The Missionaries to America
“What is your biggest blessing?” When Dan Gilbert asked this of the missionary to America Hiruy Gebremichael responded, “The missionaries from Europe and America.” In this video interview he expresses his appreciation for how the missionaries taught the people in Eritrea to be missionaries. Pastor Hiruy, who leads an Ethiopian-Anglo church in Georgia brought his missionary skills to America. He believes this is something that has to be paid back.” It is time for him and others who benefited from the work of missionaries from other countries to “pay back” that gift to those countries that had blessed them.
Many here do not realize we are on a mission field.Many seminaries in the US still prepare their students to be pastors – who take care of a flock that have aleady been gathered. Missionaries who come from countries learned how to bring those around them to faith in Jesus, to raise up leaders to carry on the work, to not depend on large amounts of funding from outside the mission. Because of that the church in America is learning how to be in mission again. For that reason we see the new missionaries to America as gifts from God. Thank you Lord. Thank you Pr. Gebremichael.
When Rev. Dan Gilbert was President-Bishop in the LCMS he emphasised the mission of making disciples of Jesus. He had many ideas about how to do the misson and would share them with church leaders. Sometimes he would get the response, “Well, that could work on a mission field,” as if the Untied States was not a mission field today.
Pres. Gilbert had a hand in helping begin Iglesia Luterana San Pablo. Missionary Alex Merlo did not begin to start a multiethnic church; it just happened. DanGilbert interviewed Alex Merlo to ask how that happened!
An Anglo church outside of Chicago outgrew its building and had to move. The lead pastor saw an opportunity to begin a new mission in the the area of the former church. Alex Merlo, an immigrant from Honduras, was called to begin an outreach to Spanish speaking people in the area. Ministry would continue in the building the Anglos had outgrown. The mission was successful; a new Spanish speaking church was born,Iglesia Luterana San Pablo, with Alex Merlo as its pastor. Then, something unexpected happened. Anglos began to join the church. Dan Gilbert interviews Pr. Merlo to understand how this happened, and the lessons that could help churches that want to reach an ethnic group different from its own.
Interview: How A Church Can Reach An Ethnic Group Different From Its Own. Terry Chan and Dan Gilbert
Rev. Terry Chan, former president of the Chinese Ministry Conference, has been finishing a doctoral program at Western Seminary under Dr. Enoch Wan. Terry’s doctoral project is called “Moving From Homogeneity to Diversity in LCMS Congregations.” Rev. Dan Gilbert is the President Emeritus of one of the most ethnically diverse districts of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Northern Illinois. He has given his life to sharing the love of God with every ethnic group. Chan shares his research and experience to help churches reach and ethnic group different from their own.
This Moses from Africa began study for the Christian ministry at age nine. One of eleven children from South Sudan, his pastor-grandfather gave him the name of Moses and chose him to be his understudy. He went to live with his father and learned to teach and preach during school in South Sudan. He won a scholarship to go to secondary school in Khartoum in Northern Sudan. Moses was surprised when entering the school he was told he and the other new Christians students had a choice: study Islam with a teacher and graduate or study Christianity, without a teacher, and expect to fail. The nineteen year old brought the Christians together and led them in Bible study – they all passed the rigorous exam and graduated. The lives of the Christian students became more difficult and many had to flee with Moses to Egypt – then to Lebanon and learning to evangelize an African diaspora. The time in Lebanon was good training for the polyglot mission he leads today in Lansing, Michigan.
Rev. Elstner Lewis is pastor of St. Philip Lutheran Church in Chicago, a traditionally African American church in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Started in the 19th century by an African American missionary the church was originally composed of middle class members. The missionary, Reverend Dr. Marmaduke Carter, spoke fluent Germans and was able to partner with German churches around the Midwest to garner support for the new mission. Over the years the community around the church changed as the middle class found more expensive homes in the suburbs and lower economic class African Americans moved in. This precipitated a change in ministry and worship style. Today the neighborhood is changing again. With the construction of the Obama Library nearby White and Asian students and professors from surrounding colleges have moved in. Some have joined St. Philip Lutheran. The mission field changed and the challenge is for the pastor and members to adapt to make Christ’s love real in new ways. Pr. Elstner is aware of this – and is not sure what the future will look like but knows it will be different, it will require change, and it will be guided by a loving Lord.
