Over the last year, many people have asked us whether we would be returning to Europe in the near future. The door now appears to be open for us to return to LCC International University in Klaipėda, Lithuania. After many months of prayer, careful consideration, and consultation with friends and family, Corrie and I have decided to return to LCC for the Fall 2017 semester.
The decision process has been accompanied by many tears–not simply grieving the loss of Corrie’s father, Joe, but also anticipating the challenges of moving once again to another country. Our previous experience at LCC is a two-edged sword. We have a better sense this time of what we would like to bring with us and what our lives will be like in Lithuania, and we already have friends and colleagues there. But we also remember all the work it took to get there and the pain of separation from family and USA friends.
We are not moving because this is easy. We are moving ahead because we believe that God is calling us to this important mission. We ask that you would pray for us over the next year: for strength and determination, for perspective, for comfort, and for joy.
What is LCC, again?
LCC International University is the only Christian liberal-arts university in the former Soviet Union, founded in 1991. About 600 students attend from dozens of countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Instruction is in English, and all students are required to take Bible and theology courses. Only about a quarter of the students profess an active relationship with Christ (most come from nominally Catholic or Orthodox families). This presents faculty members and their families with opportunities to share the gospel with young people from many nations that are still recovering from the darkness and hopelessness of communism. Some students come from countries where preaching the gospel is illegal.
LCC also offers a B.A. in Theology, as well as a minor in Theology. The courses for the major and minor in Theology provide more in-depth ministry training in preparation for vocational and bi-vocational church leadership in the region. For example, Bogdan, a recent Moldovan graduate of the Theology program who took four of my courses in 2014-15, is part of a church plant in Vilnius.
You can find out more about the ministry of LCC here: www.lcc.lt/video-portrait.
How will you be serving at LCC?
My faculty responsibilities will be somewhat different from last time. I will still teach advanced Bible courses for the Theology program (including one course by Skype this Spring, from Pennsylvania). But I will also be working alongside (and reporting directly to) the academic VP in a new position designed to enhance the university’s research activities in all disciplines.
One of the many reasons students (including non-Christians) choose LCC is its range of accredited B.A. programs. In order to maintain institutional and program accreditation from the Lithuanian Ministry of Education (SKVC), LCC’s faculty must continue to produce high-quality academic research–which, as is the case for most universities, requires outside funding. In addition to continuing my own program of academic research in Old Testament, I will be working to help other faculty members secure research grants, seeking grants to bring visiting faculty to LCC, and organizing conferences and events related to the intersection of Christian faith and liberal education.
Even though this aspect of my role is perhaps a step or two removed from Bible teaching and evangelism, it nevertheless contributes to the overall mission of the university–just like those who work in Student Life, the financial office, recruitment, and any number of other roles.
This role will also allow me more freedom to teach and minister regionally. Last time around, I had the opportunity to preach at local churches in Lithuania, and I look forward to building on those relationships. Additionally, I have been asked to teach a week-long Old Testament course in March 2018 for Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary in Ukraine, in the MTh program.
Corrie is looking forward to involvement with LCC and the community, as well: hosting students in our home, building relationships with other women from the local church and the community, and perhaps once again leading a choir or teaching music. Daniel and Elizabeth will be 7 and 4, and will probably attend primary school in Lithuanian.
How long do you anticipate serving at LCC?
Our hope is to serve in this role for about five years, which will take the university through the next round of institutional review for accreditation, and ensure that the new research center is established.
How can I help?
We will not know the exact details of our funding situation until January, but we will probably need to raise about 25-35% of our funding as missionaries. Please consider whether you might be able to help us in this way; we will provide more details at that time. We have been amazed at all the ways that God has provided for our needs over these last three years, and we are confident that He will continue to do so.
We appreciate those of you who are praying for our family through this time of transition, tumult, and difficulty. God continues to be faithful.