Friday, March 15, 2019

CLC Missions Opportunity Prayer List...15 MAR 2019

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)

1.    Medical Emergency in Myanmar – Pastor Thang, who serves as the president of the CLC-Myanmar, has suffered extensive internal injuries after he was struck by a truck on March 14th. He was working to construct church benches in a rural area when the accident happened. He was carried by foot more than five miles and then traveled several hours by vehicle before reaching a hospital over the border in India. This was the nearest hospital with the necessary x-ray equipment and doctors to determine the extent of his injuries and provide the surgery and follow-up treatment needed. At the time of this writing, he has received several units of blood and has been prepped for surgery. Please pray for successful surgery and recovery. Pray also that the Lord will provide for all his and his family’s needs.

2.    New Missionary to Togo and West Africa – After the Indian government canceled our missionary’s visa, the CLC Board of Missions decided to re-assign Missionary Evensen to the West Africa harvest fields. Specifically, he will take up residence in Lomé, the capital city of Togo. He will be working with Pastor Kossi Blewu and the Mission Evangelique Lutherienne Church of Togo (MELC). Since Missionary Evensen is conversant in the French language, this will be a great blessing in working with the seven men who are currently studying to be evangelists and ordained pastors at the MELC Mt. Horeb Lutheran Bible Institute. He will also have several opportunities to preach and teach at the French speaking congregations and preaching stations of the MELC in Togo and Benin. His new call will also involve him in working with other French speaking pastors, churches, and contacts in D.R. Congo, Benin, Republic of Congo, and Senegal. Living in Lomé’ will also put him in close enough proximity to visit and help out in other countries in West Africa. Thank the Lord for the language gifts that He has given to our missionary and please pray for all that is necessary for such a transition.

3.    Visiting Missionary – Missionary Ohlmann recently returned home from eight weeks of travel as he spent time visiting and working with our sister church bodies in Tanzania, Zambia, Myanmar, and Nepal. He was joined by Mission Board Chairman Joel Krafft for the last two weeks as they visited Nepal and contacts in Bangladesh. He will be in the U.S. until he travels to Togo in early May following Board of Missions meetings in Eau Claire. While in Togo he will work with Missionary Evensen to introduce him to Pastor Kossi and the congregations of the MELC and to help him get settled in. Give thanks to the Lord for miles and miles and hours and hours of safe and uneventful travel by air, land, and sea. Also, thank Him for the love and support of his wife and family.

4.    India – Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ of the CLC-India and the BELC as they carry on with the great privilege of making disciples of all nations as they baptize and teach all that God has commanded in His Word. They are facing many challenges now with the loss of a resident missionary along with the increased scrutiny and persecution of Christians and Christianity. Pray that the Lord will keep them strong in the faith and filled with confidence in His love and the privilege of suffering for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.

5.    The National Lutheran Church of Myanmar – has had the privilege of offering partial financial support for three small home orphan hostels and student scholarships for more than two-hundred children in need for the past several years. This support was made possible through grants received from a humanitarian organization based in the U.S. This organization is no longer offering grants, so these children and their families are facing much uncertainty as they were depending on this assistance for the coming school year. Please pray that the Lord, in His mercy, love, and care will provide for these children in need.

6.    CLC-TZ Outreach in Burundi – With the assistance of a Mission Development Fund Grant from the CLC Board of Missions, a representative from the CLC-Tanzania recently completed a three-week visitation to the newly established Mwanza District in the North-Western part of Tanzania. They also visited a few contacts in the country of Burundi that shares a border with Tanzania. Pastor Mshana Godson, vice president of the CLC-TZ, reports that the two weeks of meetings with these eight pastors in Burundi went very well. These are independent pastors who have either withdrawn from false teaching fellowships or have never been formally affiliated with a church body. Following the two weeks of daily seminars the men wrote and all signed a statement declaring their agreement with the teachings of the CLC-TZ. This statement will serve as a God-pleasing starting point as they continue to build upon this God-pleasing foundation of mutual agreement on Biblical doctrine. Pray that the Lord continues to bless and provide for this opportunity to train and develop pastors who are faithful and dedicated to proclaiming the saving truths of God’s saving word.

7.    Wartburg Lutheran Theological Seminary of Tanzania – The newly established seminary was dedicated to the Lord and the first semester classes began with six students on February 25th! They had hoped and planned for eight students but only six were able to begin. Praise the Lord for this opportunity to train more men to be faithful preachers and teachers of the Gospel. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide all that is needed and that He will grant wisdom, patience, knowledge, and commitment to all who are involved in this effort further God’s kingdom among the people of Tanzania.

