Today, 21 new missionaries — along with their 44 spouses and children — began an intensive two-week orientation held by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in St. Louis to prepare for service in 13 countries around the globe.
That number represents continued successful recruitment efforts toward doubling the number of LCMS career missionaries on the field to 136 by 2016 — as called for by the 2013 Synod convention.
The missionaries — slated for East and West Africa, Latin America, Eurasia, Asia Pacific and Southern Asia — will serve in diverse roles, including as nurses, evangelists, deaconesses, theological educators and international-school chaplains.
“Missionaries are the people Christ has called to go out into all the world and speak the Gospel,” said the Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, associate executive director for the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM). “These men, women and children have given up everything they know to do this. For us at the Office of International Mission, there is no higher priority than caring for those entrusted to us. They are the very means by which Christ spreads His salvation so people may believe and by believing have eternal life.”
In years past, missionary orientations have been held once each year. But in response to such a great need, the OIM decided last year to add more orientations to prepare missionaries more quickly to enter the field.
Missionary orientation is the first major step in a missionary assignment. It provides information, experiences and study materials that will help establish a solid foundation on which new missionaries build as they prepare for missionary service. It provides specific training for their ministry assignment and an introduction to the LCMS staff and structure that will support missionaries during their international deployment.
Because of the increasing number of missionaries now being sent abroad, the LCMS began offering missionary orientation twice a year this year — once in the winter and once in the summer, and the possibility of a third one in the fall.
A new addition to this summer’s orientation is the introduction of resources by Doxology, a Lutheran non-profit and Recognized Service Organization, that would meet the needs of those deploying to foreign fields and to give missionaries additional support and care. Also new to this orientation is special programming for women and accompanying spouses, with topics related to spiritual care, marriage and helping the families deal with transitions.
The orientation will culminate with a special “sending service” at 2 p.m. July 2, in the International Center chapel. The special Divine Service with Holy Communion, followed by a reception, is open to the public.
The LCMS has been involved in mission and outreach since 1851, when it established its first mission board and sent its first overseas missionary to India in 1895. Today, the LCMS trains, sends and supports called and appointed long-term and short-term missionaries throughout the United States and in various countries around the world, where there are mission stations, partner churches, schools and mission relationships. To find out more about the missionaries, or to support their efforts, download their prayer cards at lcms.org/prayercards.
Related video: The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, shares the history of LCMS missionary work and looks to the exciting future as LCMS missionaries continue to share the Gospel of Christ around the globe.
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