“The Lord is our Shepherd,” the Rev. Arthur Rickman, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) area director for Greater China, declared. He preached to teachers, community members, church leaders and students celebrating the graduation of students from Concordia School for Special Education (CSSE) on Friday, July 15, 2016.
“Our Good Shepherd knows how difficult life can be.” Rickman pointed to the Good Shepherd who provides for our needs of body and soul, even in times of difficulty.
Principal Grace Lam also noted the difficulties of life when she quoted from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” It’s a critical time for the school, which faces both joys and challenges. She encouraged the students and teachers noting that “difficulties push us forward.”
After Lam finished her speech, many others had an opportunity to speak, including the Rev. Thomas Dunseth, president of Concordia Welfare and Education Society of Macau (CWESM). The society oversees and provides guidance for CSSE. During his comments, Dunseth said, “Without the LCMS, there would have been no opportunity for families of special needs children in Macau to hear of Christ and His saving work for them.”
Dunseth also noted that “over the past five decades, St. Paul Lutheran School for the Deaf and now CSSE have taught their students the Word of God in weekly chapel services, morning prayer and religion classes. As a result, many in the city know that the Lutherans love Macau’s special children.”
After speeches, students received numerous awards. The Rev. Michael Wu, a Taiwanese pastor supported by the LCMS Office of International Mission who works alongside LCMS workers in Macau, presented to one student an award for “the pursuit of truth in religion.”
Wu cares for some of the spiritual needs of CSSE. He leads chapel services and teaches Bible class at the school. During chapel services, Wu reads and explains Bible stories to the children. He also teaches them about Lutheran liturgy and vestments. On Saturdays, Wu leads a Bible class. Around 10 students attend the class along with parents and teacher assistants.
Concordia School for Special Education began in the early 1960s as St. Paul, with a particular emphasis on supporting hearing impaired students. In 1988, when The Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod decided to close St. Paul, the finance department of the Macau government offered to support the school financially. The extra support allowed the school to provide education for a broader range of special needs students.
So, in 1988, the school was renamed Concordia School for Special Education.
While the LCMS does not support the school financially, the LCMS aides the school in other ways. LCMS missionaries provide guidance through membership on the governing board, and LCMS short term mission teams have assisted the school in other projects.
Rickman is also working on ways to strengthen the relationship between the LCMS and CSSE by exploring the possibility of LCMS workers partnering with the school to better serve the special needs community.
As Rickman reminded the assembly, the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. He cares by providing for both the spiritual and material needs of His flock. He works through CSSE to provide for some of these needs in Macau.
— Rev. Roy S. Askins, Director of Communications, Asia