A Sure and Certain Future

The recent string of earthquakes is just one more reason for Puerto Ricans to pack their bags. Photo: Johanna Heidorn

A couple of days ago Pastors Neuendorf, Maita, and I went to visit a member of la Iglesia Luterana Fuente de Vida in Ponce. Like so many others on the south side of the island, he had been sleeping outside of his home in a cardboard box since the earthquakes began a couple of weeks ago. The purpose of our visit wasn’t a happy one: this valuable member of our fledgling congregation had decided to purchase a one-way ticket off the island to stay with extended family in Detroit. 

“When do you plan to return to the island?”, I asked him. 

“I can’t say,” he responded, “the future of Puerto Rico is just too uncertain.” 

Elías (not his real name) is just one of hundreds of thousands that feel the same way. Already before hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Caribbean island was experiencing a “massive exodus” to the mainland US due to an unprecedented economic recession. The population had already reached a 40-year low before the almost 500 earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater that have hit the island over the last two weeks

Assessing the damage to our recently acquired Disaster Response Center. Photo: Johanna Heidorn

There’s no doubt about it: the future of Puerto Rico is uncertain. There is no way to know how long the ground will continue to shake or how long the island´s infrastructure will be a mess. It’s impossible to say how long the humanitarian aid will last or how long it will take before people can return to their homes. 

It was hard to say good-bye, not knowing when we´ll meet again. We know just as little as the next guy about what will happen on this island tomorrow. But by God’s grace, we do know that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, purchasing and winning for us a future in which there will be no earthquakes to worry about. We do know that our crucified and risen Savior is seated at the right hand of God the Father, working all things together for those who love Him. Because of Christ and his sure and certain promises delivered to us in our Baptism, there is no doubt about it: our future is certain. 

The newest member of our mission team, deaconess intern, Stephanie Wilde giving an encouraging embrace to a woman in a refugee center. Photo: Johanna Heidorn

Please pray for us as we continue to share this Good News in Puerto Rico. 

Missionaries vs. the Monster

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Christ the Redeemer looks out over Brazil, the country that has the most Catholics in the world. Photo: http://interlochenpublicradio.org

There are a whopping 425 million Roman Catholics in Latin America – almost three-quarters of the region’s total population. Of the globe’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics, more than 40% call Latin America their casa. This raises the question: why do Lutherans bother sending missionaries to the most Catholic region in the world? Continue reading

How to Prepare for the Mission Field

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Our youngest preparing for missionary service at his Baptism on July 8th. Photo Credit: Christel Neuendorf

Remember Your Baptism– When you were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” you received the most important things you’ll need on the mission field. At your Baptism, God gave you an identity as His precious and dearly loved child. He gave you His Name to call upon in every trouble. He gave you faith to trust in His promises. He gave you His Holy Spirit to sanctify you in the one true faith. Your Baptism is the single most valuable thing you’ll take with you on your journey. Don’t forget it! Continue reading

Gabriella’s Trip to the Jordan

The following is a letter I wrote to my daughter to celebrate her Baptism a couple of weeks ago. It’s based on baptismal imagery used both by Luther and the early Church fathers, of the Baptismal font as the Christian’s “little Jordan”.[1]

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My daughter’s “Little Jordan” at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus, St. Louis, MO (Photo: Michelle Knauss)

Dear Gabriella Joy,

I’m writing you this letter to tell you about a very special trip you took when you were a baby. On May 7, 2016, when you were only a couple of weeks old, your mommy and daddy took you to a river. It wasn’t just any ol’ river, though. This was a life-giving river, rich in grace and overflowing with forgiveness.

Continue reading

The Cross Alone is Our Theology

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Cristus am Kreuz by Cranach. Photo: gnesiolutheran.com

Español | Regardless of the particular capacity in which they serve or the amount of formal theological training they’ve received, every missionary operates with a certain theology that profoundly affects everything they do. What sort of theologians are Confessional Lutheran missionaries? Continue reading