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Global Mission Update: Our Mission Through Lutheran Schools (August 2012)
Katie, a kindergarten student at Concordia Lutheran School, was having a rough day when she said to her teacher, “I am having a really bad day and just need to say a prayer. Can you read me a prayer from one of our prayer cards? I know Jesus knows I’m having a bad day, but He still loves me.”
One of my great passions is Lutheran schools and how we can widen their global reach. The stories in this letter are great examples of the impact our Lutheran schools make. Lutheran school ministry is a part of our Life Together and also the place where a good deal of Witness and Mercy ministry happens. The impact of Lutheran schools is a part of our global-mission strategy. Our church thrives by instructing Christ’s little ones at the foot of the cross and leading people of all ages to a deeper understanding of God’s saving Word. Collectively, our congregations administer the largest Protestant school system in the world, teaching the truth about God – who He is, where He has promised to meet us, and how deep His love is.
We had a kindergarten student whose parents operate a Chinese restaurant in town. The father speaks only Chinese, and the mother has some English speaking ability. The father had been raised as a Christian, while the mother’s religious background was Buddhist. When the mother enrolled her child, she indicated that she would like to visit with a pastor. Our pastor lived in Taiwan and had learned some Chinese while there. He gave the parents instruction, the mother and her two children were baptized, and the family has joined our church.
One of the seven students who were baptized last year was an eighth grader who was received into God’s family in a chapel service. This was at his request and insistence. He was determined to be baptized.
This year he is at Lutheran High as a student. At career day he was in the workshop for students who were considering becoming pastors. When he was asked why he was thinking about the ministry as a career, he answered, “Because He saved me. He changed my life.” For all of you who serve in Lutheran schools, that’s what we are all about – providing that opportunity for lives to be changed!
In my last letter I shared the six priorities for our work together as a Synod. Here they are again. Please take a look at the sixth one:
- Plant, sustain and revitalize distinctly Lutheran churches.
- Support and expand theological education.
- Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
- Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
- Nurture pastors, missionaries and professional workers to promote (among them) spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
- Enhance elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.
In addition to our Lutheran schools in the United States, we together operate schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hanoi. Many of our partner churches operate their own Lutheran schools where God’s Law and Gospel are proclaimed. In fact, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is a globally respected leader in education.
Schools Ministry is a part of the new Office of National Mission and continues our strong Lutheran education tradition. The name is new but our work with Lutheran schools remains unchanged and undiminished. The work of both the Offices of National and International Mission is supported by your gifts and prayers. Gifts "where needed most" to the Synod's global mission efforts continue this long-standing focus of education in our Church and deserve your support and also most importantly your prayers. If there is a local Lutheran school, early childhood center or perhaps even a high school in your community, I urge you to remember the staff, students and families in your prayers.
Here is a prayer that I suggest you use in lifting up Lutheran education in your daily prayer life:
You have called me to faith and life through the waters of Baptism; You have taught me Your word of life through faithful parents, teachers and pastors. Sustain these faithful men and women who teach our children the things of God and of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Let these teachers of the faith inspire and encourage the next generation of believers to lives of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. I ask this in the name of Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.
And finally, you can help with your gift today of $50, $100 or as you are able under God's blessing to help your Synod reach out globally in Word and Sacrament ministry through our Lutheran education efforts.
Rev. Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer