POBLO Ministry Progress Report Rochester, MN (Jan.2013)

January 2013

January 2013

POBLO Ministry Progress Report Rochester, MN

by Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer

POBLO–People of the Book Lutheran Outreach Is a mission movement which allows the Holy Spirit to work through congregations, individuals, and ethnic Christians desiring to bring the Gospel to those Muslims. Since 1993, POBLO Ministries has trained and sent dozens of ethnic missionaries to work in the U.S. mission field.

This report of what was accomplished in January is basically divided into human care ministry and field evangelism outreach. Please remember, however, that all human care programs started by POBLO and the Rochester churches lead directly to meeting, loving, and sharing the Gospel of Christ with those who are connected to them.Human Care Ministry

The POBLO Outreach office was set up and made ready for human care programs as follows:

The office was cleaned and furnished

  • Needed tables, desks, and chairs were set up
  • The office made functional with telephone, internet, and copy machine
  • ESL (English as Second Language) classrooms made ready
  • Computer lab room made ready. Ten donated computers were tested and set up for students

Missionary Mesgana Morris and Rev. Paul and Bonnie Haugen have communicated with 16 volunteers who have committed to teach English or would like to attend the English teacher workshop.

Mesgana distributed fliers advertising POBLO human care programs. Fliers have been taken to a number of ethnic businesses. The owners expressed enthusiasm and agreed keep fliers for customers in their places of business.

A workshop to provide training for ESL and hospitality ministry was set for February 23 from 9:00-12:00 at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Cynthia Khan will conduct the training. She will be in Rochester from Feb. 21-26.

The target date to start English classes and computer classes has been set for the first week of March.

Evangelism Outreach

  1. Gave Mesgana Morris additional training in field evangelism and theology. Together, Pastor Khan, Pastor Rohwer, and Mesgana were out in the community meeting, getting to know ethnic people, and getting their contact information Rev. Paul Haugen has been assigned to mentor Mesgana as a missionary, and to work with him as a coordinator with the local churches. Paul and Mesgana meet or talk daily. This has been a big help, as Bonnie Haugen is also working in connecting to church members who have volunteered to serve or have donated computers, desks, etc. for the work.
  2. Met people in the ethnic community and handed out human care program fliers:

Met Mr. Talila, a Christian man who has worked among Somali immigrants for the past 10 years. He is providing vital information about the Somali community, their needs, their use of English vs. their own dialect, their family patterns.

Met Christian owners of The Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. Gained information about the Ethiopian community.

Met Mr. Salah. He promised that he will bring all his family members to our human care programs and tell others.

Met a former leader of the downtown mosque. Got his name and number. He agreed to help us promote the human care programs

Have gotten to know Abdullah, the owner of a local café as have visited there a number of times.

Personal contacts have been made with the following nationalities: Kenyans, Somalis, Sudanese, Senegalese, and others

Mesgana is making regular contacts at the following public places. He has made 30 personal contacts including those made at:

  • Muna Hallal Grocers
  • Kings and Queens Restaurant
  • The Blue Nile Restaurant
  • Wal Mart
  • Rochester Community Technical College

Contact information is always the goal for Mesgana so that he can revisit or call these individuals, updating them about the start of the human care programs. There is a very positive indication for outreach in that Mesgana and other POBLO workers have been received with great friendliness and openness. It appears that there is an easy access into these communities and into the lives of individuals and their families.

Goals for February

There are two major goals:

  • Equip and train enough volunteers from the churches and make sure the human care classes have all the tools needed to begin
  • Get more fliers out to the community about upcoming human care programs, and meet
  • as many people as possible
  • To interview a local Rochester resident, a Lutheran, to serve as replacement for A.G.Paul. This interview will take place on Feb. 11 and 12th. A.G. Paul is unable to serve in Minnesota, due to personal family issues which had never been revealed to POBLO.

About the author: Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer

Director of Missions
Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer, with his doctorate in missions, has spent 16 fruitful years of ministry among Iranian Muslims and other immigrants. Dr. Rohwer’s passion is to help committed American Christians see that through love, hospitality, and friendship they can be a powerful witness to their non-Christian neighbors. Pastor Rohwer serves as the Director of Missions for POBLO International Ministries.

Rev., Dr. Gary Rohwer has been blessed to be part of numerous cross-cultural ministries; six years in Nigeria and ten years in outreach and church planting among Iranian Muslims and American born Gypsies in California.

