Christian education hits home in Nicaragua

June 17, 2010

By Rev. Leonardo Neitzel

We have been impressed with the way pastors, missionaries, deaconesses and “maestras” daily carry out the church’s mission and ministry in Nicaragua with children. The foundation of the work is the Holy Scripture. Besides tutoring and reinforcing lessons in math and Spanish and assisting them daily with homework assignments, they teach and lead the children in God’s Word as they provide exercises through Bible stories and memorization of verses.

Dr. Neitzel tells a story to more than 100 children gathered in Santa Patricia


Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is the next important tool in their teaching. In the community of Santa Patricia we had the privilege of spending time interacting with more than 100 children and workers communicating through our “Portuñol” (a mix of Portuguese and Español) – and what a blessing it was to hear them recite Scripture verses, parts of the Small Catechism, pray the Lord’s Prayer and sing.

The way the church leaders and the community value these important ‘tools’ and handle them interactively with the children is a great reason for our gratitude to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This Christian education process, seen in church and in family circles at home, highlights one of Martin Luther’s educational methods throughout his entire ministry and in his own family. Is the Lord trying to teach us a lesson today as we sometimes seem to put aside the Holy Scriptures and the Small Catechism in favour of other earthly priorities?

We thank and praise the Lord for giving Iglesia Luterana Sìnodo de Nicaragua the understanding of His will towards the Christian education of His church. As Martin Luther says, “the Holy Spirit is present in such reading and repetition and meditation, and bestows ever new and more light and devoutness, so that it is daily relished and appreciated better, as Christ promises, Matthew 18:20: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”

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Connecting with people is key to outreach everywhere

March 6, 2010

By Dr. William Mundt

Bangkok, Thailand – Phase one of a two-week teaching trip to southeast Asia has now come to an end for me and seminarians Jeff Swords and Wayne Zhange from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario. They are assisting me in teaching while broadening their own horizons in regards to overseas missions and cross-cultural outreach.

Dr. William Mundt (left) consults with Dr. Leonard Harms prior to a teaching session in Bangkok.

The first week of classes ended Friday afternoon, March 5, at the Lutheran Institute of Southeast Asia centred in Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Len Harms, former LCC mission executive coordinates training opportunities out of that centre. Twelve Thai pastors and deaconesses spent the week training in basic evangelism, mission and apologetic principles based on the Bible and lessons from the early church, and the history of missions.

Their final assignment was presenting their own proposals for intensifying outreach activities in the areas where they serve. Projects they identified included support for seniors, craft and a home-based bakery instruction for housewives, special open-house events, concern for the Thai native population (the Akha) and so on. If all these methods sound familiar, it may be because they are much like what LCC pastors and congregations might do.

The sights, sounds, tastes, smells and scheduling (Thai time is different!) may vary, but ultimately outreach is about speaking the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the needs of people we connect with daily.

Throughout the Bible and mission history, such personal contacts have proven most successful. The challenge now is for those trained to become trainers for the next two years in the cities and villiages where they already serve. The goal is to train and equip and encourage their members to be a part of the local mission.

After prayers and fond farewells from these brothers and sisters in Christ, whom we now know as friends also, we depart for Cambodia where a large group of eager learners will soon arrive at the Chin Tong Guest House, Phnom Penh, for a similar class beginning Monday afternoon, March 8.

After that we return, in stages, to St. Catharines, exchanging +40 degree Celsius dry weather for somewhat cooler and wetter conditions at home.

Rev. Dr. William Mundt is a professor of theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario.


Scholarships for Nicaraguan Children

February 22, 2010

By Rev. Dr. Ralph Mayan, Nicaragua

The new school year has begun in Nicaragua and during these opening weeks, the Christian Children’s Education Committee of Iglesia Luterana Sinodo de Nicaragua is visiting each congregation and presenting to identified children their scholarship for the coming year. This past Friday the Committee visited Iglesia Luterana Jesucristo Nuestro Salvador in Santa Patricia to present scholarships to 60 children and their parents

 The scholarships includes a backpack, two school uniforms, shoes, books, pencils and crayons. In addition to these public school requirements, the children participate in a daily half day education program at the church held during that period when the children are not in public school. Here they receive tutoring in math, science and Spanish from the deaconesses and teachers of the church. They also participate in a daily bible and catechism classes and finish out the day with recreational activities.

After an explanation of the program to the parents, each scholarship recipient, as his/her name was called, came forward with their parents. The parents checked the materials in the backpack (to make sure that the uniforms fit) and then signed a contract in which they promised to support their child in his/her education and ensure the child’s participation in the tutoring program. It was interesting to note that some parents could not write their name on that contract and left a thumb print instead. Because of this program, you can be sure that their children will not have that disadvantage. Indeed there are some graduates of the program who are now attending university.

There are about 700 children enrolled in the program throughout the Synod. The annual cost of the program is approximately $125 per child. The Iglesia Luterana Sinodo de Nicaragua is grateful to Concordia Lutheran Mission Society and Canadian Lutheran World Relief for their on-going support of this program. Additional support is also received from the Christian Children’s Concern Society of Topeka, Kansas as well a number of individual Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations.


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