Hello All — The following comes from Missionary David Koenig, who is serving as the CLC on-site missionary in India. Our CLC mission program is supported primarily from local “mission” offerings to the CLC General Fund, as well as through your congregational contributions to the Mission Development Fund (MDF).
— Pastor Bruce Naumann, Mission Board Chairman
January 2008 Congo
We have an old expression that ‘the road to a friend’s house is never long.’ This also applies in our fellowship relationship overseas. Geographically it is a long ways from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Arusha, Tanzania. But one of our pastors in Congo made the long trip to attend our East African Pastoral Conference. Pastor Yumba readily participated in our conference discussions on the papers presented, a great thing this fellowship.
And of course we want to extend His kingdom and also welcome more into our fellowship. So when Pastor Yumba arrived home he and several others invited a number of pastors of other churches to a meeting/study where the papers were studied. There were those who rejected some teachings, just as at Athens when Paul spoke. But then God’s Spirit also worked. The following is a recent report from Pastor Yumba of Dec. 17th.
“…Just to tell you that all prayers addressed for us are successful. We are happy to tell you that Pastor Doucy Ngoy Mulenda from revival church accepted our teaching and decided to work with us. So, we decided with him to open our future parish in Kolwezi ecclesiastical district. It is to be mentioned that in the old times Pastor Mulenda could not accept the baptism of infants, the Trinity, etc. But after teaching he rejected all the teachings he had before. And we are still going to teach him. We also gave three books: My Church and Others, Small Catechism in French and Swahili…For implementation of the parish in Kolwezi(300 km from Lubumbashi), we plan to do it on December 27-30..And at the same time a seminar on liturgy will be organized…” Praise the Lord!
While Pastor Ude and I were going through customs at the Lagos airport one lady official asked if Pastor Ude was born again. She was likely meaning if he had an experience at some point in his life after he came of an age of accountability. Of course, if that is what she meant we know the problems with that question. The answer is “Yes, I am born again from water and the Word and it happened when I was a little baby. And as I have been growing ever since, I have had many phases in my Christian life when He has very clearly carried me through…”
It is a joy to read in a Jan. 14th report from the Masai District of the CLCEA-Tanzania the following baptism report about how the water and the Word are applied to all ages.
- Dec. 30th – 15 adults, 6 children, 2 infants baptized at Olmapinu,
- Jan. 1st – 7 ” 4 ” 1 ” ” ” Inkiito
- Jan. 1st – 8 ” 6 ” 5 ” ” ” Enkusero
- Jan. 2nd – 5 ” 6 3 ” ” ” Society
The only point of regret in the report was that they were short of transport money to cover more of the stations at the time.
This district stretches into Kenya from Tanzania. As we see on the news the violence in the post election time in Kenya, let us rejoice that as this report evidences people are being born anew through water and the Word even while death claims others. — Missionary David Koenig——————————————————————————————————————-
Jan. 31, 2008
Words to Live By
“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.” This is a proverb from Nigeria. Since palm oil is the cooking oil drawn from palm fruit, food is cooked with it. Proverbs are succinct statements that help to focus in a few words on some lengthier thoughts. In Nigeria there are many tribes which compose the nation. Among these tribes there have been longstanding proverbs by which the people remember important things in a few words. Solomon collected many proverbs in that book of the same name. As well there are proverbs scattered throughout the Scripture and not only in the wisdom literature. What follows are some proverbs from the tribes in Nigeria related then to Scripture for everyday life.
“The lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree to the ground said that he would praise himself, if no one else did.” (Ibo) There is no accounting for the length to which pride will push one. Here the arrogant little lizard does what he just knows he deserves. His thinking is that a great feat deserves great praise. The lizard in his foolishness reminds of far worse that can happen. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Prov. 16:18 Now the little lizard was successful, but maybe not next time. And then where will his self-praise be.
“If a man claims to have sung until dawn, find out when he started.” (Ikwerre) The age old half-truth telling has led many astray. A half-truth is but a lie in disguise. Our Lord said that He Himself is the truth. How important for us then to cleave to this virtue of truth telling. Prov. 23:23 “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” This is a possession of the greatest value for one’s character.
“When an elder sees a bush rat, it does not afterwards become a lizard.” (Yoruba) Playing fast and lose with the truth means losing the truth. Some contend that the circumstances must dictate how one acts. But first of all into the circumstances we carry our character adorned with Christian virtues, which do not change. Prov. 15:21 “Folly is a joy to him who has no sense, but a man of understanding walks aright.” It may seem funny to change the story, but not if it violates the truth.
