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November 2012

Prayer For The Day

I woke up this morning with a great sense of peace. I do not know why, but Judy reminded me that today is when People Magazine features the Clemente family as the prayer focus for the day. It must be the prayers of many FM people around the world. Thank you everyone.

The past three or four days, I have been packing, sorting, and getting our stuff ready for the travel back home to Taiwan. It has been stressful. I plan to take six large pieces of luggage and two guitars. We are also deciding which ones to bring overseas and which ones stay here in Illinois. We are right now staying in Sarah's parent's home. Judy and John, my in-laws, have graciously hosted our time of transition. I am grateful for their hospitality. This period of our lives would have been more taxing if not for the love and care of my parent in-laws. It helps that Carmen and Jacob are enjoying the fellowship of Grandma and Grandpa. Praise be to God!

We hope to be in Kaohsiung, Taiwan by December 6, 2012. We will see you all on the other side of the world. Thank you again for all your prayers. We are grateful to those who have given so much so that the Clementes can stay in Taiwan and continue what God has called us to do. I know many are praying, even if it is not a designated day of prayer for the Clementes. 

The Lord of the Harvest Is Here

In Taiwan, I constantly see God’s harvest through the eyes of the students at Holy Light Theological Seminary. There is the story of Andrew and Anne. He was a businessman before he came to seminary. They got married while he was at the seminary and after graduation they went to Creative Access Country C to sell cosmetics. On the side, they are leading Bible studies, leading new believers to Christian discipleship, and helping in a house church. We also have Pastor Wayne, a recent graduate of our seminary, who currently is pastoring the Wen Shun Free Methodist Church in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He wants to mobilize his local members to reach out to the many foreigners in the city. These foreigners from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines are in the city as migrant workers and as young mothers married to Taiwanese families. Pastor Wayne had asked me to come and help plan a local cross-cultural missions work to share Jesus to these foreigners around this local Free Methodist (FM) church. These are Free Methodists who have seen the harvest. These are people who are ready for the harvest.

When we encounter the Lord of the harvest, we cannot help but see the harvest around us. When we experience God in profound and personal ways, then we see His work in our lives and experience bountiful growth and a time of renewal in our inner being.

The harvest is here because God is here. God is bringing up His people from the outside coming in. This is one principle we practice in missions studies. Harvest will not come from inside the church institution. Christian harvest will come from outside our boundaries and God Himself will bring the harvest into the church. In John chapter four, we are reminded by Jesus that we are not in control of the harvest. God is in control. Jesus said: “You are harvesting in places where you have not labored.” We, the Free Methodists, are reaping the fruits from the work of other people.

We can illustrate this harvest principle very clearly from the current work of the Free Methodist Church in Asia. You probably have heard of different news and reports from other missionaries of how our FM works in the countries of India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other Creative Access Countries have grown exponentially. In one Creative Access Country alone, three independent house church networks joined the Free Methodist Church USA in 2009. These three groups brought in about 3,800 local churches. We do not know exactly how many members there are, but obviously, God is bringing in the harvest.

Isn’t this awesome! It is an exciting time to be a member of the Free Methodist Church. It is the Book of Acts all over again. God is bringing in the harvest from the outside coming in. I teach this principle in my classes at the seminary. I remind Taiwanese pastors and church leaders that God’s ways are mysterious, and He chooses to bring growth to the church coming in from the outside. Harvest will come from people like these foreign migrant workers, and persons who do not belong to the church. In Taiwan, the potential for the Lord’s harvest is great because of the presence of many Asian migrant workers and foreign spouses. We are very encouraged. It is an exciting time to be a Free Methodist in Taiwan. It is an exciting time to participate in the ministries of Holy Light Theological Seminary, so that many workers will be equipped for the work of God’s harvest. The goal is that from this seminary, we can have a steady stream of missionaries and Christian workers going out to Asia under the leadership of the Free Methodist Church.

