Found on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog:
The Lutheran church has a tremendous missionary heritage. President Emeritus Pfotenhauer said in 1937, “Here and there it is asserted that Luther and the Lutheran Church of his time neglected missions. What a foolish notion. Luther is, after the apostles, the greatest missionary… Luther in his day filled all Europe to the threshold of Asia with the Gospel. Lutheran preachers carried the Gospel into many lands, and some sealed their message with martyr’s blood.” (At Home In The House Of My Fathers, 804.) The Missouri Synod has had a tremendous heritage in missions also, both in home mission and world mission. Up until the end of the 19th Century, the Missouri Synod focused on home mission — among Native Americans, immigrants, and African Americans. At the end of the 19th Century, the Missouri Synod began mission work in India, Brazil, Argentina, and China. By the middle of the 20th Century, the MIssouri Synod expanded into Asia – Papua New Guinea, Japan, South Korea, and so on. At its peak, the Missouri Synod had several hundred missionaries overseas at any given time. Times have changed, new opportunities present themselves, former mission efforts lead to the formation of partner churches, and the number of missionaries changes. What doesn’t change is the challenge of finding and funding missionaries to go overseas.
In 1895, District President Pfotenhauer in a sermon titled, “Dig Wells and Keep Them Pure,” noted the great need for missionaries in India and China with more than 500 million people. He noted because the Synod did not have an immediate need for pastors (there wasn’t a shortage of pastors), there was a shortage of missionaries. He writes, “Every communicant member of our Synod throws an average of only 20 cents into the treasury for missions, for the digging of wells in the mission field.” (At Home In the House of My Fathers, 711.) Keep in mind that there is not an exact parallel between how missions were accounted for at the beginning of the 20th Century and today at the beginning of the 21st Century. What is parallel is the challenge in funding missionaries.
Today, the funding of international missionaries in the LCMS is handled primarily through a program called Network-Supported Missionary (NSM), where each missionary intentionally works with a body of supporters, including individuals, congregations, and organizations, before and during field deployment. So while the missionary is not technically “self-funded” as the missionary has an entire support network based at the International Center (including pension, health insurance, travel support, housing support, human resources, IT support, et. al.), there is a greater responsibility placed on the missionary to assist in the raising of support for the mission work. While there are advantageous and disadvantageous to this method of support, after many years of having fewer missionaries on the field, it has allowed the LCMS to increase the number of missionaries over the past few years.
With that brief introduction to missionary funding in the Missouri Synod, we wanted to take the opportunity to draw attention to a particular missionary who has specific needs at a given moment. In the future, we hope regularly to feature different missionaries. Today, we would like to feature Rev. Alan Ludwig, who received a call from the Board for International Mission in June 2011 to serve in Russia. We have a goal of getting Rev. Ludwig to Russia by October 2011. Time is short to meet this goal. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce Rev. Alan Ludwig to you.
Rev. Alan Ludwig serves the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Siberia, Russia. He is a theological educator, which includes teaching seminary courses, working with team members in developing theological education in Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union and, upon request, teaching and preaching at a local Lutheran congregation in the city of Novosibirsk in Siberia. Since 1998, Alan has worked with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) and taught seminary courses at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, which is operated by the SELC, a partner/sister church of the LCMS. The seminary was founded in 1997.
Alan graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1989 with an M.Div., and earned an S.T.M. in 1992. From 1992-98, Alan served as the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, Cresbard, S.D., and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Wecota, S.D. Alan also served on the staff of LOGIA, a Lutheran theological journal. Prior to attending seminary, Alan graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor of Music and worked as a private music teacher. His hobbies include music, art, poetry, literature, computers and walking.
Please pray for Alan as he serves in this capacity. He asks, “Pray that my wife, Patricia, and I would adjust to the new roles God has given us, and for me, that I may faithfully fulfill my call to serve the church in Siberia. We desire prayers for the SELC: for the bishop, the pastors and the deacons—that the Lord keep them faithful in preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments; for the laity—that they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God; for the continued spread of the Gospel throughout the vast territory of Siberia. Finally, we request prayers for our seminarians—that they be molded by the Word of God into faithful and worthy candidates for the holy ministry, and that our seminary rector would be sustained in his demanding role.”
– Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations