LEAven Blog


What in the World?

Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of the global village in which we live and work. Without even seeking a specific television or radio station that carries news feeds from around the world on a regular basis, I encounter emails, video clips, and casual stories of occurrences from a host of countries on every continent. Many involve the involvement of the United States, some are human interest events, more and more are coming from citizens who are traveling abroad, and there are, of course, the advertisements that lure us to other places in the US and across the borders and oceans.

I have always been interested in what is happening in the rest of the world. One year of my early education (and the only one not in a Lutheran school through undergraduate years) was also the year in which the world literally came to me. In a class of more than 50 students at Agnes Russell School at Columbia University, New York, I had classmates who were born in more than 20 countries. In this global and very progressive environment, I was challenged to ask questions, learn to speak new words, teach English to others, construct simulations that crossed borders, and become aware of religions, cultures, ideologies, and innovative ideas that were very different from the first twelve years of life. It opened my eyes and prepared me for the next 57 years and all of those to come.

“What in the world” is relevant for Lutheran education ministry? My answer is EVERYTHING. Firmly rooted in God’s Word, what I have been taught in my schools and modeled at home, and what I have learned and practiced in my Christian faith so far in my life, God has prepared me to face all the challenges, twists and turns that are out there in a world of knowns and unknowns. I have come to appreciate the differences as much as the similarities of other people’s lives to my experiences. I have learned that I do have a connection to people, places, and cultures in ways that I have never thought about.

One of the most exciting learnings in my adult life and Lutheran education ministry years has been the myriad ways in which I relate to leaders, teachers, volunteers, and parents who are actively engaged in Christian education literally everywhere in the world. I have found that the links to Lutheranism are many, but I have also appreciated the tremendous commonality we have with Christians of many denominations who value education as the basis for their teaching about the love of Jesus and its application to our lives.

My most recent in-person experience was in a region of Ghana north of the capital, Accra, where 93 individuals from 17 countries on five continents gathered to talk about how Christian schools need to be better prepared for the “digital age.” Attendees represented a cross-section of schools blessed with many resources to those who were facing the challenge of working electricity many days. I learned about the problems facing Christian education leaders in their contexts with which most of us can hardly identify. However, the spirit and joy that filled their hearts because of the ministry that was taking place in these areas filled my heart as well.

I am a believer in listening carefully and very cautiously to news feeds, videos, and stories that come from growing questionable sources, but also opening up to reliable global sources of news and education topics, which include more Christian stories than most people realize. Pray for the thousands of educators who serve all over the world in Lutheran and other Christian schools under the same Matthew 28 Great Commission. We have much in common with our global Christian community and can be of tremendous help to each other if we reach out and connect.

Jon is the Executive Director of LEA. He has served in that position since 1997. He previously served as Director of Education at Concordia University, Ann Arbor and 15 years as teacher and administrator at schools in Texas and Michigan. Jon is actively involved as a speaker, consultant, board member, and collaborator with schools and organizations on six continents.