REPORT ON MISSION AND MINISTRY IN THE MALAGASY LUTHERAN CHURCH (FLM) – August 2018
The Rev. David P. Lerseth – Friends of Madagascar Mission (FOMM)
The Lutheran witness to the Gospel in Madagascar began in 1866 as a result of the London Missionary Conference, and the Norwegian Mission Society (NMS) began their work. In 1888 the Americans of Norwegian descent began to send missionaries to Madagascar. In 1950, the FLM was formed, the first “Mission Field” of the Lutheran Church to become an indigenous Lutheran Church. At that time, the new FLM incorporated into their church the “FIFOHAZANA” movement. The term literally means “to get up”, “to awaken”, “to revive”, “stop sleeping and get up”! This movement within the FLM has been the driving force for their evangelism outreach to make them one of the fastest growing Lutheran Churches in the world. The movement not only calls for people to wake up to their spiritual needs and believe in Jesus Christ, but they also incorporate social justice into their work. Thus, they have many institutions that deal with people’s physical, mental and social issues. They have the largest medical organization called SALFA of any of the former “mission fields”. They have schools for the blind and deaf, as well as regular schools associated with the congregations. They have one main seminary called SALF that offers a M.Div. degree plus numerous regional seminaries that train pastors for ministry. They have numerous places called “Tobys” where lay people are trained for doing ministry in the congregations. Those that complete this training are called Shepherds. The Tobys also carry out social justice ministries, like care for the poor, mentally ill, etc. They have a marvelous balance between Gospel and service!
MISSION AND MINISTRY
Friends of Madagascar Mission (FOMM) has been supporting evangelism projects in the FLM for 8 years. We are new upon the scene but are unique in how we relate to the church. We provide prayer and financial support for: 1) Evangelists, 2) Prison Ministry, 3) Nutrition and Emergency Medical Care in a desert southwest region of Madagascar where drought happens frequently and malnutrition is a constant problem, 4) Support of Bible Schools, 5) Translation of the Bible into the Tandroy dialect which opens up a whole new area for evangelization, 6) We are currently implementing and beginning a Drip Irrigation Program in the south west region.
In the areas where we are supporting mission and ministry, the church is finding much growth. The country of Madagascar is always one of the ten poorest nations in the world. The church struggles as the country struggles in their poverty of material wealth, but they are rich in spiritual gifts and have the people trained to bring people to Jesus Christ. We walk with them and provide the financial resources so they may do their work. FOMM continues to work to invite individuals and congregations into supporting the mission and ministry of the FLM. Together, we see the Kingdom of God grow!
For more information about Friends of Madagascar or how you can connect, please visit: Friends of Madagascar.
*Photo Credit: Eric Swensson