November 1, 2004

Prov. 25:25  Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far

We are working with groups of Christians in Tanzania (LCEA) and in Kenya, as
well as operating a Seminary to train men to learn more about our Lord and to
be better able to preach and teach.  I will be visiting these groups soon.  We
continue to pray that the Lord’s Word will go forth in these areas.


Still, still Though Dead They Speak
We have been gifted by God with the privilege to work with the Lutheran Church
of East Africa in Tanzania and Kenya.  The history of Lutheran missionwork there
goes back to the nineteenth century when the mission societies sent out the
missionaries.  The nineteenth century was the century of the many Lutheran
mission societies at work the world over.  It was not the work of Lutheran
princes or states sending in the 1900’s, but of believers gathering together
and sending.  One such society was the Leipzig Society, founded in 1836, “an
outflow of the Lutheran Orthodox confessionalism after the revolutionary
Napoleonic wars.” (From Krapf to Rugambwa-A Church History of Tanzania, p.73).
So writes Sahlberg.  It is not the intent to determine here the orthodoxy of the
Leipzig Society, as there was a great variation in attention or orthodoxy among
the many societies.  It is a fact that Leipzig sent men literally to their
death in the cause of the kingdom.

The first five missionaries from the Leipzig Mission were: Emil Mueller, Gerhard
Althaus, Robert Fassman, Albin Boehme and Thedore Passler.  Arriving at Mombasa
on July 12, 1893 the Lord used them to reach the natives in what was at that
time German East Africa, present day Tanzania.  In August they arrived at Moshi,
which is where the head of the LCEA now serves, Pastor Angowi.  One of the
villages where they went to work was Machame where the LCEA has a congregation
today.  In my visit in May of 2002 I visited the congregation at Machame and
found that the old Lutheran church opposes the establishment of the LCEA here as
well as elsewhere.  But back in the 1890’s the opposition was from the natives.
A Machame language grammar and dictionary were developed as well as a Machame
hymnal of 30 hymns for that tribal people.

Two new Leipzig missionaries, Ewald Ovir and Karl Segebrock arrived in 1895 and
proceeded westwards from Machame to see about work among the Wameru.  On Oct. 20,
1896 these two servants of God were butchered by the natives.  One has to
wonder why God took them after so short a stay in the field.

In the city of Arusha today there is the restored old Boma (fort) of the Germans
from that time when the Germans ruled.  It has been turned into a museum.  In
one room of the old fort is the history of the German rule pictured on the walls.
At one point one can read the report from the natives of what happened that night
long ago.  As Ewald is dying from eighteen spears, he is saying, ‘why are you
killing us…we came to bring you the Gospel…to tell you how you can go to
heaven through Christ.’  The Lord had Ewald die as our Lord did with love on
his lips.  As Stephen had mirrored his Lord with “Lord do not hold this sin
against them…” so Ewald.  And there is more to the story of how God was, is
and will be in charge.  One of the youths who attacked and killed the two
missionaries on that dreadful/triumphant night was baptized in 1965.  Though an
aged man at the time, he was sought out by the Lord, who is at work always His
wonder of conversion to perform.

In twenty years the Leipzig Mission grew from just missionaries arriving on the
field to 2969 souls in 1913.  And as we know more were affected by God’s work
through Leipzig well beyond the end of German rule and the expulsion of the
German societies.  Ewald and Karl are praising the Lord in heaven with some
later comers that they had met on earth.  The Word of God bears fruit,
accomplishing what God wills.  To Him belongs all glory.

In Our Savior, Jesus,
Pastor D. Koenig