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May 2015 prayer memo



FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015


(last Prayer Memo November 2, 2015)


MINISTRY REPORT: Pray for CRTS ministries (including my own) to continue to flourish in faithful teaching and God-honoring board-faculty-staff examples for the preparation of servant-ambassadors to build up the Chinese-speaking churches in Christ and effectually call to faith all who are appointed to eternal life in East Asia.


As usual my work continues full time as academic dean, and Dean of Distance Learning at China Reformed Theological Seminary (since 2009) and Dean of Biblical Counseling (since 2001) under Friends of CRTS  (our sending agency since 2002, with 4 full time missionaries serving together here in Taipei), working mostly in a spoken Mandarin environment all the time and doing most of my ministry in this language. ​


Early January was a bit crazy with full scale planning for the summer trip to the US, including church, supporters and family visits, all the flight arrangements and vehicles and housing for the family at various places. Since we are all flying to San Francisco CA for Jonie & Kaitlyn's wedding on August 1, the logistics of getting the whole family there from various places in the US and arranging housing and transportation in CA were somewhat daunting. Plans have come together better than expected with use of accrued frequent flier miles supplying all our tickets. Friends from Jonie & Kaitlyn's small group offered their 4 bedroom house for 4 days so we can all stay together! 


Then at the end of January I taught a new practical theology course called "Reformed Faith & Life" that CRTS just added to our revised curriculum as a CORE course required of all MA/MDiv level students (I will need to teach it again in 2 years). Since it was a required core course, I had about 32 students enrolled. The course went for 10 afternoons (Mon-Fri), 3.5 hours/day, with the need to prepare a new set of about 8-10 pages of notes for each class. Needless to say I was intensely focused each evening and morning to get the finalized material together. After the course finished, I edited a revised two part course summary in English and had each translated for the last two issues of the CRTS quarterly magazine, mailed to about 2000 individuals and churches: "Six Solas of Reformation Faith," and "Themes of the Reformed Life: Five Christ Imaging Mandates."  


For the spring semester, I taught a new required course called "Biblical Theology and Counseling" (BTC) for the Biblical Counseling (BC) majors that I added to the overall curriculum revisions we made last year to CRTS programs. I designed this course in response to an observation over the past 12 years of the Masters in BC, that most Chinese BC graduates are overly dependent on their class notes for future teaching about BC methods and doctrinal foundations. In an attempt to get them thinking creatively about textual integration of pastoral thought within individual NT books, much like a good commentary does in its introduction and exposition, noting nuances of meaning that come from connections within context, I taught them the theological themes of eight different NT books connected to a summary/core pastoral theme, then showed them how to make connections between the theological themes and the commands of the book. I used the metaphor of a jewel with a main facet and sub-facets to explain the themes, then showed them how to view the whole from the angle of a different facet to explain that facet in connection with the other facets. (See example below from Colossians). I also integrated this teaching with my "Counseling Case Study Discussions" (CCSD) class and instructed them to role-play and apply the teaching of an individual Bible book to a general counseling case that had themes relevant to the Bible book we were studying. For example, in 1 Timothy, there are many principles about godliness related to financial stewardship, especially in chapters 5-6. I would assign a general counseling case role play related to some financial issues, and instruct the one acting as counselor to use principles from 1 Timothy in response. Then in full class sharing, each group would report their application of the book to their case discussion. Overall I was pleased with the student sharing at the conclusion of these role play times, in that they seemed to grasp how a single NT Bible book could respond to a case as a cohesive unit of pastoral wisdom. I also felt that the integration of the BTC lecture with the CCSD topics turned out to be a much more effective use of time in both classes. I think the 22 students felt a higher mastery of the biblical material that hopefully will make them more Spirit-Word-confident biblical counselors, and less dependent on reproducing a teacher's lecture or a counseling book's contents.    


The Family Counseling Center (FCC) hosted two 3 hour morning seminars in April and invited me to speak for about 1 hour at each. The April 11 seminar was a Biblical Counseling graduate's thesis presentation on the relationship of Colossians and Biblical Counseling. I gave a summary of Colossians' theological themes related to Paul's thesis of "presenting everyone mature in Christ" from 1:28. Since our CRTS Wednesday morning chapel sermons given by our faculty were also focused on Colossians, my sermon on 3:1-4 about seeking things above was developed from that summary as well. These two talks were also the pattern of my weekly lectures on Biblical Theology and Counseling, so I required my students to attend the seminar as one of the course class days. 


The FCC also hosted a seminar on the E-generation, related to parenting children in productive stewardship of the tools of the electronic age, namely using computers, tablets, smartphones to do things: games, internet, Facebook, email. My talk was about "Redeeming the Time" from Ephesians 5:18 and context that we need to teach children to know God's will and use their time to do it, also learning by our example. As a follow-up to this seminar, one of the staff writers for the Taiwan Presbyterian Church newspaper did an interview with me about parenting in the E-generation, which will be published in their newspaper with some family photos maybe next month.  


At Val's request, I arranged to teach a 1/2 day parenting seminar at Friendship Pres. Church on April 25 for their English section members (where we attend, though I am regularly absent to preach in Chinese churches around Taipei). About 12 individual parents and couples attended and I gave an overview of "Parenting in God's Covenant Image." The notes were much more extensive than I had time to cover in detail, but I was able to orient them to the summary highlights and give the rest for self-study. I posted the amateurish videos on YouTube (taken with my cell phone video in selfie mode on the podium) if you search YouTube with the seminar title above. 


After teaching this parenting seminar, I concluded, for numerous reasons related to parenting & teaching experience, topic importance & marketing interest, and acceptability of being brief/concise in presentation rather than academically comprehensive (which also makes it easier to get a book translated), that I should try to write my first book/submit a book proposal to P&R on this topic using themes integrated from my counseling theology material, instead of a book on counseling theology that I have envisioned for the past 2 years.      


You can download & read the English articles or seminar notes mentioned above at 


I was just invited to teach a class in China in September, so I've started to get ready for that with revising my Biblical Theology & Counseling notes (I just finished teaching this new class last week). Since the China students' English level is not as good as our CRTS Taiwan & Malaysian students, and I have a good set of notes for this class that shouldn't need extensive re-working in the future, I will have all my notes translated for this class (I usually give most of my class notes in English). 


I had two premarital counseling cases, and officiated one wedding in January. I preached at four different Chinese churches, (Nov 16 at an older Reformed church outside Taipei, Nov 30 at a church plant started last year by a recent graduate in Taichung--2 hours south of Taipei, March 8 at a new church plant in Taipei by one of our graduates, and May 3 and an older church plant started in Taipei by one of our graduates). We had several conflict situations related to people at CRTS that I was asked to mediate. 


In March CRTS added two new full time co-workers to start a ministry called CRTS.TV, an internet broadcasting "TV" station using various groups speakers (CRTS classes and seminars/lectures, FCC, local church pastor's sermons, overseas Reformed pastor's English sermons dubbed or subtitled) and professionally video recording them, editing and posting to their broadcast site and probably uploading to YouTube as well. I will select our best CRTS courses to be recorded each semester (maybe two courses/semester) and for each mini-class term. Over time we hope to have a good selection of professionally recorded and edited videos for use in our DVD distance learning curriculum, for publicizing CRTS, and hopefully also for broadcasting into China. We have been video recording all our MA/MDiv & ThM level courses since I took over as Dean of Distance Learning in 2009, but quality has not been to professional level (2009-2014: one low end camera to record teacher, swing tripod to see students; 2014-2015 upgraded video camera & lens, but still single camera). They will use several professional quality cameras with a video mixer, as well as professionally edit the cuts, and add a promotional introduction with me introducing CRTS, and possibly a student summary & response at the end of a class lecture. 


We have our annual CRTS board meeting on June 5 and graduation on June 6 (expecting 5 to graduate, 3 of whom are MDiv men headed for full time ministry), along with a seminar by Dr. Vern Poythress in the morning (he will be here teaching a ThM course on the book of Revelation) and graduation speaker Dr. Sam Ling (also here teaching a course on Reformed Apologetics). This year our Board chairman and secretary are taking care of all the paperwork (thankfully), so my role is as it should have been, just an invited guest as the academic dean (but for the past 5 years I was much more involved in preparing paperwork for the board meetings with a different board chairman and secretary). 


