The Mission Helper Program was established several years ago to provide opportunities for members of the CLC to assist in the mission efforts of our church body.
About a year and a half ago the Mission Helper Committee proposed a change in the direction of the program. In the past individuals would volunteer, and the committee would assist in making arrangements for a trip.
This year’s trip to India was the first of what is hoped will be many more “group” mission trips. The committee plans to arrange a group foreign mission trip every two years and to publicize the trip and the need for volunteers. This will allow time for prospective mission helpers to consider the needs and their gifts, and at the same time to pray for guidance in making arrangements and preparations.
The Mission Helper Committee will continue to make individual opportunities known as they arise.
As the name of the Mission Helper Program indicates, the goal and purpose of the program is to help our missionaries. During our time in India, it became obvious that we were doing exactly that–helping our missionary. In addition to attending and delivering papers at the first annual Joint India Pastoral Conference of the BELC and CLCI, the mission helpers were able to accomplish many of the things that Missionary Koenig just doesn’t have the time to do.
Mr. Peter Evensen of Faith congregation in St. Louis, Mo. along with Pastor Mike Schierenbeck and the undersigned were able to give approximately sixty combined hours of instruction to the pastors and students of the BELC and CLCI on such subjects as the Sacraments, Pastoral Counseling, and the Pentecostal movement. ILC students Nathan Greve and Karl Koenig spent their time with the orphans of the BELC. They taught the orphans lessons in English along with filmstrip Bible stories, catechism lessons, and hymns.
Exploratory work done in the Andaman Islands will allow Missionary Koenig to spend more time working in mainland India.
Another aspect of helping our missionary is the Christian fellowship that we were able to share with him. Having spent just five days away from the group in the Andaman Islands, I can only begin to realize how lonely it must be for Missionary Koenig and his wife, Mary, while they are away from family and friends.
Of course, the greatest benefit of this trip was the spreading of God’s saving Word to our fellow Christians and to the lost souls of India. This truth was made so evident as we visited our last congregation. We were especially invited because there were to be ten baptisms that day. As Pastor Schierenbeck preached, I noticed out the front door of the church building that several men dressed in saffron robes were passing by. They were walking barefoot on their one hundred-plus kilometer Hindu pilgrimage to honor the false Hindu god Ganesha.
On our way out to the church we had been detoured through a dry river bed. We were delayed about an hour to avoid the thousands of people who were gathered to honor–and make offerings to–an idol erected in the village. It was somewhat surreal, to say the least.
As we sat in the midst of such an obvious display of Satan’s darkness and deceit, I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed as I sat and listened to God’s Word being proclaimed in truth, boldness, and love. I know I speak for all the mission helpers when I give thanks to our God for the privilege, opportunity, and joy that this trip provided.
–Submitted by Pastor Todd Ohlmann, Mission Helper Committee Chairman