God brought Paul Lauaki’s family from the Pacific island of Tonga and settled them in San Francisco. But growing up Paul felt the pressures of being an immigrant – not fully accepted by his new country, not believing he could measure up to his family, or to God. Then he learned how compassionate God was, and how valued he was by the Creator of the universe. His life changed he now dedicates his life to bringing the mystery of the universe, the love that stands behind creation, to others.
Missionaries need partners. It is best when those partners have not only expertise, but see each other as equal members in the body of Christ. Each piece of Christ’s church has a role to play – sometime as servant, other times as those being served. It is best when the two are able to see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ – and in what ways each benefits and each needs the other.
Pr. Mark Adrian of Messiah Lutheran Church in Tampa, Fl, overseas and supports an extensive mission to Spanish speaking people. Four new missions have begun through Messiah’s support. The missions cut across district, circuit and congregation boundaries. Pr. Adrian was eager to tell how and why that has happened. We are eager for you to hear what he has to share.
When he was eleven years old Miguel Sanabria Sr. entered a monastery in Colombia, South America. His father wanted Miguel to live a life of service to the Lord. His intelligence and humility were valued and doors were opened for the boy to advance in learning and spiritual maturity. As a young adult he realized he was being called to serve outside the priesthood. The Church still valued Miguel and he rose in the ranks of professor and educator. God opened another door, to a wife and a family. The Sanabria family was dedicated to the church, but the reality of violence and general conflict forced them to flee as refugees to the United States. Today the family is still dedicated, together serving as missionaries in Tampa, Florida, among the poorest, among immigrants, among those who have been abandoned by hope. They are missionaries, having started four new missions to shine the light of Christ’s love in a dark world.
Miguel Sanabria, Jr. left his home in the country of Colombia, left a successful business he began in America, left “things of this world” to be a missionary to America. His greatest joy is to share the evangel of Jesus. He does that in word and deed: he and his family (Father, mother, and two sisters) are based at Messiah Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL – but out of that base they have begun three missions to Spanish speaking immigrants. This, according to Miguel, Jr, brings him more joy than all the possessions he ever had in this world.
Deaconess Yolima Sanabria Cobos came from Colombia to escape political violence and warfare. Arriving in Tampa she found a new home, with Christian friends like Rosa, who helped translate Yolima’s story. Yolima sells cosmetics for Mary Kay, but her vocation – her calling – is to communicate the love of Christ. She does that in homes when she is selling Mary Kay, and in poor Spanish speaking neighborhoods when she and missionary Miguel distribute food. She communicates Christ’s love during Sunday worship services at the Spanish churches in Tampa when she manages the sound and the LED projector. She was called from pain and fear in Columbia to bring peace and love in Tampa.
Rev. Mike Gibson is the President-Bishop of the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. His vision at the beginning of his term in office is for congregations and circuits to engage their communities in ways that demonstrate the love of God. In particular, he has a vision for a more diverse District, with the “global north” learning about mission work from the “global south.” He is praying the churches will take up the mission gauntlet to love their communities as Christ loves them.
Samuel Kamissa, a Missionary to America, is from the Western, rural, agricultural area of Ethiopia. As a high school student he heard the Lord’s call to mission work. Samuel began walking to villages in his region preaching the gospel. His only support came from food and shelter provided by villagers. At fourteen years old he went to jail for preaching; the communist government tried to suppress the growth of Christianity, and yet today the Ethiopian Lutheran Church, Mekane Yesu, is one of the largest and rapidly growing churches in the world. Eventually he would become a pastor-missionary. Facing danger, he was given a chance to come to America. Because so many Ethiopians had emigrated to the United States, Samuel saw this as another mission field where he could minister. After beginning one new mission, today he is a missionary beginning more churches in the Los Angeles area. He is supported by the Los Angeles Lutheran Inner City Coalition, LINC, and the money he earns as an Uber driver. He sees the rest of his life spent sharing the gospel with all people in the mission field of America.
Rev. Dr.Todd Jones heads up a program for long distance education for missionaries in America. He prepares potential missionaries for a theological interview and then a process for ordination and membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. His ministry is vital to enlisting more missionaries for work in North America.