Excitement is not enough. We also need a strong focus on the work of the Lord. We need to be determined to follow through with what God gives us. In the life of Jesus, he was so focused in his work that he forgot about food. In John chapter four, when his disciples asked him if he has eaten yet, he responded: “I have food that you do not know of. My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me.” Jesus was resolved to finish the task. He was so determined he lost track of other things. When we are focused in obeying the Lord of the harvest, just like Jesus, then people from the outside will notice this. We don’t even have to open our mouth. They will see our passion and determination to follow God, and through us they will have the opportunity to encounter God’s salvation in Jesus. Our excitement for the Lord’s harvest and our determination to obey God, these two will draw people to Jesus. Jesus himself will bring them in.

What is our response then? Are we ready to face the Lord’s harvest? What should we do? Jesus admonishes us to pray. “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to bring in more workers in the harvest fields.” (Matthew 9:37-38). How do we do this?

We pray for people who are workers in the harvest field. We pray for them even if we do not know them. We pray for missionaries and harvest workers, even if we know that we will never have the chance to meet them in the future. Jesus has commissioned us to go and witness for him beyond our boundaries and unto the “ends of the ages” (Acts 1:7-8). I think when we pray for missionaries whom we do not know then it is a way of praying with the “end of ages” in mind.

In addition to our prayers, we also get ourselves ready for the harvest. At the seminary in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, there are many Taiwanese students who want to learn English because they want to be ready for a future missionary work overseas. Jiadzwo is one of them. He talks to me in English whenever he sees me. Whether I am at the library or walking in the hallways, he comes and practices the limited English words that he knows. This is probably one area of ministry an American can participate in. He or she can come to Taiwan for a summer, a semester, or a year and be a resource person and language partner to the many students at the seminary who have a missionary calling. This is one great way of helping someone who is getting ready for the harvest. One can do much for God’s kingdom.

And finally, we pray with the intention that someday we ourselves will go. Go out and experience the harvest. Go with a mission trip. Whether it is hammering a nail or teaching English, go. If we cannot go, then we join those of us who are going. Invite people who are interested in missions to our homes. Ask them: “What is God doing in your life?” Participate in their dreams and send them with our blessings and support. So that when they leave for a mission trip, it is not only our money or prayers that go with them, but it is our very own selves. Whatever we do, whether we are going or we are sending, we make sure we ourselves encounter the Lord of the harvest. He is the one who is and will be bringing in the harvest.

The harvest is here.  God is preparing His people for the harvest. We are all harvest workers.  We are to work in God’s harvest among our families, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, or in our towns.  And whenever we find harvest workers crossing cultural and geographical boundaries, then we are also harvesting in that particular area.  We are a part of this harvest. We are participating because we send them with our financial support and our prayers. We can join our God in His harvest field through our prayers for each other.

A few weeks ago, I was in Indianapolis, Indiana with a group of pastors, church planters, missionaries, seminary professors, and mission executives consulting about the work of Global Chinese Ministries (GCM). Pastor J, a Free Methodist church planter, was there sharing about the church planting work in Country C. A few weeks ago, our denominational leaders were there to ordain about 29 pastors, in addition to the 48 who were already ordained last 2009. These pastors belong to the three house church networks that were mentioned earlier. Pastor J reported that the local leaders from these three groups have decided to start a seminary to train their leaders and church workers. Pastor J invited me to join them. So, I said yes. Next year, for one week, I will go and visit Country C for a time of ministry and teaching.

You know what? I have never been to Country C. I have always heard of the many wonderful things God is doing there. I heard it is a restricted country. Christian work is closely supervised, and sometimes violently opposed by the government. I think I can set aside one week of my time to help our brothers and sisters there. It is hard for me to sit in the comforts of my office at the seminary in Taiwan, and watch what God is doing in Country C. I want to go. I want to be there where God is working. I want to follow the moving of the Holy Spirit. I want to see for myself the harvest that God is bringing to the Free Methodist Church.

