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Archive for July, 2011

The Lord really blessed my time at GIBC this past weekend. I was able to challenged the youth about missions and dedication on Saturday. Around 20 of them crammed in a small room with Pastor Ping and me. I had a little more time than I anticipated (1.5 hours), so I began with questions to get to know them. I quickly moved to my challenge, thinking I would have time at the end for Q/A. But I ended up taking the whole rest of the time! I felt bad when I found out later that the youth were actually encouraged to think of 3 questions to ask me. I wish I would have left some time!

Sunday school went very well. The people seemed to listen well and learned much as I presented my DVD and talked about some translation complications.

The Worship Service was a great blessing. It clearly showed evidences of Ping’s time at Mt. Calvary. What a blessing the music was! I’m thankful for the Lord’s help as I preached.

In the afternoon we had a great time of fellowship over lunch in the church courtyard. I had no dull moments, since many came up to me and asked about my ministry. Many showed a genuine interest in volunteering for BI projects.

The PM service also went very well. Praise the Lord!

Now I’m in the Philippines! Translator training starts tomorrow. I’ll be introducing things, giving a short devotional, and talking about our translation philosophy. Please pray for God’s grace as I prepare.

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I received great news just before I went to bed last night–my house loan was formally approved! After about two months of trying to secure one, I finally have it! The loan guy has to work out some other details, but my closing is finally on the horizon. What a burden lifted! It looks like things will still work out for me to move into my new place as soon as I return to the USA.

I’ve had a very productive week again this week. Most of my attention has shifted to preparations for next week. Life is going to get quite busy after I land in the Philippines on Monday. The translator training will begin on Tuesday morning. I’ll begin with devotions, an introductory session, and then a session on BI’s translation philosophy. I’ll also be helping with some of the translator training during the rest of the week, sharing a devotional on Wed, speaking in BJMBI’s missions class for an hour on Thur pm, and preaching in their chapel on Fri pm. I look forward to seeing the Philippines for the first time and reconnecting with my Philippines missionary friends. A month ago my mom and I were looking at old photos, and we noticed one of my grandfather in the Philippines during World War II. My grandfather and the American forces liberated the Philippines from the Japanese. During the next two weeks (and beyond), I’ll get to have a part in helping liberate the Filipinos from  sin and darkness!

Please pray also for my ministry at Grace Independence Baptist Church this weekend. I actually got to minister in this church last night at their prayer meeting. Pastor Ping and I weren’t really clear in our communications, so I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to share a devotional until I got up to speak! But the Lord helped me to recall a sermon that I preached over 80x on deputation. On Sat afternoon I’ll be challenging the youth about missions. Then on Sun I’ll be speaking in SS, the AM worship service, and the PM service.

And Fri I go golfing at Sentosa Golf Club, one of the top 5 championship courses in Asia! It’s gonna eat me alive!

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The Lord blessed my third weekend in Singapore. I attended my first Singaporean wedding, which was held at Pasir Panjang Christ Church (the first church on my Singapore schedule). The ceremony was similar to an American wedding, though with a few differences. Instead of the main pastor leading the ceremony, there was an “MC” (and a Mandarin interpreter). The whole bridal party, including the bride and groom, sat down during the sermon. In this wedding, there was an overabundance of photographers (3 still photographers and 1 video) such that it was hard to see the bride and groom at times. The Singaporeans also commented on how unusual that was and how they didn’t appreciate it. But overall, the wedding was quite enjoyable and really exalted the Lord.

After the wedding, Dr. Patterson, our host, and I visited Chinatown and then experienced a relaxing stroll around the harbor. There was an outdoor show going on, so the harbor was hopping with activity.

Sunday’s activities went quite well. I preached in the worship service at Asian Baptist Community Church and also taught in their adult SS class. It was a pleasure to worship and fellowship with these dear believers. That afternoon I had the privilege of attending Grace Independent Baptist Church’s 30-year anniversary. Pastor Ping Ngian has been the pastor for the last 5 years, having assumed that position after Missionary Duane Ott planted the church and brought it to where it is now. Pastor Ott’s many years of faithful persistence through thick and thin have been rewarded by a thriving group of believers. They are now shepherded by a very qualified pastor, Ping Ngian, who, differing significantly from Pastor Ott, can now bring the church through its next stage of growth. I look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to use GIBC for His glory. I’ll be ministering to the youth this Sat and to the whole church on Sunday.