“Efulefu in the language of the clan was a man who sold his machete and wore the sheath to battle.” (Ibo) The machete is the large blade we call a machete. We know of how Paul encourages us to put on the whole armor of God, one part of which is the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. How can we go to battle the devil and the powers of darkness without the machete of God? What comfort to know though that our preparations are not ultimately the determining factor of victory or defeat. “The Horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Prov. 21:31
“What an elder sees sitting down, the child cannot even see while standing.” (Igbo) How important to listen to our elders who God has carried through so very much. Bound as we are to do our own thing and repeat errors, God does give us elders who have seen, lived and been guided by the Lord. Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” History will repeat itself, unless we learn from history/our elders.
“One who claps for a madman to dance is as insane as the madman.” (Yoruba) We can sin by not doing as well as by doing. We can sin by not stopping something that is wrong as well as by doing the wrong. And to encourage what is wrong and think one’s own hands are still clean is an exercise in depraved foolishness. Prov. 10:8 “The wise heart will heed commandments, but a prating fool will come to ruin.”
“The elder who eats all his food will carry his load by himself.” (Yoruba) “The prosperity of a single person does not make a town rich.” (Yoruba) I am not an island unto myself. The whole second table of the Law focuses on my neighbor. Shall I ignore him and continue in my self-centered ways? There are great benefits also to working together, especially in the church in our fellowship relationship with brother clasping the hand of brother and striding forward. Ecc. 4:9″Two are better than one…” 4:12″…A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
“The crocodile says he feels shy to bite, but that once he has bitten he feels shy to let go.” (Ikwerre) Ah yes, the variations on this of the alligator and the hare or the crocodile and the monkey crossing the river. All looked so innocent, until… The dangers were ignored until it was too late. Temptations are all around us like traps to bring about spiritual death, like the crocodile.
And how would you describe this proverb in one word? “Bending down to a dwarf does not prevent you from rising to your full height afterwards” (Hausa) How about ‘humility’?
And lastly, there is Eneke. “Eneke the bird says, since men have learnt to shoot without missing, I have learnt to fly without perching.” (Ibo) We as Christians should be the most adaptable people of all. I don’t mean just as a missionary like Paul, who sought to be all things to all people that he might win some. Each of us in our daily life is growing in grace and knowledge. Let us learn each day, like Eneke, that the devil prowls to destroy us and the only answer is a closer walk with our Lord, His Word enlarging our understanding.
Pastor Prabhakar of Nellore Dist. died of a heart attack. He leaves his wife Padmamma 42, three children: Sujatha 21, John Prasad 20, Gessika 15. He had had some medical problems in the past with which we had helped . While he was not among the original group in 1998 that greeted us, by 2003 he was among the ‘new’ pastors going through the instruction. In ’04-’05 period you helped with a bldg. project at Nernoor where there are 10,000 people and one other church. He had preached there for over 15 years. When I meet with Moses on Ap. 10-11 we will discuss what to ask the bd. for to help the widow.Profile – Victor and His( at Present) Four Districts in the BELC
Previously I gave out a profile of Sri Kalahasti District and Bhasker, now the following to continue to give you a flavor of the work and the exposure of God’s forward movement.
We supported Victor’s move to Kadapa from Nellore in order for him to reach out in surrounding areas from that city. At the present age of 59 his zeal knows only the limitations of time and money. His ambition to begin in many areas is great, as he stretches the dollar. He likes the apostolic number of 12 to begin and maintain a group of pastors in a certain area in study. This is one man that I advanced(as district chairman) to a standing with the other men who Bas had trained. This is something we have to keep considering as there are gifts and abilities God gives beyond the original twenty some men. To use what He gives and broaden the leadership is important for the church. Below are vignettes from each of the districts.
- Kadapa- started in Oct. ’03, 14 pastors, 449 souls – While most of the time we are working with pastors or preaching to congregations, it is refreshing to at times see the members in more of a casual, informal setting. Jonakama invited Victor and me to breakfast one day before our pastors’ meeting. This lady is very dedicated to witnessing to everyone about her Savior. She was even interested in traveling with us to the meeting some distance away, but could not due to space limitation in our vehicle. To make sure that I got more sustenance from the breakfast for lunch, she packed the remainder up for me for later. It is good to see such kindness from people. I was also able to meet her grown son and daughter.
