Friday, August 20, 2021

August 2021 - CLC World Mission Prayers List

Afghanistan – While the CLC is not currently working in Afghanistan, there are many Christians there who are living in fear as they face the threat of physical persecution and the possibility of death under Taliban rule. Christians know that in the eyes of the Taliban they are infidels who deserve death. Pray for their protection and for strength to remain bold and courageous in Christ’s love and promises in the face of persecution. Ask the Lord to grant them an extra measure of wisdom and discernment as they make decisions for themselves, their families, and their fellow Christians.

Nigeria – Mark Bohde and Missionary Ohlmann will be traveling to Nigeria on September 2nd to conduct a pastoral training seminar. While in Nigeria, Missionary Ohlmann will also have the opportunity to meet with the various Nigeria-CLC boards and committees. Ask the Lord to bless the travels of all those who will attend this seminar and to bless the teaching and the hearing of His saving word.

Myanmar – The situation in Myanmar has not improved and in many ways has gotten worse with a third wave of Covid now taking place. Many in this country continue to struggle through the uncertainty and despair of the February military coup. Many are living in fear of daily conflicts and violence. Daily food and necessities are scarce and banks and most businesses are only open temporarily on a seemingly random schedule. The pandemic has hit Myanmar very hard and reports indicate that the military Junta is withholding Covid vaccines, treatments, and even oxygen supplies as a way to control the people. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Myanmar are suffering. The CLC Board of Missions has been trying to find a way to send financial resources, Kinship sponsorships for the children, and Covid relief aid to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. Pray that the Lord will keep, protect, and provide for the sheep of His Myanmar flock, especially our brothers and sisters in Yangon, Kalaymyo, and Chin State. Pray that the truth of God’s word will have free course to strengthen and encourage the faith of His children and that many more will be brought to faith and find hope in Jesus during these uncertain times and always.

India – Pastor T. Sampath, who has served faithfully as a district chairman in the BELC for many years, recently underwent heart surgery. The surgery was a success. By God’s grace, he is getting stronger every day and is expected to return to his work soon.  Pray that the Lord would continue to bless his recovery and to provide strength and comfort for Pastor T. Sampath, his family, and the many souls that he serves with the Gospel.

2022 Mission Helper Trip – The CLC Mission Helper Trip that was canceled in 2021 is tentatively scheduled for Nepal in July of 2022.  International travel to Nepal is currently not permitted with no indication of when it may open up again. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nepal are eager for the Mission Helper Teams to come again to assist them in the work of proclaiming God’s saving word and have asked that we make every effort to come if possible. Pray that our Savior will clear any obstacles that may stand in the way of this trip according to His will.

Tanzania – The Wartburg Lutheran Seminar in Arusha has continued, mostly uninterrupted, in their class schedule through the pandemic. Students are preparing for their final exams and are scheduled to graduate and be ordained as Tanzania-CLC pastors in November. Thank the Lord for His protection of these students, teachers, and staff through the challenges of the past year, and ask for the Lord’s continued blessings as they finish their formal studies for the Gospel ministry.

Uganda – Pastor Daniel Mugeni has been studying with CLC missionaries and attending pastoral conferences in Kenya for many years. Missionary Mike Gurath, along with a representative of the CLC appointed by President Eichstadt, will begin the formal process of reviewing Pastor Mugeni’s doctrinal positions for a possible recommendation for a declaration of fellowship. Pastor Mugeni serves a congregation in Uganda and also cares for several orphan children. Pray that the Lord would bless this process of establishing God-pleasing fellowship. Pray for the children that Pastor Mugeni cares for and that He would continue to provide for all their needs. Ask the Lord to continue to bless the preaching and teaching of His saving Word in Uganda that many more will be led to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Nepal – Progress on the building project has been delayed again due to new Covid restrictions. Thank the Lord for His continued blessings on this project and ask Him to grant patience to Raju and his family and the students as they wait for completion. Ask the Lord to bless the teaching of His Word in this building that many more faithful preachers and teachers will be trained to proclaim the saving truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bangladesh –Pastor Monotosh asks that we continue to pray for a man who was recently converted to Christianity from Hinduism. This man has been assaulted, persecuted, and falsely accused of crimes by his family, and was arrested in an effort to force him to return to Hinduism. Ask the Lord to protect and defend His new disciple and to give him the necessary strength and courage to persevere under persecution.

Togo, Liberia, Kenya, Zambia, D.R. Congo, and Mexico – please continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are struggling to stay healthy, provide for their families and the ministry as they proclaim the Gospel…trusting the promise of our Savior that His Word will not return to Him void but will accomplish that for which He sent it.

Missionary Evensen – has returned safely to his home and work in Togo where he is busy assisting Pastor Kossi in the training of pastors at the Mt. Horeb Lutheran Bible Institute. Thank the Lord for his safe travel back to Togo and Pray for the Lord’s continued blessings on His service to the Lord and His kingdom work in Togo.

Missionary Ohlmann – will be in Nigeria in early September and is making plans to visit Tanzania and Zambia in October and November. The pandemic continues to make planning a challenge. Ask the Lord to bless the trip preparations and to clear any obstacles that may stand in the way of this work.

New and Ongoing Opportunities – The Lord continues to provide opportunities to proclaim the truths of His saving Word in a variety of ways in different areas of the world in places such as South Sudan, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Thank the Lord for the privilege of teaching His Word to others!  Pray for these individuals as they seek to grow in their understanding of God’s Word to be better equipped to spread the Gospel.

