- Written by John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager
- Created: April 21 2020 April 21 2020
Let brotherly love continue. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.Hebrews 13:1,3
“No photos inside; it’s not permitted.” A pastor shares with me about how his church shares the Gospel in the prisons of his country. The government guards are strict, but allow the pastor and a small group of lay people to visit weekly to encourage and comfort the inmates.
During their visits, groups of thiry to seventy prisoners may be allowed to gather to pray and hear the Gospel preached. Singing is not allowed; however, the group is permitted to distribute food and toothbrushes, as well as administer medical care to relieve inflammation and illness that result from confinement. On other days, the group makes hospital visits.
The few Lutheran pastors in this country use prayers and services for the infirm and sick that they learned while students at the CLET in northern Togo. This LCMS-supported seminary provides training for men to become pastors and return to one of eight French-speaking countries in west and central Africa to share the Gospel in their own languages and in difficult situations.
Annually, church leaders and delegates from twelve confessional French-speaking Lutheran church bodies in these eight countries gather as a union to discuss the state of, plans, and future for theological instruction and Lutheranism in their countries. The gathering is known as the Conseil Administratif de l’Union (CAU)—the “Administrative Counsel of the Union”.
This February, I was finally able to attend this meeting, and learned stories and histories from many leaders, as well as heard the progress of projects supported by their church body and the LCMS. The above story is one told to me during the three-day meeting. It was a blessing and eye-opener to hear firsthand how, despite strife and long-suffering in some countries, the Lord uses such events to grow His Church.
During his visit to Togo, John was joined by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation representative who lives in Africa, Tuomo Sumojoki. LHF has been working to translate catechisms and hymns so graduates of the CLET can tell people in their own local languages how salvation comes through Christ alone and not our own actions or deeds.
At the moment, we and many other LCMS missionaries are limiting our movement and hunkering down in our homes in eastern Africa due to national precautions in response to the COVID-19 virus. Mission work continues, though: connecting with churches, visiting families rather than gathering in public and sharing how people are drawn to Christ even during these interesting times. Project 24 brought food to students who returned to their extended families following early closer of schools.
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.