Monday, January 13, 2020

Sent to Bangladesh & India

It's time to hit the road again. Tomorrow (14 JAN) late-afternoon I will meet Pastor David Reim at the airport in Chicago where we'll board the first of several flights over the next four weeks. We'll fly from Chicago to Istanbul and then to Dhaka, Bangladesh. After a week or so in Bangladesh, we'll fly to India where we'll have the opportunity to work with the pastors and leaders of the BELC, attend the Joint Asia Pastoral Conference, and then spend our last week in India working with the CLCI. 

While in Bangladesh we will spend time visiting with Pastor Monotosh Banarjee and a few of the congregations and preaching stations that he serves. But the main purpose of our visit is to conduct a colloquy with Pastor Banarjee and the BLCM. The word colloquy is defined as a "formal conversation." When used in the context of the church, it takes on a more specific meaning. It's basically a conversation to compare doctrine to see if we share the prerequisite unity of doctrine to establish a God-pleasing fellowship. Pastor Banarjee has been in contact with representatives of the CLC for nearly four years. In the beginning, several emails were exchanged to determine the nature of the contact and to discuss expectations and just to get to know each other's intentions. These first several emails revealed that Pastor Monotosh had a strong confessional Lutheran background. He had been trained by other conservative Lutherans but had become frustrated when the training suddenly stopped and no further instruction was given. When he contacted the CLC he was eager to receive more Bible training. He had read through much of the materials from the CLC that he had found online and was convinced that the CLC was a true teaching church body that was committed to on-going pastoral training in many places around the world. It was at this time that I began Online Theological Studies with Pastor Banarjee. He has completed several courses. We began with a course titled "An Introduction to Lutheranism and the CLC" that is based on the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose. This study revealed that Pastor Monotosh and the CLC already had much in common. After a couple more years of Online courses, a visit was conducted with myself and the Board of Missions chairman, Joel Krafft. That visit took place last year. You can read the blog post from that visit here:

That first visit went very well and correspondence continued. President Eichstadt asked that colloquy be scheduled. And so, Pastor Reim and I have been sent to Bangladesh. If all goes well with the "formal conversation about doctrine" we expect to make a recommendation to President Eichstadt to formally declare fellowship with Pastor Banarjee and the BLCM to the 2020 CLC Convention in June. 

From Bangladesh, we will travel to India. The biennial Joint Asia Pastoral Conference is scheduled for 28-30 January. This conference, sponsored by the CLC and funded through the CLC Mission Development Fund takes place every-other-year with attendees coming from the CLCI and BELC in India, the HCLC-Nepal, the NLC-Myanmar, and the CLC-Myanmar. This year Pastor Banarjee from Bangladesh will also attend. We will hear encouraging essays from several pastors and reports on the work of each church body. We will also gather for worship and encouragement through the Gospel in word and sacrament. 

While we are in India we will also spend a week with the BELC before the JAPC and a week with the CLCI after the conference. During the time with the CLCI and BELC we will be teaching pastoral training seminars and preaching and teaching at several congregations and preaching stations. 

Please keep us in your prayers asking the Lord to bless us with safe and uneventful travels, that He will clear our way through immigration in both Bangladesh and India, and that He will grant us the wisdom, patience, love, and zeal for the work before us. Pray also for our wives and families back home. And pray for those we are going to work with and those we go to teach that they too will be blessed with all that is needed both as hearers and learners of God's saving word. 

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