One Giant Leap for Lutherans in Africa (and a small personal step for me), by Pr. Rossow

Lutherans in Africa (LIA) has been on a steady growth rate since its founding a few years ago. Just in the last year steps have been taken to add another missionary to the team and land has been purchased and a new $1.5 million dollar Lutheran Center is being built on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.

New Lutheran Center Administration Building, Ngong Hills, Kenya
New Lutheran Center Administration Building, Ngong Hills, Kenya

LIA’s work is to make genuine, confessional Lutherans out of the millions of LINO’s in Africa (Lutherans in name only). There are several times more Lutherans in Africa than in the United States but most of them and their pastors, have never read the Small Catechism, let alone the Book of Concord. Director James May travels the African continent conducting seminars in the basics of Lutheran doctrine for pastors, catechists, lay people and youth convocations. There are more invitations from African bishops than can be filled and so the staff is growing. One of LIA’s other hallmarks is partnering with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation to translate and distribute the Book of Concord in Swahili, the common language of much of Africa, Good News Magazine and countless other translation projects.

The next institutional step for LIA is to do more proactive work in communications and development. Up to this point this work has encumbered Director James May and taken away from his time to teach the Gospel. To that end the Board of Directors moved this fall to create and fill the position of Director of Development.

The Director of Development will be in charge of making clear the work of LIA to Lutherans in this country and around the world via the LIA website (, press releases, email contact, etc. This person will also be responsible to preach and teach in parishes in this country and around the world in order to enlist support for LIA.

This is a giant leap forward for LIA. The small personal step forward for me is that as of January 1 of this coming year I will be filling this position. I have asked my congregation for a peaceful release of my call and as of December 20th I will step aside after 22 years of serving Bethany Lutheran, Naperville, IL as Administrative Pastor. (I will remain on the LCMS roster as “emeritus” status and will be preaching and teaching nearly as much as I do now but at congregations around the country on behalf of LIA.)

A while back I started travelling a few days a year with James May to share the story of LIA and enlist support for the cause. God blessed our efforts and so Rev. May started talking to me about this potential position. About a year ago we got serious about it and God kept opening doors and so here we are.

I certainly do not have the sales gene but when I am committed to something I find it easy to promote. Being committed to LIA is simple. It follows upon on seeing them at work. They have incredibly low overhead, are committed solely to the one thing needed – the Gospel and are creating a self-sustaining model for mission work in the heart of Africa.

The saving Gospel is job one at LIA. I always tell congregations that giving eye glasses to some needy person overseas is certainly a good work but LIA is solely concerned about giving the eyes of faith to people so that they can see Jesus and his saving work for them on the cross. I would much rather have someone see dimly now and have perfect sight in heaven on account of the Gospel.

Pacific View, Ruby Beach Looking South – Watercolor, Tim Rossow

My wife and I are personally excited about our pending move to the Pacific coast of the state of Washington where we will be building our own home (literally, and only a few hundred yards off the beach) and pursuing our hobbies. Because this is a part time job with LIA, I will be able to continue my capital campaign work in congregations ( and finally fulfill my desire expressed in the popular 70’s song to sell my paintings on the sidewalk by the café.

This is one small and exciting step for me personally but one giant leap forward for Lutherans in Africa. Please pray for the Gospel making its way through Africa and for us as we set out on this new path.

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