By Cheryl Magness
On Aug. 30, during a Service of Installation at the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) International Center (IC) in St. Louis, Mark Wolfram was installed as Mobilization and Training manager for the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM).
In his role, which he began on June 28, Wolfram assists missionaries in making the various transitions required of their missionary service: to the mission field at the beginning of their service; between the mission field and the U.S. at various times during their service; and from the mission field to the U.S. at the end of their service.
At Wolfram’s installation, the Rev. Stephen Oliver, LCMS missionary to Asia, and theological educator at China Lutheran Seminary in Hsinchu, Taiwan, preached on Mark 10:42–45: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”
Oliver, who met Wolfram when they both worked in Taiwan, said that, for missionaries, Wolfram’s position at the IC is “the greatest of all” because of its day-to-day importance in the average missionary’s life.
“When I was called to be a missionary and go to Taiwan 19 years ago,” Oliver said, “I didn’t know who was the director of this and that at the IC.” He said, however, that he did know the person who was serving as Mobilization and Training manager at the time, because he was “busy, doing big things and little things to get missionaries out there.”
“To us missionaries,” Oliver said, that was “the best position in the IC” because “he was the servant of all.” Yet Oliver emphasized that all service starts with Jesus because “there’s no way we can serve unless Jesus serves us.”
After the installation service, Wolfram’s father, the Rev. Michael Wolfram of Spirit Lake, Iowa, noted that his son comes from a long line of Lutheran pastors. Mark Wolfram’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Ernst Moritz Buerger was part of the 1838 Saxon immigration to Perry County, Mo. Buerger later left Perry County, settled in Buffalo, N.Y., and founded a congregation in West Seneca, N.Y. Buerger wrote in his memoirs that “all my forefathers, as far back as 1679, or back to my great-great-grand-father, lived in Saxony, not far from Dresden, and were pastors in the Lutheran Church.”
Wolfram grew up in Western Iowa, graduating from Iowa State University in May 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Following graduation, he accepted a solemn appointment to serve as an LCMS GEO (Globally Engaged in Outreach) missionary in Taiwan, where he taught English and Bible at Concordia Middle School for 10 years.
While in Taiwan, Wolfram completed his Lutheran teacher certification through CUEnet in coordination with Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. (CUI). He also earned his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction through CUI. In 2015, he accepted a call to Dallas Lutheran School, Dallas, Tex., where he served as a teacher and coach until accepting the call as a missionary.
Wolfram and his wife, Hua-Hsin (Lucy) Tsai Wolfram, met at Salvation Lutheran Church in Taiwan. Mrs. Wolfram is a graduate of the counseling program at China Lutheran Seminary in Taiwan and worked on the Taiwan hymnal project, which was completed in March 2019. She continues to work on other translation projects for the Synod.
Wolfram said, “It is such a blessing to be called to work in the Office of International Mission, knowing that we are all working together to fulfill the Great Commission. Helping to send and support missionaries as they share the Gospel throughout the entire world is a humbling and exciting vocation.
“Knowing my family’s roots in the LCMS adds depth and meaning that I can’t put into words. God is good, and it is a tremendous blessing that He has allowed my family to be part of His work and His mission through many generations.”
Posted Sept. 25, 2019