“When he had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, WHO IS THIS? And the crowds were saying, this is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:10–11)
The Palm Sunday event described in the above verse started off Holy Week with a lot of excitement that included the Triumphant March into Jerusalem with the crowds shouting their “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” Palm branches, coats, and cloaks became the pathway for His beast of burden, a lowly donkey. Children were the focus of much attention as they fully participated.
Is it any wonder that the residents of the city, in seeing this multitude and all the commotion, would ask the inevitable question—“WHO IS THIS?” On Good Friday, there would be those who would say, “He’s a nobody,” even though the inscription on the cross would declare: “JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.” Then, on Easter Sunday, the disciples would realize “He’s really Somebody; He is not here, behold the place where they laid Him. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.”
This GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD is being retold in 90 countries of the world in 100 different languages. Here are some updates from the mission field served by Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF).
In 2017, LHF released Luther’s Small Catechism in the Farsi language. There is a phenomenon taking place in Europe these days. Many immigrants from Iran and Afghanistan are crowding into countries like Germany and Denmark. Many are finding their way into empty Lutheran churches. These Muslims, speakers of Farsi, are now being instructed using a catechism in their own language. Where the Lutheran churches of Germany in places like Leipzig, Wittenberg, and Braunschweig were for many years empty, they now have 500-700 people in worship, 90% of them Iranians and Afghanis.
The conversion of Muslims also brings problems as some of these immigrants are being sent back. Among them are Lutheran Christians who are in danger of being killed once they are forced to go back. Conversion is not an option in the religion of Islam; the only option is “death to the infidels.” Please pray for the safety of these new believers in Christ. LHF has provided the catechism and is now ready to provide the next volume: A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories.
In South Sudan, the large Anglican Church asked to become part of the Ev. Lutheran Church of South Sudan/Sudan (ELCSS/S). They saw the books LHF publishes and observed the seminary program we have been providing, and decided to become part of the Lutheran Church. Some estimate the Anglican membership to be two million. Training in the catechism has already begun and some of the Anglican pastors are asking to join the seminary classes in the Concordia Lutheran Institute for the Holy Ministry, which started back in 2001. We do not know where all of this will lead and we can only say THE WORD WORKS.
Another LHF ministry is a bakery/restaurant enterprise. LHF support to the ELCSS/S in Sudan helps build businesses to generate income and therefore become self-sustaining instead of relying on mission dollars from outside sources. Proceeds from this endeavor are being fed back into the church’s various programs; one of which is funding the new church headquarters being built in the village of Yambio.
Of course, all of this takes place amidst a lot of tribal and government conflict that drives people out of the country and into refugee camps in Ethiopia and Uganda. At the same time, other endeavors being carried out apart from LHF are primary education projects and a new orphanage built in Yambio.
In 2017, an additional 75 titles were printed, thus reaching 925 printed titles. What can we say about this? THE WORD WORKS.
Featured image: ELCSS-S procession to opening service at the seminary. All photos Courtesy of Lutheran Heritage Foundation.