Bluffton

The Bluffton mission start is ongoing.  New Hope Lutheran Church of Ossian, Indiana has agreed to be the mother congregation for the Bluffton mission start.  Rev. Dr. Geoffrey L. Robinson is coordinating and assisting in this mission start.  Rev. Robinson’s work is done in consultation with Rev. Daniel Burfiend who is the pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church.

Geneva

Geneva mission start is ongoing. Rev. Peter Brock, pastor of Saint John Lutheran Church in Bingen, Indiana is the supervising pastor of this mission start. Shawn Barnett is the new vicar who will be working in the Geneva Mission under the supervision of Rev. Peter Brock for the 2022/2023 year of vicarage. The outgoing vicar, Vicar Armbrecht, reports, “Pastor Sauls and I continue to teach and listen among the residents of Geneva, particularly those who are neglected by other churches and organizations. Our Bible studies continue on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, working through Genesis and Matthew (respectively) and teaching Luther’s Small Catechism as well. Through conversation, devotions from God’s Word, and prayer, relationships have been established which may, if the Lord wills, result in attendance in Bible study and Sunday worship. It is a slow process, calling for patience and endurance; yet the Lord’s Word continues to go out, calling sinners of all kinds into His Church, where Jesus reigns with His forgiveness.”

Tanzania

The Indiana District – LCMS is supporting mission work in Tanzania. The Board of Directors in their December 2020 meeting approved a reallocation of $200,000 of unused funds from the “Congregations in Need” fund to support the Tanzania Mission Effort. $100,000 was allocated in 2021. Another $100,000 will be allocated in 2022.

If you or your congregation are interested in supporting the work of our Lord in Tanzania, please contact Pastor Peter Brock at PastorBrock@gmail.com

 

 

Tanzania ELCT-SELVD Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – Southeast of Lake Victoria Diocese

 

  1. Introduction

Since the early 2000s, the LCMS has worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – Southeast of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELCT-SELVD), of which Emmanuel Makala is bishop. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, the Mid-south District (with President Paavola and Bob Allen), the Indiana District, and St. John, Bingen have collaborated to support the theological education and confessional identity of the SELVD since 2013, when the program was developed and implemented for the Bishop Makala Training Centre. This effort has seen extraordinary progress and success over the years as more and more solidly trained pastors are sent to teach the Word of God in truth and purity and administer the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution. Moreover, three orphanage homes and a medical center have been built to serve the bodily needs of albino and other vulnerable individuals, and by God’s grace a seminary will soon be established.

The ELCT-SELVD Cathedral

The inside of the Cathedral.

Students at the Cathedral school.

II. Missions

At first not much more than a parsonage and chapel, students laid the bricks donated for the Bishop Makala Training Center during their off-hours, building dorms, classrooms, a kitchen area, and a new meeting hall. The church uses loudspeakers in their worship services, whereas the classrooms are reverently quiet, the students speaking so softly that professors often approach each individually to hear them.

Classroom, Library, and LWML Training Room (2014)

Chapel and New Meeting Hall (behind chapel – 2020)

Gathering for annual symposium in front of new meeting hall (2022)

Adapted from a CTSFW report:

The training center is located on the outskirts of nowhere for three reasons: ‍‍
1.   The first baptism in Tanzania took place under a tree here in 1969 (a number which has now grown into a church fast approaching 7 million members).
2.   Rather than settle near Lake Victoria where the land is lush and green, the church wanted to prepare their pastors and deaconesses for life in the villages, under the hottest and driest conditions.
3.   For what Dr. Peter Scaer calls “holy isolation;” the students here have no distractions during their two years of study.

As for the singing: “Oh, the singing,” Dr. Scaer writes. “Better in their smaller groups, I think, than with the amps and electronics. Just pure harmony, heavenly and sweet. So, I ask for a hymn, a song, before every class period. When I do, the room fills with ricocheting whispers, as they decide. One woman becomes the choir director. Three of the men take to desk tapping to provide the rhythm section. Lutherans sing. Tanzanians sing. Lutheran Tanzanians? Glorious.”‍‍‍‍‍

Tanzanian evangelists thus travel village to village and hut to hut, bringing three tools with them: God’s Word, a pair of scissors, and water. They begin by telling the story of salvation: creation, the fall, and God’s plan of redemption in Christ. The scissors are then used to cut off the unholy charms that many Tanzanians wear to ward off harmful spirits, performing a kind of exorcism. Finally, the convert is baptized with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Evangelists set up preaching posts in these villages, which become a church once 75 are gathered in His name.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍The ELCT and the LCMS are moving ever closer to an official partnership with each other. The Tanzanians desire this tie with a confessional Lutheran church, “And,” Dr. Scaer adds, “as fellow members of Christ’s body, we need the fellowship of the Tanzanians, whose joy is infectious, and whose vitality reminds us why we go to church in the first place.”

The aim has always been to serve the SELVD toward both a solid confessional presence in Tanzania and ecclesiastical and academic self-sufficiency. To that end, CTSFW has sent professors to the Bishop Makala Training Centre to teach the seminarians and deaconess students, thus preparing men and women for faithful service in Tanzania. Additionally, several of the most promising pastors have been identified for additional study at CTSFW. They are now concluding that additional education. For example, Pastor Odolous (pictured at right) graduated with an MA on November 13, 2020 with the financial support of St. John, Bingen. These men who have completed or are nearing completion of their further education are the “senior leadership” in Tanzania.

