CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA
Thomas C. Spiegelberg II
As pastors, we feel confident that we have the one thing needful at our disposal—the Word of God. It will not return to the Lord empty but will carry out the purpose for which he has sent it.
Maybe what we are most ill-prepared for is the particular context to which God has called us—a new culture. Most home missionaries don’t have to learn a new language, but we sometimes need to empty ourselves of what we know and enjoy so we can share Jesus with a different culture. Sometimes we push back like Jonah. More often we swim in a mixture of the unknown, the intimidating, and the exciting world that we call home missions.
My calling is to an island that in and of itself is a unique place. The Denver Broncos is a household name in only one household—mine. Beef is a luxury. People here dance—and it is not the chicken dance. I have as much rhythm as a jellyfish. Every day I wake up and convince myself that I know nothing but Christ crucified and this is my calling to share.
Bringing the gospel to others comes at a personal cost—giving up your own familiar culture to understand and bridge the gap to what is unfamiliar. My challenge is the families whose circumstances and lives are different. Eighty-three percent of St. Lucian children born in 2010 were born into a single-family home. This speaks volumes on the family dynamic.
Ricky lives up the street from Trinity Lutheran Church. He lives in a small house made of two-by-fours and plywood. His family makes less than $5,000 a year.
Ricky is like most 12-year-old boys. He loves sports, especially soccer. He hates school and has fallen behind. The after-school programs at Trinity provide the educational help his family can’t afford elsewhere. He has few male role models, except for one of Trinity’s pastors, Bramdeo Ramgolam, who has a way of connecting with kids like Ricky. Ricky is nominally Catholic, which means he was baptized and goes to Christmas Eve Mass.
Typical to St. Lucia, he has a one-in-five chance of graduating high school with passing marks. He is back and forth between his mother’s house and his father’s house. His mother’s current boyfriend has been accused of molesting Ricky’s older sister. One afternoon, Ricky hid in church to avoid the domestic violence in his house. Such conflict is the rule rather than the exception.
Statistically speaking, Ricky will be unemployed until at least 24. He will not have enough academic background to hold a middle-class job. He will be related to someone who is murdered. He will know what a church is but not who Jesus is. He will father children but struggle at being a father.
That’s according to statistics.
We have a greater power than culture or statistics: Christ crucified and him alone.
What does a day in the life of a home missionary look like? Simply put, it means emptying yourself of everything you know except Christ crucified. It means figuring out how to bring the gospel to a kid like Ricky.
My job is personally challenging. I feel equipped with the Word but grossly inadequate in personal traits. My job is exciting, exotic, frustrating, challenging, and sad on any given day.
But my calling is filled with joy: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1).
My calling in Christ is confident: “The righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).
I love being a home missionary.
Tom Spiegelberg serves as a home missionary at Trinity, Castries, St. Lucia.
Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.
Learn more about WELS mission work in St. Lucia.
Author: Thomas C. Spiegelberg II
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016
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