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

Global Vision - Fall 2008

View more articles in the Fall 2008 issue.

GMI Member Profile

David and Ann Preus Support GMI Because of Belief in Mission

by Jenny Norris Peterson, Philanthropic Adviser

Dr. David W. Preus, '50, remembers that when he was a Luther Seminary student, there was only one international student and there were no international faculty. He is immensely gratified that today there are 49 international students and three faculty members from other countries.

"You can't go on campus today without seeing that Luther Seminary is a global enterprise, and that is a tremendous gain."

"We are members of a global church," Preus says. "Luther Seminary is and ought to be a global seminary. Having the Global Mission Institute at Luther Seminary, and welcoming so many international students and faculty members, deepens the whole seminary community's understanding that the church's mission is global."

A Long History with the GMI

Preus served the American Lutheran Church (ALC) first as a pastor, and then as president from 1973-1987. He then became Director of the Global Mission Institute (GMI), a post he held until 1994.

David and his wife Ann are longtime supporters of the GMI. David says, "We think that the GMI is an essential part of the seminary."

Ann says she gained a strong appreciation for global mission through attending Women's Missionary Federation meetings while she was growing up.

Building International Connections

Years later, she and David have hosted dozens of American missionaries and international visitors in their home. She remembers, "It was a good way to get acquainted, over food. We had many interesting conversations over meals."

"Our guests didn't always speak English, though. One way I communicated with them was through mathematics." Ann invented a method for teaching math, Compute-A-Color, that has been used both in the United States and internationally.

David traveled extensively as president of the ALC, often visiting missionaries. One trip to Namibia made a particularly strong impression on him. He and Bob Marshall, then president of the Lutheran Church in America, were riding together in the lead car of a procession. They were stopped at a South African Army roadblock, but waved on through. The second car in the procession carried the president of the Namibian Lutheran Church. Army officials made him get out of the car, body searched him and ridiculed him.

"It was ghastly that he was treated so differently. The sheer enthusiasm for life and for Jesus that he had in the face of the worst kind of oppression was humbling and inspiring to me."

Today's Global Church

Today, David believes that learning about Islam is crucial for Christian leaders. "We need to be able to make a distinction between Islam in its majority and in its radical minority. It is too easy for us to see only Islamic fundamentalists and think all Muslims pursue violent ends. We need to see them not as the enemy. If we are going to make any impact on others, we need to understand them."

David and Ann agree that personal encounters with people from other countries is key to understanding them, their culture, and their faith. The Global Mission Institute helps facilitate connections between Luther Seminary and seminaries around the world, and also facilitates personal connections among international and U.S. students and faculty on the Luther Seminary campus.