I’ve been able to accomplish many projects during my stay in Singapore, thanks to hosts who provide a quiet, comfortable (i.e., air conditioned!) room for work. One project is writing a Model Preface that all future projects can follow as they write prefaces to their translations. I want to give each project guidance so that they say what they ought and don’t way what they ought not.

As I’ve been working on this, I noticed the ESV Preface. You can read the entire preface here. I really appreciated one paragraph, since it captured succinctly the problems with a dynamic equivalent translation:

In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a “thought-for-thought” rather than “word-for-word” translation philosophy, emphasizing “dynamic equivalence” rather than the “essentially literal” meaning of the original. A “thought-for-thought” translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.

This same thinking underlies the translation philosophy at Bibles International. Our task is to preserve what God has inspired, not to add our own interpretive opinions which have  been shaped by contemporary culture!

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Before I share the main part of this post, I just want to give a quick report. On Tuesday I had the privilege of meeting 4 more local pastors, at least 2 of whom are BJU grads. It’s a blessing to see how the Lord is using BJU here in Singapore! On Wed I got a 10-minute haircut. A place in a local mall charges $10 (SGD) for a 10-minute job. I’m not sure exactly how many minutes my haircut took, but it was close to 10, and it was quite good! On Wed evening I had the privilege of attending Grace Independent Baptist Church, pastored by Ping Ngian. He’s going through Layton Talbert’s book on Job. What a blessing to hear this man of God encourage and challenge us about trials and suffering!

 

Now for the main part of this post. I wrote this devotional for a church in the Grand Rapids area, that supports BI. I hope it’s a blessing to you. The passage I recommend to be read with it is 1 John 1:1-2:3.

How many languages does God know? We are easily impressed by people who know multiple languages. Those who know at least 7 languages are considered “polyglots” and deserve high admiration for their intellectual achievement. But how impressive is God’s knowledge of languages? Apparently, some people question how many languages God knows. Such was the case for a witch doctor in Chad, Africa.

This man grew up as the son of a witch doctor. He lived in a village where one of his friends was the son of a Baptist pastor. During their growing up years, this pastor’s son witnessed to his friend about Christ and tried to persuade him to accept the free gift of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. But he could not convince his friend to be converted. Eventually, the pastor’s son became a pastor himself, while the witch doctor’s son became a witch doctor.

The newly ordained pastor’s name is Job. Job is a tall, strong man with a deep, caring voice. He is a humble believer who has a fervent love for the Lord and His work. Being such a faithful man, he was the perfect candidate to help with Bible translation work. His people, the Sara Kaba Dem people, are a small language group of around 40,000 speakers. They live in a remote area in southern Chad and possess no Scriptures in their own language. In fact, until Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries began working with them, they didn’t even have a single piece of literature in their language. But God has been doing a work among the people through the tireless efforts of these missionaries in the 1900s. Thus, the Sara Kaba Dem people had an urgent need for a Bible in their own language, so that they might strengthen the church and continue to reach out to the unbelievers.

Bibles International recruited Job to help with the translation of the New Testament for his people. By 1999, they had completed the New Testament. They had a dedication service where they could properly introduce the newly translated Scriptures to the people. Job invited his witch doctor friend to attend. Since such a monumental event had strong attraction for both believers and unbelievers alike, Job’s friend didn’t want to miss this event.

As with all dedication services in which Bibles International has a part, various Scripture portions were read to the people. These Sara Kaba Dem were hearing the words of God from this new publication of the New Testament in their language for the very first time! No doubt a reverent silence filled the air as God’s Word was proclaimed.

Though Job’s friend had heard these words from Job during their early years, he was now hearing them read from a published book for the very first time. He could see God’s words in black and white in his own heart language. These words penetrated deeply into the witch doctor’s heart, and he turned from his life of darkness and demonism and accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for himself.

Of course, Job was delighted to hear of his friend’s conversion. But he couldn’t understand why he didn’t accept Christ earlier. This is what Job’s friend said:

I could never believe that a God who did not know my language could love me. When I heard God’s words in my own language, I realized he did love me.

What a powerful testimony!

