Friday, November 7, 2014

Remembering Three Lutheran Missionaries

Today, November 7th, is the day the Lutheran Church commemorates three missionaries.  Although only one of these missionaries died on November 7th, the Church chooses to commemorate the three of them on the same day because they were called and sent to Southeast Asia.

Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg was a German Lutheran who was sent as the first Protestant missionary to India.  Before his death in 1719, he was able to translate the entire New Testament and several books of the Old Testament (Genesis through Ruth) into Tamil, the local language.  He also established two congregations and a seminary to train their leaders.

John C. F. Heyer was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States as a teenager.  After studying theology in both America and Germany, he became a lay preacher in 1817 before his ordination in 1820.  After his wife of twenty years died in 1839, he discerned a calling as a missionary to India, where he served the same community as Ziegenbalg once served.  Heyer spent 15 years as a missionary in India before returning to the United States and settling in Minnesota, where he organized several congregations.

Ludwig Nommensen was born in a territory which often transitioned between Danish and Norwegian rulers.  He discerned his calling as a missionary and was sent as the first Christian missionary to the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Nommensen spent his career in Sumatra with the Batak people, with whom he translated the Bible into Batak and guided the development of a native Batak church.  The Batak church is now one of the companion synod partners of the Indiana - Kentucky Mission Territory.

We give thanks to the Lord for these three missionaries and for all who answer the Holy Spirit's call to serve the Lord in a foreign land.

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