by the Rev. James K. Gullen
During National Lutheran Schools Week last year, Salem Lutheran School in Jacksonville, Ill., where my wife, Linda, is a teacher, had a Mission Fair for Grandparents Day. Each classroom was to select one of the mission projects of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Linda’s class chose The Wittenberg Project.
The Wittenberg Project is a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out with the Gospel in Europe. Pastor David Mahsman, an LCMS missionary in Germany and managing director of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), told me that only 17 percent of the people who live in Wittenberg claim church membership. Yet there is an evangelistic movement happening there, and this mission will bring great joy with Gospel outreach as we confessionally declare the truth.
Rev. David Bueltmann, an advisory member of the ILSW, gave us great input on this presentation. Through The Wittenberg Project, the Old Latin School will be dedicated to begin mission work on May 3, 2015.
With the support of the pastor and the principal, we put together a tri-fold display board to explain the mission project. On the board, we put pictures of Wittenberg, drawings of the renovation of the Old Latin School, comments about the project and the 95 Theses, as well as a quote from LCMS President Matthew Harrison about the importance of the mission. We also purchased copies of Dr. Paul A. Maier’s book Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World from Concordia Publishing House. In addition, “Luther Trivia” was developed, and we encouraged people to play.
While we wanted those who visited the Mission Fair to have a bit of fun, the purpose was to help the participants grow in their understanding of the Reformation. Candy was given out to all who participated, and those who correctly completed all the forms were given a copy of Dr. Maier’s book. Linda used the trivia questions in class, after reading Dr. Maier’s book to the students, as a section in her religion class. In this way, her students would have a better appreciation of the Reformation. The purpose of the task was to educate the adults who visited, but also to touch the hearts and lives of her students.
It is obvious, as the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses approaches, that it is vital to grow our young people in their understanding of the importance of this event. It is also vital that we support this mission, as hundreds of thousands of people will be coming to Wittenberg for the anniversary. We have a tremendous evangelistic window of opportunity!
Pastor Bueltmann also used this display board at our district LLL convention, our district pastors’ conference and the LWML convention. If you develop something like this, it could be used in many different ways to help members understand the proclamation of the Gospel through The Wittenberg Project.
Many congregations, schools and Bible classes are now participating in the Reformation 500 Club, supporting this vital mission. This is a simple way you can participate in world missions. If you have a mission fair during National Lutheran Schools Week in 2015, you may want to consider using this idea for mission. As we think about the theme, “Mercy Forever,” could anything be more important as we serve those around us and around the world (Mark 10:45)? May our Lord bless you as we all walk together in mission.