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May 2012

What I Do At The Seminary

One of my students called me this morning. "I just want to share with you one thing. My wife is pregnant!" Wow! I am so happy for Yungren and his wife. They have been trying for a couple of years already. This pioece of news of course is an answer to prayer, the prayers of many friends and families. God truly provides for all our needs.

What do I do in the seminary? I teach classes in missions. In addition to this teaching load, I am also advising a small group of seven students. We meet once a week for informal sharing and prayer. Yungren, the student who called me this morning, is a member of this Advising Group. It is a pleasant event in our small group meetings when news like this one come. It makes the group meeting very interesting.

Also, I advise the seminary's Student Missions Fellowship or SMF. This is a student-led group of Holy Light Theological Seminary that meets once a week to talk about missions and cross cultural ministry. Most of the time, SMF invites guest speakers to come and share about different missions issues. This week it was a field trip. We went to a Missions Center that houses recovering drug-addicts and helps them become re-integrated to society. It was a time of learning what God is doing out in the streets of Kaohsiung. 

Outside of the seminary, I have many opportunities to share about missions work. This week, I will be speaking at two different fellowships. Tomorrow afternoon, I will visit South Taiwan Missions Fellowship located here in Kaohsiung, close to the Dzouying Train Station. Monday afternoon, I will go to Hengchun, two hours away south of this city, to visit the Missions Fellowship of the Hengchun Christian Hospital. Next Sunday, I will speak at the morning service of Nantze Higher Ground Community Church. Next month, I will be at Bread of Life Church (Feng Shan), during its Friday Missions Rally. In all of these visits, I will be challenging the participants to greatly consider cross cultural ministry and incorporate a missions lifestyle in their lives and at their workplaces. 

Many people have asked me what I do here in Kaohsiung. The short answer is that I teach at the seminary. Obviously, ministry is also happening outside of the seminary. Please pray for me, and my whole family. Pray for God's inspiration in the class room and during these ministry events outside of the seminary. But most of all, please pray for wisdom as I advise students, friends, and pastors about the many challenges of cross cultural ministry. In some situations, the time of advising and teaching shifts to personal stories and "non-ministry" needs. Yungren's phone call about his wife's pregnancy is an example. Please pray that I will find strength in our God to run alongside these Taiwanese locals and affirm our Almighty's work in their lives. God is at work, here in Taiwan.

Theological Reflections of a Seven-year Old Boy

A few weeks back, my seven-year old son, Jacob, wrote a song. It was a simple song, and yet, it captured the depth of a theological tenet--the Lordship of Christ demands everything from us, and He calls us to a change of allegiance from the core of our being to a life of submission and obedience to God. 

Here is the song: "Jesus."

Jesus is my Superhero That he can 
Be Two To Ze-ro Better Than Ma-ri-o So-nic And Me!
Then I will live with Je-sus. repeat 3times.

What blows me away is Jacob's understanding that Jesus is "better" than Mario and Sonic, both fictional characters from his most favorite video games. Mario is from Super Mario 63, and Sonic is from Sonic the Hedgehog. From his simple innocent 7-year old mind, he is learning the fact that Jesus demands our all and wants us to love Him over and above every relationship and commitment we have--even the ones that are fictional and imaginary.

Two Sundays ago, I spoke at an international church. I shared to a small group of 25-30 expatriates living here in Kaohsiung the challenges of missions work in Asia. As an introduction I shared Jacob's "Jesus" song to illustrate the simplicity and depth of Jesus call for cross-cultural ministry. Of course, I shared this song with a little parental pride. Everyone understood. I am one proud father. Wouldn't you?

Mother's Day!

She loves gardening. I learned to nurture life. She enjoys singing in church. I learned to worship my God. She hugs her children every morning. I learned to treasure my own children and honor my wife with a passion that comes from above. I am now because of my mother, Mrs. Corazon M. Clemente. Happy Mother's Day, Mommy. I know you are smiling there with Jesus.

Lost in Translation, Kaohsiung Style

"I understand your lecture better when you speak in Chinese," Phoebe tells me. I smile and express my appreciation to her. She is one of my students here at Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS) and I am so glad that I am hearing this feed back at the early stages of my language learning.

This week, I gave a lecture on "Theology of Culture" and presented this to two of my classes. It was the same lecture for my Wednesday and Thursday classes. Phoebe was in these two classes. She heard the lecture twice. On the Wednesday class, she heard the lecture through an interpreter. On the Thursday class, she heard the same lecture without an interpreter--with me using my simple Chinese and speaking in slow-motion David style. 

In retrospect, I think many variables could occur in any teaching session using an interpreter. Maybe, at that time, I was relying more on my interpreter. To my interpreter's credit, she had been doing a great job of helping me with my classes. However, I may have trusted her translation to communicate the deeper nuances of my lecture, rather than going to the basic skills of using illustrations, employing Q&A, finding parallel concepts, and other teaching aids. Phoebe's feedback was a good reminder for me to be more focused in my teaching and not be dependent on the interpretation process. Many things can be lost in translation.

On the other hand, Phoebe's comment is encouraging. I think I am ready to totally forgo the use of an interpreter for my lectures. At present, I am using an interpreter for two of my classes. For my third class, I am on my own, struggling with my "simple Chinese" and making do with whatever Mandarin I know. The students are very gracious. They help out when I get in a bind. I am learning that translation in a seminary setting is a community affair. We help each other out. So, you can see, that I am not totally lost. This is Kaohsiung style.