International Student Biographies
Congregations and organizations are often interested in inviting Luther Seminary's international students to be present for an event, speak at a forum or program, or come to preach. Here is some information about our international students; please note that a few of them prefer not to be speakers at this time.
For more information about arranging to have an international student speaker, please e-mail the GMI. Please include the date(s), type of presentation (forum, sermon), topic, time frame, church or organization, location, your title and contact information. Please allow at least two-three weeks lead time. You may request a specific student, or a representative from a specific area of the world or country, and we will do our best to accommodate you. We ask that you provide transportation for our students, unless otherwise arranged.
Luther Seminary also offers an online Resource Guide for congregations which includes a listing of professors available for pulpit preaching and leading Bible studies or adult forums.
Rev. Andrés Roberto Albertsen is an ordained pastor in The Danish Church Abroad/ Danish Seamen’s Church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Andrés is fluent in Danish, Spanish and English. He has visited the United States before as a tourist and studied at LSTC in Chicago for six months in 2009. He is pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology. He likes to watch quiz shows and chat about US politics. He is willing to give presentations about Danes in Argentina, Søren Kierkegaard, and his seminary in Argentina. He hopes to return to Argentina and work as a pastor again while teaching systematic theology at the seminary there.
Mesfin Ayele, an Ethiopian Lutheran, completed his Masters in Congregational Mission and Leadership in May 2011 and is now pursuing a PhD. His wife is here with him.
Ibrahim Bitrus is from Nigeria and is affiliated with the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria. Ibrahim speaks Chamba, Hausa, and English and enjoys swimming, fishing, and hunting in his spare time. Before coming to Luther Seminary, Ibrahim was teaching at the Bronnum Lutheran Seminary in Yola, Nigeria. He has come to Luther Seminary to pursue a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. Upon returning to Nigeria and to his wife and four children, Ibrahim plans on resuming his teaching position at Bronnum Lutheran Seminary and also to write vibrant theology for Nigeria.
Rev. Dynna Erika Castillo Portugal is from Mexico and is affiliated with the Evangelical (Free Methodist) Church. She is an ordained pastor; before coming to Luther Seminary, she completed a residency of Clinical Pastoral Education at Fairview Southdale Hospital. She speaks English and Spanish. In 2005, Dynna received her MATS (Masters of Arts in Theological Studies) at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Dynna loves sports and music. She is a talented musician who enjoys singing, playing the piano, mandolin, and drums. At Luther Seminary, Dynna is pursuing a Ph.D. in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Dynna plans to return to her home congregation in Mexico City where she will be able to work full time in pastoral care and counseling.
Etana Debel is from Ethiopia and is affiliated with the Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mekane Yesus. He has come to Luther Seminary to pursue a Ph.D. in Church History. Etana speaks Oromo, Amharic, and English and enjoys reading, teaching, participating in intercessory prayer and leading small groups. Before arriving at Luther Seminary, Etana acted as the Dean of Studies at the Nekemte Christian Education College, Dean of the Department of Theology at Mekane Yesus Seminary, and professor of church history, church administration, and stewardship. His wife and two children have joined him at Luther. Upon returning to Ethiopia, Etana plans on teaching history and church polity.
Timothy (Pascal) De Bernardi comes to Luther from Stockholm, Sweden where he was studying to become a pastor at Johannelunds Theological College in Uppsala. He has never been to the United States before but is glad to be here at Luther working towards his Master of Divinity. Timothy enjoys reading, music and working out, and he speaks Swedish, Italian, French and English. Once he completes his theological studies he will return to Sweden and become ordained in the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church/Swedish Evangelical Mission for service in Västerbotten. Timothy is available to speak to interested groups about a variety of subjects, but he especially enjoys speaking about prayer.
