In a moving show of generosity and Christian partnership, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (ELCM)/Lutheran Bethlehem Church is donating three Sundays’ worth of offerings towards bushfire relief through the LCA/NZ.
Despite being based in a poor South-Eastern Asian nation in which more than 30 per cent of people live below the poverty line of $US2 per day in income, ELCM members are donating $AUD500 to support ‘brothers and sisters’ in Australia. The ELCM is one of the LCA/NZ’s partner churches in Myanmar through LCA International Mission and has a congregational partnership with Ipswich Lutheran Church, south-west of Brisbane.
ELCM Program Coordinator Luke Andrew is bringing the donation to Adelaide this week while on a visit to Australian Lutheran College (ALC). The trip, which included a visit with Pastor Ben Hentschke at Ipswich last week, is part of his orientation prior to beginning Bachelor of Theology studies at the college. After a year of distance learning in 2020, Luke will be based in Adelaide for three years of further study towards becoming a pastor, thanks to a scholarship from LCA International Mission.
Luke said the response of Lutherans from members of the ELCM’s five language congregation groups – Burmese, Karin, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi – to the bushfire crisis in Australia was overwhelming.
‘In order to express our love and concern, our church council has decided to donate three weeks of collections to the LCA for the relief works. Our church usually receives but God has blessed our church and for the first time we are able to give’, he said, referring to the financial and prayerful support given by Australian and New Zealand Lutherans when severe flooding hit Myanmar last year. ‘By God’s grace, when we encouraged our church, even our young children wanted to show our love and care to our brothers and sisters in Australia.
‘It may not be much but with this small donation, we continue to commit ourselves to pray for all our brothers and sisters in Australia.’
Pastor Matt Anker, the LCA’s Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission, said the ELCM’s support of Lutherans and others who have suffered losses in the bushfires represented the essence of true Christian partnership. ‘I’m humbled by the response of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar’, he said. ‘Our partnerships with overseas churches are a wonderful gift from God. We learn and grow through the experience, as each partner enriches the other.’