Dear Praying Friends,
As 2015 draws to a close, we cannot help thanking God for the marvelous ways in which he has manifested his kindness and mercy to us, despite our manifest unworthiness.
Astoundingly, he condescends to use frail human beings; and more amazingly, he enlists sinners in his service!
A few highlights for the past year will suffice to demonstrate our Lord’s pity and his power.
Several books in which I had a part were published: Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders (Pickwick) tells the stories of nine outstanding 19th century servants of God.
Worship and Wisdom: Meditations on Psalms and Proverbs (TorchFlame Books) provides daily readings of short devotional thoughts on these two foundational books of the Old Testament.
Two new volumes came out in Wipf & Stock’s Studies in Chinese Christianity, which I co-edit with Dr. Carol Lee Hamrin: China’s Urban Christians, by Brent Fulton, and On the Road to Siangyang, by Jack R. Lundbom
My former Chinese assistant Nancy and I finished translating Carl Henry: Theologian for All Seasons, and submitted it to a potential publisher in China.
Ministry in Charlottesville
Before we moved to Texas in May, Dori and I – mostly Dori, actually – tried to encourage Chinese students in the Chinese Christian Fellowship and in the Mandarin Sunday school class that meets at our church.
We left Charlottesville full of confidence that God would continue what he started there, especially since our China Institute Partners Kevin and Sarah Sawyer are such capable mentors and coaches.
Leadership Training Course
This four-year course with a few men has been meeting monthly in two sessions, one in Charlottesville and one via Skype. Our discussions have continued with only a few interruptions, though of course both sessions are done over Skype now.
I thank God for speaking to me so often through these godly men, all but one of whom are Chinese; the other is heavily involved in ministry to Chinese in Charlottesville. Despite very daunting challenges and some real suffering, we are seeing God working in our lives.
Travel to China
From October 20 to November 26 I was in China, where I visited seven cities and gave nine lectures, seven of them on Christian subjects, in four universities and one high school. God also gave me several opportunities to share the whole gospel with groups of people at dinner parties and on an excursion into the mountains of Shandong.
You would be thrilled if I told you the details of private conversations with many individuals, including chambermaids, taxi drivers, undergraduate and graduate students, younger scholars and some very senior ones, professors, and deans.
Everywhere I went, I saw the openness of all sorts of people, the heart-breaking social and environmental landscape, and the vast need for millions to hear the Good News for the first time.
Both before my trip, and even more since then, I have been communicating with more than a dozen Chinese by email. They present all sorts of questions about marital crises, finding resources to learn more about Christianity, getting into graduate school, revising application documents – and much more.
Some are desperate cries of the heart, while others merely seek advice or information, but each one requires thought, prayer, and care in responding. Dori has similar, though fewer, opportunities.
Life in Texas
We are slowly settling into our new community and church. Dori’s days now largely center on taking care of me and seeing family. Both of us are far less involved in personal contact with Chinese than before, but most of my work can be done from my study, so little else has changed for me.
We thank God for your faithful prayers, and pray that, even in the midst of terrorist attacks and global chaos, you may have joy and rest in the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate.