Mission continues during political unrest in Ukraine

The student outreach team in Odessa, Ukraine.

The student outreach team in Odessa, Ukraine.

Despite political and social upheaval, the task of proclaiming the Gospel to students in Odessa, Ukraine continues.

Pastor Oleg Schewstchenko reports that the political situation made 2014 a challenging year. “Some of the students left town and some had to leave the country even before they were able to finish all their exams,” he explained. However, the pastor and more than 25 students gather every Tuesday to study the Gospel of Mark. He noted there are a growing number of private, small gatherings in his outreach ministry due to the political situation.

The students have also gathered to sing and pray for the situation in the country and for elections in Ukraine and Odessa. The pastor says that at all the events “we had opportunity to invite new people and to share the hope we only have in Jesus.”

This year at special outreach events on Valentine’s Day, a student day and Easter Pastor Oleg shared the Gospel with more than 100 people and gave to students more than 25 English and 50 Russian Bibles.

For more than 20 years Lutheran Church-Canada has served the spiritual needs of college and university students in Ukraine. With the support of Concordia Lutheran Mission Society the vital interaction continues.

Here’s how you can support this outreach.

Lutheran outreach in Costa Rica loses meeting place

Children gather to learn about Jesus from Deaconess Betty Retana in Costa Rica.

Children gather to learn about Jesus from Deaconess Betty Retana in Costa Rica.

A children’s program in Costa Rica had to adapt quickly to an unexpected change. The landlord of the house the mission rents in Alajuelita, a San Jose suburb, gave notice to Lutheran pastor, Rev. Edmundo Retana and his wife Betty, a deaconess, that he no longer wanted to rent the property. Fortunately, the pastor made arrangements to continue the children’s program at a local community centre.

They are currently looking for a more permanent location in which to continue the outreach. Wherever the program eventually finds a home, it will need support from Concordia Lutheran Mission Society to help pay rent and buy supplies.  You can help here.

Drama and music mark special Lutheran celebrations

Children, parents, pastors, and deaconesses gather in the Martin Luther Chapel.

Children, parents, pastors, and deaconesses gather in the Martin Luther Chapel to celebrate the Reformation.

The Reformation Day celebrations in Martin Luther Chapel in Chinandega, Nicaragua, October 31 saw the fruit of three programs supported by Concordia Lutheran Mission Society (CLMS). More than 100 children gathered to commemorate in music and drama this special day in the life of the Lutheran church.

Deaconesses had prepared children in the Christian education program to sing, present dramas, recite the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son, enact the Creation story and study the story of Jonah. In addition, children from three communities assisted in playing songs at the celebration, a result of their training in music.

Young musicians sing the Lord's praises.

Young musicians sing the Lord’s praises.

“The entire Reformation celebration was a visible sign of the investment with the children and the deaconesses,” noted Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, Lutheran Church–Canada’s mission executive. As an example of the deaconesses’ dedication to serving the children in their communities, Dr. Neitzel tells of Deaconess Lisbet who serves in Rancheria who “takes the bus to the market in downtown Chinandega as early as 4 a.m. once or twice a week to buy the ‘trims’ of vegetables and fruits to prepare and feed the children in the Christian education program.”

With your help, CLMS supports the work of deaconesses, the children’s Christian education program, and the music education program.

2014 LCC Missions Advent and Christmas Prayer Calendar now available

CLMS prayLooking for a great way to offer prayer support for LCC’s missions?

The Lutheran Church – Canada  Missions and Social Ministry Services 2014 Advent and Christmas Prayer Calendar is now available for download.

In addition to assisting in focusing prayers on missions during the month of December, it also provides an overview of the wonderful projects of the LCC is involved with, many of which are supported by you as a CLMS Partner in Mission.

Learn more at The Canadian Lutheran website.

