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Holy Hope (Seibo Gakuen) Lutheran School

1959–1961 LWML Mission Grant: HANNO HOLY HOPE HIGH SCHOOL (SEIBO GAKUEN), $60,000 and 1967–1969 LWML Mission Grant: $79,638.68

Holy Hope Lutheran School: The LWML’s Lasting Contribution

by Timothy Drawbaugh, August 2018

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Holy Hope Lutheran Junior & Senior High School: The LWML’s Role

Hanno, Saitama, Japan 1950s — Classrooms

In the early 1950s the LCMS missionary in Hanno, Saitama, Japan was approached by a local Japanese pastor of another denomination who was in need of dire help. This pastor, Rev. Fujiwara, had taken over the management of a local school that had been an agricultural vocational school. It was his vision to run it as a Christian school as there were none in the area. However, after taking it over, the school was more than he could manage. It was heavily in debt, in disrepair and run down, so he was looking for alternatives.

At that time LCMS missionary, Rev. Paul Kreyling, had founded a church in Hanno and was approached by Rev. Fujiwara who desperately asked if he or the LCMS could take over the school so that the area would not lose the Christian school. Rev. Kreyling replied that he himself could not, but that the LCMS might be able to help. The LCMS mission took over management of the school, but it badly needed funds for rebuilding. The LWML took up a building project for the school, providing funds for a new building. Had it not been for the LWML initiative in the late 1950s, the school may not have succeeded and there would be no Lutheran junior and senior high school in Hanno.1

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“This Building was Donated by The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod 1961.”

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Classroom building showing location of the dedication plaque at its base, honoring the contribution of the LWML.

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Current day view of the classroom building provided by LWML funds.

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View of classroom building in the year of its completion and dedication, 1961.

1960s — Chapel

A decade later in the late 1960s, the LWML once again came to the aid of Holy Hope. At the time, the number of students had increased and the school was in need of a chapel as there was no suitable place to have students worship. With pledged funds from the LWML in 1968-1969, a new chapel was erected and dedicated in 1972.2

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Dedication plaque upon entering the front entrance to the chapel: “FUNDS FOR THIS BUILDING WERE PROVIDED IN PART BY THE INTERNATIONAL LUTHERAN WOMEN’S MISSIONARY LEAGUE OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH — MISSOURI SYNOD, 1972”

The chapel can accommodate just over 300 students at one time. Chapel services are conducted during the first school period, four mornings a week: Monday, grades 7-9; Tuesday, grade 10; Wednesday, grade 11; and Thursday, grade 12.

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Engraved Japanese calligraphy artwork adorns an outside wall under the eve of the chapel, quoting Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

2018 — Holy Hope Lutheran School (Seibo Gakuen)

The school now averages a yearly enrollment of around 1200 students in grades 7-12. When the LCMS took over the school in 1951, there were less than 150 students. Currently in the 2018 academic year, a total of 1,156 students are enrolled (junior high, 135; senior high 1,021). Since its founding in 1951, Holy Hope Junior and Senior High School has graduated a combined total of 20,494 Japanese youth. While this figure may seem impressive, the daunting fact is that less than 1% of the Japanese population is Christian. Japan has a culture that is highly resistant to the Gospel. However, God has graciously given the opportunity for seeds to be sown over the years at Holy Hope in cooperation with the LWML. We have God’s own promise that His word does not return empty but accomplishes its own purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11). Had it not been for the early support of the LWML, Holy Hope would not be the school that it is today and thousands of Japanese may not have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

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Sources:
1 The background story as to how the LCMS obtained Holy Hope is from a piece of oral history related by Rev. James Wiese in 2008 when he visited Japan. Rev. Wiese was an LCMS missionary to Japan and served first as the school’s religious advisor (1964-1969), then as principal (1969-1977), and finally as Chairman of the School Board (1977-1980).

Additional information is found in “A History of the Japan Mission—LCMS,” a personal account by Rev. Richard Meyer who was an LCMS missionary to Japan (1948-1971).

2 Sources for the chapel construction include the above-cited Meyer memoir, common knowledge on site at the school, and the LWML publication, “Mission Grants Resume 1943-2015,” found online at: https://unite-production.s3.amazonaws.com/tenants/lwml/ attachments/66383/1943_2015HistoricalMissionGrantsResumeFinal20160330.pdf

View the printable PDF of this article, Holy Hope Lutheran School: The LWML’s Lasting Contribution.

For more information about this mission grant, view the mission grant history page here.

