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Archive for March, 2012

Another One Turns 80

Marvin Mosolf is having an 80th birthday reception today at Trinity Lutheran Church from 2-4.  He is asking for NO gifts which to me makes NO sense.  I always say if you have to have a birthday anyway you might as well get all the presents that you can.  Marvin has been one of those steady folks that have always been there when you need him. He and his wife are very supportive of missions and have been very helpful with the Mary Okeyo Scholarship fund.

I came to Zion English, Grafton and Trinty, Drayton in 1978.  I never thought about how long it been until I started to marry the children that I had baptized and confirmed and then started baptizing their children.  The other thing that makes one stop and pause is these 80th birthdays that keep popping up.  When I was installed as his Pastor, this gentleman was 46 years old.  I remember going out to his farm and he had a great looking racing boat.  It was like those “cigarette boats” that they made so much fun of one of our presidents for having.  I also remember everytime his wife would call to him that day I turned around and looked because my Dad’s name was Marvin too.  They probably thought I was strange.  They probably still do.

Anyway if you can make it come over to Trinity from 2-4 and visit with Marvin.  No presents please.

Marvin Mosolf


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Witness v. Mercy – the Argument continues part 2

Cross at Ecumenical Center in Geneva


Albert Collver the Director of Church Relations for the LCMS is visiting Geneva for a conference and he visited the Ecumenical Center there.  You can read about it at .  Anyway here is a picture of a cross that graces the center.  Obviously it is the Cross and superimposed on that Cross is the continent of Africa and figures representing tribal life.

I am fascinated by this image.  Art can make you think about stuff.  Depending on my mood I can look at this and say “The cross of Christ is for all”, or I can say because of recent history, ‘the Africans too must take up the Cross and follow Him’, and I’m sure when I look again I will see another idea.

This blog was started because a group of church folks were sitting around and talking about mercy and human care and the ways that Minnesota North and the North Dakota District relate together and work together now in various ways.  We also wanted to start thinking about how to galvanize all the people of good will out there to do one or two things together and bring to bear this mighty power for good on one or two things rather than scattering it over 1000 different things.

Anyone interested in this should just ask around in your circle of friends and you will see all the ways that people in our churches “do something” for mission and  ministry or mercy and human care.  What we are finding more and more is that not everyone appreciates all these things.  So here seem to be the different ideas about Africa for instance –

1.  There should be no mercy work in Africa because human care projects cause unhealthy reliance upon others, foster mercenary conversion, cast people’s minds to  money rather than the Gospel, and the money should be used to pay for Pastors and translations etc.

2.  Where there is a partner church operating we should be doing only mercy work and human care projects, or helping with education of indigenous clergy, when requested.  My own opinion is there should be no white missionaries in any country that has an established church that we are in fellowship with.  Our mercy work should be a true partnership and we should be learning from them as much as we might be helping them in the physical alleviation of suffering and need.

3.  We do our mission and mercy work and don’t bother with the partner church.  They do their thing and we do ours.

4.  We as individual Christians do our thing in human care without any input from our church body.  If I want to support a heterodox church in Kenya rather the the ELCK for instance, I will because it is my money and I can do with it what I want.

As you can see these all have a bearing upon “Witness, Mercy, and Life Together”.  Somehow we need to get on the same page with this stuff.  When I first came on the Board of International Missions one of the things that we wanted to get rid of was a duplication of services.  It must have been raised at the convention.  People look out over the vast amount of work that is done in our church everyday and we see a lot of different groups with different names doing the same things.  Part of ‘stewardship’ might be figuring out who should be doing what, where, when and maybe even how.  We all have our crosses to bear, but there are some things that we can bear together without wasting time or money or other resources.


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Witness versus Mercy – the argument is still going on.


 The debate is still going on as to whether or not we should do any mercy work in majority world countries.  There are people that believe that all we should do is Gospel proclamation.  They think of orphans the way some people think of geese.  Feed them and they lose the desire to go out and search for ‘natural food’.

It thought we put an end to the argument that the only thing the church should do is preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments but I guess I was wrong.  One of the reasons this blog was established was to show how integral the mercy aspect of our life together is to witness.  But old habits die hard and throw in financial aspects of ministries and the debate may never end.

