For the first time since 2003 — when LCMS World Mission realigned its international operations to establish four international regions — all four deployed regional director positions for the Synod’s overseas missions are filled.
International regional directors work with overseas partners to establish priorities and develop strategies for global mission outreach. They also oversee the development and support of LCMS mission teams and individual missionaries and, when requested, serve as representatives of the LCMS president in church-relations matters.
The four regional directors, whose placements were celebrated during a July 12 chapel service at the Synod’s International Center in St. Louis, are:
- Dr. Jorge Groh, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean since January 2004. The Argentina-born Groh, based in Panama City, Panama, is a 1977 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received his doctorate in 1989 from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and has served as a parish pastor in Argentina and Canada, and as president and professor at the Buenos Aires seminary.
- Rev. John Mehl, regional director for Asia since January. Mehl, who was raised in Concordia, Mo., is a 1985 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He and his wife, Susan, served as missionaries in Russia, and John Mehl previously served LCMS World Mission as area director for the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics, and as regional director for Eurasia. The Mehls are based in Hong Kong.
- Dr. Paul Mueller, regional director for Africa since August 2005. Mueller, a 1983 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, holds a Master of Theology degree in missiology (1991) from Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission, and a Ph.D. in missiology (1996) from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. Mueller previously served 12 years as director of the Oswald Hoffmann School of Christian Outreach and professor of theology and mission at Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn. He and his wife, Joy, also served LCMS World Mission as missionaries in Liberia, West Africa. They reside in Nairobi, Kenya.
- Rev. Brent Smith, regional director for Eurasia (Europe and the former Soviet Union) since April. Smith is a 2001 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and is working toward a doctorate in missions and evangelism. He previously served LCMS World Mission as business manager for the Kazakhstan field, missionary in Moscow, and area facilitator for Russia, Belarus, and Georgia. He and his family are based in Frankfurt, Germany.
“It is a privilege for LCMS World Mission to have four men like those now serving as regional directors, as well as their families,” said Executive Director Robert Roegner. “Each of them will bring different gifts to the table and will give the LCMS significant leadership in the accomplishment of the Ablaze! strategy and goals.”
Roegner added that he was excited to have “a representative in every region around the world” and said the placement will “help make our mission ministry and the resources that support this work more effective.”
Posted Aug. 15, 2006