Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A truly biblical church

I will going to speak this coming March in a Pastor's retreat from Myanmar about missions. I'm looking for materials I can use. Browsing some books in my shelf, I found this one.

Patrick Johnstone says this about what it means to be a truly biblical church.

Scripture, theology, the Church, and even Christians would not exist without mission. Therefore, a theology without mission is not a biblical theology, a Church without mission is not longer truly the Church and a Christian without mission is no true disciple. For Christians, mission is not an optional extra for the fanatical few or for the specially anointed, it is a fundamental definitive of who we are in Christ and why we are in Christ.
And Johnstone quotes David Bosch in his book Transforming Mission
Mission... is seen as a movement from God to the world; the Church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is a church because there is mission, not vice versa.
Johnstone then challenges the Christians for not understanding this concept and not seeing this vision. He says that it is a failure...

.. they miss God's purpose, God's intimacy and God's blessing. Living for the fulfillment of this vision of the Father is the most noble, most enriching, most meaningful purpose can have in life.

How can any child of God claim to be following Jesus if they have no concern for the lostness and need of the peoples in this world? HOw can they expect the promise of his abiding presence with them, 'I will be with you always,' if they have not been willing to obey the command '...go and make disciples of all peoples...'
Then he goes on to say that any church should not claim to be biblical and a Christian cannot be a true Christian if they do not place at the heart of their ministry agenda--God's heart for a lost world.

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is defined by mission--for it is composed of those who were won to salvation by mission, and how have the awesome responsibility to win others as their mission. If it is not missionary in its theology, daily life, and commitment, it no longer has the right to claim to be the Church. The viability and health of the the Church and of ourselves, as children of God, cannot be separated from the task of world evangelization.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Holistic pneumatology

What is holistic pneumatology? As far as the scholarly community in academic theology is concern, Moltmann has earned the honor of introducing the concept of or at least the terminology. Holistic pneumatology has been described as the right kind of pneumatology on the right way. Here, holistic does not mean neither that the soul is separate from body nor individual from society nor human beings from cosmic world. Pneumatology is not limited to individual spiritual salvation. The Holy Spirit is indeed is not limited to the salvation of individuals but he is the one working in the establishing of the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit's goal is about the universal fulfillment of cosmic salvation. This salvific activity includes establishing justice and peace on the earth and giving life to the whole creation. Justification and sanctification are indeed important to the ministry of the Holy Spirit but we should start believing that the Holy Spirit is working everywhere and anywhere. Inside the church and outside of it, within Christianity and with other religions. The Holy Spirit's power just like the Father and the Son, is limitless.

Prayer update

Maybe you are wondering what we have been up lately, I'm posting our latest prayer update in this blog. Our sincere gratitude to all who are praying for us.

We thank the Lord for the opportunity he had given us to go home and enjoy our Christmas at home last year. People are asking us if we could return next year. Nothing is certain and we know that it will take some years before we can come back to the Philippines.

The year 2009 is past and gone but the memories remain in our hearts forever. It was the year that we celebrated Christmas and New Year with our families. It may not happen again for a few years. These were very meaningful to us especially to our children who had not seen their cousins and childhood friends for four years.

We thank all our friends who accommodated and helped during our stay in the Philippines us that made it enjoyable and memorable. We cannot thank you enough.

Recent Events

End of Partnership. As the saying goes: “Some good things never last forever.” This is even true with ministry partnership. Cherry, our Australian friend informed us that she will no longer help us after March 2010. It makes us sad but glad at the same time. The relationship had been strained for some time and the break up gave us freedom to do what God has directed us to do.
This means that Narlin and I will no longer teach and help in Jubilee Bible School although we had committed ourselves to it for about two years. It was a decision we had to make. However, we thank her for all the help she extended to us and for the development she facilitated in developing the children’s home.

Support for Children. Last year in November, an Asian Christian organization came to see our children’s home. They were quite impressed with how we are running the ministry. They departed with a promise to find regular support for the children.

However, after a meeting with the Thai Field Director, they informed us that they would only support the children on the condition that they should go back to Tachilek, Myanmar. They cite the following reasons:
- The children are on stateless status thus they would have problem to study tertiary education.
- Mae Sai is not a refugee location in Thailand thus it is impossible for them to have Thai citizenship.

Yes, there are difficulties but we believe and we know by experience that Myanmar children are allowed to study here and Thai citizenship are awarded to those who finish their university here. In my opinion, the Thai Field Director has reservations in helping children from Myanmar. We really cannot blame him for that decision.
We do not want the children to go but we are placed in a position that only Angela (our local partner) can decide. The organization can provide substantial and long-term support for the children that we can never ever do. Our support is neither substantial nor regular. Nonetheless, we will care for the children as long as we can until they moved them to Myanmar.

GHKC Found a New Home. After dedicating the new place last January (while we were still in the Philippines) Grace Home (the staff and the children) moved last Monday (February 1). It looks like we will be working with Korean volunteers (two elderly couple and a young lady) for a year or so.

