On a sunny spring morning of the 22nd of April, members of the Seminary Guild, faculty, staff and students with their families – all in all over hundred souls – gathered for a day of mutual support and edification from God’s Word. In addition to ever-important encounters between students and their supporting congregations, not to mention the regular business and planning of the guild activities, the meeting was glad to welcome Rev. Warren Hamp as the guest speaker. Pastor in Faith Lutheran Church, Kitchener, Rev. Hamp shared to the meeting his experiences with the mission work that Lutheran Church – Canada is doing in Nicaragua.
“Nicaragua is the second poorest country on the Western Hemisphere, with 65% unemployment rate, and most of the nation’s wealth in the hands of just few families”, Rev. Hamp described. “Fellowship means sharing; with these Christians, to have fellowship means to take care of also the temporal needs of others. Everything is shared.”
LCC began mission work in 1997, and only one year later the hurricane Mitch hit the country badly. “God turns bad things into good”, Rev Hamp summed, as he went on to describe how LCC’s humanitarian aid opened possibilities for preaching of the gospel as well, resulting in the church’s rapid growth. “But the aid must be given gracefully”, Rev Hamp stressed, “there must be no conditions on helping. We preach the Good News, and invite people to hear it, but do not make it a condition on receiving help from us.”
Ten years later, in 2008 the Lutheran Church of Nicaragua was formed. “Our idea from the very beginning has been to support the work of the church in that country, not do our own work”, Rev Hamp underlined. “For example, we rely on local deacons and deaconesses to do the outreach among local children. Our theologians go and teach them and the congregational leaders so that they would be even better equipped to do their task.”
Towards the end of his presentation, Rev Hamp discussed the importance of personal contact with the mission field. “It’s good to send money to Winnipeg and let the proper channels take care of the mission work. But we should understand that fellowship needs also face-to-face encounters”, pastor Hamp reminded. “The Christians in Nicaragua want to see the people who help them and share the same faith. In order for us to keep the connection between our churches alive and strong, personal contact is needed.”
Further pictures of Guild Day are available here.