The Rev. Roger James serves the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) as a theological educator at the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) seminary. As in much of the world, COVID-19 has upended normal schedules and classroom instruction in the Philippines. Though the seminarians and the professors all live on campus, in-person lectures were initially canceled in March as a precaution against the virus. However, the faculty has since resumed limited classes. Each of the four professors take one day a week to teach all their classes.
James emphasized the importance not just of maintaining an academic schedule, but of upholding one another through God’s Word. “As soon as the quarantine was initiated, we began holding daily socially-distanced chapel services in the outdoor quad of the seminary every morning and continued church services on Sundays. This is a tremendous personal blessing for my wife, Amy, and me — having a few moments each day to gather with fellow Lutherans to hear the Word, sing hymns, pray and then catch up on any news,” he said.
James has been encouraged by the faithfulness of the pastors of the LCP and the high quality of the men graduating from the seminary. These pastors are eager to learn more about Lutheran doctrine and truly preach and teach the Law and Gospel in a clear and inspirational way. James is thankful that these “winsome, intelligent young men, who could easily have chosen to complete a degree that would allow them to earn more income, instead have given themselves to serve the church and spread the Gospel. Most live off $5 per day, but instead of grumbling, they are eager and excited to teach and preach.”
The OIM first contacted James and Amy in 2012, with plans to send them to help the struggling church body in Sri Lanka, but the paperwork for their visas proved difficult. The couple instead deployed to Chennai, India, in 2014 to work with theological and administrative challenges facing the national church in that country. Later they were able to deploy to Sri Lanka, where James continued working with churches in both countries.
Though the island nation of Sri Lanka is geographically close to India, the Jameses discovered the cultures to be quite different. Southern Indian culture is far more traditional, while Sri Lanka is more westernized. Both of these countries are more formal than the Philippines. James and his wife find the Philippine people amazingly open and friendly.
The Jameses feel blessed to partner with the LCP and grateful for their experiences in India and Sri Lanka. “Teaching and encouraging men — and deaconesses — is both heartening and humbling,” noted James. Join us in thanking our Lord for these dedicated missionaries and for those who are edified through the Jameses’ teaching and service. To connect with this ministry, click here.