YATES PRAYER MEMO
AUGUST 21, 2010
last Prayer Memo February 19, 2010
It's been a busy summer with all our kids home with us in Taiwan. What a food budget! We've enjoyed having everyone around and had some good times together.
Son-in-law Jeff had two weeks of leave from his Army Reserves tour of duty in Iraq and he came here to be with Val & his daughter Savannah. We played lots of games and took a trip to south Taiwan for a few days. Val and Savannah were sad to see him go. He finishes his tour of duty near the end of September. Jeff is considering moving here to Taiwan to work if he is unable to locate good employment in the US after his tour of duty finishes. English teaching jobs are more plentiful here at least, not to mention the pay scale is good compared to the overall costs of living. Pray for wisdom for their next move and for encouragement/faith in God to see his doors open. Val & grand-daughter Savannah will continue to live with us until those new decisions are implemented.
Natalie's boyfriend Doug Hoffer came to Taiwan for a 2 week visit in mid-May--he's from the Harrisburg PA area. He asked us for permission to marry Natalie, planning to get married next summer, though not officially engaged yet. He enjoyed the new experience seeing a new culture. Natalie worked for about 4 weeks as an intern at Overseas Radio and Television ORTV here in Taipei this summer after Doug left. Thankfully she was able to get some scholarship help again from ORTV for Wheaton tuition that will help reduce her need for loans. The whole family had fun going there to sing a song for their ORTV morning staff worship time. See link on Val Jones facebook account for the video recording :>) They gave us the royal treatment afterwards, with a tour of ORTV, plus treated us to a photo session in their studio (see attached family portrait).
Jonathan has enjoyed helping out at Whitewater Outdoor Adventure Camp (about 1 hour away by bus) and using his Chinese to help lead groups in rivier tracing activities. He's been out to the camp about 7 weekends or so for a total of about 20 days. This has been more of a volunteer position since he doesn't have a Taiwan work permit to receive income, but the camp director gave him an internal frame backpack in exchange and a small honorarium, plus he loaned us his van for our trip to South Taiwan and loaned us backpacking gear for our mountain climbing excursion (see below).
At Jonathan's prodding and initiative to apply for a mountain climbing permit for Shweh-Ba National Park and using his connections to the Whitewater Camp to borrow some equipment, Natalie, Jonathan, Janine, Karen and I took a two day backpacking trip to Taiwan's second highest mountain, Snow Mountain 3886 meters high (about 11,000 feet). We started the trail at about 2100m. We hiked 7k and gained about 1200m elevation the first day. Scenery was spectactular, weather was decent, and everyone enjoyed being together for good family time. Some logistical elements were less than pleasant. The cabin we were required to stay in had rather disgusting squat style port-a-potties that had been used a lot. We were sleeping in a bunk cabin with 100 other people making noise and snoring all night, plus we were not used to the hardness of the bed. They do not permit sleeping anywhere else but in the cabin to reduce environmental impact, plus the Chinese are not used to the cold at that altitude (about 45F and that's about as cold as it gets in Taipei in winter), so warmer in cabin. I got up at 1 am, and we left the cabin by 3:30am, hiking 4k mostly in the dark to the peak by 6:30 am. We saw some breaks in the clouds and some wonderful views, but quickly overclouded with whiteout by 7 am, and 30k winds limited our ability to stay there much longer. Our desire to avoid another sleepless night in the cabin led us to decide to pack the entire way out from the peak in one day=11k more after the 4k we had climbed to the peak, totaling 15k in one day. We made good time and arrived back at the car just before dark at 6:30 pm. Driving home for 4 more hours was very difficult to keep my eyes open, but help from Natalie talking to me made it possible. However, all of us but Jonathan could barely walk by that time from the descending stress on our knees and thighs, plus very sore feet from inadequate shoes to hike in on rocky trails. Three days later we were just starting to be able to walk normally again :>) For another Lonely Planet hiker's perspective on the hike and photos, see http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/2009/05/snow-mountain-xueshan.html
Both Natalie & Jonathan returned back to the US on Aug 17 on different flights. Jonathan went back to Pittsburgh, and Natalie directly back to Chicago/Wheaton. Jonie will be picked up by his new roommate Freddie Hubach on Sunday Aug 22 and they will drive out to Wheaton by the evening. Pray for safety in driving
Janine & Karen have had some part time tutoring jobs with Chinese children several days a week at home here in the summer which gave them both some extra spending money. They started back to Morrison High School Aug 15. Last Sunday Barbara drove them down to move into the dorm (along all their stuff plus with Val, Nat & Jonie going along to revisit their old friends and teachers--crowded van!), then they start classes on Monday. Janine (12th) returns for her third year in the dorm and Karen (10th) begins there for the first time. They had a good first week overall, and seem to be getting along with their roommates.
