Christianity is the absolutely perfect religion for two reasons:
- It offers and gives the perfect salvation. The Christian religion does not ask sinful human beings to make peace with God through their own “works” (Ephesians 2:9a) and their own efforts, but it teaches sinful human beings to receive by “faith” (v. 8b) the perfect, already-accomplished “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1b), the “one Mediator between God and men, …who gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2:5b). Therefore, all believers in Christ, those who confide in His active and passive obedience, have perfect “peace” (Luke 2:14) with God through the only “Savior” (v. 11) for “all people” (v. 10), and are “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Colossians 1:22b), not because of anything which they have done, but solely and only because of what God has done for them through Christ, who fulfilled and carried out all of God’s demands in their place (and in the place of the whole world of sinners), “made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law” (Galatians 4:4b-a). The Apostle John wrote with certainty in the third chapter of his Gospel these words of absolute truth: “He that believeth on Him [the Son of God] is not condemned [for his inherited and actual sins], but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18).
- Secondly, Christianity is the absolutely perfect religion because its perfect source and foundation is not the word of fallible human beings but God’s own written, infallible Word of “truth” (John 17:17b), which is perfect and beyond criticism. Christianity is firmly “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
What does the above introduction have to do with “An Update from the Committee on Missions”? It is inseparably connected to this update. Our Conference, through its General Fund, provides subsidy (financial aid) to three congregations in our fellowship so that their pastors can work full-time in preaching, teaching, and defending the absolutely perfect religion of Christianity in its Scripturally-revealed truth and purity for the spiritual profit and edification of their own flocks, as well as for sharing this only-saving religion (true Christianity) with those outside of their flocks, especially with those who are still in spiritual “darkness” (I Thessalonians 5:4, 5b), for their spiritual profit and edification. We will now give you a brief and current update of these three subsidized sister congregations, as well as a brief and current update from our non-subsidized sister congregations in Nigeria.
Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tucson, Arizona
As The Concordia Lutheran reported in its July-August 2014 issue, the members of Good Shepherd, with all thanks to their gracious God, welcomed their new pastor, the Rev. Daniel P. Mensing, on July 27, “celebrating his ordination into the Holy Ministry and his installation as the shepherd and overseer of the flock” (page 119). As the Apostle Paul counseled in Romans 12, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice” (v. 15a), so we rejoice with Good Shepherd Congregation over our God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies in giving them a faithful ambassador “for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20a), who will “preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season; [who will] reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2). Two significant and interesting aspects of Pastor Mensing’s work at Good Shepherd are the following:
As a new pastor, embarking for the first time upon the catechetical instruction of his own members, Pastor Mensing will have two students in his first Confirmation Class. May God, the Holy Spirit, continue to richly bless the “incorruptible” seed of His Word (I Peter 1:23) in the hearts and lives of these students and all future catechumens at Good Shepherd!
In the Sunday Morning Bible Class, Pastor Mensing will be teaching the doctrines of Scripture as set forth so well in Luther’s Large Catechism. May the attendees in this class be built up (Acts 20:32b) more and more, ever remembering the Savior’s instruction and assurance in John 8: “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (vv. 31-32).
The mailing address for Pastor Mensing, his wife Megan, and their son Rowan, is 550 N. Harrison Road, Apartment 11107, Tucson, AZ 85748. His telephone number and e-mail address are provided in the directory of our congregations at the end of this issue.
The 2014 Convention of the Concordia Lutheran Conference unanimously approved a monthly subsidy for Good Shepherd of $1,000.00, covering the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year (June 2014 to May 2015), so that its pastor does not have to seek secular employment in order to support his family, but can devote himself full-time to the work of his office in serving his flock according to the clear, divine mandate of I Corinthians 9:14, “So hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”
Orthodox Lutheran Church of Ekaterinburg, Ekaterinburg, Russia
With many thanks to our gracious God for the continuing, stable health of their pastor, the Rev. Roman G. Schurganoff, the members of the Orthodox Lutheran Church of Ekaterinburg have been gathering regularly this year for the Sunday Morning Bible Class and Worship Service, as well as for their Midweek Bible Class.
These Russian brethren are still meeting in rented quarters, the cost of which our Conference is defraying at the rate of $200.00 a month. They tried to save our Conference this cost by meeting in the home or apartment of one of their members, but a recently-enacted Russian law prohibits churches from holding their public worship services and public classes in a private home or apartment.
Although the members of this congregation, because of their “deep poverty” (cf. the condition of the Macedonian Christians, II Corinthians 8:1-2), are unable to provide their pastor’s “living” or salary as they should do according to God’s ordinance (I Corinthians 9:14), they are now helping to pay the monthly rent of their pastor’s apartment, thus sharing of their substance toward his support. This is evidence of their spiritual growth and their gratitude for the precious Word of God which he brings to them in his teaching and preaching. The Apostle Paul taught such support of pastors by the members of their flocks in Galatians 6, where we find this Godly instruction: “Let him that is taught in the Lord communicate unto [share with] him that teacheth in all good things” (v. 6). May the Lord continue to work in them “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” in this regard (Philippians 2:13).
It is the goal of Pastor Schurganoff to finish, within the next year, the Rosetta Stone course for the English language. This course is intended to help the non-English speaking person to understand, to speak, to read and to write in English. His success with this course will be a tremendous aid in our communication with him.
