Lutheran Heritage Foundation is visiting on May 12

On May 12, Pr. Rod Benkendorf (former pastor at Frohna, MO) will be our guest preacher.  No longer serving in the area where the Missouri Synod first formed, he is now using his talents to help spread the grace of God farther afield.  In this grace-giving task, the Lutheran Church excels better than any other, not turning what God does to save us into something we do for Him (as many do with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).

So, how is he doing this?  By serving others through the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.  Formed in 1992, this “Recognized Service Organization” of the Missouri Synod has published over 3 million Lutheran books in a multitude of languages.  Of course, they want to continue doing so, spreading the truth of being justified by grace through faith, as they publish and provide Small Catechisms and similar material.

On Sunday, May 12th, make sure to be at Church at 8:15 so you can discover more about what they do and how we can help, which I hope we will do in some way as a congregation (but that’ll probably be in the next “budget cycle”).  To show how their work is helping in a specific situation, I include excerpts from an article by Julie Stiegemeyer, from the magazine “Higher Things.”

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Into the jungles of Africa, Pastor Andrew Mbugo Elisa comes.  He sits on a chair between the mango trees with the chatter of monkeys in the branches.  He sits on a chair, and the people from the village gather around him on blankets.  Then Pastor Andrew begins to speak.  He speaks God’s Word to the people.  He tells them about God’s love for them in Christ.  He tells them to repent of their sins.  All day long he teaches them.  Pastor Andrew is only a man, but the words he brings are the words of Christ extending eternal life to all who believe.

Andrew Mbugo Elisa is the bishop of the ELCS [Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan], a church body still in its infancy.  Lutheran congregations have sprung up all over the large country of Sudan during the church’s thirteen-year history.…  “We stand alone on Word and Sacrament,” Pastor Andrew says.  “As Lutherans, we believe we have the very clearest teaching of God’s Word.  Why would we not go out vigorously to share that and start more Lutheran congregations?” …

He reflected on John 15, particularly on verse 4, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”  Pastor Andrew asked himself how he could abide in God.  What would enable him to remain in Christ?  “To abide in Christ means to continually receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy which He bestows on us in Baptism, in preaching, and in the Lord’s Supper.”  And these are the gifts he shares as he travels around Sudan, much like the circuit riders who helped the LC-MS in its infancy.

During one such journey, Pastor Andrew went to the village of Agadi in the northern Sudan state of the Blue Nile region, which he estimates has a population of thirty-five hundred.  The people gathered around him to hear God’s Word.  They listened, they believed, and soon, Pastor Andrew baptized eighty-two new believers into Christ.  This is the fruit of God’s saving Word—people lost in the darkness of sin and unbelief receive new life in Christ and then are sustained in their faith by preaching and by receiving Jesus’ body and blood in His Supper.

Pastor Andrew had a goal of distributing five thousand catechisms in four languages, five thousand Bibles in seven languages, and five thousand doses of malaria medication to prevent the illness from spreading in his homeland of Sudan.  Andrew’s tireless efforts are aided by the translation work and funding of generous Lutheran individuals and congregations in addition to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.

Jesus continues to build His Church in congregations in the jungles of Africa and in the suburbs of Chicago and in the cornfields of Nebraska.  And so to you, Jesus comes under the forms of bread and wine, in His proclaimed Word and in the waters of Baptism.

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So, on Sunday, May 12th, please come ready to learn more at 8:15.  Then receive Jesus in the preached Word from Pr. Benkendorf and in His Supper. 

God’s Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever; to spread its Light from age to age shall be our chief endeavor.  Through life, it guides our way; in death, it is our stay.  Lord, grant, while worlds endure, we keep its teachings pure throughout all generations.  (Nikolai Grundvig, LSB 582)

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