The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Meet Emil & his tribe

Meet Emil. Like Job of the Old Testament, he has been tested and blessed by a God of grace and unconditional love.

That our paths should meet at all reflects God’s creative genius—and a divine sense of humor. Imagine a God who weaves together the stories and hearts of a small Lutheran church (of Scandinavian descent) in the Seattle area and the story and heart of Emil, a stranger from Tanzania. Tragedy and redemption, loss and blessing, faith and restoration. That’s Emil’s story—and now it’s ours too.

Emil Augustine (center) found refuge
Emil Augustine (center) found refuge and hope among the primarily Scandinavian Lutherans of All Saints Lutheran Church, Auburn, Wash., when he arrived from Tanzania in 2002. He calls them his “tribe.”
Emil Augustine was a well-educated 36-year-old who held a prestigious position in the Tanzanian government. He had a nice home, two growing boys and a wife who worked as a nurse. He was respected in his tribe and traveled the country using his ability to speak five languages.

Then his life began to unravel.When a new political party took control, he was instructed not to give visas to any of the opposition’s leaders. A Christian, Emil chose to uphold the Tanzanian constitution, which allowed any citizen of good standing to leave the country. After one warning, he was arrested and thrown in jail without trial. His wife and children were left to fend for themselves, but his tribe rallied around them. Emil’s future looked bleak.

Then tragedy struck again. His youngest son died of malaria. Escorted by a guard, Emil returned to his home to attend the funeral. Emil’s escape was arranged after his tribe bribed the guard. Safely across the border to Kenya, he obtained a visa and was instructed to flee to America, where a friend in Seattle had a relative he could stay with.

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