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Serving the Lord in Uganda: Gather Together

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16–17

In our last newsletter, we shared that our positions within LCMS International Missions changed as of July. We definitely “hit the ground running” during the past two months.

One of these new opportunities allowed Megan to travel to Rwanda to connect with the Lutheran Mission in Africa—Synod of a Thousand Hills (LMA—STH) for a continuing education seminar. It is often difficult for pastors and church leaders in Africa to gather for fellowship and continuing education. Various obstacles often prohibit this, but the need is great. It is vital for church leaders and pastors to meet so that they can grow in the faith, study the Word, and support one another in life and ministry.

The Rev. Selestine Seburikoko, bishop of the LMA—STH, values opportunities for pastors, evangelists and seminary students to gather together so they may “be of one mind” and continue to receive training and education. Since they are a younger Lutheran church body, it also gives them the needed time to discuss best practices and strategies for sharing the Gospel for their growing churches and communities.

During August, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG) was also able to host a conference for their pastors. Megan is thankful she can work with church leaders throughout Africa to help coordinate and plan these opportunities. We are grateful the LCMS can partner together for these critical efforts of teaching and training.

Africa Region Field Orientation and Onboarding

This summer, we received five missionary families from Brazil, Kenya and the United States. These missionaries serve in various roles in Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania. We were able to go to the orientation to meet our new colleagues and share about business and care ministries for our field. It was a joy to meet the new missionaries and share their burdens of leaving the familiar and entering the unknown. We also share in their excitement of serving Christ by serving others as missionaries in Africa.

Mark was able to travel to Ethiopia to help two missionary families during the first few crucial days of being in their new home. It is a significant opportunity to walk alongside new friends and colleagues as they gain familiarity in their new country. Sometimes, the hands-on help of getting SIM cards for phones, talking to maintenance specialists, and buying furniture for a house can help make the new destination a home.

Home Service

It is home service time again! This means we have the opportunity to travel back to the United States to share updates with our ministry partners (you)! This is especially important since accepting new positions. Of course, we will still give updates on the Lord’s work in Uganda too.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

Serving the Lord in Uganda: A Manner Worthy of God

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.3 John 5–6

Last month, we listened as our friend and colleague, Rev. Peter Maganda, read to us from 3 John. As he shared, verses five through eight especially resonated with us. The day before, our Regional Director had shared with the LCU we accepted new positions within the LCMS Africa region. Mark will be taking on the role of Associate Regional Business Manager, and Megan the role of Regional Coordinator of Care and Development. Mark’s work aligns with ensuring accountability and transparency in all of LCMS’ work in Africa. Megan will work with continuing education opportunities with church bodies and continue building care ministries for missionary families throughout Africa.

We are thankful for the opportunity to expand the Lord’s work through our hands and grieve the ministry we shared with the LCU in Uganda. The people in the LCU have helped shape who we are as missionaries. They have taught, mentored and guided us as we serve overseas. We are grateful for their friendship and our life together with them. The LCU graciously acknowledged that, just as it says in 3 John, they will “support us” and “send us on our journey in a manner worthy of God.” We came as missionaries to serve but are grateful for the LCU who has also served us.

We continue to work alongside the LCU during our transition to our regional roles. We purposefully wanted to live here through February 2023, so we can work alongside the LCU, even as changes occur. We also wanted time to guide and serve alongside our Alliance Missionary colleagues. Megan’s work will continue to bring her to Uganda to help alongside our brothers in Christ through education opportunities.

One of our favorite times of the school year is when the LCU installs new vicars (interns) to serve at their home congregations. During the next school year, four students will spend their third year in seminary preaching, teaching, training and learning in their communities. It is hands-on learning!

It is also an opportunity for the Lutheran Church of Uganda to train their men and mentor them as they learn more about daily ministry. Please keep these four men in your prayers as they eagerly and faithfully serve those in their communities.

Starting in September, we will attend the LCU partners’ conference in St. Louis and begin our home service. We will reach out to many of you for opportunities to connect while in the United States. Early next year, we will move to Nairobi, Kenya, where our field office is located.

