Grace and peace to you during this time of Easter!
I write to you today because of a pressing financial need we have at the Institute of Lutheran Theology in our International Programs. As some of you know, ILT has been working with the immigrant church of South Sudan in offering courses in residence both in Sioux Falls and Omaha, as well as offering a residential experience in Des Moines for students from the Congo. All of these students are filled with passion to study so that they might most effectively teach and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in their communities!
Last fall ILT staff were in Gambela, Ehtiopia, helping to establish a functioning seminary for the Lutheran Church of South Sudan, and very recently another ILT person was in India teaching. We will travel to Southeast Asia in the next two months, and will be teaching both in Laos and Myanmar this year. Please know that Christianity in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular, is growing rapidly in many parts of the world. Students around the world want to study with us because they know we are delivering faithful Biblical Lutheran theology. We want to help everybody who asks, but we are always limited by finances.
I ask you today to consider an Easter gift to ILT for our international programming. We spend about $15,000/year per site in our Elijah Project teaching the South Sudanese. For this, ILT faculty travel most Saturdays to a site and teach most of the day. We have five students in residence at each site. Thus, ILT will need $30,000 to cover these costs, only $10,000 of which we have in our budget. We thus have a $20,000 need to continue to offer these programs.
In addition to this, we have eight international students in our Pastoral Ministry Certificate program needing tuition assistance. While we are trying to deliver classes to them as economically as possible, we cannot cover our costs either. $18,000 would pay their tuition for the year. (Yes, ILT's tuition is very reasonable.)
Finally, we are working to develop our SALT program (Southeast Asian Lutheran Theological education initiative) in Myanmar and Laos, and a teaching point in India. For many reasons, much of this instruction must take place in residence. Total cost of these programs for the year, including another trip to India, is $62,000.
In total, we are in need of $100,000 for our international students. We cannot do this without you. Please consider a generous gift this Easter to support the training of Lutheran evangelists and pastors around the world!
Dennis Bielfeldt, Ph.D