The following story tells you the wonderful things which CLEF is able to do with the dollars you contribute to it. CLEF is the Confessional Lutheran Educational Foundation.
The pastor’s wife was nine months pregnant. They lived in a lean-to in which one side was the outside wall of the church and the other three consisted of make shift pieces of old metal roofing, ply-wood, masonry blocks and as much other paraphernalia as the pastor and the men of the church could scavenge from their neighborhood. Rats scampered through the courtyard of the church and slinked past the doorway to the home. This was hardly the place for a young mother and her impending bundle of joy. Their existence was not only paltry it was frustrating. The church had built the beginnings of a modest parsonage but had not the means to complete it and their five year building plans had been deferred more than once.
That was the parsonage in August of 2008, before we came.
Two weeks later Mom came home with healthy baby to a new house. It was very modest, even meager, by our standards but was a mansion to the young mother and her pastor husband. The walls were masonry blocks covered with cement and made smooth. The floor was concrete. The home had a private bathroom. It was no longer necessary to share with the members of the church. There were two windows and a secure door. You could actually lock the place. Everything was painted a powder blue. It matched the color of the inside of the Nave of the church which had also undergone a thorough transformation. And the rats were safely outside.
What had happened?
Five members of Glory of Christ Lutheran Church of Plymouth Minnesota had come to Baguio, a city in the northern part of the Philippines. During their two week stay they had done some wonderfully loving things. Four had worked as carpenters. They bought sand, gravel, concrete, masonry blocks, paints, tools and everything necessary to build the parsonage and refurbish the church. When the men and women of the congregation, La Trinidad Lutheran Church, saw the love and generosity of these American visitors they dropped what they were doing and helped. The men lead the way, teaching their new friends the art of carpentry Philippino style. They were talented, tireless and very excited that their five year plan would suffer no more delays. The women made lunch every day. And every day their American friends ate meals comprised of things they had never seen before but would gladly eat again. Friends were made, relationships established the fellowship in the gospel of Christ which Lutherans had shared from a distance was now seen and lived.
Meanwhile their pastor, Klemet Preus, the pastor of Glory of Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth and the fifth member of the party, spent his days teaching theology at the Lutheran Seminary in Baguio. He had been recruited by Pastor John Fehrmann, President of CLEF. John had worked with James Cerdenola, president of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines to make the two week course possible.
Pastor Preus taught “Law and Gospel.” Although the challenges of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines are vastly different from those which Lutherans face in America, the fundamental trouble of that people is not different than ours – they are sinners. More importantly the fundamental answer to sin is the same world wide and for as long as any nation endures. The Gospel of Christ’s forgiveness of sins needs to be preached and pastors need to learn out to preach it. So “Law and Gospel” was just the right course.
Every vicar in the church body, every student at their Seminary and every pastor of the church except one attended the course. The lone exception was holding his wife’s hand and helping build his congregation’s parsonage. The pastors and students were brought to Baguio and their expenses were paid by CLEF which is supported by Glory of Christ Lutheran Church. Never in the history of their church were all of them able to travel to the same place to study together and share stories of their various ministries. Without the support of others they simply do not have the money for such travel. Now these same pastors and students will be brought to a common spot for the next five years. They will learn theology and be refreshed in God’s Word. And who will do this? You will, if you support CLEF!
On Thursday of the first week pastor Fehrmann gathered some of the leading linguists in the church body together and presented to them an idea which they were eager to embrace. It’s called The International Lutheran Hymnal Project. The idea is to provide a common Lutheran hymnal to Lutheran Church bodies all over the world. This hymnal would contain a corpus of the best of the church’s hymns. The local pastors would translate the hymns into their language and then choose some of their ethnic favorites. The result is that hundreds of Lutheran churches world wide can all learn the same hymns. It’s a variation on a theme established in Acts 2. “How is it that each of them confesses the gospel of Christ each singing in his own language?” In the Philippines this hymnal will be done in six languages. What a joy that will be. The people will all sing the Liturgy in English, hear sermons in their native tongues and be able to sing the classic Lutheran hymns in their native tongue as well.
Next year a handful of people from Glory of Christ will travel again to the Philippines. Pastor Preus will be there. Next year he will teach Homiletics – the art of preaching. Another congregation will work hand in hand with new found friends to do something which will make their property more beautiful and suitable. True fellowship will be known. Christ will be glorified.
Glory of Christ Lutheran Church will support this endeavor generously by giving to CLEF. I am convinced that there is no better mission organization on the face of the earth than the Confessional Lutheran Educational Foundation. It is worthy of your generous support.