 God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us, That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1–2

Thursday, July 22, 2021

July 2021 CLC Foreign Missions 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

India – Pastor T. Sampath, who has served faithfully as a district chairman in the BELC for many years, has been admitted to the hospital in Chennai for heart surgery.  Pray that the Lord would bless the efforts of the doctors and staff as they use their God-given gifts to treat our brother in Christ that the surgery will be successful.  Ask the Lord to give comfort and strength to Sampath’s family and to the many souls that he serves.

Myanmar – Many in this country continue to struggle through the uncertainty and despair of the February military coup. Many are living in fear of daily conflicts and violence. Daily food and necessities are scarce and banks and most businesses remain closed. The pandemic has hit Myanmar very hard and reports indicate that the military Junta is withholding Covid vaccines, treatments, and even oxygen supplies as a way to control the people. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Myanmar are suffering. The CLC has been unable to send financial resources, Kinship sponsorships for the children, and Covid relief aid. Pray that the Lord will keep and protect and provide for the sheep of His Myanmar flock, especially our brothers and sisters in Yangon, Kalaymyo, and Chin State. Pray that the truth of God’s word will have free course to strengthen and encourage the faith of His children and that many more will be brought to faith and find hope in Jesus during these uncertain times and always.

India – Pastor Jyothi B. in India, who was hospitalized in the ICU for several days while he was treated for a rather severe case of Covid, was able to return to his home a few weeks ago. He is still dealing with some weakness but has been able to return to work and has been active in assisting with the distribution of Covid Aid to those of the CLCI who are in need. Continue to Pray for complete healing along with God’s strength, comfort, and courage for Jyothi, his family, and the many souls that he serves.

Nepal – Progress on the building project has been delayed by a couple of months due to the pandemic. Raju reports that they hope to be able to, at least partially, move in by late September and then begin hosting students and begin seminary classes as soon as October.  Thank the Lord for His continued blessings on this project and ask Him to grant patience to Raju and his family and the students as they wait for completion. And then ask the Lord to bless the teaching of His word in this building that many more faithful preachers and teachers will be trained to proclaim the saving truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Nigeria – Mark Bohde and Missionary Ohlmann are planning a visit to Nigeria to conduct a pastoral training seminar and to meet with the various Nigeria-CLC boards and committees. Ask the Lord to bless these preparations over the next few weeks that visas will be granted and that Covid travel restrictions will not hinder these plans to do the Lord’s work.

Bangladesh –Pastor M. asks that we continue to pray for a man who was recently converted to Christianity from Hinduism. This man has been assaulted, persecuted, and falsely accused of crimes by his family, and was arrested in an effort to force him to return to Hinduism. Pray that the Lord will bless the printing and distribution of the Catechisms as a tool to train more believers in the saving truths of Scripture. Ask the Lord to protect and defend His new disciple and to give him the necessary strength and courage to persevere under persecution.

Christian School Instructor Supervisor (CSIS) - Retired teacher, Ted Quade, who also serves as the chairman of the Kinship Committee, has accepted this call. This new position was created to aid the school headmasters and teachers in the schools that Kinship supports in Kenya. The CSIS will offer support and encouragement in the area of teaching Bible stories, teaching methods, and classroom management, as well as Christian Doctrine and Christian leadership.   Ask the Lord to bless Ted with the necessary wisdom, patience, zeal, and love for this work. And pray that the Lord would bless those with whom he will be working, that they too will be gifted with wisdom, patience, zeal, and love for the work they have been given by the Lord. And pray for the children entrusted to the care of these two schools in Kenya that they may grow in the understanding of God’s saving word, that faith in Jesus will be their guide and strength through life and into eternity.

Liberia – Pastor Joseph K., who was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident a couple of months ago, is still struggling in his recovery. He is working with a bone specialist to treat both knee caps and one finger. Pray that the Lord will bless his treatments and grant full recovery from his injuries.  

Uganda – Pastor Daniel Mugeni has been studying with CLC missionaries and attending pastoral conferences in Kenya for many years. Missionary Mike Gurath, along with a representative of the CLC appointed by President Eichstadt, will begin the formal process of reviewing Pastor Mugeni’s doctrinal positions for a possible recommendation for a declaration of fellowship. Pastor Mugeni serves a congregation in Uganda and also cares for several orphan children. Pray that the Lord would bless this process of establishing God-pleasing fellowship. Pray for the children that Pastor Mugeni cares for and that He would continue to provide for all their needs. Ask the Lord to continue to bless the preaching and teaching of His saving word in Uganda that many more will be led to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Togo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, D.R. Congo, and Mexico – please continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are struggling to stay healthy, provide for their families and the ministry as they proclaim the Gospel…trusting the promise of our Savior that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish that for which He sent it.

 Mission Trips – are being planned for Nigeria and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda) over the next few months. The Covid pandemic continues to make planning uncertain. Ask the Lord to bless the trip preparations and to clear any obstacles that may stand in the way of this work.

Missionary Evensen – was able to return to the U.S. for a furlough. He is now ready to return to Togo to continue the work of assisting in the training of pastors at the Mt. Horeb Lutheran Bible Institute. His flight leaves on July 27thThank the Lord for his safe travel back to the U.S., his service to the Lord at our CLC convention, and time spent with family and friends. Pray for safe and uneventful travels back to Togo and for continued blessings on His service to the Lord and His kingdom work in Togo.

