Ministry to the Sick and Dying

Over the weekend, CTSFW hosted a two-day training seminar for respite care certification as a part of the deaconess intensive course “Ministry to the Sick and Dying.” Thirty-nine women attended, among them local deaconesses, three prospective students, and our deaconess students in the residential program and those in the distance learning programs. Our distance learning students come to campus for two-week intensive courses in January and July of each year.

The training and materials were sponsored by the Deaconess Elle Konetzki Memorial Fund, and led by Deaconess Kris Blackwell and Deaconess Sarah Gaffney of Voice of Care, an LCMS RSO. Voice of Care provides these REST (Respite Education & Support Tools) to congregations and groups.

REST is designed to equip our deaconesses with the ability to provide reliable volunteer temporary care to children and adults with special needs. This temporary care gives short-term relief to primary caregivers. Deaconess students learned how to access family needs, and provide quality care with enriching activities in a safe and healthy environment. The course prepares students to identify, understand, and respect the needs of both caregivers and care receivers, and to recognize coping strategies, practice good health and safety practices in respite situations, demonstrate proper assistance techniques, and learn effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Ultimately, a REST Companion creates a positive environment that allows them to handle both ordinary and challenging respite situations.

REST certification recognizes that participants have completed the REST Companion Training and makes a number of REST’s respite care resources and materials available to the certified individual. These resources include educational materials and important forms to use with families receiving respite care.

Convocation: Deaf Ministry

This week’s convocation hour was on “Deaf Ministry in the Local Congregation,” presented by Rev. Thomas Dunseth. Pastor Dunseth is Director of Lutheran Friends of the Deaf with the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, who are close partners and friends with CTSFW. They fund Adjunct Professor of Deaf Ministry Peggy Krueger, who teaches Deaf Ministry classes here on campus. Mill Neck also runs the Church Interpreter Training Institute (CITI), hosted here on campus every summer.

Pastor Dunseth began by explaining that his intention with the talk was to help our students better understand the needs of Deaf people. “It’s not imperative as a professional church worker that you learn sign language,” he said. “My intention is to make you comfortable with it.” The point is to bring Christ to this community by giving them access to the Divine Service.

The basic facts are these: 684 million people worldwide have hearing loss, 80% of whom live in underdeveloped nations. Nearly 50 million are Americans; in the US, three out of 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. Depression and isolation are common problems, especially among those who lose their hearing later in life. Most people with hearing loss do not have access to the Word of God in a Christian congregation.

There are many different kinds of Deaf people as well. There are those who lose their hearing later in life, such as senior citizens, veterans (60% of whom come back with hearing loss), and one out of five teenagers (because of things like earbuds). Some Deaf people learn only American Sign Language (ASL), others are oral learning only (lip reading), while there is also a language style known as total communication, which is a combination of both ASL and oral English.

Cochlear implants are themselves controversial in the Deaf community. While they are not guaranteed to work for everyone, there are also many Deaf people who feel that the cochlear implants are in danger of taking away their heritage and language. For example, Peggy Krueger spoke of a Deaf couple overjoyed when their third child was born deaf–because they are proud of their culture and happy to share it with their child.

There are also cultural differences between the Deaf community and those who can hear. Some differences:

1. Deaf people cannot overhear anything, cutting them off from the information that many hearing people don’t realize they pick up while busy doing something else.

2. Deaf people communicate very bluntly. If they notice that you have gained weight, they’ll say so. The observation isn’t remotely rude; just a part of the culture.

3. Looking away while communicating is discourteous and difficult. Grammar in ASL comes from facial expressions and eye contact. If a Deaf person doesn’t want to hear you, they will shut their eyes (much like putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “lalala!”).

4. Shouting and/or emphasizing your lip movements is incredibly unhelpful to a Deaf person. Deaf people who are taught orally learn to read natural lip movements. Even then it’s difficult: only 20-25% of what you say is visible. The rest is hidden behind your teeth.

