their feet means they can get back to helping others.” Although the Oct. 4 Category


water well installed by LCMS Disaster Response in partnership with Water for Life.

4 hurricane has disappeared from news headlines, mercy work made possible by donors contributing to LCMS Disaster Response continues in Haiti, where more than 500 people were killed and some 175,500 were displaced, according to reports.

Working with Partners Immediately after the hurricane, LCMS Disaster Response provided emergency food and medical supplies. Recently, the primary focus has been on rebuilding roofs on the homes of some 50 pastors and drilling 10 wells deep enough to ensure water free from contamination that causes diseases like cholera. To work as efficiently as possible, LCMS Disaster Response partnered with trusted nonprofits and LCMS Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) “that have years of experience and expertise of doing ministry in Haiti, who understand the culture, the government,” said Johnson. LCMS Disaster Response gave a total of $80,000 in

grants to Ministry In Mission, an RSO that coordinated the initial air drop of emergency supplies and later repaired roofs on pastors’ homes. LCMS Disaster Response also gave $50,000 to the nonprofit Water for Life to drill the water wells 150 feet deep. In February, Johnson checked on the installation of the first three wells, all located within easy walking distance of a Lutheran church. In broken English, a pastor thanked Johnson “for taking care of my community.” Along with providing safe drinking water, the wells “break down barriers that non-churched Haitians have against the Gospel,” Johnson said, helping them “see that Lutherans care about them spiritually with the Gospel and that [Lutherans] care for their most basic human needs, both which voodoo cannot provide.”

More Opportunities Johnson said he was “overwhelmed with the great work” in Haiti and “the efficiency and the accountability in meeting


HURRICANE RECOVERY CONTINUES IN HAITI essential human needs through Lutheran congregations.” Johnson also sees more opportunities to help these hardhit communities by rebuilding damaged Lutheran churches. That’s why he approved an additional $50,000 grant in June to rebuild the walls and roofs of a dozen churches that suffered significant damage. Each village church would be repaired “in a humble manner,” he said. Many Americans may not realize how Haitian Lutheran churches serve in ways that extend beyond worship, said Jackie Rychel, Ministry In Mission president, including for “schools, workshops, for social reasons and sometimes even centers for shelter and protection.” “In Haiti, the churches are everything,” she said.

| LE AR N M OR E |

Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo. engage. l cms .o rg

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