St James Lutheran Church provides financial support for the newly constituted Lutheran Church of Norway. Pastor Torkild Masvie provides an update to the progress and struggles of trying to plant Biblically faithful congregations in a post Christian country. Please keep our brothers and sisters in Norway in your prayers. Donations to support their work made be made through St. James. Please designate them for Norway Mission.
Dear brother Bob, and sisters and brothers in Christ at St James!
You are one of the few congregations in the US that we interact with directly from The Lutheran Church in Norway since you have supported us financially before. Only those congregations are allowed to continue to support us directly according to an agreement with the leadership of the LCMS.
First of all let me thank you for the financial help and prayer support you are providing. Now is time to give you an update.
Ups and Downs
Our congregation in Oslo has lost its student profile due to students completing their programs and moving on. Others of the students marry and get children. So we have the same number of worshipers on Sundays (60), but never had so many children as now. Our members who move have moved to all over Norway.
In Bergen we lost our site leader and have not been able to continue with worship services this fall. It is a sad reality with our student congregation there. In Volda we did not get the US students that we expected to come and help. We therefore had to do the same there as in Bergen and wait for a new opportunity. So the challenge is to serve the many people we have in various places. Some of them we serve through the web.
Serving Many with Livestream
The generous support of US-congregations make this service possible. The worship service in Oslo is sent live through livestream. We usually have 5-10 groups following the service live, and then more people watching the sermon afterwards. The total number of computer visits are 30-120 for each video sermon. There is an equal number of down loads on audio. The Link is https://livestream.com/messiaskirken-oslo
Refugees from Syria
I am at this very moment doing my part time job at the Oslo bus terminal. Today my shift is to be in charge of one of Europe’s two biggest bus terminals with buses to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Serbia, France and more countries, plus Southern Norway. This is my part time job in order to make ends meet with my 75% position in the congregation.
As I have this shift I keep an eye on everything, and have time now and then to write to you. Today is the first day when some of the Syrian refugees that have come through Europe are arriving at the bus terminal. The border police is picking up asylum seekers outside my window all the time. Who will know what will open up of new opportunities for us as a congregation and church since we already seem to have someone coming to us.
Spiritual Refugees from the State Church After Radio Program
Norwegian media has been full of debates about the gay marriage issue since delegates to a new church convention in the “State Church” (Church of Norway) were to be elected September 14. This will likely lead that church to decide to do gay marriages. Norway’s biggest national radio station did a 23 minute program about our Messiaskirke-congregation in Oslo, focusing on the gay issue. The program has been aired multiple times. We were portrayed as an alternative and “safe haven” for those who are leaving Church of Norway. The program was very, very good, and has resulted in more people visiting our church in Oslo, and sending me emails.
Possible Start Up
We are invited to the Lofoten region of Northern Norway to see if we can start a worship site there. We have one pastor in Northern Norway that may be able to serve that. It would “only” be 3 hours drive each way for him. The difference between Lofoten and Bergen/Volda is that Lofoten have families that live there and are interested in starting up.
The financial support of US congregations are the reason we can do the preparation work, and travel needed in order to check if this would be feasable. As you can see, we only use the US support for start up and expansion, never for running expenses.
Member of International Lutheran Council
Next week I am flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina to the meeting of the International Lutheran Council. Our church will be voted inn as a member of this group. We will be one of the smallest members, but we need this kind of fellowship. I will spend some extra vacation days in Buenos Aires. I grew up there and went to local school as a kid before age 7 moving to Japan.
I hope this update can be of inspiration for the prayers that we experience blessings of and the need for.
Your brother in Christ,