Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Practical Training at PIBC

I have mentioned in earlier posts our opportunity to train teachers for Chuuk and the rest of Micronesia. Today we discussed adding a full education major to our curriculum. Along with the addition of a seminary (we are still talking with Hawaii Theological Seminary about it becoming a part of PIBC - more on that in a future post) this would be a major change in our approach. We are still committed to training leadership for the churches of the Pacific Rim but we also want to have a wider ministry to meet the needs of our students and their island communities. Training teachers is one of the big needs and we hope to have an accredited teacher training major in our bachelors program soon.
In the meantime we do have an education minor within our Bible program. Since many of our students become teachers after graduation we want them to be as well prepared as possible. We also want to expose all of our students to opportunities as teachers. With that in mind the Field Ed. class went to observe Joyce's kindergarten class earlier this week. Joyce has often had PIBC students as aids and they have gone back to their islands and used the teaching techniques she taught them. I think Joyce and the students had a good time.

Of course we also are committed to giving our students practical experience in church work. One of the ways we do this is with student-led chapels. Last Friday the Yapese group led a chapel which included music, skits and a sermon. 4th year student Lydia Kadguyed (1st row right in the picture above) was an excellent MC and Stella Fatag (left) did a good job on the sermon. I am looking forward to the group leading in worship in the traditional Yap stick dance form.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Last week, while I was in Chuuk, Joyce took a trip to Yap with Jim and Joan Bartell from one of our supporting churches, Gateway Bible Church in Scotts Valley California. Jim and Joan talked to us last summer about a possible mission trip from the church to Yap and so they were scouting out the possibilities. They also spent a couple days with us on Guam after we returned from our island trips. Joyce and the Bartell's stayed with Asael and Tachimy Ruda, Chuukese missionaries to Yap who have been pastoring there for almost 20 years. One project being considered is the renovation of a new PIBC classroom. PIBC has been able to teach only a few classes in Yap since typhoon Sudal in 2004 because of the damage to the church there and the moisture problems in the PIBC classroom. The Yap church has made a house on the hill available to PIBC but it will require a lot of renovation (about $20,000 worth). Jim had a lot of great ideas about how it could be done in partnership with Gateway. They also had an opportunity to talk to the leadership of the Yap church about other ministries could be done by a mission team.

Joyce also had a great opportunity to meet with some of our alumni and old friends from Yap. Mac Alfonso, December 2007 PIBC grad, served as the Yap guide for the trip. Mac has stepped into the youth pastor position in the Colonia, Yap church. He asked many times for prayer for the task. Joyce also met her buddy, Momoe, a former student and wife of 2007 grad Jonathan Tamag (I met Jonathan in Palau the week before - he is there for training for his job as hospital counselor.) The whole group had a good time doing a day tour of the island.

Our biggest need in Yap is for a couple who could come and coordinate our PIBC Yap teaching facility and work with leadership training in the Yap Evangelical Church. Asael is trying to serve the three churches in Yap and he could use some help. Yap is a beautiful place with friendly people. The Gospel has been in Yap for only about 50 years and there is still a lot of work to do. If you are interested (masters degree or better required) please click on "email me" and we can talk about it.

More Opportunity and Challenge in Chuuk

I am sorry that I have not posted in a couple days. I will try to get everyone caught up with a couple posts today. After you read the posts you might understand why I haven't had much time to post this week. Last week I spent most of my time at our Chuuk Teaching Facility on Weno, the district center of Chuuk State. Our campus there is in the middle of the downtown area in a complex with Berea Church, Berea Christian School (K-12) and Agape Christian Book Store. We have about 40 students there under our TF Coordinator Iotaka Choram (pictured here with me and TF office manager Cathy Samuel). We have 6 classrooms, an office, a fellowship and eating area and a library in our two story facility.
The TF is designed to meet the needs of Chuukese who are working (in the church, schools, government etc) or married and cannot get to one of our resident campuses. We have also been giving our Chuukese alumni an opportunity upgrade their diplomas and certificates, received in the Micronesian Institute of Biblical Studies Days, into a bachelor's or AA degree. Many of our students have been Christian School teachers upgrading before the November 2008 deadline. This week we had several meetings with the Chuuk Dept of Education to talk about expanding this service to the public school teachers as well. We will be working on an agreement next week which will allow these teachers to work on our AA in Bible and then add on our education minor as they work, ultimately toward a Bachelor's Degree. We will also be cooperating with the Ed. Dept. on continuing education to help upgrade teachers throughout Chuuk. Again, this is a great evangelism/discipleship opportunity and a real need we can serve in our local community.

