January 2015 – Halfway around the world, on a warm and sunny January day, eleven men returned from vicarage to begin their fourth year of seminary studies at Concordia Lutheran Institute for the Holy Ministry (CLIHM) in Yambio, South Sudan.
Carved out of the jungle, the seminary is a beacon of hope to the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan-South Sudan (ELCS/SS), where most pastors serve at least two, and often three or even four congregations. The need for good spiritual shepherds, who can feed the people through God’s Word and Sacraments, is great.
“Pastors within the ELCS/SS are often stretched thin,” said Rev. Robert Rahn, LHF founder. “Their congregations can be many miles apart, and they have to travel those distances by walking or on bicycle. There are evangelists who help with teaching the people, but sometimes it will be several weeks before a pastor can come to preach, give communion and baptize.”
Each year, LHF supplies the seminarians with books and supplies for their studies and sends qualified instructors to Yambio to teach (see schedule of classes below).
“In 2014, we began the year with 14 vicars in the field,” said Rev. Rahn, who oversees the seminary program. “Unfortunately, three of the vicars who were with the Nuer tribe fled to Ethiopia to escape the civil conflict between the Nuers and Dinkas. One vicar who served in the Malakal region fled when persecution started and all communication with him broke down. His whereabouts is unknown at this time. We are looking into the possibility of giving some special classes for those vicars who fled to Ethiopia so that they can graduate and be ordained with their class.”
The seminarians will graduate on November 22, 2015. They will then be ordained and receive their calls to serve waiting parishes, where they will preach God’s Word to the people, baptize new believers in Christ, minister to the sick and dying, deliver forgiveness of sins through Holy Communion, and reach out to unbelievers with the Gospel. Undoubtedly, some of these men will also serve as the future translators for LHF, putting good Lutheran teachings into the languages of people throughout East Africa.
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.