“But thanks be to God, who always leads us a captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of knowledge of him everywhere.”2 Corinthians 2:14
My earliest memories are of the church – Sunday school, Luther League, Boy Scouts’ troop meetings in the church building. Growing up, I never thoughts about becoming a pastor or a missionary. I attended college with the intent of graduating as a chemical engineer. Following that first year, I attended our summer church camp. The theme was “Man for the Ministry.” That got me interested, and I talked with my pastor about this idea. The rest is history.
I transferred to Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE as a pre-theological student. Not only did I get a good education at Midland College, but more importantly, I met Elizabeth, and through her, I became interested in serving the church as a missionary. After one year together, she went to Omaha for three years of nurses’ training. I graduated and enrolled at Central Theological Seminary, our United Lutheran Church Seminary in the midwest, also in Fremont, NE. When Elizabeth graduated in 1953, we were married, and I completed two more years of seminary.
In 1955, I was ordained and then called and ordained to serve as a missionary to Malaya. When the Board of Missions interviewed us, they asked us to name three places where we would like to serve. Our first choice was India, where Elizabeth had grown up, the second was Japan, and the third was Hong Kong. Imagine our surprise when the letter arrived, sending us to Malaya, which we had to look upon the map. Just two years earlier, the ULCA had started mission work there. It was a pioneer work. Looking back, it is clear that the Lord knew what He was doing as our gifts fit perfectly into their new pioneering work – I as an evangelistic pastor and Elizabeth’s talents in medical training.
Our first two years were spent learning Cantonese as our work in Malaya would be among the Chinese, one of the three ethnic groups making up the population. Our course was set in that direction, but after finishing language study, I was assigned by the Mission to do English work. An English language congregation had been started by a missionary who had to return to the United States, so I was it.
Our first term was five years, followed by a year in the States to do deputation ministry. The topics stretched from the church to its mission work in Malaya. When we returned to Asia after our first furlough in 1961, I was assigned to Singapore, another new area for Lutherans. There were no Lutheran missionaries or congregations in Singapore when we arrived. Over the next thirty-five years, I planted four congregations, three of which were in New Towns. These New Towns were planned by Singapore to set up new communities in different areas of the island nation. What an opportunity for the church – a New Town of 150,000 to 200,000 people living in high rise apartments in an area of two square miles. The LCA and the ELCA saw this opportunity and were very supportive of what the Mission envisioned.
Congregations were organized in both Singapore and Malaya (later known as Malaysia) so that just ten years after the first missionaries arrived in Malaya, in 1963, the church was constituted. In Malaya, a seminary was established for the training of evangelists and pastors. Both Elizabeth and I taught classes in the early years.
Of those first students three years later became bishops of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia. My ministry was in starting new congregations. Elizabeth and I were a good team as she created the Sunday Schools and music programs. At the same time, I did the organizing, preaching, teaching the bible, and evangelizing to meet the residents’ needs and opportunities. Visitation was an essential part of my ministry.
Congregations were organized in both Singapore and Malaya (later known as Malaysia) so that just ten years after the first missionaries arrived in Malaya, in 1963, the church was constituted. In Malaya, a seminary was established for the training of evangelists and pastors. Both Elizabeth and I taught classes in the early years. Of those first students three years later became bishops of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia. My ministry was in starting new congregations. Elizabeth and I were a good team as she created the Sunday Schools and music programs. At the same time, I did the organizing, preaching, teaching the bible, and evangelizing to meet the residents’ needs and opportunities. Visitation was an essential part of my ministry.
Some of my ministries stand out in my memory. One is the Boys’ Brigade, which is an organization similar to the Boy Scouts with the addition of an emphasis on Christian Living. All the boys attended Sunday School and had weekly bible studies as a part of their program. In each congregation, I started additionally had a robust B. B. company. Seven of the pastors and the present Bishop of the Singapore Lutheran Church the same to faith in Christ through the B. B. program. It lived up to its purpose: “The advancement of Christ’s kingdom among boys.” Its motto is “sure and Steadfast”.
Another ministry closely related to planting and developing new congregations was teaching the bible. In 1966, I was trained by the author of the Bethel Bible Series, Harley Swiggum, to teach the bible. Throughout my ministry after that training I almost always had a class going, sometimes as many as three a week in different churches. I taught the bible using the Bethel Bible series to more than 300 people, always using the teachers’ level training. A number of those students became pastors in the church and many leaders in the congregations and national church.
I completed my missionary ministry in December 1995 after 40 years. We had great joy in seeing many come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We experienced the start and growth of congregations, the establishment of both the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and the Lutheran Church in Singapore, which are self-supporting and sending out missionaries to five areas in Asia. What a joy and privilege to say I am a member of the church. I am a part of the body of Christ. Together with others, I have been blessed to be a part of these events. It is a result of all the bodies of Christ striving together to fulfill the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations…”.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”Jeremiah 33:3