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This is Roger Weinlaeder, Project 24; John Kissinger Nyang’au, Project 24 Manager; Rev. Don Fondow, President Minnesota North District LCMS by the statue of St. Louis and the St. Louis Museum of Art.

King Louis of France by any account was a remarkable individual remembered as one of the crusaders who suffered trying to defend Christians in the Holy Land against Moslem invaders not once, but twice.  He died on the second try.  He was also remembered for an amazing beneficence to the poor and an unerring sense of fairness to all, even his most bitter enemies.  When scolded for giving too much money away,, Louis’ reply was short and sweet.  “I would rather my extravagance should be in almsgiving for the love of God than in the pomp and vainglory of this world.”

He died on crusade in 1270 in Tunisia.  On August the 25th, at noon he said : “Lord, I will enter into Thine house; I will adore in Thy holy temple, and will give glory to Thy name.” At three, he said — “Into Thy hands I commend my soul” — and died.

At the age of 56 his last testament was a written set of principles on government that are summarized as “Love God, do justice, and serve the poor.”

After meeting to discuss Project 24 and set a way forward some of us went to Concordia Seminary and to Forest Park where this picture was taken.  Kissinger, our Kenyan partner was very much struck by the seminary and the grounds.  I was struck by the St. Louis statute and what I remembered about the King who was made a Saint by the Catholic Church.

Kissinger wrote a thank you note after he arrived back home.  He makes an amazing statement that is going into my file as one of those statements that mean so much they need to be studied.  He said (I paraphrase somewhat), “The LCMS is a church that never stops evangelistic work.  The service that etches your souls by shaping vision of hope to the world.”

Our church is focused on “Witness, Mercy and Life Together”.  Our partners around the world see the proclamation of the Gospel and mercy work as inseparable because mercy is what Christ is. Those two things, speaking back to God and outwards to the world what He has spoken to us, and corporately as church showing mercy, “etches our souls” and shapes a vision for life together.

Meeting in St. Louis and under the statue of Louis was apropos.