* EXCERPT FROM A NIGERIAN JOURNAL
Even as wife Celeste kept a diary (many of our readers have enjoyed the book A Peek Into My Nigerian Diary), so did the missionary himself. Pastor Norbert Reim has sent us almost 100 pages of what he calls his Nigerian Journal from the years 1945-1948.
Now 50 years later the CLC is endeavoring to send missionary David Koenig to the same land. Much can be learned from the Reim Journal as to what we might pray for as co-partners in this continuing effort to spread the Gospel in Nigeria.
What follows is called an “Address Of Welcome To Pastors (N. H. Reim, R. C. Stade, W. F. Stahlke)” as it appears in Reim’s Journal under the date February 10, 1946.
We the people of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nigeria welcome you to our midst. Not long ago the thoughts of coming here had been haunting your minds. You had been imagining what the place would look like. At last by God’s grace you have arrived in Africa, the once Dark Continent, to help make the light of the Gospel shine in it. You have arrived in the worst part of it, “the White Man’s Grave.” Fear not, by God’s grace it shall be your home.
You have come, Pastors, not to work the inexhaustible resources of this country; you have come not to conquer its kingdoms, like the people of your kinred (sic) race did in the early part of this century. But you have come to build up a kingdom, a kingdom that shall never end; you have come to fight the devil with all his attendants; fight on and you shall surely win the battle. It will be a bitter battle and in some places you will have to retreat. Yet if the arms you put on are not those of flesh, if you trust in Him whose call you obey so willingly, then the victory will be yours. Then a day shall come when you will hear the great Shepherd say, “Come, thou faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Father.”
May the Lord make you enjoy your stay here in Nigeria, may His presence stay with you and be your guide, may He make His light shine in you.
We are, dear Pastors, the people of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nigeria. (Signed) V. M. Udo, Secretary E. U. Ekong (Headmaster).
On the same page Pastor Reim attaches this footnote to the above:
Far from naked savages, these people. Perhaps we have much to learn from them concerning sincerity of Christianity and willingness to confess. The freshness of religious life among this people that 30 years ago had hardly heard of the Savior is an invigorating stimulus. It is hard to imagine that there are many here who wear their Christianity only as a respectable cloak. No, you can’t help loving these people. I thank God again and again that He has granted me the privilege of teaching them–and learning from them. . . .
* COORDINATING COUNCIL (see box)
The Coordinating Council (“CC”) generally meets in Eau Claire, Wis. twice a year–in the Spring and the Fall. Your editor audited the CC’s meetings on October 21-22, 1998. It was both an uplifting and depressing experience.
Whoa there! “Depressing”?! What do you mean? Listen to a few words scratched down as part of my transcript of the meeting (these were comments made when the Board of Regents for ILC was on deck):
“We need drastic changes in our school’s program somewhere” — “The enrollment is 10 fewer students than projected; that means $50,000.00 less to work with; do we expect ILC or the CLC to pick that up?” — “Since 1992 the CBP line has held steady in spite of spiraling costs. What is the message in this for us?” — “I for one have been sitting here for 20 years and always hear it said that we need to get the information out. I don’t think that’s the problem” — “We could close down Northwest Hall, which is a big drain on the budget, but would have to build another building” — “Does the CBP come up in your congregation as a negative discussion? It shouldn’t” — “We could save $3,500.00 by cancelling next Spring’s CC!” — “We can explain the program, but we aren’t going to change the giving. ‘Fund-raising’ needs to come from the pastors. We can only help pastors and laymen explain the needs to our people.” . . .
So the CC went about doing its job, or, we might say, performing its “primary function” (cf. Constitution). Much of that job has to do with money–budget setting, adjusting this, increasing that, cutting here, amending there, all within guidelines set by the synodical body in Convention.
The word “depressing” was used in describing my CC experience. That may be too strong a word. Yet a four-hour nuts-and-bolts discussion about “money” and the “program”–be it the program at ILC, or of the Boards of Missions, Trustees, or Education–is enough to give anyone a headache. The chairman’s “let’s take a break” is a welcome word.