Samuel Deressa has come from Ethiopia where he is affiliated with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. Before coming to Luther Seminary, Samuel was a president of one of the graduate schools where he gave training on leadership (Foundation for Academic Excellence Ministry) and was a lecturer at Mekane Yesus Seminary on African Theology and Christian Muslim Relations in Africa. Samuel speaks his mother tongue Oromo and also Amharic and English. Playing guitar, reading and participating in social events are the hobbies and interests Samuel enjoys along with his special talent of playing guitar and organizing events. During his time at Luther, Samuel will be pursuing a Ph.D. When he returns home, Samuel feels called to strengthen the institutional capacities of Ethiopia’s Theological Schools in such a way as to produce leaders of transformation. His wife and child remain in Ethiopia.
Rev. Edwin Flomo is an ordained Lutheran pastor from the Bong County region of Liberia. He has come to Luther to earn a Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in Congregational Mission & Leadership. Before coming to Luther, Edwin was an active pastor and teacher working with groups of youth and women in HIV/AIDS counseling, trauma counseling and leadership training. He intends to return to Liberia to serve his church and country after receiving his degree. Edwin speaks both English and Kpelle. He enjoys sports, reading, and getting to know new people. He is a talented singer and instrumentalist, as well. Edwin is available to speak to groups concerning the challenges of leadership and sustainability in the church as well as the role of women and youth in sustainable church growth.
Rev. Joseph G. Gayflor is an ordained pastor in the United Pentecostal Church International in Liberia. Prior to coming to Luther for the Masters of Arts in Congregational Mission and Leadership, he was a pastor and student at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary. He speaks both English and Belle, and feels comfortable speaking to groups about “The effects/power of the Gospel” and “Mission Work in Liberia and its Boarders.” Joseph loves reading, writing about events, sports and making new friends. He hopes to return to his home of Monrovia, Liberia to get involved in mission work, promoting and encouraging others to pursue education, and to train people about discipleship. He has left behind his wife and 17-year old son in Liberia and misses them greatly.
Gudni Mar Hardarson comes to Luther from Kopavogur/Reykjavik, Iceland where he served a pastor in Iceland’s second largest congregation. He has been to the United States before as a tourist and for preaching conferences, but has come this time to do an MTh in Pastoral Theology and Ministry with a focus on Homiletics. Gudni enjoys homiletics and sports, especially soccer, and he speaks Icelandic, Swedish, and English. Upon completing his MTh he is considering pursuing a PhD but he hopes to eventually return to Iceland and put his education to good use as a pastor. Gudni is available to speak to interested groups regarding Iceland and Nordic culture, and also to preach.
Tae-Hyung Ha is from South Korea and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in South Korea. He has come to Luther Seminary to pursue a M.Th. in Mission and World Religions. Before arriving to study at Luther, Tae served as the youth director at his church. Tae wants to study a role of church and Christians in public sphere. Upon returning to South Korea, he hopes to teach and preach public theology in an age of World Christianity. His wife and daughter are here with him.
Hrang Hlei is from Burma. He is affiliated with the American Baptist Church and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Congregational Mission and Leadership. Hrang speaks 3 languages, Chin, Burmese and English. He is interested in reading, biking and playing table tennis (ping pong). Hrang completed a M.A. at Princeton Theological Seminary; prior to coming to the U.S., Hrang taught at the Myanmar Institute of Theology. Hrang has continued to serve as a part-time pastor in a local Baptist church in Burma while he has been in the U.S. Upon returning home, Hrang plans to resume his teaching ministry and continue being a pastor. Hrang's wife and daughter are here with him.
Imliwarang "Imli" Jamir is from Nagaland, India. He is affiliated with the American Baptist Church and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. Imli speaks 4 languages and is interested in listening to news, reading and playing ping-pong. Imli is particularly interested in speaking to groups about theological issues. Prior to coming to Luther Seminary, Imli was teaching at Oriental Theological Seminary in Nagaland. He plans to resume teaching seminary upon his return home. Imli is here with his wife, Sashila, and their two daughters.
