10/30/2019 11:31:54 AM
First Things - Luther, Africa & Called Workers
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
There are larger-than-life size statues of Martin Luther at all four of our WELS worker training schools. My favorite is the one at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. It’s my favorite because of the quotation from Martin Luther that appears beneath it:
Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness. I am your sin.
You became what you were not and made me to be what I was not.
Luther drew his inspiration from the words of the Apostle Paul in the text above. God, our heavenly Father, did not sweep our sin under some celestial rug. Rather, Paul writes, God made him who had no sin – obviously Jesus Christ – to be sin for us. In other words, the Lord God Almighty took all the sins of all people of all time and placed them on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. That is why he died. God took our sin away from us and gave it to Christ. And then he punished his beloved Son instead of punishing you and me.
But, according to St. Paul, God not only took something away from us. He also gave something to us. Paul writes: in him – again Jesus Christ – we might become the righteousness of God God, our heavenly Father, credited the holy life that Jesus had lived to our account.
So, our sin is gone. In its place we have Jesus righteousness, his holiness. And because of that, we are now God’s children who have God’s promise of eternal life in heaven.
That is what gives us joy and confidence in the midst of the difficulties of daily life. Our biggest problem has already been solved by God. And so we know that one day we will have no more problems, when we are with him in heaven.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness. I am your sin. You became what you were not and made me to be what I was not. THANK YOU. Amen.
Thursday Morning Bible Study
We begin our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, tomorrow at 9:00 AM in the church basement.
The End Is Near
This Sunday we begin the time in the church year known as the “End Times.” Since what will happen in the end times is so important, we devote the last four Sundays of each church year to hearing the promises about the end times found in Holy Scripture:
Nov. 3 Reformation – “The truth will set you free.”
Nov. 10 Last Judgment – “To everyone who has, more will be given.”
Nov. 17 Saints Triumphant – “…they can no longer die…for they are children of the resurrection.”
Nov. 24 Christ the King – “…you will be with me in paradise.”
WELS World Missions – Africa
The first place that we think about when we hear about “WELS missions” is Africa. And there’s good reason for that. Our oldest foreign fields where we have missionaries are in Africa. WELS began work in Zambia in 1953 and in Malawi in 1963. (WELS also sent missionaries to Japan in 1953, but there have been no missionaries there for a number of years.)
The Lord has blessed our work in Africa phenomenally. In the Central African country of Zambia the Lutheran Church of Central Africa has 8,700 adult members and in Malawi it has 12,800. At one time we also had missionaries in Nigeria and Cameroon (they’ve been removed for security reasons). The churches there have over 3,000 adult members.
Things have changed a lot in Africa since we were there. Just before we left Malawi in 2003, there were 22 missionary families living in Zambia and Malawi. Missionaries not only taught in our worker training schools, but also served as pastors in many of the congregations. Today, there are only ten mission families left. And the work that they do is different. No longer do missionaries serve as pastors in African congregations – African pastors now do that. Missionaries continue to train Africans to be pastors in Zambia and Malawi. But now the other missionaries do much more mentoring and ongoing education with the pastors who are serving congregations. In addition, the mission staff now travels to a number of other African countries where they teach men in other churches. This includes churches in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
But Africa is still Africa. The other day I heard from one of my friends that he had recently travelled to Ethiopia to teach, but local rioting forced him to fly back home as soon as he arrived.
Pastor Andrew Schultz from Barre Mills has received a call to serve at two of the four “sites” at Grace Lutheran Church in Tucson, AZ. Our daughter Erin is a member there. It has been vacant for 2 ½ years, since our son Colin accepted a call to Palos Heights, Illinois!
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) has:
· 294 Lutheran elementary schools
· 387 early childhood ministries (like our ELC)
· 26 area Lutheran high schools (like Luther in Onalaska)
· 1,344 teachers
91 teachers currently hold calls to serve other schools in 2020-2021. More schools will likely be calling in the near future. The point is that there is a shortage of teachers at the present time. Something to pray about!
Three Upcoming Events
- Mike Westendorf Concert – contemporary Christian musician Mike Westendorf will perform at Luther High School, Friday, November 1 at 6:30 PM
- Quarterly Voters Meeting – Sunday, November 3 after Sunday worship. The Board for Lay Ministry will be recommending that we call – rather than hire – a new director for our Early Learning Center.
- Area Reformation Rally featuring the contemporary Christian musical group Koine – Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 PM at St. Paul’s in Onalaska
Please Pray For…
1. Jean Meiners, sister-in-law of Char Meiners who is in the hospital with a number of issues – bad heart valve, meningitis, and cancer in her spine
2. The 30+ WELS missionaries who serve around the world
Yours in Christ,