Dr. Michael K. Rodewald, regional director for Africa with the LCMS Office of International Mission, will begin work June 1, 2014, as executive director of Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) in Aurora, Ill.
Rodewald, 61, a former LBT missionary, joined the Synod’s mission team in Africa in January 2008 as area facilitator. In September of that year he became interim regional director, and in January 2009 he accepted a call to that position. He plans to continue as regional director, based in Pretoria, South Africa, until he joins LBT next June.
In his new LBT position he will succeed Marshall R. Gillam, who retires Dec. 31 after 14 years in the post. David Snyder, director of Program Ministries with LBT, will serve as interim executive director until June 1.
Rodewald has nearly 30 years of mission experience in Africa, where much of LBT’s translation and literacy efforts are focused. From 1981 to 1987, he was an LBT missionary in Liberia, and from 1991 to 2007 he and his wife, Cindy, were LBT missionaries in Liberia and Botswana. Their work included overseeing several translation and literacy projects.
Michael Rodewald holds a Ph.D. in Missiology from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Texas, Arlington; and a B.A. in Music Education from Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau. He and his wife have three teenaged sons who attend school in the U.S.
In his current position, Rodewald oversees LCMS mission work on the African continent. Cindy Rodewald also serves the Synod’s Office of International Mission (OIM) — as volunteer coordinator for Southern Africa.
“The Office of International Mission will miss Dr. Rodewald’s leadership and expertise in Africa; however, the church will continue to benefit from his lifelong commitment to sharing the Gospel with all peoples of all nations,” said LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Gregory K. Williamson. “We wish Mike God’s blessings in his ministry, and we look forward to a vibrant partnership with him in his new leadership role.”
OIM Executive Director Rev. Randall L. Golter said Rodewald “has served faithfully for many years. We will miss greatly the wisdom he has brought to the African mission field, along with the work of his dear wife, Cindy, as well.”
Rodewald told Reporter via email that “it has been really awesome to be a part of this time in mission in which we are experiencing rapid growth in many Lutheran church bodies in Africa. Participating in God’s mission here has given me the opportunity to see God at work through His people in Africa in ways that many from the U.S context do not get to experience.”
Acknowledging that there are many challenges to doing mission work, Rodewald said “God is faithful and His Word continues to bear much fruit as it is proclaimed. I admire and have enjoyed leading the LCMS missionaries who live and serve here, sometimes under much hardship and uncertainty, alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa.”
Rodewald said he has “mixed feelings” about leaving the African continent, where he has lived and worked for nearly three decades.
“Lessons are usually learned by making mistakes, and thus, cross-cultural experience can be hard-earned,” he said. “I can only say thank you to the graciousness of my friends in Africa who over the years have advised and corrected me. It is with sadness that our family leaves friends, even as we look forward to new relationships that shall be made serving as executive director of LBT.”
Rodewald said he is “honored to participate” in LBT’s vision of making “God’s Word available to those who otherwise would never have a chance to hear.”
Lutheran Bible Translators — which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014 — currently manages 22 Bible-translation and 50 Scripture-engagement projects among 51 language groups worldwide. LBT is an LCMS Recognized Service Organization.
For more information, visit its website at lbt.org.