“If God needs me to be a pastor, then I don’t care – wherever it is needed to make the church – I will go.” This is the commitment of Simon, a South Sudanese student in the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.  Simon lives in Renton, Washington, where he serves a congregation of South Sudanese.  He studies with his local pastor and visiting professors from the PSI Team.  Simon is just beginning his formal work in the PSI program.  When asked why this class was so important to him, Simon responded, “God sent his Son to save the world.  That is why we give [people] the gospel.  To make people have a relationship with God.  We need people to know this.”   Simon talked about the change that learning the true teachings of God’s Word has brought to his own life and his teaching.  “When I took the confirmation class and became WELS, I was very happy.  Before, I would say ‘If you do this, God will punish you.’  I didn’t know the difference.  This message will change the people.  Jesus is the one who took care of the world, died for you, even now he takes away your sin.  You are free!” 
 
Like many of our students in the PSI, Simon has a larger vision. He wants to reach out to the South Sudanese who are living in very poor situations in refugee camps throughout Africa.  He is eager to study and complete his courses, because he is eager to share what he is learning.  He knows that what these people need most is the truth of God’s Word.  Pray for Simon and all of our other Sudanese PSI students.  They work long hours, they have large families, they lead their own churches, and they are studying long and hard to graduate from the PSI program.  They also know why they are doing this.   Simon said that it is all about having a unity in teaching.  “I see the teaching . . . . Every year I go to Wisconsin for three or four days.  All the teaching is the same.  I don’t know.  I’ve never seen this in a different church.  We train you (the pastors) in the same place.  Pastors, seminary professors, every single person, no matter who, has received the same teaching and uses it to lead his people.  I think – What is this?  What is this teaching?  The same everywhere!”  Simon is studying hard so that he can also know, believe, profess, and share the same beautiful truth of God’s Word. 
 
Through the generous support of LWMS, men like Simon are being given the opportunity to study with the PSI program.  They are equipped with everything they need to take the truth back to their own people. PSI receives requests from around the world to serve and train pastors.  Just in this past year, our team has visited Ukraine, Russia, Albania, Canada, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and several cities throughout the United States.  Our list for this next year continues to grow as God opens doors.  As we go, we partner with our WELS world missionaries and churches within in our fellowship, offering seminary training,  ongoing education, and guidance on local programs.  With your support and prayers, we will be able to continue to expand our program to men like Simon throughout the world!  For that, Simon says, “All I can say is thank you and thank God for you!”
 
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Pastor Jon Bare
International Recruitment Director
Pastoral Studies Institute