Michael Jinteh is from Cameroon and is pursuing a Ph.D.; he completed his M.Th. at Luther Seminary in 2007. Mike is affiliated with the both the Mennonite and Baptist churches. Mike is interested in photography, sports, hiking and reading. He is particularly interested in speaking to groups about Christian-Muslim relations, Missions and the challenges of the church in Cameroon, and peace, justice and nonviolence. Prior to coming to Luther Seminary, Mike was a hospital chaplain and community organizer. Upon returning home Mike plans to train others and practice as a counselor. Mike is married and his wife and son are here with him.
Rev. Jacob Kanake is an ordained Methodist pastor from Kenya. At Luther Seminary, he is working on his Ph.D. Jacob speaks five languages: Kimeru, Kiswahili, English, Kikuyu, and Kiembu. Listening to music, drama, the environment, and reading are interests of Jacob. When Jacob returns to Kenya, he hopes to work as a pastor, teacher, and/or counselor. His family is here with him.
John D. Karmo is an ordained Baptist minister from the Bomi region of Liberia where he worked as a pastor was the Secretary General for his convention. He came to Luther to work toward a Masters in Congregational Mission and Leadership. John enjoys singing, sports (especially soccer) and has a particular interest in pastoral counseling. He hopes to return to Liberia after his studies and continue his work as a pastor and the secretary general. John is available to speak to interested groups regarding youth evangelism, conflict resolution and leadership from his own context.
Josh de Keijzer is a non-denominational pastor from the Netherlands who has come to Luther to earn a PhD in Systematic Theology. He has lived in the U.S. off and on since 1988 doing mission work. Josh came to us most recently from Bethel Seminary where he was introduced to 20th century German theologians which he will be studying in great depth while at Luther. When finished with his degree, he hopes to teach theology at a graduate level. Because of his studies, Josh is not as of yet available for speaking engagements.
Tae Hee Kim is a M.Th. student from Korea; he received his M.Div. degree from Luther in 2007. Before coming to Luther, he studied ESL at the University of Kentucky. When he returns to his home country, Tae will serve a Methodist congregation as a pastor. His hobbies include climbing and reading. Tae Hee's wife and son are here with him.
Hyun Ae Kim is Presbyterian and came from South Korea in 2000 to study in America. She earned her B.S. and Master of Education through the University of Minnesota. Hyun Ae speaks her mother tongue Korean and also English. She will be pursuing a Master of Arts in Children, Youth and Family while at Luther. Having good food and conversation with close friends is Hyun Ae’s favorite hobby. Her special talents include swimming and taking care of/playing with children. When Hyun Ae returns home she hopes to develop a Christian outreach program for children with special needs, and their families.
Byung-Ohk Lee is from South Korea and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. He has completed his M.Th. in Mission and World Religions at Luther and is now a Ph.D. student in Congregational Mission and Leadership. Byung-Ohk is married and they have two boys. Before coming to Luther, Byung-Ohk was a director in Youth Ministry at his church. He is a gifted leader and teacher with hobbies in Billiards, Baduk and poetry writing. Byung-Ohk hopes to become a pastor and professor when he returns to Korea.
Rev. Tae Woong Lee served as a youth director and praise leader in the Presbyterian Church in South Korea before coming to America. He speaks his mother tongue Korean and also English. Tae Woong enjoys playing piano and watching Major League Baseball. His interests include biblical exegesis, social justice and eschatological faith. While at Luther Seminary, Tae Woong will pursue a Master of Theology. After his studies here and his return home, Tae Woong hopes to serve as a pastor and begin teaching ministry. Tae Woong’s wife is here with him.
Rev. Wondimu Legesse Sonessa: Wondimu is a Lutheran pastor in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus from the Addis Ababa region of Ethiopia. As an active lecturer and preacher, Wondimu has served as pastor of EECMY congregations and, most recently, as Dean of Mekane Yesus Seminary. Afan, Oromo, Amharic and English are all languages Wondimu speaks and he enjoys playing and watching sports as well as reading. He has come to Luther to earn a Masters of Theology degree and is available to speak on topics such as discipleship, spiritual gifts, and the fruits of the spirit.
