The adage if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish you feed him for life is never more apt than with the mission of Lutherans in Africa (LIA). By training pastors, evangelists, and church workers, we are teaching not merely this generation, but the ones to come.
In Africa, the lack of resources available for education, coupled with traditional beliefs and practices, leads to misunderstandings of the Living Word. From the congregational level to the national church body, an overwhelming need exists for basic doctrinal teaching for Lutheran pastors, evangelists, and deaconesses.
Consider that the East African region alone (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) covers 1.8 million square kilometers with a combined population of 126 million, over 60 percent of which are Christians. The Lutheran Church in Tanzania alone has over 5 million members, but many struggle to understand what Lutherans believe and why. The average pastor serves 12 parishes but only visits one each Sunday. The other eleven are served by evangelists who have had little or no training. Even those who are trained have few books and limited opportunity for further formal study in the Living Word and doctrinal theology.
To provide doctrinal resources in African languages, the translation arm of Lutherans in Africa (LIA), Lutheran Heritage Foundation-Africa (LHF-Africa), also headed by Rev. May, is translating Good News magazines and key texts such as Luther’s Small Catechism, the Book of Concord, and God’s No and God’s Yes into Kiswahili. Yet the work does not stop with translation. Since most pastors have never heard of the books, LIA then offers workshops on Lutheran doctrine so clergy can better understand how our Confessions are the pure exposition of the Living Word.
- Benin Porto
- Burkina Faso
- Côte d'Ivoire
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Currently working in 23 countries, LIA addresses this issue by not only teaching confessional Lutheran doctrine, but also training African pastors to be the teachers in their own communities. Continuing education seminars cover: liturgy, hymnody, how to teach the Small Catechism, and doctrinal topics such as justification, prayer, eschatology, and the proper division of Law and Gospel.
The Next Step
To further the teaching, translating, and training of pastors in Africa, LIA has begun building the Lutheran School of Theology near Nairobi, Kenya.