Final Essays for Bandung

Before leaving STT St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia, I left the students some essay questions, which were then translated into Bahasa Indonesia by the Rev. Yopie B.  I reproduce them here for our readers’ enjoyment.
(Recommended sources: R. Hays, Reading Backward; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God; R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.
2. Explain how Jesus Himself and the authors of the four canonical gospels use the Old Testament to make the claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.
3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Colvins in Bandung

If our kids are looking more colorful than usual, it is because they’re wearing batik to their first Indonesian worship service.   
It has been a mixed visit so far. For me, a fruitful week of ministry. For Sora and the kids, a painful time fighting the sort of digestive tract illness that we thought we would not experience, since we were coming already from the Philippines.

I preached on Psalm 42 & 43 for GAI St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia this morning. Many thanks to Pr. Denny Kussoy for translating my sermon. 

  
Matt preaching with Pr. Denny Kussoy translating. 

The congregation on Sunday included many students from my week-long intensive class at the Bible College.

 
Above: Students at STT St Paul’s Bible College during Matt’s class. 

At lunch on Sunday, Rev. Yopie Buyung explained that he believes Biblical theology (in the technical sense) is greatly needed in Indonesian churches. I believe it. The delighted looks of the students as I explained how the New Testament claims Jesus to be God made it clear that they had not heard it put this (Jewish, Old Testamentish) way before, and that they will be USING these arguments in their own conversations with those who do not know the Lord, or deny that we should worship Him, or who think that “it is far from God’s glory to beget a son”.

Here are the essay assignment questions that I left for the students to write. (Pak Yopie translated them into Bahasa Indonesia.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.

2. Explain how Jesus and the four gospels use the Old Testament to claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.

3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Unfortunately, our family has been dealing with some sickness. Three kids came with me to church, wearing their new batik clothing. Sora stayed back at the guest house with Naomi, who is still recovering. Later, Isaiah and Hosanna also lost their lunches. Everyone is on the mend, however.

We have one more day in Bandung. Rev. Yopie and his wife Hertina and younger son Rexa have been taking very good care of us. Indonesian hospitality is justly famous, and Pak Yopie’s family has been amazing in that respect. 

Tuesday, we head to Jakarta for four days, then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, en route to meet with our SAMS directors and other SAMS missionary families at a retreat in Kep.
Pray that:

– Our kids will recover quickly, and that we will have no more illness on this trip. 

– We may have a pleasant and uneventful train ride full of beautiful scenery from Bandung to Jakarta.

– The STT St. Paul’s students will continue to pursue the Biblical approaches to Christology and theology that I introduced them to in the lectures this week, and that the Lord may bless those methods with good fruit. 

– That our kids will continue to be good ambassadors for our family and the REC and ACNA. The boys especially have done a good job so far, even though they don’t like being the center of attention. (Hosanna on the other hand, loves being the center of attention, and is apparently in her element being greeted and photographed, whether by Filipinos or Indonesians.)

   
   Thanks to Natalina H for the pictures!

Radio Show

Thanks to my friendship with Pastor Vic Bernales, I was introduced this afternoon to Rev. Michael Hong, the owner and proprietor of Mango Radio, which broadcasts evangelical radio programs in Zamboanga and here in Davao City. Pastor Hong has a heart for bringing the gospel to Muslims here on the island of Mindanao by using radio. 

It was a fruitful discussion, and the result was that I will be starting a live one-hour radio show on June 1st. There will then be a four week break while our family is in Indonesia and Cambodia in June, and I will resume broadcasting after June 28. We hope to air the show at rush hour, but Mango is currently still trying to obtain a frequency for broadcasting in Davao. It will also be broadcast via the Internet. 

The show will be devoted to explaining Scripture, using history and the original languages and the Jewish background. I’ll be trying to make these things clear and accessible — something I have striven to do for many years in my high school classes. 

I need a name for the show. Any suggestions?

  
Above: Matt and Pr. Michael Hong in the Mango Radio studio.

Pray that the show will be a success and a blessing both to Filipino Christians and to those who do not yet own Christ as the world’s Lord. 

Photos from March and April 2015

I’m feeling a bit remiss about blogging. We keep to our deadline for publishing our monthly newsletter, but it’s easy to forget to write on this blog, and that for two reasons, both of which are good for missionary work, but not for missionary communication: first, life in the Philippines feels more “normal” for us than it did during our first two years; we encounter less that seems remarkable and needing to be photographed or shared. Second, we are both crazy busy with our respective ministries, and have a hard time carving out time to blog.

