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September 2012 Prayer Letter

September 17, 2012
(last prayer memo March 24, 2012 . . . ouch!) 
from Tim

Son-in-law Jeff Jones is nearly finished with his online BA degree in Business Administration from St Leo University FL. He only has 5 weeks to go. He has been watching their son Garrett (now 7 mos) at home while he tries to study :>) Garrett's bilateral cleft palate surgery on may 23 went well and his outer lip, nose and upper gum tissue reconnected, making his lip and nose area look quite normal now, thank the Lord and the good doctors. Several people gave financially to help them cover the costs since the national health insurance does not cover newborn foreign children from the time they are not covered under their mother, 2 mos-6 mos (4 mo waiting period for all dependents of foreign employees regardless of age or birthplace). Since the doctors recommended the surgery at 3 months due to the follow-up treatment requiring nose stents and the child getting more physically capable of pulling out the stents by the month, Val & Jeff gave the go-ahead to due surgery without the insurance coverage. They were told it would cost about $2600 US total, and upon admission to the hospital they paid about $1700, asking to pay the remainder upon discharge three days later. However, upon discharge, the remaining fee had been waived by the hospital (we are not sure if a Taiwan organization to support cleft palate surgery gave some support or the doctor waived some of his fees), but they were thankful for the additional financial break. Garrett is doing quite well now, growing and eating more solid foods, and just started crawling and standing up next to things (so more getting into trouble :>) He will need his next surgery in February 2013 to repair the missing soft palate on the roof of his mouth. Val continues to work full time at JumpStart Kindergarten here in Taipei. 

Doug got accepted into the MDiv program at University of Chicago Divinity School after completing his MA in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College last May. Natalie had a new full time job lined up in June as a paralegal aid in a growing law firm near Wheaton, set to begin near the end of August. This allowed them some time to go back to Harrisburg PA to see Doug's family near the end of the summer. Doug's Dad has had some serious health problems recently so they were glad to be there for support and encouragement. She had resigned her previous jobs at Wheaton Physical Plant office and babysitting for a Wheaton professor in preparation for this new work, but two weeks before she was to start the new job, the law firm rescinded their offer due to changes in their hiring needs. Needless to say this came as a big shock to her and Doug. Now she is taking various babysitting jobs and looking for another job. They are now considering moving into Chicago to be closer to Doug's school. Perhaps these events will be for the best, allowing them to move and Natalie to look for and find work in the city instead.  

Jonathan was asked to be one of the two Wheaton College Baccalaureate student speakers reflecting on integration of faith and learning during their 4 years of study. He did a great job, and many thanks to all of you for your prayers and support to get him to that point! You might enjoy watching/hearing his speech on YouTube at  already 1175 views!  Jonathan completed his last summer course at Black Hills Science Center in Rapid City SD. He loved the outdoors components of the course (mapping geology of an area) and also became closer friends with one of the girls who also just graduated from Wheaton. He has recently invested in rock climbing equipment and spent weekends climbing some of the famous climbing spots in Wyoming with several friends which he also enjoyed (some amazing pictures on his Facebook account). He was invited by a graduated classmate to join him on his Dad's promise of an expense paid trip upon graduation to anywhere in the world with two friends, so they chose South Africa. Instead of three months in sight-seeing, they all agreed to combined sightseeing with service/ministry, so they did about one month of sightseeing (Amsterdam & Belgium en route for 4 days), then rented a car in SA to go to Namibia, Lesotho, and scenic spots in South Africa. They have now settled into their various different internship service jobs in Cape Town SA with Living Way.  Jonathan is working with an Agri-Academy development program, loaning start up funds and providing agricultural (cucumbers & tomatoes) and animal care (raising chickens) training to help the poor or unemployed start their own small farming projects, with the goal to repay those loans so the ministry can expand the work to others in need. He really likes all aspects of this work, compared to the effectiveness frustrations he felt in the water well improvement internship program in Kosovo the previous summer. He plans to come back to Taiwan in late November for a while, possibly working in English teaching.  

