May 2012 – Over the course of 18 days in April and May, LHF’s former executive director, Rev. James Fandrey*, traveled the world to help distribute books to men, women and children seeking to know more about Jesus Christ.
“It was very exciting – and such a gift from God! – to see with my own eyes how important these books are for our Christian brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Fandrey. “None of this could have been accomplished without the faithful, prayerful support of LHF donors.”
Rev. Fandrey’s first stop was in India, where a new edition of the Tamil-language One Hundred Bible Stories was given to Lutheran school teachers and children.
“Almost 75 years back, the missionaries from the LCMS used this book to teach the Bible,” said Rev. J. Samuel, bishop of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church.
For many years, One Hundred Bible Stories was out of print in India. LHF reprinted the book about five years ago, but those copies were quickly claimed by families throughout southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka.
“In India, we have to protect our Lutheran heritage,” said Bishop Samuel. “The pastors, teachers and the families are using this book to teach the Bible meaningfully, in accordance with the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The work of LHF is very important all over the world, particularly in India where diversified ethnic groups exist,” he concluded. “LHF complements the Lutheran Church in doing the Lord’s ministry.”
Three days and 5,000 miles later, the next stop was St. Petersburg, Russia, where Rev. Fandrey met with Rev. Leif Camp, who is overseeing the new distribution of materials to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia. He also met with the bishop of that church body, Rev. Arri Kugappi.
Through an interpreter, Bishop Kugappi voiced his appreciation for the influx of LHF books into his area of Russia, saying LHF’s help is vital to fortifying the Ingrian laity and pastors with proper confessional Lutheran understandings.
“We were all very happy years ago when LHF translated the Book of Concord into Russian,” he said. “For confessional Lutheranism, it is vitally important.
“I am hoping that we can develop a closer relationship with LHF for future ministry,” Bishop Kugappi continued. “Translating and publishing more confessional Lutheran works in the Russian language will help us strengthen the faith of the laity and our pastors and deacons, help our outreach to the lost and help us stand against the liberal tendencies we see encroaching on Lutheranism worldwide.”
One basic text, vital to the foundation of Lutheranism, is particularly needed in Russia.
“We look forward to continuing this support to the Ingrian Lutheran Church by reprinting Luther’s Small Catechism, which is currently out of print and in great demand in the Russian language,” said Rev. Fandrey.
In Latvia, a new edition of the Book of Concord was distributed to pastors and lay leaders excited to have this foundational book of the Lutheran faith.
More than 60 people attended a mini-symposia at the Lutheran consistory in Riga, the nation’s capital. Prior to the distribution, four speakers gave presentations on the importance of the Book of Concord, including the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, Rev. Janis Vanags.
“This was a small printing of only 800 books,” said Rev. Fandrey. “Already, participants were talking about how quickly these books would be used, and that a third printing may be necessary!”
A fitting conclusion to Rev. Fandrey’s travels was to give children the same book LHF released in India, One Hundred Bible Stories. Only this time, it was translated into the Ukrainian language.
This printing was sponsored by children from Lutheran day schools and Sunday schools all across the United States, who adopted the project with their chapel offerings in 2011-2012.
Rev. Slavik Horpynchuk, bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, writes, “I would like to tell you that the distribution of this book began already yesterday morning when my youngest son, Sviatoslav, asked for a box of the Bibles to take to school to share with his third-grade classmates. His request was granted. So, in the morning he went to school with his backpack and a box of Bibles in his hands.
“Today, a teacher from the 4th grade stopped by and asked him to bring her 20 copies of One Hundred Bible Stories. She is going to use our Bible edition as a textbook in her classroom! The Word is being sown!”
This event reflected how things have changed in Ukraine since Rev. Horpynchuk was a child under the Communist atheist government of the U.S.S.R.
“If we had tried to print and distribute this book then, all books would have been immediately confiscated by the Communist Russian government,” he said. “In the best case, there would be a small fine. In the worst, my parents would have lost their jobs and also me. I would have been taken away from the family and transported to an orphanage to keep me away from ‘harmful Christian influences.’ Thanks be to God that times have changed!”
* Rev. James Fandrey was called as executive director of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation in 2009. He served in this capacity until accepting a call back into parish ministry in 2013.
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.