Thank you for keeping our LCU colleagues and us in your prayers during this time. We know we will continue to serve alongside the LCU in our different roles as we move forward.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

Serving the Lord in Uganda: A Life of Stewardship

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.1 Corinthians 12:4–7

One of our great joys in ministry is serving alongside Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) pastors and visiting with seminary students in their home regions. The two-week Easter break allowed Megan and our two colleagues, Rev. Volmir da Rocha and Rev. Daniel Martins Silva, to travel to northern Uganda. The local dean and pastor, Rev. James Odoo, invited the missionaries to lead a seminar on stewardship for the two congregations near Lira, Uganda.

Our visit also allowed us time to visit with recent graduates, Vicar Isaac Ojok and Vicar Stephen Ogwal, and with current student Vicar Ray Otim. Visiting and spending time with them in their homes is a great honor. It also shares the message that they are vital to the ministry, and they are supported by their church body and the visiting missionaries. We were grateful to travel with the bishop, Rev. Charles Bameka, who shared words of encouragement with each congregational family and student we visited.

The seminar on stewardship allowed the missionaries to support the Lutheran Church of Uganda as they strive to teach leaders about stewardship. The congregants were enthusiastic about participating. They were knowledgeable and shared that all we have comes from the Lord. They also shared how influential it was to know that we are God’s managers and caretakers of the resources He gives us. All participants were eager to learn more about the gifts and abilities the Holy Spirit has given his church and how they can use those gifts to glorify the Lord. We are grateful for our time working alongside the LCU in northern Uganda. May the Holy Spirit continue to grow his church there.

We spent Easter at our home congregation at Nakabango Lutheran Church, outside of Jinja. We were thankful to worship with friends and colleagues. This was our first opportunity to worship on Easter Sunday in an in-person congregational setting in two years! We rejoice that whatever the circumstances, the Lutheran Church of Uganda pastors preach Christ crucified and that Christ’s victory over death is won.

We are grateful we could connect with our missionary colleagues in Hurghada, Egypt, for our annual retreat. Ambassadors of Reconciliation led the retreat. Dwight Schettler, AoR president, taught about Biblical reconciliation using Scripture and the six chief parts of the Small Catechism. We also learned how to coach people through conflict, focusing on Biblical reconciliation and restoring relationships. We are grateful to continue the learning through the ability to meet online with Dwight for our practicums to gain comfortability in these skills. This learning adds importance to our relationships with our families, co-workers, and the church bodies we work with daily.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Reaching New Places

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.Isaiah 41:17

The sun was just rising as we headed down the escarpment westward into the Great Rift Valley, getting an early start to avoid the traffic, trucks, push carts, goats, vendors and everyone else who use the roads in daily Kenyan life. We were loaded with hymnals, water, food and camping gear that would be needed over the week-long trip.

The first stop at the ELCK Matongo seminary gave us a chance to visit with the students, faculty and our missionaries there (the Becker and Steele families). Through generous gifts from Schwann's and other donors, the LCMS supports scholarships for many international students at Matongo, and this was a great chance to visit with them, hear their stories and plan with administrators and missionaries for the coming academic year.

Next, Sean and I aimed for northwestern Kenya to the town of Kakamega for the official opening of Project 24 Lurambi, the eighth children's center in this joint ELCK/LCMS program. Deaconess Rispa (a recent Matongo graduate) and the newly formed board hosted delegations from each site plus ELCK leadership as part of the annual State of Project 24 Forum. While site managers and treasurers presented reports, finance sheets and accounting of their progress, I was busy reviewing numbers and taking notes. It was a blessing to see how this team has grown and matured each year.

It was a joy to hear of how the Gospel is spread into the homes and communities through the children at the centers and their chaplains and church leaders. Some of the centers even highlighted their sustainability practices, including farming, animals, vegetable gardens and corn mills, which are significant as the ELCK provides for these children.

It is a blessing that the Lord has moved people to be part of Project 24 and led to the establishment of this eighth center. To support this newest center, the ELCK took the initiative to adjust their resources so that more children can benefit. This center builds upon a two-year ELCK effort to train evangelists to reach out and serve the people groups in this part of Kenya.

