The Rev. Christa von Zychlin and the Rev. Wayne Nieminen are ELCA missionaries in Hong Kong. Christa here explains a little of what their work in Hong Kong entails. To support Christa and Wayne, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Just this week a U.S. pastor from a sponsoring congregation — yes, you too can sponsor us here in Hong Kong and I bet you don’t even have to be Lutheran — asked us the very good question:
What do you guys do there in Hong Kong, anyway?
Happy to oblige I sent him a longish e-mail, which I then realized I could re-post and share with our thousands … hundreds … tens … well, at least with our one loyal follower (shout-out to my mom in Wisconsin — Hi Mutti!)
Specifically, Wayne and I are a husband and wife Christian pastoral team. Wayne is the guy with a Ph.D., so he teaches pastoral care and counseling to Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) students from Hong Kong, mainland China and many other countries, especially those from the Mekong region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam).
Wayne is part of a Hong Kong and international faculty at LTS, which has theology students in many levels, from barely post-high school (and struggling with English) to those working on advanced-level doctorate degrees.
Besides teaching classes, Wayne is working closely with three graduate students, each of which has been trained to minister in a special area when they return to their home countries:
1) Conflict resolution — this student has experienced situations in which church conflicts have erupted in violence and even death.
2) A Christian sex education program for adolescents — this student will be ministering in an area with some of the world’s worst sex-trade trafficking and where ignorance abounds and deaths through self- inflicted abortions are said to be disastrously high.
3) Internally displaced persons who now have some hope of returning to their ancestral lands. After enduring years of being on the run, their children stolen to serve in the army, their fields sown with land mines, men killed, women raped — this student will bring discerning questions, listening ears and Christian hope to these civil war refugees.
And meanwhile, yours truly is working as coordinator of international student affairs, which means I get to do boatloads of paperwork, such as dealing with scholarship accounts and applying for student visas. But I also get to do some hands on pastoral stuff, such as visit LTS alumni and their ministries in places like Cambodia and Myanmar. I’m also currently working with a dynamite Indonesian student on a Bible study/English conversation class with Muslim and Christian Indonesian domestic workers here in Hong Kong.