Emmanuel Christian School students in Broyouk, Cambodia, are being educated with the support of parishioners at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing
The Rev. Paul Appold, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing, stands at the entrance to Emmanuel Christian School in Broyouk, Cambodia. The sign on the gate honors Ralph Boardman, longtime principal at Trinity Lutheran School in Lansing.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Sometimes life as a pastor seems to be more joyful than others. There are some hills and valleys in the life of the parish pastor. I happen to be on one of those joyful highs right now. It isn't because life is especially easy right now. It's not. It is because of what I have just experienced in the mission field.
Trinity Lutheran Church, the church I serve, has a wonderful relationship going on right now with a little Christian school in a tiny village called Broyouk in rural Cambodia. It was a special privilege for my wife, Carrie, and me to visit it recently.
Let me explain how this worked out. One of the sons of our congregation is Rudy Schaser. I call him a "son" of our congregation because Rudy grew up here. Not only did he grow up here, but he also went on to become a missionary in the Philippines and a long-serving pastor in the Lutheran church.
In his retirement, Rudy and his wife, Dorothy, have worked hard to develop Christian schools in some of the most impoverished nations of the world. One such school is Emmanuel Christian School in Broyouk, Cambodia, a school Rudy dedicated in honor of his cherished teacher and mentor, Ralph Boardman.
Boardman is the longtime principal and teacher of Trinity Lutheran School. Boardman was known for teaching the gentle grace of Jesus Christ to many, many students over a long tenure. Because of this, Ralph is loved by many at Trinity.
Three years ago, our congregation pledged monthly support to Emmanuel Christian School. We have helped to financially support its four teachers, send books to the library and pay for the upkeep of the school. But it has never been a burden for us. Instead, we feel like we have received a blessing.
Rudy and I discussed plans for a visit for about three years. And the Lord brought it to fruition. I never would have thought this would work out in my lifetime. Cambodia was a war zone when I was young. It was a place that was off-limits to Americans.
What a privilege it was for Carrie and me to travel to Cambodia on Jan. 24, to bring greetings to the children and teachers of this school, and to remind them that we love them and have been praying for them.
Words cannot adequately describe the excitement we felt as we drove through rural Cambodia on bumpy roads and took a little left turn to find rows of children cheering for us as we pulled into Emmanuel Christian School.
There are so many bad things happening in our world today. One could easily become pessimistic about the state of our world. But I am filled with joy as I write this, rejoicing that we have been given a privilege to help people halfway around the world.
Children's lives are changed forever. It is something I will always treasure.
The Rev. Paul Appold is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.