PERSECUTION IN MOZAMBIQUE

Short after our visit to Mozambique beginning of May (Pastors Roger, Christoph and Carlos), a tragedy happened in one of the congregations. The President of the Synod, Pastor Mateus Sifa, reported:

“When I came back from our monthly National Board Meeting in Sena, I visited the church in Inhamatanda to comfort the people there. A house (hut) of a very active Lutheran family was ablaze (put on fire), and the mother and a little child were burnt to death. The father managed to escape, but he is very injured in both feet and is admitted in the hospital in Beira.Inhamatanda incêndio IMG11306.jpg

Some relatives of the family put fire on the hut while they were deep sleeping at night. These relatives are from another church and they didn’t accept that the family joined the Lutheran Church. The man is the Secretary of the Congregation.Inhamatanda incêndio IMG11304.jpg

When I arrived, all the village came to meet me weeping in a laud voice. I sat with them and I opened Romans 8:31-39, where it says that the love of God is ours through Jesus Christ, who gives us the victory. God is with us, and there is nothing in all the universe, even persecution and death, that is be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

But then they asked me: How will they rose again if they were burnt and there is nothing left but only the skull of the mother? Then I opened 1 Corinthians 15:35-55, explaining them about the resurrection of the body and about Jesus’ victory over death.

After this all became very comforted and encouraged, because they know and believe that even when death comes, there is no problem, because we have the assurance of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

I prayed with them and I gave a donation to the mourning family. We ask for your prayers for all people in Inhamadanda.

“The Lord is good and His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). “

Carlos Walter Winterle

Coordinator Mozambique Project

Advertisements

Sermon at the Installation of Missionary Thomas Beneke in Newcastle, South Africa

Joh 17,20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,”

Dear Thomas,

At long last, after a good number of years your training as a missionary has come to a point, that you are installed to work in this congregation. Your grandfather has probably reminded you already that your studies and your successful exams basically just show, that you are able to study, and do not signify an end to your studies. But possibly you are also feeling a bit like the retired missionary Kurt Günther Tiedemann who apparently thought at the end of his official studies, please just show me some heathens so that I can start working.

The fact that it has taken so long, basically just makes its obvious, that our church and mission really takes this calling serious. The responsibility of witnessing to others in the public ministry through word and sacrament should not be taken lightly. And you have experienced at your ordination in Leipzig and here at the installation that many people are keen to support you in your role. That is a great blessing for your future work.

Obviously you are not left on your own when you embark on this ministry. As you solemnly promised at your ordination a few weeks ago, you would abide by teachings of the Holy Scripture and the confessions of the Lutheran Church, and even as you now accept this call into this congregation you still further agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the FELSISA and this congregation. All these are not meant to limit us in a negative sense, but rather give us the parameters for fruitful work in the church of our Lord, and you would do well, to see them as supporting you in your work.

The biggest supporter is actually your Lord and Savior himself. He who has called you into his service, wants to support you. And in the verse I read from his high priestly prayer, he actually prays for you, as one who believes in him through the word of the apostles and as one who now is called to publicly proclaim the very same word of the apostles the word of God himself, Jesus Christ, so that others through your proclamation will come to faith in their Lord Jesus Christ. That is amazing.

Trying to fathom the depth of the high priestly prayer in any one sermon would be impossible let alone in a short address like this one is supposed to be. Just le me draw out a few lines. You again would do well to follow your Lord and savior’s example to seek refuge and guidance in prayer, as we see him right at the end of his ministry and life spending time praying. Assuming that our Lord knew exactly what he was to do, it might be even more significant that he nevertheless always commits his ministry to his father in prayer. In Acts 6,4 we are reminded, that the apostles had learnt to focus on the right things, when they suggested that the people elect deacons to help serve the people, so that they could dedicate their time to prayer and the ministry of the word.

Standing at the beginning of your ministry you might have a very clear picture of what you want to do and want to achieve, and as steering committee of this project and as a congregation there are some pretty clearly defined goals and a job description, nevertheless commit your work to the Lord in prayer, because it reveals and reminds you, that you recognize, that he is in control and you and your work are always dependent on him.

