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.
Dilame Gebre Atebo is an Ethiopian Lutheran. She has come to Luther Seminary to study Children, Youth, and Family Ministry. Before travelling to the U.S. Dilame worked as a consultant and volunteered for the Ethiopia Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. When she returns to Ethiopia, she hopes to continue working in community development and the church. In her free time she enjoys going good conversation and going for walks. Dilame would be happy to speak to groups about current events and politics.
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.
Bonio Maine Bokun is from Papua New Guinea and a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea. Bonio did his undergraduate study in Washington, and he has returned to the U.S. to study Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Luther. Before coming to Luther he worked as a pastor and teacher at a Lutheran college in his home country. He has a wife and six children. In addition to English, Bonio speaks Kuman and Pidgin. He enjoys watching movies, playing rugby, and singing in choir. A talented speaker, Bonio enjoys talking to groups about his country, church, and his work. After completing his degree, Bonio hopes to return to Papua New Guinea and teach at the seminary.
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.
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.
Bayesa Jabesa Disasa is from Ethiopia and is affiliated with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. He has come to Luther to obtain his M.Th. in Congregational Mission and Leadership. Before coming to Luther, Bayesa worked as a coordinator for Evangelical church fellowships for mission; he also volunteered in the outreach ministries of local congregations. He hopes to widen the scope of this work when he returns to Ethiopia. Bayesa would be happy to speak about the contextualization of mission and evangelism. He is also available to speak about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially as it affects orphans and highly vulnerable children.
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 Borders.” 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.
Jon Omar Gunnarsson is an Icelandic Lutheran pastor. As a young child, Jon lived in Illinois with his parents while they did their graduatework, and now he has returned to the Midwest to do his own studies in Pastoral Theology and Ministry. His wife and son are here with him. Jon enjoys hiking, golf, and horseback riding. Before coming to Luther, Jon worked as a youth pastor in the high school and university student ministries of the YMCA and YWCA. He enjoys teaching about his home country’s culture, politics, history, and church as well as his experiences in ministry. When he returns to Iceland, Jon plans to continue his ministry with the YMCA and YWCA.
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.
Rev. Jesse G. S. King, Sr. is a Liberian Lutheran pastor. He has come to Luther to obtain an M.A. degree in History of Christianity. Back home, Jesse has a wife and four children. He enjoys reading, listening to music, and talking about theology. Before coming to Luther, Jesse served as a youth pastor and as a training director for lay people in the church. After completing his degree at Luther, Jesse plans to go back to Liberia to teach at the seminary and organize community programs. He is happy to speak about the congregational life and youth activities of the Liberian Lutheran church.
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.
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.
Barson Mahafaly is a pastor in the Malagasy Lutheran Church in Madagascar. He first came to Luther in 2008 and received an M.A. in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry. In 2011 he began working towards a PH.D. in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Barson is here with his wife and three children. He enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and writing poetry in his native Malagasy. He also speaks French. After receiving his Ph.D. Barson plans to return to Madagascar to teach Pastoral Care and Counseling at the Lutheran seminary. He is available to speak about Malagasy culture, revival movements in the Malagasy Lutheran Church, and pastoral life in Madagascar.
Salai Pum Za Mang is a Baptist 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.
Briaan Mbazuvara is an ordained Lutheran pastor from Namibia. He serves as the senior pastor of an inner city congregation in Windhoek, Namibia’s capitol and largest city. His congregation granted him a two-year leave to study Congregational and Community Care at Luther Seminary. After completing his studies here Brian will return to his congregation in order to serve them with his new knowledge and experiences. Brian would be happy to speak to groups about Namibia and the role of the church in Namibia.
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.
F. Philip L. Nushann, Jr. is a Liberian Lutheran who has come to Luther to study Congregational and Community Care. He has a wife and one son. Philip enjoys making friends, fishing, sports, and learning, and he is also a talented singer. Before coming to Luther, Philip worked with Liberian communities on HIV/AIDS control and prevention. He hopes to continue this work after his time at Luther. He is available to speak about his community work as well as about Liberian culture and history.
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.
Jorunn Raddum is an ordained pastor in the Den Norske Kirke (Lutheran church of Norway). She has studied in the U.S. in the past, having obtained her B.A. from Augustana College and her M.C.M. from Luther Seminary. She now returns to Luther as an exchange research scholar in theology and liturgy. Jorunn’s husband and two children are here with her. Jorunn enjoys skiing and photography, and she is a talented piano and organ player. Before coming back to Minnesota, Jorunn served as the pastor of Lesja in the region of Gudbrandsdalen. She plans to continue following her call in Lesja after her time at Luther. Jorunn is available to speak about the recent liturgical reform in the church of Norway.
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.
David Schader and his wife have come to Luther from the Slovak Republic. David is affiliated with the Slovak Evangelical Church of Augsburg, and he has come to Luther to get an M.A. degree in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry. His hobbies include sports, books, movies, and music, and he plays the bass guitar. Before coming to Luther, David worked as a youth leader in his church. He hopes to return to this work in the Slovak Republic with the knowledge and experience he gains at Luther. David is available to speak about youth work in Slovakia. He is also willing to speak about the shift from communism to democracy in both church and state.
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 has completed Luther's Master of Arts in Congregational and Community Care and is now pursuing a Master of Theology in Pastoral Care and Counseling. 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.
Magnus Hetland Vesteraas is a member of the Lutheran Church of Norway. He has come to Luther to study theology and ministry. Before coming to Luther, Magnus studied theology at the MF Norwegian School of Theology. He plans to finish his degree there when he returns to Norway, and then he hopes to work in the church or an academic institution. Magnus enjoys playing guitar, chess, and video games, as well as reading and academic theology. Magnus is available to speak about Norwegian culture, the Norwegian church, and Christianity.
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.