Our Mission Family
Our family arrived in Sri Lanka at the end of July. Thanks be to God, we were able to find housing and enroll our children in school quickly. We have been spending our time learning our new culture. The schools here follow the British education system which has significant difference to our American system, especially for the high school years.
We see the great need for mission work in Sri Lanka. Buddhism is the state religion and is practiced by 70% of the people. Our apartment building is surrounded by three Buddhist temples and one Hindu temple. About 13% of the people follow Hinduism, 10% Islam, and 7% Christian. People are very open about religion and like to talk about religion. However, converting can have great social ramifications as religion is tied up with family, ethnic, and national identity.
Only the Holy Spirit can change minds and convert the heart. We are in Sri Lanka to participate in God’s mission work by telling people who Jesus is and what He is done for them, guiding them to the waters of Holy Baptism, and nourishing their faith with the Word of God. We are humbled and thankful to be your mission partner, going into all the world to proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15).
Steve spends most of his time studying Sinhala and Tamil, the two official languages of Sri Lanka. While English is spoken by some and we have some interpreters, there is a great advantage to being able to converse in and especially to share the Gospel in the language of a person’s heart. Even in these early stage of learning, it opens doors and builds relationships.
Our mission work in Sri Lanka is guided by our church partner, the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church. This church body is comprised mostly of Tamil speaking, tea plantation workers. Sadly, the church suffered through mismanagement and corruption in past years. We are here to provide support, encouragement, mentoring, and education as they rebuild and seek to reach out beyond the Tamil-speaking tea plantation community.
Steve conducts the English service at our congregation in Colombo. Also, he regularly travels to the “upcountry.” This is the mountainous area where there are many tea plantations. There he meets with the pastors and vicars for support and training. He also travels to the congregations and mission stations to encourage the people in their Christian walk and to reach out with the Gospel.
This past September, Steve participated in the first Lutheran ordination of a Sri Lankan pastor in ten years. This brings the total number of pastor to four. We anticipate another ordination by the middle of 2018. In addition, we have two young men in a pre-seminary program in Colombo which is run by Rev. Dr. Edward Naumann.
Steve serves with two other missionaries who live in Colombo, Sri Lanka: Rev. Roger James who is the Area Director for India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka; and Rev. Dr. Edward Naumann who is the Theological Educator for South Asia. We are thankful for the friendship, encouragement, and guidance of these missionaries and their families.
Here is a little background information: My wife and I grew up in the Detroit area. We graduated from Central Michigan University and then moved to St. Louis, MO where I studied at the seminary. My first call was to St. Luke, Clinton Twp. north east of Detroit. After 6 years, I took a call to Zion, Tawas City on Lake Huron in the northern part of the lower peninsula. I served there for 14 years until I accepted the call into the foreign mission field. We have 5 children ages 8 through 16.