Janine came back to Taiwan for the summer on May 8, but en route stopped in Chicago to join Jonie & Doug's graduations. She went to the Philippines for 5 days to do some observation of some El. Ed. classrooms in Manila and stay with a Filipino family a few days, set up by Barb's sister Becca. She did some English tutoring here and served with a one month YMCA English camp. She also reconnected with lots of Morrison Academy teachers and friends. She enjoyed doing more cooking and baking than ever before, which her YMCA co-workers often enjoyed the benefit.  She maintained a fairly rigorous exercise program as well. She is now back at Covenant College enjoying her sophomore year of classes in Elementary Education. She has a work-study job on campus and a very full load of 18 credits. Her boyfriend from high school (graduated in June) is now at Covenant as a freshman, so they are enjoying being back together. 

Karen enjoyed being home all summer as well and stayed busy doing some English tutoring and also worked at the English YMCA camp for one month. She and Janine did the Jillian Michaels DVD "Get Ripped in 30" exercise video. She returned to Morrison Academy High School dorm Aug 12 for her senior year. She enjoys her classes and of course is excited about varsity volleyball, since they have a good coach and a solid team that has good possibilities for winning the Far East Tournament in Korea Nov 4-10. Lord willing, Barbara will also be going to that tournament to cheer her and the team on and to get a break from home life for a few days. Karen has begun some initial thought and research about next year's plans. She seems more interested in exploring something other than traditional US college studies for at least one year, so we are praying she finds something that both she can enjoy and we can support as a productive exploration of future career and skills training combined. 

Trisha is re-enrolled in Chinese public school, now in 2nd grade since August 30, with the same teacher she had last year. She continues to do well and mostly with a good attitude. Her conversational Chinese is getting better all the time. Just yesterday at the park she had to mediate between Nathan and some other kids playing with toys. Barbara supervises her homework process in the afternoons, though some of it is hard for her to help.

Nathan continues in English home school in reading, writing, math and watches a Chinese noun-picture vocabulary video. He uses some educational software to supplement as well. 

Barbara was able to visit the Philippines to see her sister Becca in April for about a week. Becca joined us here in Taipei in early August for about a week. Barbara started her Bible Study Fellowship group two weeks ago, this year in the book of Genesis. She will continue to do Barb's Bake Shop at Bethany to raise funds for the Far East Girl's varsity volleyball tournament trip. She had a more difficult job caring for the kids over the past two weeks since I was teaching a mini-class at CRTS scheduled in the evenings and Saturdays Sept 3-15.     

We took some family time in early August to have some family fun doing some beach trips and other mostly water related activities before Janine and Karen left for school.   


CRTS had a record 12 graduates walk the graduation platform on June 2, several promising MDiv graduates, 3 MA Biblical Counseling students and others. In the lead up to that, I was supervising 4 counseling student theses (3 MA, 1 BTh) and participated in their theses presentations with the faculty committees.

In the last week of August, we hosted Dr. Diane Poythress, (WTS Professor Vern Poythress's wife) to teach a ThM course on the Swiss Reformation, her area of PhD study. She had served in Taiwan 32 years ago as a missionary, so it was a kind of renewal of her Taiwan missionary heart and some culture shock, sort of like the Rip VanWinkle story, where 32 years of news about friends and catching up with the massive number of changes hit all at once. 

As I had scheduled the September two week mini-class teacher about 6 months ago in Sacred Music, about mid June I found out the teacher was not able to teach the course then after all. Failing to locate another teacher on short notice either with a new class or rescheduling a future teacher for an earlier date, I saw an opportunity to teach a new class in Marketplace Ministry I had proposed to the faculty two years ago, but never had a chance to teach due to regular semester teaching load. That class just finished last Saturday with about 20 students taking the class, and my renewed interest in the topic through reading about 15 new books on related subjects and assembling the 11 lecture topics for the class. I found a nice resource called Joy at Work companion Bible study workbook, also translated into Chinese which we also used for one of the class assignments, along with The Mission of God's People by Christopher Wright. I am now considering what more can be done to expand this kind of support for perhaps a new ministry in Taipei related to Faith & Work. I will meet with one of the local Christian businessmen who shared his testimony in the class on Thursday night to connect with someone else he knows doing this kind of thing already. I also may have an invitation to connect with some believers  for a Bible study group at Academia Sinica, Taiwan's premier research institute, to see how God may lead in developing a Christian world view among believers in that community. 