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

CLC World Missions Prayer List – June 2021

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

India – Pastor Jyothi B. in India, who was hospitalized in the ICU for several days while he was treated for a rather severe case of Covid, has been discharged. He is currently staying with relatives in a larger city near the hospital. He was unconscious and near death when he was first taken to the hospital. He is still dealing with complications and is being treated with medications and injections to prevent blood clotting. Because of these treatments, his blood is very thin, and has been admitted to the hospital a couple of times for severe nose bleeds. The CLC Board of Missions and Kinship Committee have approved emergency funding to assist with medical bills and to provide covid relief aid. Continue to Pray for complete healing along with God’s strength, comfort, and courage for Jyothi, his family, and the many souls that he serves. Ask the Lord to bless the aid that was sent.
 
India – Pastor D. Paul recently reported that eight pastors and two pastor’s wives have died of Covid over the past few weeks. The believers he and other pastors serve are suffering under the strict restrictions that are in place to slow the surge of infections.  The CLC Board of Missions and Kinship Committee have approved emergency funding to provide covid relief aid. Pray for the Lord’s comfort for the families and congregations who have lost their loved ones and pastors. Ask the Lord to bless and multiply the aid that is being sent to assist as many as possible.
 
Nepal – Our brothers and sisters in Nepal have been struggling under the strict Covid lockdowns. In addition to the struggle for daily necessities, the monsoon season has come early this year bringing heavy rains, landslides, and destruction to many parts of northern Nepal. The CLC Board of Missions and Kinship Committee have approved emergency funding to provide covid relief aid.  Pray that the Lord will continue to keep the sheep of His Nepali flock safe during this pandemic crisis
 
Myanmar – Many in this country continue to struggle through the uncertainty and despair of the February military coup. Many are living in fear of daily conflicts and violence. Daily food and necessities are scarce and banks and most businesses remain closed. The CLC has been unable to send financial resources, Kinship sponsorships for the children, and Covid relief aid. Pray that the Lord will keep and protect and provide for the sheep of His Myanmar flock, especially our brothers and sisters in Yangon, Kalaymyo, and Chin State. Pray that the truth of God’s word will have free course to strengthen and encourage the faith of His children and that many more will be brought to faith and find hope in Jesus during these uncertain times and always.
 
Nigeria – Outreach efforts among independent pastors in Bayelsa State continue. The seminary now has six students and has begun repairing and building desks along with other improvements to the seminary facility.  Pray for the students and faculty, that the Lord will provide all that is necessary for their training. Ask the Lord to continue to bless the outreach work in Bayelsa.
 
Bangladesh – Pastor M. has been busy working on translating Luther’s Small Catechism into Bengali. Much of this work has been completed and he is doing the final review before printing. Pastor M. recently requested our prayers for a man who was converted to Christianity from Hinduism. This man has been assaulted, persecuted, and falsely accused of crimes by his family, and was arrested in an effort to force him to return to Hinduism. Pray that the Lord will bless the printing and distribution of the Catechisms as a tool to train more believers in the saving truths of Scripture. Ask the Lord to protect and defend His new disciple and to give him the necessary strength and courage to persevere under persecution.
 
Liberia – Pastor Joseph K. was recently involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. The car he was traveling in was hit by a bus and there was severe damage to both vehicles. Pastor Joseph went to the hospital and was discharged with only minor injuries. Praise the Lord for protecting His servant through this ordeal.
 
Togo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, D.R. Congo, Uganda, and Mexico – please continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are struggling to stay healthy, provide for their families and the ministry as they proclaim the Gospel…trusting the promise of our Savior that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish that for which He sent it.
 
New and Ongoing Opportunities – The Lord continues to provide opportunities to proclaim the truths of His saving word in different areas of the world in places such as South Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Philippines, 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 to be better equipped to spread the Gospel in the places they live.
 
Missionary Evensen – was able to get his passport and Togo Stay Card renewed in time for his planned departure. After spending two years in Togo, he has arrived safely in the U.S. for a furlough. Thank the Lord for safe travels and ask for His blessing on Peter’s time in the States.

Monday, May 17, 2021

CLC World Missions Prayer List - MAY 2021

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

India – Urgent Prayer Request for our dear brother in Christ, Jyothi B. in India who is in the hospital being treated for Covid. He was admitted a few days ago and said that he expected to recover quickly and be home soon. On Saturday, May 15th, things took a turn for the worse and he was transferred to the ICU. His brother Nireekshana and his family had Covid a while back and has slowly recovered. Their father V.S., who is quite elderly has been isolated and has thus far stayed healthy. Pray for quick and complete healing along with God’s strength, comfort, and courage for Jyothi, his family, and the many souls that he serves.

Nepal – Pastoral training and graduation/ordination for the Himalayan Bible Insitute were cut short due to the Covid crisis in Nepal but praise the Lord that thirteen students graduated and were sent into the Lord’s service! Pray that the Lord will continue to keep the sheep of His Nepali flock safe during this pandemic crisis. Ask for the Lord’s blessings on preaching, teaching, and hearing of His word to strengthen, encourage, and convert more souls in Nepal.