- Kurnool – started in Mar. ’06, 12 pastors, 604 souls – Our pastors’ study took place in a very large church building at Allaggada. In addition to the pastors present there were half a dozen women who came with their Bibles to learn as well as six young boys. This eagerness to learn the Word bodes well for this large congregation. We studied the three Creeds and all were given copies in Telugu. It is important to have extra copies along as you don’t know who all might show up. Another practice Victor(among others) has is allowing other interested men to attend classes, just in case someone of the present enrollees drops out.
- Rajampeta – started in Jan. ’07, 12 pastors, 610 souls – Prakash is one of the pastors here, converted from Hinduism in 1991. The double whammy on the devil was administered by our Lord in then also calling this man into the ministry. After the service in his church we were invited to his house for refreshments. He has three boys. His wife had prepared some delicious pastries. It would be good to be able to be more into the homes of our pastors, but time constrains.
- Rayachoty – started in Oct. ’07, 12 pastors, 556 souls – At a recent service in this district we went to a very far out, rural area(which is a goal of reaching out here). After worshiping in some cramped quarters we went to see how they are doing on erecting walls for a church. They are nearly to the roof level. It is at that point when our offerings come to roof. Here there will be some delay due in part to the pastor too new to be in agreement with our teachings. Our assistance will have to wait until we are sure of unity. This congregation at Kasturirajigari is 90 in number drawn from three nearby villages(all within walking distance) which have a total of about 2000 houses. And to top it all off to our joy, God has given us the exclusive privilege of heralding the Gospel here. There is no other Christian church. This is a very critical factor in where we would work.
Centrifugal or Centripetal?
In the March report to the Mission Board I included part of a report that Ziegenbalg and Gruendler sent back to their board from India dated Nov. 15, 1713. In this report point number seven was:
We are not satisfied with an outward change of religion. We insist on complete transformation of the heart in obedience to faith. Therefore we are not interested in increasing the number of converts. Rather, we make sure that those who become Lutherans grow in active knowledge of the truth, holy life, and real Christianity.
This is of course true Lutheran practice and draws from the Scriptures when Paul for instance tells the Ephesian elders, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27
On the ‘numbers’ angle the missionaries were reacting to practices of others of just giving a minimum of teaching to get converts in. The backdrop though of where these men were reminds us that they were interested in ‘numbers’ in a proper sense. They came all the way from Germanyto India to extend the kingdom of God which meant conversions. We also today have to be careful that we do not get sidelined or distracted due to a reaction to improprieties of other churches in their practices, whether it be giving a bare minimum of instruction or of compromising teachings in instruction.
Some years back I think it was Pastor Rollin Reim who had an essay in which he pointed out the difference between a church which was centrifugal in its outlook or centripetal. The basic dictionary definitions help to explain. Centripetal means “to move toward a center…developing inward toward the center.” Centripetal force is “the force tending to pull a thing inward when it is rotating rapidly around a center.” On the other hand centrifugal is “moving or tending to move away from a center.” And centrifugal force is the “force tending to pull a thing outward…” A master’s degree is certainly not necessary to allow one to see that the radical difference between these two expressions also has application to the church. We are involved in ‘pulling outward.’
The Scriptural and Historical Thrust
As a matter of fact, the wholesome thrust of the church is centrifugal, if we would be faithful to our Lord’s instructions repeated at the conclusion of all four Gospels.
The apostles certainly realized the thrust of the Lord’s Words. The record in Scripture and from tradition tells us they ‘went.’ And as we view the centrifugal force the center of Jerusalem was replaced by (Syrian) Antioch, which in turn was replaced by Ephesus. And so it went.
The Value of One Soul
In Lk. 15:10 we read, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This interestingly is told at the end of the parables about going out to seek the lost sheep and searching diligently for the lost coin. In Acts 8:26f. think of the effort over that one Ethiopian and how the evangelist was sent to him. On the isle of Cyprus that one man Sergius Paulus occupied Paul’s efforts in depth. Acts 13:2f. When we consider a group, it is best to view that as a composite of individuals each of whom needs attention and prayer.
Acts – Centrifugal and Numbers Wise
At the same time as Acts exhibits the church in its centrifugal force, there is also the concern about numbers in the record. Just take a casual stroll with me as we consider what Luke records numbers wise.
This idea about pulling outward we see also numbers wise.
–14:1 At Iconium a great company believed.
–14:21 At Derbe they had made many disciples.
–16:5 The churches were strengthened and increased in numbers daily.
–17:4 At Thessalonica a great many of the devout Greeks believed.
When Paul says that he must also see Rome, Acts 19:21, it was not as some tourist, but as an ambassador to bring the Good News for conversions. When he writes the Romans about his ambition to go on to Spain it was not for some leisurely retirement in the Andalusian sun. His words, “thus making it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named…” Rom. 15:20 “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain…” v. 24 The whole thrust outward of going to the other end of the Mediterranean was to preach that the Spirit might convert where there had not been conversions before. Numbers wise.
