Deaconess Grace Rao - who works at The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod International Center (St. Louis) in the area of World Relief and Human Care - has been involved in some exciting diaconal education work in Africa, and very kindly agreed to provide the following guest blog:
It was a blessing and honor to visit the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Southern Africa at the request of Bishop Wilhelm Weber. I was humbled by his gracious invitation and was overwhelmed as he looked towards my unit at LCMS World Relief and Human Care to assist and uplift the seminary’s educational and diaconal needs in the areas of women and children. My first assignment was teaching an advanced course class on the “Role of Women in the Church” to the seminarian students, pastors, vicars, deans and few women from Women’s league of the Lutheran Church, with special references to “works of mercy,” the role of Lutheran deaconesses who shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of human care and mercy, and by including the structure of LCMS WR-HC and their ministries.
Second, another task was to give professional advice to the role of women in the church and specifically the inception of a deaconess program, designing the curriculum and the actual course set-up. This paved the way to lead two very successful intensive courses to train and equip local deaconesses in Southern Africa, and by teaching faithful Lutheran doctrine and practice amongst the leaders of the women’s league.
When asked for his thoughts about the diaconal training, the Bishop said “I am confident that this excellent training program will go quite a distance in assisting the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa to attain sustainable structures and staffing to address crucial works of mercy amongst previously neglected groups like single mothers, orphaned children, sufferers of HIV/Aids and other sick and dying people in and beyond the boundaries of our Lutheran congregations.” The next third and fourth courses are schedule to take place in the near future.
In addition, my responsibility also involves identifying, assessing, recommending to support the existing mercy projects, and implementing new projects as well. My unit assists a lot with theological resources. The Lord is gracious and kind, and with His blessings my ministry is moving well, and looking for stronger partnerships in years to come.
Deaconess Grace Rao