8.    Bangladesh – Missionary Ohlmann and Board of Missions Chairman Joel Krafft recently visited Pastor Monotosh Banarjee along with congregations and leaders of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM). Missionary Ohlmann has been in correspondence with the BLCM for more than three years. Together they have successfully completed three Online Theological Studies courses covering the Lutheran doctrine, the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose, and Bible Interpretation. This visit was the first face to face meeting. Please give thanks to the Lord for His blessings on visit as everything went very well. Plans are to continue correspondence and to schedule another visit in early 2020 to conduct a final colloquy review. Pray that the Lord will continue to bless this effort to proclaim His saving truths in this predominately Muslim nation where Christianity represents less than 1% of the population.  

9.    Nepal – Our brothers and sisters in Christ are considering many opportunities to further the Gospel in this predominately Hindu and Buddhist nation. They would like to schedule more outreach trips to several districts throughout Nepal. They also continue to train twenty-one men to serve as pastors with an expected graduation/ordination date of early 2020. They are in need of a larger, more permanent facility for the Bible Institute classrooms, dormitory, offices, library, and residence. The cost of land and construction in the Kathmandu valley is very high. They are exploring different ideas and opportunities for such a building project. The HCLCN has also completed translation work on the Luther’s Large Catechism and need funding to send it to the printers. There are several other books and teaching materials that they are working to translate and print for use in Evangelism efforts and for use in the Bible Institute. Pray that the Lord will bless these efforts and provide the necessary funding for their proposed building project, outreach efforts, and translation/printing projects.

10.  Zambia – The nation of Zambia is in the southern hemisphere and so they are deep into their summer months. They are experiencing extremely hot temperatures and a lack of rain. Please pray that the Lord will provide much needed moisture for the nation and especially for the many families we are privileged to call brothers and sisters in Christ.

11.  Zambia – Say a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for the opportunity that He has given to the CLC-Zambia to purchase a building for about one-third of the going cost. They have been looking for a building to purchase for the past few years but there was nothing available within a price-range that they could afford with a CLC-Mission Development Fund grant. Their patience paid off and the Lord has provided! With a grant from the CLC MDF they were able to make a down-payment on the property before it was sold to another buyer. They are looking for to taking possession of the building soon when they will move in and begin renovations.

12.  Zambia – Plans are being developed for pastoral training seminars that will meet quarterly for one week in the newly acquired Mission Building in Livingstone. Pray that the Lord will bless this effort to provide necessary on-going training for the Gospel ministry and that He will provide the necessary resources to carry out this work in an efficient and God-pleasing way.

13.  Liberia – Pastor Joseph Kwiwalazu will be traveling to Bopolu with a few individuals from the congregation he serves in Monrovia. While in Bopolu they he will spend a few days conducting classes and discussions with individuals from the area who have shown interest in the work of the CLC. Pray that the Lord will provide all that is necessary for this work to go forward and that He will bless this effort.

14.  Kenya/Uganda – Pastor Michael Gurath, who serves as our part-time visiting missionary to Kenya and Uganda, is making plans to visit to the two schools that are being supported through Project Kinship along with several pastors, teachers, and contacts. Pray for Pastor Gurath, his wife and family, and for those he goes to work with, train, and encourage.

15.  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) –Through an MDF grant from the CLC, construction continues on three buildings that will serve as classrooms/chapel, dormitory, and a library/office for Trinity Lutheran Seminary. There is also plenty of room on the property for farming where the students will be responsible to grow their own food as a portion of their school fees. They will also be able sell some of the food they grow for their own financial support. Pray that the Lord will bless these men and those who are teaching them in their last year of classroom instruction and during their year-long internship. They are all scheduled to graduate and be ordained in October of 2020.

16.  Nigeria – Our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Nigeria-CLC are facing a variety of challenges as they work together to proclaim the Gospel, care for the sheep of the flocks the serve, provide both spiritual and bodily care for orphaned children, and train men for the Gospel ministry at the NCLC Martin Luther Bible Institute. Please pray that the Lord will provide the pastors and leaders of the NCLC with wisdom, compassion, patience, commitment to the Lord and His word, love for one another, and all that is needed to carry out this important work.

17.  CLC Online Theological Studies – continue to pray for individuals in the following countries around the world who are studying God’s word through email correspondence courses as they continue to train to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving word:
1.    Senegal, West Africa
2.    D. R. Congo, Central Africa
3.    Togo, West Africa
4.    Liberia, West Africa
5.    Bangladesh, South East Asia
6.    Zimbabwe, Africa
7.    Myanmar, South East Asia
8.    Tanzania, East Africa
9.    Kenya, East Africa
10.   Uganda, East Africa
11.   Congo-Brazzaville, Central Africa

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Finished in Bangladesh...Heading Home!

