2019-2021 Mission Grant 19

Making Jesus Known in the United States Ethnic Communities

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri


nullSoe Moe is an EIIT student who serves at Southwest Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. His parents, who are from Burma, fled that country during its long period of military rule and considerable unrest. He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, where his family lived for 11 years before coming to the U.S. At Southwest Lutheran, which is increasing its numbers of Korean and Burmese congregants, he serves as a youth leader and youth pastor. He also assists with leading Bible studies and is part of a church outreach group that tutors youth in academic subjects and in English as a Second Language.
As a teenager, Moe's devotion to the Lord increased considerably when he attended a Lutheran summer camp three years in a row. "I realized how amazing God is, and that He's always there for us," he says. He adds that he also realized then that his calling was to become a youth pastor. "I very much want to continue bringing the Good News to young people and giving them hope," he says.
nullBennego Kangar is an Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) student and a native of Liberia. He serves at LINC (Lutheran Intercity Network Coalition) Ministries International - Twin Cities, in St. Paul, Minn. and at theAlley Church in Cottage Grove, Minn. He came to the U.S. from Liberia in 1992, first serving in Florida and later in Alabama, Texas and New Mexico before moving to Minnesota. Also during that 26-year period, he was called to service positions in Malawi and Brazil. 
His service with LINC includes church planting and outreach, mostly to members of large Liberian and Ethiopian communities in the St. Paul area. "My EIIT studies and my later ordination as a pastor will help enable me to share the Word from a stronger biblical foundation," he says. "I feel that God has called me to this service, and it's a passion of mine to bring people to Christ, to help them grow in their understanding of the Lord, and to help them to walk with Jesus Christ."   

Throughout the country, there are many devoted first-generation immigrants serving in full-time ministry, reaching out to their ethnic communities and sharing the Gospel. Many of these church workers are enrolled in either of two Concordia Seminary programs – the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) and the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT). Both share the mission to make Christ known in their respective ethnic communities. CHS has a four-year program taught in Spanish and includes students from many Hispanic-Latino cultures. The EIIT program already has students that have been working in Word and Sacrament ministry as part of their culture. These students often have strained financial circumstances that are making it difficult to pay for this necessary education. Most hold two and three jobs to make ends meet but are willing to go to great lengths in the service of Christ and His Gospel. It is vital that they have the Biblical foundation to go with their passion for ministry. This grant will go towards funding the education costs of these devoted students and church workers.

WHEREAS, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is making important efforts to share the Gospel according to Lutheran tradition throughout U.S. immigrant and ethnic communities and embracing the rapidly increasing ethnic and cultural diversity of 21st-century America; and
WHEREAS, the theological education provided by Concordia Seminary's Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) and Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) programs enables highly devout, dedicated immigrant church workers to bring many people of different cultural backgrounds closer to Christ from the basis of a strong biblical foundation; and
WHEREAS, these ethnic church workers live with considerably strained financial circumstances and do not have nearly the resources to fund their education costs; and
WHEREAS, the congregations that these church workers serve, as well as their LCMS districts, often are unable to support these education costs due to their own financial constraints; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the delegates gathered at the 2019 Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Convention in Mobile, Alabama, vote the sum of $100,000.00 to help fund Making Jesus Known in the United States Ethnic Communities.

nullAlex Nuku Johnson is an EIIT student who serves at New Vision International Church in Austin, Texas. He left his home country of Liberia 26 years ago during the country's civil war, first living in Nigeria and then in Ghana before coming to Austin. His service at New Vision, whose membership largely comprises African refugee immigrants, includes preaching, outreach and leading Bible study and prayer meetings. 
"A lot of immigrant African pastors experience culture shock when they come to the U.S.," he says. "This causes a lot of them to let go of their ministries and just work regular jobs. They really don't have the theological education to enable them to be ministers in this country, and what they really need is a helping hand to get them through and give them hope. The EIIT program is very good at doing this. My EIIT education will enable my biblical foundation to be more solid, and it will help me to be more effective in the ministry service that I do."
nullAndrés Valencia, a native of Santiago, Chile, is a Center for Hispanic Studies student who serves Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Mount Prospect, Ill. He leads the church's Spanish Bible study and serves as a multicultural coordinator and a part-time Spanish teacher at its school. In addition, he is a member of the team that coordinates "Breakfast with Baby," a church program that provides a Bible study and free-of-charge diapers and other baby supplies to low-income families with babies. He previously had served in campus ministries for 10 years in Santiago and in Puebla, Mexico.
"I'm serving with my church to reach out to the Hispanic population around Mount Prospect," Valencia says. "We want to bring more people to God, and we're doing this by first fulfilling their physical needs and then talking with them about God and faith. I feel that God is calling me to build my theological knowledge and to be able to dive deeply into sharing the Word of God."
nullFabricio Velásquez is an EIIT student who serves at the Multiethnic Church, which is a part of St. John's Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Va. The Multiethnic Church's congregants comprise immigrants who largely are from El Salvador, Honduras, Syria, Ethiopia, Egypt and several Asian countries. Velásquez's service for the church includes holding Friday night Bible study, leading worship on Sundays and performing community outreach, including backpack drives, other back-to-school activities and Christmastime toy drives for children in low-income area households.  
He was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. when he was seven years old. "The church has been a big part of my life pretty much since the beginning, as my dad was a Pentecostal minister," he says. "I became Lutheran five years ago." He adds: "I feel that God has called me, and I expect my EIIT studies to help me to better spread the Gospel, biblically speaking, to different cultures."
nullHenry Chanderdatt is an EIIT student who came to the U.S. in 1988 from his home country of Guyana. He serves at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is an elder who also assists with the church's services and its choir. In addition, he performs outreach services that include ministering to people who are unable to attend church, such as those living in nursing homes. St. Peter's membership largely comprises immigrants from the Caribbean and Central America, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
"My EIIT studies and ordination will enable me to increase the amount of services I can perform for the church and also make me more effective in bringing people to Christ," he says. "Since I was young, I've wanted to do more for the church and for God - and the more I do for God, the more I feel my calling. Each time I serve the church, I feel blessed, and the more I do for the church, the stronger my passion is for serving."
nullJae Hyun Park is an EIIT student who came to the U.S. in 1999 from his native South Korea. He serves at Grace Korean Lutheran Church, which is located in Watauga, Texas and has been operating for a year and a half. At Grace Korean, which is a partner church of Light of the World Church in nearby Fort Worth, his service includes Bible teachings and leading prayers at adult cell group meetings.
"Right now, Grace Korean has about 30 members," Park says. "What I'll gain from my EIIT studies and my ordination will help me to help the church to grow. We're planning to soon begin outreach, and there's a good number of Koreans living in the area to be reached."     


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