May 20, 2004

Dear Brothers in Christ, greetings in the name of our Risen and Ascended Savior Jesus Christ.

My name is Pastor Todd Ohlmann.  I serve a small CLC congregation called Faith Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.  Pastor Koenig has asked me to compose the B.A.S.I.C. Newsletter for this week.

I have met many of you in India and Nigeria, others I have only read about and prayed for.  I read with great interest the reports that Pastors Koenig and Gurath send and I feel that I know you all.  Of course, by faith we are all brothers and sisters through the grace of our loving Father in Heaven who has made us His children and heirs of eternal life through the sacrifice of His only Son.

Today is Thursday, May 20th, 40 days after Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus.  Today we celebrate His ascension into Heaven and in 10 days we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  We have the account of Jesus ascension recorded for us in the book of Acts. 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:8-11

Jesus promised His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  He also told what they were to do with this special power.  We too are Christ’s disciples and through the Word and Sacrament of Holy Baptism we have received the power of the Holy Spirit.  God too has blessed us with the glorious opportunity to be His witnesses in our homes, in our villages, in cities and to the ends of the earth.

It was also Jesus who said:  18″All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20

We call this, Christ’s Great Commission.  With His almighty authority, Christ sends His followers out into all the world to spread the Gospel.  His Great Commission also includes the ongoing teaching of His Word.  To this end the CLC sponsors and supports several efforts in the United States, in Africa and in India to train pastors and individuals so that they can go out into all the world and proclaim God’s saving Word.  As a church body of fellow believers, committed to our Lord and Savior, we strive to carry out His Great Commission by teaching and proclaiming to others ALL that Christ has commanded.

The CLC-USA will be meeting for our convention in June.  The pastors of the CLC and two members of each congregation have the opportunity to travel to this convention.  At this gathering, of likeminded Christians, we will hear God’s Word as three different men deliver essays under the theme ‘O Blessed Ministry of Reconciliation.’  This is also a time when we gather together in worship to rejoice in the Salvation won for us through Jesus Christ.  A big part of this convention involves taking up the work that the Lord has laid before our church body.  We will discuss such things as our church High School where young men and women from all over the U.S. learn and grow in a Christian environment. We will also discuss our College and Seminary where young men and women are trained to be school-teachers and young men train to be pastors and missionaries. Much of our time will be spent determining how best to use our God-given time, talents and financial treasures to the glory of our Savior Jesus as we discuss the many opportunities the Lord has given to our small church body to spread the Gospel here in the U.S. and in Africa and India.  Please remember us in your prayers as we seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance to make decisions that are pleasing to Him and to the glory of our Savior’s name.

On Sunday I will preach a sermon on Ephesians 4:11-16:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head’Christ’ 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The main point of the sermon I have written deals with the qualities of the “Ideal Church.”  From Paul’s inspired words to the Christians in Ephesus we learn that the “Ideal Church” is not one that has a fancy building or the proper type of music or decorations.  Rather, the “Ideal Church” is where God-given gifts are being used for the equipping of the saints through the teaching of the  Word of God.  It is where each person is being built up in the Christian Faith through the teaching of ALL that Christ has commanded us.  It is a place where God’s love for all people is on display.  It is a gathering of likeminded believers where that which is harmful and contrary to God’s Word is avoided.  In the “Ideal Church” each person is contributing of his or her God-given gifts of time, talent and financial resources to the work of the ministry.  It is a place where the Law and Gospel of God’s word is being taught and preached for the purpose of calling sinners to repentance and announcing the Good News of forgiveness of sins so that we might have salvation and eternal life through faith in our Savior Jesus.

As I write this letter I am making plans to travel to India in August and September to work alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am thankful that the members of the congregation I serve here in the U.S. have been moved by the Holy Spirit to allow me this opportunity.  They see, and by faith, understand the importance of teaching and preaching the Word of God wherever and whenever the Lord presents the opportunity.  If all goes as planned, and the Lord is willing, I will work with Pastors: D. Paul, V. Rajamani, T. Sampath, B. Bhasker, Victor and Moses Raghu.  We will work to carry out Christ’s Great Commission by conducting ongoing training for the pastors and students of the five districts of the BELC. Please pray that the Lord would bless this effort and also that He would look after and bless the sheep of His flock that I have been blessed to shepherd here in the USA while I am gone.

As we think about our Savior’s ascension into Heaven we also remember the words of the Angels who said to the disciples gathered that day: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

Our Savior Jesus is coming back to judge the earth with righteousness!  We have no time to stand around gazing up into heaven.  The harvest is ready my bothers!

In Christ,
Pastor Todd Ohlmann