LHF in South Sudan: “We plan, but God determines the way”

Categories: Africa, Book of Concord, Catechism, LHF History, South Sudan, Sudan

When LHF was less than two years into its mission, a new call for help came, this time from Sudan: “I want to learn more about Lutheran teachings.”

Andrew Elisa was the son of an Anglican priest but was discouraged by the inconsistencies he saw between what the Bible taught and what the Anglican Church practiced. Did any church body faithfully follow what Scriptures taught?

LHF answered Andrew’s call by sending him five copies of Luther’s Small Catechism and Book of Concord. Excited by what he read, Andrew shared the books with his Christian friends and the rest, as they say, is history.

A NEW CHURCH BODY

The Holy Spirit worked powerfully through God’s Word, taught simply and faithfully in the catechism. With encouragement from LHF leadership, Andrew Elisa became a pastor and formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan.

But tragedy struck in late 2008, when Rev. Andrew Elisa, now bishop of the ELCS, died of a brain tumor. Though his death threw the young church body into disarray, God was still watching over and taking care of His children in Sudan.

What nobody knew then was that a young man Rev. Elisa had encouraged in the faith – Peter Anibati Abia – would soon go to the seminary to become a pastor himself. Eight years after Rev. Elisa’s death, Rev. Anibati was installed as the new bishop of the ELCSS/S.

TODAY THE ELCSS/S NUMBERS 150,000 MEMBERS

“It is evident that even before LHF’s formation, the Almighty God had determined yet another plan: creating and organizing a Lutheran Church body in the Sudan known today as the ELCSS/S,” reflects Bishop Anibati. “It is true as it is said, ‘We plan, but God determines the way.’ It seems that the story of the ELCSS/S is one of those times! Not only has LHF translated and published books for the ELCSS/S in the native languages of the people, but they have also been a backbone to the ELCSS/S.”

Through the funding received from the LHF, the ELCSS/S has been able to provide stipends for her workers and operate a theological seminary known as Concordia Lutheran Institute for Holy Ministry (CLIHM) for training pastors and deaconesses who reach out to many in South Sudan/Sudan with the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Honestly, we in the ELCSS/S are amazed by what the Lord is doing in our midst. Even in the face of suffering, the church is growing. Many are coming to faith, especially in the refugee camp, and as a result, the membership of the ELCSS/S currently is nearly 150,000. Without the presence of LHF in Sudan, none of the things mentioned above could have happened.

“God’s Word continues to amaze us. It is effective and surely does not return back empty! We should make use of every opportunity we get to reach out to the lost with the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.

“The books translated, published and distributed by the LHF continue to be powerful resources for evangelism and church planting in South Sudan. These books allow the common people to read and hear God speak to them personally in their own language. What a blessing this is!”