At first Jesus prays for himself and his ministry. He then goes on to pray for the disciples. And you could say this is an inward concentration. There is a separation between disciples and the world. Yes you could probably even say there is enmity between the two. But he sends out these very disciples into the world with his word, so that they would proclaim his word, his truth, himself. And it is through Gods own plan, that the word of these apostles become part of the Holy Scriptures, it became normative for our faith. In fact it is not only their word, it is actually through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Gods word.

In that peculiar sense, they are unique in the history of the church. Our word as pastors and missionaries is not the same as theirs. All our teaching and ministry has to be measured against their word. And yes we are called to be stewards of Gods mysteries, and our faithfulness to this calling is measured by the correspondence of our own teachings to the word and teachings of the apostles.

Then the view is extended over all those who believe through the word of the apostles and then includes everyone, so that the whole world would believe that the Father had sent the son. He, Jesus Christ is the foundation on which the church is built. The public ministry, the ministry into which you have been called, is instituted by God with that purpose, as our Augsburg confession clearly states, so that this faith in him could be obtained. Through the means of grace the word and sacrament the Holy Spirit works faith.

All our preparation and studies, all our confessional teaching and rules and regulations in church all feed into this purpose of fulfilling Gods desire that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We don’t change the truth, we don’t adapt it to make it a bit more palatable. We proclaim the truth, not arrogantly, as if it came from us, or as if we hoard it like a stolen treasure, but rather like St Peter says, with gentleness and respect we are prepared to give an account of the hope that is within us. Recognizing that God calls people into the fellowship with him, and he basically adds these living bricks into the ever expanding body of Christ the church, we realize that our church is not just a gathering of friends, not a social club or a place of like minded people. The church is the place where God wants to work faith through word and sacrament so that the people would be one, our unity does not come from our conformity to custom or culture, but rather from the truth that is revealed in Jesus Christ.

Due to a large extent to our confessional tradition, the major responsibility for overseeing the faithfulness of our proclamation as a congregation lies with you as a pastor. But that in no way implies that the various members of the congregation have no role to play. St Peter speaking to the congregation says: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”. As much as you have a responsibility to people in the congregation, our responsibility is also directed to those outside of our congregation. We all realize that one challenge is, that very few unbelievers randomly walk into a church to be exposed to the means of grace. This is a challenge for all churches and has led many to rethink strategies on how to expose people to the gospel. Most probably there is no one approach that works all over. But I guess in some ways, you get what you focus on. And it is a challenge to all congregations to honestly answer the question, what are we focusing on. Is outreach a priority? Missionary Gottfried Martens many years ago held a talk at a church rally (Kirchentag) titled, “Do we want to grow?” And ironically he experienced, that his congregation had to admit no, or at least not in that way, that many others would say was how God led that congregation, and he basically had to move out with his migrant ministry amongst former Muslims and this congregation today is celebrating its new start today.

It might be the right decision to start a new congregation at times, it might be opportune to use an existing congregation as a basis to reach out into the community, and that is what we are planning here in Newcastle, but we don’t really have the option of just keeping to ourselves.

On Thursday we will be celebrating Ascension day and the gospel reading which in this year is the sermon text, is taken from Lk 24 a central chapter for the gospel of Luke. Christ himself clearly explains to his disciples how he is the center of Scripture, but he adds the mission to all nations through the Holy Spirits power to the reality of the church. We cannot only accept the fact that he is risen, but deny the mission that he has sent us on. Our focus on Christ as the center of the church makes sense only if we understand the centrifugal power of Gods love, that again pushes the church outward to the people beyond its borders.

I pray that our heavenly father will strengthen you and the congregation in Newcastle together with all of us so that we have the courage to transcend the borders and be credible witnesses of Christ love to the people around us. Amen

Missionary Revd. Christoph Weber

HOMELESS PRAY FOR THE HOMELESS

A warm light from a paper house signifies our prayer request that refugees may find welcoming homes.

A warm light from a paper house signifies our prayer request that refugees may find welcoming homes.

