HOUSTON – Some 200 current and former Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod career missionaries took part in two gatherings in conjunction with the church body’s 63rd Regular Convention here:
- About 100 missionaries serving in more than 20 countries attended a weeklong “Ablaze! Missionary Summit” July 7-13 under the theme “Renewing Our Covenant – Rekindling Our Joy.” The event included plenary presentations on urban and global Christianity, mission trends, joyful service, staying healthy on foreign fields, and the Synod’s Ablaze! evangelism initiative. There were daily Bible studies; mission reports; regional meetings among those serving on U.S., Asian, African, Latin American, and Eurasian mission fields; and special activities for missionary children.
The missionaries attended “global network” workshops on various topics, such as recruitment, theological education, human care, the role of missionary wives, crisis counseling, school ministry, church planting, medical ministry, and educating missionary children.
- About 100 former missionaries are attending a “Missionary Alumni Reunion” July 13-15 designed to renew relationships, share information about LCMS mission work and the Ablaze! movement, and recognize them for their previous mission service.
The two missionary groups met together July 13.
The back-to-back events marked the second time LCMS World Mission has brought its current and former missionaries together to share experiences and ideas, and get to know one another and mission staff. The mission board first brought its missionaries together in conjunction with the LCMS convention in 2004.
Dr. Robert Roegner, executive director of LCMS World Mission, said the two events were repeated – and may be held again in 2010 – because they “create a lot of energy around Ablaze! and allow us to build the TEAM” (Together Everyone Achieves More). They also “allow us to celebrate the things that God has done through the power of His Spirit around Ablaze! over the last three years since we last got together.”
Roegner said Lutherans worldwide have shared their faith with more than 5.2 million people as a result of Ablaze! – the LCMS movement to share the Gospel with 100 million people worldwide by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. An online counter at www.lcms.org/ablaze was established to record the movement’s progress. The Synod has invited its partner church bodies in 29 countries to take part in the Gospel-sharing effort.
Missionaries Tim and Beth Heiney, who served more than 20 years in Africa and are currently based in Guinea, West Africa, said they appreciated the chance to get together with other missionaries, especially those they haven’t seen in years. Hearing reports about work in other countries and gathering with the missionaries serving in Africa was helpful “to get the big picture,” said Tim Heiney.
“I think it helped bring all of the missionaries together in that Ablaze! vision,” said Beth Heiney, and as a result of the gathering, “the missionaries have more of a common vision … unified under that [Ablaze!] banner.”
“It’s been a tough year,” she added, referring to the political unrest in Guinea earlier this year that led to the temporary evacuation of the Heineys and other LCMS missionaries. “Just being together with everyone, talking about our experiences, and learning from each other has been wonderful.”
A third LCMS World Mission-sponsored gathering scheduled for July 19-21, the “Ablaze! International Summit,” will bring presidents from 24 LCMS partner churches in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eurasia to Houston to discuss the Ablaze! effort in their respective countries.
The theme of the LCMS triennial convention – meeting July 14-19 at the George R. Brown Convention Center here – is “One Message – Christ! His Love is Here for You!”
Posted July 15, 2007