Teaming up to make Christ known

By Pastor Ben Hentschke

The mission statement of Ipswich Lutheran church is ‘To Know Christ and to Make Christ Known’. To fulfil this mission, we embarked on a journey with LCA International Mission to find a partner church in a South-East Asian country. We felt a clear call from God to support the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar (ELCM […]

The mission statement of Ipswich Lutheran church is ‘To Know Christ and to Make Christ Known’. To fulfil this mission, we embarked on a journey with LCA International Mission to find a partner church in a South-East Asian country.

We felt a clear call from God to support the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar (ELCM or Lutheran Bethlehem Church).

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a country just emerging from decades of military rule and beginning to find its feet in the 21st century. It is 85 per cent Buddhist.

Last month I travelled with Ipswich members Martin and Pauline Oldfield and Erin Kerber from LCA International Mission to the city of Yangon to formalise the partnership. This was a joyous time as we got to know Pastor Jensen, his son Luke and several members of Lutheran Bethlehem Church. This remarkable congregation was founded in 1878 and we are the first Lutheran congregation to partner with them!

We were privileged and humbled to visit two of the villages in which they have established mission activities.

The first village was about two hours south of Yangon, and on a very hot, humid day we travelled by car, canoe, motorbike and on foot to a small farming community where local members had set up an activity area under tarpaulins.

We were greeted by a happy gathering of nearly 200 women and children (the men were working in the fields), many of whom would have walked for several hours to attend.

The period between the dry and the wet season is a difficult time for these families and we were privileged to be able to provide each family with enough rice and oil for about a week.

The second village was five hours north of Yangon. This is a relatively new and unique mission centre for ELCM. It is primarily an Indian village but there is tension between Burmese and Indian people, and this was the first time that they had come together. The feeling within this group was one of interested but reserved observation rather than the joy we saw at the first village.

An ELCM evangelist, who was forced to learn Hindi as a child, now sees his personal mission as going into this Hindustani village and sharing Christ with them in their native language. Pastor Jensen and I, together with two evangelists, prayed for healing for many of the local people.

We did see real joy when we made our last visit to a small village where we were able to witness Pastor Jensen baptising 10 members of one family. These were the first baptisms in this village since its recent cleansing from all Hindu idols. I was honoured to be able to share a word of encouragement with villagers from Romans 6. We worshipped with them and the singing and music was sheer joy!

We left thanking God for the opportunity to build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the exciting possibilities of ways this partnership will continue to grow God’s Kingdom in a place where Jesus is so desperately needed.

View the Ipswich Myanmar Mission Trip 2017 video produced by Ipswich Lutheran Church, Qld.


This story was also published in the November 2017 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/

Read more stories about congregational partnerships at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/congregations/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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