People generally remain just as unimpressed by exceptionally beautiful things in our world as they remain unimpressed by the depth of darkness and cruelty. Instead we  are dominated and moved by the pace of day to day living and life’s demands on our personal lives. This is once again demonstrated by events in politics right now. Once again we are confronted by evil which seems to surpass everything that came before. People are being mercilessly executed. The terrorists do not even shy away from executing children! And in addition to this Millions of people are now refugees. These refugees leave everything behind had to suddenly and without preparation : All their possessions, members of their families, their jobs, their education and everything else belonging to their identity. They do this in order to save their bare lives! And to make matters worse the so-called „safe countries“ have hermetically sealed their borders. So the road to freedom remains but a dream. Europe has closed it‘s borders. Since the year 2000 at least 23 000 people have drowned or been killed on European territory alone. In Europe we are able to continue in the delusion that  these things do not really touch us. And yet not all can be hidden from our attention. Some few people do succeed to cross the borders and are now living right in the midst of us. Thus we are reminded of their plight. And this is good! Sometimes people who have become refugees become members of our own congregation. It is in these times that the meaning of the Scripture “if one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor.12,26) becomes really practical and relevant. Of course we will never be able to resolve the problems in our world. However we can offer our prayers to God. We can offer him all our weaknesses and our worries about what is happening around us. We can also lend an ear to those people who have had to flee and offer our empathy to them. As part of a city wide initiative in Leipzig, “intercultural week” (www.leipzig.de/jugend-familie-und-soziales/auslaender-und-migranten/migration-und-integration/interkulturelles-leipzig/interkulturelle-wochen/), we opened the doors of St. Luke in Volkmarsdorf on Friday, 26. September. During this time we reflected on the latest news from Syria and Iraq. And we wanted to empathize with people who had to flee from their homeland. Our congregation members were able to share with us their own personal experiences of being homeless. They also shared their feelings about difficulties they have here in Germany right now. A short presentation on the theme of refugees in the whole world together with a few anecdotes and a Persian poem from Ahmad Schamelo were part of the programme. Ahmad Schamelo says „HOME IS WHERE I AM ACCEPTED“ Many people in need and under pressure are not able to legaly leave their home countries. However they are not accepted there. Sometimes their ways of live are not being tolerated and they have to flee  their homes in order to save their lives. However they cannot go beyond the geographic borders of their own homelands. Thus they remain homeless within the borders of their homeland. The members of our congregations who have become refugees are part of a small minority, having been able to find freedom in Europe and Germany. However, even after arriving in Germany one is not always accepted here, either. The road toward full integration is a long and tedious road. It is also difficult finding acceptance. Initially the language barrier is the biggest stumbling block for all migrants. But even after overcoming this huge stumbling block, there remain many cultural differences, which make it very hard to be accepted and to feel accepted here in Germany. Christians have a natural affinity toward those who are homeless. Are we not also pilgrims and strangers in this world?

For our home is not in this world(Heb. 13,14). Also in other instances we have a natural relation to strangers. The Bible reads itself like a book for and of refugees. From the first pages of the Bible to the last the Bible has been written by people who have had experience of being refugees. Even Jesus had to flee to Egypt Grafikclip 2with his earthly parents because Herod wanted to kill him! For this reason Christians have an open heart for refugees. Moreover because Jesus himself personally identified himself with those who are strangers. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me „ (Mt 25, 31 ff).

A very lively discussion with all who attended was followed by prayer fellowship. During this time little paper houses which our children in “Die Brücke” had folded before, came into action. A tea candle was placed within each house and the latter was placed on a world map. With this we wanted to enact our prayer request that refugees in Germany and in the whole world would find acceptance and a home. Many took part in the open prayer fellowship. Thereafter a fellowship meal was offered in „Die Brücke“

Missionary Hugo Gevers

„God’s spirit is working in a clear cut mission!“ -Annual general meeting in Bleckmar

Bergen-Bleckmar/lkm 21.3.2013

Director of missions Roger Zieger asked these two questions, right at the beginning of his annual report: „Why Mission?“ and „Is Mission an atavistic, colonial remnant, promoted by reactionaries, pining for the good old days?“. The answers were trenchant: „Without Mission, without God’s mission, no church.“ and „It is not this mission society’s task, to bury our gifts of the Spirit in Germany, but rather to carry them into the world – into all of the world.“ – That was his answer to the first question. With regard to the second question, whether Mission is just a colonial fossil, Zieger answered: „God’s spirit is working in and under a clear mission. God’s mission suffers neither oppression nor foreign domination: be it from death, sin or devil. God’s mission frees people.“ Zieger emphasized that mission is about the future “ a future in freedom, freedom in and with God.“ He continued clarifying that Mission, carried out with God’s spirit, thus is not colonial, but rather offers a future, unencumbered by guilt,to people.