Nor would we leave a wrong impression. Discussions are hardly all negative. Audit any session and it becomes obvious the participants are business men–men happy to be about the Lord’s serious business. As they grapple with financial concerns, budgetary constraints, and wise stewardship of the offering-funds available, these men of God know that nothing can or should be used to build the kingdom, move hearts, or “raise funds” to sacrificial giving levels but the message of God’s inestimable riches toward sinners in Christ Jesus.
In fact, we might wish that all CLC members had been there last fall to hear the round-table 45-minute Gospel-based discussion on Christian stewardship. Were that the case, I suspect that, instead of spending so much time talking about cutting programs and other austerity measures, the Lord’s business men on the CC would have the happy chore of deciding–prayerfully and carefully as always–what to do with all the available money!
The next CC meeting will be this spring. It has been called for ten days after Easter, April 14 & 15, 1999. At that time the Lord’s business men will be found–in good humor as well as serious discussion–around the table on the third floor of Ingram Hall on the ILC campus.
Let us all attend to the synodical reports that are sent out. And let us all support the Lord’s work and workers with our prayers and our money.
Bylaw 12: Coordinating Council
The Coordinating Council shall consist of the officers of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, the President of Immanuel Lutheran College, the Chairman of the Board of Doctrine, and one of the called male servants of the Word and one layman (one of whom is the chairman) from the Board of Missions, Board of Education, Board of Regents, and Board of Trustees. The President of the Church of the Lutheran Confession shall call and preside at meetings of the Coordinating Council. He may call in as advisory members such persons as he deems necessary. The primary function of the Coordinating Council shall be to coordinate the work of the various boards of the Church of the Lutheran Confession and to propose an annual budget which shall be presented to the convention for action during convention years. The Coordinating Council will set the annual budget during non-convention years.
* ILC PRESIDENT’S REPORT TO LAST OCTOBER’S COORDINATING COUNCIL (The ILC President as well as the chairmen of each of the synodical boards presents a written report to the Coordinating Council. They generally preface their reports on the current status with introductory comments based on Holy Scripture. These comments are meant to inspire. We print below what Professor John Pfeiffer, ILC President, wrote in the “Introduction” to his report to last October’s CC.)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Upon this foundation we have been building our Christian education. In families, Christian schools, and churches those who have the responsibility of teaching begin their work on the premise that this world and all that is in it is the creative work of God. Thus, we belong to Him and we are responsible to Him in all that we think, say, and do. Every aspect of a child’s education rests upon this truth. Everything that he learns can and must be traced back to the Creator. If not, the education is defective.
What is so amazing to us is the magnitude of love that this Creator has for His creatures. He did not create us on a whim or as an experiment. His love is so obvious in every aspect of our creation. Clearly, He made the universe to be a delightful thing for His creatures–a delight to the sight, to the hearing, to the touch, to the taste, to the smell, and to the cognitive abilities of the mind.
However, these expressions of His love pale in comparison to the love which He has displayed in His Son, Jesus Christ. Having despised His love, we invented lifestyles according to the sinful desires of our hearts. However, rather than casting us into the hellfire that we so rightfully deserved, our Creator determined to save us from our damning folly. This He accomplished through the sacrifice of His own dear Son. Through His suffering and death, our Lord Jesus paid the price for our sins and gave us life instead of death. The magnitude of God’s love cannot be measured by any human mind or instrument.
If the doctrine of creation is the foundation for the building of a true education, then salvation is the cement that holds it all together. Without salvation, the significance of every creative act of God is lost. Of what value is it to learn that God made us if, in the end, God is going to destroy us? Therefore, we present to our students a God who is not only the Creator, but also the Savior of the world.
Frequently, we feel a need to keep in step with those in secular education, so that our credits might be accepted by them. While there is good reason for this, we dare not become entrapped by it. The fact of the matter is that we are “light years” ahead of them in all aspects of education, because we are placing all subject matter in its true light (creation and salvation). God spare us from ever thinking that we are some inferior institution that must struggle to keep up with the world in the area of education.
As creatures of God who have been saved through the blood of His Son, we cannot but be filled with wonderment that He has chosen such as us to be His tools in the education of His children. May the Lord bless us richly with the faith, love, wisdom, knowledge, zeal, strength, and skill that we need to perform our task to His glory and to the eternal welfare of His children.