- Written by John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager
- Created: August 31 2021 August 31 2021
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.