The Front Lines: God’s Gifts in Local Congregations

The students and faculty of Neema Lutheran College at Matongo gather for an all-school picture.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In 2016 Pastor Otti Charles Alot and his family had to flee their home city of Juba, South Sudan due to political violence, and they relocated to the Morobi refugee camp in the Moyo district of northwestern Uganda. Although it was a time of crisis, it was also a time of opportunity for Pastor Alot to bring the Gospel to his fellow South Sudanese in exile. In December 2016 he began a small congregation that initially met under a tree, but which now has grown to possess a temporary building and to operate a school. The congregation members reach out to their predominantly Muslim neighbors with the sweet good news of the grace of God given only through Jesus Christ. Since beginning the congregation, Pastor Alot has come to Neema Lutheran College at Matongo to deepen his knowledge of Holy Scripture and his skill in shepherding God’s people through formal study in the school of theology. I first had the privilege of meeting him two months ago when he enrolled in my General Epistles course.

Pastor Alot is just one of many godly young men and women studying for pastoral and deaconess ministry at Neema. Some, like Alot, are already ordained but are seeking to increase their knowledge and skill; many others are preparing to enter ministry for the very first time. Some are from Kenya, but many also come from Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and elsewhere, and after completing their studies they will return to their home countries to continue to spread the Gospel.

As I get to know these folks and hear their stories, I am reminded again and again that as the Church of Jesus Christ fights the good fight here on earth, the front lines of the battle are in local congregations. When a Christian tells her Muslim neighbor about Jesus and invites her to church, it is through hearing that the Spirit draws that neighbor into the kingdom of God. Whenever a new baby or adult convert is baptized, the devil loses one and God gains one. Wherever the body and blood of Jesus are distributed, forgiveness of sins is given, and people are brought together to be members of the one Body.

All these things happen in local congregations – the front lines – both around Africa and around the world. It’s been my joy and privilege this semester to assist young men as they prepare to be sent to the front lines, and I thank all of you in America who continue to support this work.

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Rev. Otti Charles Alot, just before our New Testament General Epistles Class
Pastor Emmanuel Sitta and myself after serving together at the chapel’s Wednesday morning Divine Service

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

As I have become familiar with the community at Matongo, I rejoice at the fine work of education and preparation being accomplished there. Praise God for this good work being done within His church!

Pray for pastors, deaconess, and teachers who serve in east African congregations amid a multitude of staggering challenges, that God would give them both strength and faithfulness.

Pray for safe travel and good fellowship for the Clausing family and all the other members of the LCMS east African team as we prepare to travel to a continuing education event during mid-term break.

Pray for peace as Kenya prepares to re-do its presidential election later this month.

2 thoughts on “The Front Lines: God’s Gifts in Local Congregations

  1. So glad you are able to teach these people. What a blessing your whole family must be to them. Love to all 11 of you, Jane Baker

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    1. Thanks, Jane. If I’m doing my math correctly, you must be an early riser; I didn’t expect any comments from the U.S. for a few more hours! 🙂 Blessings to you and the whole family!

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