On March 15 Barbara tore the cartilage in her left knee playing volleyball (perhaps rupturing an old knee injury that she had reconstructive surgery on as a college freshman), jamming the cartilage between the joints so she couldn't bend it, and had arthroscopic surgery to remove the torn parts on April 1. All was nicely covered under National Health Insurance. However, I had to take about three weeks off from work to help at home since she couldn't really walk before the surgery and needed about 1 week after to recover. Now she is more back to normal activities, but aiming for things that limit knee stress, playing volleyball (more cautiously of course), bike riding, swimming, and some short hiking up the mountain. With the departure of four of of our kids, it's been quieter around the house and we've lost help with household jobs & caring for the younger kids. Barbara will be at home alone with Nathan & Savannah for 1/2 day while Trisha goes back to Chinese pre-school starting Aug 28. Pray for all these family transitions and for God's strength for the new tasks for each one.
Lots of things have happened since February. . . too long since I wrote a prayer memo!
Five students graduated on June 12: Two men with M.Divs, a woman with MA. in NT/OT, a woman with MA Biblical Counseling, and a woman with a Bachelor's of Theology.
A few statistics from a recent alumni survey (a few could not be contacted): including the graduating class of June 2010, 56 students have graduated from CRTS in the past twenty years. 34 Men: 15 pastors (27%), 4 church co-workers, 2 missionaries, 1 missionary in preparation, 1 doctor; 22 women: 1 pastor, 4 church co-workers, 1 counselor, 2 pastor’s wives, 1 seminary co-worker; Total serving in ministry: 30 / 56 = 54% of our graduates are currently serving in direct ministry.
I continue to serve as Academic Dean of China Reformed Theological Seminary, and Deans of Biblical Counseling and Distance Learning. The administrative load getting ready for the annual seminary board meetings in May 29, & June 12 was substantial. Since major policy and spending decisions are only made at these annual meetings, I have to think a good bit ahead. Also as Dean I can only make proposals which must be seconded or modified by the board before they become part of the actual agenda.
We had an eventful semester in terms of some important teachers visiting CRTS. Dr Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis MO, was in Taipei for a seminar to promote his newly translated Christ Centered Preaching book. We cancelled classes for two days to attend the seminar with all our student body, faculty and staff, plus we were able to invite Dr. Chapell to CRTS two days earlier for a special seminar on "Preaching Holiness by Grace" and enjoyed dinner together with our attending faculty and a few PCA missionaries from Christ's College. Dr. Carl Trueman, Academic Dean at Westminster Theological Seminary, Phila, PA taught our ThM intensive class on the Puritans, and spoke for our graduation. We appreciated the ministries of both of these men as they shared their lives with us.
