The year 2009 was my first full year as the pastor of the Hong En (i.e. Great Grace) Reformed Church. It was a good year. Sunday Morning attendance went from about sixty to about ninety-five (see picture). Many of the new people are young adults who have been looking for a Reformed church. Others are people living in the area who are interested in the Christian faith. Some come due to sickness or tragedy; some out of dissatisfaction with the shallowness of the teaching in other churches; some just see the sign and walk in. We have visitors almost every week.
One of the reasons I came here was to learn to be a pastor, so that I might be better at training pastors. And I am gaining the needed experience. I preach at the Sunday morning service three times a month. Most weeks I lead our men's Sunday School class and a Bible study at the Wednesday prayer meeting. I also teach regularly at the Young Adults fellowship, the College fellowship, and the "forever young" fellowship. Besides that there is visitation, elder-deacon meetings, and an occasional wedding or funeral. We have four couples who are planning to get married, and one with marital problems, and so I am also learning how to counsel.
The church is not without its challenges, many of which come from the growth. We have done our best to integrate the old and the new, and with some visible results. The long-term members of the church have welcomed the new comers with open arms. But it has been hard to gain the trust of some of the leaders. A fifty percent growth in one year gives them an understandable sense of uneasiness. But we give thanks to God, because our seminary students will face the challenge of building trust and establishing spiritual authority. This is just the type of experience that I need in order to teach them.
Besides working at the Church, I continue to serve on the faculty of the Seminary - teaching one course a term. Since the church is in the same building as the Seminary, I frequently communicate with Dr. Yates. Dr. Yates is the acting dean in light of my absence. He and his family are also attending the Hong En Church. Under Dr. Yates leadership, CRTS continues to grow and prosper. We graduated seven students in the early summer, and had twenty applicants for the fall. Although we have a beautiful building, it is becoming too small. Also, we could use more teachers and staff. But our financial situation makes this difficult.
I continue to serve as the Executive Director of the Reformed Press. We have been aggressive in growing the press. In 2009, the Press published six new books and plans to publish ten more in 2010. These include titles such as "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs", "Five English Reformers by J.C. Ryle", "A Doctrinal Introduction to the Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson", and "Finally Alive by John Piper". The press is also publishing the Banner of Truth "Let's study the Bible" commentary series. We have hired four staff members and two other full time translators. We have also been aggressively promoting our books. Besides Christian Book stores, we have a (tri-lingual) internet e-commerce site (www.crtsbooks.net), we set up book tables at various Christian events in various countries (mostly in Taiwan but also Hong Kong and Malaysia), and we have four of our books in bookstores in China. In 2007, when the Seminary took over the press, the Press was selling about US $20,000 worth of books a year. In 2009 we sold US $74,000 worth of books! Even so, we had a financial deficit of about US $7,500 in 2009. The year 2010 is likely to see a greater deficit. But the books are priceless! More seriously, please pray for us as we seek to meet the very serious need of the ChineseChurch for good Christian books.
Priscilla is doing well. She is a very active Pastor's wife. I could not do the work without her. She keeps in touch with all of the women in the church, teaches the Women's Sunday School class, contacts visitors, and helps with the Young Adult and College fellowships. We also have an average of about 10-15 people a week to dinner in our home. She is also the proud translator of Piper's "Finally Alive", and the second editor of Burrough's "Rare Jewel".
We would ask you to remember my Father in prayer. He has a malignant melanoma. He is in an experimental cancer vaccine program, and although the situation is serious, he has gotten some good reports from the vaccine program.
Finally, we want to thank-you for your support. May God use your prayers and support to glorify His name among the Chinese people!
Yours in Christ,
Andrew and Priscilla McCafferty