I did find this interesting however.  This is the evaluation of what partner churches need and I found it fascinating.  We are speaking specifically of a partner church in Africa so think about these.

  • · The many victims of HIV/Aids in villages and cities present a formidable challenge already and will increasingly do so for many years to come. The church can hardly limit itself to information and counselling without initiating diaconal projects to alleviate material needs.
  • · Many children of HIV/Aids victims end up in the street, but there are other reasons as well, e.g. ethnic clashes, broken homes, and general poverty. But this ministry needs competence, close coordination and long-term follow-up in order to be effective.
  • · Increased focus on Bible teaching and leadership training – on all levels. The growth experienced cannot be sustained unless we train and help new Christians to grow in faith and maturity. Up till 1990 the church was running a flourishing Theological Education by Extension-program. This ought to come alive again together with focused professional training that takes into account higher levels of general education.

      · The church needs to direct more attention to its members’ spiritual welfare. There is an urgent need for counselling a guidance of children, youth, families, elderly people, confirmation groups, and marriage counselling.

  • · In an initial stage the church was running extensive community development projects, schools and clinics. As society and the economy becomes more developed and diverse, the church can pull out of some of these institutions. But there is still need for smaller projects that do not demand too much administration and finance. The church has a lot of local competence and should utilize it, but there is a need for coordination and pooling of resources.

I have said before to the consternation of some that we don’t need white missionaries in East Africa.  We need teachers and mercy work helpers.  They are capable of doing their own mission work.  They need partners to work together with them on the massive human care issues they face.  Sniping from vested interests in their own projects is not helpful.



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What Is He Thinking?

“Curiosity Killed the Cat – although I was a suspect”.  – Steven Wright

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My Kilimanjaro Story

In the Tsavo Wilderness - Jesus is Lord

Yesterday we talked about Jim Wolf and his climb of Kilimanjaro and I remembered my Kilimanjaro story.

Voi sits in the midst of the Tsavo National Game preserve in Kenya and is the area around which one of the great stories that has haunted big game hunters and tourists alike took place.  Tsavo means “place of slaughter” and was in this area that two lions killed and ate 135 porters, workers and assorted hangers on who were trying to complete the Uganda Railway in the 1800’s.  Needless to say their activity brought the work pretty much to a halt until the engineer in charge, John Patterson, finally killed both of the lions.  The story has been turned into many a Hollywood movie the latest of which is “The Ghost and the Darkness”.  We visited a Norwegian Mission outpost and the man in charge told me of an incident in which a lion had recently came into the compound by jumping a twelve foot electric fence, chewed through another chain link fence and took off with a goat that had been penned inside.  Witnesses said that the lion leaped back over the electric fence with a full grown goat in it’s mouth with hardly any discernible effort.  The fear was that since it had chewed through the chain link fence it would have ruined it’s teeth and now would start hunting humans because they are easy prey.

When you hear stories like that and your travel through this part of the country you have that fear factor that sets in when you realize that in some areas you are prey.  Add to that the almost surreal quality of the country side.  Sometimes desert, sometimes blooming Savanna depending on the time of the year.  The road back then was atrocious.  We were going to Mombassa and what should have been a relatively easy drive took almost the whole day.  There were huge truks tipped over on the highway because the road was so bad and it was like driving through a dinosaur graveyard.

At any rate the gentlemen with us said that we should be able to see Kilimanjaro from where we were but it was almost always hidden by cloud.  On the way back we looked for  and never saw the ‘shy mountain’.  We  were looking for a place to get out and take a break.  We found a spot on the plain that looked devoid of human life.  There were some camels off in the distance and a few zebra wnadering around.  We got out of the car and stretched our legs and I kept looking for the mountain and for a toothless lion.  When I turned around there were three little boys standing there.  I will never forget that scene.  The simply appeared out of no where and one of them had on his t-shirt the worlds “Jesus is Lord”.  I have said before that was one of the most powerful witnesses I have ever seen – that t-shirt in the middle of the Tsavo wilderness.  It was bold.  I just wish the mountain were that bold.  Wrote a song about it.

