Retreat, or Advance?

Dear Praying Friends:

The past year has seen mammoth changes, and 2009 opens fraught with uncertainty and danger. Reeling from financial crises spawned by greed, folly, and fraud, corporations, counties, cities, and churches have had to make drastic cuts in their budgets for the coming year. Christian ministries have not been exempt for this carnage, and many missions agencies wonder how they can survive, much less grow.

Beckoning Opportunities

At the same time, God’s hand can be seen at work around the world, sometimes as a result of disaster and its resultant disarray. Just as the terrible earthquake in Sichuan has demolished barriers to the spread of the Gospel in China, so the worldwide recession (depression?) may loosen the grip of idols upon people who once trusted in Mammon. Already in Taiwan, there are signs that its notoriously hard spiritual soil has been broken up a bit, as people there begin to express greater interest in, and favor towards, Christianity.

Openings for China Institute

Randall Chan, who with his wife Connie reaches out to Chinese scholars in Cambridge, England, has talked with the young Chinese church in Sofia, Bulgaria, and plans to visit them in January. He is also pondering other requests for his ministry. I shall be attending a conference of Chinese biblical scholars for a colloquium sponsored by the Centre for the study of Christianity in China at King’s College, London, January 17-21. In addition to giving a paper, I shall enjoy the privilege of learning from them and building relationships. On January 25th, I am to preach to an English church and a Chinese church in the university town of Cambridge. We have seen progress in producing literature also: Jesus: The Complete Man is now available from AuthorHouse, and I sent off a proposal for a book on the theology of Carl Henry yesterday to an editor who has shown some interest. An article on Matthew 7:1-12 and a devotional commentary on Matthew should be completed soon. Later this month, Dori will attend a meeting of China ministry leaders with our church’s missions coordinator, following up the “Year of China” focus in the congregation in 2008. She is also praying about taking several women to China. In February, I am planning to be in Taiwan for two weeks to visit our associates and friends, and to promote a book which is supposed to come out shortly (God willing!). A retired seminary professor in our church is scheduled to go with me in May to Taiwan, where he and I have been asked to lecture at China Evangelical Seminary. I expect he will receive more invitations. I am traveling to Taiwan then (God willing) to deliver the Luce Theological lectures at Tunghai University. This series of four one-hour presentations will be published in Chinese. Preparing the English text; having it translated into Chinese; turning that into simpler Chinese that I can actually deliver comfortably – this is a project that will occupy much of my attention in the coming months. A young American, Doug Anderson, plans to arrive in Taiwan in early June for some language study before beginning to teach English in the fall as a China Institute Partner. He is looking now for a university position there. We are also talking with two others with a burden for Taiwan.

Pray for us!

Napoleon is said to have declared that an army “marches on its stomach” – depending, that is, on its supply lines. Christians, who wage war on a spiritual front, conquer only on their knees (Ephesians 6:10-20). We expect to advance, not retreat, in 2009, but we rely upon your faithful intercessions for us, and thank you in advance for this vital assistance.

Yours in His victory,