Who would have guessed what the Holy Spirit had in mind?
In the spring of 1994, Rev. Robert Rahn was guest preacher at Guardian Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Mich., where the people were bidding a fond farewell to one of their members about to become a missionary in Russia – Matthew Heise.
About 20 years later, Rev Rahn – the founder and then-executive director of LHF – handed over the leadership reins to Rev. Heise, now returned from over a decade of mission work in Russia. To Rev. Heise, this chance meeting was just one more example of God’s plan he’s witnessed in all his mission work. “This is nothing we’re putting together,” he said. “God is way ahead of us!”
Rev. Heise’s experience as a missionary in Russia and other regions of Eurasia have proven invaluable in leading LHF to serve other missionaries and church bodies.
“I saw firsthand people reading LHF’s materials, such as Luther’s Small Catechism and the Book of Concord, and it made a change in them,” Rev. Heise said.
He also experienced what it was like to try to share the Gospel in regions where no Lutheran – or sometimes even Christian – literature existed in the language of the people.
“When I first went to Mongolia, there was nothing. As a missionary, you’re making up your own materials to teach,” Rev. Heise recalled. “I was teaching the Bible, but because of the language barrier, I didn’t always know what was getting through.”
As LHF continues its work of translating and publishing books like the catechism, Rev. Heise sees a need for even more basic materials.
“Sometimes missionaries are going to people where there is no established Lutheran church, or even a Christian church! We need to be able to give them some basic, easy-to-read pieces for people who are beginning to investigate the faith.”
In looking to LHF’s next 25 years, Rev. Heise said he’s most excited about LHF’s new work beginning in Asia and Africa.
“The idea of Christianity moving to the southern hemisphere really is true,” he said. “There’s an explosion of faith in those areas, and I’m excited to see how LHF’s work in Asia and Africa, in particular, will expand.
“For example, if we can get through the theological review of the Communist government to print in China, there’s a chance we might be able to get LHF’s books into Chinese bookstores. Can you imagine? That would be huge! Getting further into Indonesia, with the numbers of people and the opportunities that are there – it’s just extraordinary! Plus the potential in Burma, not to mention India with all their different languages.”
Rev. Heise says he’s also intrigued by doors that have opened to ministering to former Muslims who have immigrated to Europe. “It’s so exciting to see Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Finns and Germans coming together to figure out how to best minister to the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian immigrants,” he said. “LHF has translated and published the Small Catechism and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories into the Farsi and Arabic languages, but where do we go from there? Where the Holy Spirit leads, LHF will go.”
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.