Our travels took us on roads that were new to us and it was wonderful to explore some new parts of Kenya. Before reaching home, we connected with our boy scout troop to help some scouting families explore an area new to them, the Aberdare highlands.

It was a delight to see the work which our Lord continues to bless on this quick trip to western Kenya. Sean and I were thankful to come home to the rest of our family at the end of the week (although we were all ready to go back to the Aberdares and the cooler temperatures at night!).

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.

Mission-Minded Manteys: Fan into Flame

Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:5–7, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

These exact words were shared with the seven recent Lutheran Theological College Uganda (LTCU) graduates on February 20. Bishop Charles Bameka said that the men had been well-trained by family and church leaders in their deaneries and during their education at seminary. All of the graduates are active in the LCU, some teaching and preaching in refugee settlements and most leading Bible and Catechism classes at their congregations and preaching stations. Other recent graduates are evangelizing and started preaching stations on their vicarages (during COVID-19 lockdowns). We are thankful these men have a strong foundation of support and leadership, both in their home regions and through the national church leaders and seminary instructors.

The week before the LTCU graduation, three men were ordained into public ministry as LCU pastors. These men were from the first graduating class of the Lutheran Theological College Uganda. We both served as their instructors while they were students. We praise God that the LCU’s plan of training more pastors is coming to fruition.

Please continue to pray for the Lutheran Church of Uganda and its leaders to equip faithful servants for ministry. Pray that the graduates and newly ordained pastors may joyfully serve as they lead.

January and February allowed us to connect in different ways with students, congregations, and an LCMS short-term missionary.

The second semester of the school year started the first week of February. It is always an excellent time to welcome back students and learn how their families were during Christmas and New Year's activities. In Uganda, it's very popular to say "Happy New Year!" to someone if seeing them the first time after the new year. We say it well into February, and it always brings smiles to our faces.

This semester, we were grateful to help host Pastor Jacob Mueller from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Emma, Missouri. He came to teach for the second time to the Year Two and Four students. He led a course on Romans, which offered hands-on ways to minister to people and preach the Gospel.

One of the ongoing challenges at seminaries in Africa is getting Bibles and relevant texts into students' hands. The LCMS recognizes the importance of hearing and understanding the Word of God. Thus, we are thankful for an ongoing LCMS grant called Bibles for Africa. This grant allows Bibles to get into people's hands throughout the continent.

Most recently, Year One students received a Lutheran Study Bible at the seminary. These Bibles will be vital as they study, learn, teach and preach for years to come. We are grateful the LCMS and LCU can work together in this way to ensure that people know about the love of God through Christ Jesus by hearing the Word.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Reunions and Connections

Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts; His name is the Lord; exult before him!Psalm 68:4

I watched the south Sudanese women in their long blue robes sing at the front of the church while the sounds of drums beating kept the rhythm. The singing was distinct, the hymns spoke of Christ's salvation and reminded me of when I had first heard singing such as this a few years ago on a trip to Kakuma Refugee camp in northern Kenya to visit a congregation of South Sudanese Lutherans.

However, this choir was part of a small group of believers meeting in the front of a Lutheran church in western Iowa. After three weeks of racing across the US to reconnect with congregations, I found myself comforted and pleasantly displaced to be among the familiar sounds and sights of African Christians—not in Africa, but in a quiet church in Sioux City.

Knowing July through September would be busy for him as seminaries and schools would resume in Africa, John had a brief window in May/June this year for a trip stateside. Our home service in 2020 was cancelled due to COVID travel restrictions, and in 2021, as travel remained limited, John made a solo trip to connect with supporting congregations, friends and family.

It was 2015 and 2017 since we had visited supporters in the eastern US and it was high on John's list to spend time there. But how to visit so many with only one Sunday and some weekdays? God already had a plan and beautifully fit in evening potlucks, morning bible studies, home visits and mission board meetings to spend one-on-one in-person time to share how the Lord has continued to share the Good News of Christ even during these interesting times.

