For as long as he can remember, Rev. Dr. Victor Raj has enjoyed sharing the treasures of the Lutheran faith with the world. Born and raised in India, his parents also were lifelong, active Lutherans, carrying out the mission of Christ through teaching in Lutheran schools and imparting the faith to others.
In fact, it was mission work itself that began this family’s multi-generational interest in ministry and mission.
“My paternal grandfather fell in love with Luther’s Catechism, which was handed to him by Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod missionaries who came to our area in 1912,” shared Raj.
A Love for Missions in India
Armed with a love for theology, Raj began his higher education at Concordia Seminary, Nagercoil, before earning a Master of Divinity at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Chennai. He then obtained advanced degrees from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., before heading back to India to serve the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) for two decades as a pastor, youth ministry director, director of IELC’s Renewal Program and seminary president.
It was during this time at “home” that his love for theology also developed into a love for missiology – the study of missions – as he established relationships with those of a different confession.
“My pastoral ministry was primarily in India, serving the congregations and interacting with clergy of other Christian denominations and leaders of other religions,” explained Raj. “As seminary principal, I had the opportunity to engage in scholarly discussion with people of other denominations. My interest has been in ministry and mission, with a focus on world religions and cross-cultural missions.”
A love for missions in the U.S.
Raj’s interest in missions then took a turn back to the United States in 1990, as he received a call to Concordia University Wisconsin to serve as professor and chair of theology. In 1995, he found a new home-away-from-home at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, as mission professor of exegetical theology and Buehner-Duesenberg Professor of Missions.
But with this new home came … a new home. Not only that, but Raj and his family found that home ownership in the U.S. doesn’t look exactly the same as it does in India.
“In India, I was privileged to own my own home,” recalled Raj. “I inherited property from my father, and my wife sold some of her inheritance and we used that money to build our home on my property. This way the house was debt-free from the start.”
“Owning a home in the U.S. is different,” he added. “Here actually the bank and the lender own your property until you pay it off. The process rightly and naturally requires careful planning and execution.”
Although Raj and his family already had a mortgage through another company, a friend shared with him the benefits of refinancing through Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), suggesting that “LCEF would be a better option for me because I am already a rostered minister.”
Loving his neighbors
Raj agreed. He felt this was “a good choice for Lutherans [because] LCEF understands our needs and is ready to help the best way they can. The experience was smooth and pleasant all the way. When done, in a matter of weeks, the title representative came to our home and got all the paperwork completed. This was all done very well.”
Home ownership for Raj is something that he feels makes for a bold witness because it establishes a person firmly in their community. For him, refinancing through Lutheran Church Extension Fund has also freed him up to better serve his neighbor, share the Gospel and carry on Christ’s mission to the world, even right from home.
“In our neighborhood, we are the only Lutheran family,” Raj said. “Other religions and international cultures surround us. They have all been friendly to us. They notice when I leave for work daily; they also know where I work. Sunday morning is a clear testimony that shows our identity as Lutherans. When the weather is not extremely cold, my family loves interacting with our neighbors and engaging conversations, including religion.”
Want to know how LCEF’s residential loan program can benefit rostered church workers? Visit interesttime.org/residential-loans.