Thursday, October 8, 2020

October - 2020 CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List

 

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you...2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV)

Zambia – Communication with Pastor Ibrahim has been very limited due to the pandemic. After several weeks of no contact, he recently texted that he had returned to his home village in Tanzania for a visit since Zambia was on complete lockdown and he wasn’t able to teach, preach, visit, or do evangelism. While in Tanzania he became sick and went to hospital where he was diagnosed with and treated for Covid 19. He was briefly hospitalized and is now recovering at his family’s home in Tanzania. He is feeling much better and would like to return to Zambia as soon as possible but the border to Zambia is currently closed. Thank the Lord that Pastor Ibrahim was able to get the necessary medical care and that he is with family as he recovers. Pray that the Lord will do what is necessary for Ibrahim to return to Livingstone, Zambia and that worship services and Bible Institute classes can resume.

 

Tanzania Thank the Lord that classes have resumed at the Wartburg Lutheran Bible Institute in Arusha with six students attending the second year of classes. Leaders of the CLC-TZ have also recently made and a third visit to Zanzibar to meet with a pastor and a small group of Lutherans on the island. They have officially formed a congregation with ten members in this predominately Muslim population. Pray that the Lord will continue to bless and provide for the seminary as six men are being trained to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving word. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to proclaim His Law and Gospel among the people of Zanzibar and that many will turn from the darkness of Islam to the saving light of Jesus Christ!

 

D.R. Congo – While the pandemic hasn’t hit the southern parts of the D.R. Congo as it has in so many other places around the world, the lockdowns have travel and communication difficult. Classes have resumed at Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute. Pray that the Lord will bless and provide for this on-going effort to train faithful pastors and teachers.

 

Nigeria – The borders to Nigeria are still closed, but many of the restrictions placed on worship services have been lifted or loosened in recent weeks. The students at the Bible Institute have returned to class and worship services are again being conducted in all NCLC congregations as they follow government guidelines that limit the number of attendees and social distancing. Pray that the Lord will bless the preaching and teaching of His word.

 

Togo/Ghana/Benin – The government is still enforcing strict Covid lockdowns in Togo and this is preventing Missionary Evensen from resuming his teaching and preaching schedule. This is also preventing outreach and evangelism efforts of Pastor Kossi and the other pastors and members of the MELC. Pray for God’s deliverance from the pandemic so that worship services, pastoral training, and Gospel outreach may begin again soon.

 

Liberia – Due to Covid travel restrictions and heavy rains teaching and outreach trips to Bopolu have not taken place for several months. Pastor Kwiwalazu hopes to begin these visits again soon. Continue to ask the Lord to bring a swift end to this pandemic so that these and other ministry efforts in Liberia can continue. Pray also for the Lord’s strength and perseverance in His followers during these trying times.

Kenya Nancy Sagala (daughter of Anna) has been hospitalized in Nairobi with a serious illness.  Schools in Kenya are making arrangements to resume in-person instruction. Pray for God’s protection and healing for Nancy and that He would provide wisdom to school administrators.

 Uganda Pastor Daniel Mugeni has been dealing with typhoid and he and his whole family have been suffering from malaria as heavy rains in the past few weeks have led to their latrine being destroyed and an increase in the mosquito problem. Pray for our Savior’s protection, deliverance, strength, and healing during this time of struggle

 

India – The Covid 19 situation continues to worsen throughout South Asia. India has been particularly hard hit in recent weeks. This situation has provided an opportunity for increased persecution as Christians are blamed in some villages. Government aid to those suffering from economic hardships is being used to entice Christians to denounce Jesus and return to Hinduism. Pray for our Savior to give strength of faith to the many who are suffering and that He would use their trials to strengthen their faith and as a powerful witness to unbelievers.

 

Nepal – While Covid travel restrictions were recently lifted in some areas of Nepal, the annual monsoon season has brought unusually heavy rains that are causing landslides and destruction of roads and crops. Raju was able to make a quick trip to the area where they intend to build the new multi-purpose HCLCN building to meet with the contractors. He is hopeful that construction can begin in November. Classes at the Himalayan Bible Institute have been canceled for the remainder of 2020. This pandemic has also given rise to the persecution of Christians in many areas of Nepal. Pray for safety, strength, and courage for God’s people in Nepal during this time of persecution, pandemic, economic suffering, and the monsoon season. Ask for the Lord’s blessings on the funding and construction of the new HCLC-Nepal building.

