Craig Heidenreich is the new Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator for the LCA/NZ.
He was appointed earlier this month to manage the department, which is part of Local Mission within the church. The role he takes on has been expanded from the previous post of Asian Ministry Coordinator, which was held by Pastor Brian Shek from 2012 until last year.
Raised as a Lutheran and a member at Trinity Lutheran Church at Pasadena in suburban Adelaide, Craig most recently worked with the Australian Refugee Association (ARA), where he supported new arrivals into South Australia for 15 years.
He said his ‘heart for the nations began in earnest about 30 years ago’, when he joined the international ecumenical movement YWAM (Youth With A Mission worldwide), with a main focus on Indonesia.
Craig said he believed God had prepared him for this role through his previous work and through his church life, which has included time in the Baptist and Church of Christ traditions through his experience with YWAM.
‘My role at ARA for many years involved intensive mentoring of ethnic leaders and their organisations – I have experienced God’s intense love for “those afar off” and I was privileged to hear their story and walk alongside them. I felt very fortunate to get to know these people’, he said.
‘Also 40 years of active church life in a range of settings has opened my eyes to the systemic challenge we have to be truly relevant to the unchurched. At the same time, my journey out among the “nations” confirms the fact that Jesus and the church is the only answer for the hungry heart. The gospel seems more precious every day.
‘I also believe my ecumenical journey gave me exposure to the value of some of the core expressions of the Lutheran focus on grace, faith and Scripture – by seeing what happens when churches operate differently.’
Craig said he applied for the Cross-Cultural Ministry role because of his love for mission across cultures and sharing Christ with new arrivals and refugees.
‘People of other cultures coming into Australia are hungry for relationship, which is a beautiful opportunity to connect deeply. I felt like I’d found a treasure that I wanted other Christians to share, and was often praying that the local church could see what I was seeing and enter into the adventure of loving these “strangers”.
‘The Cross-Cultural ministry role within the LCA/NZ looks like a perfect combination of focus points – both the need of the populous and the answer we have in Christ expressed through a healthy local church.
‘I believe many in the LCA family are keen to be part of the Cross-Cultural experience. I will do my best to help this happen and to blow on the coals that are already burning.’
Craig is married to Beverley and the couple has three adult daughters.