Our Practice with Overseas Contacts and Churches
Missionary David Koenig, recently retired but still serving as needed, is drawing on his many years of working experience with our oversees brethren to write a series entitled
FROM THE [MISSION] FIELD. Of particular interest is this article which reveals how careful Christian and biblical circumspection undergirds the gospel work in which, under
the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are engaged worldwide.
More contacts in India and Myanmar. New contacts in Haiti and Mexico—and who knows what other opportunities God will give the CLC.
You may benefit from knowing what we have been doing to handle these great challenges over the years. We have varied our approach according to circumstances, as God guides us to best use our wisdom and common sense according to what we know and see.
Phase I — Correspondence
We correspond with contacts. This was done with Prof. Erpenstein of San Francisco to the Nigerian college students when they returned to their home country and with their pastors. This we did with Pastors Benjamin and Bas in India, and in each case in about one year following we had a formal doctrinal visit/discussion. This level, of course, can be done by others in the CLC, what with our doctrinal understanding of the universal priesthood. Years ago at St. Luke’s in Lemmon, S.Dak. our congregation corresponded with many overseas. In this initial phase the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose and other doctrinal treatises are sent, as well as papers on what we would consider to be our likely doctrinal differences.
Phase II – Literature
We start sending over larger amounts of instructive literature—while still not in doctrinal fellowship but with the indications that such fellowship will likely be. This involves Sunday School materials, Bibles, catechisms, and other doctrinal material that can be disseminated to the people of the group and not just to the leader(s).
Initial correspondence with the Ombasa group in Kenya began with the CLC President and continued with me, and then we sent money for 100 Bibles and catechisms.
Initial correspondence with Pastor Muzakuza in Congo began with the Chairman of the Mission Board and continued with me. We have sent over French catechisms, French language doctrinal materials, Swahili Bibles. And we carried in Swahili catechisms printed in the USA.
Phase III — Initial Visit
In Nigeria and India we did not do this but went for a full doctrinal meeting. In Kenya we have done this when we visited the Ombasa group. This just seems wise. This is more cost effective also, in that it might be found out that more time is needed before a full doctrinal meeting should take place toward establishing fellowship. This phase could be short circuited if warranted.
Phase IV — Full Doctrinal Meeting
It is wise that everything be confirmed by the mouths of two or three witnesses. In India it was David Schierenbeck, John Rohrbach, David Koenig, and then later David Reim and Koenig with Benjamin and Bas respectively. In Kenya and most other times I think it should be three. If one of the three is an overseas missionary, then two should come from the USA, for when they report back, you have two of the three in the states. In India with Pastor Hans we utilized three of our BELC pastors for the visitation.
Phase V — Serving, Training, Discipling
Since we now have two foreign missionaries, after doctrinal agreement is reached, we should seek to 1) train the key preachers or pastors, and 2) have the missionaries make periodic visits as we are now doing in India, Nigeria, and elsewhere. Through some episodes in the past, we have learned that a sporadic visitation is unwise (to say the least). An annual visitation with teaching and counseling is vital to maintain our orthodox union.
This is just a brief overview of what we have been doing and developing.