On Dec. 3, Southeast Asian Lutheran Evangelical Mission (SALEM) celebrated 40 years of bringing the peace of the gospel to the people of Hong Kong. The theme for this anniversary year was “Strong in the grace of Jesus.” Six hundred members from SALEM’s ten churches gathered together along with a number of special guests for a joint worship service. In the evening, four hundred gathered for a traditional Cantonese banquet.
Pastor Titus Tse and the directors of SALEM led the celebration. Leaders from all of SALEM’s churches participated in some way as well as ten young people considering full-time ministry.
Special guests included Carol Schroeder, wife of SALEM’s first WELS missionary, Gary Schroeder. The Schroeders came to Hong Kong in 1975. Carol shared that they felt it was extremely important to take time to do two things—learn the local Cantonese language and spend time with people developing a relationship so that they could share the gospel.
Another guest was Mark Sprengeler, who began his service as a WELS missionary in Hong Kong in 1984. He learned Cantonese and helped start three congregations. Now retired, Sprengeler shared his experiences in still fluent Cantonese. He recalled teaching dozens of English classes a week, looking for opportunities to share the gospel. God was faithful, and many students became Christians.
Dr. John Lawrenz of Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong also encouraged those present. Asia Lutheran Seminary has been a key ministry to assist SALEM to train pastors and help dedicated laypeople grow spiritually.
In 2017, SALEM deepened its ties with sister churches around the world as it became a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference and declared official fellowship with WELS.
With solid theological roots, a strong outreach program, and an Asia Lutheran Seminary increasingly staffed by local pastors and teachers, SALEM can look forward with hope to the next 40 years.
Rob Siirila, WELS missionary to Hong Kong
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Author: Rob Siirila
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018
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