It is good working with our brothers and sisters from Korea but their presence creates a little complications in the administration because of the language gap.
Since last year, our Korean friends have been more involved in supporting the day care financially. They were paying the rent and providing for the salary of the staff. This year, they bought the place and allowed GHKC to use it for free.

We praise the Lord for his goodness and provisions. This is a testimony that even though people speak different language, have different culture, we are one in Christ and we can work together for the sake of His Kingdom.

Training and Learning Center

With our shared experience in theological education and children ministry, we believe it is about time to put up a Training and Learning Center for church leaders, youth and children. God spoke to us one day and gave us the vision that our garage will become a place of learning, training and can be use as a resource center for Christians. It is small, bare and perhaps primitive but it definitely will serve the purpose.

The center will be a place for language learning (English, Thai and Burmese), skills development (i.e. computer, playing musical instruments) for children and young people on weekdays and Seminary Education by Extension (SEE) center for discipleship and leadership training on weekends.
Help us in prayer as we start this ministry. We are planning to install a retractable tarpaulin to protect the students from the weather and we are figuring out how many chairs and tables we need. We will acquire the other equipment later. With your prayers, we know that the vision will become a reality.

Rainbows of Hope

Reverend Weerapon and his Foundation has been good to us in providing visa and ready to help us with any problem we had in our four years of stay here in Thailand. If you were living in a foreign country this is very important.

Recently, he gave us the vote of confidence to start a branch of the Foundation in Chiang Rai and Mae Sai. In one of the meetings of the Foundation in Chiang Mai, Rev. Weerapon introduced Rainbows of Hope as one of its five branches. Though we still need to pay the balance and submit documents.

Pray For Us

Please pray for our urgent prayer request. Remember us in your individual prayer time and in your church’s prayer meetings.

Thanksgiving for God’s faithful provisions. He has sustained us for four year and we believe he will sustain us for another decade onwards. Our regular supports are mainly coming from small churches and Women’s Missionary Union. But God has his own way of filling up the gap, provision from unexpected source. Praise is His name.

Pray for wisdom and guidance in making major decisions this year. Guidance we need on several projects like partnership, branching out, helping the orphans and establishing learning and training center in our home.

Pray for the Summer English Camps this year. We are planning to hold three camps this year. We are receiving emails and calls from different organizations that may and participate in the camp. We consider this as a blessing from the Lord; however, we need your prayer that we can coordinate this very well.

Pray for the ministry. Evangelism, discipleship, church planting and leadership training all are being done in partnership with the local church (Mae Sai Grace Church). Pray for harmony and unity among God’s people (nationals and missionaries) in the mission field.
Pray for the payment of our house rent. We need to pay THB 42,000 (approx. U$ 1,300) in March. This the amount for the whole year.

Pray our visa extension. The processing for our visa extension and work permit will start on April, three months before our visa expires. Rainbow Covenant Foundation is providing us visa and work permit for a very minimal fees. However, we need to pay the government as well. We need the amount THB 19,000 for the Foundation and other fees (approx. U$580) before April and THB 13,500 (approx. U$400) for the immigration and Ministry of Labor before July. God’s provisions for our visa never fail every year.

Pray for our children’s education. Jared needs one year more to graduate High School. Reuven and Jillian will graduate elementary and middle school respectively. We went to School of Tomorrow, Living Heritage Academy Campus in Paranaque; Desiree (our children’s academic adviser) told us that if we wanted they could come home in March to join the graduation ceremony. We know, it would be a very special occasion for Jillian and Reuven but we do not have the money to come home. We actually sold our flood-damaged jeep to buy their homeschooling workbooks for this year.

Pray for the fees for the “branching out.” Our three Filipino missionary friends in Chiang Rai are helping us out with the fees. They already contributed THB 10,000 and we need to pay THB 20,000 more as soon as possible.

Pray for our ministry vehicle. Our 26-year old van is falling apart. Need I say more? =)

Pray for the Lacquian Family. My sister Nori and her husband together with their 5-year old son will come here in March. Both of them are teaching in Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary (PBTS). They will come and will teach music and theology. Their coming is significant because it will signal the beginning of SEE in Mae Sai. Pray for traveling mercy and financial provision for this missions trip.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog resuscitation

In spite of inactivity in this blog, this blog's number of visits really never went down. Although it is not really that high. I have also been receiving emails expressing gratitude for the blog. Evidently, some of the posts have been very helpful to theology students. It seems also that some of the stuff I put in the sidebar had helped theology students with their papers and home works.

Furthermore, I received encouraging testimony from missionaries who have similar struggles with regards to contextualization of theology. Also, a student expressed that this blog and some of my experiences posted here had encouraged him to pursue further theological education. It is very encouraging.

This is my first blog and I started it when I came to the mission field and did not know anything about blogging. So it was a "hit and miss" experience for me then. This blog also has my name stamped on it. So I decided to resusucitate this blog and hope I can post more regularly. I also need to update my sidebar and put more resources that will provide materials for both missionaries and theologians.