I'm sitting here with, CLC Board of Missions Chairman, Joel K. in the Delhi airport waiting nearly fourteen hours for our next flight to Amsterdam and then to Minneapolis/St. Paul where we will part ways. Joel will fly to Dallas and I will fly home to St. Louis. We missed out on almost a whole extra day in Kathmandu because our evening flight to Delhi today (March 5th) was canceled. We were re-booked on an earlier flight that left at mid-day. Not only did we miss out on an additional day in Nepal, but it also turned our already long layover in Delhi into a really long layover. If everything goes as planned from here on out, we will both arrive home late Wednesday afternoon...just in time to make it to Ash Wednesday service!

Joel joined me a couple of weeks ago and after spending several busy days with me in Nepal we flew together to Bangladesh for our first face to face meeting with Pastor Monotosh who established and is the president of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM). Pastor Monotosh first contacted CLC President Eichstadt about three and half years ago. I have been corresponding with him on an almost weekly basis ever since. Together, we have completed several theological correspondence courses via email over the past three years. 

Following the CLC Board of Missions Guidelines for Foreign Mission Fields, it was time for a face-to-face meeting. For a variety of reasons we were not sure if this visit was going to happen at this time, but the Lord cleared the way and it was decided that we could combine a visit to Bangladesh with my already scheduled visit to South East Asia. The Lord always seems to find a way to work these things out for His kingdom work to go on!

The visit to Bangladesh was a flurry of visits and a lot of travel since most of the congregations of the BLCM are scattered throughout Bangladesh with most of them being located about 8-9 hours away from the big city of Dhaka where we flew into. This impoverished, low-lying nation is prone to flooding and cyclones and thus the roads seem to be in a constant state of repair from recent destruction of one type or another. Due to years of political strife and other issues the infrastructure is also lacking. We had to use ferry boats to cross rivers since bridges were either under construction, non-existent, or under repair.

in spite the rugged travel conditions, the Lord kept us safe and allowed us the privilege of visiting...two congregations as they gathered for worship, two preaching stations gathered for worship, and three pre-schools/after-school tutoring centers. 

After a couple of days of visits and driving late into the night we arrived back in Dhaka so we would have time on our final full day to meet with the leaders of the BLCM. Pastor Monotosh is the only ordained pastor, but he is currently working with eleven men who are serving as deacons to prepare them to eventually serve as pastors. There are fourteen congregations in the BLCM and Pastor Monotosh maintains a heavy travel schedule as he rotates through the six districts to meet with the deacons and visits the congregations to administer the Lord's Supper and preach. He is a busy man!

Bangladesh in a predominately Muslim nation (90%). They have freedom of religion but Islam is the official state religion and receives preference. According to the most recent statistics, Christianity represents only about .05% of the population. There is much work to be done here and the harvest is plentiful. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers! (Matthew 9:35ff) The congregations of the BLCM are made up almost entirely of former Hindus and Muslims. Pastor Monotosh himself was a Hindu until his early 20's when the Holy Spirit worked saving faith in his heart. All of the congregations of the BLCM are the only Christian churches in the villages where they are located except the preaching station in Dhaka. 

While open and violent persecution is not common, we were told that individuals must write a letter requesting baptism and indicating that they were not coerced into conversion. This letter is then kept on file by the church as proof to government officials that the individual was not forced or coerced into becoming a Christian. 

The visit went very well and I am looking forward to the Lord's continued blessings as we continue to study God's word together and work toward a God-pleasing declaration of fellowship based upon agreement in doctrine. We will schedule another visit for next year with myself and another representative from the CLC to specifically conclude the colloquy process. 

Following a very busy few days in Bangladesh, we flew back to Kathmandu to spend a couple more days with the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal. Shortly before our return we were informed of our flight changes. This meant that we would only have an evening for discussions of the work in Nepal and to visit the children that are being cared for through Kinship sponsors. The time was way to short. 

Thank you for your prayers these past eight weeks! The Lord has again been faithful in blessing these efforts to assist in the preaching and teaching of God's saving word! And thank you especially for your prayers for Beth and the kids. I am so thankful for the family that the Lord has given to me who so willingly support and encourage me in this work of proclaiming the Good News of our Savior! 

Here's a few pictures from Bangladesh...
BLCM Congregation gathered for worship

BLCM pre-school and tutoring center

Pastor Monotosh encouraging leaders of a BLCM Preaching Station
BLCM Pre-School and Tutoring Center
Children waiting patiently to meet the visitors
Joel receiving a welcome gift from a sweet little girl. Pre-School teacher in the background
The children waited late into the evening as we were delayed in our arrival 

Pastor Monotosh, his wife Elizabeth, and son Wilson
Joel Krafft, Pastor Monotosh, and Leaders of the BLCM
Four families of the house church/preaching station in Dhaka

Mt. Everest from the airplane window as we flew back to Kathmandu from Bangladesh