Leading the global church
By Amy Olson, Correspondent
William Obaga, ’14, is the World Mission Prayer League (WMPL) associate director for Africa, a role he has held since June last year. He and his wife, Margaret, ‘08, are stationed in Germany through a partnership between their native Kenyan Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Germany.
“My role at the Prayer League involves conversations with existing, new and potential partners, finding areas where we can work together in leadership training and missionary mobilization” Obaga says.
It’s an ambitious undertaking. The World Mission Prayer League is a pan-Lutheran mission society serving all Lutheran churches. With 6,000 members who pray daily for mission work, WMPL has scores of missionaries around the world who engage in everything from direct evangelism to medical work to educating diaconal workers, discipleship leaders, theological educators and other areas of leadership development.
His daily experiences are both varied and rich and there is no such thing as a “typical day.” He provides guidance to the Prayer League’s mission work in Africa, networks with other partnerships in Western Europe and acts as liaison with the headquarters in Minneapolis. He travels to visit missionaries throughout Africa, while continuing to enrich his own faith and knowledge.
Meanwhile, Margaret is busy working in the Department of Intercultural Theology of Mission EineWelt (Mission One- World). This is the international partnership organization of the Lutheran Church in Bavaria based in Neuendettelsau, near Nuremberg. Working as a pastoral theology teacher and researcher in conflict management and family systems, she helps liaise with more than 40 Lutheran partner churches around the world. She also receives invitations as a guest preacher from various congregations. Both the Obagas are often invited to present at seminars throughout Germany.
At the heart of William’s work is music. He holds a special interest in African Christianity and its church music—both academically and personally. He is not only part of church music leadership, but performs in a brass choir at the church of the Diakonie Neuendettelsau. He also receives invitations to offer church music leadership at seminars and congregations, especially in the deanery/district of Ansbach.
“I hear the Lord calling me to establish a local choir to perform global music, particularly choral anthems in African languages and style,” he says.
A lifelong Lutheran, Obaga credits his education for further bolstering his faith, knowledge and desire to continue to build on mission and participate in inter-Lutheran, crosscultural conversations and scholarship.
“Going to Luther Seminary was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. “Recommended to us in 2003 by an alumnus who was a missionary in Kenya, Luther offered programs where both my wife and I could fit in. At Luther one melds into its unique diversity of cultures, ecumenical engagement, different levels of student interaction, a diversity of first-rate professors and a rich variety of curricular offerings of the highest standards.”