After serving as pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Maplewood, Mo. for seven years, the Rev. Matthew Wood and his wife, Kali left their home on a quiet street in suburban St. Louis and relocated to Asia to serve with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) International. The family of four (with another on the way) arrived in Indonesia in May 2019 to the city of Medan, the bustling capital of North Sumatra.
Indonesia is a nation made up entirely of islands, with the largest population of Muslims in the world. Over 300 different languages are spoken by its over 264 million people. Though only 20 percent speak the Indonesian language natively, almost everyone speaks it as a second or third language and with every new generation, those who speak only Indonesian increases. Shortly after arriving in Medan, the Woods began an intensive study of Indonesian at a local language school.
The Indonesia Christian Lutheran Church (GKLI) has worked with LCMS pastors deployed to North Sumatra since 2014 and is an emerging partner. Pastor Wood’s presence has strengthened the relationship with the GKLI, who looks to the LCMS to help mentor and train its pastors and assist with translation work. While the majority of GKLI congregations speak the local language of Batak, the GKLI leadership realizes that to reach more with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is important to develop resources in the more widely recognized language of Indonesian. Last year the GKLI requested the assistance of the LCMS to translate a new hymnal into Indonesian. This project is progressing, with an anticipated publish date of Easter 2021.
Recently Wood traveled with GKLI leaders to an island 350 miles to the southwest of Medan to lead a workshop for 10 new Indonesian-speaking partner congregations. Using the Small Catechism as his guide, Wood helped answer questions and discuss challenges facing the church. “It was a phenomenal experience for me to share the love of Jesus with these pastors and lay members in the Indonesian language. To have these 10 new congregations join the GKLI and its faithful doctrine is both a blessing and encouragement. It’s important to do all we can to help these lights shine all the brighter!” noted Wood.
To support the Wood family in Indonesia, a country with only 10 percent professing faith in Christ, please contact their webpage.