RECONNECT to the Body of Christ

2017–2019 Mission Grant: RECONNECT to the Body of Christ — Circuit 28 — Texas District, $50,000

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RECONNECT to the Body of Christ

By Brenda Segovia, Rio Grande Valley Mission Action Council, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
 

The Rio Grande Mission Action Council (RioMAC) had a fruitful year in 2017 and is excited to see the new opportunities God has for His people in the future. By the grace of God, RioMAC hopes to inspire, develop, and equip leaders to serve new and innovative Christian communities through partnerships flowing across the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of Texas and beyond. Thanks to the LWML Mission Grant, we will be able to charge forward with that mission here in the RGV.

The Reconnect to the Body of Christ mission grant intends to reconnect our neighbors in the Rio Grande Valley to the greater Body of Christ. This grant will aid and support the congregations of Texas District Circuit 28 in their outreach efforts to the lost and unchurched in one of the lowest socio-economic metro areas in the United States.

Part of the plan for this grant is to support a traditionally trained church worker in a missional role. This was launched in 2016 when DCE Brenda Segovia was called to serve in this non-traditional missional role. As this project develops, it will eventually offer a new model of ministry for congregations throughout The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Highlights from 2017 include leadership development, spiritual renewals, service opportunities, and new ministry endeavors. One of those efforts was a statewide middle school youth gathering called Crossroads. Youth from across Texas teamed up with our local youth and helped with many mercy projects for the community as they spread the Good News of Jesus. Many lives were touched. This summer’s Crossroads event, held in June 2018, connected our middle school youth with even more families! We hope to continue growing in these and many other ministry opportunities with the help of this mission grant. 

nullThere are many stories of how God impacted lives in 2017. One of the families who inspired us was the Mata family. Ruth is a single mother, raising her three children under difficult conditions. Although the father had abandoned them, God surely did not. A service team connected with them and helped them rebuild flooring and install a new water heater. The muddy ground dried out from the leaking water tank, and the rotting wood was replaced with new lumber. Ruth loved the devotions that we read in Spanish and especially loved going through Luther's Small Catechism. Throughout the rest of the summer, they wanted to be involved in as many youth events, worship opportunities, and service projects as possible. Having received kindness, they poured out great love and kindness to others!

Through monthly youth gatherings and retreats led by our DCE Mission Facilitator Brenda Segovia, new servants received discipleship and new leaders were formed. We have been blessed to see the Holy Spirit working in these new leaders; several have expressed interest in becoming professional church workers, and one has already begun her studies at Concordia University in Texas!

By the Holy Spirit’s leading and power, RioMAC leaders look forward to another exciting year. We can’t wait to watch God change people’s lives for even greater service in His kingdom. We see how God has been gathering and building over the years, and we are so thankful that He has led the RGV ministries to connect with the generous love from the LWML!

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Fall 2018 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

God Cares About You

2017 Convention Offering #4: God Cares About You, $33,985.56

At the 2017 LWML Convention, convention offering #4 was designated for God Cares About You. The offering was used to support this mission as it serves a diverse population living in the poorest area in the "International Zone" of the city of Albuquerque, NM. $33,985.56 was given for this offering. Watch the video above to learn more!

Christ for Veterans and Their Families

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Christ for Veterans and Their Families — LCMS Ministry of the Armed Forces, $27,750

Christ for Veterans and Their Families

By Chaplain Craig Muehler, Director, LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
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Christie Steffans, LWML Missouri District President, presents a check for $27,750 to LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces Chaplain Craig Muehler, director. Photo courtesy of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod/Frank Kohn

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We are so grateful for the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and its commitment and outreach to all military-connected people. Because of LWML’s faithful mite offerings, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces was able to hold a National Operation Barnabas conference, “Christ for Veterans and Their Families,” in St. Louis on March 15 and 16, 2018.

The purpose of the conference was to share ideas, promote networking, and expand Operation Barnabas ministries into more congregations and districts. Participants represented 20 LCMS districts as well as LWML members working in their congregations. The benefit will grow as participants return home and share with others how we can better care for and support these special people.

Just as Barnabas was St. Paul’s supportive companion on his missionary journeys, Operation Barnabas offers resources to help congregations care for all military-connected people — within their congregations and out in their communities — through intentional outreach.

About 330 of the Synod’s 6,000 congregations are active in the 10-year-old Operation Barnabas program. We would like to see every Synod congregation involved in sharing the veteran-friendly message: “Your service to our nation was honorable, you did your duty and we respect that, you’re welcome here — no matter what you’ve been through — and God loves you and sent Jesus for you.”

One of the main speakers was Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch (U.S. Army, retired), an LCMS Lutheran who wasn’t baptized until he was 32. Lynch, author of Work Hard, Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action, spoke of his journey from a religion-free upbringing to his military service to actively sharing his faith in Jesus Christ.

