A pastor shared with John about how his church shares the Gospel in the prisons of his country. (As we know, Prison Ministry is so important, as provided by some of our own SOTH members here in Denver.) The government guards are strict but allow the pastor and a small group of lay people to visit weekly to encourage and comfort the inmates. During their visits, groups of 30-70 prisoners may be allowed to gather to pray and hear the Gospel preached. Singing is not allowed, however, the group is permitted to distribute food and toothbrushes, as well as administer medical care to relieve inflammation and illness that result from confinement. On other days, the group makes hospital visits.
John attended Sunday Divine Service at the Center for Theological Lutheran Education (CLET) in Dapaong Togo, which trains men form eight French-speaking countries in western Africa. Missionary Rev. Gary Schulte, Area Director for West and Central Africa, preached in French while a Togolese pastor translated into the local Moba dialect. This LCMS-supported seminary provides training for men to become pastors and return to one of eight French-speaking countries in west and central Africa to share the Gospel in their own languages and in sometimes difficult situations.
Annually, church leaders and delegates from 12 confessional French-speaking Lutheran church bodies in these eight countries gather as a union to discuss the state of, plans, and future for theological instruction and Lutheranism in their countries. The gathering is known as the Conseil Administratif de l’Union (CAU), and in English would be the Administrative Counsel of the Union. In February, John was able to attend this meeting, and learned stories and histories from many leaders, as well as heard the progress of projects supported by their church body and the LCMS.
At the moment, John and many other LCMS missionaries are limiting their movement and hunkering down in their homes in eastern Africa due national precautions in response to the COVID-19 virus. Mission work continues though, connecting with churches, church workers visiting families rather than gathering in public, and sharing how people are drawn to Christ even during these interesting times.
- That people are still able to procure food and essentials, as permitted within the bounds of government efforts to contain COVID-19
- For mostly stable internet and electric resources that have enabled us to connect online with others while in self-isolation.
- For the ability to meet virtually with our fellow missionaries for daily devotions and encouragement.
- For the creative implementation by education institutes to allow online learning and examinations to proceed.