Jeff got a full time job at a bilingual school teaching 4th grade science, history and math since mid-February. Val continues to work at JumpStart kindergarten full time. Savannah is in Chinese preschool all day. Garrett has been watched by Barb for the time being until other arrangements can be worked out or Val transitions to part time work. Since Val is the one with the legal work visa, she can't quit her current job until one of them has that in place. Garrett had his second surgery January 4 to close the soft palate inside his mouth. The surgery went well and he has been able to eat with less sneezing and better breathing as a result. He just turned 1 on Feb 19.
Natalie continues in her full time job (since last Sept.) in Chicago/Wheaton area as a paralegal working at a law firm that does foreclosures. She has advanced to learning some of the more difficult jobs beyond entry level. Doug continues to take MDiv classes at Univ. of Chicago Divinity School. Janine is visiting them now for her spring break. We hope to visit them there this summer when we return to the US.
Jonathan has returned to Taiwan since mid-November to live with us and do private tutoring most weekdays every afternoon and evening, and do some substitute teaching a Morrison Academy, Bethany-Taipei campus. He is applying for a Taiwan government sponsored Chinese studies scholarship program for a 6 month period. He hopes to stay here in Taiwan until May or June 2014. He will travel to the Philippines with Karen's high school mission trip as one of the adult leaders from March 28-April 7. He's picked up our too little used camera and shot hundreds of family and Taiwan photos in the past four months, including Karen's senior picture for her yearbook, which has been nice.
Janine continues to do well at Covenant College, (Chattanooga TN area) in her sophomore year. Studies have been more intense than last year. She does a work-study program there for some income and intramural basketball for fun. She and James H. Taylor V continue dating, as he is now a freshman there this year. This summer she plans to live in New York with my parents and youngest sister and get a job.
Karen's senior year is going well on all levels. Her varsity volleyball and basketball teams traveled to the Far East tournaments in Korea and Japan and both won undefeated first place championships in which she played key team starter-captain roles. She applied to Covenant College and was accepted, and is waiting to hear about her Wheaton College application. However, her plan is to serve one year in the Philippines with Kids International Ministries before starting college. She has raised about 1/2 her projected support need for 6 months and is contemplating staying 9 months. It will be a directly arranged service opportunity rather than mediated through a short term mission agency, since KIM visits Morrison Academy regularly to promote its missions opportunities and Morrison high school mission trips have worked with KIM for over ten years.
Trisha is in her last semester of Chinese school, second grade. She will not finish the school year since we return to the US June 12 before the Taiwan school semester ends at the end of June. However she continues to do very well in all subjects and her Chinese speaking has continued to improve. We plan for her to transfer to Morrison Academy Bethany campus next August for English school. Already we can see she is behind in spelling and writing ability in English, though her English reading is probably on grade level.
Nathan continues to be home schooled in English. His reading attitude has improved dramatically in the past two months, due to a combination of factors. Barb's sister, Becca, visited us for Christmas holidays last December and brought her usual suitcase full of new books to read, which he has found interesting. In the past month, he has started to spend time on his own in independent sustained silent reading for 15-30 minutes at a time several times a day without being assigned, or if assigned, will do it without complaining. One day I was negotiating with him on how many books he needed to read, and started with 50, then kept knocking it down by tens until I got to ten books, and he agreed. So now he doesn't seem to distressed at reading a pile of books all at once. Now he seems to be picking up books to read frequently during the day. Further, in recent months, we have restricted his time to play video/Wii games and put passwords on all things electronic. This has pushed him to do other things with his time.
Barbara oversees Trisha's homework and does Nathan's home school. She has continued to join the Women's Bible Study Fellowship on Wednesday mornings, studying Genesis this year. Nathan and Savannah go with her and attend the preschool children's class. Since Feb 15 when Jeff started full time work, she has been watching Garrett all day M-F, except Wednesday mornings. She stayed busy on Thursdays baking and selling homemade baked goods at Bethany to help raise funds for Karen's Far East tournaments.