5. Deaf people don’t know what can and cannot be heard. They often eat noisily and have audible bodily noises. Peggy, who also works at a video relay center translating live phone calls by signing a conversation visually on the phone screen and speaking to the hearing person on the other line, noted that she’ll also indicate secondary sounds to her clients (like a baby crying, or a dog barking in the background) to help give context. She once signed that whoever was on the phone was walking away, to indicate their distraction. “Walk make sound?” her client signed back, shocked.

6. And one last note: Do not use the phrases “The Deaf” or “hearing impaired.” The proper alternatives are “Deaf people” and “hard of hearing.”

Both Pastor Dunseth and Peggy also discussed some practicalities when serving Deaf people. Lighting, for example, is important. If you bring the lights all the way down during Good Friday service, anyone depending on a visual interpreter will be lost. It’s also best if the interpreter stands right next to the pastor so that they can simultaneously see the interpreter sign and read the pastor’s lips if needed. Wandering pastors (who talk and walk to make their point) make this very difficult to do.

She also explained the importance of working with the interpreter: giving him or her the sermon ahead of time, making yourself available so that the interpreter can ask questions about the meaning of words as they figure out how to sign certain words, etc.

Ultimately, interpreters are theologians. The interpreter hears with their ears, and the Deaf person hears with their eyes—through the words being expressed with the interpreter’s body and hands.

“The way we sign reflects our theology,” Pastor Dunseth explained. You convey theology through the things you point to and the way you explain theological concepts. Baptists, for example, use a sign indicating full immersion for Baptism. It looks different for Lutherans: often a sprinkling motion.

Here at CTSFW, classes are broken down into Deaf Ministry 1, 2, and 3. The course prioritizes language acquisition, beginning with Deaf Ministry 1 as an ASL teaching course. Students in Deaf Ministry 2 then start to introduce specifically theological language. Deaf Ministry 3 is tied deeply into chapel. You have likely seen these students on our daily chapel livestreams, signing during the service in the Spring Quarter.

If you would like to learn more about Deaf Ministry, the following are excellent resources:

Mill Neck & Lutheran Friends of the Deaf
The Church Interpreter Training Institute
Ephphatha Lutheran Mission Society for the Deaf

Pastor Dunseth asked Peggy Krueger to demonstrate signing for a couple of his slides. Though he wasn’t signing himself, you can tell that both are ASL interpreters–Pastor Dunseth was very expressive with his hands even when not signing, and both were expressive with their faces, which is another strong indication.

Dr. Just: Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain

Dr. Just at a service in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy Johanna Heidor, official photographer for the Latin America, Caribbean mission region.

About a month ago, Dr. Just (our Chairman and Professor of Exegetical Theology as well as Director of Spanish Language Church Worker Formation) was installed at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis as Associate Executive Director of Regional Operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Dr. Just has been serving as a half-time career missionary officially since March, though he has been working with Spain for many years prior, teaching at the Seminario Concordia El Reformador in the Dominican Republic. Though this new position will change the scope of his duties on the mission field, he will continue to teach full-time during the Winter and Spring Quarters here at CTSFW.

Dr. Just (right) was installed alongside Mr. Christian Boehlke (associate director of St. Louis operations). The President of the Synod, Dr. Matthew Harrison, presides. Photo courtesy Erik Lunsford, LCMS Communications.

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Dr. Just has been in contact with the Spanish language and Latin culture since he was 13 years old, when his father moved the family to Mexico City in 1966, then later to Bilbao, Spain, first igniting his son’s interest in the area. Now Dr. Just will oversee LCMS mission work in the Spanish-speaking world. Including both Dr. and Mrs. Just, 101 people serve in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain, 20 of whom are ordained pastors. Of these 101 missionaries (including families), 79 are LCMS and 22 are from partner churches (called “alliance missionaries”).
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Dr. Just has been busy. Over the summer and fall he taught Greek Readings and Pastoral Theology courses (on Luther’s Small Catechism and the importance of visitations) in the Dominican Republic, preached in Madrid, Spain, gathered with mission partners in Jamaica and Minnesota (where they discussed the overwhelming human care needs in Puerto Rico following the hurricane), and attended the LCMS International Mission Meeting in San Diego where Dr. Detlev Schulz (Co-director of International Studies and Director of the PhD in Missiology Program here at CTSFW) presented on altar and pulpit fellowship with the Synod’s partner churches. He also had the chance to attend an ordination in Bolivia, Pastor Osmel Soliz who was the first pastor ordained from the seminary in the Domincian Republic. Three other Bolivian students from this seminary will be ordained next summer.

Students in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy Johanna Heidor.

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You may also recall the installation of Rev. Sergio Fritzler (as Director of SMP Español/English, which is a joint distance learning program between CTSFW and Seminario Concordia El Reformador) and Dr. Don Wiley as Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, and Assistant Director of Spanish-Speaking Pastoral Formation. Dr. Just will play a role in overseeing these men as well; CTSFW and her faculty continue to have an impact on world-wide Lutheranism.‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

This information was gathered from Dr. Just’s November newsletter regarding his mission work. You can keep up with his travels and his work overseas through his Facebook page at or by reading his newsletters here:

Faculty Travel: Pless & Masaki

We have a handful of faculty overseas at the moment, taking advantage of the quarter break. One is Dr. John T. Pless, in Sweden at a mission conference. He gave two lectures at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gothenburg, his first on “Confessing Christ in a Hostile Culture: A Lutheran Response to the New Atheists” and the second on “A Confessional Lutheran Approach to Missions Today.”

Because of the location, he had the opportunity to reconnect with many friends, including pastors who had earned their STM at CTSFW. The names of these men and their connections to CTSFW can be found in the description of each photo.

With Pastor Jakob Appell (left) and Pastor Daniel Lars Brandt (right).
With the family of Dr. Daniel Johansson (far left).
Dr Bengt and Maria Bergesson. Dr. Bergesson, now retired, received an honorary doctorate from CTSFW.
Lunch with Pastor Fredrik Sidenvall , a leader of the confessional movement in Sweden and principal of a large Lutheran high school (575 students) in Gothenburg. Pastor Sidenvall has spoken at the Symposium at CTSFW and is a good friend of our seminary.

Dr. Naomichi Masaki is another of our faculty currently out of the country, this time in Nigeria. He will be in Africa until this weekend, teaching at the Jonathan Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary in Uyo. His three classes are on the Lutheran Confessions, the Lord’s Supper, and a Theological Seminar for all students, and will also preach at chapel every day .

Dr. Masaki has reported that the weather is very different from Fort Wayne (90 degrees Fahrenheit and “like being a sauna!”) and he added this, concerning the seminary and his students:

“Quite encouraged by a confessional Lutheran atmosphere of the seminary. Thoroughly enjoying to study with eager and promising young pastoral students. Shortage of pastors and theologians is the urgent need of this growing church body. Let us remember this seminary in our ongoing prayers!”

He has also had the opportunity to visit the Rev. Dr. Christian Ekong, archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria at his headquarter office. Dr. Masaki expects that he will have further opportunities for preaching, teaching, and meeting others. “In the foreign field you will be asked to do something only on a very short notice,” he wrote. “I am accustomed to it.

“I do know that I will be able to observe a funeral tomorrow morning. I will visit a village church on Sunday where I might be asked to preach. There will be a traditional kind of dinner on Wednesday next week at the seminary. And at the national convention perhaps I will be asked to bring a greeting from LCMS.”

God’s richest blessings to our brothers and sisters in Africa (and across the whole world), and to Dr. Masaki as he finishes his journey in Nigeria and returns back to us here in Fort Wayne in time for Winter Quarter.

Dr. Masaki with some of his Evangelist 1 students. The typical formation process is two years as an Evangelist 1 then 2 student (similar to pre-seminary), followed by two years of serving at a church, then three more years of study (as a Pastoral 1, 2, and 3 student), followed by another two or three years of service in a congregation, and finally ordination.
This is one of Dr. Masaki’s Theological Seminars, typically hled for all student on campus. “A lively theological conversation is taking place every day,” Dr. Masaki noted on his Facebook page. “Quite enjoyable!”
Lutheran Confessions with the Pastor 1 students.