Since serving as Director of Missions for People of the Book Ministries in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, Dr. Rohwer has worked to train and deploy missionaries from various ethnic backgrounds to share the Gospel with Muslims and others. Dr. Rohwer is blessed with his musically gifted wife Grace and four children: Anna, Amy, Rachael and Nathan.”Seeing God work in the heart of a single Muslim person who comes to faith in Christ is a beautiful thing to witness. Many are coming to faith, but we simply need more workers to bring in the harvest. That is my prayer. That is my dream Rev. Gary Rohwer, Phd

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Keeping UP With the Joneses January,2013

January 2013

January 2013

A Prayer Requests


I hope your January is going along smoothly – and I hope you’re warm wherever you are! I know Minnesota is getting close to -20 Fahrenheit, which is unfathomable to me, now that I haven’t lived in Minnesota for a few winters. 🙂 We finally got an entire week’s worth of snow, so I’m loving the scenery around here.

I wanted to share a few special prayer requests about what’s going on this month for us! >> Andy is, at this moment, in an airplane that’s probably making it’s initial descent into Philadelphia, PA. Yep! He’s in the United States. He will be visiting St. Louis, Missouri, and then his family and friends in Minnesota this week through next Tuesday (January 29). If you could keep him in your prayers as he’s got a lot of traveling to do, that would be great. He’s first in St. Louis to visit the seminary that he will be attending next fall. He actually hasn’t visited it ever, so it will be a good chance for him to see the campus, sit in on a class and catch up with a few people we know there. Then he’ll fly up to Minnesota to see his family, take the GRE, then it’s back to St. Louis – for a hymn writers conference!


Several months ago, Andy submitted several hymn texts that he had written for consideration for this conference. The conference is invitation-only so Andy was one of 30 selected to receive a special invitation and a grant to cover his airfare. He’s got a pretty great gift for writing, so I’m glad he was chosen for this conference. Pray he enjoys the conference. Please pray also that his travels throughout the week are safe!

>> As for me, I’ve got a trip coming up as well. On Sunday, I will be flying to South Africa! I will be visiting two different areas/villages where LCMS missionaries teach and work in the community. I will be doing video interviews in order to provide recruitment materials as well as training materials for the field down there. I am very excited to be able to help out down there in this way. The Africa region doesn’t currently have any Communication-specific missionaries, but they do have support to bring us down, so my boss and I are able to lend our skills to that field, as well as here in Eurasia. At the same time that I travel to South Africa, my boss will be doing interviews in Guinea. Please pray for safe travels for the both of us, and that we will be able to gather what we need to tell the stories.

Look for our next newsletter for stories from our trips as well as updates from our work in Eurasia!

Thank you for our prayers!


E-mail   [email protected]                                                                          Website:       www.lcms.org/jones

[email protected]                                                                                               www.eurasiablog.lcms.org


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Notes from theEdge Rev. Matthew Heise January 2013


LCMS Missionary, Eurasia      January 2013

LCMS Missionary, Eurasia January 2013

A Changing World

Above: Lenin’s remaining legacy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital

Above: Lenin’s remaining legacy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital

Mongolia continues to change at a dizzying pace, even to one accustomed to the constant motion of the Western

world. Reprising traditions and belief systems from centuries past has become almost commonplace in former communist countries. Mongolia is no exception to this rule. Recently, the statue of Vladimir Lenin that had occupied a prominent place in the center of the city was removed from its pedestal. True, it had been reduced to being a hangout for thieves and prostitutes. But it now remains to be seen who or what will replace him.

The metaphor of the disappearing Lenin is instructive when considering the spiritual condition of Mongolia today. A Western idea, communism, had usurped the position that Buddhism had filled for centuries. Nowadays Genghis Khan is the historical figure of choice, all the more since he is an authentic Mongolian. His burial place, for centuries assumed to be purposely hidden in the unexplored mountains of northeastern Mongolia, has supposedly been found. That, no doubt, will only increase the Khan-mania in this outpost of the northern Asian world.



Above: Genghis Khan statue in front of Mongolia’s Parliament building

Above: Genghis Khan statue in front of Mongolia’s Parliament building

Mongolia’s Future

 So whither Mongolia? Some say that a return to Buddhism would be the natural expectation for the country, and with the assistance of mass media and government influence it has had some success. But Buddhism is not exactly attractive to youth infatuated with the Western world or to many adult Mongolians, in spite of its long tradition. Shaminism, in turn, has been making inroads in Mongolia the past few years. I often check the religion section of the State Department Store’s bookstore in the capital when I am in the country. There I have noted the preponderance of books devoted to the theme of Shamanism. But on my recent visit, I was surprised to find that almost half of the books were about Christianity- a dramatic upturn from past observations. So there is still room for the Christian message to penetrate hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.



