Dear Praying Friends:
On May 14, Dori and I are leaving Charlottesville after twenty-six years. We have contemplated such a move for several years, but did not expect to be going this soon until we actually made the decision last fall.
Why? And why now?
We believe that we should live closer to our daughter and son-in-law, who live in another state. The time has come for us to develop a closer relationship with them than is possible when we see each other only once a year for a few days.
We will also be nearer to Dori’s oldest sister and brother-in-law, along with their two children and their families.
For some time, we have also felt the need to get into a smaller house that will require less upkeep. We’re in the process of shedding many belongings – quite difficult to do, but necessary. Because houses are more expensive here, we’ll be able to pay cash for our new home and thus be free of mortgage debt.
What about the ministry in Charlottesville?
We would not feel free to leave the ministry here unless we thought that we were no longer needed. For several reasons, we believe that is the case now.
Kevin Sawyer has taken my place as adult male advisor to the Chinese Christian Fellowship, and is doing a great job – much better than I did, in fact. With his gifts for organization and strategy, and his experience as a seasoned student worker, he’s admirably suited for this work.
He has also stepped into positions of China ministry leadership in our church that I once held. Here, too, he has demonstrated ability to guide and care for the teams that God has raised up in both the Mandarin Sunday School class and the Ethnic Chinese Ministry Team.
Meanwhile, God has provided the Mandarin class with three Chinese men who are fully capable of leading the sermon discussion, and several mature women who can assist them in answering questions and ministering to the group.
Nancy, our new Chinese assistant, has won a place in the hearts of younger women in the class and the girls in CCF. Being Chinese herself, she can relate to them far better than we can.
Within the church as a whole, many committed people are involved in outreach to Chinese people who attend worship. Though not without room for growth and improvement, the infrastructure for ongoing ministry seems solid and vital.
Our bookkeeper, office, editorial assistants, PO Box, and Board of Directors will stay here. Addresses will not change. I intend to return several times a year for Board meetings.
In short, we feel free to leave, and to let others express the gifts God has so amply bestowed.
What will we do next?
Ever since January, 2013, when a sudden onslaught of respiratory illness forced me to withdraw from most direct personal ministry and speaking engagements, I have focused on three priorities: Writing, (mostly long distance) encouraging/coaching/mentoring, and going to Asia for extended periods of time.
My health is much better now, but these three types of work still seem to be what God wants me to focus on in coming years. Of course, all can be done from any location.
Writing: I plan to continue to provide substantial reviews of important books about Chinese Christianity for globalchinacenter.org; companion articles for reachingchineseworldwide.org; and both original and translated articles for the online Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity (bdcconline.net).
As co-editor of Wipf & Stock’s Studies in Chinese Christianity, I solicit and edit book manuscripts from others, and I hope to continue to produce more volumes for that unique series myself.
As leader of China Institute and Global China Center, I need to pray for and communicate regularly with more than fifteen colleagues and support staff. I am also privileged to be in frequent contact with another dozen or so people, both Chinese and foreign, around the world, by Skype, phone, and email. The number of requests for information and advice coming to me increases each year. All this takes time.
Invitations to present papers and give lectures in China and in Taiwan will take me out of the USA for several weeks a year.
In other words, God has given me plenty of work to do!
Dori and I believe that God is guiding us to make this move, and we covet your ongoing prayers.
Your fellow pilgrim,