Saturday, March 19, 2022

Let's Try This Again...Nepal Visit 2022

St. Louis to Chicago to Istanbul to Kathmandu
A couple of weeks ago, my plan was to travel to Bangladesh and spend two weeks working alongside the pastors and leaders of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM). From there, I was to fly to Nepal to spend a couple of weeks working with the HCLCN. All of those plans came to a screeching halt when I was informed at the Chicago airport that the Bangladesh government had recently and unexpectedly suspended the visa on arrival program, so I was not able to board the plane without a Bangladesh visa...which takes at least three weeks to process. So, I headed back home disappointed, discouraged, and a tad bit bewildered with what the Lord was doing. I needed a day to regroup and refresh. The Lord was faithful as He lifted my spirits (again) with His love and promises!

I got to work and was able to reschedule the Nepal portion of the trip with just a few minor changes to my flights and itinerary. 

A little later today (Saturday, March 19th), I will head to the soccer field to watch my daughter play the game she loves and then to the airport to catch flights from St. Louis to Chicago to Istanbul to Kathmandu. I'll have a quick overnight in Kathmandu. Then we'll head out of the valley for the first of several pastoral training seminars in the districts of the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN). If all goes as planned, the trip will culminate with a big gathering at the newly completed Bible Institute and headquarters building of the HCLCN in the Chitwan District. Pastors, leaders, and members of the HCLCN will gather to dedicate the new building in our Savior's name and for His service. We will also host and conduct an HCLCN conference and pastoral training seminar. We will conclude with a long-awaited, opening worship service for the new cohort of Himalayan Bible Institute students who will begin their training as faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving word.  It should be a wonderful couple of days blessed by our Lord. 

As I have begun to learn over the past couple of years of attempted travel and constantly changing plans and circumstances, these are my plans for now, but the Lord will ultimately direct each step according to His love, mercy, and perfect will for His Kingdom and He will bring His blessings through it all. My last attempt at visiting Nepal in 2021 didn't go according to my plans either and yet the Lord's will was done according to His plan.  I don't begin to think that I know all that the Lord has in mind as He allows my plans to crumble, but He has allowed me to see at least some of the blessings behind the curtain of His wisdom. For example, by not allowing me to get on that plane to Bangladesh, l have been blessed with being able to see most of my children and grandchildren over Spring break, watch my youngest daughter play soccer and perform in a musical, hear God's word, worship, and fellowship with fellow believers for a mid-week Lenten service, develop additional pastoral training lessons, complete an online correspondence course with a pastor in the Philippines (and begin planning for a first visit sometime soon), and come up with a "plan" to provide enough time to apply for a Bangladesh visa and reschedule a visit with BLCM in May! In all of this, the Lord has been faithful and abundant in His love and mercy...therefore, I will rejoice in the Lord! 

Your prayers for safe and uneventful travel and that the Lord's will be done are requested and much appreciated and will most certainly be heard by our Savior!!

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bangladesh Visit Canceled...

Missionary Dave Koenig once told me that a missionary needs to be flexible, adaptable, and able to roll with the punches...well, I'm getting more practice. 

Today I was supposed to fly to Dhaka, Bangladesh for a long-awaited visit. When I checked in for my flight in St. Louis I was asked if I had a visa for Bangladesh. I told the agent that I would be getting my visa on arrival. She clicked around on her computer and said great, I see that is available for U.S. citizens. I flew to Chicago.

When I arrived in Chicago I went to my gate to get my boarding passes for my next two flights. The agent asked if I had a Bangladesh visa, I told her that I would get my visa on arrival in Bangladesh. She clicked around on her computer for a while and then told me that I was not eligible for a visa on arrival. I was prepared (or at least I thought I was) for this so I dug out the visa on arrival information sheets I had printed off from the Bangladesh Embassy website just a few days ago. She looked them over and then told me that apparently, things had changed in the last few days. I was convinced that she just wasn't reading things correctly so I asked for a supervisor and then showed him the same thing I had shown the gate agent. He looked at the information from the embassy website and said it looked like I should be OK. He took all of my paperwork and went to go make some phone calls to verify the visa requirements. I'm not sure who he called, but when he returned, he apologized that all of this wasn't resolved back in St. Louis and then explained that Bangladesh must have recently changed the requirements for a visa on arrival because my printed copy does not match what the website now shows.  The agent apologized and explained that they could not allow me to board the flight without a Bangladesh visa.

Because I shouldn't have been allowed to fly from St Louis to Chicago in the first place the airline flew me back to St. Louis at no charge and will work with me to get my tickets to Nepal rescheduled.

So, long story short, I was not able to travel to Bangladesh, and I'm back home trying to figure out what's next.

I'm not sure what happened between the time that I last checked the visa requirements and today but something changed. I just checked and even the U.S. State Department website still says that a visa on arrival is available for U.S. citizens.

