by Melanie Ave
The Rev. Matthew Heise serves as a career missionary to Russia and other former Soviet republics for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). This October, as we celebrate World Mission Month, Heise (www.lcms.org/heise) offers a glimpse into his life overseas.
The following is an edited Lutheran Witness (LW) interview with Heise (MH):
LW: You were called as a theological educator for the LCMS in 2001. What does that mean, and what do you see as your main purpose or goal?
MH: A theological educator basically teaches at Lutheran seminaries or Bible schools. We often work with our church partners or other Lutheran bodies in countries where Lutheranism is just beginning, as in Mongolia, for example. My goal is to get my students to learn more about the Scriptures and also to think deeply about how they can convey that information to others in their culture.
LW: How open are the people of Eurasia to the Gospel?
MH: The people groups I work with in Eurasia are very open to the Gospel. Basically, I am dealing with two types of people. For some, like the Russians, it is a restoration of the Gospel witness that was lost over the long years of Communism. For others, like Mongolians and other people groups of Central Asia, it is a new witness, and I am constantly amazed at how the Holy Spirit is preparing the hearts of people around the world to hear Gods Word.
LW: The former Soviet Union closed all Lutheran churches in 1937. Their pastors were either martyred or exiled, and parishioners were scattered to the edges of the Siberian landscape. How has this history in the former Soviet Union affected Lutheranism there?
MH: The Lutherans in the former Soviet Union know what suffering means. I always compare this to our peaceful church life in the United States. So, when we speak about church life, it is very serious for them.
LW: How has your work in Eurasia changed you?
MH: I always say that I have a front row seat to the work of the Holy Spirit around the world today. I have been humbled to see that we are simply a part of the great move of Gods mission throughout the world today. It is not our mission. It is His!
LW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about what you do or how best to support you and others like you who serve the LCMS overseas?
MH: I am so grateful that every day people in congregations assist us in strengthening new mission work around the world. They are the backbone of our work. Their prayers and support make it possible for us to help various evangelists reach out to their own people in the manner they know best for their own culture.
About the Author: Melanie Ave is the Public Relations Coordinator for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.