This Sunday, January 27 2019, Pastor Jim Krikava, director of LCMS Eurasian missions, will be preaching at both services and leading the adult Bible study at 9:30. Pastor Krikava sent the following letter to our congregation about his life and work and we look forward to welcoming him into our midst.

A blessed Ephiphany season to you and yours and all the good folk at FLC.

About a month before Easter, 2014, the Lord led me to a life-changing decision regarding my work as a Lutheran pastor. It was at that time that I decided to take a call into the LCMS after having spent over 30 years in a small Lutheran body called the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Norwegian immigrants to the USA. These Norwegians had had deep roots with C.F.W. Walther, the spiritual father of the LCMS. For decades the ELS was in fellowship with LCMS, WELS, and the old Slovak Synod, which today no longer exists as an independent church body, but rather as a non-geographical district of the LCMS. These 4 Lutheran bodies constituted the Synodical Conference of North America for nearly 100 years, but, sadly, broke up in the turbulent years of the 1960s.

My own family roots were with the LCMS (my mother grew up LCMS in WI and my father was instructed, confirmed, and baptized by an LCMS pastor in MN). But because we were a farm family in a Norwegian area of MN we belonged to the ELS church in Albert Lea, MN. Therefore, when I decided to study for the pastoral office I attended Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mankato, MN. Nevertheless, through our ties with LCMS, especially through former LCMS president Dr. Jacob Preus and former president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, president Dr. Robert Preus, who both came from the ELS by their Norwegian background, we in the ELS always maintained a good relationship with LCMS even when things went awry in the 1960s.

In the ELS I served as the band director, music theory instructor, choir director, and after ordination instructor of religion at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN. After that I served for 5 years in a small but faithful Lutheran congregation in Brewster, MA, on Cape Cod – Trinity Lutheran Church.

In 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Prague, I was called to be a missionary behind the former Iron Curtain. I worked in Plzen, Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Republic) from 1990-1995 where we established two congregations and two parochial schools. After that our family moved to Prague where we established three congregations and helped to establish another in Brno, the capital of Moravia in the Czech Republic.

In 2006, once our 3 children grew up (BTW all 3 of which have been members at FLC either in the past or still to this day), I received a call from the same congregation on Cape Cod, which I accepted, thinking I would spend the rest of my days in the ministry there and live happily ever after.

But God had other plans. In 2011 I was asked to deliver a paper on our mission work in the Czech Republic to a group of member churches of the International Lutheran Council (ILC, of which LCMS is a major partner) held in Prague. From that conference acquaintances and friendship were made with various LCMS members of the synodical leadership, including Pres. Matthew Harrison. By 2014 I was on my way into the LCMS through their Colloquy process. While transitioning I was blessed to serve as an interim pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Randolf, NJ, then on to the International Center in St. Louis to receive training from the LCMS Office of International Missions (OIM). Deployed back to the mission field in Prague by 2015 I was appointed at the OIM Regional Director for Eurasia, which includes most all of Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Mongolia, and all of the former states making up the former USSR, which broke up after the fall of Communism in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down on November 9 and the Velvet Revolution took place in Prague on November 17.

From Luther’s birthday, Oct. 10, 2015 till the present I have served as the OIM Regional Director of Eurasia where LCMS has missionaries as far to the east as Ulaambaatar, Mongolia, to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Novosibirsk in Russian Siberia, to St. Petersburg, Russia, to the former Soviet Blok countries of Central and Eastern Europe to most of the countries in Western Europe..

After our OIM director, Rev. John Fale, gave up his position as the LCMS Director of International Missions, and Rev. Daniel McMiller was appointed to that position last summer, I was then, in addition to my current work as OIM Regional Director, Eurasia, installed as Rev. McMiller’s associate Executive Director of OIM responsible for both Eurasia and Asia, which spans from Greenland to  India to Korea, to all of SE Asia as far as Papua New Guinea, where I oversee the work of the OIM Asia Regional Director and his staff and missionaries.

My work entails the oversight of all missionary pastors and other church workers in their respective fields. This entails a great deal of travel to these foreign fields in order to serve our people on the ground, both spiritually and materially, as well as to maintain good relations with our partner churches throughout the world as they continue to reach out to a world in darkness with the Light of the World, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Foreign mission fields have their own set of challenges that are not faced as much in a US congregation. Of course, language acquisition and cultural adaptation are high on the list. There is also the loneliness factor. Missionaries not only have to learn a new language and culture, but they also feel the isolation of their Call and so very much need your prayers and support. And, there is also a large amount of bureaucratic matters that need to be kept track of for the sake of our donors and LCMS constituency, which sends all of these people into the world to be salt, which does not lose its savor. There is also the danger of contextualization which can lose sight of the universals of our unique Lutheran Identity in applying the Gospel of our Lord in foreign lands. That salt can so easily lose its savor if our missionaries have difficulty maintaining the “one thing needful.” In short, there is a monitoring aspect of my work.

At the same time, I am also able to keep my hands in the fray, if you will. I am often called upon to do supply preaching here and there when missionaries are on home service. Because of my own educational background I am also called upon to deliver lectures at Lutheran theological conference or conduct full blown seminars for the pastors and church workers of a given field. I must admit, these opportunities are vitalizing for me. Engaging others, wherever they may be, in the teachings of our beloved Lutheran Church simply gives me the strength to keep going. I view my work in this regard as not only helpful to our emerging Lutheran Churches but affirming all of us on the mission field. Once per year we get together as a team to discuss such things with each other. It is such a valuable exercise to share our work, our heartaches, frustrations, and gains for the the Kingdom of God.

Finally, all of you add to all of this and more. Your support of LCMS international missions through your prayers, donations, and interest in the work of the Church is essential to its success. We on the field think of you often. We know that we are here or there or wherever because of you. We thank you for your support. We thank our gracious God that He has chosen you to be an integral part of the Church’s mission.

The Lord bless you and keep; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, both in this blessed time of Epiphany and forevermore.

Yours in Christ,

Pr. Krikava

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