A newsletter for friends of the Global Mission Institute, Luther Seminary

Global Vision - Fall 2011

View more articles in the Fall 2011 issue.

GMI Member Profile

Michael and Linda Schwartz inspired by God's work in the world

by Laura Kaslow, Communication Specialist

Throughout their marriage, Michael and Linda Schwartz have been blessed to see God at work throughout the world. Through vast international travels, they have seen evidence of the Christian faith in many expected places—in the many cathedrals they have visited and in the work of missionaries across continents.

"It's interesting that no matter what the culture, you see Christians everywhere," Michael said. "That's the work of missionaries. That consistency draws the world together."  

But they've also found Christianity in many unexpected places. Perhaps one of their more surprising reminders of God's work in the world, and how closely we are all tied together, was during a trip they took to Vietnam.

While waiting for a broken down van to be repaired, they found themselves waiting on a bench outside a Christian mission. To their surprise, the bench upon which they sat was donated by a Vietnamese immigrant from Minnesota.

"Here, on the other side of the world, we had picked a bench that was given by someone who lives in Mankato," Linda said. 

And yet, while their travels have brought them to more than 80 countries, they've also enountered the global church locally at Luther Seminary, a short drive from their Burnsville, Minn. home. Since their first Luther Seminary Leadership Circle Retreat, they've been inspired by the deep faith and passion of members of the international student community. They note how moving they find it to hear the incredible stories and sacrifices of the students who have come to Luther from across the world to further develop their call to ministry.

"Since I've been on the (Luther Seminary) board, I've met a lot of foreign students," Michael said. "They have a passion that is marked and dramatic."

Linda echoes the sentiment, "They have a fire. They really do."

It is that fire that inspires the Schwartzs' ongoing support to the Global Mission Institute. Both strongly believe in the importance of global mission and equipping future church leaders, a responsibility they see as the work of not only seminaries, but of all congregations. Their gifts to the GMI directly support programs which encourage all students to claim and live into their missionary identity, as well as helping to forge relationships between international and domestic students.

"My belief is that to be true to the gospel, you must be missional in your ministry," Michael said.

And so, inspired by seeing firsthand God's work in the world, as well as what they've learned from their relationship with the GMI, the Schwartzs see many opportunities for congregations to build their global mission programs.

"The benefit congregations have by meeting international students and missionaries is mutual, since the students will bring what they learn back to their own ministries," Linda said.

They've also seen the many ways that partnering with the GMI can help congregations enrich their global mission programs. Enthusiastic about the opportunities they have seen, the couple is seeking ways to build that partnership with their own congregation to enhance their work in global ministry.

Their passion all comes back to their strong belief in being missionally minded.

"As Christians, we are called to a mission to expand the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, we build congregations through a powerful vision that is moved by the Spirit of the gospel. That is a world vision. That Spirit is powerful enough to move through communities and energize them," Michael said.

"Through our experiences with the seminary, we have been energized by meeting the international students and hearing about the impact that they will have in their ministries. We hope to share that energy with others in our congregation and hope that other congregations can have that experience."

To learn more about the international students at Luther Seminary, read their online biographies

To learn more about ways you and your congregation can support the GMI, contact gmi@luthersem.edu