The Lord of the harvest is leading us. When we encounter the Lord of the harvest, we cannot help but see the harvest around us. The closer we are to the Lord of the harvest, the farther we see the work of God in this world. Come and see the harvest. It is ready. Will you join us?

Thanking God for the Opportunity to be Thankful

I am grateful for the cease-fire in Gaza. I know we need more prayers for places like Congo. I thank God for the security I experience here in the USA. In some places in the world, people are not allowed to speak freely. I am grateful for the good things that we have here in America.

I thank God for family and love. I am aware that there are more children around the world who need basic care and attention. Our ICCM (International Child Care Ministries) office reports that there are more than 2,000 children still waiting for someone to sponsor them. I thank God for ICCM, and the way it is helping the children of this world.

I am happy for the good food we enjoy during this Thanksgiving holiday. I thank our Creator for giving me this time to express my gratefulness for the many beautiful things around us. I thank God for my son, Jacob, who enjoys life with gusto. It is fun watching him play with Ninjago. I thank God for Carmen, my eleven-year old daughter who is passionate about helping the less fortunate children. Her example is an encouragement to me. I thank God for my wife who is wise with the ways of the world, loyal with her friends, and dedicated to demonstrating God's love in tangible and touching ways. I thank God for the fellowship of the Mowery relatives and the affirmation from the Clemente clan. I thank God for this opportunity to give thanks and praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Drinking Coffee and Recharging

We are back for now here in Macomb, IL. Relaxing. Unwinding. Getting some rest before heading out to Taiwan. Jacob is watching Ninjago, his new passion. Carmen is listening to some One Direction music, her growing interest as a tween-girl or what we call in the Philippines as "dalaginding." Sarah is out having a good time with her sister Susan. This is a prefect time for recharging our bodies and finding new energy for our move to Taiwan in two weeks.

Last Sunday, we were in Hillsboro Free Methodist Church. I had a great time reconnecting with Pastor Randy, Pastor Brian, Dawn, Dennis, Jim, and other leaders of the church. Sarah and I also had a lunch fellowship with Cj and Stephanie. It was a great time of reminiscing our time of ministry back in Nicholasville, KY. Monday, we left Greenville, IL and moved our belongings to Macomb for a time of fellowship with Sarah's parents, John and Judy. The children were so delighted with the thought of living together with Grandpa and Grandma. After our day's driving, I went to Hannibal, MO, about an hour and a half of driving from Macomb, to see some members of the Hannibal FMC. I shared to them about the work of God in Asia. For that Monday evening, I met with Pastor Bob and Mary Lou, together with Kathy, Elsie, and others from their Bible study group that meets every Monday evening. It was good to meet new friends, and to know that they will be praying for us and missionary work.

I think I am going to head out to the kitchen and brew me some decaf coffee for this afternoon time of relaxation. This time of recharging energies is a significant part of our Partnership Building. I can sit and chill out knowing that God will be the One who will provide for all our needs. He is in control.

"I am Seeing God's Harvest."

This Sunday, we will be at Hillsboro Free Methodist Church to share about missions work in Asia and reconnect with our many supporters from that local church. This will be our last week of visiting local churches. My message and presentation in all these visits, including FM churches from Michigan and Illinois, is the same. I share about God's harvest in Asia. I challenge my hearers to participate in God's work among the many Asian Free Methodists in that region. Below is the full text of my presentation.


Good morning! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you about God’s work in Asia. I am David Clemente, and together with my wife, Sarah, and our children Carmen and Jacob, we are your missionaries to Asia. We are currently located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. We have been your missionaries since 2005. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

This morning, I want to share with you about God’s harvest in Asia. The Lord of the harvest is bringing in workers into His harvest fields among our Free Methodist work in Taiwan and in many countries around Asia. In John 4:38, Jesus says: “You are harvesting in places that you have not sown.” God is bringing in the harvest. We want to be ready for God’s harvest when it comes.

