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October 2012

What Is The Big Picture?

Why are we in the mission field? What is the purpose of our time of missionary work? These questions really ask about the big picture scenario. What is our goal in our stay in Taiwan?

The goal is that from Taiwan there will be a steady stream of cross cultural workers, pastors, and church leaders going out to many different regions of Asia under the leadership of the Free Methodist Church. I share this to our many friends and supporters who take the time to listen to our stories. I tell them that whenever you pray for David and Sarah, you are also praying for the many students who participate in the life of Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS). You are also praying for the many Free Methodist pastors who come to our seminary to be better prepared for the harvest that is already in Asia.

These past two weeks, we went to five different local churches, visited with four missionaries on four different occasions, and had dinner with two families on separate times. We had a busy week. During our visits to Greenville FMC and Decatur FMC, I saw thriving local churches that are in the cutting edge of cross cultural missions work here in the USA. Both congregations have an existing ministry among Chinese people in their communities. During our visits to Ferges FMC, Rushville FMC, and Bethany FMC, we witnessed a growing desire to actively join God's harvest that is spreading around the world among our Free Methodist connections. Gene from Rushville told me: "We here in Illinois need to be more involved in missions." I concurred with him. I also said once local churches are more involved in cross cultural ministry around the world, then they will also grow in numbers, increase in financial growth, and widen their vision for Christian ministry. My goal is that these local churches here in the USA will see God's work in the world and be more motivated to pray for, give to, and participate with our missions work by going to these different regions overseas and around their respective localities.

What is the big picture? The big picture is theological education. Not just the traditional education, but a robust dynamic cross cultural and missiological training of leaders who have a desire to go and participate in the missionary work of the Free Methodist Church around Asia.

Last Monday, I went to a Global Chinese Ministries (GCM) consultation. We heard Pastor J share about the on-going ministry in Creative Access Country C and the growing need for a seminary that equips the leaders of the many Free Methodist connections and affiliates from that country. I was encouraged. I am encouraged. I am committed to help this small but vibrant seminary. In the near future, I will set aside a week or two to leave Taiwan and go to Country C for a time of ministry. This visit will be significant not only because I will see in person what God is doing in that country, but also because this time of going is a part of the big picture. Pray for me. Pray with us. Pray that David, Sarah, Carmen, and Jacob will always see the big picture, God's picture.

Illinois Connections

Grandma and Grandchildren. We are connecting here with our friends in Illinois.

Last Saturday, we shared at the Gateway Conference WMI women's Retreat, at Durley Camp. I saw a lot of our old friends from way back 2005 and 2009, the two times we visited this part of the state of Illinois. We talked with Grandma Carol, Grandma Ethel, and many other grandmothers of our Free Methodist churches here in central Illinois. They saw our children and got a chance to talked to Carmen and Jacob. They also heard Carmen present the ministry of ACOCL (A Club Of Country Lovers), the group of 5th Graders she started in MAK to help children around the world through little things such as donations and other fund-raising activities. It was fun for me to watch these groups of grandmothers marvel over our children. I am one proud father.

Yesterday, we visited Parkview Free Methodist Church at Vandalia, IL. We saw Pastor John, Martin, Dennis and Joy, and many other families we remember from our last visit. Abby was also there. She is the granddaughter of Martin. We stayed with them when we first visited this local church, back in 2005, when Carmen and Abby were just 4-year old girls. It was fun watching them re-connect and renew their friendship, even at this very young age. I am one proud Free Methodist missionary.

Missionary Life Here in Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois

Last Sept. 23th, we spoke at two churches in Michigan. The next day, we drove to Kentucky. Then, on Oct. 1st, we came to Greenville, Illinois, and settled here for another round of church visits. Our missionary life here is busy during this time of Partnership Building. Let me explain . . .

Last September 23rd, was our last Sunday in Michigan. We visited the Lifestream Grand Rapids FMC in the morning and Caldwell FMC in the evening. After our morning missions talk, we had a lively fellowship with the pastor and the members at its church potluck. I had a good time of sharing with one member, while Sarah was also engaged with other people from the church. I sense a great hope with this church. You see, it is located in one of Michigan's highly urbanized metropolis. The pastor and its leaders are resolve to give witness for Jesus in the midst of the diversity that Grand Rapids gives to its inhabitants. This is another opportunity for Free Methodist people to make a difference in one of our mega cities of the USA.

That evening, we drove north and visited with our friends from Caldwell FMC. Well, actually, we visited with friends from Mancelona, Lake City, and other places. You see, some Free Methodists from the area close to Caldwell came to hear us speak. Before we spoke though, the Caldwell members prepared an early Fall feast of food and bounty. It was a great affirmation of the prayers of people. "What you share was very informative," one member from lake City told me after our talk. "It motivates me to pray for you and your family more. Thank you."

The following day, we left Michigan and headed out to Kentucky with all our earthly belongings packed in one single car. God was with us. We visited with a lot of friends. We stayed with the Prochinas (Leslie, Carole, Lora, and Lily), our "family" here in Kentucky. Also, we had a great reunion fellowship with our friends from Open Door FMC. At the Sunday service at Wilmore FMC, we heard a missionary speak about ICCM. It was my first time to go to a Free Methodist church and listen to a missionary speak about FMWM work, without my participation. I was merely a listener. (Almost always it is me giving the presentation.) In Kentucky, it was a time of R&R. The Clementes and the Prochinas went out hiking, boating, reminiscing, listening, eating Filipino foods, and taking a break from the rigors of life as nurses (both Leslie and Carole are Nurses) and missionaries (the Clementes). In addition, I also saw some friends from Asbury Theological Seminary, my old friends from the ESJ School of Missions, as well as some Ph.D. students from Taiwan. We headed out of Kentucky on Oct.1st and went straight here in Greenville, IL. 

We came to Illinois last Monday and straight away I got involved in the Global Impact week of Greenville College, a missions focus week of this college. I shared at one class and talked to a few students about cross cultural missions. Last Wednesday, Sarah and I went to the Wilmore FMC evening service and watched a veteran missionary speak about the work in China. It was very encouraging. We got to witness some old fashioned Free Methodist hospitality with us as the recipients. We are grateful to Robyn, JoAnn, Doane, and many others who made us feel welcomed here in Illinois.

Tomorrow, the Clementes are sharing in a WMI (Women's Ministries International) meeting of the Gateway Conference. Sunday, we will start visiting churches of our many supporters here in Illinois, beginning with Vandalia this Sunday morning. So, whether we are speaking, listening, or merely watching people bless us, we are engaged in this active life of a missionary. We do this because we want to be faithful to our God and His call in our lives.

Children Giving to Children

A few weeks back, when we were in Michigan, we visited the Barryton Free Methodist Church on its Wednesday evening meeting. After our missions presentation, the church treasurer handed us a gift from the church's VBS offering. "This two hundred plus dollar donation is for Jacob's educational expenses," he said. The church's group of children from its recent summer VBS (Vacation Bible School) gave this particular gift specifically for our son's educational needs. What a way to connect with missionaries. The pastor as well as some the local leaders have categorically said they will focus there support on our financial needs for the education of our children. When we are back in Taiwan, there will be upcoming needs such as tuition fees, expenses for school supplies, and other peripheral expenses related to Carmen and Jacob's education at Morrison Academy of Kaohsiung (MAK). But we know now that there is at least one church who is praying for our children, and they are also giving towards the support of our children's education. and the beautiful thing about this arrangement is that the children themselves are also praying and giving to their missionaries. The local church's children supporting children who are missionaries, Carmen and Jacob.