Monday, March 3, 2008

Missions in South Africa

This weekend we traveled toward Botswana for a few hours (I'm not sure how far- the roads were bad and we made several stops) for a mission education trip. We had along with us the CEO of a mission society in Germany, who gave several presentations about some of the first mission work done in that region. Not only did we talk about the mission work, we actually visited the sites and saw what they are like today, then we went to a cemetary and saw the graves of many of the first missionaries. Overall, the sites are not too impressive. A church built by the missionaries at the turn of the century is falling apart, and of another mission church all we found was a steeple. However, these missions were not failures, because even if the original buildings were in bad shape, there were churches around the area still living and thriving due to that early work. It was very interesting to learn about the lives of these brave missionaries who labored hard in difficult times to spread the Gospel. Because of their German ancestry, they were imprisoned in concentration camps twice (during the Boer war and World War I), but they came back and continued the work. The main lesson I took from the lectures is that missionaries must prepare pastors amongst the people they work with, because they do not know how long they will be around. Those missionaries did not plan to be imprisoned due to war, but because they prepared the church, it continued even during tough times.

We brought along with us several of the ''senior'' students, so it was great to get to know them a bit better throughout our time together. Especially interesting are the Ugandans. The future of the Lutheran Church in Uganda is literally here at the seminary, as they are training between 10 and 15 students to go back and serve. This is a very young church (established in 1994) with few pastors, so the work of the seminary is especially vital for the spread of the Gospel in that central African nation. We spent the night at a game lodge, which was very neat for both the American and African students, as we took a safari drive together. So much of South Africa is 'tame' that even the students from around here don't get to see the wildlife very often. All in all, a great and informative weekend. Now it is back to class. We have a visiting professor from Germany with us now, and I am sitting in on two of his classes in addition to our required class. Very intersting, and it will make for a great last week down here.

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