SAMS and New Wineskins

Our family is back together in Ohio again after spending the first half of April on the road. Our first stop was All Saints REC IN Raleigh, where we were graciously hosted by Fr Ian MacGregor. He also took me on a visit to St Andrew’s mission about 90 minutes away in nearby Asheboro. From there, our family headed to Asheville for the SAMS retreat and 40th anniversary celebration at the Ridgecrest Conference Center and the ensuing New Wineskins for Global Mission conference.

We were blessed by the small group meetings at the SAMS retreat, where I benefited from the prayers and advice of Philip Mounstephen, the director of the Church Mission Society in the Church of England, and was able to give care and prayer to other missionaries in turn.

 

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Matt with CMS director Philip Mounstephen

The main prayer request I shared with the group was my concern to do a good job of learning Bahasa Indonesia, a language that will be critical to the success of my work in Bandung.

The very next day, Sora and I had a meeting with Singapore’s Bishop for the mission deaneries, the Rt. Rev. Kuan Kim Seng and the Dean of Indonesia, the Rev. Timothy Chong. It was an immediate answer to my prayers when Bp. Kuan told us that we would have at least a year to work on language learning. Praise God!

It was a pleasure to spend time with the Singapore clergy at New Wineskins. Bp. Rennis Ponniah also prayed for us and gave us the right hand of fellowship.

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From left: Assistant Bp. Kuan Kim Seng, Dean of Indonesia Timothy Chong, our family, and Bp. of Singapore Rennis Ponniah

The biggest news coming out of the New Wineskins conference is that we have a planned departure date now…and we have purchased one-way airplane tickets for us to arrive in Singapore on June 27. (From there, we’ll head to Bandung in early July.)

At New Wineskins, Sora and I enjoyed talks by Bp. Felix Orji of CANA West (ACNA) and by Bp. Rennis Ponniah of Singapore. It was also good to enjoy fellowship with other missionaries from SAMS, and to see friends from the REC and other Anglican churches.

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From left: Matt, Bishop of Singapore Rennis Ponniah, REC Presiding Bishop Royal Grote, Sora, Dean of Thailand Yee Ching Wah, and Dean of Indonesia Timothy Chong

On the last day of the New Wineskins conference, Sora and I participated in workshops with Stewart Wicker, the director of SAMS-USA, discussing how we were called to go to the Philippines and then to Indonesia.

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Sora on the panel for SAMS’ workshop entitled “Is God Sending Me?”

We were blessed by our time in NC, and we left feeling encouraged and eager to go to the mission field again soon. Thank you, SAMS, and especially Nita Dempsey, for arranging for our participation in these two conferences.

Coming to Houston Feb 28

Thanks to Fr. Carl Lund for inviting Matt to visit Holy Trinity in Houston TX on Feb. 28, right after the Synod for the REC Diocese of Mid-America. It is a blessing to be able to combine trips, and it will be a pleasure to see Fr. Carl again.

Home Ministry Assignment 2016 Schedule

On Monday, we will hit the road for a month long trip on which we will spend Sunday’s in five churches in NY, MD, and VA, with a stop for debriefing at the SAMS office in Ambridge, PA.

Here’s an updated schedule of visits as of January 15:

  • Jan 8 – Christ Church, Ithaca, NY.
  • Jan 10 – St. Stephens REC, Sykesville, MD
  • Jan 12-13 – at SAMS office in Ambridge, PA
  • Jan 17 – Bp. Cummins, Catonsville, MD
  • Jan 24 – Holy Trinity, Fairfax, VA
  • Jan 31 – St. Jude’s, Richmond, VA
  • Feb 7-14 – Ash Wednesday in New Jersey: Covenant Chapel and St. Luke’s REC
  • Feb 25-26 – Synod of REC Diocese of Mid-America
  • Feb 28 – Holy Trinity, Houston
  • March 6 – Christ Our Hope in Dayton, OH
  • March 13 – St. Paul’s REC (Indiana, Fr. Daniel Sparks)
  • March 27 – Easter (at TREC)
  • April 3 – All Saints REC in Raleigh, NC
  • April 7-10 – New Wineskins Conference in Asheville, NC
  • April 12 – RE Seminary
  • April 17 – St. Paul’s, Oreland with Dean of Indonesia, Timothy Chong.
  • May 1 – St. Nicholas Church in Owensboro, KY (Dcn. Rob Sexton).
  • May 8 – Grace Church, Circleville, OH (ACNA, Melanie Shuter)
  • May 15 – Christ the King in Dayton, OH
  • May 22 – St. Barnabas Anglican (ACNA) in Covington, KY.
  • May 29 – St. Stephen’s REC in Flowood, MS

Final Essays for Bandung

Before leaving STT St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia, I left the students some essay questions, which were then translated into Bahasa Indonesia by the Rev. Yopie B.  I reproduce them here for our readers’ enjoyment.
(Recommended sources: R. Hays, Reading Backward; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God; R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.
2. Explain how Jesus Himself and the authors of the four canonical gospels use the Old Testament to make the claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.
3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Colvins in Bandung

If our kids are looking more colorful than usual, it is because they’re wearing batik to their first Indonesian worship service.   
It has been a mixed visit so far. For me, a fruitful week of ministry. For Sora and the kids, a painful time fighting the sort of digestive tract illness that we thought we would not experience, since we were coming already from the Philippines.

I preached on Psalm 42 & 43 for GAI St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia this morning. Many thanks to Pr. Denny Kussoy for translating my sermon. 

  
Matt preaching with Pr. Denny Kussoy translating. 

The congregation on Sunday included many students from my week-long intensive class at the Bible College.

 
Above: Students at STT St Paul’s Bible College during Matt’s class. 

At lunch on Sunday, Rev. Yopie Buyung explained that he believes Biblical theology (in the technical sense) is greatly needed in Indonesian churches. I believe it. The delighted looks of the students as I explained how the New Testament claims Jesus to be God made it clear that they had not heard it put this (Jewish, Old Testamentish) way before, and that they will be USING these arguments in their own conversations with those who do not know the Lord, or deny that we should worship Him, or who think that “it is far from God’s glory to beget a son”.

Here are the essay assignment questions that I left for the students to write. (Pak Yopie translated them into Bahasa Indonesia.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.

2. Explain how Jesus and the four gospels use the Old Testament to claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.

3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Unfortunately, our family has been dealing with some sickness. Three kids came with me to church, wearing their new batik clothing. Sora stayed back at the guest house with Naomi, who is still recovering. Later, Isaiah and Hosanna also lost their lunches. Everyone is on the mend, however.

We have one more day in Bandung. Rev. Yopie and his wife Hertina and younger son Rexa have been taking very good care of us. Indonesian hospitality is justly famous, and Pak Yopie’s family has been amazing in that respect. 

Tuesday, we head to Jakarta for four days, then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, en route to meet with our SAMS directors and other SAMS missionary families at a retreat in Kep.
Pray that:

– Our kids will recover quickly, and that we will have no more illness on this trip. 

– We may have a pleasant and uneventful train ride full of beautiful scenery from Bandung to Jakarta.

– The STT St. Paul’s students will continue to pursue the Biblical approaches to Christology and theology that I introduced them to in the lectures this week, and that the Lord may bless those methods with good fruit. 

– That our kids will continue to be good ambassadors for our family and the REC and ACNA. The boys especially have done a good job so far, even though they don’t like being the center of attention. (Hosanna on the other hand, loves being the center of attention, and is apparently in her element being greeted and photographed, whether by Filipinos or Indonesians.)

   
   Thanks to Natalina H for the pictures!