Above: Arriving at the Lutheran Church and Bible School in Darhan

Above: Arriving at the Lutheran Church and Bible School in Darhan

Lutheran Bible School in Darhan

Meanwhile, the Mongolian Lutheran Bible School in Mongolia’s second largest city, Darhan, has graduated its first class. With the graduation of about 15 students in May 2012, there were questions as to whether new students could be found to study. That has proved to be no problem, as the current class of 21 students can attest.

This past November I taught the book of Genesis, breathing in the brisk cold air (-10 Fahrenheit in mornings) of one of the coldest regions in the world. Ah, but the hearts and desire to learn of the students were anything but frigid.

Normally I would walk 20 minutes every day from my cheap hotel to the church, observing children shuffling to school and adults going about their daily business. But one day, I noticed the streets were practically barren. I wasn’t quite sure who or what to expect when I arrived, but all the students were ready for class. Naturally I asked why the streets were empty. The reply: it was a new state holiday, the celebration of Genghis Khan’s birthday! As I attempted to learn more about the state holiday, I was cut off. “We’ve heard enough about Genghis Khan in our lives: now we want to learn about God!” I’ve never been so pleased to have one of my questions unanswered.

As we begin 2013, know that the God who created the universe and revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, whose birth we have just celebrated, has a desire that all of His children would come back into His family! Please pray for the Lutheran Bible School and the students’ witness in Mongolia, that they would strongly proclaim the name of Jesus among their people.


Above: My students: no more questions about the Khan, please!

Above: My students: no more questions about the Khan, please!

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for Cousin Shawn’s healing as well as Pastor Alexey Shepelev, so that he may find the funds for his brain operation.

Please pray for upcoming travel this next month to Russia, where I will teach at the Lutheran seminary in Koltushi. Please also pray that my trip to Finland for a new visa will be successful.

Thank the Lord with me for a blessed celebration of His birth and the New Year with family and friends.




To support my work financially, you may send a tax-deductible gift to:

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

P.O. Box 790089

St. Louis, MO 63179-0089

Mission Central, 40718 Highway E‐16, Mapleton, Iowa 51034


 Make checks payable to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Mark checks “Support of Matthew Heise.” Gifts can also be given through the LCMS website on my online giving page at www.lcms.org/Heise.

If you would like to partner with me in my ministry with ongoing support, congregations can contact Debra Feenstra for information on Together in Mission at 1‐800‐248-1930 Ext. 1651 or [email protected] and individuals can contact Julie Loehring for information on Mission Senders at 1-800-248-1930 Ext. 1047 or [email protected]. Thank you, and may God bless you in 2013 and in this Epiphany season!



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Mission Focus for Jan.-Feb. Bethesda Lutheran Communities

Mission Focus for January:  Bethesda Lutheran Communities

In the   Dominican Republic

The mission of Bethesda Lutheran Communities is to enhance the lives of persons with development and intellectual disabilities through services which share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Bethesda provides services in 13 states and internationally works with an alliance of service providers from North America and Europe to promote the human rights recognition and social inclusion of people with disabilities within their communities.

In the Dominican Republic, Bethesda works with Dominican Partnership Forum to provide spiritual life supports to people with disabilities. Through Hogares Luteranos el Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd Lutheran Homes) , a group home was opened in 2010 to support six orphans with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the city of Palmar Arriba.

Dr. Marisol Martinez
Director of Good Shepherd
Lutheran Homes

This home directed By Dr. Marisol Martinez and staffed by trained “aunts and uncles,” who are members of the local LCMS partner congregation and Danelle Putnam provides inclusive Christian care in a group home setting. Daily, the children receive nutritious meals, two baths; participate in devotions, therapy, opportunities for community involvement and schooling

The organization needs to raise 100 percent of the funds to pay for daily operations and the group home. Mission focus in January will be to support “adopt” one of the residents of this home. The guest speaker for the annual mission festival and meal with be a community ambassador from Bethesda talking about how congregations, like Grace, can welcome and develop worship opportunities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


In February, Virginia Miller, who serves on the Board of Directors for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, will be traveling to the Dominican Republic and will also serve as a Grace Mission Ambassador. Mission Ambassador Funds raised as part of the annual candy sale will go directly to Bethesda projects and not for travel expenses for this year’s ambassador.