While Dr. Trueman was here, we hosted two public seminars on topics related to the Puritan ThM course on Thursday & Friday nights. On Wednesday night, Dr. Trueman visited the Stephen Tong lecture (at Grace Baptist Church, Taipei to a weekly crowd of about 500 people) to do a promotional announcement for the seminars. Dr. Tong is something like the R.C. Sproul of Asia among the Chinese Reformed churches, traveling to four different international Asian cities each week for the past 7 years (Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) for Chinese lectures on Bible books, and doing annual theological lectures and evangelistic rallies in each of those cities. After Dr. Trueman shared, I'm guessing that the time Dr. Tong allotted was not used up, so since he saw me sitting on the front row taking pictures, invited me up for impromptu sharing! He asked me what my vision for Taiwan and ministry was, and I shared about the importance of biblical counseling, then about family as the highest ministry impact a person can have in raising children for Christ within a Christian marriage and parenting context. As it turned out, I had also ask Jonathan to join me that night since he might never have a chance to hear or meet Dr. Tong again, so he was also sitting with me on the front row. As perhaps my brief 5 minute sharing still did use up the time, he invited Jonathan to come up for an interview on what he thought about being a pastor's kid, whether he was proud to be one (he is!), and what he planned to do with his life (economic development and ministry among Muslims). Since Dr. Tong lives in Jakarta Indonesia, he replied that Indonesia had the largest population of Muslims in the world, and that he should come there to serve, but that it would be very difficult work, and that Muslims might try to kill him for it. Was he ready for that? Jonie replied that if God wanted him to die doing Muslim work, then God would enable him to face that challenge when the time came!
One of our seminary training extension sites in east Asia was closed down by local security officials. No one was arrested, but our main co-worker (CRTS graduate) was detained and questioned at length for one day and warned not to conduct "illegal" training activities and released. He was not black-listed and has already returned to do some training, though has shortened his length of stay there now. That has caused us to reconsider our overall direction for extension sites and what kind of degrees we should/can grant to such sites. We have a year to develop a more specific proposal for the Board on that subject so pray for wisdom in serving the Chinese churches and maintaining faithfulness to academic standards. One additional proposed future training method will include offering dedicated online intensive courses just for those in one East Asia training site while sitting in our office using a webcam and X-Learn educational software here in Taiwan. Actaully we will try that method for our own students here at CRTS with one of our California based teachers for the first time this fall.
I enjoyed teaching Youth Counseling and New Testament Theology this past fall, plus Counseling Case Studies, and assisting with NT Greek Reading (a tough stretch for my mostly forgotten Greek since I started learning Chinese). I took the Youth Counseling class for an overnight experience with Whitewater Adventure Camp as a sample of a good resource for youth ministry. The NT Theology class was more like an introduction to NT Theology, since the content of the subject is pretty difficult to cover in a semester, but I enjoyed trying to show students four essential themes of protection and proclamation of true doctrine, ethics, judicial authority/church discipline and church unity as orgainizing principles for interpreting the NT. I was also quite impressed by the way some of our better students handled the homework challenge of writing 6 separate Bible book based confessions of faith based on the major NT books as an inductive approach to learning NT Theology.
CRTS will offer two seminary classes in English without translation this fall, using Bethany School as the host site. Hopefully those classes can generate some interest in the international community here in Taipei, as well as those with high English fluency level Chinese. One advantage of these classes will be the opportunity to select the best available text books for the subject, rather than being limited to only what's been translated (1/10 of the best choices). I will be teaching some of those classes in the future if this program generates enough student enrollment.
We will begin the process of applying for Asian Theological Association accreditation in the next two months Lord willing. Preparing the initial application will take several weeks, then about three to six months later they will schedule a visit for a more thorough report and evaluate all aspects of the CRTS ministry from a professional academic perspective, likely noting areas where we need to improve, but also hopefully granting provisional approval. This task will fall in some measure on me, one other full time teacher and one full time office staff person.
I finished most of my grading for classes this past week and submitted the grades. That feels like a small burden lifted:>) It is also somewhat rewarding to read some very good papers (in Chinese) submitted by some of our better students! That task is getting a little easier as time goes on and my Chinese character recognition improves slowly, particularly Chinese Bible characters. Also thank God for Google translate!
