✪ Our “Family Fall Party” was a great success. First, our church people were involved and serving. We hosted about 10 games at the event so we needed many volunteers. Second, we had a great attendance. There were more than 120 people. We had people register as they came in but not everyone did. The registration count was 124 people. This is our highest attendance at any event or service. We were praying for at least 100 people. Third, we reached out into the community through our kids. Two of our kids are in preschool and took invitations to school and invited their classmates. Many of them came. Fourth, it built faith and boldness. This kind of event is very risky because you don’t know who is in the crowd or who the parents of our kids’ classmates are, but at the same time, we didn’t think the risk factor was high enough to not do it. We openly told them we were a church and invited them to our services and kids club. Fifth, I think we had at least two new parent/kid units visit the church this morning that was also at the event.
✪ We finally started the seminary classes back and we will be going for the next twelve weeks. What are we teaching this semester? Here are the classes: Bible Doctrines 2; Preaching (Men); Home Economics (Women); Biblical Finances; Church Guidelines/Doctrinal Distinctives; Galatians; 1/2 Thessalonians. Also, we have an hour every morning of Bible Reading/Prayer–everyone spends 40 minutes just reading the Bible individually and 20 minutes in individual prayer. This is a spirit of unity when everyone is doing it at the same time. It has been a blessing.
✪ The church has been doing well but we have suffered in attendance since the summer…losing about 22 people (members/attendees) in attendance or so this year. About 14 of those went to help with the new church plant at the end of last month and the rest were from those moving out of the city for various reasons (work, etc.). But we still have a strong core and are working hard. Our attendance has been between 20-40 recently.
✪ We also have changed some of our church schedules. One of the changes that I have really liked is our afternoon service. We start with two songs, and then we have a 20-minute preacher. We have three men on a preaching rotation. Then I lead a 15 min. teachers’ and workers’ meeting followed by 15-minute prayer groups. Then we end the service in prayer. To see our full ministry schedule, click here.
✪ A few other updates: We finally received our residence permits for a year. Praise the Lord! We also finished the rest of the remodel and had the carpet installed. The nursery is ready to use!
Look closely, there is a kid in there!
One of the games from the Family Fall Festival.
Windy and cold day on the coast.
✪ Watch our new video: 2017 Ministry Update.
✪ Giving Opportunity: Discipleship material, books, and bibles. (1) We are getting our discipleship material professionally printed instead of printing them in-house. We have a total of five books. Each book has 30 lessons in it (except for the special edition one). Two books are still in the developmental stage, but three of the books are ready to print. We would like to print anywhere from 100-500 of each book. Of course, the more we buy per printing the less expensive it is. But it will cost around $1.50 per book to print. (2) We buy Bibles in China and give them out to every first-time visitor that comes to our church or anyone that needs one free of charge. We recently gave a new church plant many bibles to use. Our stock of Bibles at the church is running low and we will be putting an order in to buy some more bibles soon. We would like to buy several hundred more. Bibles cost anywhere from $3-$5 per Bible. (3) There is also a book that we buy and give out to first-time visitors that is the testimony of a Chinese man who got saved. It has been a witness and help to many people. We are also running low on this book. These are three ways that you can give directly to help the church stock up on materials, bibles, and resources. If given for this purpose, we will use 100% of it for this purpose. Contact me for details.
✪ Our “Big Day” we had a couple weeks ago went well. We had three lost people in the service who heard the gospel. Last week was a slow week because everyone was on holiday for the National Day and Mid-autumn Festival. I enjoyed the extra time with family.
✪ In family news, our youngest is finally potty trained…or getting there. We are also looking at getting her into a preschool soon. Our middle daughter has started preschool every day. Our oldest has started homeschooling. We found out that the twins are….one boy and one girl. My wife is having her ups and downs…it has been a tough pregnancy but she is doing good.
✪ Lord willing, we will be starting a new school semester for our bible college students in the coming week. Pray as we are making the final preparations.
✪ Do you or someone you know want to “become a missionary to China”? What are your next steps? It depends on what life-stage you are in. Click here to read my three recommended steps from where you are now. It is my desire to help you make an impact in China.
Beautiful weather as we run on in the early morning.
A car caught on fire near where we live. The firefighters did a great job.
One of our recent lunches…it was awesome (crabs, clams, etc.)
Evening Traffic :-)
✪ So the last steps of our visas are underway. We received our “work permit” card which was a huge blessing and we have applied for our “residence permit” which should be given to us in about three weeks or so and everything should be done. Thank you for praying with us about this visa process. Hopefully, this will be the new path that we will be using to serve in China for years to come, Lord willing.
