Making a Difference, Together

Over the many years I have been attending Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I have appreciated our ministry in overseas missions. I was delighted that every year, it seemed, one or two missionaries came to share their experiences with our congregation. Serving as an elder for ten years, my “official” time was divided with many things that were brought to the board’s attention. What always whet my interest was discussion about the church’s missionaries and the concerns they had with culture, language learning, disease, weather, and various other challenges, as well as the politics where they were ministering.

During that time I came to know some younger couples who were going overseas to serve our Lord far from home. One couple was Brent and Sandi Wiebe who were heading to Papua New Guinea. They spent 18 years there translating the Bible into the Bola language. Brent had been a high school biology student of mine, and Sandi’s name is well-known to many of you. It was her grandparents, Berge and Herborg Revne, who pioneered African missionary activities for our Synod.

Dan and Rachel Venberg left for Doh in Chad, close to where Dan grew up, and where his parents had spent 30 years as Lutheran Brethren missionaries. A third couple left to serve with Mission Aviation Fellowship, the organization that may have saved the life of Dan and Rachel’s daughter when they flew her out of an isolated rural African setting to a modem medical facility.

For me, it is relaxing to write letters to people and to share feelings. For 18 years, I sent a letter once a month to Papua New Guinea, and for 10 years a monthly letter was directed to Doh. Through correspondence with these two missionary families, it soon became quite evident that there were many times of frustration, discouragement, and debilitating fatigue. Because I was privileged to be a sounding board to these families, I was able to pray for their specific concerns.

Christ asked that little children be allowed to come to him, but in the U.S. a teacher has to be careful how he/she does that. Then, I learned that a school was being built in Chad that would provide much knowledge and many skills to African children. This would enable them to obtain a better life, but while this was being taught, they would also be learning of the love Jesus Christ has for them.

This was a prospect that excited me. As a teacher who values education, I realize that education gives students hope. I could see doors opening, not only opening to a better physical life for the students, but also for them to learn of a better life eternally through Jesus Christ.

Though my contributions to LBIM would make little difference alone, combined with contributions from others, they could serve as a means for bringing many children to know the love of Christ Jesus.

August Wirkus is a member of Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church in Eau Claire, WI.

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