“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
The NALC Mission Office rejoices in announcing that Pastor Heidi Punt has received a call to serve as an NALC Global Worker in Haiti. Sent through Sundouloi Ministries (SMI) Haiti and continuing to serve at a congregational level, she will be commissioned during Lutheran Week in Indianapolis.
Called To Serve – Pastor Heidi Punt
Mission on the local, national and international level has always been central to my call as Pastor. The Great Commission “to go into the all world, teach, baptize…” (Matthew 28) is not just theoretical or theological to me. It is where the rubber hits the road! It is where discipleship and biblical authority becomes tangible and real!
This passion for mission began way back in my teenage years, when God made it abundantly clear that despite all my misguided choices and hurtful events, He loved me. From the moment when His forgiveness and love washed my soul and soothed my whole being, I knew that even if I did nothing else in my life, I HAD to let people know that they were loved by Jesus Christ. It wasn’t so much a conscious choice as it was a “compelling of the Spirit” (Acts 20:22). There was a fire ignited within me! I didn’t know how or where or what to do with this but ultimately it turns out I didn’t need to have all those details figured out because God already “knew the plans He had for me” (Jeremiah 29:11). In seminary I majored in Missiology, equipping myself with all the “head knowledge” on how to do mission work, (start churches and help revitalize and grow existing congregations). Every call and every congregation served to prepare, empower and equip me to serve Christ more faithfully and love His people more deeply. Aligning myself with the NALC core value to be Mission Driven, was another one of those sparks added to my “fire”.
However, throughout the last 16 years or so it seems that I became too busy with “doing church” that I forgot why I was called to ministry in the first place, namely that I HAD to let people know that they were loved by Jesus Christ. (I could go into a deep exegesis of what this love means but in short it is summed up by Jesus himself, where there is light, there is no darkness … (1 John 1:5). “Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked…” (Matthew 25:35-40) — being the heads, hearts and hands of Christ from within our congregations for the sake of others is what “love” really means.
The trip to Haiti, this past year, reminded me of what my call as pastor was really all about. As I looked into the eyes of the little children and felt their hands linger in mine, as I heard the resounding singing of the young women and the powerful prayers of the older ladies, things became simple and uncomplicated to me. Here were people, God’s people — whom He loved, who had never heard that there was such a God who forgives, a God who “gave his only son to die for them so they might have eternal life” … (John 3:16). Many people in Haiti have never heard this, not because they didn’t choose to go to church, but because they literally do not have the opportunity to hear God’s Word preached and proclaimed, the Sacrament shared and given …
This call came as no surprise to anyone in my family. Dieter always knew that I was called to mission work even joking that he would hold the fort down while I went “gallivanting around the world … making disciples of all nations”. Even my two younger children seemed not to be surprised when I shared my recent call to Haiti. I thank God that He had them come with us on the last mission trip and have them actually witness God’s call to me. They understand that this is more than just short term ministry and that this is more than just “helping others”, it is bigger and totally governed by God.
In the NALC, we say that we are Mission Driven. We believe that the mission of the Church is to preach the Gospel and to make disciples for Christ. God had me meet real people with actual breath in their lungs, who do not know that they are loved by God because someone didn’t take the Great Commission literally. We ask that you would continue to lift this up in prayer. And, I invite you to prayerfully consider where God is calling you to serve, to take the Great Commission literally.
To partner with Pastor Heidi Punt in mission and ministry, please visit: https://thenalc.org/partners/pastor-heidi-punt/