Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Welcoming the Farnsworths to Guam

One of our favorite things to do on Guam is welcome new missionaries. We got to do that last night as Ned, Marisol, Joel and Amelia Farnsworth arrived last night. Ned will work as an assistant dean, teacher and coordinator for children's ministries. As you can see from the picture several of our staff members and some students came out to the airport to welcome them. Between traveling through the islands, people coming and people going we spend a lot of time at the airport. We are thankful that the Farnsworths have arrived and we would ask for your prayers for their adjustment to life on Guam and that God would use them in a big way in the lives of our students. We will give them a few days to recover from the long (16-18 hours in the air) flight and then put them to work. We are excited that God is sending us so many good people here to help us in the work at PIBC. Please keep praying for our other personnel needs including ESL teachers and an IT person.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Guam Evangelical Church

Six years ago Steve Stinnette and I, along with a small group of couples founded Guam Evangelical Church as a fellowship designed to reach out to people from the islands surrounding Guam. With our PIBC responsibilities growing we saw the need to back away from many of our leadership roles at the church. The leadership of the church also saw the need to focus the goals of the church more sharply. Thus, GEC was reborn as a student-led outreach ministry to the Micronesian students at the University of Guam. Instead of being a traditional church ministry, GEC's role will now be to work with other evangelical churches to reach and disciple college students and plug them into the churches working with us. With faculty and staff mentorship (especially from Steve), the UOG team (pictured here) held their practice service yesterday. They are busy building relationships with the UOG students who will be coming to their get-togethers. Please pray for the student team that they will be able to minister the love of Christ to the students they are working with.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

PIBC Students

I thought you might enjoy seeing and meeting some of our students. So here you go...


Here is (L to R) Mac (Yap), Elilai (Palau), Stella (Yap), Lynnette (Palau) and Happiness (Chuuk). Mac is leader of our chapel worship and University of Guam outreach team. Happiness is on the Dept. of Youth Affairs team and is in competition with Joyce to see who can kill the most snakes this year. Stella just completed her internship in children's ministries in Yap. Lynnette is a graduate of Bethania HS in Palau and worked there as a teachers' aid. Elilai went to high school on Guam and is one of our commuting students.






Here I am talking with one of our Palauan students John Aitaro at the Ministry Fair. I actually met John when he was one of the basketball players at Palau High School playing against the team I coached (Emmaus) back in 1986-8. John moved on to Guam, got married and became a Christian though the ministry of one of our ex-Emmaus students Andy Immanual who now pastors at the Palauan Evangelical Church on Guam. John is now one of the Bible study leaders at the PEC-Guam and one of our dedicated commuter students. John works all night at one of the local hotels and then takes three PIBC classes during the day.







This picture of me with Tenry and Julius was taken right after Cults class on Friday. Tenry and Julius are certificate graduates from the Tol, Chuuk campus who have transferred to Guam to complete their BA degrees. Both of them are commuting students. I am still working on Tenry to get out on Saturday and play with our basketball team. We need him. We lost 37-35 yesterday.








This picture was taken during registration as several of our Chuukese students are excitedly waiting to see what the semester holds. For many of our students coming to Guam and living in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment requires some major adjustments. We are praying and planning that these present adjustments will prepare them to make the future adjustments necessary to minister inside and outside their own cultural contexts.


And finally, my favorite student...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Week 4 at Pacific Islands Bible College

It is hard to believe that we are already at Week 4 of the Fall Semester! Here is what is coming up this week. I think it is a pretty typical week and will give you a good idea of what we normally do here. Well. if there is such a thing as a normal week.

Sunday

Joyce and I have been enjoying visiting churches on the last few Sunday mornings. We have changed the format of Guam Evangelical Church to a student-led afternoon service targeting outreach to University of Guam students. This has freed us to attend different island churches and represent PIBC on Sunday mornings. We have been very encouraged the last two weeks to see God working through evangelical pastors at the Guam Methodist Church and Guam Lutheran Church. We also attended the dedication service of the new Bayview Baptist Church. They had been meeting in a hotel for over three years after their building was destroyed by Typhoon Pongsonwa in 2002. We also enjoyed the PIBC prayer and praise meeting on Sunday night at the campus.

Monday

Joyce is not talking to me much today because she has a test in her Theological Foundations class tonight. She has had her nose in a book since she got home from the pre-school today. Her hours at "Little Lambs" have stabilized, at least for now, at Monday to Friday 9:30-1:30. While she is at class I will work on responding to the students' posts to the Distance Education Cults Class web site (and on this posting).

Tuesday

Joyce has class (Linguistics) for 8:00-9:15 and then she heads to pre-school. She has the same schedule on Thursday. While Monday is my day that I try to devote to only "teacher" stuff, Tuesday is the day I try to devote totally to "president" stuff. Tuesday we will be meeting with our group of pastors and wives to say goodbye to Graham and Joan Rogers who are heading to Pennsylvania. The Rogers have been missionaries (and good friends) on Guam for over 20 years and we will really miss them.

Wednesday

This week we are running a series in the Guam Campus chapel on "The Four Deadly Sins at PIBC." We have chapel Tuesday -Friday at 11:00 AM. This week we will cover one of the four deadly sins - dishonesty, laziness, gossip and selfishness - at each chapel. I will be speaking on laziness from Proverbs 24:30-34. Please pray with us that God will use His Word this week to help the students be more spiritually disciplined. We also have our Guam staff meeting every other Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday

Thursday is my long day. It begins in the office at 8:00 AM and ends at about 9:30 PM with the 6:30-9:00 PM Prophetic Literature 1. This Thursday we will be studying the prophet Amos. Please pray that the students will apply the stress that will be placed on Amos' theme that God's people are responsible to show their righteousness by helping the needy and promoting justice in our communities to be ready for the coming Day of the Lord.

Friday

Friday completes another school week. My Cults class meets for an hour at 1 PM to discuss the Jehovah's Witnesses this week. We are having a hard time getting some students comfortable with the internet portion of the class. This is the first class we have offered at PIBC with an internet component. While many of our Micronesian students are quite familiar with using a computer and the internet it is a new experience for some. I am also planning on playing basketball Friday evening with my intramural team.

Saturday

Joyce generally spends Saturday morning in the yard and in her garden. It is also dog-washing day. (See the picture of our new puppy). This week she has some tables (I think we got them for free) she is refinishing for our home office. Right now we use a door laid on top of two file cabinets for our desk. The tables will definitely be an upgrade. I usually spend Saturday morning correcting class work and prepping the coming week's classes. Saturday afternoon will be the second PIBC basketball game in the Island Church League. We lost our opener last week, but it was a competitive game and we all had a great time.

What an exciting life huh? We feel very privileged that God has entrusted us with such a great staff and faculty and a good group of students. No time invested in growing God's people is ever wasted.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Chuuk Trip Report


I just got back from a four day trip to Chuuk last night. Joyce picked me up at the airport and got me over to the Guam campus in time for my Thursday night Bible class. I had a great time of fellowship with the faculty, staff and students of the Chuuk Campus on Tol island and the Chuuk Teaching Facility on the main island of Weno. I also had a chance to meet with the executive committee of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk Board. They are planning a Jubilee Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Gospel in Chuuk. The church, Liebenzell Mission and the other churches of Micronesia will be involved in the celebration and meetings. Pacific Islands Bible College will also have a part in the program. The program will also include a planning meeting that will involve all the island churches and the mission. We hope to organize a mission board that will send Micronesians (hopefully many PIBC students) out as missionaries to needy areas.

Many of you must have been praying for my trip because the lagoon was smooth as glass for my trip over to Tol. I felt like I was on a lake. An even bigger bonus was that I got to see three groups of dolphins. The last group included the biggest dolphin I have ever seen. One of the Chuukese teachers thought it must be a shark until we got close to it because it was so big. We were able to make the trip back during a break between rain storms. It was a little rougher but not too bad. It was only a "two Advil trip." (We measure the trip by how many Advils you need to take after it!) The trip to Tol is definitely worth it because it is one of the prettiest spots in the world. The only way to describe it is that it looks kind of like a tropical summer camp. We have 62 students, six faculty and several staff members. Praise God that the school generator was fixed soon after I left so the campus has power again.

The hot topic of conversation in Weno was the rescue of four Chuukese who were lost at sea. One of the men was the brother of one of the Guam campus students. There were several small miracles involved in their rescue. They were lost for over a month and spent most of the time in Bible study because they had four Chuukese Bibles. They had a large sack of coconuts that sustained them for a while. After that they prayed for food. While praying they heard swishing in the water and looked down next to the boat to see a turtle swimming. They ate it raw. They were also able to catch fish. After this the captain of the boat made a profession of faith in Christ. Soon after that the wind took them into the path of a Chinese fishing boat which rescued them. They returned to Chuuk last Saturday and a celebration was held for their return in the Berea Church in Weno on Sunday. It really is an amazing story of God's provision.

Needs in Chuuk

  1. Maintenance Person: The Chuuk campus urgently needs a "jack-of-all trades" maintenance man. The job includes a little plumbing, electrical, engine repair, carpentry etc. There are also some local workers to supervise.
  2. English Teachers: We also need master-degreed and ESL qualified teachers on both the Tol campus and the Chuuk Teaching Facility. We need to be able to offer both remedial and college level English on both sites.
  3. Bible/Theology Teachers: Both Chuuk sites need master-degreed Bible, theology and ministry teachers.

