Gary Thies, Mission Development Counselor for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, spoke to a crowded Trinity Lutheran Church of rural Ogallala on Sept. 8.
“It’s time to wake up” was the theme Thies used to describe current U.S. culture and the need for mission efforts worldwide. The event represented Trinity’s annual Mission Festival with guests from St. John of Ogallala and elsewhere.
“I see darkness coming to this country,” Thies noted. He said that the culture of the U.S. is moving to a reduction in an emphasis of what is right or wrong. Christians need to “wake up,” he said, with the prediction that Christians will be persecuted in the future.
Thies presented the simple mission message of “love one another” rather than forcing the Bible on people. He said that 85 percent of converts to Christianity are due to communication with friends rather than with trained pastors.
Everyone has a calling from God to participate in some way in mission efforts, whether by prayer, financial support, communication with others, or by other efforts.
Thies, a layman, spent 33 years in the banking, insurance and real estate industry before founding Mission Central in northwest Iowa in 1994. Mission Central is unique in that administration is conducted by some 65 volunteers who conduct mailings, accounting, tours, banquets, etc. A plane and fuel was donated to transport Mr. Thies to the recent event.
Thies said that Mission Central is a place that is “not normal.” People that support the work of Mission Central are likewise “not normal,” he explained. The mission agency supported 85 missionaries last year. Tours to Mission Central at Mapleton, Iowa are held regularly and attract people from all denominations. They often have the opportunity to hear reports from missionaries.
Thies has traveled to some 76 countries to visit various mission efforts. Growth of churches is rapid in many countries. China, for example, has a growth of four new churches per day, Thies noted. He has carried his message of the importance of mission work to some 1400 congregations throughout the U.S.
The Trinity Lutheran Mission Festival generated funds to support Pastor Peter Haugen of Indiana as a missionary to Papua, New Guinea and Philip Jaseph as missionary to Kenya of Africa, where 900 persons are baptized each day, Thies reported. Africa has some 6.1 million Lutheran Christians compared to some 2 million Lutherans in the U.S.