Every other month our CLC Board of Missions updates us with recent news from various mission fields.
It goes without saying that travel has been a challenge over the past couple of years due to the pandemic. But even as travel restrictions have eased recently, making plans to travel internationally can still be challenging and frustrating. Missionary Todd Ohlmann was set to travel to the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission in March for a two-week visit. That trip had to be postponed, not because of COVID restrictions, but because of a last minute policy change in the issuance of visas.
Missionary Ohlmann was able to reschedule his trip for May. Due to visa and scheduling issues, the trip had to be shortened to just one extremely busy week. Pastor M.B. (name withheld for security) is the leader of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission (BLCM). Missionary Ohlmann describes him as “an extremely zealous proclaimer of the Gospel. His ambitious and almost manic approach to the ministry is admirable, but also exhausting.” The trip included early mornings, late nights, and not a lot of sleep as they tried to cram as much as possible into the week.
Our work with Pastor M.B. and the BLCM began in 2016 with an email to President Eichstadt indicating their interest in receiving additional training in God’s Word. After a few years of correspondance and online theological studies with Missionary Ohlmann, an initial visit was made in 2019. In January 2020, Pastor David Reim accompanied Missionary Ohlmann for a second visit to complete the colloquy process. Following that visit, President Eichstadt recommended a declaration of fellowship.
This most recent trip began with a full day visiting several congregations in a district that Missionary Ohlmann had not visited before. This was followed by a long day of travel visiting congregations on the way to the location where a few days of pastoral training seminars would be held. During the training seminars, Missionary Ohlmann led students through a study of the book of Philippians and a study of proper Biblical interpretation. They also discussed the work of the CLC Board of Missions worldwide and made plans to begin formal training for BLCM pastors, evangelists, elders, and Bible teachers. The training of men to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving Word remains our priority in all of our foreign fields. This is especially needed in the BLCM as there are only two ordained pastors and thirteen assistant pastors/elders serving thirty-five congregations and preaching stations. The busy trip concluded with the opportunity for Missionary Ohlmann to preach for a couple of Sunday worship services.
The BLCM has been challenged in recent years due to increased persecution of Christians (Bangladesh is about 95% Muslim and less than 1% Christian). In addition, the government has increased regulatory requirements for a church to conduct ministry activities. Yet, Pastor M.B. and the members of the BLCM are undeterred in their efforts to spread the Gospel. Please pray that the Lord would bless the Gospel work in the BLCM.