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Report from Southeast Asia warms hearts in Winnipeg

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dr. Leonard Harms (r) briefs President Robert Bugbee (l) and LCC mission executive Dr. Leonardo Neitzel on mission work in Thailand.

WINNIPEG - The bitter cold weather was a far cry from the warm humid air of Bangkok, Thailand, when volunteer missionary in Southeast Asia Rev. Dr. Leonard Harms visited Lutheran Church–Canada’s office December 17 and 18. Dr. Harms, retired LCC mission executive, met with President Robert Bugbee and Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, executive assistant to the president for Mission and Social Ministry Services.

Having recently returned from Thailand, he brought first-hand information about LCC’s missionary Pastor Suchat Chujit and the work of Lutheran Institute Southeast Asia (LISA) of which he is executive director. LISA provides theological education in Thailand and Cambodia. Professors and pastors from LCC travel to conduct classes for 14 students in Bangkok and 41 students in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This is the first time Dr. Harms has had the opportunity to provide a face-to-face briefing for the president and mission executive.

He reported both theological classes will graduate in May, 2010 after receiving four years of preparation for the pastoral ministry in a series of 16 week-long intensive courses that go from morning into the evening. Most recently, Pastor Nolan Astley (Holy Cross, Kitchener, Ont.), taught a course Theology of the Cross; servanthood under the cross in October, and Concordia Lutheran Seminary professor, Dr. Ed Kettner, will teach a course on the Lutheran Confessions in early January.

“What stands out about these men preparing to be pastors is their eagerness to learn and to put their learning into practice,” said Dr. Harms. “Their thirst for God’s Word is never quenched, nor is their desire to share the Gospel with unbelievers.”

Dr. Harms moved to Bangkok after his retirement in 2006. LCC’s Board of Directors called him as a volunteer missionary seconded to LISA.

“As I learn more and more about our mission work, it is exciting to see how God has blessed our efforts,” said Dr. Neitzel. “It is especially thrilling to see what is happening in Cambodia as our friends there proclaim the Gospel in so many ways.”

Although LCC has no formal connection to the Cambodian church, support for theological education comes from Concordia Lutheran Mission Society, an LCC auxiliary.

Dr. Harms returns to Thailand December 28 in time to welcome Dr. Kettner and the five CLS seminary students travelling with him. (See

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