Learning New Things

By Geoff Burger

After some ‘gentle persuasion’ from Glenice Hartwich, we fearfully flew to Indonesia to teach English in Siantar, North Sumatra, not knowing what to expect. Helen Schubert, my wife Audrey and I learned some things and we’d like to share them with you: Imagine a seminary as big as one of our (LCA) secondary colleges. There […]

After some ‘gentle persuasion’ from Glenice Hartwich, we fearfully flew to Indonesia to teach English in Siantar, North Sumatra, not knowing what to expect. Helen Schubert, my wife Audrey and I learned some things and we’d like to share them with you:

Imagine a seminary as big as one of our (LCA) secondary colleges. There are 115 young men and women beginning first year theology at the Lutheran seminary (STT HKBP) in Siantar.

Batak Lutherans are as passionate about singing as Australians are about sport. During one service we attended with a student choir, there were six other choirs – old women, men, young women and youth! They stood up during the service and sang from the front, the back and the balcony. And there were two more service that Sunday with more choirs!

Our students sang choruses, heritage Lutheran hymns and Taize chants in chapel. They sang on the way to our English classes, during lessons and as they waited for lunch and raked up leaves.

They are the singing church we used to be. Singing together is not simply an expression of church, it’s part of creating church as the body of Christ. Lutherans in Indonesia have a lot to give us.

We spent a week with a delightful group of pastors with demanding ministries; Pastor Tulus serves 13 congregations and Pastor Rismini, with 300 families, said she doesn’t have time to take holidays. They face similar problems confronting many communities in Australia – plastic bags, children sniffing glue, alcohol, TV, keeping up with the neighbours and so on.

We stayed at the Mamre orphanage, home to 60 children. We got to know a few of them, they were confident young people – happy to talk and share God’s love, and their hopes for the future.


This story was also published in the November 2013 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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