 

Myanmar – The spread of Covid has drastically increased in the large city of Yangon where Pastor Charles is working to spread God’s word. This recent increase in positive cases has prompted the government to increase lockdown efforts. The lockdowns prevent most travel within the city and prevent Pastor Charles from bringing God’s word to the preaching stations and orphanages that are under his spiritual care. Pray for God’s deliverance from this pandemic and for strength of faith for those who are being deprived of God’s word.

 

Bangladesh – Pastor Monotosh was very sick for a couple of weeks so he self-quarantined rather than go to the hospital out of concern with government interference in the Gospel ministry if he tested positive for Covid. He has since recovered and has had the opportunity to resume pastoral visits to preaching stations. He recently had the privilege of performing fifteen baptisms of individuals who were former Hindus. Praise the Lord for restoring Pastor Monotosh to health and for God’s faithfulness in blessing the Means of Grace as the Gospel in Word and Sacrament have brought more sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ!

 

New and Ongoing Contacts – The Lord continues to provide new opportunities to proclaim the truths of His saving word in different areas of the world in places such as South Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Burundi, Senegal, Congo, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Italy. Thank the Lord for the privilege of teaching His word to others! And Pray for these individuals as they seek to grow in their understanding of God’s word and be better equipped to spread the Gospel in the places where they live.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List...August 2020

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you...

2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV)

Bangladesh – Congregations and families of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission are recovering from Cyclone Amphan that hit Bangladesh in May. The CLC was able to provide some limited financial assistance to aid in medical needs, food supplies, and rebuilding through Kinship-Disaster Relief. Despite the challenges of travel and evangelism during the coronavirus lockdown, several BLCM congregations have been visited and the Gospel continues to be spread. Fifteen former Hindus recently received the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit through baptism.  Praise the Lord that no lives were lost among our brothers and sisters in Christ in the cyclone.  Ask for His love and compassion upon those who are suffering and for protection for Pastor M. as he travels to visit the people of the BLCM over the next several days.  Thank the Lord for the work of His Holy Spirit in creating saving faith in the hearts of many that have led them to desire the gift of baptism and that our Lord and Savior will continue to bless them as they grow in their faith and understanding of all that He has revealed in His word!

 

Nepal – The rains of the annual monsoon season have been unusually heavy this year causing several landslides and road closures. Many lives in Nepal have been lost due to landslides. Thankfully, no HCLCN lives or property have been lost but there has been damage to farms and homes. The HCLCN Building project has been put on hold until the rains subside and roads are re-opened. Pastor training classes at the Himalayan Bible Institute have been suspended until January 2021 due to the pandemic lockdown.  Pray that the Lord will keep everyone safe through the monsoons and that He will bless the plans, preparations, construction, and finances for the multipurpose building that will hopefully begin construction in September.

 

Myanmar – All the members of the family with the coronavirus in Chin State have recovered and have been released from the hospital.   Thank the Lord for delivering them from this illness and ask for His provision as they now struggle to pay their medical bills. Pastor Kham reports that a fire broke out in a village where there is a CLC-Myanmar congregation. No one was injured but two-member families lost their homes.  Thank the Lord for His protection and plead for His aid as these families rebuild their homes and livelihood.

 

Myanmar – The Children In Need in Yangon that are being helped both physically and spiritually by Pastor Charles Edwards and the CLC Project Kinship will be returning to school.  Pray that the Lord will bless these children in their lives and studies and that they will be led by the Holy Spirit to believe and trust in their Savior Jesus through the Gospel they are being taught.

 

India – India have been hit especially hard by the pandemic in recent weeks and this has brought on stricter measures to try to halt the spread. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering from the lockdown and the inability to work to support themselves.  Pray that the Lord would bring a swift end to the pandemic and that according to His mercy, He will bring aid to the many who are suffering.

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo – The government-mandated lockdown for schools is scheduled to be lifted on August 3rd. Students have been quarantined and working the farm and property of the newly and partially built Holy Trinity Lutheran Seminary since April. Classes are scheduled to begin with the new students on August 3rd.  Pray that the lockdown will indeed be lifted and so that classes can resume.  Pray for the safety and health of the students and instructors.  Pray that there will be no government interference with their plans to continue the work of training pastors for the Church.  Ask for God’s blessings on these efforts to train men to be faithful preachers and teachers of His saving word.

 

Tanzania – The government in Tanzania has lifted the lockdown and the Wartburg Lutheran Bible Institute in Tanzania is planning to bring students back very soon.  Pray for the safety and health of the students and instructors as they travel to Arusha.  Pray that there will be no government interference with their plans to continue the work of training pastors for the Church.  Ask for God’s blessings on these efforts to train men to be faithful preachers and teachers of His saving word.

