In dark times, LHF BOOKS BRING THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL
As face masks and “sheltering in place” became the norm in the United States, the coronavirus and its effects also ravaged the communities of our mission partners around the world.
Here, we share with you the bigger picture of how vital your LHF mission gifts have been, and how the Holy Spirit is working through them to shine the Light of the Gospel into what, for some, are very dark days.
Please, keep the LHF mission and our mission partners in your prayers, and as you are able, continue your support for printing the books that are pointing people around the world to the love of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Dr. Matthew Heise
LHF Executive Director
- South Africa
“One of the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the church is that all congregations and preaching stations are no more meeting in the chapels, due to the ban on religious activities throughout the country. The most preferred way for members in the rural areas to have fellowship is through home gatherings. The government allows us to meet, but the maximum number of people is 25. Every church has grouped its members into smaller units who meet in homes every Sunday for brief worship (confession and absolution, readings, short sermon and prayers).
“Apart from the Bible, the most preferred books used in the churches are “Jesus Never Fails” and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories and The Small Catechism Enchiridion. Portions of the catechism and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories are read during the short service for Bible studies. Daily, “Jesus Never Fails” is also read: COVID-19 has plagued the whole world, and so where is our hope? JESUS NEVER FAILS.
“As we do our best to stay at home, it has given members enough time to read the Small Catechism, The Augsburg Confession, etc. And for the teams that work on translation, they have enough time to serve, especially the translators working on the Worship Book for the various languages. Everyone is doing his or her best to adhere to the safety and precautionary measures to combat the virus: hand washing, use of sanitizers, gloves, and social distancing.”
– Rev. Dr. Nicholas Salifu
LHF project coordinator and pastor in Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana
“I am working today from the stockroom, from where LHF books ship throughout Europe. Perhaps you may know that as people are sitting in their homes and they cannot come out any more, these books are becoming more and more important at this moment in time.
“I think especially in these days as the Persian (Iranian) people are celebrating their New Year (Mar. 21) – and perhaps they are very sad as they are celebrating this New Year in their little rooms – to say to them and all people in the world, “The marks of Christ are on you.” So let no one have troubles. Christ is the same, in this church, in LHF, and all over the world where people are proclaiming the Gospel. May this work bear many fruits.
“In these days, as the whole world is getting sick, and as the world is grinding down to a close, how important to again underline these words: We belong to Christ. So let no one [pause] from it.”
– Rev. Hugo Gevers
SELK missionary to Iranian immigrants in Leipzig, Germany
“In Russia, gatherings of more than five people are forbidden, and that means regular worship services, Bible studies, catechism classes, and so forth have been curtailed, and studies at our seminary have been suspended until the fall semester. Therefore, we have shifted all lessons for the remainder of this term to distance learning on-line formats.
“This, of course, has made the LHF materials we have especially important! For the course I am teaching called ‘Personal Spiritual Life,’ students have always needed access to the Book of Concord, Luther’s Freedom of a Christian and The Theology of the Cross. In a regular classroom setting, the students would read and then we would discuss and analyze in our class meetings, now in a distance setting, they will have to read those books much more closely.
“Russians still read quite a bit, and being quarantined gives people more time to fill. I know of one person in particular, named Yuri, who has been wanting more time to read LHF books and now is using that time to do so. He just finished The Foolishness of God and is now reading Kolb’s On Christian Faith.”
– Rev. Leif Camp
missionary and Dean of Students at the Theological Institute of the Church of Ingria (Russia)
“I am hearing from many Christians that they never imagined a day where they cannot worship Him in the church.
“And so peasant women in a village get up early morning around 4:30 a.m., go to the locked-up church, kneel down in front of the locked doors of the church, pray and return to their homes…”
– Cherub Sundaram
LHF project coordinator, India
“People are staying home and social distancing; we do not travel to distribute LHF‘s books right now. We will follow our plan for this in 2 months.
“But some of Lutheran churches have a study class online. I teach them every week from Luther‘s Small Catechism. Each of them has their own book to study with me, and I record the message for them. In this way, they still hear God’s Word to them.”
– Rev. Niran Temsakun
LHF translator and pastor in Thailand Concordia Lutheran Church
“The coronavirus situation in Kenya is still worrying. Especially in Nairobi, movement is highly restricted by the police who hinder the operation of key service providers like the nurses and doctors.
“All churches in Kenya are in complete lockdown. Only online services have been going on.
“But one of LHF’s books that is doing well especially in my own suburb is A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories in the Swahili language. I shared 18 copies to the kids in my neighborhood as a way of keeping them busy as they are at home. To my surprise, they organized themselves into a classroom setting where they read at least three stories a day! None of these kids is Lutheran.”