For all these positions a person with their own financial support would be great, but the campus is able to pay a small salary that would provide for your needs in Chuuk.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Week 2 at Pacific Islands Bible College


The first two weeks of school seem to have gone by in a blur. With two classes and administrative responsibilities I am keeping pretty busy! Our meeting with the College of Micronesia people went very well. They will be working on the copy of the agreement we gave them and present their changes within a couple weeks. We hope to have the agreement finalized and approved by the end of the semester. This will especially help our Chuukese students to cross-enroll in COM to get their general education classes. Thanks for praying about that. In addition to the partnerships we have been working on a curriculum revision that would enable the students to take a "practical ministry" minor within their Bible major program. We have noticed that most of our students do not go directly into church leadership. Many are becoming teachers in public or Christian schools. Also, even the ones that go into pastoral ministries need to have another skill because most Micronesian churches cannot afford to pay a full time pastor. We have already added a minor in Teaching English as a 2nd Language. Other minors we intend to add as we can staff them are elementary education, music, missions, pre-seminary, Christian education and, of course, pastoral ministries. We plan to have the plan completed for PIBC board approval next March.

I am enjoying my two classes. It has taken a while to get the students comfortable with the Distance Education format of the Cults class. A few of the students from Chuuk had no experience with computers at all. Others have a lot of experience. I have been quite impressed by the depth of thought going into their posts to the online discussion. I am learning a lot from them about their island churches and how cults and other groups operate in Micronesia. The Prophets class has also been fun. We begin each class with "preaching time" where any student can share what God is teaching them through the passage we are studying for that evening. We try to emphasize specific application. Every week I am touched by what God is doing through His Word in the hearts of the students.

Tonight I will be going off-island to Chuuk for four days of meetings. I will be meeting Monday with the some of the head pastors of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk to discuss how PIBC can better meet the needs of their church. We also will be discussing the meetings that we will be having next April to celebrate the centennial of the Gospel arriving in Chuuk. Part of the celebration will be a meeting of the island church leaders, Liebenzell Mission leadership and PIBC board and administration to formulate a common strategy for reaching the outer islands and putting together a plan to send Micronesian missionaries outside the islands. I will also get to meet with the staff and students at our Chuuk Teaching Facility in the main island of Weno and our Chuuk campus on Tol island across the lagoon. Please pray for good communication and smooth seas!

Joyce and the Little Lambs Pre-School

The Little Lambs Pre-school now has 12 students, 8 of which are in Joyce's class. She is there every day from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM teaching alphabet and reading skills to her 2-4 year olds. She also has found a Bible curriculum called, what else, Little Lambs that focuses on evangelizing pre-schoolers. She is also taking two PIBC classes, working with some of the PIBC female students and helping out at PIBC with whatever is needed. Joyce is looking forward to taking a few days in Palau in October to help out Samantha after our grandson is born. He is due September 26. We would appreciate your prayers for Joyce and for Michael and Samantha.

I will be back from Chuuk Thursday night. I will post a report on my Chuuk trip soon after.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Educational Partnerships


Here is a picture from today's Guam campus chapel. We enjoyed hearing a message from our new faculty member, Brad Boydston. It seems weird to me that Brad and I grew up only a few miles apart, he in San Jose and me in Santa Cruz, and yet we end up working together at age 50 on the other side of the world!


PIBC is working on some new partnership agreements with other educational institutions in the Pacific Islands region. Tomorrow our administration has a meeting with the president and academic dean of the College of Micronesia. COM is the community college of the FSM with campuses in Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap. We have been working on an agreement that would allow students to seamlessly transfer courses and federal financial aid between the schools so they can take advantage of the course offerings of both institutions. The agreement would also make it easier for students to take their general education courses at COM and then go on and get a PIBC degree or to get an AA degree at PIBC and go to COM to get a degree in another subject besides Bible. PIBC currently has this kind of agreement with the Palau Community College and Guam Community College. Please pray with us that our meeting goes well and that we are able to complete this agreement.

We are also working on a possible partnership agreement with Hawaii Theological Seminary (you can view their web site at www.hits.edu) in Honolulu. I met with their VP of Development while I was at a conference in North Carolina. We have drafted a partnership document and are working through what a partnership would look like. It seems to make sense to us that since the two schools are trying to accomplish a similar mission - training of Christian leadership for the islands - that we should work together. Amazing concept for God's people, I know! Basically with HITS working from the East and PIBC from the West we could make great progress toward helping the island churches have well-trained leaders. Ultimately, I would like to see HITS have a teaching site on our Guam campus offering graduate courses while PIBC has a site for offering undergrad courses on the HITS campus. Did you know that Hawaii has the 2nd largest concentration of Micronesians in the world surpassed only by Chuuk? Again, please pray with that we can discern whether this idea is of God and then how we should pursue it.