Stella Yau left Hong Kong when she was five years old. When her family started a new life in San Francisco, she was bullied because of her ethnicity and immigrant status. She found comfort in her church, with the same pastor who had brought her family to Christ when he was a missionary in Hong Kong. The Chinese church in San Francisco, Holy Spirit Lutheran, sent missionaries all over the world, bringing the comfort and acceptance of Jesus to thousands. She has followed in her missionary pastor’s and her missionary church’s footsteps, in Los Angeles, reaching out to millenials in an area that today is seventy percent Asian, and growing.
Missionary Del Campbell was called to the inner city of Gary, Indiana. A huge callenge awaited him. Knowing he could not bear the burden of growing a mission field in an inner city alone, Del did the wise thing- he surrounded himself and the mission with partners. The national church body (the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) gave its support. Rev. Steve Shave, the head of new mission starts for the denomination, astutely worked hand in hand with the local, Indiana, District. Missionary Campbell, leaning on the support of district and national, reached out to suburban churches, and friends of suburban churches and their friends. One initial result was the reopening of a parocial school that had been closed for decades. There are not many elements for reviving a mission field or a city than excellent education. Del went about his work, surrounding himself with partners, but all along knowing he was surrounded by a greater array of spiritual supporters, and the Friend whose mission he had been called to carry out.
Cynthia grew up in Pakistan as a Christian. Her childhood in this Muslim country was challenging, but not impossible. Things changed when an Islamic government came to power. Christian schools were closed. Christians found it difficult to get an education or find work. She and her husband, and electrical engineer, moved to Saudi Arabia where he had been recuited by the Arab American Oil Company, ARAMCO. When they arrived they found it difficult to worship Jesus. Bible Studies were against the law. They joined a clandestine study at the home of a friend, where their eyes were opened to the power of God’s Word to open eyes, even of the blind, even the spiritually blind. The power of God’s Word she and her husband experienced in the Bible study impelled them to become missionaries. It is almost impossible to be a Christian missionary among Muslims in Saudi Arabai, but in America there was opportunity to bring the power of the Word to Muslims from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries closed to Christianity.
A door was opened for Cynthia and her family to become missionaries for a group of churches, first in Canada, and later in the United States. Today the power of the Word of God is being released in twenty three mission stations in North America through the work of the mission agency begun by Cynthia’s family: People of the Book Lutheran Outreach. Cynthia is urgent for every Christian to trust the power of the Word and share it with all, especially immigrants from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Missionary to America Lang Yang
Rev. Lang Yang is the president of the Hmong Mission Society. He came to the US as a refugee after the Vietnam War. His father fought in Laos on the US side, but after the US was defeated the Vangs escaped under dangerous circumstances to a refugee camp in Thailand. Lang was three years old. The Yang children remained in the camp for four and a half years, when they were finally able to reunite with the family in America.
A quick to learn and intelligent child, Lang skipped grades in school. He became a Christian in the US, and was an interpreter for his pastor who was ministering to a group of Hmong people. Lang took a job with law enforcement, turning his back on an inner call to become a pastor. He and his wife began a restaurant. Again, he heard an inner voice call him into public ministry. He turned down that call again, until finally entering the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary.
Rev. Lang Yang pastors two Hmong churches every Sunday, ninety seven miles apart. He says the main thing he has learned from the Lord is patience. The Lord’s patience, and to have patience of his own. He has continued his work in law enforcement, as a chaplain with the Civilian Air Patrol, and the Denmark Township, Michigan, Sheriff’s office, ministering to officers and families who face trauma.
Because God brought Lang here as a refugee, many from Southeast Asia and America have come to know the love of Jesus – young, and old, near and far. All of them, all of us, refugees, making our way towards our heavenly home.
Missionary to America Dominic Rivkin
Rev. Dominic Rivkin is the leader of Lutherans Inner City Networking Coalition in Los Angeles. He was one of the first to be trained by Concordia Seminary as a missionary, rather than a pastor. After graduation, he began several new missions, not one new church start. His latest ministry is finding potential missionaries in inner cities, women and men who on their own began an outreach to bring souls to Jesus, but who have need of a support system. Dominic and LINC come alongside of these missionaries to provide theological and practical training, as well as help them find support. LINC does no “own” these ministries, but partners with them to make them successful.