Rural & Small Town Mission Conference

Last week, CTSFW had three representatives at the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission Conference: Dr. Don Wiley (Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions), Sem I Chase Lefort, and Sem II Dan Golden (who you may recognize as one of our recent student interviewees). One of our guest professors, Dr. Robert H. Bennett, also served as a plenary speaker.

From left to right: Dr. Wiley, Mr. Nathanael Poppe (principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School in Concordia, MO), Dan Golden, and Chase Lefort.

The conference began with a four-day series of lectures and sessions before the three men (Dr. Wiley, Chase, and Dan) spent the next couple of days on a “Rural Immersion,” touring country churches, schools, farms, and rural life. The tour gave them a feel for the wide and unique variety of the people and communities that make up rural and small-town settings, helping them to understand the perspective of family farmers and ranchers, and teaching practical strategies and resources for ministry in these locations.

One of the many churches they visited. Their rural immersion tour took them to churches, schools, farms, and dairies.

To learn more about the LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission, check out

Convocation: Bringing the Reformation to South Sudan

For the 501st Anniversary of the Reformation, the Rev. Peter Anibati, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Sudan/Sudan (ELCSS/S), spoke during today’s convocation hour on “Bringing the Reformation to South Sudan: Pastoring through Civil War, Famine, and Spirit Worship.” Bishop Peter is here at invitation of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), who have been instrumental in the support of the ELCSS/S.

The 150,000 members of the ELCSS/S are scattered across five countries, refugees of the civil and tribal wars that plague South Sudan. The church body came into existence in 1993 (they will be celebrating their 25th anniversary on December 2), in the midst of the Second Sudanese Civil War between the Muslims of the North and the Christians in the South (fighting back against forced Islamification). Though South Sudan has since been granted independence, their politicians still fight, killing each other – and the people of South Sudan – over power.

The South Sudanese are dominated by constant fear, hunger, and poverty. Millions have died in the decades of armed conflict. They have no access to basic services like shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, health care, and education. More than 80% of the population is illiterate. The fighting has driven the people from their homes, their ranches, their farms; Bishop Peter spoke of watching little children climb trees in order to eat the leaves. South Sudan has two planting seasons but there’s no point in sowing what no one will be around to harvest. “It’s all gunshots and killing,” Bishop Peter explained.

The impact of warfare is profound. The ELCSS/S’s 150,000 members across 200 congregations are served by 66 ordained pastors, none of whom work for a salary. They are, in many ways, volunteers. Traveling by foot or on bicycles (save for those lucky few who own a motorbike), these pastors visit congregations only once every two to three months, at which time the congregation is finally able to receive the Lord’s Supper and baptize and confirm new members. Between pastoral visits, congregations are served by trained laypeople called evangelists.

These 66 ordained men visit congregations across South Sudan and in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and UN protected refugee sites. While on the road they always wear collar and cross, so that the people know they are neither a rebel nor a politician but instead recognize them as men of God. Some have been killed anyways. The people may know who these men are but, as Bishop Peter explained, “The bullet doesn’t know anyone.”

Oftentimes, members or even whole congregations have to run as the fighting shifts into their area. Their pastors run with them. There is no permanence in Sudan; no one knows where they may be tomorrow. “The church is not a building,” Bishop Peter said, showing a picture of a congregation gathered under the shade of a tree. “It is the people.”

To help alleviate the lack of pastors, the ELCSS/S has started a seminary which ordains men through a four-year program like ours—three years of academic study and one year of vicarage. Twenty-two men are in the program. The ELCSS/S is also working on training Sudanese pastors to become professors since they are currently dependent on visiting professors (our own faculty among them) to teach their seminarians.

What they have in financial support has largely come from the United States. In a church body made up of refugees and the survivors of war, they must reach out to their brothers across the sea for help. “Without the Lutheran Heritage Foundation,” Bishop Peter said, “it would be almost impossible to have all this happening.” The church depends on members to give, but their members have nothing. Instead, the people of South Sudan reach out to the church to come to their rescue.

