I’ve been asked by a number of people, “How’s Lincoln going?” And that’s not an easy question to answer. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs, we’ve had excitement and we’ve had disappointment. So how’s Lincoln going? I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to do one of my least favorite things… wait.
“So how is the CLB helping in all of this?” is another question I often hear. Well, let me tell you.
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren started helping out with this when I was a boy. You see, I was a young boy sitting in the congregation of a Lutheran Brethren Church, under the teaching of a Lutheran Brethren pastor. As a young boy, I heard about God’s wonderful grace in saving a wretched lawbreaker like myself. I heard how Jesus came and sacrificed himself… for me.
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren continued in helping to start this ministry in Lincoln by having a high school (Hillcrest Academy) devoted to bringing up young students who knew Jesus.
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren continued helping by training the pastors whose churches I attended during my young adulthood. While attending those churches, I was encouraged to use my gifts and was provided with many opportunities to serve. During this time, I remember hearing a sermon that had a profound effect on me. And from then on, the thought kept recurring in my mind that someday, sometime, I might become a pastor.
That “someday, sometime” finally came. The Church of the Lutheran Brethren continued helping start this ministry in Lincoln by providing incredible seminary professors who did all they could to train me. While at seminary, I gained a much greater understanding of law and gospel, of God’s unfolding promise in the Old Testament, of how Jesus fulfilled all the requirements needed for my salvation, and I even learned some Greek and Hebrew.
I also had an opportunity to study missions. I read about some of the missionaries who went near and far, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever they went. Those stories sparked an excitement in my heart, so much that I even scheduled an appointment with one of the seminary professors to talk about the possibility of God using me to start a church somewhere.
Then, to top it all off, the Church of the Lutheran Brethren presented this vision statement: “We see God stirring in our Church a fresh passion to reach beyond our own comfort to all people among whom God places us. We embrace God’s mission to bring the life changing Gospel to unreached people in Asia and Africa, and we sense God convicting us to more intentionally reach out to people who live in our midst in North America as well.”
And this led to calling Regional Pastors who guide us and encourage us and pray for us. It led to churches catching a vision, and being convicted to reach our next-door neighbor. And it led to a small church in Bismarck, North Dakota seeing the many people who live in our midst, and going out to make disciples.
So how is the Church of the Lutheran Brethren helping with Lincoln? In ways that are priceless.
Rev. Ryan Nordlund is pastor of Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bismarck and Lincoln, ND.