Each month our CLC Board of Missions updates us with the latest news from various mission fields.
The Book of Acts records the rapid expansion of the early New Testament church. The Holy Spirit worked through the Word, using believers like Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, James, and Paul. Of these men, Paul is one of the central figures. Luke describes three of Paul’s “missionary journeys” which took him into areas that are now parts of Turkey and Greece. In his travels and mission work, Paul repeatedly looked for what he called “open doors.” He says, “When I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). Again, speaking about Ephesus, he writes, “A great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). Paul also asks the Colossian believers to pray that the Lord would open up more doors to preach the Gospel in Rome (Colossians 4:3).
Like the Apostle Paul, we too are witnesses of the crucified and risen Savior Who came for all people. As a synod, we seek to preach to all people the good news of sins forgiven in Christ, no matter where those people might be—under the same roof, down the street, on the other side of town, in another part of our state, or across the world. Technology has given us opportunities to reach farther and wider, and to come into contact with more people who are searching for the truth. Over the years of our existence as a synod, the Lord has opened many doors for us to preach the Gospel both here in the United States and across the world.
Consider the doors the Lord has opened for us to support domestic mission congregations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle, Spokane, Phoenix, Eau Claire, Winter Haven, Cheyenne, Winner, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, St. Louis, Corpus Christi, Madison, Sister Lakes, Rapid City, Loveland, Dallas, Fairfax, Bismarck, Sioux Falls, North Port, Detroit, Albuquerque, Fargo, Appleton, Weslaco, Tacoma, Vernon, and Atlanta (yes, all of those congregations either are now, or were at one time “mission congregations”). Over the course of fifty years, the CLC has supported over fifty mission congregations across the United States and Canada. Over half of them are now self-supporting with a full-time pastor. Another fifteen percent are self-supporting with a part-time pastor. Six are still receiving support with a desire to become self-supporting in the future. About twenty percent of those congregations are no longer in existence (for example: Missoula, Los Angeles, Neenah, and Hendersonville). While this aspect may be discouraging, we remember that it is not up to us to cause the growth. The Lord promises to do that in His good time and way. He simply calls us to cast the seed and preach the Word. He alone grants the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). We don’t always recognize or follow through on the opportunities that the Lord lays before us. Yet His Word continues on in spite of our failures. Thanks be to God!
Consider also the doors the Lord has opened for us across the world. In 1960 we were in fellowship with just one foreign church body, in Japan. In the 1970’s the Lord opened the door for us to train men in Nigeria, where we called and sent our first full-time missionary. In the 1980’s two more doors opened in India. While one of those doors seemed to shut when a split occurred between the CLC and Pastor Mohan Bas, the leader of the BELC, the Lord has strengthened the men there and has richly blessed the ministry in India, even causing us to call a second missionary to that fertile field. In the 90’s opportunities arose in Thailand, and in the 2000’s we saw an explosion of opportunity in Kenya, Tanzania, the Congo, Ghana, and Togo in Africa; and in Nepal and Myanmar in Asia. In the last five years we have established fellowship with groups or individuals in Australia, Mexico, Myanmar, Zambia, France, and Germany; and we are in ongoing study with groups in Zimbabwe, Argentina, Haiti, Rwanda, and Liberia. Indeed, the fields are white for harvest and the Lord continues to open doors for us to proclaim His Word of Truth both near and far!
And so we pray that the Lord would continue to open doors through which we would have opportunity to instruct others in the whole counsel of God. Lord, give us the wisdom, the strength, and the zeal to go through those doors, faithfully proclaiming Your truth, trusting in You to bless the results.
Nathanael Mayhew is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, and a member of the Board of Missions of the CLC.