LWF Councillors take strength from Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hope does not disappoint LWF Councillors. Photos: LWF/S.Lawrence, S. Gallay
Hope does not disappoint LWF Councillors. Photos: LWF/S.Lawrence, S. Gallay

Meeting theme holds particular significance

GENEVA, 23 June (LWI) - In the face of suffering, hope sustains and encourages.

The LWF Council 2015 met from 18 – 22 June in Geneva under the theme “Hope does not disappoint.” Lutheran World Information asked Council members from different regions to reflect on the meaning of hope in their contexts.

Hope has brought us closer together

Although the Malaysian High Court rejected an appeal last year by the Roman Catholic Church challenging a government ban on the use of the word “Allah” for anyone but Muslims, Bishop Aaron Yap of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia still feels he has experienced the truth that hope does not disappoint.

Malay-speaking Christians have been using the word in Malay Bible translations since the 16th century. It is the word for “God” in the local language.

“You cannot stop Christians using the word God. Despite the challenges and limitations imposed by the authorities, we believe that God will bring us out of this situation,” Yap said. “The court decision referred only to the use of “Allah” in the Malaysian Catholic weekly, Herald, and our interpretation is that we can still use the term in the Bible.

“Hope has come through the support we received from the LWF and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It showed us that we are not alone and have hope together. There is also hope because the ruling has brought the different Christian denominations in Malaysia much closer together.”

Hope of other opportunities

Rising sea levels means some Pacific Island states face an uncertain future and may even disappear.

In response to LWF President Bishop Younan’s address on June 18, Warime Guti of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea referred to the fate of Kiribati and Tuvalu, two tiny Pacific nations that will one day succumb to rising sea levels.

Residents of these island states may have to move from their homes or go abroad. “But where there is life, there is hope, and we still have our culture and identity,” Guti says.

“We won’t save the land from sinking but can offer hope that is more spiritual. I hope people will have the peace to see the changes and move with the changes.

“But we still have hope in Papua New Guinea even knowing that we are losing land. God gives us hope that there will be other opportunities.”

Hope that one day we will be able to re-build our churches

“Since Boko Haram Islamists began attacking people and churches in northern Nigeria in 2009, Christians have not lost hope and continue to worship and serve God,” LWF Council member Titi Malik of The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria said.

One example is the northeastern town of Mubi, where every single church was destroyed by Boko Haram in October 2014 and people were forced to flee, she said. After the army recaptured Mubi, Christians were able to return. Now they get up as early as 6.00am and worship God under trees.

"Christianity will never be defeated in Nigeria and one day we will be able to reconstruct our churches.

My hope also comes from the support we have received from our co-partners all over the world. We know that as Christians in Nigeria we are not alone,” she added.

Hope from our congregations and youth work

"My church is still facing financial difficulties as a result of the financial crisis in Iceland in 2007, which led to a cut of more than 25 percent in our income,” says Magnea Sverrisdottir, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland.

“Our hope is that we see a light being brought into our situation through the life of our congregations and youth work,” Sverrisdottir says.

“The work of the church and the preaching of the gospel are still relevant in our country. Our job is to find solutions and to create a space for religion in society. But we cannot do it alone. We need God and prayer."

Council 2015: more information