How do we partner in these times? Virtually, of course!

By Pastor Ben Hentschke

The people of Ipswich and those living in Myanmar, share almost nothing in common. Food, clothing, cultural traditions, buildings, are worlds apart as you visit these two locations. And yet, through a partnership supported by LCA International Mission, the people of Ipswich Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (ELCM), share a profound […]

The people of Ipswich and those living in Myanmar, share almost nothing in common. Food, clothing, cultural traditions, buildings, are worlds apart as you visit these two locations. And yet, through a partnership supported by LCA International Mission, the people of Ipswich Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (ELCM), share a profound connection. As we talk with and pray for one another, as we share our joys and burdens, and even as we visit and serve together, a deep bond and great blessings have developed.

Around early March 2020, at Ipswich Lutheran Church, we were finalising preparations for our annual mission trip to Myanmar to visit ELCM – the church we partner with in the Gospel. Unfortunately, following advice from our government, due to the onset of COVID-19 as it became a global pandemic, we had to cancel this visit to ensure the health and safety of all those who were to have been involved.

While it was sad that this had to happen, it did open up an opportunity for our partnership that beforehand we would not have considered.

We have been blessed over the past few years. We have had some people from the ELCM visit our worship centres and share with us, and we have been conducting annual mission trips to Myanmar. As part of the partnership, I would often be invited to preach at their Sunday divine service.

In 2020 the tradition continued but in a virtual way. Thanks to the advent of wonderful technology which enabled this to happen, Pastor Jan Philip (Associate Pastor of Lutheran Bethlehem Church, Yangon), and I each pre-recorded a message to be preached at our partner churches on Sunday, 8th November.

Pastor Jan chose Romans 8:38-39 to share a wonderful gospel message about how nothing can separate us from the love of God. Pastor Jan’s message, in excellent English, was preached at the three physical and four online services hosted by Ipswich Lutheran Church on that Sunday.

In turn, I shared with the people of the ELCM (who are only meeting virtually at the moment due to Myanmar government restrictions), choosing a message from Galatians 1:3-5. As I do not have a good grasp of Burmese, the ELCM church administrator, Luke Andrew graciously went through the sermon (many times he assured me) and subtitled it into Burmese, so that it could be understood by the ELCM community.

It would have been so easy for us to say ‘it’s too hard this year’ and done nothing. But in these times, many people have found that meaningful connection with others is more important than ever. In the same way, Ipswich Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar have sought out ways to continue praying for each other and, through the virtual pulpit exchange, share with and encourage each other with God’s Word. In essence, this is what our partnership in the Gospel is all about.

To view the recording of Pastor Jan’s sermon, please click here.


If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/

Read more stories about congregational partnerships at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/congregations/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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