✪ Last Sunday we had a send-off service for the American family and the Chinese man who is leaving our church to start a new work in the city. It was a great service and they have been a blessing to our ministry over the years. Please pray for them as they are in the process of renting a place to start meeting in.
✪ This coming Sunday we are having a “big day” event playing off a Chinese holiday. There are two major holidays that run into each other. The national day is on Sunday and most people will be going home because they get off work/school for eight days or so. But for those that are local and don’t have a family event or haven’t left the city yet, we are trying to do a special event. Pray for our services tomorrow and that we will have some first-time visitors who will hear the gospel.
✪ After Sunday, it will be a slow week in the ministry because all our students and many of our church people will be returning to their hometowns or where their parents/in-laws are currently living to celebrate the holidays. But I am looking forward to spending some extra time with family and getting caught up on a few things to prepare for our upcoming new semester with the students when they return.
✪ We have had a great and productive week this week. We have been having class every morning for four hours and making preparations for our events over this upcoming year.
Work Permit Card
A barbequed chicken head I ate this past Friday night.
Sun starting to set over our city as we cross the road.
✪ We had another great week. Our Kids’ Club has started back, but it has been very slow. Each week there are more kids, but it looks like we might have lost some along the way. Time to go out and find some more!
✪ We visited a Chinese city on the border of North Korea and took a big boat into North Korean waters. We used binoculars to get a better look at everything. It was really sad. People washing their clothes in the river. The soldiers (I am guessing guarding the border) were fishing with nets up and down the river. The hard part of these tours (I have taken many) is that we can do nothing. Here I am on a nice boat with a bunch of Chinese tourists gawking at the North Koreans (like a zoo) and can do nothing to reach or help them. At least when we have taken the small boats in before, we were able to give out some Chinese tracts (even though they didn’t read Chinese) to the North Koreans who met us in the middle of the river on their boats. Pray for North Korea.
✪ In a previous update I mentioned about starting a new church plant in October, but we are holding off on that for now. One of the Chinese men who was going to go out and start it wants/needs more time and training before he steps out. I think this is a wise decision.
✪ Although we aren’t starting a new church this October, one of the American men who has been serving in our church for the past couple years is stepping out to start a church in October and one fo the Chinese men in our church who is a faithful member will be going to help him as they get things started. We will be having a send-off time for them this Sunday.
✪ One of the church members recently commented on our three girls personalities and I thought it was interesting and almost spot on. She said our oldest daughter was 透明 transparent (she really likes to talk about everything), our middle daughter was 温柔 gentle and soft (she loves to smile and cuddle), and the youngest was 淘气 mischievous (yep, she likes to laugh and cause trouble in a playful way).
A busy airport in the mornings! Seeing our friends off…glad they came!
About a 20-minute drive outside the city and you see this…
Going to the local mall for dinner, a busy time of the day.
One of the men practicing music as he looks out over the city from the church window.
Looking into North Korea with binoculars… a mom and child washing clothes in the river with a guard nearby.
✪ Everything went smoothly in Hong Kong. We were granted our visas and came back to China last Tuesday. (Now we have to apply for a residence permit.) We enjoyed our time in Hong Kong. Even though it seemed everyone was sick at some point, we got the medicine we needed and everyone is doing much better now. The Lord took care of us. Praise the Lord!
✪ We arrive back in China Tuesday evening/night and then a few hours later a friend serving the Lord in Peru landed. I picked him up from the airport and then took him to the hotel. The next morning we returned to the airport to pick up two more friends serving the Lord in Peru. Thus, we have been busy since we have returned from Hong Kong with our friends from Peru. Every day they have been teaching our students 4-hours a day, showing them around the city, talking about problems and solutions, planning for future plans (Lord willing), and busy with the ministry.
✪ Today, we started our new church schedule and restart the several areas that we stopped during last month remodeling. Please pray as we invite the families back for the kids’ club and that we can reach new students who are in the city for university and as everyone comes back from their summer break.
✪ We had great services today. The gospel was clearly preached in a powerful message in the morning service and we were reminded of God’s power in the second. I pray those in attendance were not only challenged to believe on Jesus but to share the message of this good news.
✪ One of the reasons for our friends serving in Peru came to China was to help cast the vision in Peru for men and women to give their lives to come to China and preach the gospel! Maybe the Lord would open doors, if not through support, then through opportunities to teach Spanish in universities for them to get a salary and be granted a visa to live and work in China as they spread the good news of Jesus. Pray with us about this matter!
Taxi in Hong Kong…look at all those phones!