Since I turned 50 last December, I believe the Lord wants me to use some of my remaining time on earth to write (and Lord willing, finish & publish) a book that shares some of the insights from my teaching and study in counseling theology over the past 15 years, tentatively called Be Thou My Vision: The Supremacy of God in Biblical Counseling. I started organizing chapters and doing some initial writing last April when Barbara was away in the Philippines visiting her sister. The recent FCC seminars I taught have also helped in preparing and revising book themes. Things have been too busy to do much since July, but I hope to get back to regular work on it in October. The mini-class I just taught will help to shape one of the chapters in the book on Christian integration and creation stewardship. 

China Reformed Theological Seminary received associate membership status in the Asian Theological Association in May after our initial application was approved. Now we have begun our self-study, with assistance from one new part-time co-worker. We hope to complete the self-study report by late November and invite the visiting evaluation team from ATA to come next April 2013. Thankfully, back in July, I was put in touch with a teacher from another local seminary that had just gone through the ATA accreditation process and was able to give me some good tips on the process. Also providentially, our registration for fall OT Hebrew class was low, so I asked the OT teacher to teach Matthew's Gospel, a new preparation that I was scheduled to teach this fall. He agreed, and that frees me up some to teach only 5 credits of class which are not new preps (Pastoral Counseling and Internship Counseling Case Study supervision) so I can free up some time to complete the ATA application process this fall. 

We have our fall seminary retreat tomorrow and Wednesday, then classes will start for me on October 1. 

Our June CRTS Board meeting went well and the new faculty handbook I wrote last April was passed (it had also first passed the faculty in our May meeting). One nice provision in the new policies includes sabbatical scholarships and further study scholarships which I hope will further our faculty qualifications. This handbook will be important for ATA accreditation as well. 

The main classroom in the seminary basement underwent some improvements over the summer with a new tile floor, rearranged class teacher-student direction and more electric outlets in the floor around the classroom, since we have more and more students using laptops computers to take their class notes and need access to electric close to their desks. 

The Family Counseling Center completed the certificate training program over 4 full day seminars over a four month period. I did 1/3 of the teaching, mostly focusing on counseling theology and the model of theological themes used for change in Ephesians and Philippians. I was able to do numerous improvements to my illustrations and summary themes in the process. We host a seminar on a Christian response to homosexuality in our Oct 6 seminar, where I will speak along with a teacher from another seminary who has been researching the liberal Taiwan Presbyterian Church's slide in affirming homosexuality in the past few years. The FCC will expand a counseling office to another industrial city with a big science research and development sector about 1.5 hrs south of Taipei starting in October. We hope this develops new opportunities to provide biblical counseling training in the city of HsinChu. We also hosted a talk by Dr. Sam Ling on "Honoring Parents" while he was here teaching a mini-class on Reformed Apologetics.  

I am in the middle of four 2 hour Biblical Counseling classes at the local Christian Drug Rehab co-workers training during September on Thursday afternoons. I am focusing on biblical qualifications for counselors and the model of Ephesians and Philippians for biblical counseling, concluding with a look at how Scripture interprets suffering. 

I've had several opportunities to speak or preach in various churches over the past few months (2xs in May, 3xs in June, 1x in July, 1x in Aug, 2xs this month). 

Last June I had a visit from two Joni and Friends International representatives to discuss their new Beyond Suffering curriculum and the option to schedule someone from there to teach a mini-class using this material when translation is completed by the end of this year. 

Barbara and I took Trisha and Nathan and grand-daughter Savannah to the annual Taiwan Missionary Fellowship conference at Morrison Academy July 16-20. The kids had a VBS type of program all week while the adults had speakers and seminars on small group ministry. I also gave an afternoon seminar on Counseling Theology using the material I developed for FCC certificate program, only that time I was able to teach in English.