Missionary to America Tony Boos
Missionary to America Rev. Tony Boos was born in the Philippines and came to America at an early age. While he was working in the airline business at Lambert Field in St. Louis, his pastor suggested to Jennifer, Tony’s wife, that Tony might consider entering seminary. Jennifer did not know that Tony already had been thinking along those lines. In seminary he heard Prof. Henry Rowald share a word from 1 kings 8:41-43, “41 “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name 42 —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, 43 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.” Tony is an excellent soccer player, and this was known in his south St. Louis neighborhood. A short while after hearing God’s word through Solomon, several young Bosnians came to him to ask for help starting a soccer team. There are sixty thousand Bosnians in St. Louis, the great majority are Muslims. As a seminarian Tony began to form relationships within the Bosnian community, using soccer as a way to meet people and show them the love of Jesus. He played on a majority Bosnian soccer team, in a Mexican soccer league in St. Louis, Missouri, a long way from the Philippines. During the six years he lived and ministered in St. Louis, God allowed him to baptize twelve Bosnian immigrants. Today he is a missionary to Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in Michigan.
Missionary to America Carl Johnson
His passion is to reach the poor, with the good news of God’s love,and with actions. As he began his mission, he realized that grocery stores in the “donut” of downtown St. Paul were also few and far between – causing the poor to pay more for food, food that was not only not the best price but not the best quality. He had an inspiration: why not develop a “portable” grocery store, one that could be brought to where there was the most need. Why not “a grocery store in a storage container? Christian architects and engineers he knew loved the idea. One person gave a large donation. Would this be a church in a grocery store, or, a grocery store in a church? In any event, the mission dispenses God’s Spirit in Word and Sacrament for the strengthening of body and soul.
Two brothers share their challenges in becoming missionaries to America from Pakistan. Khurram and Farrukh were brought up in a wealthy family but the military revolt in Pakistan and religious extremist refugees fleeing the Russian invasion in Afghanistan made sharing Christianity dangerous. After earning engineering degrees the brothers and their families found work in Saudi Arabia. They could worship in small, private groups and home Bible studies – where they grew in their understanding of the complete, undeserved love of God. Understanding more and more the grace of God, they were impelled by the Holy Spirit to attend a seminary and become missionaries to South Asians. The story of how and where they found the support they needed is one of sacrifice and faith and miraculous guidance. Their journey brought them to work as missionaries in America.
Deaconess Perla and Rev. Nelson Rodriguez are missionaries in Houston among the poorest of the poor. A shelter for the homeless next door to their church supplies volunteers for the church run food pantry. Nelson, a chemical engineer, and Perla work outside the church to fund the mission. The congregation worships in a former Anglo church, the church and school where Perla grew up. When the neighborhood changed to predominantly Hispanic, the church became the base for outreach to immigrants and refugees. Six refugees from Communist Cuba were sheltered by the congregation, and because of the witness of the Nelsons and the caring Christian community, received holy baptism. What was it that caused these people with so many earthly resources choose to minister and worship in such an economically challenged neighborhood?
Vijay Gurrala grew up as a Christian in India, to become a missionary in America. As a successful computer engineer, he began a monthly Saturday night meeting of Telugu speaking Asian Indians to sing Christian hymns in their native language; 30% of are new Christians. The church that grew out of these meetings worships over one hundred. Three Sundays a month the congregation worships in English; on the third Sunday, the day after the monthly Telugu meeting, the worship on Sunday is in Telugu. Home Bible studies have begun in other parts of the city, each having the potential to become new churches.
Mark Junkans, the son of a pastor, left his faith behind to go surfing. One day he woke up and became a deft tool in the hand of a missionary God. The Lord shaped Mark into one of the most effective mission strategists in America. He had to cut his shoulder length hair and learn to play Spanish music on his guitar, live with a Mexican family and work in construction with Spanish speaking laborers to learn the language and the culture of immigrants in South Texas. His first attempt at church planting was a failure from which he learned the lessons of successful mission work among immigrants. Finally, a new mission agency came into being that is starting hundreds of self supporting missions among immigrants of many different cultures in America. Learn how God converted a prodigal son into a missionary, and the lessons he learned as a successful missionary to America.
Missionary Jose Flores was born in Argentina. His passion to serve was born in a small Christian community, a church that helped nurture Jose as a five year old, after his mother passed away. He wanted to show the same love to others. Time ministering with doctoral interns volunteering in a refugee camp in El Salvador strengthened this desire, as he cared for families of victims of that country’s civil war. He brought this same desire to help the helpless to Galveston, Texas – where he ministers to families whose children come from all over the world seeking medical treatment. But he goes one step further as he prepares these families to be missionaries when they return to their homes.
