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New devotional can reassure...readers of their salvation

Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

November 5, 2003

Rev. O. Gordon Tang, retired missionary to Japan, has written a large-format, large-type devotional for “the elderly” because he wants them to be assured of their salvation, he said recently.

He wrote the pamphlet after hearing statistics that slightly more than half of persons aged 65 and older surveyed in an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation in California were not sure of their salvation.

He published the 39-page spiral bound booklet himself and is making it available at cost for $5 plus shipping. Tang can be reached at 651 633-9660 or by mail at 4321 Arden View Ct., Arden Hills, Minn. 55112. He plans to have a display table at the WordAlone worship conference Nov. 16-18 at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, Minn.

“I went to a workshop at the WordAlone convention last May at Roseville. Cliff Pederson, who heads up Church Resources, Inc. in Huntington Beach, Calif., was giving some statistics on our Lutheran church and how the age group above 65 is growing so fast,” said Tang.

“In 1900 it was 4 percent in the Lutheran Church. By 1958 it was 8 percent and since then it has been growing more rapidly. By last year about 44 percent of our membership was over 65.

“From a smaller survey of an ELCA congregation in California it showed that 51 percent those over 65 did not have an assurance of salvation.

“That statistic really bothered me,” he concluded.

He explained that to him that meant that when people were asked about being saved they would say, “I think so,” or “I hope so.”

He wrote the 39-page booklet, he said, to “give them the certainty of salvation, to know, to realize they are saved.”

He used verses primarily from the First Letter of John. He said he chose 1 John after teaching it at North Emmanuel Lutheran in St. Paul, Minn., where he volunteered.

He said usually when he prepares for sermons or teachings, he looks for words that are repetitive for a theme. In 1 John, he added, he found 30 “knows” and said they have provided “a complete affirmation of our Christian faith.” He has included 23 devotions from 1 John, as well as some from Romans.

In addition, he said, from doing visitations to the elderly and shut-in, he knew and heard that the elderly are interested in heaven.

“Very few in our church ever preach or teach on heaven, so I included about five (devotions) on heaven.”