What does ‘eleven’ bring to your mind? Team sports (soccer, cricket, American football)? The cycle of sunspots from the sun? Jupiter’s moons? Ocean’s Eleven? The twelve apostles (minus Judas)? For the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), eleven has its own meaning.
What does ‘eleven’ bring to your mind? Team sports (soccer, cricket, American football)? The cycle of sunspots from the sun? Jupiter’s moons? Ocean’s Eleven? The twelve apostles (minus Judas)?
For the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), eleven has its own meaning.
On 30 April in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a group of eleven LCA people representing various positions, places and purposes, met up on the eve of the Mekong Mission Forum. This was no random LCA group; it was purposefully planned in order to address important issues requiring specific skill-sets, determined teamwork, a palpable love for our Lord Jesus Christ and a desire to spread the gospel.
In his gospel, Luke spoke of the Eleven, who believed the Lord had risen. They were joined by the disciples who had walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. As they had walked side by side with him, he had opened their minds and warmed their hearts, so they could understand the Scriptures. As he had broken bread and shared it with them, they had recognised Jesus and then ran to tell others that Jesus had risen (Luke 24: 13–48). This action of ‘walking together’ or ‘meeting’ suggests this may well have been one of the first Christian synods (‘Synod’ is derived from ancient Greek, Latin and Middle English).
Representatives from national LCA ministries, including Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) and the LLL, and members from Pilgrim in Magill, South Australia, St Paul’s in Box Hill, Victoria, and St Paul’s in central Sydney, pooled their knowledge and experience in true synodical style – walking and working together for the sake of the gospel. int
Over 50 Lutheran leaders involved in ministry and mission in the Mekong region met at the Mekong Mission Forum. This annual forum brings people together to listen, learn and network in order to bring the good news of Jesus to the people of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
Some of the LCA Eleven travelled with local Malaysian mission leaders to the Cameron Highlands to observe the ministry of the Orang Asli (indigenous people of Malaysia). The LCA supports this gospel partner by providing for local people to train for ministry among their own people.
After the Mekong Mission Forum, the LCA Eleven travelled to Cambodia to learn about the work of the Lutheran Church in Cambodia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cambodia. These churches started as a result of the support and encouragement of Lutheran partners from around the world. The churches have discussed the great opportunities to work together to proclaim God’s grace in Christ to the people of Cambodia.
The LCA Eleven witnessed an historic event when pastors from the two Cambodian churches signed the ‘Federation of Lutheran Churches in Cambodia’ Memorandum of Understanding signifying the beginnings of working together for the same cause, that of spreading the gospel in Cambodia.
Just as the LCA Eleven were living out synod at work together, so the seeds of walking together, by Lutherans in Cambodia, are being sown. The Eleven were blessed and privileged to join devotion with the Lutheran students at the Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh. The students spoke of coming to faith in Christ and wanting to build their country with their professional skills and with the gospel.
Steve Wilksch, principal of Redeemer Lutheran School in Nuriootpa, said, ‘It is in the local scene where the Spirit lives in the daily lives of God’s people … the planting of local churches and the raising up of local leaders for the proclamation of the gospel. There is such exciting work happening in Cambodia in the name of Jesus.’
The LCA, in partnership with the Lutheran Church in Singapore, is running an appeal to raise funds that will reduce a loan approved by the LLL for the purchase of land next to the City Church/Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh. This land promises great opportunity for Lutherans in Cambodia to develop a Lutheran pre-school and facilities for Lutheran theological teaching for church workers. Some of the LCA Eleven, equipped with project-management and strategic-planning skills, provided planning assistance to the local Cambodian leaders involved in the potential purchase of this land.
‘The heart of what we’re at is to tell people about Jesus, about the gospel – that’s the bottom line’, said Warren Schirmer. The purchase of a small portion of land in Cambodia can bring so many more people into the arms of Jesus.
‘Jesus is walking with the LCA and Lutherans in South-East Asia and especially in Cambodia. Jesus is always on the journey with us’, says Pastor Otto.
If you want to count to eleven on your fingers, you’re going to need the help of a friend, and while this is symbolic, it is also exactly where love has come to life for the people involved in this mission – Lutherans walking side by side with each other and with Jesus.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/