I had the privilege of traveling to Chad, Africa with Dean Hansen in January 2019. Dean is a creative entrepreneur who loves the gospel and wants to share it with the world. He has many ventures that are serving the CLB mission work in Chad. God has placed a desire in Dean to see the Lutheran Brethren thrive in North America as well. Dean and I believe it is very important that our congregations connect and share in ways that will require some creative entrepreneurial development. Dean describes below what some of this sharing will look like.
Rev. Nick Mundis
Director of North American Mission
have had the joy to be part of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and the Bethesda congregation of Eau Claire, Wisconsin for over 30 years. I love the CLB and the great treasure that we could call the “faith core” of the Lutheran Brethren. I love the foundational theology of our church body and its emphasis on the grace of God in Christ.
I love the fact that God has brought me into relationship with himself as a gift—at great cost to himself, through the sacrifice of his Son. Another joy I’ve experienced are the ten trips to our mission field in Chad. I have seen firsthand how effective our mission is. I have learned our great history from the very beginning to the current day. I am an enthusiastic supporter of Lutheran Brethren International Mission (LBIM).
In my experience with individuals from local CLB congregations, I see that most of the people have little understanding about what our mission is actually doing. So when I found that Bethesda was moving toward developing our own Vacation Bible School (VBS) curriculum, I thought, “Let’s make this a ministry to both the departments of North American Mission (NAM) and LBIM.”
Our congregation has executed a high quality VBS program for many years, but each year our VBS staff has needed to rewrite some of the curriculum so that it fits better with our core faith. We believed we have the personnel to create our own home-grown material. Why not allow our CLB theology to flow through this curriculum from beginning to end? The missions focus of the pre-packaged VBS materials we have used in the past had nothing to do with the mission work of LBIM. But the people from Bethesda could write material that, at its core, taught from the treasure of CLB theology and highlighted LBIM ministries.
So I proposed to help fund a VBS program based on our LBIM ministry to Chad, Africa, which we want to then share with our sister CLB churches. If all goes well, we hope to produce seven additional VBS programs, highlighting not only our mission in Africa and Asia, but our mission in large cities and our rural congregations alike.
Bethesda has supported LBIM for many years, and it is our hope that these VBS programs will broaden mission passion for the CLB internationally and in North America. The intention is to magnify those twin joys I mentioned at the outset, both our theology and the amazing work that the CLB is doing here in North American and around the world.
I also hope this might spur other congregations to employ their gifts and talents to help put together other programs for all our North American churches. I’m thinking of Sunday School curriculum, Youth and Adult Education materials, and Leadership Training, just to name a few areas. If the Lord is urging you to fund some future ministry-building projects to help the North American churches, please contact Nick Mundis.
We have so much talent in the CLB. I have a passion to work with NAM and other CLB congregations that have ministries to share. I want to help develop the programs that share our effective congregational gifts and ministries across the CLB in North America.
Without the clear vision of our foundational theology, our people may find themselves living their Christian lives out of obligation or even fear, rather than out of joyful thankfulness. That needed vision can come through producing our own materials, such as the VBS curriculum by Bethesda. And because our people often don’t have a clear understanding of LBIM, we may know far more about Wycliffe, World Vision, or Samaritan’s Purse than we do about our own amazing LBIM efforts in Africa and Asia.
I believe this project, as well as others like it, will have five wonderful benefits: (1) Our marvelous theology will undergird the materials, and our LBIM ministries will be clearly highlighted. (2) Our smaller congregations, in particular, will be able to use “home-grown” materials that are faithful to who we are. There will be no need for them to “tweak” a commercially available curriculum. (3) The Synod will be helping our congregations to serve each other. (4) Quality resources will be provided. (5) The “twin joys” of the CLB will be the soul of our VBS.
Dean Hansen is a member of Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Email Nick Mundis: [email protected]