he quarantines and shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 have made ministry difficult this year. But the Lord uses for good even the evil effects of sin in the world – like viruses. Teaching English online, for instance, has turned into one of the great outreach opportunities of this time.
During the past few months, the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile has continued to reach out to local communities with the Gospel, despite the lockdowns. Worship services, devotions, catechism classes and Bible studies are shared online while in-person services are not permitted. Pastors maintain phone contact to encourage and assist members whenever possible.
Sixty Lutheran pastors and church members from Guatemala and Honduras gathered online for four days of Disaster Response Training last week. Pastor Alejandro Lopez presented the virtual classes from his location in Panama. Missionary Deaconess Cheryl Naumann from the Dominican Republic coordinated the instruction through the Mercy Center, an institute of Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
As this pandemic has continued to spread, over the past several weeks, Panama has rapidly become the worst-hit country in Central America according to infections per capita, and second only to Chile in all of Latin America.
Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic hosts an annual symposium drawing an increasingly large crowd each year. The draw is two-fold: It is currently the only Lutheran theological symposium in Spanish, and the quality of the presenters and presentations is top-notch. It was the overflowing crowd at last year’s conference that prompted the organizers to reluctantly establish the by-invitation-only rule for the 2020 symposium scheduled to take place next week.
People come here to survive—not voluntarily. Waves of Venezuelans, including nurses, dentists, engineers, teachers, students, and others, reluctantly take the short, ninety-minute flight to the Dominican Republic, and embark on a life vastly different from what they are accustomed to. Having left behind family and friends, home, and everything familiar, they begin life again, from scratch. They leave the country that they love, not because they want to, but because they have no other option if they want to live.
Questions arise from North American friends who learn we are serving in Latin America as Lutheran missionaries: “But aren’t all Christians there Catholic?” Well, to a large extent, yes, because the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns did a really good job of propagating the Catholic faith for hundreds of years.
Across the Latin American and Caribbean Region, our LCMS Missionaries continue to spread the Gospel in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. In this video, Regional Director Ted Krey talks about our missionaries, changes that have taken place, and how they continue to move the work forward under these trying conditions.
No rest for the weary! Our seminarians finished up finals week on Friday and immediately dove into a two-week intensive course. Latin American pastors and deaconesses were invited to join our seminarians for this online class on the theology of mercy, taught by Pastor Ted Krey, Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean region.
With Holy Week falling in the middle of a worldwide pandemic lockdown, Ascension Lutheran Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, made creative use of technology to host an international Easter vigil service online.