Andy & Priscilla
Dec 22, 2007
The Christmas season is here. It is not quite the same in Taiwan as in the US. However, it is still Christmas. Even non-Christians feel something of the wonder of it. All our Churches celebrate Christmas with special events, dinners, caroling, Christmas plays and music, etc. It is the best time of the year to speak to people about the coming of a Savior. On Saturday December 15, the Song Shan church (where Priscilla works) had a young people's Christmas rally. We had over a hundred kids, many of whom had never been in a Church. On Wednesday December 19, Stephen Tong had his annual Christmas Crusade with about 2200 people attending. Our Seminary was involved in the planning; Priscilla led the weekly prayer meeting. Today, the Song Shan Church has its Christmas dinner and celebration. On Christmas Eve, we will go caroling in the area.
The year 2007 has seen a change in my ministry. After months of planning, in May I became the executive director of the Taiwan Reformed Press. I am still the Dean of China Reformed Theological Seminary. However, the Seminary has given me a year off from teaching in order to reorganize the Press. We have put together a small staff and a team of editors, translators, proofreaders, and supporters. We also started a translation fellowship. I have been learning the business of Christian publishing. One major challenge is the mainland China. There are an estimated 80 million Christians in China, and they are in need of good books. However, the government still tightly controls and limits Christian books.
Priscilla continues to serve in the Women's and college ministry of the Song Shan Church. The Church is doing well. We have an average of 85 people worshipping on Sunday morning. The church only seats 100 people comfortably, so the Elders are discussing going to two services. Priscilla's focus is on evangelism and discipleship. She arranges weekly bible reading sessions with new or non-Christians who are interested in learning more about the Bible. Our college students are always bring friends to the fellowship, and there are many women in Taiwan in need (usually because of marital problems), and so Priscilla is busy. She enjoys the work.
In early 2007, Priscilla had a tumor removed, which thankfully was not malignant. We were in the US in the summer as usual. I traveled back to the US in October for a meeting of the US Board that supports the Taiwan Reformed Press. I enjoyed meeting them. They are all excited about publishing Christian books in Chinese. In November, I was in the mainland teaching a course, as well as discussing Christian publishing. We will be in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia from Dec 25-31. The main purpose is to attend Stephen Tong's celebration of fifty years of ministry. He began preaching at Indonesian revivals at the age of seventeen, and has been preaching to thousands ever since.
We had been living in the manse of the Song Shan Church for the past three months. An older missionary couple came to teach for a term and we gave them our house. Living near the church was convenient for Priscilla, but we will are glad to be back to our home (as of two days ago). In January, Dean Ulrich, a friend of ours from the US, will come to teach a two-week course on Jeremiah. His wife will come with him. They are considering coming fulltime. In late January, Lorna Chao will come to teach a course on translation. She is an excellent, well-known translator, and we all hope to learn from her. We hope the course will produce some new translators and editors. The new term begins in February, after the Chinese New Year. Despite what I said above about a year off, I'll be teaching 1st Corinthians and Greek Reading. Andy Silman will be coming to teach a mini-course in May. In June we are making plans to go to Korea to teach a mini-course at a Korean Seminary that is starting an M.Div program in Chinese. As usual, we plan to be in the US in the summer and look forward to seeing many of you. We are looking forward to the Thompsons, Perrets and perhaps the Mills visiting us in the fall (all friends from the Plains Church in Louisiana.
All in all, the Seminary is doing well. We have thirty degree students and about sixty others taking classes in 2007. We supply the teachers for two training centers in the mainland. We have begun offering internet courses. The Reformed Press is now running out of the school. Our family counseling center is doing well. Lily Zheng, our first Biblical Counseling graduate, is doing a great job. Our American Board (Friends of CRTS) continues to be a great help in all of this. They are our most loyal supporters and they give sacrificially to the work. We are very thankful for them.
We continue to pray for two more teachers, including a President. With three or four more, we could be staffing ten centers in China and Southeast Asia. We need a chief editor for the press. We also would like to hire a part-time teacher to oversee the internet courses. In September, one of our two staff members will return to being a student, and so we will need to replace him. It is an important position. I hope the replacement is good at ASP.NET, so I can get out of the computer business. Please pray for us.
We wish you a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
Andy and Priscilla