Joann Adebisi grew in the Muslim area of Nigeria. Her family was Muslim, but as a young adult she found peace in a Christian church. Political and religious persecution drove her, her husband and children to America – where she works as a missionary, sharing the love of God particularly with Muslims. But even in America she has been threatened. Because she converted from Islam she was told she could be killed. That has only given her courage to minister to more Muslims. Joann has a ministry among families and children, helping immigrants to find their way in their new country. She seems to be able to help children with behaviour problems find the peace they need in knowing Jesus’ love for them.
Rev. Lee, a Hmong refugee, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand; he came to the US as a young child. After his father passed away, the family lived on welfare. Lee worked several jobs to support his mother. He was married at sixteen. He worked for the telephone company, but after a series of setbacks he discovered the love of a Christian God reading Luther’s catechism. Challenged by his pastor to consider becoming a missionary, his wife heard a voice say, “Sell your business and follow your husband.” That sent them from California to St. Paul, Minn, to Concordia University. With two other Hmong students he began a Hmong church in the basement of the dormitory where they were living. The “church” outgrew the basement and worships as a part of King of Kings Lutheran, where Vue Lee serves as a their pastor.
Julie grew up as a Christian in Pakistan. Her family did not have the means to send her to a private Christian school. In the government school she attended she experienced prejudice to the extent she could not continue. She left school after the fifth grade to help support her family. She first helped her mother in her mother’s sewing business; later she found a job sweeping floors in a factory. When she was sixteen years old Julie began work at a telephone answering service. One day a middle age man noticed she was wearing a cross. He offered her incentives to change her religion. She refused. He left, but returned shortly after with a second man. “Let’s see if your Jesus can save you now,” he said. Then, he threw acid in her face. A caring Muslim woman brought her to her home, then to a hospital. According to Julie, an angry crowd threatened to burn the hospital down if she were treated there. She was brought to another hospital. Finally, she was brought to the United States. As a dedicated Christian she has learned to forgive her attackers, and share the love of Jesus with Muslims in America.
Dr. William Utech is the Mission Executive for the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Bill’s ministry is to empower congregations of his district for mission work – helping them look outside of themselves to see the opportunities God has gifted to churches in their communities, in America, and around the world. He shares significant insights and examples of how God is doing this in his District.
Missionary to America Andrew Mezilus did not see his family for six years. Prevented from returning to Haiti, he spent the time working as a tailor, a bus driver, a nursing assistant, et al, to send money back to Haiti to support his family and the mission he had planted. He kept in contact by phone and the internet, loving his family and encouraging the mission he had begun. The mission eventually grew into five churches. Today the five churches minister to over fifteen hundred children.
Bennego Kangar grew up as an agnostic in the African country of Liberia. His mother’s prayers opened doors of faith for the young man. With excellent grades, his parents and school advisors encouraged him to become a physician, but the young man felt pulled to the calling to be a missionary. It was a choice between becoming rich, or, leading a life of sacrifice in service of his Lord. Bennego’s passion is to mentor other leaders for mission work. After serving in successful ministries, he chose to a “tent maker” role, in order to make a larger impact on mission work. For nine months out of the year he and his six sons operate “Ben’s Ben and Sons Upholstery,” the financial base for his real work the other three months: “Liberty International Development.” With his base in Minnesota, and continuing support from his church, The Alley, Bennego travels to Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil, Malawi, Liberia and other nations to train local people as missionaries. His twin focus is helping potential missionaries understand the gospel of God’s grace, His underserved love, and, teaching the missionaries and local supporters what they need to do to develop ministries that are self supporting. The young man who had turned his back on Christ, changed by the prayers of his mother, now turns hearts to Jesus.
Nader Alaraj was a child when his family was forced to leave their home in Palestine. They left behind a house and farm that is now occupied by Israeli settlers. Nader’s family has been Christian as far back as anyone knows, and Nader takes his faith seriously – so seriously that he has become a Missionary to America. In the St Paul-Minneapolis area where he lives, one estimate says that a third of the population is composed of immigrants and refugees – people from Laos and Cambodia, South America, the Ukraine and Russia, and more. Many were never able to hear the gospel in their home countries – a glass half full for missionaries like Nader. When people ask Nader why he came to America, He says the Lord Jesus said His followers would be missionaries in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth – and for this Palestinian, America is the end of the earth.”
