Rev. K.O. Lundeberg was instrumental in bringing together the family of churches that came to be the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. In 1899 he established the Broderbaandet (Bond of Brotherhood). This magazine was to be an instrument of the Lord through which he could put his “heavenly brotherly bond” around the hearts of brothers and sisters and bind them together as one.
One of the important purposes of this paper was to help the Lord’s people understand that they have the great task “to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.” Lundeberg understood that the extensive mission work being carried out in his time was a witness of this.
A personal owning of this conviction and task by every believer came by hearing and believing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a fruit of the believer having the sure and glad assurance of the forgiveness of their sins and the living hope of eternal life. This was too good to be kept to oneself and therefore, from people gripped by its reality, it burst forth to others near and far.
The section of Broderbaandet devoted to mission was titled “From the Harvest Field.” It was anchored in Matthew 9:38. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” In the very first edition Lundeberg stated, “It is the burden of our witness that souls are saved through Christ’s gospel, which gladdens the hearts of God’s children. This is what we will put forward. We will make it possible because our brothers and sisters must hear this from the paper.”
Broderbaandet’s writers saw their world as a world in need of salvation which can only happen through Christ. The world was lost without Christ. The reality of these truths gripped their hearts and shaped their lives and callings.
The call of the Lord to go forth with the gospel into all the world was also encouraged by reports from missionaries who were already serving throughout the world. Reports came from such places as India, China, and Africa. In the first year of Broderbaandet’s publication several columns of “From the Harvest Field” were devoted to lectures by David Baron on The Jewish Problem, Its Solution, or Israel’s Present and Future—lectures originally delivered in 1890 at Northfield, Minnesota. This indicates that the burden for souls extended to the Jewish people as well. Lundeberg wanted the brothers and the sisters to hear the call of the Lord to evangelize all by going into all the world to preach the gospel to everyone—a message emphasized by Baron.
Another voice that sounded forth the gospel as an evangelist until silenced by his going home to his Lord in 1938 was that of E.M. Broen. He not only traveled widely as an evangelist, but was also a parish pastor who did evangelism. He was a contributor to Broderbaandet from the first year of its publication. His passion for evangelism and mission was expressed in many ways. Beginning with Number 16 of 1899 and on into 1900 he translated from English into Norwegian Arthur Pierson’s Evangelistic Work in Principle and Practice (1887). This labor of love by Broen indicated his passion for reaching the lost and for the message of Pierson’s book to be heard by the readers. Pierson is recognized as the greatest popularizer of missions in his time.
Pierson’s book sought to stir every believer to “unresting action, that every soul may hear the gospel of God.” He emphasized that this great trust is given to every believer so that no child of God ought to be or can be indifferent. Perhaps the influence of Broen and Pierson impacted the early days of CLB church life and its continuing history, for it was very common for pastors and lay persons alike to ask individuals, “How do you have it with God?” or “How do you have it with the Lord?” Evangelism and personal witness was the concern of every believer.
Broen was appointed to the CLB mission committee in 1902 and was instrumental in the calling of the first missionaries, the Kilens, who left for China August 27, 1902. He became a member of the CLB in 1903 and served as the first president of the Lutheran Bible School and as a member of the faculty. His God-given passion for mission was contagious, as many of those he taught heard God’s call to go into all the world with the gospel.
In reviewing Broen’s published sermons on spiritual awakening in the book Fra Guds Bekk (From the River of God), we recognize a number of emphases. He, along with Lundeberg, did not make assumptions about people being right with God. There isn’t the presupposition that because they were baptized, confirmed, a member of the church, or attending church that they were right with God.
In his sermon “You shall meet God”—based on Amos 4:12—Broen describes what it is like to come face-to-face with God. To meet God as we really are in ourselves on our own basis is not something that we desire. In fact, it is the last thing that we want. For he is holy (Isaiah 6:2). Our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). He is a God who avenges (Psalm 94:1). You cannot flee from his presence (Psalm 139:7).
However, you can meet God on his own terms—through the cross of his Son, on the basis of the blood of Jesus. As Isaiah wrote, “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18). Again, he notes the now-ness of salvation, saying, “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
From the very beginning our family of churches was marked as people with a burden, born out of the gospel, for people to be saved. This was expressed in evangelistic preaching, personal witness and going as missionaries to China and later to Africa, Japan, and Taiwan.
Rev. Eugene Boe Ph.D. serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Research Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.