 

Zambia – Coronavirus lockdown measures are slowing being lifted. Plans are being made for a pastoral training seminar to be conducted in Livingstone as soon as travel arrangements can be made.  Pray that our Lord will bless Pastor Ibrahim and those he will be teaching and training in the not-to-distant future.  Pray for safe travels, good health, and dedicated study of God’s saving word!

 

Togo – Missionary Evensen has applied to renew his Togo “stay card” that allows him to stay and work in Togo beyond the normal length of a visa. He is waiting for final approval. He and Pastor Kossi are beginning to make preparations to resume pastoral training classes soon.  Pray that the stay card renewal process will go as planned and for wisdom as they decide when to begin a regular schedule of seminary classes.

 

Kenya Schools throughout the country have been ordered to close down for the remainder of the year (school year runs January through November).  Pray for the nation's children that are deprived of so many things and for many teachers and staff who will be without a steady income.

 

Uganda The nation is still under strict lockdown.  Churches are still forbidden from gathering.  Pray that the situation improves and that God's people can meet together again for worship and Bible study.

 

Liberia – Our brothers and sisters in Christ continue to struggle with the hardships brought on by the pandemic and the resulting measures taken to lessen the impact. Pastor Joseph requests prayers for his mother who is requiring more care. Pray for relief from the struggles that so many are facing in Liberia and especially for Pastor Joseph and his mother.

 

The Spiritual Welfare of Our Brothers and Sisters Around the World – as much of the world has spent the past few months in mandatory coronavirus lockdowns and quarantines, many in developing nations have not had the advantage of the high-speed internet connections that most of us take for granted to provide opportunities for home worship, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. Also, many of the people do not have the financial means to own their own Bibles and/or are unable to read so they depend upon weekly worship and Bible studies to hear, learn, and be strengthened by God’s saving word.

 

Pastoral training has also come to a halt for those who are training around the world. Options for online classes, correspondence, etc. just are not possible as most of the students have very weak and limited data available on their phones, if at all, and the majority do not have the luxury of the internet in their homes.  Pray that the Lord will bring this pandemic to an end so that His people may return to worship and Bible study at their churches.  Pray that the Lord will lead and strengthen all of us to be reminded of His great love and the truths of His saving grace that we have learned from His word and rejoice always, even in the midst of such trying times.

 

The Physical Welfare of Our Brothers and Sisters Around the World – Leaders from our sister church bodies in Liberia, Togo, Nigeria, D.R. Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, along with contacts in several other countries have reported that much of the population in these impoverished nations is struggling to provide the basic necessities of life. Most of the pastors and those they serve provide for their families through day-labor. For this type of laborer, you are paid for your work each day. If you do not work, you do not get paid. The coronavirus lockdowns have caused much physical suffering.  Pray that the Lord will provide and that He will bless the CLC Project Kinship aid that has been sent that it will go much further than humanly expected in providing for the sheep of His flock who are suffering.

 

The CLC Mission Development Fund – The MDF has been a great blessing as a way for CLC members to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ in developing nations around the world. The projects that are funded through the MDF have had a direct impact on faithfully proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. The MDF has provided funds to assist Bible institute, seminary, school, and church building projects. Thousands of Bibles, hymnals, and catechisms long with bikes, motorcycles, and vehicles to carry pastors and teachers to proclaim the truth have been purchased through MDF grants. This fund also provides funding for new outreach opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, there are more than $300,000 in projects that are awaiting funding from the MDF over the next several months. Some of these projects are already underway. In order to complete the projects that have already been started and to provide for more projects and outreach, additional offerings to the MDF are needed.  Pray that the Lord will continue to move hearts to support the work of His Kingdom through their offerings to the MDF.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Prayer List - May 2020


Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly
and be glorified, just as it is with you...
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV)


Bangladesh – Cyclone Amphan, that ravished northeast India before hitting the southern coast of Bangladesh about a week ago had devastating effects on several Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission congregations in the Jessore and Sathkhira districts. BLCM church buildings, schools, and homes of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been severely damaged or destroyed. There has been no loss of life among the members of the BLCM, but many have sustained injuries and are still in need of medical care. All of this is happening while the people are struggling to feed and care for their families during the coronavirus lockdown. CLC Project Kinship has sent emergency disaster relief funds to the BLCM to provide for basic needs and shelter. Praise the Lord that no lives were lost among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask for His love and compassion upon those who are suffering and for protection for Pastor Monotosh as he travels to visit the people of the BLCM over the next several days.

Note: Contributions to the CLC Project Kinship general budget have been used to provide for disaster relief and COVID-19 aid.    

