By Megan K. Mertz
TAMPA, Fla. — In 1894, the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States — now known as The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) — called the Rev. Theodore Naether to be its first official missionary. Naether arrived in India the next year, where he spent the rest of his life working tirelessly to spread the Gospel.
Now 125 years later, the Synod continues to send missionaries around the world. Some 130 full-time LCMS missionaries — including a relative of Naether — are currently serving in various locations, and they go with the prayers and financial support of more than 1,900 LCMS congregations.
On Sunday, July 21, delegates to the 67th Regular Convention of the LCMS adopted Res. 2-01 to “give thanks to God for the international missionaries past and present, for the [Office of International Mission (OIM)], and for the Synod’s previous international missionary sending and supporting agencies.” (Watch the video shown at the convention here.)Watch 125th anniversary video
Throughout the week, delegates learned about the work taking place in the OIM’s four world regions: Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eurasia, and Africa.
“I bring you joyful greetings in Christ from your Asia missionaries, from our partner church bodies and from countless Lutherans in Asia,” the Rev. Charles Ferry, director of the Synod’s Asia region, said during his presentation on Monday, July 22.
Ferry talked about the witness and mercy work taking place in India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Cambodia and elsewhere.
“We equip them with tools and resources to spread the Gospel and show mercy. We encourage those who face opposition inside and outside of the church. Through this work, we support their efforts to evangelize their friends, neighbors and family,” Ferry continued.
And this same type of mission work is happening around the globe, including Eurasia.
“Today many Christians think, why Europe, why Russia or Central Asia? Don’t they already have the Gospel? Actually, no,” said the Rev. James A. Krikava, associate executive director of Regional Operations for Eurasia and Asia. “In Europe there are still places where the Gospel of Christ is not known and the true Lutheran understanding of it even less so.”
Krikava highlighted a few of his team’s efforts in Romania, the Czech Republic, Russia and among refugees in Germany. (Watch a video about the work in Romania.)
The Rev. Ted Krey, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, talked about the state of mission work — both past and present — in his region of the world. The LCMS sent two missionaries to Brazil in 1900.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil grew out of that early effort, and it now has 2,000 congregations with a goal to plant 500 more in the future.
Krey noted that this is just one example of how the LCMS commits to mission work for the long haul. “Our work is normally 75 years, that is to say, three generations in one place,” he said.
Finally, on Wednesday, July 24, the Rev. Gary Schulte, area director for West and Central Africa, and the Rev. Shauen Trump, area director for Eastern and Southern Africa, both gave updates on mission work in Africa.
From Togo to Mozambique, the LCMS is involved with spreading the Gospel, training church workers and planting congregations — and the church is growing.
“There is an eagerness, an openness, a field ripe for harvest in this part of the world, where people seek out the church, where people go to great lengths to find a pastor, where the Spirit uses whatever mechanism He wills to reach His people and then draw them to faith by Word and Sacrament,” Trump said.
Following each international presentation, delegates adopted a resolution — Res. 2-02, 2-03, 2-04 and 2-05 — to give thanks to God for the work of the OIM in the four world regions.
The convention also recognized all the current and former missionaries in attendance.
Posted July 25, 2019
The 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod met July 20–25 in Tampa, Fla., at the Tampa Convention Center under the theme “Joy:fully Lutheran.” For more convention news: