Engaging Asia in Mission

Asia 1

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

The rallying cry of Easter resounds throughout the rest of the church year. Christians celebrate every Sunday as a mini-Easter; for each Divine Service we gather to receive the gifts of God. There God serves His people. He bestows the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection—forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation,” as Luther declares in the Small Catechism.

Last week, the LCMS Asia Missionary Team gathered under the theme, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” (The banner is posted above.) Throughout the week, Pr. Kolb proclaimed that the risen Christ remains unchanging for us, even as we face changes all around us. And so, as I announce a number of changes coming for Asia in Mission in the next few months, I want to emphasize that the message of Christ crucified and risen for the world remains the same. Sharing how this message is proclaimed in Asia will remain the core focus of Asia in Mission.

First, I want to thank Megan Kincaid for her work for Asia in Mission and for the LCMS Asia team. She spent considerable time collecting, editing, and publishing articles for Asia in Mission. Since Megan will finish her service with the LCMS at the end of April, Asia in Mission will fall under my responsibilities as the LCMS Director of Communications for Asia.

So, Megan, thank you from all of us.

Second, Asia in Mission will undergo some change. This summer, Asia in Mission will transition to Lutherans Engage the World—Asia. If you’re not familiar with Lutherans Engage the World, please follow this link: http://blogs.lcms.org/category/lutherans-engage.

Lutherans Engage the World serves to “engage the Church in the work of witness and mercy across the globe in our life together.” Lutherans Engage the World—Asia will contain additional stories about the work of Lutherans in Asia. This transition will raise more awareness of Lutheran missions in Asia and provide a stronger connection to Lutheran mission around the world.

So, for the next issue, be prepared for an updated look and design.

Finally, my apologies. This edition is short. As we are in the midst of transition and change, I included only a few stories from around the region. We are also still discussing the final format for the upcoming Lutherans Engage the World—Asia. Please stay tuned for more stories and information in the coming months.

In the closing stanzas of “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness,” Paul Gerhardt reminds us how Christ’s resurrection has rent asunder death’s iron chain, breaking through pain and sin and death. He shattered hell’s grim thrall by His resurrection. I encourage you to read these words from the hymn aloud:

Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,
Whate’er He passes through.
He rends death’s iron chain;
He breaks through sin and pain;
He shatter’s hell’s grim thrall;
I follow Him through all. (LSB 467:6)

Blessed Easter to you all as you revel in the freedom from sin, death, and the devil that Christ has won for you.

Rev. Roy S. Askins
LCMS Director of Communications, Asia

Asia 2

Highlands Lutheran International School
The Highlands Lutheran International School (HLIS), located in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG), was established by missionaries from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) for the purpose of teaching missionary children. It began through generous support from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The school opened in February 1958 with Don and Flo Gerber as the first called teachers. More teachers followed and buildings were erected to accommodate the hundreds of missionary and expatriate children living in PNG. After PNG independence in 1975, fewer LCMS missionaries served in PNG, and HLIS opened its doors and mission to welcome local students who met the academic and financial requirements.

Some years ago, the LCMS withdrew completely from the school on account of a tribal fight that endangered the students and staff and led to the burning of its classroom and library. With encouragement and support of the Enga Provincial Governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, the school reopened and has seen many renovation projects since, including new dormitories, classrooms and housing for teachers.

Currently, more than 250 students have enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, including 50 boarding students. Most of the students are from PNG, although some students come from the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Most of the teaching staff is Papua New Guineans, although some teachers and administrators have come from the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

While the LCMS currently has no formal working relationship with the school, HLIS wants to be known as a private Lutheran school. For a number of years, a Lutheran chaplain from the Gutnius Lutheran Church led weekly devotions and chapel services and conducted Sunday worship.

In 2015, Dr. Todd and Jan Luedtke, former LCMS missionaries to PNG and elsewhere in Asia, were invited to come to HLIS to assist the chaplain and teach Christian Religious Education (CRE). For health reasons, they could not return for the 2016 school year. The LCMS missionary Rev. Larry Matro and his wife Tina served at HLIS for the first term of the 2016 school year. Pastor Matro led Sunday worship, organized weekly chapel and devotions, and taught 12 hours of CRE a week while Tina helped with teaching Bible verses and songs to the primary grades. They were unable to remain beyond the first term due to other duties.

Please pray for a renewed relationship with HLIS and that the Lord will raise up the right person(s) to come to PNG to assume this challenging, rewarding, and exciting work. Pastor Matro comments, “There is such a need for a clear Christian (Lutheran) witness at HLIS as the students come from many church backgrounds. In addition, these students may be the future leaders of this country. It is exciting to think what a strong Christian foundation in the school years would do in the hearts and lives of the students who will go on from here to become doctors, accountants, engineers and political leaders!”

Asia 4
Announcement for 2016-2017 Head of School at Concordia Shanghai

The Board of Directors of Concordia International School Shanghai is pleased to announce that Dr. Mary Scott has accepted the call to be the new Head of School for Concordia International School Shanghai.

Dr. Scott’s strong understanding of academics and the business of running a school as well as her rich experience from thirty years at Concordia University in Irvine, California will help her lead Concordia in the next decade. She loves China, has a daughter who was born in China, and for many years has participated in the Irvine initiative to teach educators in Shenzhen. Dr. Scott has a commitment to learn and a believe that God is calling her to China and to Concordia.

Dr. Scott will be available this spring to work closely with the current head of school, Gregg Pinick, and the board to ensure a smooth transition in the fall. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Scott and her family. As a community, we look forward to this exciting next chapter for our school.

Dr. Scott announced to the Concordia Shanghai community:
With great joy, and after prayerful deliberation, discussion and consultation, Dan, Anna Joy and I announce our decision to join the vibrant Concordia Shanghai community.

I am very excited to accept the offer to be the new Head of School at Concordia International School Shanghai. I will begin this new season of ministry in July 2016 and look forward to serving you all in this role.

Thank you for your time and especially for your prayers, which have brought us to this point. We ask that you continue to support us in your thoughts and prayers during the days and months ahead as we transition to Shanghai. May our good and gracious God be with us all.