One of the challenges we will face in doing this is the low English level of some of the these teachers and many of the other students who apply to PIBC in Chuuk. We require a 450 score on the TOEFL test to enter PIBC and we have many applicants who score in the 300-399 range. Over the last couple years we have been developing a Bridge Program of remedial classes that will close this gap and raise the English levels of these students. We hope to start this program within the next two months. We appreciate your prayers for God's direction in this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Challenge, Opportunity and Change on our Chuuk Campus

This is the 2nd of my posts about last week's Chuuk trip. The remote Tol island of Chuuk state was the original site of Micronesian Institute of Biblical Studies founded in 1976. This became the Chuuk branch campus of Pacific Islands Bible College when PIBC was founded in 1991. Last Wednesday we went across the Chuuk lagoon to the campus in much the same way the original teachers of MIBS did, by a 1/2 to 2 1/2 hour, depending on the weather, ride in a small motorboat. Tol and the entire Faichuuk area of Chuuk are basically without any infrastructure. There is no power, water, sewer or other major utility. Just recently, spotty cell phone coverage was brought to the area. Though the government has been working on it for us for about a year there is no internet access. PIBC has produced its own water and septic systems and supplies power to the campus with a generator that runs from 6-10 PM and a small solar system that powers some of the buildings. One can imagine the challenge that this provides to running a modern accredited institution of higher education. The campus is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but also one of the most isolated. While this isolation builds tremendous camaraderie on the campus, it also provides the dedicated staff there with challenges few other colleges face.

As Brandon, Brad and I went across the lagoon on Wednesday, I was thinking about these challenges because our ministry there has hit a crisis point. It has always been difficult to recruit qualified teachers and staff for Chuuk and now we are threatened with the prospect of severely cutting back our program there for the Fall 2008 semester. At this point we have only 2 full time faculty and 1 administrator committed to be there next fall. We are also losing our finance manager and academic dean. The school has been operating for about two years without a maintenance director and the needs there are critical. Finally we need 2 more Bible/theology teachers and an English teacher to continue the campus at its current level. I would appreciate your prayers for our Chuuk campus for God's direction and provision.

We also have a great opportunity there. Chuuk is currently in the process of upgrading its elementary and secondary teachers. The first step will be to make sure that all Chuuk school teachers have at least an AA degree. The deadline for this is this November. There are about 400 teachers that need to be upgraded. Because this is too big a job for just the public schools and PIBC is the only college already in Faichuuk, we have been asked by the governor and Dept of Education in Chuuk to help upgrade the education of the teachers. We have already been doing this for the Christian school teachers in Chuuk and have recently added an education minor to our Bible major. We are seriously accepting this challenge and are beginning to work on an "education AA degree." We could also use someone who could be based on Tol, teach at PIBC and work with the government to upgrade the teachers. What an opportunity to be able to teach from a biblical world view as we train teachers for the public schools in Chuuk. We have some money to pay for this but we need the qualified people.

Again, please pray about these challenges and opportunities. If you think that you could be the person to meet this challenge please email me and let's talk about it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Back From Chuuk

I arrived back on Guam from Chuuk on Saturday night. Joyce arrived back from Yap on Sunday morning. My next few posts will be about those trips. The purpose of my trip to Chuuk was to teach the classroom component of the Genesis Exegesis class and to meet with the administration of the teaching facility and campus. Brandon Biue of Ialethia also went with me to Chuuk. The first day was mainly spent getting set up for the class and then teaching the first session. We had 10 students including three teachers at the local Christian school and one pastor. We had a good discussion and it was nice to have the new video projector that we received as part of our distance education grant. I taught the first five, of eight, two-hour sessions during the week taking a break in the middle to go across the lagoon to meet with the Tol, Chuuk campus faculty and staff. We are hoping that as Chuuk gets access to faster internet that we will be able to offer some of our courses entirely on line. At this point our Weno, Chuuk teaching facility has only dial-up access and our Tol, Chuuk campus has no internet access. Nevertheless, I do enjoy getting into the classroom there and spending time with the students.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Day 4 in Palau - Headed Home

