New opportunities, new strategies

Mark G. Schroeder

On his second missionary journey, the apostle Paul, together with Silas, Timothy, and Luke, was in the city of Troas. It was there, during the night, that God gave Paul a vision that would usher in a whole new chapter in the spread of the gospel. A man from Macedonia (just across the Aegean Sea in Greece) pleaded with Paul, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul recognized this as a call from God himself. Immediately, he and his companions sailed to Macedonia. It was the first time that the gospel would be preached in Europe.

Our synod has been blessed with opportunities to spread the gospel around the world. We are working to spread the gospel and plant confessional Lutheran churches in 23 countries, and our Board for World Missions continually is planning to expand the work to other countries.

Traditionally, WELS has worked to develop new mission fields by sending WELS missionaries to places where they proclaimed the gospel and established Lutheran congregations and, eventually, sister Lutheran church bodies. But more and more, new opportunities are coming to us, not as a result of careful planning and analysis, but because God himself is placing them before us.

With increasing frequency, we are hearing the requests of people and groups who, like the man from Macedonia, are asking us to “come over and help!” These groups are not looking for financial support nor are they asking WELS to send missionaries. They are looking to us to help them train faithful Lutheran pastors to serve their people with the pure message of the gospel.

In some cases, these are Lutheran groups that have recognized that they need to separate from the liberal Lutheran churches with whom they have been associated. That is the case with Rev. Dr. Kebede Yigezu, the founder and president of the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia. To meet the needs of his growing church body, he has established a theological school where WELS can assist in the training of future pastors.

In Kenya, a group of 20 pastors and 50 congregations have left their previous church body and are looking to establish fellowship with WELS. In Ethiopia and other countries that border South Sudan, South Sudanese refugees are requesting our help in training pastors to serve people in the refugee camps. One of the most amazing opportunities is taking place in, of all locations, Vietnam. There, surviving for years without trained pastors, a Hmong church body of 70,000 members has asked our synod to teach them Lutheran doctrine.

These are just a few examples. Our synod has received requests from spiritual leaders around the world to provide more than 300 men with the theological training that will enable them to proclaim God’s truth to the people they serve.

To meet this growing opportunity, the Joint Mission Council and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary have partnered to establish the Pastoral Studies Institute Team. The team will coordinate and oversee the training of pastors where they live through a flexible program of theological instruction. We can be thankful for the rapid way in which our mission boards have responded to the increasing opportunities God is giving us to share the gospel with more and more people. He has promised us that his Word will not return to him empty but will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it (Isaiah 55:11). We are seeing that promise being kept in ways and in locations that we could not have imagined only a few years ago.

Keep these efforts and the people we are serving in your prayers.

Learn more about these mission opportunities at wels.net/missions.

 


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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 104, Number 1
Issue: January 2017

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