北美路德信友教會(The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of North America，以下簡稱"母會")是於一九九○年由五個路德宗教會合組而成的。母會設立之初的異象乃是要與中國人分享基督耶穌的福音。在過去的一百零七年，這個異象已經實現了。
教會成立兩年之後(一九○二)即差派第一批宣教士前往中國的河南省及湖北省宣教。到共產黨統治中國大陸，並驅逐宣教士之前(一九四九)，母會共差派了三十四位宣教士前往中國。在這四十五年裡，宣教士們設立教會、開辦學校，以及從事一些醫療工作。這是母會的中國差會(Lutheran Brethren China Mission, 以下簡稱LBCM，或差會)在華人當中的第一階段的事工。
第二階段的工作始於一九五二年。當時母會接獲來自台灣的報告，得知對台灣人的工作相當順利，並聲稱「幾乎沒有人對在台灣的大陸籍人士進行任何福音工作」（雷範1980, 318頁）。為了回應這項急迫的需求，母會乃差派當初從大陸撤退出來的宣教士聶和慈牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Art Nyhus)及饒利亞小姐(Miss Oudal)來台灣。隨後，安德牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Elliot Aandahl) 隨後也被差派來台，協助在新竹開拓聖工。涂常五牧師，一位由大陸來台的華籍中華基督教信義會傳道人，以及李耀功牧師加入這些美籍宣教士的行列，在新竹縣及苗栗縣傳揚福音。
在一九五○年代的後期，在桃園地區展開工作；母會的獨立宣教士王德龢牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. P.M. Valder)在台北的工作也轉移給中華基督教信義會總會。隨後，其子王奧篤牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Otto Valder)也加入差會(LBCM)，並繼續在台北新生堂教會的事工。後來，他們轉到新竹及桃園等地工作。齊復生牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Arve Christofferson)於一九五七年加入差會，並在苗栗、桃園以及台北等地工作。在這些年間，差會的成果斐然，建立了許多教會。
在一九六○年代中期，白謙德牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Charles Batchelder, 1963)以及陶恩生牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Reuben Thorson)抵達台灣。白牧師一家前往苗栗，陶牧師一家則被分派到新竹，在剛設立的中華信義神學院(China Lutheran Seminary)工作。白牧師一家稍後(約1975)搬到桃園，並開拓仁愛堂。
一九八一年羅威信牧師夫婦(Rev. and Mrs. Joel Nordtvedt)被差派來台灣展開客家福音聖工，或者說是母會在中國的「第三階段」的聖工。隨後於一九八七年有邱福生牧師夫婦 (Rev. and Mrs. Michael Kittelson)，一九九○年有陳義聖牧師 (Ethan Christofferson)來台，加入羅牧師的工作行列。陳義聖牧師於一九九二年與當時在非洲事奉的母會宣教士Sandra Tjaden小姐結婚。這三個家庭在這些年間的不同階段，與楊梅教會配搭事奉。
邱福生牧師夫婦於一九九二年秋季開始學習華語。次年，他們以兼職方式協助新竹縣芎林的恩霖堂工作。邱牧師夫婦同時也與幾所教會配搭開展英語教學的福音工作。一九九五年四月，第一位英文老師柯美麗小姐(Miss Corlis Germo)抵達台灣，並在竹東及楊梅教會工作一年。在柯小姐任滿返回加拿大後，英語教學的事工即告終止。
在公元二千年，我們看得出無論是在宣教的人事、或是宣教的地點方面都有很大的轉變。羅威信牧師一家返回美國擔任路德信友州神學院院長一職。陳義聖牧師則返回美國進入三一神學院繼續深造。而差會，在決定專心向新竹地區客家族群宣教後，將宣教士人事集中到新竹市。邱福生牧師因而搬到新竹市，並與勝利堂內對客家族群有負擔的信徒與傳道人一同配搭事奉。二○○五年，我們很高興有林天恩夫婦(Rev. & Mrs. Andrew Larsen)加入我們，並在新竹縣芎林地區學習客語及文化。我們期盼將來有更多機會與總會新竹地區各教會的肢體配搭，來服事他們的家族及社區。
一九九七年一月，在台灣的宣教士們以及差會總幹事駱馬太牧師(Rev. Matthew Rogness)，於新竹與中華基督教信義會總會執行委員會共同商議彼此關係改變的事宜。執行委員們認為，中華基督教信義會已經是獨立的，因此，應該被認定是「自治、自養、自傳」的教會。差會宣教士們再也不必在總會中參與決策的角色。這樣的改變將使兩個姐妹教會更專注在上帝分別給他們的呼召上。
Levang, Joseph H. 1980. The Church of the Lutheran Brethren: 1900-1975. Fergus Falls, Minn.: Lutheran Brethren Publishing Company.