Missionary to America Diana Wolf uses Baladi dancing to bring God’s love to Syrian refugees in St. Louis. Diana learned this “country” dance from her Lebanese grandmother. A mission trip with her church to Turkey showed her she could make a connection with both Turkish nationals and Middle Eastern refugees flooding into Ankara. When she returned to America, she used her new passion for sharing God’s love through rustic dance with Syrian refugees in her home town.
Missionary to America Stanish Stanley grew up in Mumbai, India, the son of a Lutheran pastor. After graduating with a law degree, he became deathly ill. It was then he came close to His Lord Jesus, and changed vocational preparation – he became a Lutheran pastor. Today, he is a missionary in St. Louis, Missouri, sharing the gospel with refugees from Nepal. To see the full video interview with Missionary Stanley, click here.
Missionary to America Professor Victor Raj talks about seminary education for the 21st century. The professor at Concordia Seminary sees a need for a more missional approach to preparation of pastors, one that includes training of missionaries. His perspective is “Missiology is theology done right.” To see a 37 minute interview with Prof. Raj, click here.
Trinity Castaneda came to the US as a five year old. He grew up in Chicago, did social work and became a missionary in Kansas City. Next was redeveloping an old Anglo church in Arvin Ca, as a satellite of a large congregation in Bakersfield. He started a “leadership training course,” as a precursor to forming seven new missionaries. Sounds a lot like St. Paul.
Rev. Temesgen Badsu is a missionary to America from Ethiopia. He became a pastor and missionary in Ethiopia, the old fashioned way – the way St. Paul raised up his elders. Rev. Badsu pastors two Anglo congregations and an Ethiopian Oromo congregation. His dream is that he will be able to share the good news of God’s love to every ethnic group on the mission field in America.
Mohamad Faridi grew up in Iran. From an early age he was the most devout of devout Muslims. He joined the Revolutionary Army; beat himself with chains; allowed himself to be place in a grace, alive, to experience what it might mean to be a martyr for Islam. Like St. Paul, he was zealous for this faith above most others. Then, he met Jesus, the God of love.
As a child, Khai Lee suffered in the jungles of Laos. A part of the Hmong tribe, his relatives helped the American Army fight North Vietnam. He lost many relatives in the war. His father died, but because his brother fought on the side of America, he was allowed to settle in the US. Young Khai and his mother soon joined him. And Khai became a missionary, sharing the love of God, in America. He works two full time jobs – as missionary (baptizing ten new Christians on Easter this year), and at the US Postal Service, delivering mail.
Rev. Dawit Bokre is from Eritrea, East Africa. He lost his parents when he was thirteen. Older siblings arranged for him to go to Boston to be cared for by an older brother. Knowing no English, he eventually graduated from high school. At sixteen he had graduated, and became an evangelist in Houston. At 19 he was invited to begin a church in Oakland, Ca. He is now planting a 1.5 generation multi-ethnic church out of an Anglo church that had been declining.
Rev. Terry Chan sees the New Mission Reality. Pastor of a Chinese speaking Church in San Francisco, he has seen new ethnic groups come into his neighborhood – Latino, African, Asian. Born in Hong Kong, Terry was raised in California, a pretty diverse part of the world. His church breaks the old mold, it is a model for the new reality in the United States – a church that looks like heaven (a la Revelations 7:9). He sees a new Asian mission, to – one where second generation Asians come together in one church, much like what is happening on college campuses today. This church will worship in English, and form their children as English speaking disciples of Jesus. And, they will reach out to all the ethnic groups in their neighborhood. The days of the mono-ethnic church are drawing to a close. Thank God.
Rev. Tesfait Tesema is a missionary to America from Ethiopia. As a young man, he led a very unChristian life. He became a member of the Communist government in Ethiopia; at one point he chose the wrong side and had to flee the country. He became a Christian in Saudi Arabia. Eventually arriving in America, he grew several churches and earned a doctorate in missions. His Amharic speaking church reaches out to Anglo and Latino residents of their San Jose community. He is a consultant for immigrant churches that want to involve the second generation in ministry.
Rev. James Roy came from Bangladesh to escape threats on his life. He had been an evangelist in Dhaka, but when a story appeared in the local and then a national newspaper about Muslims converting to Jesus, he was assaulted by three men – one of whom put a gun to his head. In NYC he was approached on the street by a missionary from Guyana, who told him he was looking for someone to preach the gospel to Muslims in NYC.
