by Melanie Ave
The 41 LCMS missionaries and their families serving in Eurasia are part of a great Christian heritage.
They are sharing the Gospel in the places where the Apostle Paul once journeyed on a tireless trek to share the message of Christ with the Gentiles. They are living near the birthplace of the Reformation. They are working among lands with a history of 1,000 years of Orthodox Christianity.
A century ago, 66 percent of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Today that number is less than 26 percent. Eurasia today is a vast mission field that needs to hear the Gospel.
Our LCMS missionaries in Eurasia live in 15 countries and work in 22 countries that have a total population exceeding 1 billion people, about 40 percent of whom are Muslim. Much of their work is done in concert with partner Lutheran church bodies.
“We know who’s directing the mission,” said the Rev. Dr. Brent Smith, LCMS regional director for Eurasia. “It’s God’s mission.”
Smith said missionaries are regularly connecting the people of Eurasia to the resources of the LCMS so they might hear the saving Word of God. Their work is focused on those who have never heard of Christ and those who have heard, but do not yet believe in Christ as their Savior.
Missionaries are involved with church planting, theological education, music instruction, agriculture, human-care efforts and prison ministry.
At the Lutheran Bible School in Darkhan, Mongolia, students from Buddhist and Communist backgrounds gather regularly to read the Bible under the direction of Lutheran pastors in a building that once housed soldiers in the days of the Soviet Union.
Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) missionaries serve in nine locations and interact with about 3,000 students on a regular basis. Theological educators recently trained 250 students in collaboration with seven seminaries.
The LCMS partnered with a mobile medical van, which treated 36,000 women and children and distributed 7,500 eyeglasses. Thousands of bushels of grain have been harvested through a community partnership. Through these acts of mercy, the love of God in Christ is made tangible, providing an open door to sharing the Gospel.
The Rev. Jon Muhly, an LCMS missionary in Eurasia, tells the story of a woman named Irina in Kyrgyzstan who was raised Muslim, but came to faith in Christ after participating in daily Bible studies overseen by LCMS teams. Her husband, a Muslim, gave her a seven-day deadline to give up Christ or give up her family. The night of her deadline, Muhly said, the woman did the only thing she knew to do — pray.
“Her husband saw her praying in tears and relented, saying he wanted to stay married no matter what,” he said. “God strengthened Irina’s faith and witness through this trial. Her story is typical of how God often works quite personally among Muslims and the intense community pressure they face as the price of faith.”
LCMS work in Eurasia
- 22 countries
- 11 partner churches
- 19 career missionaries
- 6 contracted missionaries
- 4 alliance missionaries
(clergy from partner churches)
- 12 GEO missionaries serving
one to two years
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