(Shirley) Man Iong Ma from Macau, China has come to Luther Seminary to pursue a Master of Theology with an emphasis on the Old Testament. She just completed her Master of Divinity degree at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong. Shirley speaks Chinese and English, and is affiliated with the Alliance denomination. She loves hiking, reading, music and traveling. Shirley hopes to return to her home country to teach in theological education.
Salai Pum Za Mang is a Baptist professor from Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar) where he has been teaching and lecturing at the Methodist seminary, Myanmar Theological College, since 2005. Mang, as he prefers to be called, speaks Burmese, English and Chin, his mother tongue. He has come to Luther Seminary to begin work on earning a Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology. Mang earned his Master of Arts at Princeton Seminary in 2010 and would be comfortable presenting to groups about a variety of different topics related to the current situation in Burma. After graduation, Mang hopes to return to his home country and wife while continue to teach at the seminary.
Rev. Peter Matano Mnene is a Lutheran pastor from Kenya who has dreamt about coming to Luther since 1996. His mother tongue is Kitaveta, and he also speaks Kiswahili and English. Peter has come to Luther Seminary to pursue a Master of Arts in Congregational Mission and Leadership. He loves football, preaching to the unreached and encouraging and counseling others. His special talents are singing and working with children and the needy. He hopes to return to Kenya and establish programs for women’s empowerment, and education for the less fortunate children of alcoholics. His wife Eliaichi and their three children are back home in Kenya.
David Thang Moe is Chin and from Myanmar (Burma) where he is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. Before coming to Luther Seminary, he served as a volunteer pastor at Sabah Evangelical Church (SIB Heritage) and was a part time pastor among Burmese refugees in Malaysia. He is pursuing a Master of Theology in Systematic Theology. David loves to preach, sing, play sports, read and write. He would be comfortable talking to group about inter-cultural mission and doing contextual theology. He hopes to return to Myanmar and be a contextual lecturer at a Bible school. His wife is here with him. David is delighted to be in the colorful koinonia/community of Luther.
Rode Shewanya Molla is a Lutheran from Addis Abbba, Ethiopia where she worked as a Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Mekane Yesus. She has come to Luther Seminary to earn a Masters of Arts in Children, Youth and Family. She speaks Amharic and English. Rode likes to watch movies and sing songs. She hopes to return to Ethiopia and continue to work with youth and children’s ministry in the church. Her husband is back in Ethiopia working as an evangelist for the Mekane Yesus Church.
Rev. Eve Mugambi is a M.Th. student from Kenya. She is ordained in the Methodist Church and speaks 3 languages: English, Kimeru and Kiswahili. Prior to coming to Luther Seminary, Eve completed a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. Eve is particularly interested in speaking to groups about her life and ministry in Kenya, life as a woman in a patriarchal society and African Traditional Religion (ATR). Upon returning home, Even plans to teach in colleges and seminaries. Eve's family is with her.
William Obaga is from Kenya and is affiliated with the Kenyan Evangelical Lutheran Church. He has taught music in a high school, choral and orchestral conducting and directed music in his home congregation (Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation). William graduated from Luther's MSM program in conducting, and is currently in the Ph.D. program. He is here with one of his sons. Upon his return home and to his wife, he hopes to teach music and work with his church in the area of church music. He speaks three languages and enjoys singing, soccer, volleyball and gardening. He is a gifted musician.
Sister M. Nkiruka Catherine Okafor is a Roman Catholic nun from Anambra State, in the South East region, Nigeria. Before coming to Luther Seminary, she was teaching in her home country. Sister Nikru speaks Igbo, English and Pidgin English. She has come to Luther to pursue a PhD in Pastoral Care and Counseling with an emphasis on youth. She loves basketball, traditional dancing, and youth ministry. She also has good organizational skills. She is comfortable talking with groups about youth ministry. She will be returning to Nigeria and opening a department for training youth ministers.