Zieger continued his report by picturing the current developments on the mission-fields in Germany and southern Africa. If interested, the report my be requested by mail to lkm@selk.de (only in German).

Delegates and quite a few guests had gathered from the 20th unto the 21st at the Mission’s Guesthouse for the annual general assembly of the Lutheran Church-Mission (Bleckmarer Mission) e.V.(LKM). The guests included Johann Vogelnik and Herbert Ehn from the lutheran Mission-Society in Austria (LUTHMIS), Reverend Dr. Brent Smith (LCMS regional director) and President Gijsbertus van Hattem from the Lutheran Church in Belgium.

In addition to the report of the director of missions, treasurer Helmut Meyer gave his report. Thanking God and all who contributed to the LKM’s financial household, Meyer informed the assembly that the budget for 2013 has been met. All in all € 751,000 have been donated in 2012.

Spiritual Highlights were the Service of the Holy Sacrament on the evening of the first day and the devotion on the morning of the second day. During the devotion Missionary Christoph Weber led the assembled delegates in an in-depth prayer, bringing concerns of partner churches in southern Africa and form the mission’s world wide work before God.

It was Missionary Christoph Weber,too, the LKM’s representative in Southern Africa, who informed the delegates on the eve of the first day, giving a presentation about missions in South Africa and Botswana.

Text+Fotos: Martin Benhöfer abbreviated translation: RZ

Propst Johannes Rehr preaching at the devotion, opening the annual general meeting.

Propst Johannes Rehr preaching at the devotion, opening the annual general meeting.

Director of Mission, Roger Zieger, presenting a fund-raising competition

Director of Mission, Roger Zieger, presenting a fund-raising competition

Annal general assembly 2013

Annual general assembly 2013

Gjisbertus van Hatterm, Lutheran Church of Belgium, greeting the assembly

Gjisbertus van Hatterm, Lutheran Church of Belgium, greeting the assembly

Johann Voglenik from the Lutheran Mission-Society in Austria; a long-time partner of the LKM

Johann Voglenik from the Lutheran Mission-Society in Austria; a long-time partner of the LKM

Ms. Sybille Föllmer, Diaconical-Missionary Women's League

Ms. Sybille Föllmer, Diaconical-Missionary Women’s League

Reverend Dr. Brent Smith, regional director, LDMS

Reverend Dr. Brent Smith, regional director, LCMS

(nearly) all delegates and guests

(nearly) all delegates and guests

Dr. Smith and Missionary Christoph Weber, Representativ of the LKM in Southern Africa

Dr. Smith and Missionary Christoph Weber, Representativ of the LKM in Southern Africa

Johann Vogelnik in conversation Propst Klaus Pahlen

Johann Vogelnik in conversation Propst Klaus Pahlen

f.l. Gjisbertus van Hattem, Dr. Smith, Ruth Keidel, Burkard Kurz

f.l. Gjisbertus van Hattem, Dr. Smith, Ruth Keidel, Burkard Kurz

humour allowed :-)

humour allowed 🙂

Devine Service

Divine Service

Presentation by Christoph Weber

Presentation by Christoph Weber

Numbers . . .

Numbers . . .

Treasurer Helmut Meyer giving his report

Treasurer Helmut Meyer giving his report

TWO IMPORTANT FESTIVALS IN LEIPZIG

The inauguration ceremony of „Die Brücke“ (Bridge). That is the name of the new community centre of the Lutheran Church Mission in Leipzig was held on 18th August. The festival fulfilled all expectations! It was colorful, loud, stressful, chaotic but always open to all. As Bridge builders we have set ourselves the goal to really connect with the people on their level. Even on this festival there were many opportunities to laugh with the happy ones and to cry with those in mourning. But we do not just want to connect with the people. Our actual goal was illustrated very aptly by the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Holy Trinity in Leipzig, Pastor Markus Fischer. He walked into the new community rooms before there was a single chair in sight and nailed a crucifix onto the wall. By this we want to tell everyone: It is all about Jesus Christ! We want to go to Jesus and we want to take as many people along with us as we can.