And herein lies the strength promised in weakness. It is this “nothing” that has caused the ELCSS/S to grow and thrive. “There is great demand for the Gospel message because all else has failed the people of South Sudan,” Bishop Peter said. “The membership has increased greatly. The Good News is spreading.”

To start a congregation, the ELCSS/S begins by identifying a place where there is no Lutheran church. They then hold a 2-3 day seminar in the area, using LHF translated materials (books like Luther’s Small Catechism and “The Good News About Jesus”). Many already know the Lord’s Prayer, but they have never heard an explanation for it. “This catechism is a very powerful tool,” the bishop said, explaining that as soon as the people hear or read these resources in their language, they grow excited and want to learn still more. A congregations begins because, having learned of the truth of the Gospel, they desire access to it.

Bound by the biblical teaching of grace alone, the ELCSS/S has a powerful message that resonates with a people broken by war and desperate need. “People try to look for something that can give them hope. They ask, ‘Why is this happening?’ Traditional religions – all other religions – can never give. All they do is demand, demand, demand. But what can a refugee really do?” Bishop Peter asked. Refugees have nothing. Literally nothing. And for those sitting in darkness: “Christ on the cross has given all. This is what comforts them.”

Thousands have been drawn to the ELCSS/S by the power of the Gospel message. “God works through the Word,” Bishop Peter explained. “The Word is powerful. We just speak what is there. We don’t know how it works. But God knows.”

Bishop Peter finished his presentation with these words:

“In all these, the Word continues to spread and the church is growing. Our government and politics may have failed but Jesus is the only hope. With Him we are secured and have life in abundance even in the face of suffering, poverty, death and war.

“Thank you and God bless.”‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

You can learn more by visiting or by contacting the Lutheran Heritage Foundation at [email protected] or (800) 554-0723.

Corpus Christi Conference

Photo essay: ‘Future and Hope’ at the 2018 Corpus Christi conference

Dr. Masaki shared photos on his Facebook page from this article on the Corpus Christi conference, which was also published in the September 2018 issue of the Reporter. Thanks go to Erik Lunsford, photojournalist for LCMS Communications, who so beautifully documents the mission, world relief, and human care work of the LCMS. Dr. Masaki has a number of personal connections and behind-the-scenes insight into the Corpus Christi conference that was held in July in Prague, Czech Republic. In this words:

“The conference, which was originated in the leading work of a CTSFW’s graduate of the STM program, Rev. Jakob Appell of Gothenburg, Sweden, has now reached the milestone of the 10th anniversary.” (Dr. Masaki mentioned that it was inspired by Higher Things, though the Corpus Christi conference is open to a wider age-range since the number of young adult, confessional Lutherans in Europe is so small.)

“As a Director of the STM program of CTSFW, I am very proud to have found two current students of the STM in Gothenburg extension site: Rev. Romans Kurpnieks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) and Rev. Konstantin Subbotin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR), as well as our STM graduate of the main campus, Rev. Tapani Simojoki, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE).

“Obviously there are others from our STM program participating and playing leadership roles in this international conference. May the Lord continue to have a good use of these colleagues of ours! His blessings abound! And thank you, Cynthia Wrucke, for this wonderful report!”

Dr. Just Appointed to New Position

Dr. Arthur Just was recently appointed to a new position by the Office of International Mission as Associate Director of Regional Operations – Latin American and Caribbean (including Spain). As you can see, Dr. Just is another of our faculty very active overseas, with his particular focus in the Spanish-speaking world. Here on campus he also serves as Director of Spanish Language Church Worker Formation alongside his teaching duties. You can keep up to date with his travels through his Facebook page, Arthur Just Career Missionary.

Left to right: Rev. Dan McMiller (Executive Driector of OIM), Dr. Just, and Rev. Jim Krikava (Associate Executive Director of Eurasia/Asia)

You may recognize another face among these pictures: Rev. Sergio Fritzler, who was installed at CTSFW during Opening Service a couple of weeks ago as Director of SMP Español/English. The Friday after he was installed, he and Dr. Just (along with Pastor Fritzler’s sons, Enzo and Martin) visited Concordia Chicago University to see President Dan Gard, and that Sunday got to see one of our vicars at work in St. John’s Wheaton (Illinois). Vicar Miguel Barcelos is from Portugal (far left in this picture), and will return to his country to serve as a minister.