Well now, what about our situation? Africa and India are certainly far afield from the CLC-USA. Since we believe like Paul in teaching the whole counsel of God, it is not a matter of mere numbers that we are after for some earthly glory or prestige, or in competition with some other denomination. In the BELC we have seen the following.
· ’04 5800 souls served by 135 men
· ’05 7066 “ “ “ 157 “
· ’07 8591 “ “ “ 193 “
· ’08 14,919 “ “ “ 338 “
Would we want to describe that as a dangerous rate of growth that needs to be slowed? If we are teaching the whole counsel of God, how is that different than the Acts record. Or think about East Africa which definitely needs more than one month’s work a year among our sister churches. The numbers there in souls served has gone from 4086 to 6007 in one year. Muslim, Masai, Ndorobo are “out” there like the Samaritans, Gentiles and Greeks were in the Acts record.
The mission board increasingly, due to numbers dealt with overseas, faces increased demand on that part of its budget dealing with foreign work, or to put it another way, the centrifugal work. And when it comes to further insight in our foreign work, the thrust propounded to our sister churches is the centrifugal force of the Gospel. When I am confronted with a choice between support for those in the church as opposed to those where Christ is not named, or named by very few, that is no choice. The direction is clear. Go to the village where there is no Christian church. Go into areas where Christ is not named, the Spains of our day.
Here are a couple axioms for thought and prayer.
· The church is a living organism (metaphor). Corroboratingly, if it is living, it is growing.
· The church is dynamic or a dynamism. Recapituate what happens to the gates of hell, the devil’s obstructions on this earth.
And finally when it does come to numbers wise in the centrifugal force of the church listen to the sparkling fresh Word on that.
In Peter’s second letter, in which he warns of the judgment, he also reminds us how God wants none lost in the shuffle and that the crowd is a composite of individuals. He “IS FORBEARING TOWARD YOU, NOT WISHING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH BUT THAT ALL SHOULD REACH REPENTANCE.” 2 Pet. 3:9 For your prayerful reading, Dave Koenig
September 16, 2008
Many are the Plans in the Mind of Man, but it is the Lord’s Purpose that Will Be Established. Prov. 19:21
One of our men from the ELCC (Congo) has now located in Johannesburg, South Africa and is trying to gather French speakers into a worship and congregation. Our man, Denis Mulumba, had been having up to 20 in a service, when the devil decided that was enough of that. Riots broke out by native South Africans against foreigners who they thought were taking their jobs. The people who had been coming were scattered as people fled for their lives from this area. Denis’ family was protected by Zulu friends who got them away. The family’s possessions were lost. Now Denis has relocated in a different area and will try to find the people who were scattered. Pray for his outreach efforts. He, like the apostle Paul, is doing ‘tentmaking’ work trying to work on computers and develop some contracts in this. Denis prays that in a year a group may be gathered such that they may register with the government. We put our trust in the Lord to bring forth the fruits of this work despite the devil’s raging. In a visit to Johannesburg I was able to talk with Denis about the work. I also met his wife, Esther Nsamba, and baptized their baby, Eden Mbuyi.
September 17, 2008
Highlights on our Sister Church in Congo
During a recent visitation we saw that the translation work continued with six pamphlets translated into either French or Swahili. An even more ambitious agenda is planned for this next year. By putting our teachings into the languages of Congo these pamphlets help our pastors to explain what we believe.
Reaching all the stations in the church on a regular basis continues to be a problem. The Mission Board is helping with a budgeted amount to cover transportation. Of course money is not the only difficulty. Roads are bad if one wants to travel that way. Recently, the railroad system around Lubumbashi shut down, though it is hoped it will open again soon.
Recently, five men who had finished the Sunday afternoon Bible studies were consecrated in a Sunday service by Pastor Muzakuza, who is head of the church. The church has the office of ‘catechist’ which is entrusted with the task of teaching the children in particular the truths in the catechism. Twenty individuals serve in this capacity.
Some preachers from other churches approach our church to join, but when they find out we do not pay salaries, they leave. The people of the country are poor, but this not paying salaries by us is wise. It is a practice that will help the church to be strong on its own. To help the pastors who are with us, we are beginning a loan program as we do with other sister churches. The pastors are loaned an amount to be repaid to the fund kept in the country from which new loans are made from repaid amounts. This is in line with the ‘tentmaking’ of the apostle Paul when he worked with his hands for instance in Corinth, Ephesus, and Thessalonica. Keep our brothers and sisters in Congo in your prayers for they have a tough roe to hoe.