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I'm disappointed, but trying to rejoice always as I practice being flexible, adaptable, as I roll with the punches...trusting in the Lord! Especially, I am disappointed for our brothers and sisters in Christ of the BLCM as they have put a lot of time and effort into making arrangements for this visit. 

Sent to Bangladesh and Nepal...March/April 2022

Tomorrow I will fly from St. Louis to Chicago to Doha to Dhaka, Bangladesh. If all goes well and there are no flight delays, I will be met at the Dhaka airport by Pastor Banarjee and his family around 9:45 Friday morning. That's 9:45 pm Thursday night central standard time. Bangladesh is exactly 12 hours ahead of my home time.

Pastor Monotosh has a full schedule planned for us. We will hit the road (or the train track) directly from the airport.  Pastor Monotosh has arranged train tickets to take us to Parbottipur where we will spend the night. During the thirteen days that I am scheduled to be in Bangladesh, I will be working alongside the pastors, teachers, elders, evangelists, and leaders of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM) to proclaim the Gospel at several  BLCM congregations, preaching stations, and evangelism fields. I will also have the opportunity to teach a two-day pastoral training seminar for fourteen pastors, elders, and evangelists. 

I am excited and thankful for the privilege and opportunity to work with these dedicated disciples of Jesus to proclaim the truth of God's saving word in this nation that is predominately Muslim. The U.S. government estimates the total population of Bangladesh to be 159.5 million. According to a 2013 census, Sunni Muslims constitute 89% of the population, 10% Hindus, with the remaining 1% being Buddhist and Christian. (U.S. State Dept. website) There is much work to be done in Bangladesh. Praise the Lord for this opportunity to serve Him by assisting those who preach the Gospel to the people of Bangladesh!

From Bangladesh, I will take a quick flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu, Nepal where I will spend sixteen days working with Pastor Raju and the pastors, leaders, evangelists, and seminary students of the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN).  My last trip here was cut short by a Covid surge in Asia. I was fortunate to get one of the last seats on one of the last flights out of Kathmandu before the country was in total lockdown for three months. I am excited to be able to finally be going back!

Pastor Raju has an ambitious schedule planned for us. Because of the geography of the Himalaya foothills in Nepal, travel is always a challenge and takes up quite a bit of my time in the country.  We are scheduled to visit and proclaim the Good News of Jesus at eight HCLCN congregations and preaching stations.  The new HCLCN seminary/headquarters building is also scheduled to be dedicated for service to the Lord and His kingdom towards the end of the visit.  Most of the pastors, evangelists and new seminary students will be there for the dedication so we will also have a two-day pastoral training seminar at the new building. I am so thankful for the blessings of this building and excited to see the Lord's continued blessings unfold over the coming years as this building will be used to train more faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving word! What a privilege the Lord has given to us to be a part of this harvest work!

I'm not sure how much time or access to the internet I will have over the next four weeks, but I hope to update this blog as much as possible. If you want to receive updates in your email box, you can subscribe here or with the subscription widget at the top right corner of the blog. 

If all goes as planned, I will return home to my family on Saturday, April 9th, just in time for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and the celebration of our Savior's resurrection!

Your prayers for Beth and my family along with safe and uneventful travels and the Lord's abundant blessings of wisdom, compassion, humility, patience, commitment, health, stamina, and everything else that is necessary are requested and much appreciated!

