A church in Minnesota (USA) played a key role in leadership development for an international ministry operating in 150 countries. In March 2008 members of the Ebenezer Lutheran Brethren Church of Minneapolis hosted Daniel Bourdanné, the general secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). The meeting was a joyous reunion of the type not particularly common in this world but anticipated by many believers upon their arrival in heaven.
As IFES general secretary, Bourdanné directs an international network of indigenous student ministries in 150 countries (including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, one of the founding members of IFES). In each country, hundreds to thousands of college students play a unique role in the growth and vibrancy of the Christian faith in that country.
Bourdanné’s Christian heritage is linked to the Lutheran Brethren denomination’s commitment to the Great Commission. In 1920, shortly after his marriage at Ebenezer church, the Lutheran Brethren sent J.I. Kaardal and his wife as missionaries to Africa. For decades, Kaardal traveled by foot and horseback through the rural villages of southwestern Chad, sharing the gospel with the residents. Daniel Bourdanné’s father was among those who responded; he later became a leader in the church in Chad.
Lutheran Brethren missionary Donald Raun led a team that translated the Bible into Moudang, Bourdanné’s tribal language. He also baptized Bourdanné and his mother.
J.I. Kaardal has passed on, but Donald Raun and his wife Orpha joined denominational leaders, fellow missionaries, pastors, and church members in hosting Bourdanné in the joyous reunion in March. Bourdanné brought his Moundang Bible and his mother’s hymn book with him, as further evidence of the importance of the work of Lutheran Brethren missionaries in his family’s heritage in the faith.
Bourdanné graciously thanked the church and its denomination, and U.S. Christians in general, for sending missionaries to Africa. His encouraging words warmed the hearts of many adult children of Lutheran Brethren missionaries who were present. Among them was a woman whose parents were murdered in Cameroun and another whose father led a team that translated the Bible into the Fulani language.
The Lutheran Brethren family rejoiced in the privilege of praying for Bourdanné, his family, and the ministry of IFES. Recognizing that simple obedience to God’s calling had produced a rich harvest, they celebrated God’s work in the life of Bourdanné’s family and the church in Chad, and also celebrated Bourdanné’s call to IFES, and through IFES, the blessing of participating in God’s work in 150 countries.