Myanmar – The situation with the family of eleven that has been hospitalized and quarantined for several weeks due to the coronavirus is improving. Five family members remain in the hospital, but their health has improved, and they are waiting for their test results to be returned from the government laboratories in Yangon. If the lab results come back negative, they will be able to go home. Take this to the Lord asking that He bless the treatments they have all received according to His mercy that this family will be healed of this disease and be united with each other very soon. Pray also that the Lord will provide for the medical bills that have accumulated during this long hospital stay. 

The Spiritual Welfare of Our Brothers and Sisters Around the World – as much of the world has spent the past several weeks in mandatory coronavirus lockdowns and quarantines, many in developing nations have not had the advantage of the high-speed internet connections that most of us take for granted to provide opportunities for home worship, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. Also, many of the people do not have the financial means to own their own Bibles and/or are unable to read so they depend upon weekly worship and Bible studies to hear, learn, and be strengthened by God’s saving word.

Pastoral training has also come to a halt for those who are training around the world. Options for online classes, correspondence, etc. just are not possible as most of the students have very weak and limited data available on their phones, if at all, and virtually none have internet in their homes. Pray that the Lord will bring a quick end to this pandemic that He people may return to worship and Bible study at their churches. Pray that the Lord will lead and strengthen all of us to be reminded of His great love and the truths of His saving grace that we have learned from His word and rejoice always, even in the midst of such uncertain times.

The Physical Welfare of Our Brothers and Sisters Around the World – Leaders from our sister church bodies in Liberia, Togo, Nigeria, D.R. Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, along with contacts in several other countries, have reported that much of the population in these developing nations is struggling to provide the basic necessities of life. Most of the pastors and those they serve in these nations provide for their families through day-labor. For this type of laborer, you are paid for your work each day. If you do not work, you do not get paid. The coronavirus lockdowns have caused much physical suffering. Pray that the Lord will provide and that He will bless the CLC Project Kinship aid that has been sent that it will go much further than expected in providing for the sheep of His flock who are suffering.

Seminaries Preparing to Re-Open – the Wartburg Lutheran Bible Institute in Tanzania and the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute in the D.R. Congo are planning to bring students back soon. Pray for the safety of the students and instructors as they travel. Pray for the families of the students as they prepare to have their husbands and fathers gone for the next few months of classes. Pray for the teachers as they prepare lessons for this shortened semester. Pray that there will be no government interference with their plans to continue the work of training pastors for the Church. Ask for God’s blessings on these efforts to train men to be faithful preachers and teachers of His saving word during these strange and uncertain times.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

What Does The Bible Say About Pandemic Diseases/Sicknesses?

There have been lots of things written and shared on the internet and social media about God's role and intentions concerning this pandemic. As God's children, by His grace and through faith in our Savior of Jesus Christ, we will always want to turn to the Bible to find what God has revealed to us. We know that the Bible is God's word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and thus truthful in every way (John 17:17). We are not so concerned with what mankind conjures up and how he interprets these situations but rather what God reveals to us in the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21) because God is always faithful and His word will always reveal truth. We pray that the Lord will empty our hearts and minds of false ideas or claims and fill us with the truth of His saving Word!

Concerning this current Covid 19 pandemic, we ask: "What does the Bible say about pandemic diseases/sicknesses?"

Various outbreaks of pandemic diseases, such as this current strain of the coronavirus known as Covid 19, have prompted many to ask why God allows, or even causes, pandemic diseases and whether such illnesses are a sign of the end times. The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, describes numerous occasions when God brought plagues and diseases on His people and on His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:1416). He used plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His own chosen people from being affected by them (Exodus12:1315:26), thus revealing His almighty power and control over diseases and other afflictions.

God also warned His people of the consequences of disobedience, including plagues (Leviticus 26:21, 25). On two occasions, God destroyed 14,700 people and 24,000 people for various acts of disobedience (Numbers 16:49 and 25:9). After giving the Mosaic Law, God commanded the people to obey it or suffer many evils, “The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation . . . which will plague you until you perish” (Deuteronomy 28:22). These are just a few examples of many plagues and diseases God caused or allowed to happen.

It’s sometimes hard to imagine our loving and merciful God displaying such wrath and anger. But God’s wrath always has the goal of repentance and restoration. In 2 Chronicles 7:13–14, God said to Solomon, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Here we see God using a disaster to draw His people to Himself, to bring about repentance and the desire to come to Him as children to their heavenly Father.

