The Church of the Lutheran Brethren has an international mission presence in Chad, Japan and Taiwan. Below is information about each country and about our missionaries reaching the unreached with the gospel.
Chad is an ethnically diverse country in central Africa with an estimated population of 16 million people—made up of 142 unique people groups. Geographically it is divided into three distinct zones, the Sahara Desert in the north, the Sahelian belt through its center, and the Sudanian Savanna in the south.
In 1918, Berge and Herborg Revne, CLB missionaries, stepped off a boat on the coast of Nigeria. They spent the next two years making their way inland, by river steamer, by canoe, on horseback, and on foot. Their destination was the “Yola Melut Gap,” a region known to be totally devoid of Christian witness. They settled in modern day Chad. More missionaries followed.
Today the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Chad reports over 1,200 churches. These churches and Christians are mostly concentrated in the southwest corner of the country. Of the 142 people groups in Chad, 72 remain unreached with the gospel. The majority of these live in the central and northern regions of the country.
LBIM sends and supports teams of missionaries that live in community among unreached people groups for the sake of the gospel. We are currently focusing our efforts on three groups in Chad—the Bagirmi, the Bilala, and the Fulbe. We partner with our sister Chadian Church in this mission.
Our LBIM missionaries and their Chadian partners use diverse, creative, and holistic ministry platforms that facilitate a bold and relevant disciple-making effort. Just a few of these platforms include child and adult education, medical ministry, agricultural development, small business development, and well drilling.
Japan is in many ways a bridge from the West to the East, the only nation that has been classified as both non-Western and modern. Yet there is a deep spiritual void, which is presently being addressed by an average of 100 new religions each year.
After the closing of China to traditional missions, Morris Werdal, a former missionary kid to China, sensed a call from God to go to Japan. In 1949, Morris and Marion Werdal became LBIM’s first missionaries to Japan. More missionaries followed.
Today the Lutheran Brethren Church of Japan reports 28 churches, but the island remains one of the least reached places on earth. Less than 1% of the population is Christian and the island has a Church growth rate of -0.4%.
The House of Hope ministry in Ishinomaki has transitioned from a tsunami relief ministry to a holistic ministry of sharing the gospel through creative and relational events such as concerts, cooking classes, craft classes, and Bible studies.
Just 1% of Japan’s 128 million people claim to be Christian. Over half of Japan’s churches are at risk of closing, and the presence of international missionaries continues to decline. LBIM is currently exploring a renewed partnership with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Japan.
Since the arrival of our first missionary family to Taiwan in 1951, seventeen churches have been planted and a seminary begun in cooperation with three other Lutheran missions and four national Churches. The focus of our mission in Taiwan is reaching those segments of the population least reached by the gospel.
During the 1950-51 annual Lutheran Brethren Schools Foreign Mission Conference, Joseph Erickson spoke up, exhorting the CLB: “We need to consider the great spiritual need of the mainland Mandarin-speaking Chinese who have fled to Taiwan when their homeland fell to Communist forces.” The Church responded by sending Arthur and Ruth Nyhus to begin mission work in Taiwan. More missionaries followed.
Today the Lutheran Brethren Church of Taiwan reports 17 congregations. Yet Taiwan remains a country in significant need of gospel proclamation. Only 3.3% of the island’s population professes faith in Christ. There are over 4.5 million people in Taiwan who are considered unreached by the gospel.
LBIM’s current mission work in Taiwan prioritizes a relational ministry that serves to engage our missionaries with people and communities that are unreached. This involves a cultural and linguistic integration into the communities in which our missionaries serve.
Our ongoing partnership with the Lutheran Brethren Church of Taiwan is growing an interdependent relationship that helps both missionaries and local congregations share the gospel boldly and creatively with the unreached people and communities around them.