July 2008 - In nearly every state, in nearly every town, everyone knows someone who speaks Spanish as a first language. Now, the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) has produced a resource to help Lutherans reach out with the Gospel to their Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ.

Luther’s Small Catechism, translated into Spanish, has been published with the Holy Bible in a single volume. Copies of the combined volume can be obtained by contacting LHF at (800)554-0723 or by clicking here to send an e-mail. LHF distributes most of its publications free of charge to the churches and individuals who need them.

Rev. Dan McMiller, a mission executive for the South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, first saw a need for the Bible with catechism when he was a missionary in Panama five years ago.  When LHF Executive Director Robert Rahn approached him about possible translation projects in Latin America, Rev. McMiller jumped at the chance to produce the combined volume.

“We’d have the ‘people’s Bible,’ as Martin Luther called it, right here in one resource,” he said. When witnessing the faith and planting churches among Hispanics, he said, “it is always very important that we have the Bible and the catechism there, side-by-side.”

Though traditionally many Hispanic people are Roman Catholic, McMiller says there are large groups of unchurched Hispanics, and the Lutheran faith has much to offer them. In his experience, the catechism has been an indispensible tool for explaining the Bible and the Lutheran faith.

“Because Luther wrote the catechism for the common man with a limited education, the unchurched Latino, no matter his social status, understands it,” he said. “They appreciate the clarity, and the lights keep going on and on.”

Rev. McMiller has seen that Hispanics who have fallen away from the faith find the catechism appealing for other reasons as well.

“Most Latinos have had some Catholic background, whether that be attending a funeral or first communion,” he explained. “The language of the catechism is the language of the church. There’s a common thread, or a common vocabulary, between the catechism of today and the traditional Roman Catholic Church of today.  So the catechism is always just so intriguing to the unchurched Catholic.”

Rev. Dr. Douglas Rutt, who oversaw the translation project and previously served as a missionary in Guatemala, agrees. “Luther’s Catechism will help people in Spanish-speaking countries see the Gospel in all its richness and beauty,” he explained. “Materials like this are expensive and hard to come by in Spanish-speaking countries.  There is a thirst to read God’s work and other works of theology.”

The Lutheran Heritage Foundation published 20,000 copies of the Spanish Bible with Catechism. While several thousand have been shipped to South and Central America for distribution, thousands more are available to interested parties in the United States.

The translation work on the catechism was carried out in Spain by a team made up of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spain: catechists Juan Carlos, García Cazorla, and Javier Sánchez Ruíz, and missionary Rev. Walter Daniel Ralli. Rev. Ralli also wrote several questions dealing with contemporary issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and Pentecostalism, which were added to the “Questions and Answers” section of the catechism.

LHF translates, publishes, distributes and introduces Lutheran materials that are Bible-based, Christ-centered and Reformation-driven. LHF is at work in more than 80 languages and has printed more than 425 different publications.

For those who wish to support the ongoing work of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, a suggested donation of $10 per Bible is gratefully accepted.

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