In the New Testament, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in the areas He visited (Matthew 9:35Mark 3:10). Just as God chose to use plagues and disease to show His power to the Israelites, Jesus healed diseases and sicknesses to demonstrate His power and to verify that He was truly the Son of God. He gave the same healing power to those first Apostles to verify their ministry (Luke 9:1, Matthew 10:1). God still allows sickness for His own good and righteous purposes, but sometimes disease, even worldwide pandemics, are simply the result of living in a sinful fallen world. There is no way to determine whether or not a pandemic has a specific spiritual cause, but we do know that God has power and control over all things (Romans11:36) and will work all things together for the good of those whom He has called to be His very own, to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The spread of sicknesses, such as this strain of the coronavirus, is a foretaste of pandemics that are a be part of the end times. Jesus referred to plagues that are associated with the last days (Luke 21:11). Revelation reveals that in these ends times the two witnesses will “...strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Seven angels will wield seven plagues in a series of severe judgments described in Revelation 16. This pandemic, like so many other plagues and troubles that we witness on this sinful and fallen world, should remind us of the sure and certain promise of the coming Judgment Day and keep us focused on promises of God as we stay ready for our Savior's return! 

The appearance of pandemic diseases may or may not be tied to God’s specific judgment of sin. It could also simply be the result of living in a fallen world. Since no one knows the time of Jesus’ return, we must be careful about saying too much concerning any specific pandemic or disaster as proof that Judgment Day is imminent. For those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, this disease should be a reminder that life on this earth is uncertain and can be lost at any moment. As bad as pandemics are, hell will be worse. The Christian, however, has the assurance of salvation and the hope of eternity because of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us (Isaiah 53:52 Corinthians 5:21Hebrews 9:28).

How should Christians respond to pandemic diseases? 
  • First, do not panic. God is in control and has demonstrated His love for all sinners (Romans 5:8) on the cross as He sacrificed His only Son Jesus to pay for our sins  (1 John 4:10). Our forgiveness and salvation are secure! When Jesus died on the cross, He said: "it is finished." With those words, He was declaring that the work of paying for our sins and the sins of the whole world was complete! So there is nothing in this world that can threaten our forgiveness (Romans 8:31-39). Our Savior Jesus paid for our sin and thus provided full and complete forgiveness on the cross and His resurrection from the dead proves that fact. These are the promises that God makes to us and God is always faithful and He has kept and will keep every promise. 
  • Second, be wise. Take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to the disease and to protect and provide for your family.  As Christians, we have the love of Christ in our hearts (Ephesians 3:14-21). We love others because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).  We take steps to prevent contracting the virus out of love for God because He gave us life and this life is a precious gift that we should protect. We also take steps to prevent this virus out of love for our neighbor because we don't want to unknowingly infect someone else and cause sickness or even death to another individual. This is also true in all areas of our lives. We should always take care of the bodies and life that God gave to us and we should always conduct ourselves in ways that will keep those around us safe and healthy. We do all of this because the love of God is in us through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Third, rejoice in the opportunity as an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) to share the message of reconciliation between God and sinful mankind through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). In the midst of all of this suffering and uncertainty, we have the privilege of sharing promises of God's love, protection, provision, compassion, forgiveness, and salvation that are all made sure and certain in our Savior Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Often when people are fearful for their lives, they are more willing to have conversations about eternity. Be bold and compassionate in your sharing of the Gospel, as you speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Monday, March 30, 2020

CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List - MAR 2020


Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly
and be glorified, just as it is with you...
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV)

Pray for All those Affected by the Coronavirus Crisis – I have an acquaintance who works with and consults for humanitarian organizations around the world. He has first-hand experience with these types of situations having worked in the Ebola-affected areas of the D.R. Congo in the past. He is very concerned about the spread and catastrophic potential of Covid 19 if it begins to take hold in developing nations. There is much to pray for concerning the world's most impoverished and thus vulnerable populations in the world. He sent the following summary of an email he received from a doctor in India. What this man shared relates to so many of the places and people we are privileged to work with around the world in places like India, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Mexico, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Pray for God’s mercy and protection.
“Social distancing is a privilege. It means you own a house in a place that it is large enough and has enough space between neighbors to actually practice it. Hand washing and hand-sanitizers are a privilege too. It means you have access to running water and have money to buy soap and other such luxuries. Stockpiling food is a privilege. It means you have enough money to plan beyond your next meal. It also means you have electricity and a refrigerator to keep perishable food. The irony in this situation is that this virus was spread around the world by those who could afford to travel beyond walking distance of where they live and work and it has the potential to kill millions among the world’s poorest who seldom travel beyond a few kilometers of where they live. All of us who are practicing social distancing and are ‘enduring’ imposed lockdowns need to appreciate how fortunate we are. Many in the world don’t have the financial means to do any of this.”

