ST. LOUIS — Twenty new missionaries — along with their 40 family members — began an intensive two-week orientation by the Synod here on June 22 to prepare for service in 13 countries around the globe.
That number represents continued successful recruitment efforts toward doubling the number of LCMS career missionaries on the field to 136 by 2016 — as called for by the 2013 Synod convention.
The missionaries — slated for East and West Africa, Latin America, Eurasia, Asia Pacific and Southern Asia — will serve in diverse roles, including as nurses, evangelists, deaconesses, theological educators and international-school chaplains.
“Missionaries are the people Christ has called to go out into all the world and speak the Gospel,” said the Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, associate executive director for the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM). “These men, women and children have given up everything they know to do this. For us at the Office of International Mission, there is no higher priority than caring for those entrusted to us. They are the very means by which Christ spreads His salvation so people may believe and by believing have eternal life.”
Missionary orientation is the first major step in a missionary assignment. It provides information, experiences and study materials that will help establish a solid foundation on which new missionaries build as they prepare for missionary service. It provides specific training for their ministry assignments and an introduction to the LCMS staff and structure that will support missionaries during their international deployment.
Because of the increasing number of missionaries now being sent abroad, the LCMS now offers missionary orientation twice a year — once in the winter and once in the summer, with the possibility of a third one in the fall. An addition to this summer’s orientation is the introduction of resources by DOXOLOGY, a Lutheran nonprofit and Recognized Service Organization, that are designed to meet the needs of those deploying to foreign fields and to give missionaries additional support and care. Also new to this orientation is special programming for women and accompanying spouses, with topics related to spiritual care, marriage and helping families deal with transitions.
The orientation will culminate with a special “sending service” at 2 p.m. July 2 in the LCMS International Center chapel. The special Divine Service with Holy Communion, followed by a reception, is open to the public.
The LCMS has been involved in mission and outreach since 1851, when it established its first mission board and sent its first overseas missionary to India in 1895. Today, the LCMS trains, sends and supports called and appointed long-term and short-term missionaries throughout the United States and in various countries around the world — where there are mission stations, partner churches, schools and mission relationships. To find out more about the missionaries, or to support their efforts, download their prayer cards at lcms.org/prayercards.
Also, in a video message, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison shares both the history of LCMS missionary work and looks to the future as LCMS missionaries continue to share the Gospel of Christ around the globe. For that video, click here.
(Reporter Online will include a story about more of this summer’s missionary orientation after it concludes July 2. — Ed.)
(Corrections: June 25, 2015 — An earlier version of this story reported 21 new missionaries and 44 family members attending the two-week orientation. There are 20 missionaries and 40 family members.)
Posted June 23, 2015 / Updated June 25, 2015