Angela Cook, RN, suicide prevention coordinator for the St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center, shared a resounding theme: “Suicide prevention is everybody’s business.” If someone only took the time to listen to a hurting veteran — “and that person could be you … just caring is very important” — more lives might be saved, she said. Cook shared statistics pertaining to the United States: suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; someone attempts suicide every 35 seconds; and veterans account for 18 percent (some 20 per day) of the 42,000 deaths by suicide annually.

Chaplain Rev. Dr. Gary Danielsen, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, called ministries to military families and veterans a “mission field” with “tremendous opportunities for outreach.” Most of those who have served in the military, particularly in combat, tend to trust and confide most readily in others who have served, Danielsen noted. “Many veterans like to tell their story, many are afraid to tell their story,” and, perhaps most important, “many need to tell their story,” he said.

The need to connect with those who are hurting is overwhelming. Numerous ideas to help congregations reach out with Christ to veterans and their families were shared by the Rev. Dr. Michael Morehouse, a 23-year U.S. Army veteran and pastor of Catalina Lutheran Church in Catalina, Arizona, one of the first congregations to start an Operation Barnabas ministry.

The magnitude of benefits from this conference will continue as Christ’s love is shown to our military veterans and their families. We look forward to how God will work through the conference participants, reaching out with Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Summer 2018 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

You are Making an Impact – Grant #16

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Education Loan Repayment Assistance Grants — MinistryFocus; $25,000 partially paid

nullOn behalf of MinistryFocus, Rev. Ken Krueger accepted a $12,500 check presented by LWML President Patti Ross as a partial installment of $100,000 for LWML Mission Grant #16 — Education Loan Repayment Assistance Grant.

Have you ever been burdened with the challenge of paying your bills, especially financial loan repayments? Then you will certainly appreciate the impact you’re making through this grant!

Most of our called workers leave the seminary and our Concordia(s) with large loan debts. YOU ARE MAKING AN IMPACT for called workers of the LCMS in the United States and around the world! How? $12,500 of the $100,000 grant for Education Loan Repayment Assistance, Grant #16, has been paid to provide $2,500 per qualified called worker to help reduce their financial loan burden. This grant is helping Ministry Focus, a Recognized Service Organization (RSO), award loan repayment assistance grants to 23 rostered church workers of the LCMS for 2018. One recipient shared: “Your support eases our family’s burden as we seek to serve the Lord. Your care for the daily lives of those in the ministry is especially appreciated. Your faith and hope in the Lord strengthens my own faith, and I rejoice in the unity we have in Christ’s many gifts.

Another recipient said: “It does my heart good to know that there are others who know the prayer and discernment which goes into the process of embarking on a career change into the ministry; especially when that change will probably not be a lucrative one. Your partnership in this area loosens the grip of the day to day pressures on our finances to allow us to begin looking past today to what might be possible tomorrow. That is a sight we haven’t had the luxury of viewing for the 12 years I’ve been in ministry.”

Your mites are making an impact! Please continue with your prayers and mites for our grant recipients as we continue with God’s help to share the love of Christ with each other and the world.

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For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Spreading the Gospel Worldwide

2017–2019 Mission Grant: Lutheran Children’s Books for Families Worldwide — Lutheran Heritage Foundation, $100,000

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Ethiopian Lutheran school children with Bible storybooks

Spreading the Gospel Worldwide

By Jennifer Bagnell, Public Relations Director of LHF, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
 

As a Lutheran woman, how many times have you used a child’s Bible storybook? 

Perhaps you had a book about Jesus you loved as a child, or maybe you have sweet memories of reading Bible stories to your own children as you tucked them into bed. Maybe you’ve been a Sunday School or Lutheran day school teacher, and you’ve used Bible storybooks to teach your young charges the faith.

However, countless women around the globe have never been so fortunate. To many, a Bible storybook is an unaffordable luxury or isn't available in their language at all.

Through an LWML Mission Grant to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), this situation is changing! At the 2017 convention, delegates voted to provide $100,000 to LHF for translating, publishing, and distributing Lutheran Bible storybooks for children and families worldwide. 

“It’s difficult to express the enormous impact this Mission Grant will have on spreading the Gospel,” reflected LHF’s executive director, Rev. Matthew Heise. “We know that Scripture tells us to raise up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it. LHF is deeply thankful to the LWML that, with this Mission Grant, literally tens of thousands of children will be able to read and learn about their Savior, Jesus.”

One of the first storybooks is A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, a colorfully-illustrated book of 60 Old and New Testament stories. It has been recently translated into the Farsi language, spoken in Iran. Although it’s very  difficult to get Christian materials into Iran, “God has a way of opening doors for His children,” Rev. Heise shared.

In 2015, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe, including over 100,000 immigrants from Iran. When they settled in countries like Germany and Denmark, Lutheran churches and missionaries saw a great opportunity to introduce those living in the darkness of Islam to the light of Jesus Christ.