Faculty Travel: Pless in South Africa

Prof. John T. Pless is another member of our faculty currently on the African continent. He was on his 21st teaching trip to South Africa, at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria, teaching a two-week course for 35 students and pastors on “The Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Catechisms.”

Dr. Pless’s two-week course at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in South Africa ended last week with a final exam on the Lord’s Prayer, after which he preached in chapel. He is with students Gentil Magala (left) and Eddy Nakala (right).

Dr. Pless will be in Pretoria until Wednesday, this time for a three-day continuing education workshop at a pastor’s conference of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA). He’ll be speaking on Luther’s reading of Psalm 37 as consolation in the face of injustice.

Faculty Travel: Masaki in Tanzania

Some of the children from the St. Ebenezer Lutheran Cathedral in Shinyanga, where each day started by picking up travelers from the parking lot. Dr. Masaki stopped in to say hello.

Dr. Masaki returned from his fourth trip to Tanzania just this past week. He first spoke at the 3rd Annual Theological Symposium of the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (SELVD) of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), where he was asked to lecture on the topic of “The Vitality of the Lutheran Heritage in the Divine Service.”

After the symposium ended, he then taught a couple of classes to pastoral and diaconal students at the Bishop Emmanuel Makala Training Center. From Dr. Masaki’s Facebook page, here is a report from him about our brothers and sisters in Tanzania:
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“It is hard to find an appropriate word to express my profound joy of seeing the faces of the pastors of the SELVD-ELCT. The issue on the ordination of women and what they call ‘liberalism’ is now a problem of the past. Pastors have grown together so much in the solid confession of the Lord as Lutherans. They are consciously convinced of the Book of Concord Lutheranism! One of the first cohort students approached me during break time and said, ‘Look at your (not mine personally but the work of the CTSFW) fruits of labor!’
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“Our CTSFW graduate and student, Dr. Daniel Mono and Rev. Yohana Nzelu, continue to exhibit their clear and respected leadership among the pastors. Bishop Makala said that the main problem of the diocese is how best it may cope with the fast numerical growth. When this diocese was created in 2012, it had 15,000 people and 17 pastors. Now that the number of the pastors has increased to a little more than 60, the membership has also grown at a much faster pace. It’s over 90,000 now. That’s 15,000 baptisms every year! This diocese is striving to reach so many people in this region who have never heard the Gospel yet.”

Dr. Masaki with two of their three District Pastors (equivalent in standing to our own District Presidents). Dr. Daniel Mono (who received his D.Min. from CTSFW in 2018), and Rev. Yohana Nzelu (who received his M.A. in 2016 from CTSFW and is currently pursuing his D.Min. as well).

As to his classes on Christology and the Lord’s Supper:
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“Unlike the previous two cohorts, the lectures are given without a translator/interpreter into Swahili. Also compared to the first two, the number of students is small. According to Bishop Makala, this is only because the diocese can afford their future salaries up to this number. He can recruit many more students, which to me is an amazing thing. The smaller number means that I can get to know each student better. Hearing each one’s stories on how they became a Christian/Lutheran and how they have been guided to this point to study for the pastoral and deaconess services in the church is quite breathtaking and extraordinary.
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“We are thankful that CTSFW’s assistance in theological education of the SELVD-ELCT is bearing wonderful fruit. The solid confession of Christ is ever growing under the terrific leadership and careful planning of Bishop Makala and his team. I am proud of all my students of diverse background and a variety of talents. The Lord’s blessings will remain with them!”

Dr. Masaki’s class at the training center. One day a student responded joyfully and strongly in class, saying, “Sawa Kabis!” which means “Truly, absolutely!” The phrase became something of a theme for the class (this, according to Dr. Masaki is their “Sawa Kabisa” pose). They concluded their two-week intensive by singing “A Mighty Fortress” in Swahili.