But how curious these words are. Did God really not know Sara Kaba Dem until the New Testament was translated? Apparently, some unbelievers doubt God’s love until they see it written in their own language. As believers, we are confident of God’s love for all people, because we see it demonstrated in the cross. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We know that God has also proven His love by giving us the Word of God. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). God moved men like the apostle John to write down the words of Scripture that people might be brought to faith in Jesus Christ.

But many unbelievers who do not possess the Word of God in their own language will not grasp these truths until they see them written in their heart language. At Bibles International we have the privilege of giving witness to God’s love by translating the Scriptures for them. We pray that many more unbelievers like Job’s friend will be overwhelmed by God’s love when they hear our translations and will put their faith in Christ. Truly, God so loved the world! May we all appreciate more and more God’s love for us by having the Bible translated into English! May we show that appreciation by knowing the Bible and living by it!

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Moving to Church #2

My time at Pasir Panjang Christ Church came to an end on Monday morning. I’m so thankful the Lord worked it out for me to be with that church. I had a great time getting to know many of the members. They arranged for me to be taken out to eat for almost every lunch and dinner during the week. I enjoyed a sampling of Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Peranakan, and some local foods. I’ve eaten many new things during this trip–eel, durian, sushi, and many things whose names I can’t remember. I’ve hardly said NO to anything! And I’m still alive!

I praise the Lord in showing His goodness to me through this church. We had many good times of fellowship and ministry together. In addition to what I did the first weekend, I met with the missions committee on Wed pm, spoke in the prayer meeting on Thurs pm, gave a short devotional at a care group fellowship on Fri pm, and answered questions from the Youth on Sat pm. Then I taught in SS, gave a short challenge in the Hokkien worship service, and then preached again in the English worship service. Sunday morning ended with my receiving a very generous love offering. Praise the Lord! Thank you PPCC!

Now we are praying about how we can form a long-term partnership between BI and PPCC. They want to help both financially and personally, so we’ll have to see what we can figure out.

I’m now staying with a member of Grace Independent Baptist Church, which is pastored by Ping Ngian. I knew Ping from my BJU days (though he’s about a decade younger than I) and met up with him again when I passed through Singapore for a long layover on the way to PNG in 2008. I’ll be speaking at GIBC on July 24. This Sunday I’ll be speaking at Asia Baptist Community Church, which used to be pastored by Dr. Steve Reynolds (my BJU history tutorial professor). Now it’s pastored by Dr. Gabriel Gan. I look forward to preaching in the AM service and teaching in the adult SS.

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Touring Indonesia

On Tuesday I had the privilege of taking a trip to Batam, Indonesia, with a young-at-heart couple from Pasir Panjang Christ Church. After enjoying a Mosburger, a Singaporean parallel to the American hamburger, we jumped on a ferry to cross the Singaporean Strait on our way to the large island of Batam. The Philippines boasts of 7,000 islands, but Indonesia far surpasses them with 17,800! I was able to visit only one.

In my mind Indonesia was a country where Christianity is greatly suppressed and the people are quite poor. My perspective concerning the former had been adjusted some after making a new friend via the internet prior to arriving in Indonesia. She teaches at a Baptist academy on one of the islands. My thoughts about the latter were also modified after I arrived in the country and saw beautifully painted, large buildings. I’ve been told, however, that Batam is one of the more developed cities in Indonesia, probably partly because of its beneficial relationship with Singapore.

The three of us signed up for a tour, which consisted mostly of stopping at various shopping areas. But we were also able to tour a Buddhist temple, see model homes of traditional houses representing various styles in the Indonesian provinces, and enjoy some great seafood. The tour ended with a very relaxing evening and next morning at Golden View Hotel, where we were able to bask in the balmy weather near a large pool and in nicely air-conditioned rooms. Sadly, I wasn’t able to try hardly any Indonesian food, nor was I able to witness to any (I don’t know Indonesian!), but we had some good witnessing opportunities with a few on our tour. Now I can add one more country to my “countries visited” repetoire. I think that makes 14!

What a contrast coming back to Singapore! Though Indonesia’s $4,200 per capita GDP ranks it around #157 (CIA 2004 ranking), it’s a far cry from #5, Singapore, with a per capita GDP of $62,100! The skyline of Singapore is truly incredible! I marvel at the fascinating, tall buildings that abound in this prosperous country. And I must say I’ve thoroughly loved the food! Almost every lunch and dinner this week, a couple or two from the church have taken me out to a different restaurant. I’m unworthy of their kindness but very thankful! I’m also so grateful that the church is purchasing me a new Dell Latitude!

