Pastor Alan Ludwig is one of our missionaries that BJS publicizes from time to time; his latest newsletter is available here: October Siberian Letter. To support this missionary, go to LCMS.org/ludwig; to subscribe to his newsletters click on the button at the bottom of SiberiaMissionary.org.
By the way; the title translates to: How shall they hear without a preacher? It the Russian of Romans 10:14 for “How will they hear without a preacher?”
Here is the start of the newsletter.
A New Year of Grace in Learning
Fall courses have begun again and a new school year is well underway. Our students are back behind the desks and are busy cracking the books—quite a change from their summer vacation or practicum in parishes of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The month of September has been cool, and with no warmth in the building we’ve really had to add the outer layers. The continual chill made some of the students sick. Now the heat is turned on and we have hot running water, and so things are going more comfortably. This semester I’m teaching Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Hermeneutics (the art and science of interpreting the Bible), the Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, and the Theology of the Lutheran Book of Concord. This is no light teaching load, since our lectures are an hour and a half long, each conducted two or three times a week. I spend a fair amount of time preparing my lectures, especially for two courses, one of which I’m teaching for the first time.
In addition, I continue this year to conduct a Sunday morning Bible class for the laity. In a few weeks we’ll finish our study of the Book of Genesis. What will come next? Logically, the Book of Exodus. Or perhaps the Psalms.
Whether the audience is seminarians or parishioners, whether the subject matter is simple or complex, I always strive to stick to the essential. That is, all of Scripture testifies of Jesus Christ, the Savior of a lost world. Amid our discussions of the waw consecutive and the genitive absolute—points of Hebrew and Greek grammar—I keep bringing it all back to the one thing needful: God’s grace in Christ. The goal is to show future pastors how the technical tools of theology will serve and enhance their preaching. Most people don’t want to know the boring details of how their hot new car and shiny computer run, but still they need them to be designed well and run right. Likewise, no one wants to hear preachers show off their knowledge of biblical languages and theology. But everyone needs them to have such knowledge. So I never consider my work with a biblical text to be complete until I have led my students to consider how it may be preached and taught to the church in a simple and clear way, in order to bring sinners to repentance and bestow upon repentant sinners the riches of God’s forgiveness in the cross of Jesus.
Higher Education on a Lower Level
Can a person get higher by going lower? It makes no sense. Yet this is exactly how it is in the kingdom of God. To be great in the kingdom, the Christian must become servant and slave of all.
In a far more ordinary way, in order to rise, I’ve had to go down. That is, while last year I took Russian language classes for foreigners on the sixth floor of Novosibirskiy gosudarstvenniy universitet (Novosibirsk State University), this year I am attending regular university lectures for Russian students, which take place mostly on the second and first floors. For all of its being quite a few steps down, this is definitely higher education for me—all the more since NSU ranks as one of the top universities in the world.
Education at an Older Age
Yes, it seems my lot is to be a student for life. This is part of what it takes for me to be able to serve where I am. Requirement or no, I enjoy the stimulation of new knowledge from a different perspective, all the while improving my use and comprehension of Russian. The courses I’m taking are all related to Russian language, literature, and culture. The course of study is called philology, and those who graduate in this program will become linguists, journalists, translators, language teachers, and professionals in other spheres where language skills are required.
To read the rest of the newsletter, click here.