God builds his Church in Africa
Dear Christian Friend,
Greetings as we celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory with fellow members of his Church from around the world!
Last fall, along with WELS World Missions Administrator Larry Schlomer and Missionary Howard Mohlke (the head of our One Africa Team), I was privileged to visit two of our sister synods in Africa. The experience is one that I will never forget.
The first visit took place in Nairobi, Kenya. We were greeted at the airport by representatives of the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ—Kenya (LCMC-Kenya). The LCMC-Kenya broke away from another Lutheran church body that was no longer faithful to the Scriptures. For conscience reasons, LCMC-Kenya pastors left the security of assured salaries and support and made the courageous decision to form their own confessional Lutheran synod. The LCMC-Kenya was received into fellowship with WELS at our 2021 synod convention.
In Nairobi, Kenya, we had the opportunity to worship in a new partially constructed church building. That building was made possible in part by the generous support of WELS members like you. It will be completed when additional funds are available. (WELS does not provide salaries or operational support, but we do assist in building churches like this one.) We spent the next two days attending the synod convention of the LCMC-Kenya. The faith, zeal, and commitment of the pastors and lay people attending the convention was truly moving. In the days after the convention, visits to several congregations of the LCMC-Kenya took place, where members themselves are constructing new church buildings, again with partial support from WELS.
Later in the week we traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There we were greeted by Dr. Kebede Yigesu, the president of the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE). Like the LCMC-Kenya, the LCE was formed when Dr. Kebede and other pastors left their previous fellowship for doctrinal reasons. The LCE is also a relatively new sister synod of WELS, with fellowship declared at our 2017 synod convention.
One of the priorities of the LCE is Christian education. In a building in Bishoftu, made possible by the generous gifts of WELS members, Dr. Kebede operates a school with three levels of theological training. We were privileged to attend the graduation of four men who had completed various levels of study.
With his emphasis on Christian education, Dr. Kebede has also received the permission of the local government in the city of Dukem to operate a Lutheran elementary school. It will have an enrollment of 900 by next year. Visiting the school at the start of the school day, we were impressed by the enthusiasm of the students and the commitment of the teachers.
Our One Africa Team is also in discussions with other church bodies. The Obadiah Lutheran Synod of Uganda, after a couple of years of meetings and training, is scheduled to be welcomed into our fellowship at this summer’s WELS convention. Another exciting partnership is developing in Tanzania with a church body of over 100,000 people.
Consider how you can best support our African partners in ministry and our One Africa Team missionaries. Your prayers and gifts of love will support our African brothers and sisters as they faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in their countries.
Yours in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder
PS: Learn more about Africa and other WELS missions at Taste of Missions on June 10 at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. Register at tasteofmissions.com.
Prayer: Jesus, Head of the Church, we praise you for our Christian fellowship with churches around the world including the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ in Kenya and the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia. Through these partnerships we can take the gospel to more people than we could alone. We ask you to bless our sister synods by our Christian encouragement, financial support, and theological training. Continue to guide us, Lord, as you open more doors for sharing your saving love with others around the world. Amen.