Myanmar – Pastor Kham has requested urgent prayers for a family he and the CLC-Myanmar serve. This family lives in the western part of Myanmar and attend a CLC-Myanmar congregation. They have tested positive by the government for Covid 19. This family of eleven has been admitted to the hospital for treatment and isolation. Pray for this family and the doctors and staff that are treating them. Pray also for Pastors Kham and Thang as they find ways to bring the Gospel to this family and those who are in need of God’s comfort and encouragement in the community.

Times of Need and Uncertainty – CLC Missionaries have heard from several of those we work with overseas concerning the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For many, perhaps most, of our brothers and sisters overseas there is a daily struggle to provide for their families when there is no crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has only made things much worse. The economic struggles of the world, shortages of basic supplies, and inflation are only exaggerated in third-world and developing nations. Pray for the Lord’s mercy and provision. Pray that the Lord will use these times of uncertainly to lead many to find true comfort and encouragement in His sure and certain love and deliverance. Pray that the Lord would move the hearts of those who have so much to share with those who have so little. Pray that God’s great love and compassion will be reflected in the hearts of His children throughout the world that others may see these good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.

Pastoral Training, Worship, and Evangelism – Several Bible Institutes and Seminaries that we support have been temporarily closed. Evangelism efforts and worship services have also been severely curtailed. Internet access for streaming is not available to most. Pray that the Lord will bring a quick end to this pandemic so that training and evangelism can begin again soon! Pray that the Lord will provide opportunities for followers to proclaim the Good News in the midst of all of this uncertainty. Pray that our Savior's love, as demonstrated on the Cross and revealed in His Word, will keep all believers strong in the faith!


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”...For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,Romans 8:31-32, 38

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Lord Faithfully Provides Again...in the DR Congo (FEB_2020)

I’m not sure why, but I continue to be surprised in how the Lord so faithfully provides for the work of His Kingdom. I’m not much of a worrier but I do sometimes look at situations and wonder how all of this is going to work out and often find myself thinking that things just aren’t going to work. And then, the Lord shows me again that He is faithful and that He has a plan and I just need to follow along. I think this is so much more evident for me in the foreign mission fields because so much of what goes on over here is so far out of my control. At home, I know what to expect and, for the most part, how things are going to unfold. Here, I don’t speak the language, I don’t always know how things work or get done, and I find myself relying on others to make the plans. This puts me way outside of my comfort zone. And I am beginning to realize that this is a good place to be because it teaches me to trust the Lord instead of myself!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 
Proverbs 3:5–6

The Lord Faithfully Provides a Way to Manono in Tanganyika Province, DRC...

Not long before I was scheduled to depart for the DRC I received a text message from Pastor Yumba letting me know that the local airline for our flights from Lubumbashi to Tanganyika Province for the graduation/ordination service in Manono had canceled service to Manono.

Since this year’s rainy season had started early and was lasting longer than usual and due to record flooding between Lubumbashi and Manono, it didn’t seem as if driving was going to be possible. And there is no bus service operating now either.

But, it was the Lord’s will to get us to Manono. And so, He provided a man who was willing to make the 395-mile trip. Sounds like no big deal, right? Just get in the car and drive for seven hours or so. Well, that 395-mile trip took over thirty-seven (37+) hours on the worst muddy, water-soaked, flooded, destroyed, non-existent, “roads” I have ever seen in my life. And I have seen some bad roads traveling in several different countries for the past twenty-three years. The pictures below just don’t do justice to the “road” conditions I’m going to describe.

The man that the Lord provided, Ilunga Kanonga, was born and raised in Manono but now lives in Lubumbashi. Over the years he has traveled this route often. He is the owner of a transportation business with eight Toyota Land Cruisers and two large lorries (trucks). He employs twelve drivers and their assistants. Yumba said this was the only man he could find who was willing to drive us to Manono. He wouldn’t send us with one of his drivers, instead, he said he would only drive us himself. This man was a gift from the Lord. Not only was he extremely humble and dedicated to his task, but he was very well connected. He and his company drive for the World Health Organization (WHO) and he is known by, seemingly, everyone. Every village we went through someone came out to greet him. At every Army check-point we came to the soldiers simply smiled to greet him and waved us through. Even the toll-booths simply waved us through after seeing him. You have no idea what a big deal this is when you are a light-skinned visitor in a culture that is very accustomed to expecting and receiving a gift (bribe) in such situations. The Lord Provides!!!

