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January 2020

OFW Connections

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are here in Taiwan. The group I am familiar with is Higher Ground International Fellowship (HGIF). This is a group of OFWs who are working in the electronics sector here in the city of Kaohsiung. Some of its members are married to Taiwanese families. Zen, Edz, and Aying are three OFWs who are actively involved with the Filipino community here. They are also connected to our Creator-Savior through different church activities by helping other Filipinos located in the vicinity of HGIF, which is somewhere in Nandzi, north of Kaohsiung. OFW connection means Filipinos reaching out to each other in meaningful ways.

Zen, Edz, and Aying are stepping up to the microphone, so to speak. They are answering the call to leadership, by leading Bible studies, sharing a sermon, and facilitating group events with OFWs living and working in the city. Their pastor, Tessa, is doing such an excellent job. I try to help a little bit by preaching some Sundays and also leading some workshops for these three ladies. These next two months, I am leading a workshop on Inductive Bible Study Method (IBSM), and Zen, Edz, and Aying are there in attendance. Just my little way of thanking our Creator-Savior by helping these three ladies become proficient in their leadership skills. At the end of this workshop, I am hoping that these three can teach other OFWs in the ways of IBSM and help other Filipinos become connected with our Creator-Savior. OFW connection means Filipinos loving each other with the love of Jesus.

I do my small part. God will do the rest. “. . . what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men [and women] who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

OFWs ladies

Guo Nien Hao !!!

Happy New Year!!! Our neighbor next door came up to us and gave us a gift. She said: “Happy New Year!” I love living in Taiwan. People here are very friendly. This happens very often. Even if it is not a holiday. Last night, we went out for a dinner celebration with a Taiwanese family who lives close to us. They gave my children Hong-Bao (red envelope). We are so grateful for their friendship. We have known them for almost ten years now. I love living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Whenever I am away, I miss Taiwan’s hospitality and remember my friends. God bless the people of Taiwan. Guo Nien Hao!!! (Good New Year.) Happy Chinese New Year, y’all!!!

What a Joy!!! (Happy CNY!!!)

Happy Chinese New Year!!! Here in Taiwan, every family is celebrating. There are many ways people express their joy for the new year, but mostly these happen around the family circle. Meals around the family table, hot-pot dinner with friends, and sometimes an occasional visit to the mall for some recreation—the modern version of celebrating an event. For us, we will be seeing one of our neighbors at the mall. Ted, Kouching, and their early-20s daughter, Jocelyn, will meet with the four of us, Sarah, Carmen, Jacob, and I, at a nearby mall for some Thai food. It will be a good break for all of us; a break from managing the school activities of two high school students in our home. Also, it will be an added joy for us to get to know our neighbors better. We have known them since 2009. (Maybe, earlier? I can’t remember anymore.) This time, we will talk, with more details, about the college plans for our children, among other important family conversations. Happy New Year!

A week ago, I was privileged to be in Thailand for a time of resourcing for our various Asian leaders. There were about thirty who came. The main reason was for our new FMCUSA leaders to come and to get to know our Asian circle of pastors and country leaders. Bishop Cowart and ICCM Director Thompson were there. We spent a few days highlighting the work in Southeast Asia and Country-NP (from South Asia). We listened to the Spirit’s movement and work of God in these places. We prayed for each other and, together, affirmed each others’ call of our Lord in our lives. It was a time of a “happy new year” and a new beginning with our new leaders.

While in Thailand, I spent most of my time with one-on-one talk with these country leaders. I sat with one of our leaders, Superintendent Pakep, together with a few of his pastors, talking about their outreach ministry across the border of their country, to another “creative access country” where Christian witness is illegal. We talked about ways to sustain a missionary work like this border-crossing ministry. What encouraged me was that they are doing this cross cultural work without outside help and solely based on their own local financial giving. What a joy! This new indigenous cross cultural effort is a reason to celebrate here in Asia.

Also while in Thailand, during our time of resourcing, I met with another Asian leader, Superintendent Sar, talking about plans for a Pastors’ Retreat in 2021. He shared with me about the great need for their 20 plus pastors and local leaders for training and a time of reflection about God’s work. We talked. We set dates. We put out names of pastors and teachers whom we might invite to Asia for this time of Pastors’ Retreat. My joy will be complete when I see some of our pastors from North Michigan Conference come and visit Supt. Sar’s country.

Towards the end of our time for resourcing, I met with Rev. Lama, a country leader for one of our work in Asia. He supervises the work of about 300 local churches in his country. The task is great. But we have a great God.  We talked about many things. Our focus for the day was the plans for a pastors’ training these next few months. Where will our pastors’ stay when they are in the city for our time of training? (Most of these pastors travel from far away places. Some from mountains that would take about two days of travel by foot and one day travel by bus.) Who will be the translators? How will we fund this activity? We had almost everything set in place. One joyful news was that two pastors from Michigan will be coming to help me with the teaching time. What a joy! This is something new for my home conference, North Michigan Conference. I have been praying for a long time for something like this to happen. Now, this year, it is finally going to happen. With God’s help, I will be joined by Pastors Ron and Jim, from The Woods FMC. It will be a time of celebration. Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Faithful in Small Things

What is the point of being faithful in little things? Is it for humility’s sake only? Many parables of Jesus teaches us about humility. These teachings present God’s ways as starting in small things. Only later do we see the rewards coming. Now usually, the rewards speak of great things and of plenty, almost the opposite of the small things.  These rewards are often times described as the abundance that is inherent in the “fruitful life” of a Christian. There is truth to this description. However, if we go back to our original question, there is more to the “small things in life” than just a future reward. The main point of being faithful to small things is so that we will know God more intimately, better than before. Faithfulness to little things opens our eyes to see God’ work in the world and brings our hearts closer to the beating heart of God for a lost world.