Missionary Alfred was encouraged while growing up in India to become a Christian pastor. He refused. After he came to the United States and became a successful business man, others saw his spiritual maturity and suggested he become a Christian pastor. This time he listened. He now works full time as a successful business man, and leads a Tamil speaking congregation in New York. His zeal is to reach all people with the gospel of God’s gracious love in Jesus.
Rev. Philip Saywrayne became a Christian after the leader of a Bible study he was invited to asked him to say The Lord’s Prayer. The Spirit of Christ took hold of Philip, turned his life around. Today he is the pastor of the largest LCMS congregation in NYC, a diverse congregation of African Americans, West Indians, and African immigrants. They worship in a converted bagel factory. Worship services last three to four hours, and then the congregation stays for a potluck.
Rev. Dr. Johnson Rethinasamy came to the United States from India because he had been invited to be the pastor of a Tamil speaking congregation in New York City. It was also an opportunity to earn a graduate degree, so he could have credentials to teach in higher education back home. But the Lord had a different plan. Today he pastors a community of Christians that worships in English, Tamil, and Mandarin – all one congregation, although worshipping at different times in different languages. He calls it his “mission laboratory.”
Missionary to America Shang Me Wang wants us to call her Mimi. Mimi and her husband came to America at the invitation of the Atlantic District. There was a group of Chinese in Bayside, Queens, that needed a pastor. Mimi’s husband, a graduate from a seminary in China, as well as having a degree in psychoanalysis, accepted the call from the District. The ministry began with great hope and joy, but turned to sorrow when Mimi’s husband passed suddently into heaven. Mimi stayed with the ministry, and worked under another misissionary to America, Rev. Johnson Rethinasamy – a missionary from India. Mimi is the adopted “mother” for more than fifty Chinese young adults who have come to New York to work. They call her all hours of the day and night. They meet together weekly at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Whitestone, Queens, New York, for Bible study and a light supper. There is a monthly Chinese worship service at Immanuel. And, new members are constantly being added, one way is through the over one hundred Christian choir Mimi Directs in New York City.
Missionary to America Jean Gardy Cenat was sent from Haiti to Carnarsie, Brooklyn, New York. As a child in Haiti he was exposed constatnly to Voodoo priests and threats from voodoo followers. Arriving in America to be with his wife, a nurse in New York, Cenat was at first fearful he would not be able to find a way to continue as a missionary for Jesus. God led him in a way and to an open door to bring other French speaking people to faith in Christ.
Missionary Pedro Rosado, like all missionaries, trusted in the Lord’s Holy Spirit to guide him in the development of his mission in Naples, Florida. Originally from Puerto Rico, the missionary came to Patterson, New Jersey where Christ found him – then sent him on a wonderful journey. See the full video interview by clicking here.
Missionary Gugssa Biru was sent by God from the West African nation of Ethiopia to Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Missionary Biru exemplifies the kind of sacrifice missionaries are called to make, and, in this regard, he is a model for every Christian. Read his remarkable story, and pray for the faith God has given to Gugssa Biru. To see the eighteen minute video interview, click here.
Sargent Joseph Lewis of the Baltimore Police Department was homeless as a young refugee from Liberia, until a friend offered him a place to live – and brought him to church. He now is a leader in his church, and brings hope to young people in the community he serves as a policeman. To see a nineteen minute video of the Sargent telling his story, click here.
Rev. J. Orlando Flahn, a Missionary to America, came from Liberia to plant new churches in the Baltimore-Washington DC area. In his home country he started new churches in the same way the early corepiskopoi. To see the eighteen minute interview with Rev. Flahn, clikc here.
The Rev. Belete Belay is a Missionary to America from Ethiopia. His biggest challenge is the fragmentation of immigrants from Ethiopia, whose government divides its citizens along ethnic lines. How do you maintain the unity of the Spirit when there is political division? To see the full 18 minute interview click here.
The Rev. German Novelli
The Rev. German Novelli is a missionary to America from Venezuela. He has been creative and courageous in bringing the gospel outside his church building to those who do not know God’s great love. Rev. Novelli’s ministry demontrates the power of a simple invitation.
Rev. Faiv Her, Missionary to Milwaukee
Rev. Faiv Her, a refugee from Laos, learned English in America and went on to obtain degrees from university and seminary. Today he is a missionary to Hmong people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To see his story, see here.