Let me back up a bit before I go on. From 2016-2019, I tried (unsuccessfully) three different times to obtain a visa to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Apparently, this was because of the presidential elections taking place after President Joseph Kabila had agreed to step down after holding the position for several years. I even went to the DRC Embassy in Zambia and tried to apply there. With advice I found online and through a visa agency in the U.S., I took a trip to Washington, DC last Fall and was issued a visa in just two days. The Lord Provides!!!

So, last October I traveled to the DRC and was met by Missionary Evensen who was able to get a visa in Togo since he has a special non-resident, West Africa Stay card that will allow him to get visas in Africa much more easily. The Lord continues to provide! We spent a little over two weeks visiting and teaching and seeing everything that has been accomplished since the last CLC missionary visit in 2013 when Missionary Ude was able to visit for the last time.

Pastor Yumba Lumbala is the man who started the CCLC along with a couple of other pastors about twelve years ago. It has been their goal to start a Bible Training Institute to train more men to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving word. Missionary Ude had begun to assist these men with their planning. The Lord provided a portion of land. Building plans were drawn up and funding from the CLC Mission Development Fund had been approved. Even in the absence of regular yearly visits from CLC missionaries, the work had begun, and men have been trained even as the building plans stalled. About a year ago construction began on the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute and while it is still a long way away from completion, it is finished enough to begin classes in April! The Lord Provides!!!!!

Missionary Evensen and I were able to offer a pastoral training seminar at the new facility when we visited in October. At that time, Pastor Yumba asked if I could return to be on hand for the graduation/ordination services for the seven men who had successfully completed the three years of course work and who were currently a one-year practicum. I told him that I could return, but it would need to be before March 24th when my six-month DRC visa would expire. He said that would work well since the next cohort of fifteen new students were scheduled to begin classes in April.

Yumba also expressed a desire to have me visit the Tanganyika province where most of the graduating Bible Institute students were from since I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit there yet. Missionary Matt Ude had once planned a visit there but that visit was cut short for a variety of unavoidable circumstances. So, with Yumba’s blessing and encouragement, I scheduled another trip to the DRC before my visa expiration date. The Lord Provides!!!

Early in March, as I have since found out and experienced, is not the best time of year to visit the DRC. The months of February and March are typically the end of the rainy season. This means that forests and the jungle and hills and mountains are as beautiful and lush and green and dense as I have ever witnessed anywhere on this earth. 37+ hours of travel over the worst roads I have ever seen is anything but comfortable and fun, but the Lord compensated and blessed me with some of the most beautiful scenery, sunsets, and kind and helpful people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. The Lord Provides!!!!!

But traveling in early March after one of the wettest rainy seasons on record, also means that the roads are in the worst condition you will ever find. In some places the roads were non-existent. In other places, they were mud-pits, ponds, or simply washed away. There were several times as we ventured into a large muddy pit when I didn’t think there was any way we would make it to the other side. And yet, the Land Cruiser just kept on chugging along. We got stuck, really stuck, six different times. Twice we had to be pulled out by a large truck the other four times we spent hours digging and jacking and digging some more with the eager help of local villagers. In the end, the Lord provided, and we made it safely there and back. The Lord Provides!!!




















The Lord Faithfully Provides a Way to Communicate the Truths of His Saving Word...

One of the challenges of working in the DRC is the fact that they were once a Belgium colony and so the official language is French. This is also true in other African nations where we are working like Togo, Benin, and Burundi. Thankfully, the Lord has provided Missionary Peter Evensen who is fluent in French to live and work in Togo and to conduct Online Theological Studies with a few French speakers in other African countries. The Lord Provides!!!

But the Lord has also provided a very capable local translator in the DRC that CLC missionaries have been working with for several years. His name is Jhon Monga. His secular employment is working as a translator for several large mining companies in the Lubumbashi area. Mining is the main industry in this part of the DRC. He has had the opportunity to hone his skills by doing this kind of work for several years. Because of the expectations of his work with the mining companies, he is very professional and prompt and takes his work seriously. He is truly a gift from the Lord. His secular work is not a regular hourly position but instead, he works by contract to translate documents and at meetings for high-ranking company executives. Apparently, because of his skills and professionalism, he is highly sought after. And yet, he eagerly agrees to schedule time away from his secular work to translate for us because he considers this his service to the Lord and His kingdom. The Lord Provides!!!

Translator Jhon Monga
 

The Lord Provides Nine Willing and Well-Trained Men to Proclaim His Saving Word...

In an area of the world where it is commonplace for charismatic individuals to use the name of our Savior, through smooth words and flattering speech, to build kingdoms for themselves, it is so encouraging to work with humble Christians who are dedicated to preaching the truth of God’s saving word for the purpose of calling sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! The Lord Provides!!!!!