MORE GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY
The following is part of the greeting to us( Hansen, Bohde, Koenig) when we met with the Upper Myanmar Ev. Luth. Ch. in Kalaymyo, Myanmar. In our discussions things look very positive on agreement on God’s Word. The Christian church in Myanmar is a persecuted church. We even had to abide by a variety of restrictions while there. And because these people are Chin, a tribal minority, they further face persecution. Pray for them:
- That we will have doctrinal unity and can work together,
- That they bear up with joy in Christ under the persecution,
- That the Lord would relieve the famine conditions in Chin State due to rat infestation and devouring of rice.
While their initial contact was with other Lutherans, we are now the focus of their attention.
Report from UMELC to Us
‘On behalf of the UMELC and on my own behalf extend our warmest welcome with open hearts and arms to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your visit has been eagerly and expectantly awaited since the idea was mooted a few months back. We like to see the result of your visit and our discussion to bear a fruitful result if it is the perfect will of the Lord that our two churches establish a relationship to His glory and the growth and edification of the Churcch
Brief Summary of the Church
- Total membership: 5630
- Member of congregations, schools: Congregations – 56, Schools – 3
- number of Ordained Pastors and Church Workers: Ordained Pastors – 9, Church Workers – 12
History and Background of the UMELC
We were formerly independent local Baptist congregations without affiliating ourselves with any denomination. However, when we come to understand more fully about the doctrine and government of the Lutheran Church, which we accepted wholeheartedly, we organized ourselves into Chin State Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1999, which we changed to Upper Myanmar Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2003 because of churches planted beyond the Chin State. Rev. Isaac Moon, Pres. of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Rev. N. Kaizanang, Executive Sec. of the Eastern Ev. Luth. Ch., Manipur, came to Khenman village of which the former President was the village chief and the pastor as well, and inaugurated the Lutheran Church with 26 families on April 17, 1999. The Church was later registered with the Myanmar government as the UMELC. The single congregation at Khenman has now grown to 56 local congregations with a total membership of 5630 with nine ordained ministers who are asssigned a minimum of five congregations each or more depending on the distance
When we celebrate the first of the Gentile nations in the Wise Men coming to the Lord, consider today how still ten men are taking hold of the robe of a Jew and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zech. 8:23
Recently,in the Kadapa District (BELC) under Pastor Victor he was planning to have me baptize 30 souls in the village of Pabbapuram. It was not God’s will that I do it for during the days I was up there we had strong rains and the road to the village was impassable. So Victor will have the joy of baptizing these 30 Hindu converts. There is no other Christian church in the village. Since these people have donated land for a church, we pray they will be able to raise the walls to the point where we assist with the roofing.”Let us go with you…”
Our pastors’ study in Rajampeta District was held in the church of Pastor Samson of Nandalur. He is a recent addition to our studies. It was ten years ago as a Hindu that he told Christians who came evangelizing in his village “Go away and don’t come back.” Now he is preaching Christ crucified, built the building and gathers a congregation of 70 about the Word. “…for we have heard that God is with you.”
Our pastoral study groups are increasing in numbers also. Most recently I approved 10 new men to join our study at Chittoor.Ten men will take hold… Though Pastor Bhasker had asked this earlier, I could only okay it for January of ’09.
And after nearly two years of requests and waiting we will begin the new district at Chengleput under Pastor Deepak. It seemed that there might be about 30 men, but the Lord moved more to ask to study. While we will begin with 60 inquirers, that doesn’t mean that there will be that many at the end. Some will not continue when they disagree with our teachings, while others will back off when no salary is forthcoming. But then the Lord will send ten more or…
Previously, like two years ago the BELC was heavy with Telugu-speakers. Now with the new district at Chengleput the complexion continues to change. Out of 16 districts: six are Tamil-speaking, one is Hindi-speaking, nine are Telugu-speaking. If the Lord allows us to work in Bangalore and Jharkand state that would change the complexion even more.
In the Vaniyambadi District of the BELC among the people who I prayed for after service especially note one young woman who came up to ask for prayers for her family. She was the only member of the family who belonged to the church and she wanted me to pray that the others would be led to Christ. In the USA one might join our church, while so often the others in the family belong to other denominations. In India it is so often that the “others” are unbelievers. And what joy as I prayed to know God was in charge and to see in her arms the new Bible given her that night. Wise men and women seek Him still.