It happened that many churches were just reopening with in-person services and bible studies resuming in many parts of the U.S. Although his visits were brief, it was good to reconnect with congregations and, in some cases, visit newly supporting ones. We are very grateful for the support and warm welcomes offered that made this short trip such a blessing.

We didn't want to miss the opportunity to give our thanks to those who welcomed John's visit and for your continued prayers and support over this past year. As some constraints have eased, it has been a blessing to travel again. May God grant you a Merry Christmas and much blessing in this coming year.

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.

Mission-Minded Manteys: Joy in the Lord

In our last newsletter, we shared that Uganda went into another lockdown and that churches and schools closed. Thankfully, the country has re-opened. Churches are gathering again, and the seminary started the 2021–2022 school year in October. Since then, our focus has been on teaching, administering, mentoring, and helping at the seminary. For our roles in Uganda, many of our responsibilities are walking alongside the LCU in our daily lives together. This means we are present for both the joys and challenges.

We recognize the challenges as elementary/high schools start again in January. Many of the Lutheran churches have Lutheran schools attached. COVID-19 has also affected seminary student recruitment. Pray that teachers and students can return to schools. Please also pray for patience as students focus on learning again after nearly a two-year hiatus.

The joys of resuming seminary classes and worship are apparent. We missed the students! We missed gathering together with the people at church! Seeing returning students and greeting one another with big smiles was a great reminder of why we are here. It is also a joy to welcome new students to the Lutheran Theological College Uganda (LTCU) as they begin their seminary journey. The first year of seminary is exciting, nerve-wracking, and challenging. We are grateful to walk alongside the new students and encourage them to learn and study.

As the lockdown in Uganda has eased, we praise God as we seek new normals. We are thankful we have been able to resume our daily work supporting the Lutheran Church of Uganda. One of our favorite ways to do this is by attending local church services in neighboring villages to help celebrate when people are baptized or confirmed. We have witnessed over twenty baptisms of all ages in the past two weeks! Few situations on earth are more joy-filled than baptisms in the Lutheran Church of Uganda! There is much celebration, clapping, singing and dancing as each person is adopted into God’s family through Holy Baptism. We praise God for the local pastors sharing the Word of the Lord so that people can hear and believe. We celebrate that churches opened, pastors and leaders are evangelizing, and people learn more about Jesus Christ every day. We are thankful for the work of the church!

We recently were also able to attend an Introduction. An Introduction is a cultural wedding where the bride/bride-to-be introduces the husband/husband-to-be to her family. Of course, there is much cause for celebration as families unite and welcome and support one another. Dancing, festivities, and friends and family are joining from different parts of the country, and the world came together for this celebration. Introductions share how the families and friends will support the couple as they plan to begin their lives together. We praise God for these moments.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

Mission-Minded Manteys: What Happens Now?

Starting in June, Uganda experienced another Covid-19 related lockdown. Shops, schools, and churches closed to comply with the government regulations for keeping people safe. Two weeks away from finishing the semester, seminary classes were not able to be completed on campus. Students went home. Pastors and congregations could not gather for worship.

Doesn’t that seem discouraging? We were certainly discouraged. Yet, let us share some good news! The Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) pastors met with congregational and national church leaders to develop plans. This was not the first Covid-19 lockdown, so pastors had experience on how to best share the Word of God and hope of Jesus Christ under these circumstances.

Pastors in the southwest and eastern side of the country shared the Gospel via the radio. Each Sunday, they connect with people in their heart language through worship and study on the radio. In the eastern and northern regions, pastors and seminary students translated materials into the local languages. The translation assists the pastors in sharing the Gospel in worship and evangelism activities. In the midwestern and eastern regions, they are building a permanent church structure for several congregations. All areas continue to deploy pastors, seminarians and evangelists to meet with congregants and community members one-on-one through door-to-door visits.