I have resumed more seminary representative ministry this spring by preaching in local Chinese churches that have connections to CRTS, usually for an event they call "Seminary Sunday" when they take a special offering for CRTS on the same day I preach. I've averaged about 1 or 2 preaching dates per month since February, including speaking for our own Chinese church (Amazing Grace Reformed Pres. Church) young adult fellowship from Philippians once/mo. I preached two Sundays in a row back at Friendship Pres. English section (Aug 8, 15), while our older kids all lead the worship singing together.
I had four pre-marital counseling cases since last March for about 12-15 hrs of counseling each, and then co-officiated in two of those, solo-officiated one, while one less stable couple (CRTS students) broke it off. Two couples were associated with our CRTS students, one with Amazing Grace Chinese Church, and one with a member of Friendship Presbyterian Church who I had ministered to while pastoring there. Two of the weddings were done all in Chinese, while the FPC member wanted me to do a bi-lingual sermon for the sake of the groom's family from Australia.
Also I had some fun working on some promotional materials in time for the tri-annual Taiwan "Urbana" type conference (July 15-16), where the hosting Campus Evangelical Fellowship invited Taiwan seminaries to set up presentations and distribute promotional literature on a walk-in basis to students and young graduates wandering through the building. I developed a revised CRTS brochure for translation and then worked with one of our co-workers to develop CRTS gift pens and little post-it type note pads. Since students seemed interested in counseling related issues, I did three impromtu talks: one on the value of a CRTS Christ-centered, grace-based theological education, and then two mini talks on counseling case studies and counseling theology to walk-in groups of about 15 students each time. Also had some good interaction with several dealing with career direction and kinds of training needed. We also ran a video loop of CRTS student interviews about their perspectives on studying at CRTS.
Representing the Family Counseling Center, I also taught three times @ 2 hours each at Operation Dawn Christian Drug Rehab. for their discipleship training school on the social Trinity in John's Gospel as a pattern for Christian fellowship and counseling goals, that is the relations between the persons of the Trinity as a model for Christian fellowship with God and with each other. They have again asked us to return and teach my course on Counseling Theology beginning in early September. I will teach the first 5 classes @ 2 hrs each on Thursday afternoons and then Lily Zheng will sit in on my CRTS Counseling Theology class this fall on Monday afternoons and pass on the same material I'm teaching at CRTS to the Drug Rehab co-workers group.
Since our last ThM class in the first week of June had the privilege of hosting Dr. Carl Trueman, Academic Dean of Westminster Seminary, Phila, teaching a class on Puritan Theology and as our graduation speaker, I decided to extract a short segment from my D.Min. dissertation on a summary of Richard Baxter's counseling theology themes for translation in our CRTS quarterly magazine. That was just published this past week and sent out. You can get the Chinese PDF version from www.crts.edu or if you want English version, just email me back.
Another one of my volunteer tasks as Friends of CRTS missionary is developing a new website for the mission board at www.friendsofcrts.org Still under construction, but hope to get a good basic working site up in the next month with a little more work on the home page, the missionary pages and the organization documents.
Near the end of September 20-21, we will have our annual student retreat where I will speak for the first talk on guarding our calling from God, and several other speakers have been invited to present what its like to do various kinds of ministry, followed by opening worship, Sept 23 in the evening, then classes begin Friday Sept 24. I will teach Counseling Case Study Discussions Monday morning (1 hr), Counseling Theology on Monday afternoons (4 hrs) and Galatians on Wednesday afternoons (3 hrs).
I've also been asked to teach a one-week long intensive class on John's Gospel in China in November one of our extension sites. Pray for visa approval and supply of funds for this trip.
Pray for the fall semester of ministries that God will keep me strong in his grace and faithful to his calling. Thank you for sharing in our ministry among our own family and to the Chinese!