This update was shared by Rev. Carl and Deaconess Deborah Rockrohr, who serve as LCMS missionaries in South Africa. Photo: Six deaconess students stand together after worshipping together at a “celebration service” in October.
With the start of the new academic year two weeks ago, the residential deaconess training programme at Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) was launched. While a new thing, this is not a new idea for LTS. In fact, it has been the dream to add deaconess training for some time now. Initially, LTS was able to offer deaconess training only on a short-term intensive course basis. This year, we have eight women who have come to study on a full-time basis for two years. By God’s grace, we will yet add another student in the coming days. We know she is trying to come, and have a place reserved for her, but she have so far been delayed in travel.
As the director of the residential deaconess training programme, the work for me [Deborah] is simultaneously exciting and daunting. It is a big task to design and then carry out a programme to train these women. It is a big responsibility to see that they are well cared for, and have a healthy, comfortable and safe living and learning environment. And yet, what joy to see these new faces and to know that these women are eager to learn and develop their skills so that they can extend the mercy work of the church both within the congregation and into their communities! Carl told me recently that he has not seen me smile so much nor so often as I have in the last few weeks since we arrived in Pretoria and began preparing in earnest for the tasks ahead. Whether that is true or not, I can tell you that I look forward to each new day with joy and great anticipation! The Lord has already showered great mercy and grace upon this fledgling programme. I invite you to rejoice with me as I recount just a few examples of the Lord’s blessings already received.
First, eight women have safely arrived from various towns and villages in South Africa, Botswana, Liberia and Zambia and are already settling in and taking up their studies. We hope one more student from Uganda will arrive soon. Second, a beautiful residence has been provided for the women, Dube House. Those who have previously visited the seminary will have known it as guest quarters only. Now it is the deaconess student residence, and has sleeping rooms, bath facilities, a fully-equipped kitchen and laundry and a large study room. Third, one of our students accidentally left her purse (with passport) on the luggage trolley in the parking lot of the airport. It was only after the hour-long journey to the seminary and then while settling into her room that she discovered it was missing. After making several phone calls, we learned that the purse, with passport and all contents intact, had been spotted by an airport worker and taken to lost luggage. That same afternoon we were able to retrieve the purse and passport! We praise God for His provision and protection in what could have been a disastrous turn of events!