“What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” Matt. 18:12
This verse is a very good summary of what our district missionaries do each and every day. The mission statement of the Texas District — “to reach the lost, disciple the saved, and care for people” — is about finding the lost sheep and caring for the entire flock.
It brings me great joy to relay to you the stories of our missionaries. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting and hearing the story of Yirgalem Ketema, who is from Eritrea and is one of our missionaries in the Dallas area. She works through the Eritrean Evangelical Lutheran Church to bring the Gospel to those in the apartment complexes in the Vickery Meadow area, which are populated by people from many countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea and the Congo.
The ministry strives to serve the immigrants by helping to meet their physical and spiritual needs. The Good News of Jesus Christ is brought by celebrating birthdays and organizing baby showers for those who do not have family and friends nearby. Yirgalem’s story is one that gives meaning to the lost sheep being searched for, found and rejoiced over.
In 2009, Yirgalem came to Zion Lutheran Church, Dallas, and met its pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert Preece. She informed him that she was a Christian but had to flee from Saudi Arabia — she left Eritrea to escape war — to avoid persecution. Through many conversations and a confession of faith, Yirgalem was welcomed into the Zion congregation. However, the story does not end there. In order to stay in the
United States, Yirgalem had to convince an immigration court of her desire to remain and Preece was instrumental in helping her.
Yirgalem has been serving the Vickery Meadow area since 2011. Bible studies in the Arabic and Tigrigna languages, interpreters helping with paperwork and filing forms, and help with adjusting to new communities are but a few of the services offered by Yirgalem and her ministry. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are also being held to help immigrants with Bible studies and to adjust to the culture here in Texas.
Partnering with Zion; Our Redeemer, Dallas; and the Eritrean Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dallas, Yirgalem is engaged in a holistic ministry that addresses physical, social and spiritual needs. Through her work in the apartment communities, the Word is being preached to those who have not heard.
The Board for Mission Administration supports Yirgalem in her mission effort, and Texas Partners in Mission works to secure funding for the board to give to those who have heard God’s call to ministry. Your support allows people like Yirgalem to “reach the lost, disciple the saved, and care for God’s people.”
If I can answer any questions about this ministry, or about any of the many agencies and missionaries working in the Texas District, I would be more than happy to help (call me at 800- 951-3478). I ask for your prayers for those engaged in the mission effort and would ask that you consider supporting Texas Partners in Mission.
By Lanny Moore
TPIM Development Director