I have seen God’s harvest even as a child. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and grew up as a second-generation Free Methodist. I was privileged to hear of God’s harvest around the world from many North American missionaries who frequented our home. They would always talk about Africa, India, and America, and share about what God is doing in many different countries. I grew up hearing about Greenville College, Spring Arbor College, and of the old Winona Lake headquarters. People like Paul Ellis, Elmer Parsons, or Charles Kirkpatrick, visited our little house in Butuan City, Philippines. I did not know then that these were people of great importance; bishops and great leaders of the Free Methodist Church, here in the USA. I grew up in this environment. And in this situation, God nurtured in me a growing desire to participate in God’s harvest.

God prepared me for His harvest. In the Philippines, He called me to His salvation and ministry at an early age. I responded and entered the pastoral ministry and got ordained as a Free Methodist pastor. I always thought that I would stay in the Philippines and for the rest of my life, stay there and help in God’s harvest in that country. But then, God called me to be His missionary in Asia. At first I resisted Him. I said to God: “Why should I leave the Philippines, when there is so much need here.” But fighting God was a futile effort. He knew what was best for His work in Asia. God said: “Go! I will take care of the Free Methodist work in the Philippines.” He is in control. So, after a year and a half of fighting God, I surrendered to Him and went to Asbury Theological Seminary for my doctorate to prepare for a life of seminary teaching and missionary work.

God showed me His harvest in Asia. In 2005, when my family and I joined the Free Methodist World Missions (FMWM), it was also the same year when Free Methodist Church, USA welcomed three bishops from India and along with them 90,000 members who joined our ranks. Also in 2009, three house church networks from a Creative Access Country joined the Free Methodist work and brought in 3,800 local churches.  We all have seen the harvest. We have heard of these reports. Every time I hear of figures from reports like these ones in 2005 and 2009, I see the growing need to prepare workers for God’s harvest. God is calling me to help future missionaries and cross cultural workers in Asia. God told me: “Stay there in the place I have prepared for you and help those who are preparing to be my harvest workers in Asia.” The goal is that from Taiwan there will be a steady stream of cross cultural workers, pastors, and leaders going out to many different regions of Asia under the leadership of the Free Methodist Church.

In 2010, I started teaching at Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS). This seminary was founded in 1955. It is the only Chinese Free Methodist seminary in the world. We have about 100 or more resident students in our Master of Divinity and Master of Biblical Studies program. I teach courses in missiology. Missiology is the study of missionary work as it relates to theology, Bible, history, and other church studies.

God is showing me His harvest in Asia. I hear of it from our many visitors who frequently visit our seminary. I see it every day through the eyes of our students at the seminary. Working at the seminary is very rewarding. However, some days, I ask myself questions that bring me down. Am I really making a difference in people’s lives? Shouldn’t I be somewhere else, helping Free Methodist leaders? Maybe, I should be doing what other Free Methodist pastors are doing? But God always comes back to me and tells me: “Stay there in the place I have prepared for you and help those who are preparing to be my harvest workers in Asia. I will take care of my work. I will take care of the Free Methodist work and bring in the harvest.” He keeps reminding me that He is in control. He is the One who brought the 90,000 from India. He is the One who ushered in the 3,800 local churches. He is the Lord of the harvest.