Myanmar – Many in this country continue to struggle through the uncertainty and despair of the February military coup. Many are living in fear of daily conflicts and violence. Daily food and necessities are scarce and banks and most businesses remain closed. Pray that the Lord will keep and protect and provide for the sheep of His Myanmar flock, especially our brothers and sisters of the NLCM and CLCM in Yangon, Kalaymyo, and Chin State. Pray that the truth of God’s word will have free course to strengthen and encourage the faith of His children and that many more will be brought out of the darkness of unbelief and find hope in Jesus during these uncertain times and always. Praise the Lord for allowing His word to be spread during these uncertain times and for leading hearts to repentance and saving faith in our Savior!

Nigeria – Immanuel Lutheran Seminary of the NCLC recently admitted one more student to bring enrollment up to seven. Pray for the students and faculty, that the Lord will provide all that is necessary for their training.

Bangladesh, Liberia, Togo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, D.R. Congo, Uganda, and Mexico – please continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are struggling to stay healthy, provide for their families and the ministry as they proclaim the Gospel…trusting the promise of our Savior that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish that for which He sent it.

New and Ongoing Contacts – The Lord continues to provide 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, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Columbia, 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 to be better equipped to spread the Gospel in the places they live.

Missionary Evensen – has submitted his passport to the U.S. Embassy in Togo for renewal so he can return to the U.S. this summer to attend the CLC Convention in June. Pray that his passport will be renewed in time for his scheduled return to the U.S. and that he will have safe and uneventful travel.

Missionary Ohlmann – was recently forced to cut his visit to Nepal short due to new Covid restrictions and lockdowns. He was able to be on hand for a ½ day pastoral training seminar and the graduation/ordination service for thirteen Bible Institute students. He was very close to being stuck in Nepal for a few weeks as the country locked down and canceled all international flights. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to teach His word under these pandemic circumstances and Thank the Lord for providing one of the last remaining seats on an early flight.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Change of Plans...Nepal April 2021

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

This may seem like an appropriate Scripture to describe much of this past year. It is certainly a comfort to know that the Lord is before us and behind us and by our side to direct our steps. He directs them in such a way to serve His ultimate purpose of bringing us to be with Him forever to gather around His throne in worship for eternity. 

It is not always for us to understand or explain why things don't go the way we have planned. This is true in so many areas of life. When earthly explanations fail to materialize, this is when our Savior's faithfulness is such a comfort! His love for us is the substance of our faith and this provides us the resolve to trust and believe what our loving Lord has promised and made clear...

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8–9

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love... Colossians 1:13

These last couple of weeks have proven to be a challenge for me as I have struggled with the debate in my own mind about the Lord's wisdom versus my plans. As my sinful flesh rears its ugly opinions and doubts, I have questioned God's ways and wisdom in allowing me to travel to Nepal only to have most of my scheduled activities and plans canceled.

I have waited more than a year to begin the work of visiting, encouraging, and assisting our fellow Christians around the world with the goal of training more faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving Word. Several weeks ago now I received notice that Nepal had begun issuing visas again. So I eagerly and immediately began to research the possibilities of travel to Nepal again. It didn't take long before I was convinced that this was looking very possible. I sent off my application to the Nepali embassy in Washington, DC thinking that this was the first step and if not approved, then I would know that a visit to Nepal just wasn't yet meant to be. The application was sent with prayers for the Lord's blessings that if it was His will for me to visit Nepal, then the visa would be granted. About three and half weeks later I received a package from the Nepali embassy in the mail. I didn't even wait to bring it into the house before tearing the package open to flip through my passport to see if indeed the Lord had answered my prayer in the affirmative. And sure enough, there it was, a thirty-day visa to be used within the next ninety days. I was excited and relieved that some of the crazy and frustration brought on by the pandemic was finally starting to diminish and maybe this would be the beginning of several more trips overseas soon. 

I purchased airfare that I had been pricing the past few weeks that very same day and began the two-week countdown to departure. The only hurdle that still remained was a negative Covid test within seventy-two hours of departure. My flight was scheduled to leave on a Sunday evening so I scheduled the Covid test for Friday morning. Here was another chance, I thought, for the Lord to bring my plans to a screeching halt if He didn't want me to go. But later that day, the results came back negative and it looked like I was ready to roll. Now, all I had to do was get through the next couple of days, spend 40+ hours in travel and layovers, and then a five-day quarantine once I arrived in Nepal. 

Raju had a busy schedule all laid out for us that would include pastoral training seminars in four districts of the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN) along with a long-postponed graduation/ordination service for the graduates of Himalayan Bible Institute (HBI) who had successfully completed their three years of training. 

Everything seemed to start out so well as I was allowed to leave the Kathmandu (KTM) valley a couple of days early to finish my quarantine in a less populated area. This allowed us to make our way west to the city of Pokhara where we were treated to some incredible early morning views of the Annapurna range of the Himalaya. Stunning doesn't even begin to capture the majesty of God's glory in the most prominent peak of this range called Machhapuchhre or Mt. Fishtale. As the early morning sun begins to rise and shine on the western slopes of this majestic mountain peak I can't, at the moment, think of a more beautiful place on this planet.

Machhapuchhre (English: Mt. Fishtale)

Annapurna Range of the Himalaya from Pokhara

Everything seemed to be going according to "our" plans as we made our way to the Chitwan District after a short stay in Pokhara. Chitwan is a district that is somewhat centrally located to the other districts of the HCLCN. This is where the first seminar and the HBI graduation service were to be held. I was officially done with my five-day quarantine when we first began hearing rumblings about the government reinstating Covid restrictions and possibly another lockdown. We joked that it would be ironic if a lockdown was imposed the very day I have finished the mandatory quarantine and I was officially free to roam the country. 😕

It wasn't long before we began to get word from the districts further west that the local governments had already decided to restrict gatherings and travel to and from these districts in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading to their mostly unaffected regions. This included the canceling of all business meetings, seminars, religious gatherings, and school classes. Hindu religious priests would still be allowed to practice daily rituals but no gatherings. All of this meant that we would not be traveling to the districts to the west following the HBI graduation and seminar as we had planned. 

