Ten new missionaries, families start two-week orientation

New missionaries and their families pose for a group photo at the start of the winter 2016 orientation, Feb. 29-March 11 in St. Louis, along with LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison (in center, just left of cross). (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

New missionaries and their families pose for a group photo at the start of the winter 2016 orientation, Feb. 29-March 11 in St. Louis, along with LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison (in center, just left of cross). (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Paula Schlueter Ross

Ten new missionaries — along with their seven spouses and 19 children — began a two-week orientation Feb. 29 at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.

The missionaries — nine career and one “GEO” — were recently called by the Synod’s Office of International Mission (OIM) to serve in the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, South Korea and East Africa. GEO, “Globally Engaged in Outreach,” missionaries serve shorter terms than their career counterparts, typically two years.

In his morning chapel sermon on the orientation’s opening day, OIM Associate Executive Director Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein called Christ’s suffering and death “the greatest act of love ever shown” and, in reference to 1 Peter 4, urged worshipers to “arm yourselves with the same way of thinking.”

Grimenstein noted that all Christians “are called to be like Christ in showing hospitality, in providing service and by actively loving others in the way that Christ loved us,” but acknowledged that missionaries in foreign lands face “unique challenges and spiritual tests.”

“You missionaries are not going out there alone — you go out as Christ,” he said, and he encouraged them to follow Martin Luther’s practice of starting each new day by making the sign of the cross to “remind ourselves … as we step out of our beds, that we are God’s children,” that we are “different people, a people who walk in Christ, a people who move in Christ, a people who speak Christ.”

OIM Associate Executive Director Rev. Dan McMiller, who oversees recruitment and regional operations, described the orientation as the missionaries’ “first lengthy face-to-face meeting with the Office of International Mission” and “their supervisors in the field,” OIM’s regional directors.

It’s “very important,” he said, because sessions focus on practical topics such as health care, cultural adaptation, missiology, church relations, communications, photography and developing a network of support.

“They learn some do’s and don’ts about being a missionary and how to represent their church well on the field,” added McMiller, who served 14 years as a missionary in Latin America. It’s “a time for them to establish their first bond with fellow missionaries” and “hear from experienced missionaries” about “what their transition was like.” The orientation also is “a very spiritual time,” he said, with daily opening and closing devotions as well as worship in the International Center (IC) chapel.

McMiller says he’s “never heard anybody at the close of the two weeks say this wasn’t a good experience. Ever.” Missionary orientations are always, he adds, “very, very positive.”

A “Sending Service” for the missionaries and their families — at 2 p.m. Friday, March 11, in the IC chapel — is open to the public, with a reception to follow.

A second two-week orientation for another group of new missionaries is planned for June 13-24, also at the IC.

For more information about missionary opportunities, visit lcms.org/missionaries or contact McMiller at 314-996-1341 or dan.mcmiller@lcms.org.

Posted March 1, 2016

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3 Responses to Ten new missionaries, families start two-week orientation

  1. a. blumhorst March 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    Gods blessings to all we will send prayer for all of you

  2. Onvie Close March 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    I do not believe young children should be taken on the mission field. I know from personal experience the hardships adults face in various countries. Children don’t have a choice.

  3. Penny Johnson March 5, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Up to 2 years in the mission field can be the richest thing an individual, a couple, and their children can experience, to say nothing of what their witness can do to change the temporal and eternal lives of those living in darkness. Go in His Presence.

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