The tract on the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture, taken from an article in The Concordia Lutheran and translated from English into Russian, has been much appreciated and used by our Russian brethren. Furthermore, as Pastor Schurganoff reports, the members have also shared this tract with “their friends and relatives.” He encourages us to consider doing such translation work from English into Russian for future tracts which they can then use for their own spiritual growth and for distribution in mission work.
Beside the $200.00 monthly facilities rental subsidy authorized by our Conference at this year’s convention, the convention also provided a monthly subsidy of $1,000.00 for the pastor’s salary for fiscal year 2014-2015 so that he can work full-time in the pastoral office (I Corinthians 9:14) and so that he can gradually reduce his $3,800.00 medical debt, which in the Russian economy is an immense figure.
St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sauk Village, Illinois
As The Concordia Lutheran reported in its May-June 2014 issue: “On Sunday, June 15, 2014, the members of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sauk Village, Illinois, gathered together in the sanctuary of God’s House for the ordination and installation of their new pastor, the Rev. David J. Mensing.” As we said earlier concerning Good Shepherd, Tucson, so we also, with the Apostle Paul in Romans 12, declare concerning St. Mark’s: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice” (v. 15a). We do rejoice with the members of St. Mark’s that our gracious God, in His lovingkindness and His tender mercies, has given them a faithful shepherd to “feed [their] flock” (I Peter 5:2) with the perfect nourishment of God’s Word, “taking the oversight thereof” (I Peter 5:2b) as the watchman and caretaker of their souls; and we beseech the Lord of the Church to bless abundantly all his faithful labors.
Though St. Mark’s is a small congregation, Pastor Mensing has a “full plate” with a schedule that is comparable to those of pastors who serve larger flocks. St. Mark’s maintains its Sunday afternoon schedule with its Sunday Bible Class at 3:00 p.m. and its Worship Service at 4:00 p.m. Pastor Mensing also has an Adult Instruction Class with two students, which meets on Sundays at 6:00 p.m., with the exception of the third Sunday of each month. On that third Sunday, the monthly Voters’ Meeting is scheduled, preceded by a fellowship potluck supper immediately following the worship service. On Friday mornings, Pastor Mensing has Confirmation Instruction. He also teaches a midweek Bible Class on Wednesday evenings. May the regular and consistent preaching and teaching of God’s Word at St. Mark’s be blessed with the fruit promised by our merciful God, as Isaiah records His words in the 55th chapter of his prophecy, saying: “As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven and returneth not thither but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please; and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (vv. 10-11).
The Mensing family moved into the parsonage in Sauk Village on August 2 but had to vacate the premises shortly thereafter due to some water piping problems. Temporarily (for about 10 days) they moved back to the parsonage at Peace, Oak Forest, while Pastor Mensing and able brethren made necessary repairs and installed needed upgrades. The water problem has now been taken care of, and the family is now settled back into St. Mark’s parsonage.
The 2014 Convention of the Concordia Lutheran Conference approved a monthly subsidy of $800.00 for St. Mark’s to augment the salary provided by the congregation, so that Pastor Mensing is able to devote himself fully to his pastoral work with this precious flock, according to the divine principle set forth in I Corinthians 9:14 (referred to earlier in this update).
Pastor Mensing sent this message to the undersigned: “Attendance at Worship and Classes is good, and interest in God’s Word is high, thanks be to God. By His grace and with His help I am enjoying the pastoral work, especially since the members are so eager to learn and so supportive of one another! The congregation thanks the members of the Conference for all their prayers and their exemplary, brotherly burden-bearing. These things are truly suitable for the children of God, for those who have been freely given priceless, everlasting blessings!”
Our Dear Brethren in Nigeria
The Nigerian brethren are happy to report that four of their seminary students have recently graduated and have each accepted a Divine Call to serve full-time in the pastoral office. Here are the details:
- St. Clement’s Lutheran Church, Elem-Sangama, called Timothy Biobele Aaron to be its pastor. He accepted the congregation’s call and is now the full-time pastor of St. Clement’s, which had a pastoral vacancy since the death of Pastor Kaladokubo in July of 2012.
- Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Idama, called Innocent Karibo to be its pastor. He accepted this call and is now the full-time pastor of Holy Trinity, which had a pastoral vacancy since the death of Pastor Dodo in January of 2009.
- Salem Lutheran Church, Abalama, called both Balaiyi Christopher Thompson and Bateinm Bestman to be its full-time pastors, and they each accepted their respective call to serve with Salem’s present pastor, Rev. Elison B. Agborubere.
Concerning the Ebola virus, the Lord has graciously protected our Nigerian brethren so that none of them have contracted it. Pastor Fyneface, in an October 2nd e-mail, wrote: “We are still observing the preventive principles in order not to have it.”
In our prayers to “Jesus, the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14b), “let us…come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16) for our three dear subsidized congregations, as well as for our dear brethren in Nigeria, ever remembering that “if God so loved us [in and through the perfect, substitutionary work of Christ Jesus, our Substitute and Mediator before God], we ought also to love one another” (I John 4:11), “not…in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (3:18), in every possible way, especially with our “fervent prayer[s]” (James 5:16) and with our “willing” (II Corinthians 8:12a) gifts, not given “grudgingly or of necessity¸ for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7b).
— R. J. L.