Michael and Rachel periodically visit the US and are able to visit congregations as their schedule allows. Email them to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
Position: Leadership Development and Evangelism Trainer
Ecumenical Partner: Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN)
Mission co-workers: Rev. Michael Ludwig and Rachel Ludwig
Michael Ludwig works with leaders of the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) to use Community Health Evangelism (CHE) as a ministry that can help their nation, enhance relationships between Christians and Muslims and provide a welcomed way of sharing the good news of Christ.
CHE is a model that helps communities identify and respond to their greatest needs with their own resources. The CHE method is a very promising strategy for empowering pastors and evangelists, who then play a vital role in bringing about community transformation. CHE can be used with respect to literacy, education, health and general community development. CHE lessons include Bible stories that help people discuss a holistic definition of health and God’s desire for healthy relationships. Michael also trains future pastors and evangelists at two of the EERN’s Bible schools in subjects varying from CHE to English. Another part of Michael’s role is to help the EERN build their capacity for implementing a literacy and evangelism training program for their pastors.
The other half of this ministry team, Rachel Ludwig, focuses on homeschooling the couple’s children and developing relationships in their neighborhood and church community.
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 United Nations’ Human Development Index due to lack of literacy, time spent in formal education and the lack of community development of resources and infrastructure. Only about 30 percent of the population is literate, and less than 50 percent of children are enrolled in school. The country’s vast desert regions are growing because arable land is falling victim to droughts, excessive cultivation, overgrazing and deforestation. Niger’s annual per capita gross domestic product is only about $800.
Less than 1 percent of Nigeriens are Christian. While 95 percent of Nigeriens are Muslim, the government is secular, and there is openness to the gospel. Many people, both Christian and Muslim, are willing to seek out pastors and evangelists to gather practical knowledge, like information on health and well-being or instruction in reading and writing. These church leaders are often some of the only educated residents in their communities. The EERN is the largest Protestant church in the country and is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. In recent decades, the EERN and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began working as partners in mission.
Michael and Rachel Ludwig Profile
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 said. “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 added. “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.”
Michael and Rachel’s work in Niger strengthens the community and health of both Christians and Muslims. The Nigeriens who approach pastors seeking to improve their health, education and community problems are from both religions. By using the CHE strategy for holistic health and development, 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 tangible help through teaching community health skills at the same time as offering spiritual help through the good news of Jesus Christ,” Michael says.
In their mission service, the Ludwigs say they try 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 said.
In Niger, the Ludwigs and their three children experience a life full of opportunities and challenges. “We have the joys of close and friendly family life, vibrant worship and excitement of helping people learn new skills that help them. But we also have challenges of dealing with very hot conditions, malaria risks, learning multiple languages, dealing with different time expectations and answering the needs that God wants us to focus on instead of trying to answer every need,” Rachel explained.
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. Michael 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 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.