Last semester I taught Pastoral Counseling (26 students) and 1/2 of the Counseling Case study discussion (7 students) classes. This semester I'm teaching Youth Counseling (16 students) and Trinitarian Theology (15 students) as well as 1/2 the Counseling Case Studies class. Trinitarian Theology is a new preparation for me and proving to be quite a challenging class to prepare for and teach, but should give me added insights for my book project (see below).
After teaching one week on Luke-Acts themes related to counseling at the drug rehab center co-worker training last week, I arranged to have former students help me teach there. First, a 2012 Biblical Counseling graduate will share her dissertation summary on Colossians and Counseling for three weeks. Then a Biblical Counseling graduate from several years ago who pastors a church will help teach at the drug rehab.
I have three counseling students who plan to graduate in June, so I've started working with them monthly on their graduation theses since last September on topics of dealing with singleness, teen dating, and entrepreneurship.
I proposed several new degree programs to the faculty at the last meeting that did not get approved due to the concern that we would be adding too much additional burden on already limited faculty, or another way of saying we don't have enough faculty to expand. My ideas for adding a new degree in Marketplace Ministry thus did not go forward. However, one of our Biblical Counseling students currently writing her graduation thesis is writing on the topic of marketplace ministry/social entrepreneur type of ministry (she has extensive business experience prior to enrolling in our program), and the FCC is going to explore offering seminars in this type of topic in 2013. The faculty did approve offering a distance learning degree in Biblical Counseling last November that will go to the board in the June meeting for a final decision.
We currently have 11 of our 52 full time students enrolled in the biblical counseling degree. Of our 79 graduates since CRTS was founded in 1991, and since the Biblical Counseling degree was established in 2002, 11 have received this MA degree and 2 have received the Bachelors of Theology, Biblical counseling emphasis (12 women and 1 man). The statistics demonstrate that the degree tends to attract women (singles, married and pastor's/elder's wives), but our own MDiv students know that they need this preparation too and do take at least one of my counseling courses and often attend the FCC seminars.
I've also had a number of individual or marriage counseling cases over the past few months, one a missionary couple recovering from some problems encountered in China work, another a local pastor who just resigned from his work due to some moral problems, and a third preparing for tent-making service to Japan.
I was invited by several of our Malaysian graduates to travel to Penang and Kuala Lumpur Malaysia from January 9-14 to give three seminars (1 on parenting attended by about 80 people, 2 on Biblical Counseling, one in Penang with about 70 people, another in KL with about 110 people) for the Chinese churches there and preach at a Chinese church on Sunday morning in KL area. That was a tiring, but rewarding experience to see our 4 graduates serving the Lord after returning to their home churches last year, and see them using what they have learned to apply to ministry there. The good attendance was also encouraging. The one Biblical Counseling graduate who initially arranged for me to come, Sylvia Wong, has been given a good bit of freedom from her church to develop a biblical counseling center in Penang! We are exploring ways to further connect our seminary extension training with Malaysian Chinese graduates and their churches. Lily Zheng, Family Counseling Center Director, will be going to the same training sites later this month to give biblical counseling training as well.
I've also been invited to go to China in October to a new training site to offer a mini-course in Pastoral Counseling. No other seminaries in Taiwan offer this type of degree, so we are developing a good reputation for a biblical approach to counseling among the Chinese churches in Asia. In November a missionary from China stopped by CRTS to talk about resources and help in starting a counseling center in her city in China, as she was a recent graduate of a US seminary, and exposed to CCEF/WTS resources, but not sure how to apply those things in the Asian context.