This week has flown by. The Indonesia tour occupied my Tues and Wed, and then on Wed night I met with the missions committee to discuss some BI projects that the church might be able to help with. Last night I shared more with the church at their prayer meeting, discussing other aspects of Bible translation. This evening I’ll join a care group for supper and to give a challenge about the Word of God and watch a BI DVD. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting up with the youth again, answering questions that they submitted last week. Please pray for these continued opportunities to minister.

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In contrast to my trip to Greenville last week, my trip to Singapore went amazingly well. I had 1-hour layovers in Detroit and Tokyo and found them to be sufficient with no waste of time. By the time I reached my host’s home, it was around 1:30am. I got good sleep that morning and took a nice nap in the afternoon, so I’m pretty well over jet lag already.

The Lord really helped me with the youth meeting last evening. Both the Mandarin youth and the English youth combined together for an enjoyable evening of fellowship. They seemed so happy as they sang songs together. I spoke on “Acquiring Wisdom from God” from Proverbs 2. The youth seemed to understand my American English well and gave good attention to my challenge. Afterwards we played “Captain’s Ball,” a game where my height clearly gave the advantage to my team. The goal was to get the ball into your captain’s hands as many times as possible. As captain of Team 1, I had the decided advantage when I stood upon a small platform. No one could even get close to keeping the ball from getting into my outstretched hands. Not many Singaporeans my size around here!

I asked the youth to submit questions that I could then answer next Saturday. I wanted them to stick to my specialty–Bible translation. Some did, but others asked more general questions. But by far, my favorite question is this: “How can young people like us be involved in the work of Bible translation?” I don’t think I’ll have any problem answering that question! But pray for wisdom as I think about how best to answer all the questions.

My two speaking opportunities this morning were in the Mandarin Worship Service and then the English Worship Service. Since the former required the use of an interpreter, I decided not to show my ministry DVD. Instead, I showed various pictures of my ministry and then told stories about the effects of Bible translation. Around 80 people attended that service and seemed to appreciate the time.

Between the two services, we observed the Lord’s Table. What a blessed time of observance in two languages! I wondered how they could do responsive reading in Mandarin and English, but they did quite well. What a privilege to remember the Lord’s death with believers on the other side of the world (Singapore is exactly 12 hours ahead of the EST)! Between 400-500 people were present.

Pasir Panjang Christ Church is led by 5 pastors, all of whom received biblical training from Bob Jones University. Even a previous pastor, Pastor James Phoa, has connections with BJU; he was a math teacher when I was an undergraduate student. The Lord used Dr. Phoa to ground the church in biblical separation and preserve them from the eroding influences of charismaticism.

The Lord has kept PPCC strong for the Lord since its founding in 1935. I couldn’t have been part of a more blessed worship service anywhere in the world than what I experienced this morning. Of course, I’m not referring specifically the preaching (I was the preacher!), but rather the rest of the service. My host, Dr. Malcolm, led us in worship. He encouraged us greatly by his quotation of word from C.H. Spurgeon and comments on the songs we sang. One song, “Day by Day”, really blessed my heart, especially the words, “He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best.” As I sang those words “beyond all measure,” I couldn’t help but think of the Day (Chadian language) idiom “in the belly of the elephant.” In the Day people’s minds, the belly of an elephant can hold an infinite amount of things, so anything that is immeasurable is basically “in the belly of the elephant.” God’s love is surely in that category!

The people have been extremely gracious to me. So far, I’ve been to three Chinese restaurants and had food from a local take-out restaurant, and I’ve eaten way more than I should have. But Asian culture dictates that they continue to serve their guest more food, so what can I do?! And it’s so hard to resist such good food. Thankfully, I’m going jogging tomorrow with one of the sons in my host family, so maybe I can counter some of the calorie gain over the past few days.

I’ll be eating with families throughout the rest of the week for almost every lunch and dinner. On Tuesday-Wednesday I get to take a short trip to Indonesia, and later in the week I’ll swing through Malaysia for a short visit. I’m looking forward to more good fellowship and food… and I hope I can get some work done between meals too!

Plus, I hope I can close on my house this week. Pray that the interest rate will go back down so that I can lock into a good rate.

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