Saturday we finished up the first part of the class sessions in Palau as we looked at Genesis 21-26. I will be doing class sessions 6-8 when I return in April. After class we met with PIBC graduate Hedrick Kual. Hedrick is considering several seminaries and has been accepted at Dallas, Fuller and Southwestern Seminaries. He was the PIBC valedictorian in 2005. I know that he would appreciate your prayers for direction and provision for this next step in his life. After lunch I got to meet with Edward Ngiratrang. Eddie was one of our students from 1984-88 when we taught at Emmaus High School in Palau. Eddie went on to graduate from Columbia Bible College and also attended Southeastern Seminary before he had to return to Palau to take care of family responsibilities. He is now an administrator and teacher at the local public high school - Palau High School. He also preaches and leads Bible studies for the church. I was very encouraged to hear what God is doing in his life and to see how he is being greatly used in ministry.

Later we prepared for the flight back to Guam. This is one of the worst flights in Micronesia. It leaves as 1.10 AM from Palau and then stops in Yap. I had to get off the plane and wait in the terminal in Yap for a security check. We then reboarded and got to Guam at 5.30 AM. Joyce left the car in the airport parking lot and we drove home and got in bed at about 6.00 AM. We will be going to the PIBC prayer-potluck tonight and then fly out to Chuuk tomorrow morning to teach the Genesis sessions all over again at the Chuuk TF. We'd appreciate your prayers again as we teach and meet with church and school leaders.

Day 3 in Palau - A Shocking Experience

Friday began with another two hour class session. This one covered one of my favorite parts of Genesis, chapters 12-20. I am always impressed by the normal "humanness" of Abraham and yet the great way that God used him. It is a good section to cover during the 4th session in three days; kind of an encouraging "pick-me-up" to all of us. After class we headed up to Melekeok village for the Palau Evangelical Church Deacon's conference meeting. This a quarterly meeting of the leadership of the PEC. I usually go once a year to make a report to them about PIBC. This year I talked about the challenges PIBC faces with possible expansion, the reaffirmation of accreditation process and in continuing to update our mission as we face new challenges. The meeting is also a good opportunity to renew acquaintances with Palauan ministry colleagues and former students. PEC leadership is excited about the school, ready to send more students and looking forward to the board meeting and PIBC mission trip to Palau this summer.

The drive up to Melekeok was enjoyable on the new "compact road." When we lived in Palau in the 1980's a trip from Koror to Melekeok involved a 2-3 hour boat ride. With the new road around the big island of Babeldaop we made it there in about 40 minutes. The new capitol buildings there are also impressive. The capitol moved there from Koror a couple years ago. We enjoyed plentiful Palauan food, good fellowship and the beauty of the church's Sebuu (Rest) retreat center. The only negative was the nasty shock I got when I touched the microphone. Brandon Buie also got a nasty shock when he connected his computer. It seems the wires were connected backwards and power was coming up the ground wire. We were thankful that none of our equipment was damaged.

That evening we headed back to Koror and had a nice Mexican dinner at Bandidos. Yes, there is a Mexican restaurant in Palau and I think it is better than any we have in Guam!

Day 2 in Palau

Thursday the 7th was a double teaching session day. We covered Genesis chapters 1-4 in the morning from 9:00-11:00 and then discussed Genesis chapters 5-11 in the evening from 7:00-9:00. This year the Genesis class has 37 students including 22 on Guam, 4 in Palau and 11 at the Chuuk Teaching Facility. I teach eight two-hour sessions at each of the three sites. The rest of the class is done on the internet by web research and resources, and threaded discussion. I think it is very positive for the students to have interaction with students from other islands and for the generally younger on-campus students to be involved in discussion with older non-resident students who are already working in regular jobs and ministry. Students also do their homework by email and take their quizzes on line. As the internet on the islands improves (still only dial-up internet on Chuuk, Yap and Palau) we plan to expand our on line offerings.

Day One in Palau

I arrived in Palau last Tuesday night. On this trip Harald Gorges, area director for Micronesia of Liebenzell Mission and Brandon Buie were with me. After Rob Watt our PIBC Teaching Facility Coordinator picked us up at the airport we headed to his apartment and talked a while before we went to bed. The TF students decided that a morning class would be better for them. One of the students took a week off from her job to attend the intensive sessions of the Genesis class. We met from 9-11 each morning. After the first class, a PIBC alumni lunch was held at the Arirang Restaurant in Koror. Attendees included Daisy Ulitch 2004 (principal of Bethania High School), Hedrick Kual 2005 (assistant pastor at the Koror Evangelical Church, Jonathan Tamag 2006 (counselor at the Yap Hospital, Merong Hideoshi Dec. 2007 (PEC church worker) Mino Fagular (missionary with the MV Hana), Estly 2002 (PEC worker). It was great to see them, find out what they are doing and have an opportunity to talk about what God is doing at PIBC.