LCC Missionary in Ukraine arrives for studies in Edmonton

EDMONTON – Rev. Alexey Navrotskyy arrived in Edmonton, along with his wife

Rev. Alexey Navrotskyy

Rev. Alexey Navrotskyy

Vika and their two children, in early September to begin studies at Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS). He began classes September 15.

Rev. Navrotksyy is a missionary for Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) in Ukraine, where he serves with the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine (SELCU). He graduated from Concordia Seminary in Odessa, Ukraine, a seminary program operated by LCC. His graduate studies in Edmonton will prepare him to help serve as an instructor at the Odessa seminary in the future.

“Lutheran Church–Canada is grateful to Christ, the Lord of the Church, for granting SELCU the opportunity to have one of its pastors doing post-graduate studies at CLS,” said Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministries. “This will allow SELCU to strengthen the training of its national pastors as more SELCU pastors begin teaching at the seminary in Odessa.”

Rev. Alexey’s studies at CLS are uniquely tailored for him from among the seminary’s offerings, accommodating his ministry experience in SELCU, and designed to provide him with the theological resources he will need in an international leadership position. The plan is for Rev. Navrotskyy to complete coursework and a thesis for the Master of Divinity degree over the next two years.

“We are thrilled to see this chapter unfold,” CLS President James Gimbel said. “This opportunity has been under discussion for a number of years, and it is exciting to realize this potential.”

“We believe that Alexey’s arrival will bring an exciting depth and breadth to our CLS community,” President Gimbel continued, “and we also believe that we, in turn, can provide strong servant Christ-like leadership training to an important part of the greater body of Christ in Ukraine. Our mission to ‘form servants for Jesus’ sake” is rooted here in Canada, but extends beyond these borders to our Lutheran brothers and sisters under different socio-political challenges. There, too, there is a need for the message that ‘Jesus is Lord.’”

Funding for Rev. Navrotskyy’s studies come from a number of sources, including Lutheran Church–Canada’s Foreign Student Fund, Concordia Lutheran Mission Society, and the seminary itself through designated international student financial aid and individual donors. “We are thankful to all those who are contributing to Alexey’s education in Edmonton,” said Dr. Neitzel. “Indigenous theological leadership training is fundamental for LCC’s missions, and we thank the Lord for providing us with the resources needed.”

(This article was originally published in The Canadian Lutheran.)

CLMS seeks nominations for Board (deadline Sept 22)

CLMS board

Current CLMS Board meets in Edmonton to set 2014 project goals

Who do you know with a heart for missions?  A wonderful opportunity is available to help share the Good News around the globe by serving on the board of Concordia Lutheran Mission Society.

CLMS is currently seeking nominations to fill three vacancies on its board.

Jesus once said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. So, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). If you know a fellow of member of LCC who has a heart for missions, CLMS encourages you to nominate them to work on the board.

In particular we are looking for people with social media technical and communication skills, and who can develop resource materials.

You don’t have to ask your nominees for their consent to serve nor whether they are currently members of CLMS, but you should recognize them as being mission-minded and having the ability to serve in this capacity. The Nominating Committee will make personal contact with each nominee to determine their gifts and willingness to serve. It is also appropriate to nominate yourself or someone who has been previously nominated.

Nominations should be sent to CLMS President Cliff Haberstock at by September 22, 2014. With your submission please include the nominee’s name, address, phone number, and—if available—email address, along with a brief overview of why the nominee would be a strong addition to CLMS’ board.

Grateful for generous hearts – Mid-year CLMS project highlights

As of the end of June, the following projects have been fully funded – praise the Lord!

• Tarp for the worship gathering of Altos de Vera Cruz, Leon, Nicaragua (#1416)
• Mission and ministry to prisoners in Ukraine (#1424)
• Mission outreach to college/university students in Odessa, Ukraine (#1426)

While other projects are still to be fully funded for 2014 (we hope to announce another few projects as fully funded in the coming months), here are some mission updates that cover many of the items in the Concordia Lutheran Mission Society project list.

