“… as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21 ESV).
Every day, a mission team worked with a group of people near Kisumu, Kenya. They traveled several miles to a village to teach various life skills. Their driver, Ahmad, a devout Muslim, listened as they sang Christian songs while traveling to and from the village. He sat nearby as they read from the Bible and taught people how to share their faith with others. Ahmad witnessed several people praying to receive the free gift of eternal life through Christ. At the end of the mission trip, as the mission team was about to leave for home, Ahmad said that he felt a change in his heart and asked the mission team to pray with him for Jesus to come into his heart and be his Savior. They prayed with him, he began studying the Bible with a local minister and was soon baptized at a local church. The Holy Spirit is always at work!
The mission team in this testimonial was from St. Matthew, Holt. This year, members are celebrating 40 years of foreign and domestic mission work. The congregation began training lay members to share their faith by following an outline that was used to help the listener understand that the Bible tells us that we are all sinners and cannot save ourselves, and, through Scripture verses, shows the person what Christ has done to resolve our sinful condition. The process demonstrates that Christ paid the price for our sin and offers salvation as a free gift. It included a prayer, then follow-up Bible studies with the person.
The program was a great success, and the congregation grew exponentially for many years. Changing social norms, including people not as apt to allow strangers into their homes, or to engage in conversation with strangers, led the congregation to focus on traveling to foreign countries and presenting the Gospel in homes, as well as participating in disaster relief efforts and working with churches to bring the love of Christ to the lost. The congregation maintained missions work in several countries, most notably in India, where it has helped to establish seven Lutheran congregations and a ‘Pass-It-On’ center in Trivandrum, Southern India.
For nearly 15 of those 40 years, members of the congregation have worked with MOST Ministries (Mission Opportunities-Short Term) headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich. MOST is mission-focused in the area of eyeglass distribution to the indigent and disaster victims, medical teams, water purification teams, construction teams, and much more all over the world. This concept fits very well with St. Matthew’s missions focus, and many members have traveled on MOST teams. Several members have become MOST team leaders or coordinators and one member is on the MOST Board of Directors. The St. Matthew Lutheran Mission Board provides a stipend to assist members and students with the cost of joining a team.
St. Matthew’s holds special dinners and fund raisers to raise money for mission teams, and its high school encourages students to consider joining a team. The schools at St. Matthew also offer assistance to mission teams through fund raisers and publicizing mission trips. Every year, for many years, the senior class travels to a domestic or foreign missions site (such as New Orleans or Billow, Miss.). Currently, students may volunteer to join the mission team of their choice. St. Matthew’s pastor, Dean Poellet, and his wife, Jan, have both participated in numerous mission trips. Going forward, the Mission Board plans to encourage more members to join MOST teams to spread the love of Christ wherever He sends them.
St. Matthew celebrated its 40th year in missions with a celebration in January under the theme of “Holy Spirit Airlines.” It was a fun event featuring food from India, Latin America, and Asia. Prayers are for many more years of mission work, bringing the Good News of God’s love in His Son Jesus Christ to those who do not yet believe.
To learn more about MOST Ministries and how you can become involved in domestic and foreign mission, visit www.mostministries.org.