The special thing about our festivities on Saturday was that among the 100-150 people really all different communities were represented. Among others there were Persians, Germans, Iraqis, Syrians, Muslims, Christians, Community leaders and last but not least three members of the mission council ( Mr. Mayer, Mr. Otto and Missionsdirector Roger Zieger).

The very exciting youth afternoon was made special by Puppeteers, Jazzdance, Pantomime, Biketaxi, Streetart, Painting and many other children’s activities. Professor Andreas Schulz( the director of the GEwandhaus in Leipzig) who took the patronage of the day brought the day to an apt climax. Accompanied by about 10-15 local kids he walked into the full Lukas Church to express his greetings to all concerned. Missionsdirector Zieger then held a very illustrative sermon, which was translated into Persian. After the service everyone walked across the street to hear words of greeting from different members of the community. A small meal and light Jazzmusic rounded the day off.

The expectations of the community in Volkmarsdorf are great. After such a successful day they want to see whether our Bridge can stand firm and whether it can do what it has promised to do. Sometimes I am a little afraid when I see what great challenges are ahead of us and what responsibility we have taken upon ourselves. Nevertheless I am sure God will give us the Love and the Power to complete the task. After all he wants us to be where people are in great need. It is exciting that God has already called some very gifted workers to help us. Without their efforts we would never have come this far. Allow me to quote some of their words:
“ …a little exhausted, but very happy ☺ “ Juliane Hagen
“..now our loving God may bless our work with the very many interested people! Good night” Yours Christian Kalberlah
In conclusion a very important notification: Our old homepage is no longer active. In future we can be found at http://www.die-bruecke-leipzig.de On this site you may also find some newspaper clippings about our event.

THE SECOND IMPORTANT FESTIVAL IN LEIPZIG
It was not planned but somehow right. Our festivities in Leipzig were held on the last day of the Muslim fasting month Ramadan. The baptism of 10 ex-Muslims followed exactly one day after this. With this it becomes clear that we love Muslims and do not want to withhold the Love of Christ from them. Even in Baptism it becomes clear that God is at work in building His church. This God also did with the 10 new brothers and sisters in our church. God alone changes hearts in spite of many human mistakes. This was a fitting conclusion to the entire weekend. Persians bravely confessed their new faith in their own language. Exactly the same creed was then answered in German. God makes it possible that both become new creations in Christ! That was the greatest event in the whole weekend. Thanks be to God!

Revd. Hugo Gevers, Missionary

Modern means of contact

One of the many challenges we face in our congregation here in South Africa is how to communicate with all our members in order to be able to inform them about the different church events which are taking place. Furthermore, sometimes important time- and venue-changes have to be communicated and this often turns out to be quite a challenge! Most of the telephone lines in our area have been stolen and phoning people on their cell phones can be expensive and extremely time consuming.

Bulk-SMS is the solution. Most, if not all, people over the age of 12 years have, a cell phone in our country! I can therefore, via the internet, reach all church members at once in an uncomplicated and inexpensive way. All I need to do is to type in the message once and it gets sent to all the members. This also works well when informing the youth about our next youth meeting. Now no one can make excuses anymore saying: “But Pastor, we did not know about the meeting on Friday!” or “I went to the place but no one was there, so I drove home again!” Via Bulk-SMS we can reach out to and communicate with all our members at once without making too much of a fuss about it. Try it, it works in many countries of the world! It is also a useful and discrete method to inform people who are interested in joining our congregation but have not quite made up their minds yet!

Missionary Christian Tiedemann

Everyone welcome, or what?

We have arrived in Volkmardorf, after all. Together with a some migrants we „picked up“ the old piano and 1001 books (literally so) and moved to Volkmarsdorf. While still unpacking our things, three lokal Teens – the kind you might have meet in one of Mark Twain’s stories – ambled into our „shop“. „Everyone welcome, or what?“ they wanted to know. With a cautious nod I confirmed the question: „Yes“.