Monday, March 7, 2022

March 2022 - CLC World 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

– The building project of the HCLCN is almost complete.  Raju and his family have recently moved from Kathmandu to the Chitwan district, where the new HCLCN seminary and headquarters building is located.  The building will be dedicated, and seminary classes will begin in late March when Missionary Ohlmann is scheduled to visit.  With a lifting of Covid restrictions, the HCLCN is planning to start more preaching stations and continue construction and repairs on church buildings in the coming months.  Thank the Lord for His continued blessings on the building project as final preparations are made for the dedication and the beginning of classes.  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 Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray also for those who will be reached with the Gospel during the upcoming evangelism trips, that many will hear, repent, believe in Jesus, and rejoice with us in God’s grace and mercy!
Bangladesh –Pastor Monotosh reports that the individuals who were assaulted because of their faith in Jesus have been released from the hospital and are slowly recovering from their injuries.  Pastor Monotosh has been busy in recent weeks with evangelism efforts.  A pastoral training seminar for fourteen pastors and elders of the BLCM and several evangelism seminars are being planned while Missionary Ohlmann will be in Bangladesh.  Give thanks to our Savior for the healing granted to His disciples who have suffered for His name’s sake.  Ask the Lord to continue to bless both the preaching and hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the evangelism efforts scheduled in Bangladesh. 
Myanmar – Life continues to be difficult for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar as the military junta continues to rule with brutality.  Many protestors have been imprisoned, killed, or are missing.  The military continues to make it difficult for Christians to gather for worship and prayer.  Most government offices and services remain closed along with banks and financial institutions.  Food and daily necessities are scarce, and prices have increased.  We are thankful that the Lord has provided an opportunity to send funds to Myanmar again so that we may help our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Pray for justice and peace for all the people of Myanmar.  Pray especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ that the Lord will grant them strength, courage, and boldness during these difficult times.
Togo – The classroom and small dormitory construction is almost finished on church land north of Lomé. Classes with a new cohort of students are scheduled to begin on March 21st.  The long-term plan for this property is to serve as the church headquarters and Bible institute.  Missionary Evensen has been busy translating and printing lessons for the new semester.  Pray that the Lord would bless these new buildings, the truth of God’s word that will be taught there, and the students who will study to prepare for the Gospel ministry in Togo. 
Tanzania – Classes with a new cohort of ten students have recently begun at the Wittenberg Lutheran Theological Seminary of the CLC-Tanzania.  These students will spend the first year studying basic theology, Bible History, and English as they prepare for seminary classes next January.  Ask for the Lord’s blessings on these new students and those called to teach and train them. 
Kenya – Ted Quade, who is called by the CLC Bd of Missions to serve as the Christian School Instructor Supervisor, and Missionary Ohlmann recently returned from visiting the two schools in Kenya that are supported through offerings to Kinship.  Plans to strengthen the spiritual training of the teachers and students were discussed and have already begun.  A water well project at the school in Moi’s Bridge and a solar energy system to run the pump and provide lights for some classrooms have been completed. Give thanks to the Lord for His many blessings and ask Him to continue to bless the teachers, students, and the staffs of St. David’s Kinship School and Emmaus Millimani School as they grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
India – One of the district leaders of the BELC has been suffering with some serious medical issues.  He has undergone several tests and is being treated with medicines.  Ask the Lord to bless the medical treatments and grant His servant strength and healing.  Pray for continued protection against persecution in India and for increased boldness and confidence to spread the Gospel amid these dangers.   
2022 Mission Helper Trip – The CLC Mission Helper Trips in 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the pandemic.  Plans are currently underway for a trip to East Africa (Tanzania, Zambia, and Kenya) in July of 2022.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ in East Africa are eager for the Mission Helper Teams to come again to assist them in the work of proclaiming God’s saving word.  Pray that our Savior will clear any obstacles that may stand in the way of this trip and that plans will go smoothly.
Uganda – Pastor Daniel Mugeni has studied with CLC missionaries and attended pastoral conferences in Kenya for many years.  Missionary Mike Gurath and Board of Doctrine member Pastor Andrew Schaller are conducting the formal process of reviewing Pastor Mugeni’s doctrinal positions for a possible recommendation for a declaration of fellowship.  Pray that the Lord would bless this process of establishing God-pleasing fellowship.
Zambia, D.R. Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, 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 – continues to translate Online Theological Studies lessons and courses into French for use in Togo and other French-speaking nations in Africa and elsewhere.  He has also been busy getting coursework, textbooks, and lessons ready for the new cohort of students that will begin seminary classes on March 21st.  Ask for the Lord’s continued blessings on the translation work and course preparation so that many more can benefit from learning the truths of God’s saving word in their language that many more will be well prepared to serve in the Gospel ministry.
Missionary Ohlmann – is currently working with our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM).  After spending two weeks in Bangladesh, he will fly to Kathmandu, where he will work with the pastors and leaders of the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN) to spread the Gospel and train pastors and teachers.  He is scheduled to visit twelve congregations and preaching stations of the BLCM and teach a three-day pastoral training seminar.  While in Nepal, he will be on hand for the dedication of the new HCLCN building and the opening of the Himalayan Lutheran Bible Institute.  He will also have the opportunity to preach and teach at several congregations and preaching stations and present a two-day pastoral training seminar.  Ask the Lord to bless his travels and to clear any obstacles that may stand in the way of his travels and work.  Thank the Lord for this opportunity to assist in the work of proclaiming the Gospel in these nations where less than 5% of the population confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The Philippines – Correspondence continues with an independent Lutheran pastor in the Philippines.  This pastor has recently completed the first introductory Online Theological Study based on the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose.  A first face-to-face visit is tentatively planned for some time in 2022.  Pray that the Lord would continue to bless this correspondence, that it will lead to a God-pleasing unity of faith and teaching.  Ask the Lord to provide opportunities and all that is necessary for Pastor Jordan to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ!
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.  Thank the Lord for the privilege of teaching the truths of His saving Word to others!  Pray for these individuals and all those around the world that we are working with as they seek to grow in their understanding of God’s Word to be better equipped to spread the Good News of our Savior Jesus Christ!

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