Rev. Michael and Rachel Ludwig
Mission Co-Workers in Niger since 2014
Serving at the invitation of the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger
Michael and Rachel will be in the US and available to visit congregations as their schedule permits through April2014. Email them or the Mission Connections office (Rachel.Anderson@pcusa.org) to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Michael and Rachel's Ministry: Only 30 percent of the people in Niger can read and write. Nigeriens seeking literacy skills often approach pastors, typically the most educated people in their communities, for assistance. The pastors want to help, but they usually need to improve their skills as literacy trainers. Michael Ludwig will help pastors and evangelists in the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) raise their proficiency as literacy teachers. He will also build their capacity to organize literacy classes. Literacy classes help people better their economic plight, and they often opens doors for witness. Michael will also be working with students and teachers at two Bible schools in the Maradi region, the Dogon Gao Bible School and the Aguie Bible School. In addition, Michael will familiarize the EERN with the Community Health Evangelism model, an initiative that integrates community-based development, evangelism, and discipleship. His wife, Rachel, will be open to opportunities to serve with the church and in the community as God leads.
Country Context: Niger is often called the gateway between North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. It is one of the continent’s most economically impoverished countries and is at the bottom of the UN’s human development index. Fewer than 50 percent of children are enrolled in school, and its annual per capita gross domestic product is only about $800. Farming is limited by frequent droughts, and the country’s vast desert regions are growing because arable land is falling victim to droughts, excessive cultivation, overgrazing, and deforestation. While 95 percent of Nigeriens are Muslim, the government is secular and there is openness to the gospel. Most non-Muslims in Niger are Christian or adherents of traditional religions. The Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger is the largest Protestant church in the country and is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. In recent decades, the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began working as partners in mission.
About Michael and Rachel Ludwig: Michael and Rachel entered mission service as a result of God’s subtle call and their careful listening.
“We feel called to mission service because we believe it’s the place where our interests and gifts coincide,” Michael says. “We’ve always had an interest in other cultures and other countries, and felt a desire to help others in the areas of their deepest need.”
“We also have gifts for teaching and learning and for living simply,” Rachel adds. “So we feel like God has prepared us for a long time to serve in Niger with its different opportunities and challenges for learning, serving, and living.”
Their work in Niger will strengthen the literacy skills of both Christians and Muslims. The Nigeriens who approach pastors seeking to learn how to read and write are from both religions. By developing literacy programs, the EERN wants to teach people valuable skills, build goodwill with Muslim neighbors, and offer a respectful witness to the Christian faith. “Our hope is that the church is better able to reach out with physical help through teaching and spiritual help through relating the good news of Jesus Christ,” Michael says.
As they begin their mission work, the Ludwigs say they want to rely on the guidance offered by 2 Corinthians 2:17: “For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.”
“This informs our mission service because it reminds us to be genuine in sharing things of God that are life giving and that are relational, coming as a result of our own relationship with God, rather than just trying to get people to sign on to some program because we need to carry through our preconceived agenda of what people in Africa need,” Michael says.
The Ludwigs, who will be accompanied in Niger by two children, anticipate their life will be full of opportunities and challenges. “We expect to encounter joys of close and friendly family life, vibrant worship, and excitement at helping people learn new skills that help them, but we anticipate challenges of dealing with very hot conditions, malaria risks, learning multiple languages, dealing with different time expectations, and answering the needs that God wants you to focus on instead of answering every need,” Rachel explains.
Michael, a native of Holland, Michigan, was an associate pastor at Overbrook Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, for four years prior to entering mission service. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio, and a master’s degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He also has done graduate study in the classics at the University of Cincinnati. He is a member of Scioto Valley Presbytery.
Rachel grew up in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, and has spent most of her professional life as a middle school math and science teacher. She has taught in public school systems in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster and a master’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the College of Wooster in 2001, she spent one year as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteer in Guatemala and one year as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Cincinnati. Rachel is a member of Overbrook Presbyterian Church. )
Michael - May 2
Rachel - June 8