Not that many years ago, it seemed as if our work in the DRC was coming to a close when a disagreement arose between some of the men we were working with. But the Lord Provided a peaceful and God-pleasing resolution to those issues. Some of the men we were working with are no longer with us, but the few that stuck around and remained dedicated to proclaiming God’s word for the right reasons...not for personal gain or prestige, have served the Lord faithfully. From the beginning, it had been their goal to train men to proclaim the truth of God’s word. Even when financial funding seemed unlikely and missionary visits became more and more sporadic and uncertain, these few men pushed forward with their plans to start the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute. The Lord Provides!!!

Pastor Yumba and his wife
CCLC Church and Pastor Yumba's Home in Katuba (Lubumbashi)
 And now, seven men have completed three years of classroom instruction and one year of practicum and have been ordained as pastors of the CCL-Congo. These men left their livelihood and families for seven months of each of those three years to attend classes at a temporary, make-shift facility. Many of them traveled the roads described above to do so. They received a small stipend through CLC Project Kinship sponsors to assist their families while they were away attending classes. But most of their needs were supplied by the work and farming they did during the five months when they were not at the school. The Lord Provides!!!

Graduates and Instructors...Pastor Lubaba (L) Pastor Yumba (R)


With the graduation and ordination of these men, the CCLC now has eleven trained and ordained pastors serving thirty-six congregations. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that there is still a need for more men to be trained.  And so, we should not be surprised that The Lord Provides!!! The first week of April, fifteen men are scheduled to arrive in Lubumbashi to spend two weeks working on the new Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute building project to get things ready for the start of classes on April 15th. These two weeks or work are important for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to get ready for the start of classes. Not only is there construction and cleaning to be done, but large plots of forest have been clear-cut for farming and gardens to provide food for the students while they are attending classes. It is up to the students to get the crops in the ground and to tend to the vegetable gardens to provide for themselves. There is no water well on the property yet, so this means daily trips down through the forest to the river to bring all the water needed for the crops, cooking, and bathing. While the students do not pay tuition and they receive a small stipend to send back to their families, they certainly will have plenty of sweat equity invested in their education by the time they complete their three years of classroom instruction with no promise or expectation of earthly gain upon completion. Who would commit to something like this? The Lord Provides!!!
   
A new batch of bricks being fired at the Bible Institute Building Project
Garden Plot at Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute
Future garden plot
Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute
Front View...Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute
Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute...latrines to the right
Next building phase...instructor accommodations and office
Next building phase...instructor accommodations and office
Making Bricks...

Termite Mound being used for brick materials

And my God shall supply all your need
according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:19

“The Lord upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” 
Psalm 145:14–19

The Lord Provides Forgiveness, Salvation, and Eternal Life...

We are just a few weeks away from Good Friday and Easter when we will remember with thankful hearts the sacrificial suffering of our Savior on the cross as He offered His perfect life as payment for the sins of the world on the cross. And we will gather together on Easter morning to rejoice in His resurrection knowing by faith that because He lives we shall live also. All of this would mean nothing if we had never heard this Good News and been led by the Holy Spirit to trust in His promises of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. It was our Lord and Savior who provided salvation. It was the Holy Spirit who provided us with these truths as He literally breathed God’s word into the writers of the Bible. And it was the Holy Spirit who provided us with the very faith that clings to these truths and trusts in every saving promise of God fulfilled in our Savior Jesus Christ. The Lord Provides!!!

Our Savior continues to provide for the salvation of sinners through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament! While in the DRC I had the privilege of administering the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit” through the water and word of Baptism on two different occasions. I had the privilege of teaching four days of pastoral training classes in two different locations to twenty-eight men. And I had the opportunity to preach five times. What a privilege! The Lord Provides!!!

Proclaiming the Truths of God's Saving Word
Pastoral Training Classes in Manono
On our way back to Lubumbashi we were able to reach a newly formed CCLC congregation in an integrated-pygmy village for a short worship service. The Pygmy tribes have traditionally been very wary of outside influence. This village is referred to as integrated because they have been somewhat integrated into society and have inter-married. It was a short service because it was beginning to rain and they have no church building and their homes are very small and with no windows or electricity. We sang a couple of songs and I preached a short sermon. The hope and prayer is that they will be able to provide evangelism training for some of the young men in this congregation who will then be able to take the Gospel to non-integrated villages that are deeper into the forests and mostly unreached. The Lord Provides!!!  


Proclaiming the Gospel at an integrated Pygmy village
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:18–20

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:13-15a, 17