Five CRTS MDiv graduates have now planted growing churches in Taiwan, so we are excited to have one of our regular faculty members, Dr. Toon Yeo, formerly church planter in Wash. DC, to teach a class on church planting in the fall semester. May God grow his church!  


FAMILY REPORT: Pray for God-honoring wisdom, peace, grace and holiness to be displayed by all family members, to the praise of God’s glory!

Val & Jeff have had a stressful few months, with Jeff taking 10 week terms of 2 Master's level distance classes working towards his certification as a high school Social Studies teacher. In addition to that, he's also been doing teacher observation at Bethany, and working in the evenings at an English supplemental studies school/cram school. Val has been at home taking care of Blake and Garrett, while Savannah attends half day 1st grade Chinese school. In March, they made a tentative decision to move back to the US this summer, which we concurred with, in order for Jeff to have more options for student teaching. However, no clear direction for jobs for Val has opened up after multiple applications (focusing mainly on international college student work), and with total unknowns ahead, they reconsidered and decided to stay in Taiwan by mid-May. Stress levels dropped on all fronts for all of us :>) Jeff should be able to get a student teaching placement in the Morrison-Taichung campus (where all the older kids lived in the dorm 10th-12th and graduated from). However, that is a 12 week commitment in the spring of 2016 and will put a strain on us all here with Val needing to start work again after their US summer vacation July 2-August 20-something. Pray for Jeff especially as he has stress overload and is feeling many physical symptoms as well, including difficulty sleeping. 


Natalie and Doug had a nice offer from family relatives in the commercial real estate business to invest their rent money by buying them a condo in Wheaton area and having them pay the relatives the usual rent money while Doug finishes his PhD at University of Chicago over the next 5 years. The relatives have also upgraded the place with high-end home improvements to the kitchen (appliances and cabinets, counter tops), bathrooms and floor (carpeting), with the goal of selling it for a profit in a few years. They invited Janine to come live with them since mid-April. 


Jonie is working two jobs in Santa Rosa, bussing and barbacking. He's progressed through 3 other positions before getting settled with these two, doing his best in each position. Each change of job has usually allowed him more flexibility and higher pay. He and his fiancee Kaitlyn have both been accepted into the MS International Agriculture Development program at UC Davis. They will get married August 1, take an international honeymoon, then move to Davis CA in September. God has already provided in a rather surprising and miraculous way, a very affordable house for them to rent (lots of space and a garden for probably half of similar properties in town). Now they are just praying and searching for TA positions that will waive their tuition costs and give them stipends to live off of, which is their only way of paying for school without taking loans.


Janine lived with a Chalmer's Center co-worker near Covenant College, finished her 3 CLEP tests in the spring for her remaining 7 credits needed to graduate, and worked for a local house cleaning service in the area until mid-April. Nat & Karen drove down from Wheaton IL to pick her up and move her to Nat & Doug's condo on the weekend of April 17-19. She returned to Covenant for the weekend of graduation May 9, and graduated with her B.A. degree in Sociology. She is looking for a job within walking distance of their home or on route with similar schedule to Nat's daily job. She is still dating classmate Nathan Clark from Augusta GA. We will get to meet him this summer. 


Karen finished her freshman year at Wheaton College, still undeclared major, but leaning towards Anthropology with a minor in Christian Education. She really enjoyed her year, and especially her spring break mission trip to Honduras with the Honduras Project (HP). The HP group actually did so much more than take a trip together, but build team relationships all year through work projects, activities and retreats. She signed up to be one of the leaders for HP next year. She is now working at her new summer job as a resident assistant/teacher at Space Camp in Huntsville AL (connection with this opportunity through a Morrison high school classmate). She said the 2 week training has been really intense, with lots of new information to learn, safety protocols to memorize related to some of the simulation rides, and tested evaluations on her creative teaching presentations on newly learned material.


Trisha took a communicant's class at Friendship Pres. English section, met with the elders and was approved to join the church by profession of faith as a non-voting member on May 3, with her first communion on May 10. She is learning to play piano this year, and may take trumpet for band next year. She is a very capable student who takes responsibility for her own 4th grade work. She played one semester of soccer with Nathan (Nathan moved up to the older boys team since no spaces were left in the lower level league, but he plays a lot on his free time at Bethany and is much taller than the other 2nd graders, so he fits in pretty well), but it doesn't seem to be her joy since she is playing with mostly 4th-5th grade classmate boys who are much better than she is. She wants to play middle school basketball next year and would like me to be her coach. She and Nathan finish their school year today.


