In South Sudan, prior to June 2011, a small group of priests departed the Anglican church in that country to begin a small but growing Lutheran church body. Recently during his visit to Nairobi, John had the chance to meet with Rev Nathaniel Bol, the leader of the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church (SSELC). The SSELC is one of the many new and existing Lutheran church bodies the LCMS is working with in Africa.
In the words of Rev Gary Schulte, the LCMS director for west and central Africa, “there is a need for focus on healing the soul and healing the body” in an area of the world where people are under stains of disease, civil strife, and outside pressures.
Countries have a need to hear the Gospel in their own language, and there are Christian men and women who want to do so. One way is to equip men as pastors as they return to their home countries to teach others about their salvation through Christ. The Center for Theological Studies (CLET) in Togo currently supports seminary students from eight countries and continues to grow. West Africa has also experienced bouts of malaria, ebola, and dingy fever. LCMS medical and mercy missions in partnership with partner Lutheran churches and local medical organizations provide an opportunity to witness and heal both body and soul.
In eastern and southern Africa, the LC-MS desires to “walk closely with partner churches and new churches in ways that they request,” per Rev Shauen Trump, the LC-MS director for that area. Each church has its own culture, context, and unique circumstances. Some are well-developed churches with 7M+ members and growing like the Lutheran church in Ethiopia. Some are very small and just beginning like the Lutheran church in South Sudan and are eager to do things to reach out to their communities in ways they feel will spread the gospel.
The needs in Africa are great and varied, and it is an honor to meet and work alongside (now and in the future) pastors and congregations who are reaching and teaching those in unreached areas about Jesus Christ, just like Rev Bol. Thank you for your continued prayers and support, and may God bless you as we remember the birth of our Savior during this Christmas season.
Learn more about the growth of Lutheranism in South Sudan by visiting here.