Since the end of July, we have been in the United States since we had some scheduled medical appointments. During this time, we have been able to connect with congregations in Colorado and Iowa. Mark traveled to Charter Oak, Iowa, with Mr. Gary Thies from Mission Central to share about the Lord’s work in Uganda at Immanuel Lutheran and St. John Lutheran. Megan flew to Colorado to meet with one of our Together in Ministry partners, Trinity Lutheran in Franktown. We also had the opportunity to travel to the LCMS International Center in St. Louis for a Service of Thanksgiving. The service recognized missionaries retiring from the mission field and sent out new missionaries preparing to deploy to different regions. Three missionary families were retiring from the Africa field, so we were grateful to worship together and support them as they end their term. Please keep them in prayer as the three families transition back to the United States to lead as God calls them. It is a time of transition as the families re-acclimatize to life in the United States. Moving back to the US often involves joy in anticipation of what’s to come and grieving relationships and ministry from their country of service.

Even though it is challenging not to be in Uganda this summer, we are thankful we get the opportunity to visit with congregations that have steadily walked with us through prayer and financial support these past five years.

Why were we ever discouraged? The Lord has a mighty plan to continue the growth of His church. Even with the challenges, the Lord provides for his people. We thank God for continuing the work of his church in Uganda through the hands of the LCU.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Open to Share the Gospel

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but … through Jesus Christ our Savior.Titus 3:4–6

The truck had barely parked when our youngest boys jumped out to join the other missionary kids who greeted them. The bumpy road was the last bit of the six-hour journey to western Kenya and the ELCK Matongo Lutheran Seminary, where we would attend the graduation ceremony for new pastors and deaconesses.

The multiple closures of learning institutions in Kenya during 2020 affected school children, universities, and seminaries alike. In January 2021, many were permitted to reopen, following certain health department constraints and inspections. The Matongo seminary adapted by expanding spaces used, separating desks and adding wash stations.

The LCMS works with and supports thirteen seminaries to train students from more than twenty countries across Africa. Each have varied levels of maturity and offer a range of programs to produce deaconesses, evangelists, pastors, or bachelor or master degree graduates. In some cases, LCMS missionaries serve as theological educators, instructors or advisors in the classroom and sometimes remotely. Over the summer and into fall, John worked closely with church leaders and seminary directors to understand student and seminary needs, coordinate resources, learn about local contributions and schedule LCMS support at the appropriate times.

It had been over a year since John had been to Matongo, and it was a blessed welcome to see in person the seminary leadership, students, fellow missionaries and their families. One family, the Clausings, were wrapping up the short-term stay at Matongo during their journey back to their home in Tanzania, following an extended absence from Africa. Our collective kids formed an undercurrent of scurries and laughter as John tended to matters of seminary scholarships, electrical repair projects, plumbing issues and book purchases.

A few hours later, at the sound of the dinner bell, the kids and John headed uphill to a traditional Kenyan dinner with the students and faculty. It was good to see the seminary back in session and greet the students who come from across eastern Africa (Rwanda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan).

The songs of birds and cool crisp air greeted us the next morning as preparations began for the graduation ceremony. A group of young students served as scouts to raise the Kenyan flag, and the choir performed some traditional songs and hymns for the graduates. Although shorter than normal African ceremonies, the graduating pastors and deaconesses were recognized, presented certificates and charged by church leadership of the challenges, obligations and rewards of sharing God's Grace within their countries.

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: Greetings from the Vanderhydes

Dear family and friends, we wanted to give you a quick update because we haven’t sent out a newsletter since before Adelaide was born. She has grown so fast!

We moved to Saint Louis in January so Benjamin could start fourth year classes. The semester finished up in May and he’ll be taking a summer course this June. He will finish his M.Div. coursework this coming December and will be eligible for a call, but we are planning to defer that call and continue on at the seminary for a year of coursework in the STM program. Our plan is to take a call in December 2022 or April 2023.

Larson and Hollen are quickly adjusting to our new home, which is just a block from campus. They have enjoyed walking with Mom to campus for ice cream, flying kites on the soccer field and splashing in the fountain (though Hollen accidentally fell in once!). After a few months on a balance bike, Larson learned to ride a pedal bike without training wheels. He and Dad have taken a few bike rides through Forest Park. Adelaide brings smiles to all of our faces even on our worst days.

We pray this letter finds you well. We pray that you would find joy and encouragement and comfort in the Spirit of Christ who is living and active. God bless and keep you all.

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at www.lcms.org/vanderhyde.

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