LUTHERAN BRETHREN CHINA MISSION:
THREE STAGES OF MINISTRY
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of North America was founded in 1900 with five Lutheran congregations. This Church was born with a vision to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Chinese people. For the past one hundred and seven years, this vision has been carried out.
Two years after the Lutheran Brethren was founded, the first missionaries were sent to China to begin work in Henan and Hubei Provinces. A total of thirty-four missionaries were sent to China over a period of forty-five years before the communists took over and missionaries were expelled. During these years of service, missionaries planted churches, operated schools, and did some medical work. This was "Stage One" of the Lutheran Brethren China Mission (LBCM) ministry to the Chinese people.
"Stage Two" began in 1952 after a report came from Taiwan to the Lutheran Brethren Church in North America that, while effective gospel work was being done among the Taiwanese, "almost no work had yet been undertaken to reach the mainland Mandarin-speaking Chinese" (Levang 1980, 318). Responding to this urgent need, the Lutheran Brethren Church in North America sent veteran China missionaries, Rev. and Mrs. Art Nyhus and Miss Oudal, to Taiwan. Rev. and Mrs. Elliot Aandahl came soon after to help with the work which began in Hsinchu City. Rev. Tu Chang-wu, a Lutheran Brethren pastor from mainland China, and Lee Yao-kung joined these missionaries in spreading gospel work to other locations in Hsinchu and Miaoli Counties.
By the late 1950s, work had begun in Taoyuan and the work of independent Lutheran Brethren missionaries, Rev. and Mrs. P.M. Valder in Taipei, was turned over to the Chinese Lutheran Brethren Synod. Rev. and Mrs. Otto Valder also joined the LBCM and continued to work with New Life Church in Taipei. They later worked in Hsinchu and in Taoyuan. Rev. and Mrs. Arve Christofferson joined the Mission in 1957 and worked in Miaoli, Taoyuan, and Taipei. The LBCM had a very fruitful season of ministry during these years and many churches were started.
In the mid-60s, Rev. and Mrs. Charles Batchelder and Rev. and Mrs. Reuben Thorson arrived in Taiwan. Batchelders settled in Miaoli and the Thorsons began their assignment at the newly opened China Lutheran Seminary in Hsinchu. Batchelders later moved to Taoyuan to start Ren Ai Church.
By the late 1970s, LBCM missionaries in Taiwan sensed the need to begin a specialized work among the Hakka Chinese. While some Hakkas had become Christians and were part of Lutheran Brethren churches, many of which were located in Hakka areas, the percentage of Christians among the Hakkas was still very low. In 1977 the LBCM made an appeal to the Church in America to send someone to begin work among the unreached Hakkas. Just as the American Church had responded in 1952 to the urgent need for work among the unevangelized Mandarin speakers, they now were eager to meet this need.
In 1981 Rev. and Mrs. Joel Nordtvedt were sent to Taiwan to begin Hakka ministry, or "Stage Three" of the LBCM work in China. Nordtvedts were joined in 1987 by Rev. and Mrs. Michael Kittelson, and Rev. Ethan Christofferson in 1990. In 1992, Rev. Christofferson was married to Sandra Tjaden, who had been serving in Africa as a Lutheran Brethren missionary. All three families worked with the Yangmei Church at various stages of its development.
By the end of 1992, all of the missionaries who had come to Taiwan for "Stage Two" Mandarin ministries had left Taiwan. Vacancies were left by these former missionaries, particularly in synodical ministries. This vacuum was filled in a time of transition by the newer missionaries who had come to do "Stage Three" (Hakka) work.
While studying Mandarin in Hsinchu, Joel Nordtvedt began teaching part-time at China Lutheran Seminary. He continued in his position as missions teacher after they moved back to Fugang in 1992 to continue part-time Hakka ministry.
The Kittelsons began Mandarin language study in the fall of 1992. The following year, they began helping En-Lin Church in Chiunglin on a part-time basis. Rev. and Mrs. Kittelson also worked with several churches to develop an English program for evangelism. Corlis Germo, the first English teacher, came to Taiwan in April, 1995, and worked in Judung and Yangmei churches for one year. The English program for evangelism was not continued after Corlis Germo returned to Canada.
By 1997, the clear goal established by the Lutheran Brethren World Mission Board to focus our attention completely on ministry to the Hakkas was being implemented by all their missionaries in Taiwan. The Joel Nordtvedt family continued to minister in Fugang with limited help from the Yangmei church. The Ethan Christofferson family ministered in Yangmei, helping the church with further outreach as well as leadership development. The Kittelson family concluded their ministry in Chiunglin as the church prepared to call Pastor Ye. Before their 1998 home assignment, they explored possible opportunities to spread the Gospel in Hukou where they had lived and learned Hakka. Upon returning from America in 1999, they moved to Judung and partnered with Benevolence LB Church in ministries reaching out to Hakkas until the end of December 2004.