Nathan has matured in some good ways over this year. He and Trisha now have home jobs like taking out the garbage and doing Saturday house clean up. We plan to add more dinner clean-up responsibilities. He manages fairly well in school with routines, and has improved in areas that he resisted earlier in the year (creative writing, handwriting, math, art). He enjoys reading and soccer and of course Minecraft and other Wii/Nintendo games, though we have seriously limited his time on those electronic games since last fall. 


Barbara continues to do English tutoring with about 7 or 8 students of various ages (2nd grade-7th grade), and unfortunately hasn't been able to arrange them all so she has one weekday off. She finished her Bible Study Fellowship year studying Exodus-Deuteronomy, and Val joined the group in the spring. We usually have Val and the kids over on Friday nights while Jeff works and eat lunch with them after church on Sundays.   


OUR SUMMER SCHEDULE IN THE USA: Pray for good renewed relationships with churches, friends and family over the summer, for preaching, seminars and ministry presentations, and traveling safety.


​Depart Taipei June 10 5:45 pm (Taiwan time) via Manila to San Francisco CA (Philippine Air) arriving ​7:45 pm PDT same day. Staying at LeBaudour's: Jonie's cell 707-791-4650; Kaitlyn 707-483-8437


Depart San Francisco CA Friday June 12, 8:40 pm PDT to Newark NJ Liberty International Airport, arriving 5:05 am EST, Saturday June 13.  Staying at the Felaks, Ephrata PA 717-738-3025  


Reformed Presbyterian Church Ephrata PA, Sunday morning June 14, preaching in 9:30 am service, ministry update after Sunday school.


Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lancaster PA, Sunday evening service 6:30 pm, June 14 for fifteen minutes sharing about our ministry.


June 16 Annapolis Evangelical Presbyterian Church Mission Committee, evening dinner and committee at 7:00 pm 


Departing for churches in the morning of June 21, morning service Providence Presbyterian Church York PA, preaching from Hebrews 12:1-2 "How to Run with Perseverance" plus Sunday School Power Point presentation on ministry., then traveling to 

Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church, 6:00 pm evening service, June 21 preach from Psalms and share informally about Taiwan work. 


Depart from Carlisle after evening service directly to Butler PA, Lawson Farm 724-352-2983


Parenting Seminar at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Butler PA, Thursday night June 25, then same location to preach Sunday morning June 28 and give an adult Sunday School Power Point presentation on our East Asia ministry.


Depart Butler PA early Tuesday morning June 30 drive to Wheaton IL to see Nat & Doug Hoffer and Janine, (Nat's cell 717-364-4558; Janine's cell phone 331-250-5455) arrive in evening, stay until July 4 early morning 


Depart Wheaton IL early morning July 4 to State College PA, arrive in evening, stay over one night. At Oakwood Presbyterian Church, State College PA for morning service July 5, preaching 8:30 am & 11:15 services.

July 5 evening depart State College for Vestal NY, stay atYates 607-785-7817  


July 12 morning service New Hope Presbyterian Church  Vestal NY; preaching at 10:00 am service, Sunday school sermon discussion & ministry sharing.

July 18 return to Felaks, Ephrata PA 717-738-3025 


July 19 Sunday morning Lancaster Evangelical Free Church, Lititz PA, missions potluck and 15 minute presentation after second service


Yates Family Reunion at Felaks July 18-25


July 26 Crossroads Community Church Sunday morning brief sharing in both services 8:30, 11:00, Sunday school 9:45;tentative Faith Church, Worcester PA Sunday evening.


Depart Wednesday July 29 from Liberty International Airport, Newark, NJ 5:30 pm for San Francisco CA, arrive SFO 9:08 pm (Jonie's cell 707-791-4650; Kaitlyn 707-483-8437; Nat's cell 717-364-4558; Janine's cell phone 331-250-5455); 


Officiate Jonie & Kaitlyn's afternoon outdoor wedding, August 1 at the Lebaudour's home.


Depart San Francisco CA Wednesday August 5 11:00 pm, via Manila, arrive in TPE Friday August 7, 2:55 pm, Taiwan time​