“The biggest challenge is the language,” explained Rev. Hugo Gevers, a Lutheran pastor in Leipzig, Germany. “How do you teach people who don’t know your language at all?” Once the 5,000+ copies of book are printed, they will be given free of charge to the Farsi-speaking families.

“What we’ve seen with this book, time and again, is that we translate and publish the book mainly for children,” reflected Rev. Heise. “But what we didn’t expect is how many adults would pick up this little book and start to read, and how it would lead to them asking more questions about who this Jesus is.” 

In the coming months, LHF will continue to translate several more publications for new and growing Lutheran churches in Africa, Asia, and Europe. For many recipients — most of whom come from Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist backgrounds — the stories of God’s love bring peace and comfort.

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David (right) and Rev. Hugo Gevers

This has proven true for David, LHF’s lead Farsi translator of A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. David grew up in a Muslim family in Iran, but after fleeing to Germany a few years ago, God led him to Rev. Gevers in Leipzig.

“I think of when Jesus was with his followers, and they said, ‘Hey Jesus, your mother is outside.’ But Jesus told them, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’” David said. “Now I’m here in Germany. I have no family here. But my pastor is my father, and all who read this book and believe, they are my brothers and my sisters.” 

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Spring 2018 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

Mercy in the Midst of the Storm

2013–2015 Mission Grant: Disaster Reponse Center in Dominican Republic — LCMS Disaster Response, $100,000 paid in full

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Seminarians walk to class greeted by Junior (see page 28 of Winter 2017 LWQ) at Concordia Reformer Mercy Center and Lutheran Seminary. Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

Mercy in the Midst of the Storm

By Rev Dr. Ross Johnson, Director Disaster Response LCMS Office of National Mission, with Cheri Fish, Mission Editor
Hurricane Irma put the recently completed Disaster Response Center in the Dominican Republic, to its first test. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the ladies of the LWML, the solid, reinforced concrete edifice is centrally located in a fertile valley, protected on all sides by mountains. Deadly hurricanes and earthquakes target the Caribbean on a regular basis, making this an ideal location for the multipurpose facility. The Regional Office for LCMS Latin American Missions, located just six miles away, serves not only as the nerve center of mission work in Latin America, but also as the command center for disaster relief.

Thanks be to God that Hurricane Irma was much less destructive than anyone imagined. However, preparation for this storm provided the perfect opportunity for a trial run, an opportunity to formulate a plan and execute it, while under the real life duress of an impending category five hurricane — the most powerful ever to come out of the Atlantic. 

Hand-in-hand the Body of Christ in the Dominican Republic worked. People from different countries, languages, abilities, ages, and skin colors came together with joy to accomplish the task at hand. Indeed, the intensity and camaraderie was something most people never see in a lifetime.

Supplies were hauled in by the van load. Water, rice, canned meat, sugar, oatmeal, dry beans, hygiene supplies, and other items were packaged and prepared for mass distribution following the hurricane. Hours passed in the ninety-plus degree heat. Electric fans would have been a welcomed luxury, but cooling came only from sweat soaked shirts and gulped bottles of water.

Near the end of the day, as energy was waning and hands were faltering, the singing began. Throughout the building, the sounds of happy voices singing praises to our God rang out loudly and clearly. The joyful sounds could be heard until the last of the supplies were packed safely away or loaded and hauled to other mission sites nearby. As the hurricane approached the island, the Disaster Response Center was made available for anyone in the community who needed assistance or shelter from the storm.

This, the first of many coming disaster preparations, would not have been possible were it not for this structure, large enough for massive preparation, while also solid and secure enough to be a shelter in the storm. We thank God for the dear ladies of the LWML for providing such a facility, so that God’s goodness and mercy could be shared with those in Latin America. Indeed, so we might also teach others what we do as the Body of Christ: we show love to our neighbor.

Concordia the Reformer Mercy Center and Seminary also serves as a center for training deaconesses for human care and mercy ministry. More than 100 women across Latin America are enrolled in deaconess classes, many of whom receive training here. In addition, on September 11th, the first class of seminarians attended the opening chapel service in this facility. We pray these students will become faithful shepherds.

Dedication of Concordia the Reformer Mercy Center and Seminary was held on October 1, 2017. No doubt, future generations of faithful pastors and deaconesses, and the people they serve, will look back and say, “Thank God for the forward-looking, generous, and godly women of the LWML.” Indeed, each little mite, lovingly collected, and each prayer spoken in faith, was blessed by Our Father, who does all things well. 

Download or print the story.

This story was originally featured in the Winter 2017 Lutheran Woman's Quarterly. Order your subscription here.

For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.

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