By Kim Plummer Krull
Members of the Jesus Is Lord Mission (JILM) voted in June to provide financial support for 11 LCMS mission projects in eight countries, setting a goal of $185,088.
Judging from the group’s track record, they will be successful. Since 2002, JILM has never missed its annual goal, donating a total of more than $2.4 million to its only ministry partner — the LCMS.
“This is the type of organization that when they say they are going to come through, they do it,” said Ross Stroh, executive director of LCMS Accounting and Financial Services. “They have been and continue to be a very instrumental part of our international missions.”
Five of the new projects selected for JILM support are in African countries, including support for pastoral training and mission-training centers. Three projects — one project per country — are located in Russia, India and Sri Lanka, to help fund church planters and vicars, among others.
“We look to reach and touch people in the field; to train Christian co-workers as leaders to train their own people,” said the Rev. Dr. Glenn O’Shoney, a JILM co-founder and former executive director of LCMS World Mission and Texas District president.
The independent mission society began when four couples met in O’Shoney’s home in Walburg, Texas, drawn by what he calls the “task of reaching the lost with the Good News of Christ the Savior.”
With Zion Lutheran Church, Georgetown, Texas, serving as the group’s host congregation, the founders began making calls and writing letters to enlist others passionate about mission work.
Today, JILM has grown to 692 member families and organizations, including six LCMS congregations in Texas.
In addition to the opportunity to share the Gospel internationally, members appreciate JILM’s stewardship, says Fred Tscheulin, JILM volunteer coordinator.
With the help of LCMS administrative support and the helping hands of many JILM volunteers, the mission society “is able to run a very efficient operation and keep out-of-pocket expenses below five percent,” said Tscheulin.
In turn, international mission projects depend on JILM.
“We receive funding for missionaries, but lots of times we don’t have the money for projects for the missionaries to do their work,” Stroh said. JILM support “helps make possible the projects that deal with outreach, lay leadership and pastoral training.”
In April, JILM board members met at Zion, Georgetown, with LCMS leaders for what has become an annual review of proposed projects. LCMS representatives — the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, director of Church Relations; Hans Springer, associate executive director, Mission Advancement; Gregory Rommel, mission advocate, Mission Advancement; and Stroh — presented international mission goals and proposed a number of projects for JILM members to consider.
Projects in eight countries, three ‘restricted areas’
In June, JILM members approved the following projects recommended by their board:
- in Africa — Gambia, pastoral training, $4,232; Liberia, pastoral education scholarships, $5,282; Ghana, theological training, mission training centers, $3,182; continuing education, $3,182; missionary-led theological education, $4,200.
- Russia — Ingria outreach and church support, $22,000.
- India — church planters, vicar support, $42,000.
- Sri Lanka — vicar stipends, $26,460.
In addition, JILM designated a total of $74,550 for support in three unidentified “restricted” areas for spreading the Gospel through lay leaders, church-development expansion and evangelism outreach. The locales are not publicly identified due to “possible political consequences,” according to JILM leaders.
In presenting the projects to members, the Rev. John Heckmann, JILM president, acknowledged that some may question how the group could “support that many projects for that much money?”
“We can’t!” Heckmann exclaimed. “But God can and will, using each of us as a means to accomplish His goal of the extension of His Kingdom both here on earth and for eternity in heaven.”
To learn more about JILM, visit jilmission.org.
Kim Plummer Krull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted July 10, 2015