July 15, 2021

For the 2021 SON Summer Missions Season the SON Board of Trustees had to make the difficult decision not to allow teams to travel overseas for the second summer in a row. This was due largely to the uncertainty surrounding COVID travel restrictions and complications that vary greatly from country to country. Time certainly proved that the Board decision was the right one made, as the SON staff members that did travel encountered multiple challenges and complications that would have been almost impossible for entire teams to overcome. Happily, as you will read, summer missions did happen and through the creativity and flexibility of SON overseas ministry partners and the SON staff, many souls were able to encounter the love of Christ through language camps, small group gatherings, special events, and through multi-media interaction. To God be the glory!

Staff ministry sites: Dubai (UAE), Ukraine, and Albania

THE TRAVELERS: SON Executive Director and SON Director of Operations and Youth Education, Pastor David & Angela Breidenbach first traveled from the United States to Dubai, UAE. They were were then joined in Ukraine by SON full-time missionary to Latvia, Pastor David Michael Carrillo (aka: DMC). Later, they were all joined in Albania by SON veteran team member, Heather Olson, after SON Director of Development and Adult Education, Mike Wind was unable to travel to Albania, as had originally been planned.


Pastor David & Angela heading to their plane (artist interpretation).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” -Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV

JUNE 1 – We left Albuquerque and almost immediately ran into difficulty with the timing of our PCR tests. Upon our arrival in Dallas Fort Worth, we were informed that, as of midnight on the 1st, the airline had changed the requirement from 72 hours to 48. Perseverance, prayer, and reasonable negotiation won out, and we were allowed onboard (with improved seating and priority boarding). God is good!


View of Dubai Creek

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy…” Luke 12: 1-2

Pastors Mark, Kristen, Gemechis, Martha and Angela & Pastor David in Dubai.

JUNE 2 to JUNE 6 – We arrived in Dubai and were met by new SON missionary, Pastor Martha Shanka. The following morning, we were joined by Pastor Kristen Phillips; Pastor Mark Braaten, Interim Undersecretary to the Bishop of NALC and Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, NALC Global Missions Director.

Meeting some of the Leadstar students.

A sunset view of Burj Khalifa, which rises 828 metres (2,717 ft) and contains 209 floors.

We were initially scheduled to attend the 2021 graduation ceremony for Leadstar Theological College, but updated COVID restrictions in Dubai precluded large gatherings unless all attendees were fully vaccinated. Instead, we were able to meet one-on-one with many of the students from Dubai and from Abu Dhabi. So many incredible stories of God’s Grace and Faithfulness and how He is working through the Ethiopian communities in the United Arab Emirates to reach the Muslim people. We also met with Father Drew, the Anglican priest that holds Pastor Martha’s residence visa. (Note: the UAE requires all Christians to be sponsored by an approved entity. In Dubai, this is through the Anglican church.) Of primary concern to Father Drew, is Pastor Martha’s worship style; which is decidedly Spirit filled and therefore, in his eyes, couldn’t possibly be Lutheran. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach a workable compromise and were informed that Pastor Martha’s visa would be revoked in August.

SON Missionary to Dubai, Pastor Martha Shanka

Rather than viewing this is as a negative, it allowed us all to see that Pastor Martha’s congregation is, in reality, her students (currently over 80 Ethiopian students from 12 different countries). She is doing an incredible job of discipling them to become Christian leaders and they truly love her. The outcome is that Dr. Buba is in the process of registering Leadstar in the UAE and Pastor Martha will be able to apply for a visa under that registration. Alleluia, Alleluia!