I would like to end with two stories. These are stories of our seminary students. These are stories that remind us that God is in control and He will bring in workers to His harvest field. These are stories of Phoebe and Sean. Phoebe is from Taiwan. She is one of our 31 graduates this year. She wants to be a missionary in the future. A few years back, she went to Korea for a mission trip and saw the need to minister to the many Chinese migrant workers who are laboring at the many factories in Seoul, Korea. She wanted to help Chinese migrant workers who crossed the Chinese borders to find work and come to countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, or Korea. In our seminary at Taiwan, she would constantly visit me at my office and ask me many different questions about missions work. I try my best to answer all her inquiries and encourage her to seek God’s leadership. One time, she told me: “How can I prepare for missionary work? Pastor David, I do not have a mission agency like you do. I do not have many local churches like you have in the USA who support you and many people who pray for you. But I know that God is calling me to help these Chinese migrant workers. I want to go to Korea and reach out to the many Chinese factory workers residing in that country. How should I do this? I do not know how, but I know God will lead me.” That day, I did not have answers to her questions. I prayed with her. I said in my heart: “God has all the answers for her. God will lead her.”

Sean is also one of our 31 graduates this year. He has a calling for missionary work. He has joined many mission trips. He has taken a lot of my classes at the seminary. He wants to be ready for a future missions work. He wants to be involved in a cross cultural ministry among the Chinese people. Sean is from Korea. Do you see where this story is going, right? Sean and Phoebe are getting married next year. Two months before graduation last June 2012, Sean proposed to Phoebe. She was so excited she straight away came to my office and told me everything. At first I did not understand because she was speaking so fast. I told her, “Phoebe, slow down. My Chinese is not that good. I need you to speak slowly so I can understand you.” God is leading Sean and Phoebe. They plan to stay in Korea for two years and get connected with the local churches that support Sean. After that, they are ready to go. They are seeking God’s leadership for a missionary work among the many Chinese foreign laborers and migrant workers scattered around Asia. God is preparing workers for his harvest field.

Thank you for praying for us, and supporting Free Methodist World Missions. Indeed God is directing us to many harvest fields, where we have not labored. He is in control.

(Rev. Dr. David W. Clemente, 2012 Macomb, Illinois)


A Club Of Country Lovers (or ACOCL)

"Can I share about my friends here in Taiwan? Can I prepare a powerpoint to present to churches in the USA?" "Of course, Carmen. You are most welcome to join Mama and I as we talk to people and visit different local churches back in Michigan and Illinois."

The above was a conversation I had with Carmen, my almost eleven-year old daughter, last April 2012. We were getting ready to come back to the USA for our time of Partnership Building, visiting our supporters and sharing about the work in Taiwan. She gave me the above request. I was doubtful at first, but I did not want to discourage her. I thought, she probably will share in one church and then after that, she will get tired and stop. But, no! She has been sharing her story at almost every Free Methodist church we have visited. I was wrong. My daughter has enjoyed telling her story about ACOCL. Below is a copy of the text that she reads when we come visit local churches. I have asked her if I can share this in my blog here. She said, yes!

(CARMEN's Story:)

Good morning!  My name is Carmen Clemente.  It’s a pleasure to be here with you.  I would like to share something I’m doing back in Taiwan.  I started a club last January and it was called, “A Club of Country Lovers.”  “A.C.O.C.L.” for short. Last December, my family went on a Christmas vacation to the Philippines visiting my Dad’s family.  I saw lots of people on the streets, and some of them lived in houses made of cardboard.  I felt really bad for them and I wanted to make a change.  So I had an idea to raise money to help the people in the Philippines who need support.  And I had this great idea of starting my club. 

When I returned to Taiwan, I asked my friends if they would like to join me, and they all said “Yes!”  So all of us started raising money for the Philippines. How did we raise money?  Well, to start off, I had this great idea of people in the club donating money and whoever donated the most money gets a prize of their favorite ice cream.  We also donated things like clothes, stationary, books and toys.  Whoever donated the most donations got a different prize -- a necklace from the Philippines.  Another way we raised money was that we had different sales at school.  We had three different sales: an origami sale, a bake sale, and a drink sale.  Here is a graph of the sales we had in my school.  As you can see, the bake sale was our most popular sale. We continued our project until the end of the school year in May.  We made $3,530 NT.  That is about $117 US dollars!  And we collected 118 donations.  My Dad suggested a place where we could send the money and donations.  It was our friend, Pastor Loloy, and the ministry among the tribal people in Mindanao.  These are pictures of the children receiving our donations. This little girl is holding a picture of the members in our club.

