Dr. John Loum, director of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, will return to the country of his birth thanks to a new partnership between Concordia Seminary and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
Loum will lead an ongoing mission to the Gambia, a small mostly Muslim African nation on the northwest side of the continent. While retaining his duties at the Seminary, Loum will spend a total of four months in the Gambia, largely focusing on teaching Lutheran doctrine to an established group of Christians. Along with teaching and catechizing the pastor and lay leaders of the church in the Gambia, he also will instruct the teachers and students of the Lutheran school in the village of Abuko.
“I’m cut out for this,” Loum said. “I’m a missionary. I was brought to faith by the mission agencies, so I feel everything about me is about missions and sharing the Good News of Christ.”
Loum has overseen the Seminary’s EIIT program since 2006. The EIIT is a specialized program leading to ordination for men engaged in pastoral ministry contexts in ethnic immigrant and urban cultures in North America. EIIT also offers a program for women to become deaconesses.
Previously, Loum served as pastor of St. Augustine Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., and missionary at-large to African immigrants in the LCMS Indiana District.
“Dr. Loum has long been an evangelist in the St. Louis area, and has guided scores of missionary pastors through his leadership of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology,” said Seminary Provost Dr. Jeff Kloha. “Concordia Seminary is very excited to partner with the LCMS Office of International Mission in this direct Gospel mission work in the Gambia where doors are opening today in ways that they were not possible just a few months ago. Dr. Loum’s enthusiasm and regular interaction with the mission field will immediately benefit the students of Concordia Seminary and strengthen their own outreach ministries.”
The LCMS began its involvement in the Gambia in 2001 when it responded to a request for assistance by a group of Christian nationals who found the LCMS through its internet presence. Subsequently, LCMS personnel visited the Gambia in 2001 to offer support for planting churches and training leaders. LCMS leaders also helped to facilitate a partnership between the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) and Gambian Christians. The LCN sent its first foreign missionary to serve in the Gambia in 2001. The first church building was dedicated, and the first Baptisms of 104 people and confirmations of 84 people were celebrated in May 2002.
The LCMS has supported mercy work in the Gambia through providing transportation for lay leaders to attend training and providing funds for water wells.
Currently, teaching Lutheran doctrine remains a high priority. According to church leaders, the need to translate materials and engage in literacy work is also urgent.
“Sharing Dr. John Loum’s time, experience and expertise with Concordia Seminary is a blessing for the LCMS Office of International Mission,” said Rev. John Fale, executive director of the Office of International Mission. “Dr. Loum has a wealth of knowledge of Islam and a love for the people of the Gambia who need to hear the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus. Because he is from that culture, he will have opportunities to build trusting relationships that present opportunities to share the Gospel in ways that others could not. This is a good use of our resources in the LCMS.”
To learn more about Loum’s mission or to support his ministry, visit www.lcms.org/loum.
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS)
The 2.2 million-member Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at www.lcms.org.
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). To learn more, visit www.csl.edu.