At the fall counseling seminar in November, I spoke on God's standard for heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman for life, in comparison with typical ways an individual's forms other standards of sexuality, particularly homosexual orientations, standards which are increasingly promoted politically and educationally in Taiwan, as well as in some parts of the Taiwan churches. That talk was transcribed and published in our FCC January Chinese Journal of Biblical Counseling. The Family Counseling Center in Taipei has decided to develop a branch office in HsinChu last November, a large industrial city about 1.5 hours drive south of Taipei. Lily Zheng, our first MA Biblical Counseling graduate in 2005, who started the FCC and has seen it grow since then, has moved down there, splitting her usual full time salary in 1/2 to share with the new Taipei co-worker, while she works part time for her sister's cram school, and develops local support there for returning to full time status within 9 months. Lily has already started several groups there (book study, English Bible study, teaching a class for a local church) and the need for FCC work there is proving itself. I drove down one day to see the new office space and deliver some 2nd hand office furniture and wall decorations I picked out in Taipei to assist in setting up the new office. Lily Zheng also has an opportunity to teach part of an extension class in biblical counseling at the largest seminary in Taiwan, so this is good news about her growing recognition as a representative of biblical counseling.
I have continued to work on my book project proposal for P&R called Be Thou My Vision: The Supremacy of God in Biblical Counseling. While P&R only wants two or three sample chapters, they also want a total book outline so the topics of each chapter need to be fairly well established before I can feel comfortable with sending that to them. I really only have the introduction and first two chapters in draft form, while the rest is still a fairly sketchy compilation of previous teaching notes or articles that haven't been edited to fit within the flow of the whole book.
These ministry paragraphs above describe some of the fruit of 10 years of faithful labor in developing our MA Biblical Counseling program in Taipei and working with the people who are in or have been in the program or who have heard about the program. God is good in letting me share in what He is doing in Asia in developing a biblical counseling movement. Thank you for sharing in this work with us through your prayers and support! Thank God for Barbara's support and the support and prayers of our children and extended families. Please continue to pray for God to bless these labors that I do directly, and the labors of our graduates developing and expanding biblical counseling ministries among the Chinese.
The big project that intensified for me in the past month has been writing, assembling, overseeing the translation and editing the 53 page Asian Theological Association (ATA) accreditation self-study report in preparation for the Visiting Evaluation Team that will come May 14-16. Last year I assigned various seminary co-workers or key volunteer leaders on various boards to prepare different sections of the 11 part self-study. Some wrote in Chinese, so I had to translate to English, then provide an overall revision including my own ideas or clarifications. I wrote up the academic and faculty sections. Last year we collected about 83 surveys from constituents asking 6 questions given by ATA about CRTS and those results were translated, tabulated and summarized in Excel spreadsheets so I could utilize that information in writing up the self-study. We held a large group meeting this past Thursday with supporters, students, faculty and board members to present the summary findings of the draft report and seek further feedback or ideas for improving CRTS. I revised the report a little after that meeting and it will need to be reviewed by the School Development Committee and the acting president and Board Chairman before emailing to ATA by March 31.The entire process has helped improve various areas of the seminary already where we did not have the best policies or procedures in place (spending policies, library loan system and work-study student library workers), and strengthened some areas where we had not developed a good record-keeping process (faculty files, facility maintenance records). We are considering other improvements related to fund-raising for specifically needed personnel goals (faculty salary ranking policies and funds to pay them, need for a fund-raising leader for the seminary). Ways to address the non-residential campus issue with dormitory options will likely be put on hold for now unless we cooperate with an existing facility or someone donates property. And perhaps the most difficult need to fulfill continues to be residential Reformed Chinese speaking faculty with PhDs in church history, systematic theology and New Testament. We welcomed the arrival of Moses Wong and his family to CRTS on January 4, Malaysian Chinese PhD candidate from Westminster, now completing his dissertation. I have a long-term goal to expand our Biblical Counseling department with one of our counseling graduates who has gone on for an advanced degree so we can propose the development of a D.Min. program to the faculty and board. We still have some documents to prepare before May 14 for translation to English.
We have purchased our tickets to return to the US this summer June 12 to Aug 8. The summer timing is even more abbreviated due to the late date for CRTS graduation on June 8 and the earlier start for Morrison Academy fall semester enrollment for Trisha (3rd) and Nathan (1st). We will be contacting some churches and individuals about meetings while we are in your area.