Let me illustrate this point from a recent visit I had with our Asia leaders.  I was with several FM Asian leaders in Thailand for a time of resourcing. At one worship time, one Thai pastor gave a gift to a Myanmar pastor. A small insignificant act and yet affirming God’s work in Asia.   

Our Chiang Mai (Thailand) FMC collected a small gift from its members and gave this gift to Superintendent Pakep, the leader of the Myanmar Provisional Annual Conference (MPAC), for its use in cross cultural missions work in a creative-access Country-L. Just so everyone knows, Myanmar has a ministry among a tribal people group that is located in one of its border. Pakep, together with some members of a local FM church, are doing outreach visits to Country-L. The Thai gift is small. But it speaks loudly to us all. The amount is not much, a little thing that is probably considered by many as a token gift. However, everyone who is there witnessing the gift giving feel the love of the givers for God’s work in Country-L. There is a connection. The Chiang Mai brethren feel they are connected with the work in Country-L through the efforts of our Myanmar FM members.

The Bible says those who are faithful in little things, God “will set you over much.” (See Matthew 25:23 & Luke 19:17.) Truly, we can look forward to a day when God will multiply these small gifts (or any gift for that matter) for Country-L. That will be the day when we will hear of people coming to God in salvation and acts of compassion and mercy are experienced by every tribe and citizen from Country-L. His kingdom will be established here on earth as it is in heaven. God will be praised.

If we revisit the parable, we notice that the story ended with a description of the joy of the Father. Matthew 25:23 states: “Enter into the joy of the master” (ESV). This is the point of faithfulness—to be close to the joy of the master, to know God in deeper and more intimate ways.

Going back to the gifts given by our Asia pastors, the connection is not only between these two FM leaders, but also their connection with our loving God who longs for everyone to not perish, “but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Both are affirming God’s missions call and growing in their intimate knowledge of our Creator-Savior. The efforts of crossing the border and sharing the gospel in that locality is a picture of God’s character. We are faithful, not only because of the future rewards, but also because this is the way of knowing our God better, deeper than before.

So, let us be faithful, whether in small or great things. Let us be faithful, because this is the way to hear the beating heart of God for this world. Let us be faithful so that we will be able to know God in more intimate ways, better than before.

Letter to a Friend (a Prayer Warrior)

    Dear Joanne. It is good to hear from you. How are you? How is the winter season in Illinois? Are you coping with the cold? How is Joe? I often think of him and the significant years he has spent here in Asia, especially in Taiwan.

    Right now, I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Have you been to Chiang Mai before? I know you have traveled a lot around the Philippines and to other Asian countries. I was just not sure if you have been to this beautiful city of Chiang Mai.

    We just finished a day of meetings yesterday with our new Bishop and new ICCM** Director listening in to the reports of our Country Leaders and Superintendents from these five Asian countries, namely, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Country-V, and Country-NP. We ended each report with everyone praying and laying hands over the leader who just gave the report, and Bishop Cowart leading in prayer with everyone in concert. What a glorious way of coming together in unity. God is moving.

    God is working in Asia in miraculous ways. There are reports of healing, profession of faith, and new churches planted amidst the threats of persecution and government restrictions. Our Asia pastors are working not only in familiar localities, but also at border crossings ministering to tribal communities and refugees seeking shelter and comfort. God is leading the way. We are so blessed to hear these reports.

   As one leader, Pastor H, shared during our meetings, saying: “I need a spiritual covering,” we all then responded by offering our prayers. (Don’t we all need God’s covering over our lives?) We affirmed this leader’s expression of a personal need by joining together as the body of Christ in corporate worship. (Truly, we all need to confess our unity in Jesus, on our knees and in humble obedience to his call.) The Spirit is alive and bringing us closer and together for his work in the world.

    The next two days, we will have a time of teaching and training. Bishop Cowart will lead the sessions today. Tomorrow, Rev. Coates will speak. (Yes, Gerry is here.) I am not doing any teaching time. However, I will be busy with meetings and consultation with our Asian leaders. Also today, our Thailand pastors, about seven of them, will be joining us for this time of training. I know all of these leaders from a previous training I had with them. It would be good to reconnect with our Thai pastors. Did I mention that four of the seven pastors are women? It is a good year for us here in Asia. Women pastors are leading the way.

    Joanne, thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your partnership with us here in Asia. May God give you good health and long life. Please send my regards to Joe. We hope to visit you sometime this summer, when we are back in the States. God bless you and keep you.

   Serving our God in Asia. David.

**ICCM (International Child Care Ministries)