Rev. Afram Ikanahi, “Haircuts for Jesus”
Rev. Afram Ikanahi is a missionary to prisoners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has baptized over 400 prisioners; one strategy he calles, “Haircuts for Jesus.” To can see the full twelve minute video by clicking here.
When Rev. Kabeo came as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo he thought his background in banking and finance would bring him riches in the United States. But the Lord saw another prophet. Rev. Kasango shares in this 18 minute video his dream of completing the start of seven new churches, using deacons he has raised up on his church, Zion International Lutheran Church, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Rev. Peter Kelm is the Mission Executive with the South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Rev. Kelm and Dr. Scudieri focus their conversation on the differences between a Christian Country and a Mission Field – important to know as America becomes less and less Christian.
Gagan Gurung came to Christ at a Bible College in India. A miracle brought him to faith, and God brought him to St. Louis as an evangelist. To see a full version of Gagan’s miraculouis conversion and his incredible journey to the US, click here.
Rev. Juan Zamora talks about his strategy as a missionary in an Hispanic community. Rev. Zamora is assigned to discerning the needs of the community surrounding his congregation, and equipping members to meet those needs. Learn how he does this by clicking here.
Professor Moon of Concordia University, Irvine, Ca, was a homeless orphan during the Korean war, until he was shown kindness by a US Army chaplain. This miracle changed his life, and brought him to a place he never could have imagined, a Christian university in America, prepared to be a Missionary to America.
Noor Hok, not her real name, is an immigrant from Pakistan. Baptized as a baby, she has always felt challenged to love Muslims. In this video she tells why it has been so difficult, and why and how a Christian can see past hatred to love their neighbor. Click here to view the video now.
Missionary Kareem Baidoaui’s mission is to create missionaries to America. His focus is makes this possible. He did not know when he came to America he would be a missionary – that was not his intention. But gradually the Holy Spirit opened doors that he was blessed to walk through. Click here to view his story.
Pastor at Our Redeemere Lutheran Church, Dallas and Second Vice President of the Texas District, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Pr. Gonzalez shares his life story and his perspective on the difference between Pastors and Missionaries, and a Missionary-Pastor. To view the video, click here.
Mission and Ministry Facilitator for the Texas District, Lutheran Church. Developer of Mission Fields. Missionary to America from Eritrea, East Africa. At first a soldier in a communist insurgency in Eritrea, he was wounded and ministered to by Swedish missionaries, eventually becoming an evangelist, and Missionary to America.
Missionary to America Theordos Workenen
Theodros is an immigrant from Ethiopia. He came to the United States originally to be with his wife and children who were in danger in his homeland. After arriving he realized God had a larger purpose for his life. He is now completing a theological program at Concordia Seminary that will lead to membership in the Lutheran Church as an ordained pastor. Click here to see the full interview.
Carol Buckman is a leader in the Ministry “Christian Friends of New Americans.” This ministry is a model for reaching out to and blessing new refugees and immigrants to America. It is valuable because the ministry links local churches to the needs of refugees and immigrants, showing the love of Jesus to those in need. To watch this fifteen minute video, click here.
Missionary To America Dr. John Loum – Full Video – Members Only
Dr. John Loum Directs the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary, a training center for refugees and immigrants who are Missionaries to America. Click here to see the video.
Missionary Tomba Naibaho – Full Video – Members Only
Missionary Tomba Naibaho was sent by the Batak Lutheran church to begin mission work in the United States. He found a warm welcome here, and a ministry he never thought he would have.
Missionary Edgar Arroyo – Full Video – Members Only
Missionary Edgar Arroyo is a missionary in Carpentina, California. He is originally from Guatemala but was not close to the Lord until he came to the United States. Now he is God’s instrument to bring others to know the love of the Samior.
Missionary Jason Li – Full Video – Members Only
Missionary Jason Li came to the US knowing nothing about the Christian faith. Then his college room mate invited him to church.
Missionary Philip Gai – Full Video – Members Only
Missionary Philip Gai had to flee his home in Southern Sudan; his life was threatened because of his work bringing the gospel to Muslims. But God had a plan for him to bring the gospel to Canada – in some ways a greater challenge then his ministry in Sudan
Missionary Yared Halche – Full Video – Members Only
Missionary Daniel Keah – Full Video – Members Only