Here are some photos from March and April, which may be taken as fairly representative of what we’ve been up to:

On the way home from dropping the kids at school one morning, the words of the Psalmist came to mind: “Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.” OK, maybe just cows, and a calf that decided the middle of the road looked like a good place to enjoy sunbathing.

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Sora continues to do outreach with other midwives from the birth clinic to bring prenatal care to the women of the Isla Verde. Here, laundry hangs on a line and bicycle taxis (pedicabs) ply the streets beneath the coconut palms, while the ubiquitous Coca-Cola ad serves as a silent missionary of Western consumerism even in this very poor neighborhood.

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Of course, the birth clinic continues to welcome Filipino babies into the world, and Sora continues to supervise shifts and take care that they arrive safely. Here are three from the past few months:

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Sora continues to teach, too. Most recently, she’s been teaching statistics for this enthusiastic bunch of student midwives. Here, the students are lined up in a “living histogram” by height:

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Water lillies from Sora’s visit to Thailand in March:

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Matt’s ministry continues apace. Introductory Greek is finished now, so we have moved on to Hebrew, while continuing to read the Greek New Testament so that students don’t lose their skills. Here, Carl, one of Matt’s friends who has been with him from the beginning of his classes here in Davao, puts up answers to the second Hebrew homework assignment on the whiteboard.

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Truck on the Way to the Clinic

A truck has been parked on the street leading to the clinic for months now. It is a disabled dump truck parked with its box in an elevated position. Since it is a convenient distance from a concrete wall, an enterprising fellow stretched some tarps across the intervening space and turned the truck into a dwelling, complete with a refrigerator. To make it feel a bit more like home, he also painted various parts of the truck in brighter colors: purple, yellow, green. I say “he”, but I’m pretty sure there were multiple people living there. A family?

Well, someone evidently persuaded them to move out, for the truck is now no longer inhabited. It’s not running either. But that doesn’t mean its usefulness has been exhausted. Behold, what Pinoy ingenuity has devised:

 

Yes, that is a basketball hoop. And it is at a pretty good height, with what can only be called a very expansive backboard. You could hit all kinds of interesting bankshots off that box.

Shirts and Dresses

Most of my ministry in Davao City is teaching other Protestant Christians: Pentecostal, Baptist, Reformed, and non-denominational community church clergy and lay members are all among my students. The Philippines is a largely Roman Catholic country. Partly as a result of this, Protestant pastors do not wear clerical shirts or vestments. My own practice here is to eschew the trappings of Anglican clergy unless I’m actually functioning in an Anglican service (as, for instance, during the visit from our bishop, when we held a service of Holy Communion at Faith Academy). To walk around town dressed in a clerical collar would mean being mistaken for a Roman Catholic priest, with all the expectations that go with that.

But if we go to another country, I will probably dress like an Anglican clergyman 7 days a week. And for that purpose, it is nice to know where to get vestments and clerical clothing made. Just down the street from Faith International Academy, in a building I drive past every day, is Colors Crew, a tailor shop specializing in vestments. I showed the seamstress one of my Anglican dog-collar shirts and asked her to make four like it, but with long sleeves for next year when we are in the States.

On the same visit, I showed the seamstress the purple batik cloth I had bought in Jakarta last October. She was delighted to measure both our daughters for sundresses, to be made with the batik I provided. I’ll post the results in the third week of February when the dresses are done.

Below: Hosanna getting measured, next to a picture of the Theotokos.
measuring

Communication and Its Results

stationery

This morning, I’m writing thank-you notes to some our our senders who have extra support in December and January. I fill my fountain pen, get out the stationery and write a page or two for each, making sure to include a little bit about how our ministries are going, and how our family is doing. For a missionary with good support, this is a very pleasant way to spend a morning. There is a natural and Biblical link between missionaries and their senders: the missionary is not doing his own work, but the work of the Church. The parish or congregation needs to know what the missionary is doing, not only for accountability, but also so that the members can grow in their relationship to Jesus through this involvement in the work of missions. Thus, communication by the missionary is essential: it is how the sender is connected to the work that is being done far away. But there is a secondary effect: when senders are well-informed and connected to the missionary, they are able to encourage and support that missionary more effectively. In the age of email, this is easier than ever, but I believe that there’s also a place for handwritten ink on paper. Our family is considering a placement in another country after our home assignment in 2016. There are many days when the stresses of the foreign mission field make the idea of signing on for another three year stint daunting. But having a great group of senders is a huge spur to further missionary work. (By contrast, I imagine that having poor support would be a huge discouragement and an excuse to leave the field. Fortunately, I can only imagine!) Thank you to all our senders and supporters. You have been exceedingly faithful, and that encourages our family to gird up our loins and look for what work the Lord may prepare for us to do.