1408In Costa Rica several projects have made significant progress. The Lutheran Church Canada’s (LCC) deaconesses and three women leaders in the Costa Rica mission attended a training seminar for deaconesses in Nicaragua. These Christian women are grateful and excited about the opportunity made possible by LCC and Concordia Lutheran Mission Society (CLMS). A continuation of this training is now being organized in their own country for these special church leaders. One of the deaconesses, Betty, and her assistants continue to focus on Bible studies for women, children and youth outreach.

There are Canadian short-term missions that are planning to be in Costa Rica in January 2015. In the month of July 2015 a young woman from Alberta will be staying in Costa Rica and assisting the mission for the entire month, involved mostly with outreach to children and youth. Although, the short-term mission is not supported by CLMS, the Costa Rican mission itself is supported by CLMS.

The CLMS rental cost support for San Jose, Costa Rica is currently going through a transition since the landlord suddenly requested the building. The church has temporarily been moved to a community centre for the mission’s activities until a new place is available for rent.

1409Pastor Douglas Aguilar in Honduras continues reaching out to the communities in Olanchito. It is a challenging mission, but the Lord continues to make His church grow. On May 25, 2014 eight children and adolescents were baptized in Olanchito. Included in the baptisms was little Isaac, the infant child of Pastor Douglas and his wife Ariana. The church community is predominantly women and children. God uses these Christians to open doors into their families with the Gospel.

The work of LCC and CLMS in Nicaragua continues to receive many blessings from God. By the middle of July a strategic plan and budget will be ready for the new mission start in the city of Managua. The local Lutheran Hour Ministries office will join with LCC’s mission and the Nicaraguan church to rent space in Managua for joint work. A location has already been found where, God willing, the office and worship space for services will be established.

All Nicaraguan congregations invite children to a Vacation Bible School (VBS) every year. The largest number of VBSs are conducted between the months of January and March. During this period several short-term volunteer mission teams from Canada join the ILSN for this mission outreach.

The deaconesses continue to work tremendously hard and are so grateful for the annual support for their stipends. Nicaraguan Deaconesses are being trained on computers to help teach the children. The special retreats and workshops for Deaconesses support their spiritual growth and improve their work skills. There are 700 children in Nicaragua enrolled in the educational program to learn Bible stories, the Small Catechism, Spanish literacy and mathematics. In 2014, 17 new deaconesses were added to the program. Today there is a total of 37 deaconesses working in the children educational program.

1413At the Nicaraguan medical and dental clinics special effort is being made by a local pastor and vicar to visit with the patients while they wait to be helped. A missionary service is being held at the mission centre’s chapel on Sundays afternoons and the clinic’s surrounding community is being invited for the services.

The mission in Sebaco, Nicaragua has been blessed with land purchased by a congregation in Alberta. A building project is being prepared. The rental supported by CLMS may soon give way to a church building. Pastor Hector and Cristina are focused in reaching out to children and their families.

The Nicaraguan church is making it a priority for teams of musicians using the instruments provided by CLMS to visit each of the synod’s congregation. The goal is to train and prepare musicians to lead the singing and Liturgy, and provide an opportunity for community mission outreach through music. Nicaraguans love to sing, and this program has proven a perfect fit for leadership training and mission.

To provide the opportunity for Pastors in Nicaragua to browse the internet and download good Lutheran resources for their work, CLMS is helping to provide the financial support for memory sticks and CDs. This way, the Pastors can store legitimate Lutheran material.

The mission in the region of Jinotepe, La Pita and Rivas in Nicaragua are growing, by God’s grace and the leadership of faithful Pastor Rufino. La Pita has a beautiful tarp for their church activities, a well is being built for the community, and expansion of the mission has re1422ached into another small town in that region.

The Lord continues to bless the missionary work of Pastor Suchart Chujit in Thailand. His main work has been to visit families in their homes and lead Bible studies.