Getting on the plane in Hong Kong to return to the mainland.
Looking and praying over the city with our friends who serve in Peru.
✪ Preached on having an “attitude of joy” this morning and really enjoyed it. Studying the sermon and preaching it has encouraged me greatly.
✪ We should get an answer about our visas tomorrow, Lord willing. Then we will have to leave the country and re-apply for the new visas before we come back into the country. Please pray that everything goes smoothly. Our deadline is Thursday, so time isn’t on our side.
✪ Remodeling is almost done..which I am thankful for. Lord willing, everything will be finished this week and we will get back to a normal schedule starting next weekend.
✪ We have been contacted by a couple of people who are wanting to come and intern in China. We are working on the details and we will see what happens.
✪ Lots of plans coming up in the future. Excited about all the is going on and for what the future holds. God is good.
Clouds over the city in the evening.
Spent some time enjoying the ocean one afternoon this week.
A natural history museum on the coast.
Our newly remodeled kids’ room.
✪ I went to the doctor this week with my wife and I asked the doctor if she would be willing to tell us the gender of the babies since we are foreigners. Normally, it is illegal for them to tell you. For foreigners though, it is a little confusing. Anyways, she agreed to let us find out…and as my wife wrote on Facebook: “Latest update on the twins: Baby A revealed his gender to us during yesterday’s ultrasound. Baby B is still a mystery.”
✪ Good news on our renting/remodeling situation. First, the homeowner of the two main apartments we rent agreed to sign a three-year contract and approved our remodeling plans. He is also hoping he can sell it to us in the future. Second, we are remodeling the main two apartments by putting in a nursery and then remodeling the newly rented room into a kids room. Lord willing, everything will be done by the end of this month.
✪ This past Friday was our ten-year wedding anniversary. I am blessed to have been married for ten years. God has been good to us. I also enjoyed the day (alone) with my lovely wife. On Friday, we had three families from the church each take one of the children to spend the night at their house. The children had a great time and two of families asked if the kids could stay over another night. It is Sunday afternoon now, and two of the kids are still out with friends playing and the smallest is home taking a nap. We are blessed to have such greats friends that love on our family and children. My wife has done a wonderful job training our girls.
✪ I was thinking about Chinese…and we know there are four main parts: listening, reading, writing, speaking (maybe grammar can be added as a separate grouping). Each grouping is separate from the other (although they are connected) and one doesn’t automatically help you build up the other. Thus, practicing speaking all day doesn’t help you improve the other three. Only practicing those other three will make you improve. Now, there is always a little influence and overlap in each area, but not to the degree that it is useful. Listening will help you with listening and not speaking. Speaking will help you speak, but doesn’t’ improve your listening. Reading characters will help you read but it doesn’t help you perfect writing. Each area needs to be equally studied if you want to equally perfect each area. One more thing that came to mind concerning writing…there are two types…pencil and paper and then typing. You could easily be able to type characters, but not able to write them with a pencil. So this is two sub-categories of writing. If I was grading myself from best to worst, according to how I studied, then it would be as follows: Speaking; Writing-typing; Reading; Listening; Writing-pencil.
✪ One of the American families that have been working in our church for the past few years is working towards starting their own church. This past week they hosted VBS in the housing complex that they bought a house in. They hosted it in their new house and the Lord blessed. They had a great turnout with over 30 kids and many parents. So far they haven’t had any problems from authorities or neighbors…since they have been building relationships in the community. I am very proud of them and the work they are boldly doing. We pray the Lord continues to bless them.
Remodeling: Adding a nursery on to the main auditorium.
View from 38 stories up overlooking the harbor.
✪ We had another great Sunday. Because of our moving and remodeling and the lack of space during the transition, we have just been having the Sunday morning service for the last two weeks on Sunday. But we were given the key to the new place we rented today, so we should start getting back to our normal Sunday schedule next week and re-start the kids club next month.
✪ This has been a long week. I have done a lot of counseling and working through different problems with those in the church. It isn’t always fun, but it is always needed and always worth the time to invest in someone else’s life…even if you don’t get anything else done that day.
✪ I went to the US embassy this week. During the train ride, I wrote a post and many seemed to enjoy it, if you missed it, you can read it here.
✪ I heard someone say you become the sum of the 5 people you are around the most. This made me think about how this applies to learning the language? Let me give it a go: Your language will become the sum of the 5 people you talk to (or communicate with) the most. So in China, if you are learning the language, you need to ask yourself, who are the five people I talk to the most every week (excluding spouse and kids)? Do you talk to 5 people within a week? Do you talk in Chinese or English? (Includes all forms of communication, face-to-face or Facebook.) If the 5 people you talk to the most every week aren’t talking to you in Chinese then you probably won’t learn the language. If some of the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you might learn the language. If the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you most likely will learn the language.