– Rev. George Ondieki
LHF translator and pastor in Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya
“Our country health care system is the poorest in the world. We all are living in fear. Our people couldn’t stay at home, as they have to struggle for their empty stomach for daily bread. Most of positive Covid19 patients live in our area; our place is locked down. One of our staff member’s wife is working in the hospital to deal with the patients.
“Currently, we have closed our LHF office for 2 months. We are working from home. But we are doing our jobs for translations, editing and fellowship with our children through phone lines. (Internet is not available for some states).
“We have very limited electricity. This is the time alone with God for us.
“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. ” (Isaiah 26:20)
LHF translator and coordinator of LHF projects in Myanmar
“Police have appealed to churches to follow the quarantine rules strictly. We agree that here we should obey the government as a servant of God who cares about public health of the nation. It’s a very difficult time because it takes away a joy of Christians to be together. This time is like a war or persecutions that try to scatter the people of God. We had to give a proper response: we have moved our Catechism, Bible classes and Worship Services on-line. Special hours are set aside for confession, absolution and the Holy Communion.
“Isolation from crowds does not mean isolation from the Word of God and the Holy Communion! This is when good confessional Lutheran books published by LHF come to help. We provide them for everyone so that in this time of big need, all God’s people can stay with the Word and in the Word. It’s not time to panic. It’s time to be more organized, resist evil by remaining in the Word and help older people who are in the bigger danger than younger ones.”
– Dr. Vyacheslav Horpynchuk
bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church
“Unfortunately, all our Divine Services have been cancelled, and other activities as well. Now we have services on the Internet and all kinds of material shared through our webpage. Pastors are doing pastoral visitations. We encourage congregants to call in phone and serve each other. Although we are physically separated, we can still live as community in faith and love.
“I’m reminded of the words in Psalm 41, which Dr. Luther shared with people when surrounded by the enemy of plague: ‘The Lord protects him and keep him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.'”
– Dr. Juhana Pohjola
coordinator of LHF projects in Finland
“Normally I would be travelling and teaching courses throughout Mexico as well as Guatemala. This activity has been curtailed for the moment. The Word of God has not been silenced, however! Every week a different church hosts the Sunday service, and all can access this service through Zoom.
“The grocery stores currently only let one person at a time enter. We are fortunate to have several major grocery stores within walking distance. Because of the corona virus we are not able to attend a funeral for my wife’s father, who passed away last week. The family is planning a memorial service for a later date.
“Many of the shopping centers, restaurants, and bars are closed. Furthermore, most of the people who sell products on the streets are no longer able to do so. Needless to say, the unemployment rate has increased considerably. Normally the streets are just packed with cars; a six-mile trip normally takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. It is so strange to see the streets relatively deserted!
“In Mexico, we use the LHF Bible with Small Catechism extensively. It’s inclusion of the Small Catechism makes it a valuable resource for those who are part of the Lutheran Church and for those who desire to learn more about the Lutheran Church and its theology.”
– Dr. Daniel Conrad
LCMS missionary/theological educator in Mexico City
“The Lutheran Theological Seminary in South Africa is closed since March 18. Most of the students went back home. Only four foreign students remain on campus and one lecturer: From Uganda, Sudan, DRC (Congo – 2) and Ethiopia. They are reading and studying, taking care of the campus and also of the new vegetable garden that was organized just before the lock down. We are not in the position to have online classes, but the lecturers are giving assignments and readings to the students via e-mail. We hope to begin the classes again now in May. Pray that God will abbreviate these days and deliver us from the evil.”
– Dr. Carlos Winterle
rector at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria
“Mozambique is not yet harshly affected by the Corona virus, but the government is preventing movement, and the school and churches are closed also. My wife and I are at home since March 18. I’m allowed to go to the grocery store on Wednesday mornings from 7 – 8 a.m., a special time for seniors. Lídia, my wife, had to go once to the dentist, an emergency. Outside of this, we are not allowed to go out.
“I’m using my time to read, write, prepare projects and reports, prepare classes in advance, and to contact the LTS students. I used also this time to translate to Portuguese the booklet “Jesus Never Fails.” Then, it will be sent in Portuguese to Mozambique, to be translated into the Chisena language.
“As people in Mozambique have very little literature, and many have difficulty reading a big book, this little booklet will be very well accepted and helpful, because it is simple and presents the core of the Lutheran faith. We need to be sure that even amidst the Corona Virus lock down, JESUS NEVER FAILS!”
– Dr. Carlos Winterle
rector at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria
“We have spent nearly a month’s time staying and working from home due to the effects of the coronavirus. The lockdown order is just lifted in some areas, step by step. We mainly have worked online and called our churches to get information from them to see how they are. Thank God, all of God’s people here are all right. We have worship online, as other countries are doing.
“For book distribution, we send the books via post, or we use a book grab-bike to deliver copies to the recipients if someone orders a copy. Our country still allows to do this.”