By Kevin Armbrust
Editor’s note: This article is one of several from the Summer 2017 issue of the Synod’s Lutherans Engage the World magazine that address opportunities for LCMS congregations to support LCMS mission work. Many Synod missionaries will be home this year, ready to visit LCMS congregations and share about their work. See a related Reporter story, “Missionaries plan visits to stateside congregations.” Also available is the May Reporter missionary-support insert, “Discover ways to support LCMS missionaries.”
“Supporting a missionary gives our members a global perspective,” observed the Rev. Douglas Breite, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Trinity has been a “Together in Mission” (TIM) congregation for the last 20 years.
The TIM program links congregations with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) missionaries to foster a relationship for spreading God’s Word both domestically and throughout the world. Congregations involved in the program support one or more missionary families through ongoing pledges of support.
Connected to the Church
The LCMS sends missionaries to both foreign and domestic destinations, and Trinity supports one of each. The Rev. Micah Glenn serves in Ferguson, Mo., where he leads outreach to youth and adults, and the Rev. Peter Kolb, based in Hong Kong, serves as the Asia regional chaplain.
While some missionaries are sent to plant new Lutheran churches, others support the Gospel proclamation efforts of indigenous Lutheran church bodies. By participating in the TIM program, congregations like Trinity are connected to the global mission of God.
Together in Mission is designed to cultivate a partnership between missionaries and congregations, groups and organizations within the LCMS. This relationship proves mutually beneficial in many ways.
“When a missionary comes to visit, it is an encouragement for us to share our stories and to make sure that we are in mission here,” said the Rev. Chip Winter, director of ministries at Christ Lutheran Church, Norfolk, Neb. He said the missionary also visits with the children at their school, which gets them excited “about mission work and opens to them another avenue through which they consider church work.”
The congregation has a long history of supporting LCMS missionaries, and it currently supports five. In addition, Winter noted that the congregation also goes on short-term mission trips and seeks opportunities in the community to share the love of Christ.
Partnership in the Gospel
Together in Mission has linked career and long-term missionaries to LCMS congregations and groups since 1982. Often, a TIM congregation makes a one-year renewable commitment to support a missionary family. The congregation, as it is able, can seek to increase this commitment over time as the Lord allows it to fulfill its pledge. This ongoing support helps facilitate the work of missions across the globe and in the United States.
Missionaries work in situations in which they cannot earn what is needed for daily bread from those whom they serve. Their support comes from people who are often geographically removed from their work. Yet that support is essential and brings geographically disparate people together in the common work of the Gospel.
The missionary benefits from the support to care for his or her family with all that is needed for this body and life. This support allows the missionary to work in the mission field as God has called him, according to His will.
The congregations, groups or organizations involved in TIM benefit from their connection with the Church and the Gospel in a larger context. Regarding his congregation’s involvement in the TIM program, Breite observed that this experience has “given our members a worldwide missional perspective. We have a school and meet the needs of our community the best we can, but this helps us recognize that the Gospel is needed throughout the world.”
TIM congregations also benefit from the relationship developed with the missionaries and their families. Regular communication — through newsletters, social media and occasional Skype calls — helps the congregation stay current with the work taking place on the mission field and the status of the missionary family.
When the missionaries are home, Trinity invites their missionaries to preach at their Sunday services and to lead a Bible class. Breite said these opportunities allow the members of Trinity to “stay up-to-date on their mission activities” and to reconnect with the people involved in the work.
Opportunities to connect
In 2013, the Synod in convention set before the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) Resolution 1-11, a challenge to double the number of career missionaries. The resultant efforts have been blessed so that more than 110 career missionaries now serve in various locations.
Each deployed missionary returns to the U.S. for a visit every two years. This trip provides the opportunity to visit congregations either to thank current donors or to broaden their base of support, and it also allows them to rest and reconnect with family and friends. Many of the missionaries called and placed as a result of the 2013 resolution are scheduled to return home this summer for this home service.
This also is a time for the Synod at-large to renew her commitment to pray for the work of the Kingdom done through missionary families. Daily family and individual as well as corporate prayer is an important component in the church’s support of her missionaries.
Read tips on how to prepare for a missionary’s visit to your congregation. To learn about the Synod’s missionaries, visit lcms.org/missionarysupport.
“The support that we get from donors is what makes the work we do possible. It provides for my family’s school, house, food and so many more things,” Glenn said. “Most importantly, it keeps me in the field to preach the Gospel to people who have never heard it.”
Dr. Kevin Armbrust (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted July 12, 2017