The next announcement we heard was that leaders of the Chitwan District had issued an immediate order that no gatherings of more than twenty-five will be allowed. This would be a change of plans for the graduation and seminar that was scheduled for the next day. Raju began making phone calls. After talking to his father, brother, and several HCLCN leaders and pastors, it was determined that the thirteen graduates should continue to make plans to attend and that we would limit the number of visitors and other HCLCN pastors who would attend to keep the number of attendees at twenty-five. It was also decided to provide funding so that those coming from other districts could rent a vehicle and driver rather than rely on public transportation (buses) that might be shut down before they were able to return home.

The next bit of information we received all but nixed all of our plans as the government announced full lockdowns on all major cities and a halt to all public transportation beginning the next day at 6pm. In practical terms, this meant that we had just enough time for a half-day seminar and graduation service to allow all the attendees who had traveled a distance to leave by noon so they could return to their homes before the lockdown was scheduled to begin. 

I got up early the next morning to spend some time with my teaching notes as I realized that I would need to whittle down two days' worth of material into about two hours. 

Early morning view from the hotel balcony as I reviewed/revised my teaching notes for the day.

The seminar certainly didn't go as I had planned and the graduation was rushed, but in the end, God's truth was taught, thirteen men graduated and were sent into the public ministry as faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving word. 

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10–11

2nd Graduating Class of the Himalayan Bible Institute of the HCLC-Nepal

Graduates, Pastors, and Visitors at the Pastoral Training Seminar

Everything else we had planned was canceled due to the government-issued lockdown orders.  And with that, my work in Nepal was finished. I had traveled half the way around the world, spent five days in quarantine, traveled several hours by car through the winding, bumpy, dusty, traffic-filled, traffic-jammed roads through the Himalayan foothills to teach for two hours and assist in handing out graduation/ordination certificates. Not exactly what I had in mind!



With all the other seminars canceled and having just one day to get back to Kathmandu before all travel in and out of the valley would be shut down, we made plans to leave the next morning to get an early start on the three-to-four hour trip back to KTM. The afternoon and next morning provided the opportunity to visit the HCLCN/HBI building project that is located in the Chitwan district not far from where the graduation and seminar were held. Praise God for this and for the progress that is being made despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented. This building is being partially funded through a grant from the CLC Mission Development Fund. Construction has been slow and the completion timeframe has been extended by about two months, but they hope to be moved in and conducting HBI classes by October. Continue to pray for the Lord's blessings on this project for the furtherance of His kingdom in Nepal.




Raju...in what will eventually be the HBI main classroom

We planned for a few extra hours of travel for the trip back to KTM assuming that traffic would be heavy as everyone tried to make their way out of the city to escape the upcoming lockdown. Little did we know that our trip would take more than ten hours and we would spend hours waiting in traffic jams. As soon as we were checked and questioned by the military or police at the KTM checkpoint it seemed that the traffic jams, cars, and trucks suddenly and almost completely disappeared. Everyone who had the means and somewhere else to go seemed to have left in an attempt to avoid the lockdown. And when they say lockdown in Nepal, they mean it. They don't mess around. All stores are closed, everyone is required to stay in their homes, there is no public or private transportation allowed, and only emergency vehicles are allowed on the streets. 

Vehicles in Nepal all have different colored license plates. Private vehicles have red plates. There are no red plates allowed on the roads during the lockdown. The only vehicles on the road are emergency, police, and a limited number of pre-paid taxis that have been issued a special permit, displayed on their dashboard, for transporting people to and from hospitals and the airport. 

I've been sitting in a hotel for the past day and a half now since Raju dropped me off late Wednesday evening. Since he is not allowed to leave his home except for food and groceries until the lockdown is lifted I won't be seeing him again until I am able to return...probably not until early 2022. So it was a strange and quick goodbye knowing that I would still be here in KTM for another three days but we would not be able to see each other. I had hoped to see his wife and son and to meet their new baby boy Joshua, but by the time we finally arrived in KTM Wednesday night, it was too late. Disappointing, but that's the way it had to be.

