Nias - Let them speak for themselves

Nias is that fascinating Island in the Indian Ocean mentioned in the Travelogue article. This is what some of the AFA scholarship holders at Sundermann Seminary said during the recent visit of Pastor August Fricke:

JUNIAR, 19, trainee to serve in church schools, said tearily, My mother is a housewife, my father passed away. Therefore we are struggling financially day after day. Without your scholarship I may not have been here to fulfil my dreams.

MESRAWATI, 19, a theology student, said, I commit myself to study harder out of respect for AFA because you have given me the chance to get an education.

JARNIWATI, 21, a particularly good and needy student, wants to become a pastor and said, The scholarship came just at the right time when I needed it most. I am inspired by what you have done. So I want to give more to others as a result.

Indeed, students are taught to give, not just to receive. For AFA it is important to maintain its commitment, or to increase it, in view of the fact that support from the declining Lutheran churches of the world is being reduced more and more.

Can you just say it as it is - Warts and all?

Is not everyone caught up in image building, in ego massaging and always wanting to be seen in the best possible light? That also goes for church groups. For AFA too? Our presentations must be polished and flawless to have maximum effect so that people are moved if not to tears but to the best possible response financially. After all, ‘it’s the dollar that counts’. So we have impressive ‘corporate’ presentations by carefully trained staff promoting all kinds of causes. The ads on TV by World Vision and the Save The Children Fund are highly sophisticated products created by top marketing professionals who know exactly how to touch the hearts of people and as a results, their pockets.

So can we, by contrast, tell it as it is, warts and all? General advice, ‘definitely not! We cannot! Our supporters would get disillusioned and the money would no longer flow.’ That’s the general view. And that was already general practice in some LCA mission quarters around 40 years ago. Can’t blame them. I want to look good. We all do.

One of our great home mission pastors at the time, Pastor H. Prenzler, disagreed and challenged his leaders by telling them bluntly, No, to the contrary, if you tell them as it is, prayer and financial support will increase. – We hope that this is so. AFA is anything but perfect but ties to be transparent and, as much as possible, tell it as it is. We all – LCA Missions, ALWS, AFA – must allow scrutiny. Integrity demands not to hide what is unpleasant. At times AFA too must question itself.

Amazing lives: Congratulations to what probably is AFA’s oldest, active supporter sending regularly large donations – Esther Frohloff of Toowoomba, 99 years of age in May 2015! Esther is a busy girl. When we called she was out shopping with her daughter. In fact, she is always busy, knitting or whatever – no time to waste.

In Sorrow and Glory: Senior pastors Bruce Adams and Arthur Rathjen, our friends and supporters, have gone home. In memory of them AFA received heartfelt gifts.