A letter from Eric and Becky Hinderliter serving in Lithuania
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Greetings and Happy New Year from Klaipeda. Lithuania.
Our thoughts today are about the New Year 2015. We are getting ready for time in the U.S.A. later this spring and summer doing ‘mission interpretation.’ We will be in the eastern U.S. from May through August. We will be headquartered near Harrisburg, Pa. All mission co-workers regularly visit the U.S. to speak with congregations, presbyteries or other organizations. Mission co-workers are to be present to share, educate and connect in as many ways as possible. This ‘connection’ has two parts. First, the church needs to hear how God works through the Body of Christ all over the world. Inviting a mission co-worker to share should help a church get involved in mission. Second, it also ministers to a mission worker. We need to be strengthened and encouraged—“refreshed by your company,” Paul writes (Romans 15:32). What better way for us than to be engaged in fellowship with fellow believers?
A key task for us now is spiritual reflection on what we do as mission co-workers and what we have become as followers of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis offered these New Year’s resolution-like thoughts: “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are” (https://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/pope-francis-suggested-new-years-resolutions/). The daily devotional used in the Reformed and Lutheran Churches here, titled Gyvenimo Palydovas (Guide for Living) begins 2015 with a verse for the year: Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7). As mission workers we have learned the importance of hospitality, of welcoming strangers and being welcomed ourselves.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7).
Here are our hopes for 2015. For our mission partner, LCC International University, we hope for strength and vision as this Christian college faces many headwinds. Christian schools and colleges are fragile things. As a port city on the Baltic Sea, we know that the winds can be contrary and the currents of change strong. LCC is buffeted by changing competition in the academic world. The knock-on effects of Western sanctions against Russia loom large. Massive currency devaluations to the east in Ukraine and Russia—where some 25 percent of our students live—pose a financial strain on families and threaten the tuition-based LCC budget. To be embedded in a community requires the institution to be owned locally, to be something to be sustained and not just exploited. The founding LCC expatriate generation from the 1990s is holding on, but new leadership and an expanded donor base must be developed in the near term for LCC to grow and change in the increasingly stormy seas of the former Soviet space of eastern Europe and central Asia.
For the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we hope for the winds of renewal to refresh and enliven this body of Christ. January’s Our Daily Bread, another popular daily devotional, reminds us that the church, whatever its faults may be, is Christ’s bride. “The church belongs to Christ; it is the bride of Christ” (January 4, 2015). The devotional writer concludes that this is the reason to love the church. In our time here we have learned the beauty and strength of the Reformed tradition. Our theology is sound; our form of worship with its order and discipline sustains us. The Presbyterian Church is where we came to faith; the denomination is our home and shelter. It is our support network and anchor. Praise be to God for the bride of Christ!
And for ourselves in 2015, we hope and pray for strength and patience to persevere in the work we have been called to do. Young people can be demanding; this new generation (Gen 2020, it has been called) wants things quickly, often in an entertaining format. We are challenged to keep up—but also to model and transmit the historic beliefs and Christian values we know the new generation are seeking. Again Pope Francis’s words ring true: “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.” We also need time to reconnect with family. Pope Francis admonishes us to “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.” We have long-term missional and support relationships with many of you that need to be nurtured. Again from Francis: “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
We covet meeting and sharing with congregations. We are teachers, so the most satisfying formats for mission interpretation for us are small groups—Sunday Schools, classes, Bible study groups, prayer groups, men’s breakfasts, mission committees, women’s organizations, and mission taskforces. We also want to participate in regular Sunday worship as our talents allow. It will be summertime when we are in the U.S.A., so picnics and outdoor gathering are also possible. In previous interpretation assignments we have attended presbytery meetings, offering words of grateful thanks—and making connections.
How does a congregation send the invitation? You have two options. You can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rachel Anderson, the interpretation coordinator, at the World Mission office in Louisville, (800) 728-7228, ext 5826, or email email@example.com.
We can do this work here among the young people of Eastern Europe because of your earnest prayers and faithful giving. We invite you to continue this support throughout 2015 with your prayers, your cards and letters, and your gifts to our mission account.
As the apostle Paul often said, we are longing to see you—face to face (Romans 1:11; I Thess. 2:10).
Grace and peace,
Becky & Eric Hinderliter
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 329
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