The new millennium has been a time of transition as we have seen many changes in our LBCM staff and ministry locations. Joel Nordtvedt and his family returned to America where he accepted the position as President of Lutheran Brethren Schools. Ethan Christofferson and his family spent an extended time in America as he studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The LBCM, upon determining to concentrate their Hakka ministries in Hsinchu, began to position personnel in this city. The Kittelsons moved to Hsinchu and began initial ministries partnering with interested believers and staff at Victory LB Church. In 2005,we rejoiced to have Rev. and Mrs. Andrew Larsen arrive in Taiwan to begin Hakka language and cultural studies in Chiunglin. We welcome opportunities to partner with our Chinese LB Churches and their believers in Hsinchu to minister among Hakkas within their families and in their communities.
The Goal of Establishing Independent Churches
A major goal of Lutheran Brethren World Missions is to work toward complete independence of national churches planted by her missionaries throughout the world. This goal had been realized in "Stage Two" of the ministry among the Chinese. However, while missionaries and Chinese synodical leaders had often spoken of how the Chinese synod is independent, no formal acknowledgment of this had been made. The successful completion of "Stage Two" had never been celebrated. Therefore, the Lutheran Brethren World Mission Board felt that it was time to formalize a more mature relationship with the independent Chinese Lutheran Brethren Church and presented a plan to celebrate this at the 45th Anniversary in October, 1997.
In January, 1997, Taiwan missionaries, along with Rev. Matthew Rogness, Director of Lutheran Brethren World Missions, met with the Synodical Executive Committee to establish this relationship change. They suggested that because the Synod is now independent, it should be considered self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating. Missionaries should no longer serve in decision-making roles in the Synod. This change would enable the two sister churches to better focus their attention on and take responsibility for the tasks which God has given them.
We rejoice at the growth of the Chinese Lutheran Brethren Church and celebrate the success of a church body well-planted. We have formally given the responsibility for this ongoing ministry to the established Chinese church. We missionaries continue to be equal partners in the larger task of bringing the kingdom of God to the world, and to the Hakka Chinese in particular. In this sense, we join together to advance the work of evangelizing the world.
The LBCM, along with the Lutheran Brethren World Mission Board, has long sensed the leading of the Holy Spirit to turn from former ministries, which can be carried on by the established church, to intentionally concentrate on reaching the grass-roots Hakka people. We believe that this large unreached group of people who seem to be resistant to the gospel needs to be evangelized in a cross-cultural way both by foreign missionaries and by non-Hakka Chinese Christians. Few are reaching out to these people in this way. Therefore we have chosen to concentrate all our efforts on this task.
To the extent that this grass-roots Hakka work of the Mission intersects with Synodical Hakka work, we rejoice in another opportunity to work hand in hand. Where our work is not the same, we rejoice in the different work that God has given to each of us. It is not imperative for us to work together when God gives us different work to do. That is not to say, however, that we do not care about each other's work. Rather, we seek to be faithful in the ministries to which the Lord has led us.
At the 40th Anniversary of the Chinese Lutheran Brethren Church we celebrated the successful completion of LBCM's "Stage Two" of ministry among the Chinese. "Stage One" lasted for forty-five years in mainland China. While many felt that the LBCM ministry was cut short in China by leaving behind a meager 300 believers in 1947, today in that part of China the number of believers is estimated at more than 20,000! "Stage Two" (Mandarin ministries in Taiwan) has also lasted for forty-five years. Some would also question whether or not "Stage Two" is really completed. There is still much work to be done. However, the national church here is much stronger than what LBCM was forced to leave in Mainland China in 1947.
The Mission Task Moves On
The task of LBCM is not to complete the work of evangelizing the people of a particular place. Rather, our calling is to plant a church that is self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. It is the established (self-supporting and self-governing) Chinese Lutheran Brethren Church that needs to continue on to reach the Mandarin-speaking people of Taiwan. In the spirit of the Apostle Paul (Romans 15:20, 23), we missionaries have moved wholeheartedly into "Stage Three" of our mission: grass-roots ministries to the Hakka people. How long will this take? This we do not know. What we do know is that our present task is to work toward the establishment of a strong grass-roots ministry among the Hakka people--one which can then carry on without outside help. Then we can look elsewhere for ripe fields where the laborers are few. May God find us all faithful in the work He has given us! top