One other issue to mention. PIBC has an urgent need for a computer person. We need someone who can maintain our hardware, software and networks and be our computer help desk. We would like to find someone who can raise at least some of their own support. PIBC could also provide some salary. We offer the opportunity to travel all over Micronesia to some of the most beautiful islands in the world - and the opportunity to face some of the most unique IT challenges imaginable. We have a diverse assortment of donated Macs, PC's and whatevers. If you are interested to be a "computer geek for God" please send me an email. You would be an answer to prayer.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Weekend Stuff

Voting on Guam

Primary elections were held Saturday on Guam for governor, the legislature and a few other positions. Election season here is really an experience/party. For the last month there have been brightly colored election signs everywhere, this year with very nice pictures of the candidates. There is also a lot of "waving." Big groups of a candidates' supporters stand on a street corner with signs and wave at the passers by. On election day we had to wade through huge groups of supporters of each candidate barbequeing, passing out candy etc to get to the polling place to vote. It is a lot of fun and most of the time seemed pretty friendly. We will see how things go in the regular election in a couple months.

Goodbye Party for the Troxells

At our Sunday night prayer meeting we had a goodbye party for Charlie and Jan Troxell. They are retiring after 7 years at PIBC and moving to Saint Louis. Charlie has been our Director of Communication for that whole time in addition to he and Jan serving as deans of men and women for several years. We will really miss them but we wish them God's best as they go.

Everyone seemed pretty tired at the meeting after an eventful first week of school. However, there was a lot of praise and thanksgiving for the new staff and students and for the way God again produced some kind of order out of the usual 1st week chaos. For example we did not have beds for many of the dorm rooms until Joyce found out that the Hilton was remodeling several of their rooms and selling all the furniture. We were able to get 20 complete bed sets for only $400 and also several $5 desks, tables and lamps. It was a sweaty job hauling all that furniture back to the campus and we looked like the "Beverly Hillbillies" with mattresses and furniture tied all over our cars and trucks, but God supplied our needs.

We are also encouraged by how excited the students are about doing ministry. Some of them were asking if they had to limit themselves to one ministry since they were interested in four or five. This is also when homesickness sets in for the new students and staff. All of the students seem to be experiencing the usual first week syllabus shock too. We appreciate your prayers for us. It has been a great first week and we are looking forward to a good second one.

I have to admit I did a lot of my class prep work this weekend in front of the TV with the start of college football season. We have live ESPN and ESPN2. We also get some live games on the local channels from the military satellites. We get Monday night football live on Tuesday at lunch time. Some of the staff are planning a get together for lunch Tuesday to watch the Miami-Florida St. game. Should be a good game.

Friday, September 01, 2006

First Classes This Semester



The Prophets 1 class went well last night. I ended up with 18 in the class. Most of the students in the class are full time resident students from Micronesia. There are only three off campus students. This is unusual for an evening course. We spent a lot of time going over the class assignments and materials. My goal this semester is that the students will really interact with and think through the text with a view toward specific application. This is really new for many of them as they are used to just being asked to memorize information. Though they are a little apprehensive I think they enjoyed the first class. Next week we will be looking at Joel and Obadiah.

The Cults class is something new at PIBC. I have taught it 3 or 4 times before in the traditional classroom format but this year will be the first time we have taught it in a hybrid on-line/classroom format. All assignments will be made and completed on-line. There will also be an online threaded discussion where students will be able to post responses to each others answers to the weekly discussion question that I post. Each week the Guam students will meet in a classroom with me to dicsuss the week's lesson. The students taking the class in Palau will meet with Rob Watt (our PIBC missionary-teacher in Palau) will meet with him there for their live discussion. Maybe next time we will do the whole class on-line.

Chapel

We have chapel four times per week on the Guam campus. Today was my opportunity to preach to the students. My text was Joshua 7, the story of Achan's sin and the defeat at Ai. The point was that times of victory and success can be very dangerous if we let that success distract us from how God got us there in the 1st place. The four mistakes the Isrealites made were ...
1. They attributed the success God had given them to their own efforts.
2. They failed to work together.
3. They put their own desires above their commitment to God and to each other.
4. They failed to watch out for each other and hold each other accountable.

Please pray that we will not make the same mistakes and that God will continue to bless us as we build servant leaders for Micronesia!