In Ukraine, God continues to provide joy in the midst of challenge. Rev. Alexey Navrotskyy: is focused on working in an intense study process so he can come to Canada for the 2014/2015 school year. With CLMS’ contribution, LCC is now close to $ 33,000.00 for Alexey’s first academic year at CLS.

Due to the political unstable situation, the new academic year for the Ukrainian Seminary won’t start this year. God and wise decision-makers will determine next steps.

The youth 1427and other leaders in Ukraine train in June for the summer programs, which take place in July and August of each year.

The several other Ukrainian projects are proceeding well under the leadership of pastors Alexey Navrotskyy and Oleg Schewtschenko . Read about all the great work being accomplished in Ukraine, with the help of God here.

A message to friends of CLMS from Rev. Ralph Mayan

CLMS logoDear friend of Concordia Lutheran Mission Society

“Thanks for the information! And thanks for the opportunity to participate!”

That’s how one couple responded after I had shared information with them on a specific Nicaragua Mission Project. I knew that they had a heart for mission and an interest in the Nicaragua Mission field. I felt that they would like to know how they might be able to help. “Thanks for the information,” they said.“And thanks for the opportunity to participate!”

It’s my privilege in this letter to share information not just on one project, but on a variety of mission projects around the world. I know that you too have a heart for mission and would want to know how you could assist. I hope you’ll respond as did the couple with whom I spoke. Thanks for the information! And thanks for the opportunity to participate, for giving us the privilege and opportunity to respond.

Our gracious God has given Lutheran Church-Canada the wonderful privilege of reaching out with the Gospel not only in this country of Canada, but also in Ukraine, South East Asia and Central America. Our weekly offerings are the primary instrument by which these ministries are supported. And we in LCC are most grateful for the generosity of God’s people.

But there are some who desire to do even more. One channel is through Concordia Lutheran Mission Society. Aware of our accountability to God and to our donors, CLMS committed to seeing every cent of every gift reach its desired destination. No deductions are made for operational expenses. These are covered by donations specifically designated for that purpose. That means that you can be sure that one hundred percent of your designated gift gets to the mission field.

And we want to keep you informed by sharing through our website and bulletins how God is using your gift and the gifts of others to expand the proclamation of the Good News that in the crucified and risen Saviour there is forgiveness and life, eternal life for all. That is something you know and believe with all your heart. It’s the message that we want to share with the world! Here is what I would like you to do.

1. Take a few moments to look at the brochure and the information provided in the mailing you received, or look here.
2. Check off that project or projects that tug at your heart.
3. If God has so blessed you that you are one of those “who desires to do even more” then follow the instructions on the brochure, or donate here.
It’s my prayer that you’re now saying, “Thanks for the Information! And thanks for the opportunity to participate!”

Cordially in Christ

Rev. Ralph Mayan, Pastoral Advisor
Concordia Lutheran Mission Society

Looking for a mission project for your VBS?

VBS NicaraguaIt’s Vacation Bible School time: learning about Jesus, sharing Him with our friends, fun, games and supporting missions.

If your VBS is looking for a project for your mission offering check out the possibilities offered through the Concordia Lutheran Mission Society.

There are great opportunities to share Jesus with other children in different parts of the world.  For example:
  • Project 1405, Children’s Christian Education program in Costa Rica
  • 1407, Children’s Christian Education program in Alajuelta, Costa Rica
  • 1410, Vacation Bible Schools in Nicaragua
  • 1412, Children’s Christian Education program in Nicaragua
  • 1420, Children’s Christian Education desks in five new Nicaraguan communities
  • 1425, VBS and Bible Camps in Ukraine

To find out more about any of these programs, have a look at the write-ups here.

Project 1424 – Mission and ministry to prisoners in Ukraine now funded for 2014!

1424  We give thanks that Project 1424 – Mission and ministry to prisoners in Ukraine is now funded for 2014.

This project covers transportation costs, literature and provide help for the inmates including medicine, tea, warm clothes, books and food.