By Sarah Reinsel
On Friday, Aug. 18, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Office of International Mission (OIM) hosted a Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate missionaries who have recently finished their service, recognize alumni missionaries and send first-time missionaries to the mission field.
The day began with a Service of Thanksgiving, held during daily chapel at the LCMS International Center (IC) in St. Louis, followed by a luncheon and fellowship.
After chapel, the following missionaries were honored for coming to the end of their service:
- Alyssa (Anders) Knock, who served in Turkey from 2015 to 2016 and Russia from 2016 to 2020;
- The Rev. Joel and Deaconess Clarion Fritsche and children Victor, Sergei and Andrei, who served in the Dominican Republic from 2014 to 2023; and
- John and Erica Tape and daughter Sophie, who served in the Dominican Republic from 2021 to 2023.
Reflecting on her years as a missionary in Russia, Knock remarked, “It’s an encouragement to people … to know that there are people from a totally different country who are so passionate about the message of Christ crucified that they’re willing to travel and move to your country. … The church is an amazing thing.”
The Day of Thanksgiving also marked the end of eight weeks of new missionary orientation for three new missionaries.
The Rev. Bryan and Deaconess Keah Payne, along with their children, Serenity and Dalton, will begin their mission work in Tanzania.
“When we’re able to integrate into the new culture and the new society, then we’re able to preach Christ crucified so much better because we know the people, and we know their needs, and we even know their language. [Our training] has given us a great foundation to do that,” said Rev. Payne.
“The amount of people who are praying for us, and the IC, which is full of people who are here to support, make us able to go and freely speak [the Gospel],” said Deaconess Payne.
Debbie Dyjak, who is currently enrolled in the online deaconess program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, will begin mission work in Latvia.
“We had chapel every morning, Vespers every evening. Pastor Daenzer [IC chaplain] came and talked yesterday on suffering, we were reading Scripture together, we prayed before all our meals — we were totally immersed in the Word of God. It was nothing like any other orientation I’ve had with any other job,” said Dyjak.
Dyjak also remarked that longtime friends — including one of her grade school teachers and her youth group leader — were very influential in her becoming a missionary.
Preaching for the Service of Thanksgiving, the Rev. James A. Krikava, OIM associate executive director, advised new missionaries:
“As you hone your gift of tongues, in your new field and language, you will find how your limitations will serve to make you sharper in sharing the wisdom of God, instead of your own. Take advantage of it. Learn your Bible passages in the new language. You’ve memorized the catechism — memorize it in the new language, and you will become a blessing to the people that you serve.
“In this way,” Krikava continued, “you will comfort and raise up fearful consciences with the forgiveness won on the cross by Jesus, now distributed and given through His resurrection from the dead, and continuing with us always, even to the end of the age, with Word and Sacrament.”
Posted Sept. 7, 2023