✪ In the quote below, there are three areas that are mentioned as problems for missionaries adjusting to a new culture during their first term on the field. The three areas mentioned are relationships, ministry, and expectations. I would agree with this. Relationships are hard to form under the stress of a new culture and we become self-focused and forget to love one another. Ministry is often harder to do and many don’t know how to go about it or they get so busy with surviving their new life that they don’t have time to serve. Expectations are set really high before arriving or one thinks others have set these unrealistic expectations for them and the weight of the language and new culture often causes them not to live up to it. Whatever aspect the author is looking at these three areas from, struggling to adjust to new relationships, not finding fulfillment in ministry and failing expectations all can crush one’s spirit. Missionaries can easily fall into the trap of thinking about how much better their relationships, ministry, and ability to fulfill expectations were in America. It is a struggle of the mind and a missionary needs encouragement and ultimately connect these three areas with his true identity in Christ. Only after this is done can we work through the practical problems that arise on the field.
Quote from Culture Shock by Myron Loss
✪ We had a great Sunday today. At the end of the morning service, we prayed over one of the young men who is moving to the south of China for work. He was invited to our church by an intern. He then studied the Bible with one of the Chinese men in our church, working through the discipleship lessons. He believed, was baptized and became an active member in our church.
✪ As I had mentioned, we are losing one of the three apartments that we rent for the church because the homeowner sold it…so we started remodeling when another neighbor was willing to rent their place to us, giving us some of the lost space back. After talking it over with everyone, we decided to rent it. It will save us some money and the remodeling we started will also help us change the space to better fit our needs. Praise the Lord! (Also, the homeowner knows we are a church and is still excited to rent to us and help us out. Amen! —this is rare in China—)
✪ We halted the kids’ club for the month of August. A lot of families are traveling for the summer vacation. We will start back with the club, Lord willing, in September.
✪ We changed our day off from Saturday back to Monday. This will help match out new schedule going into the fall.
✪ Last week I mentioned the story about the dog…today the dog came to church. The girls were excited and I am thankful for these little blessings.
Moved the auditorium as we change things up.
Praying over a church member before he leaves the city.
A view of the sky after the rain.
✪ We are in the middle of the summer roller-coaster—meaning our attendance is up and down each week as people are enjoying the summer weather and time off from school or work. Even though attendance was low yesterday, we still had a first-time visitor! Amen!
✪ We had a great couples’ retreat this past week (Thursday-Saturday). We took the group about an hour north (by car) and rented a four-story villa for us to stay in. We had a great time studying truths and principles about marriage from God’s word and spending time eating and fellowshipping together. Please continue to pray for the couples in our church—that we can build strong, healthy, and God-honouring relationships and families.
✪ Two interesting stories. First, during our couples retreat, we went to a restaurant and all the workers in the restaurant we wearing shirts that said: “I Love Jesus” in English and in Chinese it said, “Jesus Love You”. Then each of the private rooms you can use to eat in had different names that was biblical virtues or fruits of the spirit. I ask them if this was a Christian restaurant (for as much as a restaurant can be Christian?!) and they said it was, that the owner and workers were Christian. I guess that explained all the Christian decor. This isn’t something you are expecting to see in communist China!
✪ Second, a while back we got the girls a dog. The girls were extremely excited and loved the dog. But caring for the dog wasn’t going to work with our current life style and the busy-ness of our life. We ended up giving the dog to someone we knew. After a short time, they realized they couldn’t keep the dog either and passed it on to someone else. A few weeks ago (or so), the young couple who received the dog, unknowingly, visited our church. They are a young Christian couple who didn’t have a church and were looking for one when someone recommended our church to them. We put all the puzzle pieces together and the girls were happy to know they could see the dog again. And it seems that this young couple might become members soon!
✪ Lastly, we were informed that one of the three apartments that we rent for the church has been sold by the homeowner. Specifically, it is the one we use for the kids’ space. Thus we have about a month before we have to be out. We are working with the homeowner of the other two apartments to see about signing a longer contract (5 years) and then doing some remodeling to make it fit out current specific needs. Although this would still be smaller than we now have, we are hoping that it will be able to work with the new setup or that we can find a larger space in the same building or a similar building in the same area. We would appreciate your prayers as we go forward with this within a limited time frame.
Villas where we stayed on the couples’ retreat.
The back of the shirt all the workers were wearing.