LHF Begins Innovative Teaching Seminars in Africa March 31, 2023

Project 72: Jesus sent them two by two

After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He himself was about to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:1-2

For nearly 30 years, LHF has faced a challenge in Africa:

“The challenge that we have faced with introducing our books to pastors and to lay people in Africa is that churches are growing fast, and they extend over vast geographical areas,” explained Rev. Tuomo Simojoki, coordinator of LHF’s Nairobi office. “We have very few workers, and even if we traveled every single day to a new place, we could only return to congregations every few years. That is not good enough!

“The level of theological training in Africa has been going up over the years; more and more church workers are receiving good training in seminaries,” he continued. “However, the challenge for these church workers is that after their studies finish, there are too few resources available. There are too few books, and almost no refresher courses after the studies. This means the workers find themselves often quite alone in their work.”

In an effort to help provide this much-needed continuing education, Rev. Simojoki and Rev. Dr. Dinku Bato (LHF’s coordinator for African projects) have established Project 72: Jesus Sent Them Two by Two.

Under Project 72, visiting professors from Europe and the United States, as well as well-educated local pastors and professors, travel in pairs to regions throughout East Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and more. In each region, they will conduct teaching seminars using LHF books.

From there, the students now become the teachers as they return to their own hometowns to teach and distribute the very LHF materials they just learned.

Training courses will be tailored separately for pastors, deaconesses, Sunday school teachers, church musicians and church leaders.

Seminars will also be conducted for LHF translators, Dr. Bato said. “In these trainings, both veteran and novice translators from parts of Africa where Lutheranism is growing fast (Ethiopia, Tanzania, etc.) and from countries with budding Lutheran communities like Burundi and Malawi, come together to a central location to learn not only from experts in the field, but also from each other,” he explained.

The first Project 72 seminar was held in November 2022, taught by Rev. Kalle Väätäinen of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (pictured below, center). Eleven pastors and two lay people attended the sessions focused on Lutheran worship and the Book of Concord, especially the Augsburg Confession.

Six more Project 72 seminars are planned for 2023, with two teachers instructing 14 students at each. Topics will include pastoral care practices, church administration, teaching and learning for children, Lutheran hymnody and youth involvement in church activities.

“The cost of holding small-scale, local seminars is a fraction of what it costs to bring in all the workers to a single location,” Rev. Simojoki said. “Two trained pastors can go around to several congregations and hold seminars. This way the local churches will become stronger in their theology and doctrine, as more and more of their Christians get better Lutheran teaching.”

If you or your congregation would like to help fund one of these Project 72 seminars, please contact the Lutheran Heritage Foundation at (800)554-0723.

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