Before Friedrich Wyneken was the second president of the LCMS, he was a missionary pastor from Germany who came to the New World to care for Christian immigrants. We remember him today by reading about his decision to come to the New World, as printed in A Century of Grace.
Wyneken was born in a parsonage, May 13, 1810, in a small village near Verden, Hannover. . . . Wyneken attended the village school, the Gymnasium at Verden, the universities of Goettingen and Halle. Though he had studied theology, he had acquired nothing to boast of, as he himself remarked. In fact, as a private tutor he would begin his course in Bible History with the Book of Maccabees. It was in the parsonage of Pastor von Hanfstengel in Hannover that Wyneken’s real religious life—the life in Christ—began. From this time he devoted much time to the study of the Bible. As a private tutor in the family of a wealthy German he made a number of trips to France and to Italy. Later he became the head of the Bremervoerde Latin School.
In his search for sound Christian literature he found some missionary journals which described the miserable spiritual conditions of the German settlers in America. These reports so impressed him that he resolved to go to America at his own risk and expense to help these spiritually destitute people. It was not the lure of adventure or romance that attracted him to the New World, nor was it love for his Master or his Lutheran brethren that prompted him to leave kith and kin: He determined to go to America because his conscience drove him thither.
Five years later, in a letter to Candidate A. Biewend (November 29, 1842), he expressed himself as follows: “With deep regret I must confess that as far as I know myself, neither love for the Lord nor for the orphaned brethren drove me to America nor a natural desire. Rather I went contrary to my will and after great conflicts, from a sense of duty, driven in, and by, my conscience. As much as it saddens me that I did not have and still do not have more love for the Lord and that He had to drive me like a slave, still in times of spiritual trials and temptations, doubts and tribulations, which came over my soul during my ministry, this was my comfort that I could say: I had to come to America. Thou, O Lord, knowest how gladly I would have remained at home, but had I done this, I should not have been able to look up to Thee and pray to Thee; so I simply had to come.”
Devotional reading is from A Century of Grace, pages 53–54 © 1947 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Send Your Holy Spirit, O Lord, to strengthen our faith. May He help us recognize that Jesus Christ is the only door into Your kingdom. Help us to believe that He is the only source of an abundant life both here and hereafter. Help us to realize that the abundant life consists not only in things we possess, but also in the treasures You have stored up for us in Your kingdom. . . . Grant our petitions in the name of Him who is the entrance door to Your divine majesty. Amen.
Prayer is from Prayers Responsively, page 36 © 1984 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.