- Written by John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager
- Created: 05 April 2017 05 April 2017
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.2 Timothy 2:1–2
“When I was young, taken by spies, to be trained in the bush … they were training us to be soldiers. Then I fell sick when I was in the field,” says Oti Charles, student at Matongo Seminary in western Kenya. He shares with me how children in his country of Sudan would be abducted from their homes to train and serve as militants. Oti, who fled to Uganda, where he learned English and became a Lutheran in a refugee camp, has years later returned to his home in what is now South Sudan. In the growing Lutheran church in South Sudan, Oti now serves as a pastor supporting seven congregations.
Earlier this month, I had the chance to visit the Matongo Theological Seminary. Although this small seminary is managed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, it plays a critical role in providing pastor and deaconess degree programs for men and women in this region of eastern Africa where the Gospel is spreading.
Wonderful harmonic voices filled the chapel as we sang hymns and liturgy in Swahili from Ibada Takatifu (the Divine Service, literally “Service Holy”), the name of their hymnal and a result of a combined LCMS and ELCK hymnal project. After sitting in on a literature class, I met with some students on the lawn in front of the dining hall.
Pastor Paul Sereniko oversees nine congregations and preaching stations in central Uganda. When he completes his degree, he hopes to return to Uganda to train other men to become pastors. I had the chance to meet other students from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan.
The Matongo Seminary is also the service location for three of our LCMS missionaries. I explored the newly refurbished library that missionary Ms Georgia Witt cares for, and spent time with Rev. Dr. Charles Froh and Rev. Dr. Tom Aadland, who both teach within the seminary.
“Africa has a great, great need for pastors and deaconesses,” shares Dr Aadland, who has served nine years at Matango and is the current Dean for Theological faculty. “The church here is really growing. People live here with a certain immediacy of faith … they believe the Gospel, and that establishes, of course, the linkage of faith and life that follows. But because people don’t have vehicles, a motorcycle or even a bicycle, they have to live within walking distance of a church. Consequently, the churches will be very thick in a given area. We need pastors that have the ability to get to five, six or seven congregations in a parish, but one pastor to serve all those people is spreading them so thin. We are graduating many fine confessional and biblical pastors and deaconesses, but the need continues to grow.”
I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Matongo, our fellow LCMS missionaries and the students. Please visit our blog to see a video about the students, sights and sounds of Matongo. To learn more about the Matongo scholarships for international student project or to support a student, visit www.lcms.org/projectcatalog.
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.