Mani Kumar is a fourth-year seminary student at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries’ (CELM) seminary in Guntur, India. In May he will be graduating from the seminary after traveling to Guntur for two weeks out of every month for the last seven years in order to learn more about God, God’s Word, and shepherding God’s people. It’s an exciting time for all seminary students as they can look forward to being pastors of the CELM and sharing the truth of God’s grace for many years to come.
Mani and the other seminary graduates will face a number of challenges after graduation and throughout their ministries as they shepherd God’s people in India. The Hindu-dominated culture will create many difficult barriers to the gospel in cities and villages throughout India. The popular false teachings of other groups in India will threaten to rob the members of their flocks of God’s pure grace. The poverty of the members in their flocks will give the devil many opportunities to create doubt and fear within the hearts of their members and within their own hearts as well. The sometimes isolated life of the villages will make it difficult for them and for their members to know the support and fellowship they have with fellow CELM Christians.
WELS friendly counselors have developed a long range plan so that Mani, his classmates, and his future fellow pastors can better face and overcome these challenges. Friendly counselors will continue to mentor the national faculty so students like Mani can have more national-led training in their own language, and the curriculum will continue to be strengthened so that they can be as prepared as possible to shepherd their flocks. Through the seminary’s publications program they hope to provide an ever-growing variety of Telugu materials so Mani and the rest of the CELM workers and lay leaders can teach and proclaim God’s Word more effectively in their towns and villages. The national faculty at the seminary will also conduct annual visits in order to evaluate, encourage, and mentor the pastors and lay leaders throughout the CELM in evangelism, administration, stewardship, fellowship, and education. This will help build up a solid body of believers eager to serve the Lord together.
By strengthening the national church body the friendly counselors hope to provide Mani with a solid support system for his gospel ministry so that he and the Christians under his care can reach more groups with the message of God’s grace in Christ. The counselors also hope to explore the many ways in this modern world they can reach out and bring more leaders into the church in India, giving them the tools they need to serve faithfully in God’s Church.
So with his graduation approaching, join the WELS friendly counselors in India in praying for Mani, his classmates, and his future fellow workers who will be serving congregations in a country that so desperately needs the comfort of God’s grace. May God grant them abundant courage and wisdom so generations of Indians can know the love and peace found in Christ.
By Friendly Counselor Brock Groth
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