Lutheran Indian Ministries is pleased to introduce Clarence De Lude III (Native Hawaiian) as its newest staff member. Clarence will begin Gospel outreach to Native Hawaiians on the island of O’ahu, while preparing for pastoral ministry through distance-learning in the Cross-Cultural Ministry Center Program at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. Rev. Dr. Don Johnson, executive director for Lutheran Indian Ministries, was introduced to Clarence through longtime friend Rev. Bill Norton. Pastor Norton mentored several of our Native American students who completed or will complete their education to serve as pastor, deacon or deaconess in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
After having dialogued with Clarence over the course of a year, it was evident he possessed the desire to serve his Native brothers and sisters as a Lutheran pastor. Because our vision is for all Native Americans—including Native Hawaiians—to share the Gospel with their own people, we welcome this opportunity to help. And perhaps this is what God had in mind long before our relationship with Clarence developed. Let’s let him explain:
“My Native Hawaiian grandmother was the first to teach us that for our people to be leaders, we need to develop whatever natural gifts we are given and to respect the gifts of others so we can learn from one another. For us, that is how community works together. Then, in my early adulthood, Ma Silva, who is my great aunty and kapuna, which means ‘elder,’ strengthened that resolve.
“Back then, the call went out to Hawaiian Natives to become principals and administrators in our public schools. Feeling I had what it took to work as a teacher, I might’ve been satisfied with the skills I had developed naturally on my own. Ma Silva thought differently, stating very clearly, ‘No, you need palapala!’ – meaning ‘official papers’ or credentials for using my gifts.
“Since then, I have earned my master’s in education and served many years as a commissioned Lutheran teacher and administrator. Yet, God keeps bringing me back to the idea of serving my people with the Gospel as their pastor and earning the palapala to do so.“
Lutheran Indian Ministries staff was blessed to meet Clarence in person for the first time at our January staff meeting. Everyone was encouraged by his passion and love for the Lord and for his people. While he is a lifelong Lutheran, Clarence admits there is tremendous need for intentional ministry to Native Hawaiians. In fact, when he first learned about our organization and that we seek to identify, recruit, equip and empower Native people to become spiritual leaders among their own, he quickly voiced his excitement, saying, “There is no mechanism for that here [on O’ahu]. What a blessing that would be to my people!”
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