The ELCT-SELVD is now prepared to establish their seminary, and by God’s grace the Indiana District has pledged $150,000 over the next three years in financial support of that goal. Working with the SELVD and OIM, planning and preparation continues both here and in Tanzania toward establishing the seminary in Shinyanga. A group from St. John, Bingen will travel to Tanzania in July 2022 carrying over 1,100 pounds of books to begin building the seminary library.

 

 

 

 

Pictured to the left are Ibrahim Kipiki and Nzinyangwa Mkiramweni, two Tanzanian men currently studying at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne with the financial support of the Indiana District

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first cohort (above – 2014) compared to the pastors and deaconesses now serving the SELVD (below – 2021)

III. Mercy

The ELCT has grown through both the baptism of babies and evangelism, despite (or perhaps because of) the many hostile forces around her. Muslims live in the cities and western anti-human ideologies have begun to creep into the country, and the land is beset by the old tribal religions. At their worst, witch doctors take the body parts of albinos (common in this corner of the world) and sell them as amulets and charms; a hand, Dr. Scaer was told, can go for as much as $10,000. Their body parts are thought to have magical powers that make one rich, successful, and powerful.

Catechumens presented for baptism.

The woman in the middle was a former Muslim, baptized the day this photo was taken to be a child of God in Christ.

 

The home of a witch doctor.

Pictures below are from the government-run, overcrowded orphanage in Shinyanga. Because most private dwellings do not have doors or windows, the threat to these children’s lives causes many parents to bring them to the orphanage in Shinyanga where they are protected from the threats of tribal religious practices by walls and guards. However, the government-run orphanage is severely under-funded and overcrowded, causing these children to live in very sad conditions. Moreover, as a developing country, it is not uncommon for funds sent in support of these children to be “re-directed” or lost entirely. The church does charity better than the government, so read on!

In 2021, St. John, Bingen built the first orphanage, or “Vulnerable Children’s Home,” on the campus of the Lutheran Boarding School in Mwadui. This is an ideal location for an albino orphanage for several reasons: 1) it’s located in a diamond mine so security is very tight (thus, it is safe); 2) it is on the campus of the boarding school, so children will be incorporated into “normal life” rather than segregated at the public orphanage; and 3) both their body and soul will be served as they are properly cared for and raised in the fear and instruction of the Lord. Construction is complete on the first home and children have been welcomed. With the support of LCEF and OIM, two additional homes are nearing completion for a total of three. Funds are continually being collected to support the children living there and who will live at the two additional homes. Individuals, families, and congregation may sponsor a specific child on an annual basis at the cost of $1,100.00 per year. Sponsorship at that level will provide education, security, and personal needs. Those who sponsor a child may receive information about the child so as to pray for the child and possibly communicate with them as appropriate and possible.

 

The Vulnerable Children’s Home at Mwadui

St. John, Bingen in Decatur, IN has provided humanitarian aid to the albino children since 2014. The following pictures are medicine, rice, and beans donated to the children there.

 

This newly built medical center sits mere yards away from the orphanage. It will serve the health needs of the children at the orphanage and boarding school as well as the local villages.

 

This is the rear of the medical center. The room to the right is the “pastor’s room” where he will meet with people that come to the medical center. Thus, not only their bodily needs but their spiritual needs as well will be served and supported.

 

The two additional homes nearing completion.

 

Bishop Makala conducting a quality control test of the beds in the orphanage.

Veronica, the first child welcomed to the orphanage. She was very weak, sickly, and without any clothes when the Lord brought her to us. And look how healthy she is now!

 

Albino children on their way to school, an opportunity they may not have otherwise had.

IV. Support

Opportunity for Support

This brings us to a turning point in the program and a momentous opportunity to serve the self-sufficiency of the ELCT-SELVD. Four younger men (considered “junior leaders”) who have demonstrated academic promise have been identified to come to CTSFW for an MA and STM, qualifying them to teach in Tanzania and moving a significant step forward in establishing a seminary in the SELVD. This has the potential to precipitate far-reaching effects not only in the SELVD but in neighboring dioceses who are showing interest in the work that has been done and are open to moving toward a more confessional doctrine and practice.

The estimated cost for educating these four men is $400,000 from 2021-2023. That figure represents $50,000 for each man per year and is all-inclusive (travel, room, board, etc.). CTSFW, the Midsouth District, and St. John, Bingen will continue their support. The Indiana District has also committed $100,000 per year for two year (2021-2023) to support this significant effort (funding two of the four men, pictured above, Ibrahim Kipiki and Nzinyangwa Mkiramweni, who have completed their first year of studies).

Furthermore, the mercy effort to serve the albino children, both body and soul, continues. As noted above, two additional homes are nearing completion for a total of three. The cost to care for each child is $1,100 per year, and St. John, Bingen is coordinating a sponsorship program for individuals, families, and/or congregations interested in supporting this effort. Those who sponsor a child will receive, as possible and appropriate, pictures and information about the child being sponsored. Some also choose to correspond with the child they sponsor, or even travel to Tanzania to meet them. For example, St. John, Bingen has a July 2022 trip organized for 23 members to visit the orphanage, training center, and churches in Tanzania.

If you or your congregation are interested in supporting the work of our Lord in Tanzania, please contact Pastor Peter Brock at PastorBrock@gmail.com

Outreach Kentucky

Rev. Dr. Vernon Wendt Jr. was installed as the pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Lexington, Kentucky on May 8, 2022.  Rev. Dr. Wendt is also serving as the mission developer for the Outreach Kentucky mission endeavor. Pictured are Rev. Dr. Wendt Jr. and his wife, Miran. Below is a video interview of Rev. Dr. Wendt on his installation day.

Download the latest updates from Outreach Kentucky here.