The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has identified as one of its mission goals the expansion and strengthening of Lutheran schools and youth ministry worldwide. This is because it is clear that a solid foundation in the Word of God, reinforced on a daily basis in a high-quality Lutheran school serves to strengthen and preserve the faith of our children and young adults. More than that, Lutheran schools draw in non-Lutherans and non-Christians because of their quality educational standards and offerings. This allows the schools and teachers an opportunity to share Christ with the students and their families. This is true both within the United States and globally in the mission field. When a Lutheran school is not available, the next best thing is for one of our missionaries to be given the opportunity to teach in a local school and then connect students with local churches. Below, the GEO missionaries in Central Europe discuss their roles as teachers in Lutheran and local schools in this region.
“My name is Sarah Berta-Somogyi, and I’m originally from the Denver area. I graduated from Concordia University in Irvine, CA in 2007 with a BA in English, a teaching degree, and a Lutheran teaching certification. While I was attending CUI, my family moved to Roseville, CA, which is where I now call home. After graduating with my BA, I also finished my Masters of Education from CUI in 2011. In addition, I married Tamás Berta-Somogyi in the summer of that same year. I love teaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I feel that I have the best job in the world here as a missionary/teacher in Hungary, where I’ve been for the last 5 years. I teach English in grades 5-12 at Péterfy Sándor Lutheran School in Győr, Hungary. I have thirteen groups of students, and I see each group once a week. (This means I teach a total of about 180 students.) We focus mainly on speaking and listening exercises. My principal also gives me the freedom (and encourages me) to speak about faith in Jesus Christ during my lessons, which can look differently in different classes. However, we always talk about a Bible verse in the beginning of every lesson, and sometimes we listen to Christian music or watch shorts or clips and discuss them in light of what we believe. I have some students who are very strong Christians, some who are nominal Christians, and some who aren’t sure what they believe exactly. I also organize a once-a-week Bible study, and about 8 students regularly attend (though I’m praying for more this year). Melissa Karges (LCMS missionary in Sopron) and I have been working closely together the last couple of years to organize more opportunities for our students to get together, learn more from the Bible, and be united as members of the family of Christ. These activities include games nights, retreats, and special Bible study/program days. I also help with summer camps, so that even more students can hear the Good News of Jesus and come to know Him or grow stronger in their faith.
“My joys are seeing students growing in their faith and sharing it with others! I’ve had many students bring their friends to activities so that they, too, might come to know Jesus as their Savior. I think my biggest challenge is the idea that what I believe is good for me, but it not might be good for someone else. This means that people are very open to hearing my beliefs, but not be as open to believing themselves. ”
Sarah has worked together with GEO missionary Melissa Karges (see below) to run special weekend retreats for their students. Please keep Sarah in your prayers as she teaches this year! You can support Sarah by visiting her prayer card on the LCMS web site.
“I am A.J. Davis, and I am serving as a GEO missionary in Kosice, Slovakia. Kosice is located in the eastern part of Slovakia. Slovakia used to be a part of Czechoslovakia, but since 1993 it has been its own independent country. In Slovakia, I work with the local Lutheran High school and teach English to the 600 students that attend the Evanjelické gymnázium J. A. Komenského (EGJAK). The school is kind of like the US equivalent to a High School, and most students who attend our school usually go on to university. I teach just English conversation classes to all the ages of students. One of the joys of teaching is starting and ending each day with a student led devotion and Bible Study. During each of these opportunities I can share the Gospel with my students and help them build a stronger relationship with Christ. Another joy of working at the school is helping after school and encouraging the students to have a healthy spiritual life. This year I was able to attend the freshman orientation camp and we were told the story of the prodigal son, and sang songs of praise. It was great start to the coming school year, and I hope and pray that I can continue to build old relationships and build new ones with the freshman students.”
“I teach in Sopron, Hungary at the Berzsenyi Dániel Evangélikus Gimnázium (Líceum) (Daniel Berzsenyi Lutheran School). I spend my days with 9-12 grade students teaching English to a variety of skill levels. I work with just over 20 different groups every week (nearly 300 students), which can be a challenge to keep organized and put the right names to the right faces, but each day is a different adventure when I walk into the classroom! Even on the seemingly worst of days, I can’t help but smile when I walk into a classroom with each unique group of students! It is a joy to get to play a part in the lives of so many young people and get to know them individually throughout the year. One of the hardest things about starting a new school year is not being able to continue teaching some of the groups I had from the year before. On the positive side, this also means new opportunities to share Christ with students who haven’t heard it from me before.”
“My name is Margaret Lewis and I live in Trinec, Czech Republic serving as GEO missionary. I am involved in a variety of ministries connected with the Lutheran Church in Trinec, but I also serve as an English teacher. I will be teaching English in both the local Lutheran school and evening classes at the Lutheran church with members of the church and the community. Both at school and in the evening classes I teach essentially all ages and varying English levels. I really enjoy lesson planning and getting to know the students. It is exciting each and every single time they understand me or they remember something they learned from class. The greatest challenge is the language barrier. Sometimes students ask me questions and I am not able to answer them on my own. I want to be able to help them and I wish I could understand them. Although the language barrier is difficult at times, classes are a great way to build relationships. During classes we often end up having various and interesting discussions, allowing us to really get to know one another and even talk about our faith. Afterwards we usually spend time just talking and carrying on topics that arose during class. Classes are also a great way to demonstrate the love of Christ by simply encouraging the students and spending time with them.”
Please pray for Margaret as she continues her work in the Czech Republic. You can learn more about Margaret or support her by visiting her prayer card.
Ryan Volkman serves in the Czech Republic and teaches English as a foreign language in two local public schools. Through language learning, he has found opportunities to build relationships with the youth he teaches, as well as invite them to the local Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession. He had this to say about going back to school this year:
“This year I will be teaching in two public schools: one middle school and one high school. It will be my second year teaching at the middle school, but the high school will be a new location for me this year. My role is to connect people from outside of the church to Lutheran Christians in Silesia, and the best way to do this is to start building relationships with people in the public school systems. In both schools I teach English Conversation. A normal class for me (in the schools) is choosing some topic and speaking in everyday English language with the students. During the school year I invite the students to join after-school English clubs (sponsored by the local Lutheran congregations) where we can more freely talk about Christ.
“The start of the school year has been fun so far. I got to return to familiar faces at the middle school. I have meet so many new and friendly students and co-workers at the high school. One of the best surprises was seeing some of my students from last year, who had graduated from middle school, now attending the high school where I will be teaching. At the end of last year I wasn’t aware that I would have this opportunity to teach at the high school, and thus thought that I wouldn’t see many of my students again as they moved on to high schools in the surrounding cities. But now, God is allowing the relationship building to continue!”
Please pray for Ryan and his wife, Stanka, as they are also expecting their first child. You can learn more about Ryan’s work. If you wish to find out more about the Volkmans or support them, click here.
- Please pray for Sarah, AJ, Melissa, Margaret, and Ryan as they go “back to school” this year.
- Pray for the people in Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic that they would be good and fertile soil for the Word of God.
- Read this week’s Wednesday Devotion and prayerfully consider serving as a GEO, short term mission team, or career missionary.