Before I left Taiwan to come here, we all decided that our next country to raise money for would be Uganda.  Right now, back in Taiwan, the A.C.O.C.L. are holding sales in school about once a month.  So far, they have raised over $3,000NT.  That is about 100 US dollars!  Please pray as they continue their work to help the people in Uganda. You could help, too!  A way to help Uganda is to buy SEED (*) products that I am selling.  I am selling Uganda necklaces made from recycled paper. Thank you for having us here.  It was a pleasure to speak to you.  Now I’m going to turn this over to my Mom. **  **

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(*) Serving, Encouraging, Equipping, Discipling (SEED) empowers holistic livelihood groups in FM churches around the world to do micro-enterprise that makes sense.

Missionary Support

What is the nature of missionary support? Giving to missions. Praying for missionaries. Advocating missions work. All these describe missionary support. These past two weeks, during our visit to local churches, I have seen diverse ways of expressing missionary support. Two Sundays before, we went to Alton, IL to visit our supporters at Emmanuel Free Methodist Church. For our evening missionary presentation, we went to Pantoon Beach, IL, to visit with our friends from The Bridge (a Free Methodist congregation) and the Solid Rock Free Methodist Church. These three churches are missional churches, vibrant in their outreach to their locality and intentional in their connection with missions work around the globe. They house missionaries when they come home for furlough or Partnership Building. They give to CSAs, Country Shares Account, for the funding of national evangelism happening in many places outside of the USA. The organize fun run to raise money for missions. They sponsor ICCM children and others from different organizations. They are just great models to follow.

Three Sundays ago, we visited three churches, Centralia Free Methodist, Salem Free Methodist, and Pana Free Methodist churches. Our friends from Tower Hill Free Methodist also joined us at the evening service in Pana, IL. These four churches are also supportive of missions work. Despite their financial difficulties and challenging organizational situations, they are still giving to the Clemente MSA (Missionary Support Account). I felt the welcome from these four churches. They are committed to praying for us.  They may not be as vibrant or as missional as the previous group of churches, but are definitely a missionary sending church. They send the Clemente Family with their prayers and support.

Therefore, if there are prayers said for missionaries, money given to missions work (regardless of the amount), and advocacy for the missions enterprise, then these local churches are missionary supporting churches. I am grateful for this few visits we had because I have seen the love and support from many Free Methodists here in Illinois.

From The Mouth of Babies (or Children)

Yesterday, we went to Cowden Free Methodist Church, here in Cowden, Illinois. This is our first time to share about missions where Jacob, our seven-year old son, participated. He came up to the front of the church and shared about his life in MAK (Morrison Academy of Kaohsiung). He even prepared his own powerpoint slides. We are so proud of him. Later, after the service and during the lunch fellowship at the church fellowship area, several parents came to me and appreciated our children's involvement in our time of sharing. (Carmen also shared about her ACOCL group.) I told them that it was Carmen and Jacob's idea. Last week, Jacob, who usually is disinterested in going up in front to talk to people, approached Sarah and suggested that he is ready to share his own version of missionary life. One of the grandfathers from this church commented that it shows. They can tell that Jacob enjoys his time of sharing and talk. Praise God!

Last Wednesday, we were at Coffeen Free Methodist Church, to visit with our friends. They have an on-going Wednesday children's ministry among the unchurched children of the community. I was there. I saw how "rough" the young people and children were. However, I also witnessed the hunger for love and the children's desire to belong to a Christian community. it was humbling to see these young people and children desire for things spiritual. From the mouths of babes, or from the least of these, our children, we will learn wisdom. I applaud the efforts of this local church to embrace the little ones from the community of Cowden. This is Christian witness in action.