The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Health was at the heart of church’s mission

Today that health continues in the steady beat of accompaniment

Ralph Bolstad, a missionary doctor from the American Lutheran Church (an ELCA predecessor), examines a patient with heart disease in Madagascar, possibly at Manambaro Lutheran Hospital. Originally called by the Evangelical Lutheran Church (an ALC predecessor), Bolstad served in Madagascar from 1948 to 1967. When this photo was taken the Malagasy Lutheran Church was 10 years old and had some 180,000 members.

Ralph Bolstad and a patientToday the Malagasy Lutheran Church has grown to more than 3 million members. Together with the ELCA, it sends missionaries to support the work of other church bodies in countries such as Cameroon and Papua New Guinea. Its ministries include an extensive evangelism program, seminaries, Bible schools, a nursing school, nine hospitals, 13 dispensaries and community-based health-care projects.

According to Global Mission page on the ELCA website, accompaniment means "walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality." In other words, the ELCA and its partner churches worldwide share gifts, resources and experiences "with mutual advice and admonition to deepen and expand our work within God's mission." 


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