At its most recent meeting, the Minnesota South District Board of Directors heard about a new District missions initiative that is designed to connect Regions 3 and 4 pastors and lay leaders in an intensive and personal way with mission fields which are, in the words of Jesus, “ripe unto harvest."
The man at left in the photograph above is Rev. Steve Hughey. He is the Executive Director of the Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS) and is, in this picture, describing for our District’s Missions Committee what CALMS is, what CALMS does, and how CALMS does it. CALMS has a long history of working with North American congregations, pastors, and future pastors by providing them with quality immersion mission experiences. For 10 to 14 days at a time CALMS leads teams of people like us into international, cross-cultural settings in places like Guatemala, Panama, Belize, or Costa Rica so that we can learn how to be faithful and effective missionaries, form ongoing partnerships with the overseas villages we work in, help to build sustainable congregations and ministries there, and discover ways to be in mission back in our local communities and contexts once we get home.
When I taught and led the Field Education Program at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, we learned that a very effective way to excite future pastors about their local mission opportunities was to immerse them in an international mission field under the guidance and direction of a seasoned missionary. It was at this time that I met, and came to trust, Rev. Hughey, who, over the years, has led scores of Concordia students on cross-cultural international mission trips, teaching them the kind of missiology that will be of priceless benefit to them, and to their future congregations, wherever they are sent, and wherever they end up serving.
The Minnesota South District desires to make this same kind of learning available to its pastors and laypeople. Which is why, in the coming years, the District will be making scholarships available to interested pastors and lay-leaders so that they, too, can learn and grow on the international mission field and then bring that new-found passion for the lost back to their local congregations and communities.