“We Want to Hold Fast to the Statements of the Bible”

Norbert Lieth, Switzerland

An interview with Norbert Lieth, board member and pastor for Midnight Call Ministry, about the worldwide missions work, our aim, our burdens and expectations.

Midnight Call Ministry was founded in Switzerland. How did it come to be a worldwide ministry?

The ministry in Switzerland was founded by Wim Malgo. It was he who had the inner burden for various countries in South America. It began in the 1960s in Bolivia, with work with orphans and an evangelistic river mission, as well as the founding of a church. The second station was in Brazil, where a missionary printing plant was established. Later, a mission station was founded in Uruguay, in the capital Montevideo. There an international Bible school was founded (which no longer exists) and literature was produced. After the death of Wim Malgo, a branch was opened in Argentina, and before that in Guatemala.

How did the ministry get missionaries who were willing to go to South America?

Mostly due to our radio programs, conferences and our own church work. Many young people dedicated their lives for service as missionaries. Later, the missionaries themselves won other young people willing to serve as missionaries. Sometimes friends and acquaintances followed the call to the mission field.

What part did the expectation of Jesus’ return contribute to the missions work?

When it comes to literature, the main part of our work in South America, the expectation of the return of Jesus plays a large part. Books by Wim Malgo were translated into Portuguese and Spanish; later, many more books by other American and German authors, also emphasizing the return of Jesus. The young missionaries were themselves living in the expectation of the return of Jesus, which was what encouraged them to go to the mission field.

In the meantime, Midnight Call Ministry has existed for 63 years, and the Lord has not returned. What significance should the expectation of His return have today?

The same as 1,000 or 2,000 years ago. At that time, the apostles and the early church lived in the expectation of the return of Jesus. As we see from the New Testament epistles, they expected it to be in their lifetime. The Lord Jesus has not yet returned, but we are urgently encouraged in the Word of God to expect His return and to love His appearing.

The subject of Israel is prominent, it seems, in all your work.

Jewish people need the Gospel. We want to do our part through our active love and support for Messianic-Jewish communities. In Haifa, we run a small hotel of our own. We organize annual international tours of Israel, to draw people’s attention to the people and land of the Bible and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. We bring many people to Israel every year. Two of our coworkers in Israel are qualified tour guides, so we are able to meet the needs of the people in the spiritual and historical-geographic spheres. We also support various social projects in the land. At the moment we are helping to finance a necessary renovation of a home for senior citizens, in which Jews who believe in Jesus find a last earthly home. Through our magazine News from Israel, moreover, we want to pass on a Biblically sound burden for God’s covenant people.

What are the main focal points of the mission stations abroad?

In Bolivia, we run a school with up to 1,500 children, combined with a boarding school. Around 150 children stay with us and are taken care of for the whole school year. The chance to reach these children with the Gospel is enormous. In the other countries, the missions work is mainly through literature and its distribution, as well as radio, missionary and preaching tours. Our missionaries are invited to churches, youth camps and Bible schools, etc. We also have two literature buses, with which our missionaries travel around and preach the Gospel, support churches, and spread literature in Argentina and Brazil. In Uruguay, Midnight Call operates a radio studio, supplying many radio stations with Christ-centered programs, while our own station provides programming 24 hours a day.

Has the message of Midnight Call Ministry changed in the past decades, or is it still the same?

The burden of preaching the whole counsel of God, the return of Jesus, and the role Israel plays in God’s plan has not changed. We do avoid speculation and “conspiracy theories.” Our ministry wants to hold fast to the statements of the Bible—and this was and has been the desire of Midnight Call since its beginnings.

There is also a radio station in Cameroon. How is the work progressing there?

The local staff work there independently, and we supply them with French language material. The native missionaries provide various reading rooms they have established, which function as libraries.

What mission branches are there in Europe?

Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, a new branch in Hungary was added, with literature, social activities, and preaching tours. A little later a door opened in Romania. About a dozen coworkers translate and distribute our monthly magazines, books and other literature. They also have their own music studio and organize conferences throughout the land. In the Netherlands, the work is done by a young married couple who are employed by Midnight Call. The administration is run by a board of three Dutch brothers, who work voluntarily. In Italy too Midnight Call operates a mission station. All are supported by Christians.

What are the aims and desires for the future of the worldwide missions work?

Our main aim is to win more young people to work for the individual mission fields. We thank God for those who have decided to go, but more are needed. For many of our stations, we must raise financial support. It is our desire that our mission stations can become financially independent, because the expenses are enormous.

Spiritually, we want to hold fast to our task of edifying the church, serving and living up to the name “Midnight Call”: “Behold, the bridegroom cometh!” (Matthew 25:6).

In Switzerland, we have established the Midnight Call Bible School. For all the new Bible students, we are very grateful to the Lord. The cooperation with many other ministries and churches is also on our hearts, because the Church of Jesus Christ is one organism.

Midnight Call - 01/2018

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