Since I am required to produce a negative Covid test no more than 72 hours before departure to be able to fly back to the U.S. I had to figure out how I was going to get this done without Raju's help. I asked the clerk at the hotel desk about this when I checked in and was told that they would be happy to schedule a test for me the next morning. They informed me that they had done this many times since they are close to the airport. She said that someone from the clinic would come to the hotel to collect the sample. Sounded much easier than I had anticipated. So, I ate a little snack, checked my email, and went to sleep for the night. The next morning I went to the desk to get my test scheduled. I was told that the government is no longer allowing Covid test samples to be collected at hotels during the lockdown and that I would need to find a facility on my own. They gave me a list of about twenty hospitals and clinics to call and told me that many of them were probably not open for testing since the virus was spiking and many hospitals were at or nearing capacity. I went to my room and began making calls. The first few places I called were either completely booked or they told me that there were already several hundred in line waiting for the test and I should come quickly to get in line. Then the hotel room phone rang and the front desk clerk informed me that she had just arranged a pre-paid taxi for three foreigners who were leaving soon for a Covid test. She suggested that maybe I could ask them where they were going. So I hustled down to the lobby and found them waiting for the taxi to arrive. It was a group of photo-journalists who had just arrived here last week to work on a documentary on high altitude aquatic life in mountain rivers, streams, and lakes of the Himalaya. Their trip had been cut short too. Two of them were returning to France and one was returning to Dubai. The journalist from Dubai spoke good English and told me that he had been online and on the phone trying to find a test location all morning. The one they were going to was at a very good hospital in town and he was told that there were only a few people in line. The taxi arrived soon after that, we hopped in, and off we went. There was no traffic and no one on the streets except the police. We were stopped and the driver's credentials and permit were checked at almost every intersection. It was an eery ride through streets that were familiar to me but strange with zero traffic and no horns constantly honking as I have always, always experienced before. 

We got to the hospital and sure enough, there were only about four or five people in line. We filled out our forms, paid the 2100 Rupees ($17), made our way through the registration process, and then had our sample collected. It only took about thirty minutes. 


There was a little store located on the hospital campus that sold food, drinks, and toiletries so I was able to purchase a few things to snack on for the next couple of days. 

On our way back to the hotel I thanked the journalist (and the Lord) for doing my research for me! I received the results of the test by email this morning and they came back negative. So, other than waiting another thirty hours or so, I am ready to go home. 

It's been a frustrating and disappointing couple of weeks and I certainly am not thrilled with going home a week early and not accomplishing all that was scheduled for my time here in Nepal. 

I have this feeling gnawing at my heart that all of this has just been a big waste of time and resources and perhaps I was too hasty in my decision to make this trip. And maybe I shouldn't have rushed things and I should have been more patient. But at the same time, I have been encouraged and comforted as the Lord reminds me that this, along with all things, has been and continues to be in the His loving hands...the same hands that were nailed to the cross to pay for my sins and the sins of the whole world. Knowing that His love and faithfulness willingly went through the suffering and death of the cross to save His enemies from eternal destruction as He held nothing back to accomplish my salvation overwhelms me with the privilege it truly is to be called by Him and to simply follow Him, serve Him, leave all things to His direction, and patiently and completely trust that His will is being done and His kingdom is coming according to His plan...and thankfully, not mine.
  
So, what are God's purpose and plan in all the frustration and changing of my plans and the canceling of worship services and Bible training seminars? I'm not sure that I can answer that question with any specificity. I do know that I have been encouraged in my faith as I've had extra time to read my Bible these past couple of weeks. I have had the privilege of discussing God's word and will with Raju at length as we've spent hours and hours together in travel. I've had the joy and privilege of teaching God's word (even if it was only for two hours) to individuals who are eager to hear, and learn, and grow in their understanding of God's word that they may better serve the Lord in their calling and vocation as pastors and evangelists. I've been humbled and overjoyed to see and be a part of the graduation and ordination of thirteen men who have sacrificed much over the past few years to dedicate themselves to classes and study so they would be better equipped to preach and teach the truth of God's saving Word in a land that is overwhelmingly held captive in the darkness of unbelief and idolatry. I have been encouraged by these very men who came to be taught and encouraged by me!

Would I change how things went the past couple of weeks if I could? Probably, because I have this old sinful flesh that still wants to call the shots. I'm also deeply disappointed that I didn't get to spend more time with so many of the amazing people I have come to know and love in Nepal. And I didn't get to meet Raju and Sanju's new son Joshua. 

Am I thankful and full of reasons to rejoice to have been a part of these past two weeks as I've experienced the unfurling of God's plan for me to be encouraged in my faith and to encourage others through the teaching of His word? Yes, I am! Why? Because I am God's own child, I will gladly say it...I am baptized into Christ! This means that through His life, death, and resurrection, I am redeemed, restored, and forgiven and the new heart that my Savior has given to me has replaced that cold, dead heart of sin and unbelief. This new heart, and His love dwelling in me, alone leads me to rejoice always in Him. This new and living heart also finds contentment and purpose in His faithfulness and the forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life that only He can and did and does provide. What a privilege to serve Him!!!!

By His grace...

...I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5–6 


God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!

He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!


Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!

I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.

Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me

In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?


Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!

Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.

Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,

And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!


Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!

When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!

Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:

Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.


There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!

Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.

Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:

I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!

© 1991 Robert E. Voelker 

Title:God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It
German Title:Lasst mich voll Freuden sprechen
Author:Erdmann Neumeister








Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sent to Nepal...APR/MAY 2021

It was a little over a year ago that I was scheduled to make my annual visit to Nepal but as we all now know, nothing about 2020 went as planned. After being detained by India Immigration and eventually having my visa revoked and then deported I returned home for a few weeks before heading to the D.R. Congo in late February. It wasn't long after that the world shut down and Nepal closed its borders to all visitors...the trip was canceled.