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June Kenya Devotion #3 – “The Circle of Fellowship”


Lutheran Church at Orthoro

February 13, 2011 was a very special day for me.  I preached at the church in Orthoro.  What a marvelous experience.  While the service was spoken and sung in Swahili, I basically knew right where they were all the time.  I could tell when they were singing the Kyrie, and the Gloria, the Agnus Dei, and the Sanctus.  I  knew when they were confessing their sins, when they were speaking the Creed, and when the prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

What was so special for me is that I was invited to preach that day.  I preached on Psalm 121.  I spoke a line, and Rev. David Chuchu translated it for me.  I was told the people were expecting a 30-45 minute sermon.  They weren’t going out to Perkins afterward, they weren’t going to watch football on their LCD TV, and they weren’t going to go shopping at the mall afterward either.  They were very content being in Church in all morning and feasting on the Lord’s Word and His blessed Sacrament.  What a joy it was to serve the Lord’s Supper to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Kenya, Africa.

The music in the Service was beautiful.  The only instrument was drum to keep the beat of the hymn.  Two different choirs sang.  What beautiful voices, and in harmony.  Then it came time for the Offering.  These are people of little means, selling their garden vegetables to purchase household necessities.  People joyfully gave their shillings as an offering.  In that offering plate was also some fresh fruit, and some raw eggs gathered from the hen that morning.  At the end of the Service, the pastor auctioned off the material goods for coins.  These coins would be used to give the pastor a meager wage, upkeep on the building, and some mission money to go beyond them.

Now all this was took place in a church building nicer than most.  However, it only had a cement floor (no carpet or tiles).  The “pews” were backless, hard benches, but no one seemed to mind.  They came into Church smiling and talking to one another, just as people in our Churches in the United States.

What they did at the end of the Service was particularly special.  I learned most or all the ELCK congregations practiced this custom.  After the announcements and further warmly greeting Rev. Chuchu and me, the pastor departed the building to the sunny outdoors.  I followed the pastor, and shook his hand.  He invited me to stand to the right of him.  Rev. Chuchu shook hands with the pastor, shook hands with me, and stood next in line.  Everyone in that congregation, 80 to 100 or more, exited the building, shaking hands with everyone in line, and taking their place in the line, as they began to form a full circle, just outside the front door of the Church.  After everyone had shaken everyone’s hand – it was THEN that the pastor spoke the final blessings.  After the blessing was received, the circle broke, the people began to mingle and talk to one another, and eventually headed toward their homes.  I commented to the pastor how wonderful that was.  He said, “Yes, it’s rather difficult to hold grudges when you greet one another with the peace of the Lord.”

I John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” We talk about Koinonia so often.  This “fellowship” we have with one another is our rich koinonia with one another.  There is something deep and eternal going on when Christians who have just heard the Word together, who have just eaten the Feast of Christ together, and who have sung and prayed together – depart with the right hand of fellowship, and express their koinonia with one another in greeting one another with the peace of the Lord.

I would imagine there are times when these Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ from the same congregation don’t always get along with one another.  Sin is universal.  It is tragic when God’s people fight and argue, especially children of God from the same congregation.  But we belong to a fellowship far richer than a circle outside a Church building.   We belong to the Circle of Fellowship called “The Church.”  Together we are the baptized in Christ.  Once we were as scarlet, but now (together) we are as white as snow in the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Whether you go to Kenya and experience this great custom, or you begin it in your own congregation, or you express koinonia in other ways in your congregation – know this:  You belong to The Circle of Fellowship with the Triune God, and thus, with brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  This fellowship extends beyond your congregation.  It extends all the way to Kenya, and through the world wherever God’s people live.

In the name of Jesus!


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Partnerships – 1001 Orphans and Kilimanjaro

I have been through Voi many times on my way to Mombassa.  They have postcards of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the restaurant, but I have never seen the Mountain.  They call it the ‘shy Mountain’ because it is almost always wrapped in clouds.  I have flown to Mombassa and back many times and have never seen it.  Shy indeed.  We drove to Taita  Taveta to see a proposed project 24 site and drove right along the shoulder of the Mountain and I complained the whole way because I never saw it  – only clouds.