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Notes from the Edge Rev. Matthew Heise November 2012


November 2012


Battling Anthems

Autumn in Moscow

In 1920, American Lutheran Pastor Lauritz Larsen had just left a European conference with the resounding strains of “A Mighty Fortress” ringing in his ears. Spiritually energized, he was now headed for Soviet Russia, the newly founded communist nation. As the train approached the border, a large contingent of communist sympathizers, equally energized, suddenly stood and loudly sang the anthem of the their movement, “The Internationale.” Larsen immediately recognized the significance of this incident. The battle had been joined for the soul of Russia. Would the 350 year old Lutheran Church survive this attempt to redefine man as solely a material being rather than a spiritual one?  The history has been a long and, at most times, tragic one since those days. As executive secretary of the National Lutheran Council, Larsen, like minded Americans, and other European Lutheran churches struggled to keep the Russian Lutheran Church alive.

Without their assistance, the church would not have survived the 1920s. Pastors could no longer be employed as ministers in the communist nation since that job description was not recognized as suitable employment by Soviet officialdom. Despite the earnest efforts of international Lutherans, all Lutheran churches were

Bach Chorale singing “Ein Feste Burg” (“A Mighty Fortress”) photo courtesy Yefim Romanenko.

forcibly closed in the Soviet Union by 1938. But the story wasn’t over—see below. (The Larsen story comes from the Archives of the ELCA).

The Reformation Today in Russia     Fast forward many decades into the early 21st century and the sound of Luther’s powerful “A Mighty Fortress” is once again being heard in Russia. On Reformation Day, October 31, 60 people plopped down the $20 fee to see a performance by a Bach Chorale with whom our office assistant Darya Shkurtlyateva often performs.

Darya played the cello (she is a Moscow Conservatory trained musician), and the evening featured “Ein Feste Burg” as well as Bach’s Cantata for Reformation Day. The performance took place at the Mikhail Glinka Museum in Moscow, Glinka being the famous 19th century musician often referred to as the father of Russian classical music. The historic congregation of Sts. Peter and Paul, founded in 1626, sponsored this concert.


St. Peter and Paul Moscow on Reformation Sunday

On Reformation Sunday itself, Sts. Peter and Paul worshiped the Lord through a rendition of Luther’s Mass. Some of those who came to the service were new

Martin Luther’s Mass for
Reformation Day at Sts.
Peter and Paul Moscow

members. Others were baptized members of the church in Moscow when the communists closed it in 1937. Together, old and new heard the clarion call of the Reformation preached by Pastor Dmitri Lotov. We are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, not because of works. It seems that the old tune,

“The Internationale,” is lying on the scrapheap of history, because God’s promise to preserve His Church to the end of time remains secure. “The Kingdom ours remaineth!!” (LSB ymn 656).

Prayer Requests:

• Please pray for my continuing travel and teaching in Russia and Mongolia into early December.

• Please pray for the surgery now deemed necessary for Pastor Alexey Shepelov of Moscow. The good news is that the doctors in Israel say the success rate for his brain surgery is 98%. But that number declines by 2% every year it is put off. Alexey needs to raise $45,000.00 for the operation. Please pray for the means to be found to fund his surgery. • Thank the Lord with me for Cousin Shawn’s amazing progress is her battle with cancer. The numbers that describe her condition continue to plummet (believe me, it’s a good thing!). Please pray for continued   healing and for her powerful witness about Jesus to others coping with cancer.

My E mail: [email protected] Mailing address: 26650 Woodshire, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DETAILS ON MISSION SUPPORT FOR ME: To support my work financially, you may send a tax deductible gift                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        to:     The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Mission Central

P.O. Box 790089 or

to… 40718 Highway E 16 St. Louis, MO 63179 0089 Mapleton, Iowa 51034

www.lcms.org www.missioncentral.us

Make all checks payable to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Mark checks “Support of Matthew Heise.” Gifts can also be given through the LCMS Web site on my online giving page at www.lcms.org/Heise.

If you would like to partner with me in my ministry with ongoing support, congregations can contact Debra Feenstra for information on Together in Mission at 1 800 248 1930 Ext. 1651 or [email protected]; individuals can contact Julie Loehring for information on Mission Senders at 1 800 248 1930 Ext. 1047 or

[email protected] Thank you, and may God’s peace be with you!


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