Phote Cred...Raju
Photo Cred...Raju

Fast forward to today and here I am riding out a mandatory five-day (?) quarantine in Kathmandu. After 40+ hours of air travel and long layovers, a couple of days of quarantine, and lots of sleep, I am more than ready to get things rolling. And it looks like that might happen a couple of days sooner than I had anticipated. Let me explain...before leaving the U.S. I spent a lot of time researching what I needed to do to get my visa, purchase airfare, and actually travel to and be allowed to enter Nepal. It would seem that all of my research has paid some dividends. The official Nepal Covid response website led me to a link that listed all the necessary steps for visiting Nepal. It was only about five weeks ago that they began offering visas again so everything on the website had been updated. Requirements included a negative PCR Covid test no more than 72 hours before departure, a pre-paid reservation at a government quarantine-approved hotel, and I had to fill out an online government Covid 19 health tracking form. This form required proof of a hotel reservation at one of the several hotels listed. The form was to be printed out in duplicate with the barcode clearly displayed. All of this paperwork was verified at check-in in St. Louis and again in Chicago and one more time before I boarded the flight from Doha to KTM. The KTM airport has no jetways so the plane simply parks on the tarmac and the passengers walk from the plane to the terminal and proceed to the immigration hall to begin the chaotic process of obtaining a visa and then being cleared by an immigration officer. I had read that Nepal was not offering visas on arrival due to Covid, I had applied and received my visa through the Nepal Embassy in Washington, DC through the mail. (it took nearly four weeks to process). As I walked from the tarmac to the terminal it became very evident that things were not like they had been the other dozen or so times I have been here. There were two lines of people waiting to get into the terminal. I was seated near the back of the plane so I was one of the last to get off. Most of the passengers seemed to be in the long line and only 5 or 6 were in the short line. In front of these two lines, there was a table with two medical personnel dressed like they were ready to go into surgery...masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, etc. I watched them as I approached and I could see that they were looking at everyone's paperwork and then determining which line they should go to. When I arrived at the table I had all my paperwork in order and the nurse scanned the barcode on the Covid tracking form I had filled out and took a copy and placed it in a big pile, she then looked at my hotel reservation and compared it to the form, and then scanned my Covid vaccine card and sent me to the short line with out asking me anything other than where I was from. I walked straight into the terminal without interruption, made my way to the immigration officer with no one ahead of me in line, and two minutes later I was waiting for my luggage, and a half-hour after that I was headed outside to be met by Raju. Easy Peasy!! Thank you Lord!!!

Now I have been sitting in this government-approved quarantine hotel (pretty nice digs by the way for $23/night) wondering if I am supposed to get a Covid test and if I am really required to stay for the full five days. From what I had read online, I had originally thought that I would be required to get another Covid test on arrival, and then if the results came back negative I would be cleared to go after five days. But once I was told to go to the short line at the airport not one more word about Covid was mentioned to me. I asked the front desk clerk at the hotel who checked me if she knew anything about it and she said that if the government wanted me to get tested they would have given me the paperwork. I think I am in the clear.

With Covid surging in India, the Nepal government has reinstated some lockdowns and restrictions that will prevent live worship here in KTM this weekend. Since broadcasting me preaching live on Facebook would bring unwanted attention and scrutiny to the local congregation, I will not be preaching here this weekend. The plan right now is to head out into the more rural areas of Nepal immediately following Raju's work on Saturday instead of waiting until Monday. This will shorten my quarantine by two days with the hopes that the government doesn't come to check on me.

Our agenda for the next couple of weeks will involve a lot of travel as we make our way out of the Kathmandu Valley and through the Himalayan foothills to visit several different districts of the HCLC-Nepal. We will conduct a pastoral training seminar with the students and graduates of the Himalayan Bible Institute on Tuesday. The next day will be the graduation and ordination service that has been postponed too many times over the past year. Wednesday we will travel to the next seminar location. Then a couple more days of travel as we make our way to the village of Siddi on top of a hill for worship on Saturday. Then another long day of travel to the Dang district for another seminar before we begin to make our way back to Kathmandu so I can get the required Covid test a couple of days before my departure. As usual, here in Nepal, there will be lots of travel as nothing comes easy on the steep and winding roads, trails, and paths that lead to HCLCN congregations. 

I am also super excited to see the progress on the new HCLCN/HBI building in the Chitwan area! 

HCLCN/HBI Building Project

There is some uncertainty about our plans as the government could reinstate travel restrictions between districts at any time if Covid cases begin to rise. One of the ways they have kept it from spreading here is to shut down borders between districts to keep people from passing back and forth. If this happens, I am not sure what we will do. Fortunately, our Savior knows exactly what the future holds and how everything will work out for those He has called. So my confidence is in Him and His perfect plan for my time here among my brothers and sisters of Nepal. Please keep all of this in your prayers, asking our Savior to clear the way of any obstacles in proclaiming the truths of His saving word and that His will be done!

I've met with Raju a couple of times since I have arrived but none of the other family members, friends, or church members yet. The government has limited the number of attendees at religious gatherings so I most likely won't get to see everyone this time around. On Saturday we will have a small gathering after church before we head out. I am excited to see Raju and Sanju's sons and the other kids!

One thing I have learned in my first couple of days here is that quarantine is not conducive to adjusting to a new time zone on the other side of the world. It's just too easy to sleep during the day and be awake all night long when there is nothing of importance going on. Hopefully, tonight is the night I get on track. 

