Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Apostolic Lutheran Life

The following is a testimony of a man's life which was posted as a comment in one of my old posts on Apostolic Lutheranism. I was impressed when I read it and wanted to post it as a regular blog post. Thank you to whomever took the time to keep this record of your ancestor and to write it on my blog. It is a testimony to God's saving grace.

Johan Oberg was born June 24, 1862 in Rautalampi (Finland), the son of a sawmill worker Kalle Oberg. The forefather of the family had moved from Sweden several generations earlier. The family moved when Johan was 5 years old to work at the Saura Iron Factory in Karttula . There Johan had to begin working for wages at 8 years of age. People moved there from all over Finland to work at the factory and bad habits were common in their midst. Godly people were rare. Among them was Oberg’s mother whose maiden name was Maria Laulainen of Rautalampi. The mother was devoted to reading the Word of God and singing for she had a good voice and an ear for music. She often spoke to her children the Word of God and rebuked them of sin. The influence of his mother developed in Juho a sensitive conscience already in his childhood, but the mother could not lead her son any further. He grew in church piety, lacking the light of the Holy Spirit.

Nineteen year old Juho had to leave home not knowing where he would find employment. With tears, the mother saw her son off. His plan was to first go to his brother’s place in Taipalsaari. His brother had written that he had repented and was now a believer. From this, his family had gotten the impression that he had gone into some wild false doctrine and that Juho had reason to go and set him straight. While staying with his brother, Johan came into contact with the Laestadian movement. Listening to there preaching, he became convicted in his conscience that he also needed repentance or he was headed for hell. But this was not easy for the young man and an inward struggle went on from week to week. He had no peace at night or day. In 1884, a preacher named Manne V√§likangas, was shot to death in Savitaipale. This touched Oberg’s heart so that he wanted to step in his place among the persecuted Christians even though he would lose his life because of the name of Jesus. He received strength to humble himself in repentance and receive the blessing of the forgiveness of his sins in Jesus Name and Blood. Then his soul was able to taste the power of the life to come and enjoy hidden manna. Several days after that, he saw the bloody wounds of the Son of God before his eyes. It went as a sword through his heart. He received power to confess his faith to the young and old. He was then asked to preach which he did in Finland for several years.

When he moved to America in 1892, he first settled in Calumet MI, but soon moved to Superior, WI, where he was for over a year and then moved to Cromwell, MN. In both places he was asked to speak at services and he also made preaching trips to other places which resulted in many people turning through repentance and faith from darkness to light. After 19 years in Cromwell, Oberg moved with his family to Cokato in 1912, and served as a pastor there for 8 years. There his wife, Maria (Mononen) Oberg from Lappeenranta, died. Oberg returned to Cromwell with his children. In 1921, he married Maria Carlson (Niemi). In 1929 he received a call from Laurium, MI, to be the pastor of the recently established congregation. He had already been voted to be the first chairman of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America Federation. He served in this capacity to the general satisfaction of the people until 1942, when he requested retirement from the chairmanship and pastorate due to his high age and health issues. He was called to his eternal home on January 29, 1946.

Throughout his life, Oberg was a representative of Raattamaa’s evangelical Christian view, in which he had come to faith. He was a humble servant of God who spread the gospel lovingly and faithfully. He resisted, during his leadership, all religious concepts and principles which deviated from those of the Raattamaa era, whether they were toward a legalistic spirit or toward extreme evangelicalism. He also resisted efforts to limit God’s Kingdom to a certain faction. He had no aspirations and apparently no inclination to be a “leader” who demanded allegiance to himself. He did not seek the chairmanship but received it as from the hand of God and took care of the tasks belonging to his office to the best of his ability, allowing the general decisions of the “Christians” to guide him in his work.

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