Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ,
The first purpose of this letter is to thank you for your support of our Singapore mission this past year. We appreciate each and every one of you, your prayers, your kindness, and your gifts. It is through you and your generosity that the Lord makes this kind of work possible. “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” 1 Thessalonians 1:2
As you know, it's been quite some time that we have experienced tremendous difficulty obtaining a visa that would permit our family to move to Singapore as originally planned. While we have tried several paths toward this goal, it doesn't look like any one is a viable option for some time. Many of you have wondered, as we have, “what's next for our work in Singapore and for our family?”
So the second purpose of this letter is to share that plans for LCMS mission work in Singapore are shifting. For now, Word and Sacrament ministry to the emerging congregation there will be handled by LCMS missionary Pastor Charles Ferry. Pastor Ferry is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, only a short 1.5 hour plane flight away. It simply makes far more sense for him to make frequent visits than for me to go back and forth from the United States. The LCMS will not abandon Singapore, but for now, this alternate arrangement makes the most sense given the challenges to obtaining the appropriate visas to live in Singapore. I am confident the congregation and its members will be well served in Pastor Ferry's faithful care.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth”. St. Paul explains the work of the Gospel is far greater than one person, and the Holy Spirit often works through a succession of individuals to accomplish His purposes. But it is, ultimately, His work.
As for myself, I am transitioning to a new and exciting mission role. Currently the LCMS Office of National Mission is exploring the potential of supporting new mission starts here in the United States, the third largest mission field in the world. These new starts will be in places that desperately need pastors but cannot afford them on their own. These ministries will be in places the LCMS must be in the future although their financial potential to be independently sustainable will always be a challenge.
The plan is for me to use my church-planting experience in a new context, our larger cities. Working with Rev. Steve Schave, director of LCMS Urban and Inner City Mission, we have identified a number of possible locations for a strategic church-plant in or near major metropolitan areas. Likely, our first new urban/inner city church plant will focus especially on college students at a major university. Because many campus ministries have the opportunity to connect with international students, my experience overseas will also come in handy. All of this we will do in an authentically Lutheran way, with Word and Sacraments at the forefront, preaching Christ crucified at every opportunity.
As I transition to this exciting new national mission field, many questions still remain, for which we don't yet have answers. I boldly ask that you keep my family and me in your prayers as God moves to open the required doors. I'll certainly let you know more as I do, and continue communicating the progress of His mission in which we are privileged to serve.
I also pray you would consider supporting me in this work financially, just as I know you would if I went overseas, and that you would share my story with those who care deeply about reaching people here in the U.S. This new domestic work in urban/inner-city or campus settings will require designated financial support from God’s baptized people.
Over the last decade the LCMS, like other large church bodies, has lost ground in our cities and on college campuses. Our Christ-focused witness and mercy ‘footprint’ has shrunk. This cannot continue. We must go back into these ripe harvest fields with the Gospel! This will be a network-supported position, and we will continue to rely on a group of faithful financial partners to supply what is required to sustain us in our work. As I visit congregations, I am often asked, “what about missions here in the United States?” This new position is a purposeful, intentional response to this very question. Christ has commissioned us to make disciples of ALL nations, and the nations are literally coming to us. The mission is here. The mission is now.
If you prefer to continue supporting the work in Singapore, or would like to explore another opportunity to partner with an international missionary, please contact Deb Feenstra or Michelle Beckmann the Mission Advancement office in St. Louis (1-888-930-4438) to make arrangements.
Through all of this, our God has been faithful to us. To Him belongs the glory and praise.
In Christ our Advent Lord,
Rev. Thomas Chryst
Strategic Mission Developer
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
"Where the paschal blood is poured, death's dread angel sheathes the sword"