Your prayers are requested and much appreciated!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

April 2021 - CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List

 


CLC Foreign Missions Prayer List – April 2021 

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

Myanmar – The military take-over of Myanmar has brought protests and violence between the military and citizens for the past couple of months. Several hundred civilians have been killed and injured. Our brothers and sisters in Christ of the NLC and the CLCM are facing danger as much of the violence has been taking place near where they live in both Yangon and Kalaymyo. Pastor Kham, his family, and the orphans they care for have been taking shelter when gunfire erupts just blocks away. They have found bullets lodged in the walls of their home. All of the banks have shut down their computers and ATMs to prevent the military from seizing the funds. And yet amid this violence, they were able to travel to more rural areas during the Easter weekend to proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection and to baptize several new believers. With the recent death of Pastor Charles in Yangon, the ministry of the NLC-Myanmar is somewhat in flux. Pray that the Lord will keep and protect and provide for His people in Yangon, Kalaymyo, and Chin State and that their faith will be strengthened during these uncertain times. Praise the Lord for allowing His word to be spread during these uncertain times and for leading hearts to repentance and saving faith in our Savior! 

Nepal – Pastoral training and graduation/ordination at the Himalayan Bible Institute have been postponed several times throughout much of the past year. They are planning, praying, and hoping they will be able to have a graduation and ordination service on April 27th while Missionary Ohlmann is there. A recent increase in Covid cases has caused the government to consider new restrictions in the coming days. Pray that the Lord will bless their plans to conduct the graduation/ordination service and begin classes with the students as planned.

Bangladesh – Several months ago Pastor Monotosh and his family were evicted from the home they had been renting because of their Christian faith. They were able to rent a different house in a new village, but the owner has forbidden any type of Christian activities. No worship services have been held in the home, but individuals have come to Pastor Monotosh for prayer and pastoral advice. Because of this, they have been asked to vacate. They continue to look for a new place to live and work. Despite these difficulties, they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and several Hindu converts were recently baptized. In addition to the struggles of the current pandemic, many members of the BLCM have been trying to rebuild following a devasting cyclone last fall.  Pray for God’s guidance, strength, and courage to continue to boldly and faithfully proclaim His Law and Gospel for the salvation of souls in Bangladesh.

India – On April 7th, the BELC graduated and ordained twenty-five men from the Martin Luther Bible Institute.  The CLCI seminary continues to have classes and is on schedule to graduate and ordain seventeen pastors soon. Pray for God’s continued blessings and protection for the sheep of His India flock as they continue to face persecution and hardship under the rule of Hindu nationalists.

Nigeria – Immanuel Lutheran Seminary of the NCLC currently has six students enrolled. The faculty is planning some improvements to the facilities with a grant from the CLC-MDF. The NCLC Mission Board recently visited Bayelsa State to visit with several independent pastors and congregations who are seeking more theological training and fellowship The decision was made to call a pastor to serve in this area for two years to lead and train these pastors and congregations. Pray for the students and faculty, that the Lord will provide all that is necessary for their training. Ask the Lord to bless the efforts of the NCLC Mission Board to bring the truth of God’s saving word to a new area of Nigeria.

Togo – With the aid of an MDF grant, two small structures are planned for the MELC farmland north of Lomé. These structures will be the first step to starting pastoral training classes with several men in the area who desire to start congregations in this rural area. Thank the Lord for this opportunity to train more men for the Gospel ministry.

D.R. Congo – Several students are beginning their final year of instruction at the Holy Trinity Bible Institute. They will be working on their doctrinal theses in the coming months in preparation for graduation and ordination. Pray that the Lord will bless their study of His word.

Liberia – Pastor Joseph and the congregation he serves are about to begin construction on a church building. They plan to begin foundation work during the dry season. Pray that the Lord would bless and provide for this project so that it can be completed in a timely manner for the furtherance of the Gospel in Liberia.

Tanzania – Faculty, and students continue to make improvements at the Wartburg Lutheran Seminary in Arusha. The next phase of improvements includes a small addition that will serve as a library and study room for the students. Eight students are currently enrolled with five scheduled to graduate and be ordained in November. Ask the Lord to provide all that is necessary for the education and training of these men to serve as faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving word.

South Sudan – Pastor Nathaniel Bol and his daughter have been very ill and have traveled to Kenya for medical treatment. His illness has kept him from the ministry for some time. When he is physically able, he plans to meet with the leaders of the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church to present and discuss what he has learned about the CLC. Pray that the Lord will restore the health of Pastor Bol and his daughter and that our doctrinal discussions will bear fruit for our Savior’s kingdom.

Kenya – the water well project at Moi’s Bridge is almost complete and classes are being held again at both KINSHIP schools. The pandemic has been especially difficult for the schools with the small classrooms and the required distancing measures in place. Pray that the Lord will provide all that is needed for these schools and faithful teachers that the truths of God’s saving Word may be taught faithfully to the children in their care.

New and Ongoing Contacts – The Lord continues to provide 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, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Columbia, 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 to be better equipped to spread the Gospel in the places they live.

Missionary Evensen – was recently diagnosed and treated for Malaria. Tests now show that the treatment was successful, and he is Malaria free. He has submitted his passport to the U.S. Embassy in Togo for renewal so he can return to the U.S. this summer to attend the CLC Convention in June. Praise the Lord for blessing the medicine he received and for restoring him to good health.  And pray that his passport will be renewed in time for his scheduled return to the U.S.!

Missionary Ohlmann – will be traveling to Nepal on April 18th. While in Nepal he will attend the graduation/ordination service for the graduating students of the Himalayan Bible Institute, teach pastor training seminars in three districts, visit the Himalayan Bible Institute/HCLCN construction site, and preach for the opening service for the new cohort of students. Pray for God’s blessings on this trip that the current pandemic will not interfere with travel and ministry plans.