What a promising morning in Wittenberg! Clouds are heavy with rain. At least, that´s how I read their color. The forecast is very positive too. That´s a good start to the week – especially after yesterday´s delightful Sunday “Jubilate” – with the promise of our Lord: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.“ (Jo.15,7) I did not concentrate much on that during my sermon but it obviously touched some deep layers in my subconscious. That probably explains my dreams in the early morning, which got me out of bed and into the office in good time.
Well, it´s the old story of an “Africa Institute for Missions” – nod of acknowledgement to brother and friend Professor Dr. Natie van Wyk of the Reformed Church in SA. I would call it “Africa Institute for Lutheran Missions”, but that´s not important now. Even at a pastor´s convention of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the past century, we were challenged by some visitor from the United States to draw up our personal vision for the church. My old friend – Helmut Straeuli – asked back then, what I had smoked, when I presented my drawings of a college campus very much along the lines of the old Benedictine monasteries – like St. Gallen in Switzerland or Melk in Austria. No question, CS St. Louis (MO) and CTS Ft. Wayne (IN) are the optimal realizations of this in the Lutheran world today – and in Africa that honor would probably be going to Makumira – just east of Arusha in Tanzania. At least that´s according to Professor Dr. William Schumacher. From his extensive travels in Africa, he should know, why he called it the “Mercedes” of Lutheran institutions on the continent. Probably it will take a while for Rev. James May to catch up to these masterplans with his growing setup in the Kenyan wilderness. I wish him God´s speed and lots of success too!
Well, asking for whatever I wish, still goes very much in line with these old and new institutions. I ask our good Lord for the means, facility and capacity to support students from the 3rd world – especially Africa, but also India, China, Japan and Indonesia – and all of the Muslim countries – to study alongside and together with their European and N.American counterparts in the established and extended “International Institute for World Missions” based in Luthercity Wittenberg and under the auspices of the “International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg”. Faithful Lutheran Bishops together with their Seminaries around the world would recommend promising candidates for ongoing pastoral studies, academic degrees and post-doctoral research at this Lutheran center in the heart of Europe. The best teachers of the Lutheran Church from across the globe would be involved – from Australia to Brazil and from South Africa to Canada – and they would find regular/seasonal abode in the Luthercity when required – like Professor Robert Kolb in Wolfenbüttel or Professor Anssi Simojoki in Nairobi or Professor John Kleinig in St.Louis – supported, enabled and encouraged by the ILSW all along.
Obviously as this theological center expands like the old Wittenberg University of old and in Luther´s time, the various suppliers (“Zulieferer”) would be promoted also, called into being, established as flourishing institutes in their own right – local and abroad: language schools, universities teaching humanities and theological seminaries of the International Lutheran Council. The position in Wittenberg is ideal – central and close to Berlin/Leipzig – and yet there´s lots of affordable room, working infrastructure and more space for development and expansion. I wonder, what the price tag would be? And I wonder, who would be the Elton Musk, Bill Gates or Abraham of the ILSW?
Well, the International Lutheran Society in Wittenberg is up and running. The Old Latin School is well established. Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of its opening. Yet there remains lots to do – for the promotion of Lutheran church and mission worldwide. The timing is God´s, the will and capacity to do is His too. He will surely do, what is best – for us and our salvation – in our time or later – even as we continue to pray: “May it all be to the Father’s glory, that we bear much fruit, showing ourselves to be our Lord IX´s disciples.” (Jo.15,8)