Mikyoung Park is from South Korea and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Mikyoung received her MSM degree from Luther in May 2009, and is now in the M.Div. program. Before entering seminary, Mikyoung received her DMA in Vocal Performance at the University of Minnesota. She enjoys watching movies, making earrings, and knitting. She is very talented at singing and playing the piano. Upon returning to South Korea, Mikyoung hopes to teach at a university. She is married to Joshua Choi and they have two children.
Sitraka Rakotoarivelo is originally from Madagascar but has, for the last part of his life, lived in Cameroon where his parents work as missionaries. Sitraka came to Luther Seminary as a child in 1995, because his father studied here. He has returned to work on a Master of Arts in Children, Youth and Family. He is fluent in English, French, and Malagasy, and enjoys basketball, soccer, computers and technology, and playing the guitar. He hopes to return to his home land and open his own business in computer technology and also be involved in drama ministry with the youth.
Ihobinirina Rakotomalala. or “Ihoby” (Yoo-bee), was born in the Antananariro region of Madagascar, but grew up mostly in Cameroon. She is fluent in Malagasy, French, and English. She attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD (’12) where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and she is now at Luther Seminary working toward a Masters in Children, Youth and Family. She has great interest in photography, medicine (both of her parents are doctors) and non-profit organizations. Ihoby is available to speak to interested groups about Cameroon, multi-culturalism, Native American history and current issues, children ministry and youth engagement.
Sashinungla "Sashila" is a student from India and is affiliated with the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. Before coming to Luther Seminary, Sashila was teaching at the seminary in Nagaland, India. She has come to Luther with her husband, Imli, and their two daughters. Sashila is pursuing a Doctorate degree in History of Christianity. She enjoys gardening and cooking. Upon returning to India, Sashila hopes to resume teaching at the seminary in Nagaland.
Serkalem Getachew Siyum: Serkalem comes from the Addis Ababa region of Ethiopia where she worked in youth ministry. She comes to Luther most recently from George August University of Gottingen, Germany where she received an MA in Intercultural Theology. She will be working toward a Masters in Theology while at Luther. Serkalem hopes to return to Ethiopia after her studies to teach at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and work with youth. Serkalem is available to speak to interested groups about intercultural communication, culture shock, and some of the unique aspects of Ethiopian culture.
Rev. George Changlak Timlak is a Baptist pastor from the Southwest region of Cameroon. Before coming to Luther Seminary, George was working part time in a congregation and as the lead chaplain in a hospital. He is pursuing the dual degree of a Master of Arts in Congregational and Community Care while earning a Masters in Social Work. He speaks English and the Yamba dialect, and is affiliated with the Cameroon Baptist Convention. His hobbies include volleyball, watching sports, films and taking leisure trips. George is talented in drumming, farming and counseling and is comfortable talking to groups about caring ministry in the hospital, the love of God for mankind, and bearing one another’s burden by praying for them. He hopes to return to Cameroon and continue to work as a hospital chaplain, while training other chaplains and social workers. He also hopes to offer pastoral care in the church and wider community as a professional back home. His wife and four children are back in Cameroon.
Henderika J Wattimena, or "Hennie," comes to Luther from central Java, one of the main Islands of Indonesia, where she taught theology at Satya Wacana Christian University and is an ordained pastor in the Protestant Church of West Indonesia. She will be working on a Masters in Congregational & Community Care while at Luther and hopes to return to teaching, pastoral care and counseling when she finishes with her studies. Including her Clinical Pastoral Education experience in Hawaii (2012), this is Hennie’s second stay in the U.S.
Rev. Hossana Yohanna is a pastor in the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, and has come to Luther Seminary to earn a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology. Hossana comes from Adamawa, Nigeria and speaks his mother tongue Yandang, Hausa, and English. Hossana loves to sing, read, and preach. Hossana would be comfortable talking to groups about “Reaching the Unreached”, “Overcoming Spiritual Challenges”, and “Holiness.” Before coming to Luther, Hossana was a pastor at a Lutheran church in Lagos, and he also taught at a seminary in Nigeria. He hopes to go back to Nigeria and still work in ministry as a pastor. His wife and four children are back home in Nigeria.