LCMS World Mission is currently working in Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, southern Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Eritrea in 1975. Until 2003, two LCMS Eritrean expatriate staff assisted with seminary education, Theological Education by Extension (TEE) and literacy work. Currently 1,300 people are enrolled in Level 1 TEE classes. LCMS World Mission is working with national seminary-trained leaders to reach the Kunama people, who are multilingual farmers spread out over a wide area of semi-desert mountains and plains. This people group has experienced great social upheaval since the Ethiopian border war, but is very open to the Gospel. Fifty percent of the Kunama people are Muslim and 5 percent are Christian. The Evangelical Church of Eritrea operates a theological seminary, four medical clinics, a kindergarten, five primary schools, two “domestic science” schools and the only two schools for the deaf in the country. A “first draft” translation of the Bible has been completed in the Kunama language. The church has an active media ministry and reports 1,500 enrolled in Bible correspondence courses.
Currently, the Lutheran Church in Eritrea is training church workers, planting new churches, producing Christian literature, providing women’s leadership training and Theological Education by Extension (TEE). The church has 30 medical workers and more than 100 people involved in various positions.
The Evangelical Ethiopian Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) is one of the largest Lutheran Church bodies in the world and one of the fastest growing. In 1959 it claimed just 20,000 members but today claims an estimated five million served by over 2,000 pastors in 20 semi-autonomous synods. LCMS World Mission works in mutual mission efforts with leadership in three synods as well as in coordination with the Central Office. As with many other Lutheran church bodies in Africa, this mission relationship between the LCMS and the EECMY is helping to convey a confessional Lutheran understanding of Lutheran identity based upon biblical fidelity.
Kenya is home to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK), an important mission partner church of the LCMS. It has approximately 100,000 members located primarily in the western parts of Kenya. The ELCK is growing rapidly through a strategy of mission training centers to develop lay leaders who go for further training for the ministry.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan (ELCS) has an estimated 15,000 members in 80 congregations throughout Southern Sudan. In addition, there are more than a dozen seminarians training to be pastors in different Lutheran seminaries in Africa. The Nebraska District of the LCMS partners with LCMS World Mission to provide support for specific programs and goals of the ELCS.
LCMS World Mission works in mutual mission through projects with the East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELVD) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). The ELVD is one of 20 dioceses of the ELCT, a Lutheran church body of over three million members.
The Lutheran Church in East Africa (LCEA) is a younger church body, approaching their 20th anniversary, with a handful of pastors serving around 20 congregations. The LCEA works in northern and central Tanzania based in Moshi in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. They are experiencing rapid growth in several areas and are prayerfully anticipating a reopening of their seminary in Himo to continue to train pastors for service in the LCEA.
The Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda (LCMU) was formed in 1994 and in that time has grown to a church of 63 congregations served by five ordained pastors and a number of vicars and lay leaders. The LCMU has been supported in mutual mission through projects and LCMS missionaries began working under the LCMU in 2008 as a part of the mission effort of the church through its six Mission Training Centers (MTC).