That’s the way we plan to work here – open to everyone, building bridges – from here to there. That is why we named our office „The bridge“. Building bridges is programmatic for us. We want to build bridges between Locals and Migrants as well as between Christians and Non-Christians. Strictly spoken we want to become tools, used by Jesus – who is the sole Bridge between God and humans.

Is it not a great thing that we did not need to cross unto the other bank, but that people are coming to our side, already? That’s how it went with the three young guys from Volkmarsdorf: we immediately practiced our skills at bridge-building: right in the middle of the chaos, caused by our not yet ordered things, we built up the table-soccer-set, and went for a game. „Hey, God’s here, too“ – one of them giggled and pointed towards the statue of Jesus, which is standing right in the middle of our room. „Do you believe in God“ – I am getting a warm feeling and goose-bumps – is the next question. Volkmarsdorf beats all my expectations as a Missionary.

The first three days in Volkmarsdorf continued along the same line. The next morning three elderly gentlemen stood in front of our door, having a conversation in Russian about the possible purpose of our work. Shortly afterwards, someone passes our doors. „I’ll be back“, he tells me, after explaining at length that – also being baptized – he is totally ignorant about the Christian faith.

We’ll be away for a week now, but I can’t wait for really getting started in Volkmarsdorf ! This is a real mission-project, reaching out to those to whom Christianity has – so far – been a closed book.

Everyone is welcome, indeed !

Missionary Hugo Gevers

*Volkmarsdorf is a suburb of Leipzig, Germany. 75% of the children here live on welfare-money.

Translation RZ

 

Five Days with Missionary Peter Weber

After two years I again took the opportunity to spent a longer period of time together with Missionary Peter Weber and his familiy at and around the Umhlangeni Mission-station.

Quite a bit of time and quite a number of impressions: a church dedication, four home-eucharists, a housebuilding, a (seemingly) death-bound cow, 2 youth-gatherings, plenty of time to reflect – thanks Peter

RZ

P.S. If interested, there more fotos of Umhlangeni to be found on our facebookpage (Lutherische Kirchenmission)

252 years – Workers in the Vineyard of the LORD

Many in our churches will be aware of the fact that the former Director of the Lutheran Churchmission (Bleckmarer Mission) e.V., Revd Johannes Junker D.D., is today celebrating his 80th birthday – our sincere congratulations – may the LORD bless you.

Some will know that Missionary Revd Siegfried Damaske is celebrationg his 85th birthday today. But maybe even fewer off us will happen to know that another pastor is celebrating his birthday, too. It is the Revd Petrus Lubede, currently living in Umlazi, near the congregation he served during his active years. Revd Lubede served with the Mission, as well as with the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa.

from left to right: Missionary Christoph Weber, Revd Petrus Lubede

But interestingly, two of the jubilarians are not only connected by the same birthday; Revd  Lubede was also born right next to the mission station of Ebenezer, where Revd Junker has been working, while serving as a missionary in Africa. In spite of his age and his status as a retired pastor, Revd Lubede is still of great help to Missionary Christoph Weber who is serving at Umlazi right now. The photo underneath shows both of them and was taken on occasion of our birthday visit, today.May the LORD bless the three jubilarians

RZ

VOLKMARSDORF WE ARE HERE!

Volkmarsdorf is a religious melting pot! Here you can find almost any of the world religions: A variety of Islamic groups live here next to Bahai, Buddhist and even Mormons. Even the ancient Iraki Mandaens are here! All of these groups are competing for the attention of the poorest people in Leipzig. In the middle of this community and exactly next to St. Lukes church, you will now also find a brand new sign: “Lutheran Church Mission” Yes, now the Lutheran Church Mission has also arrived in Volkmarsdorf. The day before yesterday we received the key. At this time Pastor Markus Fischer (Pastor in Leipzig) came into the building. In his hands he held a hammer, a nail and a Crucifix. This Crucifix is now facing each person entering the office. Except for this Crucifix our office is still quite empty. We stood under the Crucifix and read the Grand Mission Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was really a special moment to us. Again and again we need to just leave everything and stand under the Cross. His Face is directed at us and at every person coming in and out of this building. Regardless of what may happen to us and what God intends with us in this new venture, everything depends on remaining under the protecting eyes of our Lord Jesus. Pray for us that we may never forget this!

Hugo Gevers, Missionary