On that trip were the two District Presidents, Baneck and Fondow, Roger Weinlaeder from Project 24 and me, Al Collver the Director of Church Relations for the LCMS, Jameson Hardy from 1001 Orphans and another member of the Board of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, James Wolf.  He complained about not seeing Kilimanjaro too, but James did something about it.  He climbed it in January, and he climbed it with a purpose.  He didn’t just climb it because it is there.

Concordia Lutheran Ministries Board Member Jim Wolf has a heart for mission work, as evidenced by his many mission trips to South Africa and Kenya over the past five years. He’s currently embarking on another visit to the country, but this time, he’s got something new on the agenda…

This time, 65-year-old Jim (a lifelong Missouri Synod Lutheran) will attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. He will start the 19,340 foot ascent on January 14, with a scheduled summit on January 20. But he’s not just climbing for himself; he has decided to make the ascent a fundraiser for a special mission project in Kenya called 1001 Orphans.

Jim’s goal in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is to raise $10,000.

Jim must have made it because I heard that he raised $13000 for 1001 Orphans and Jim is going back in May.  1001 Orphans and Project 24 are a partnership that we hope will keep on growing.  I enjoyed traveling with Jim and I will keep looking for the ‘shy mountain’.

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What a Church Should Be.

Image of Christ the Good Shepherd found in the Catacombs

From Harnack – “Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries”.

In the official writing sent by the Roman to the Corinthian church c. 96 A.D., there is a description of the first-rate condition       of the latter up till a short time previously (1 Clem. i., ii.), a description which furnishes the pattern of what a Christian church should be, and the approximate realization of this ideal at Corinth. “Who that had stayed with you did not approve your most virtuous and steadfast faith? Who did not admire your sober and forbearing Christian piety? Who did not proclaim the splendid style of your hospitality?  Who did not congratulate you on your perfect and assured knowledge? For you did everything without respect of persons; you walked by the ordinances of God, submitting to your rulers and rendering due honor to your senior men. Young persons also you charged to have a modest and grave mind; women you instructed to discharge all their tasks with a blameless, grave, and pure conscience, and to cherish a proper affection for their husbands, teaching them further to look after their households decorously, with perfect discretion. You were all lowly in mind, free from vainglory, yielding rather than claiming submission, more ready to give than to take; content with the supplies provided by God and holding by them, you carefully laid up His words in your hearts, and His sufferings were ever present to your minds.  Thus a profound and unsullied peace was bestowed on all, with an insatiable craving for beneficence. . . . . Day and night you agonized for all the brotherhood, that by means of compassion and care the number of God’s elect might be saved. You were sincere, guileless, and void  of malice among yourselves. Every sedition and every schism was an abomination to you. You lamented the transgressions of your neighbors and judged their shortcomings to be your own. You never rued an act of kindness, but were ready for every good work.”

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Jean Peppard correction –

Jean’s birthday celebration is today at Immanuel in Grand Forks.  I know that a lot of you only read a sentence or two so if you didn’t get to the end of the blog you missed that.  On the way to the Elton John concert today you can go congratulate her.

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Jean Peppard – one of the clan is having a birthday.

We have written about the Schumacher clan on these pages before.  Jean is one of them and she is having a birthday tommorow at Immanuel in Grand Forks.  Jean has served as an organist for years.  Her sister Doris was the organist at Trinity, Drayton for years and various members of the clan are musicians and choir directors and organists, scattered all over.  There are a few in Minnesota too.   Congratulations and happy Birthday.


Immanuel Lutheran Church, Grand Forks:  Saturday, March 24th,  2-4 PM. There will be a DVD…(Jean’s life) shown and a time for sharing that will start approximately around 2:30 to 2:45 PM. We hope  many of you can come.

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Your comments are welcome but will be held until approved to avoid misuse. Comments posted by visitors to this site reflect the personal opinions of individuals and may not necessarily reflect the beliefs and practices or official positions of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Individual articles from this blog may be reproduced by LCMS congregations (i.e., in church newsletters, bulletins, etc.) without writing for permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit the "Northern Crossings" blog as the source.
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