That evening we had a get together with the current PIBC Palau students. It turned out to be a surprise party for me. I was really touched that the students put that together. One of the students, Dodger Kumangai who was also my student at Emmaus 85-88 and is an elementary school teacher even had his class make birthday cards for me. Brandon Buie also had a chance to share his Ialethia teaching materials with the students. After eating ice cream and cake we were ready to head out to dinner.

We had dinner with Billy Kuartei, my former principal at Emmaus High School when I taught there in the 1980's, now chief of staff for the president of Palau, and a board member of PIBC. It was great to get caught up on what is going on in each other's lives and get an insider's view of what is happening in Palau. We also took some time to plan the upcoming PIBC board meeting which will take place in Palau this June along with the Palau Gospel Days, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Gospel coming to Palau.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Brandon in Chapel

We are getting ready to check in and board the flight to Palau in a little while. We will be there 5 days to teach the Genesis Exegesis class and talk to church leadership about ways we can improve our delivery of teaching and training materials to the leadership of the Palau church. Today we had a good exchange of ideas in the faculty room with our Academic VP, Brad Boydston and our Liebenzell Mission Area Director Harald Gorges. I am hoping we can incorporate some of the Bible training technology that Brandon's group, iAlethia Worldwide, could provide into our distance education programs. Brandon also shared in our Guam chapel service (pictured) from Psalm 73. We will be going to Chuuk for the same purposes next week. Please pray for God's work to be done as we are there.

We are also still working on expansion plans into Hawaii and Tonga. As soon as there is an update I will let you know. In the meantime I appreciate your continued prayers for wisdom and discernment.

Super Bowl Party and a Prayer Request

Super Bowl Monday has become an unofficial island holiday on Guam. A lot of people take at least the morning off to go to a hotel or have a bunch of friends over to their houses to watch the game. Remember, because Guam is on the other side of the date line, we get live American TV when America's today is tomorrow - err or something like that. The normal live Sunday afternoon NFL games come on here at 3 and 6 AM. The Super Bowl, fortunately came on at 9.30 AM this year. We had a good group of PIBC faculty, staff and students over to eat hot wings, cake, chips and other assorted game food. Yes, I have eaten hot wings at 3.30 AM at other football parties. Joyce made triple chocolate cake for my birthday (not low carb) which I was happy to share with the group, even though our Dean of Women, Melissa Heck ate her piece before she sang Happy Birthday to me. I made my pre-game prediction, 38-10 Patriots, about which I was happy to be wrong. It was a great game and a fun time of relaxation and fellowship.

On a more serious note.. our Yapese students were informed last week that they will no longer receive the Yap State Scholarship because they are majoring in Bible. The commission in Yap has decided that that Bible is not a priority field of study and is denying even the students that have been receiving this scholarship for the last few years. This will be a real financial hardship on many of them. Please pray that God will supply their needs. Also pray for Joyce and me as I head to Palau tomorrow.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

It's February

Wow, we are already a month into the year and two weeks into the semester. This weekend is a little different because we have a visitor with us, Brandon Buie. Brandon is a student at Dallas Seminary and the founder of iAlethia Worldwide, an organization that promotes biblical education and ministry training worldwide through the use of modern technology. He and I met 3 years ago through internet and email and got to know each other during my recruiting trips to DTS. He is working on translating biblical training and materials into the Micronesian languages and will be going with me to Palau and Chuuk over the next couple weeks to work with possible translators and form a strategy for using his materials in the islands. We will also be working together to teach a PIBC course Exegesis in Genesis. We will leave Tuesday for Palau.

Yesterday Brandon recovered from the long flight, though he did help Dale and Joyce with a little of the construction work on our new laundry room. In the picture Joyce is putting the mortar into the top row of blocks. We took Brandon on a tour of Guam today. It was a beautiful, but windy day. After church, Joyce and I, with her mom and dad, took off on the Southern circuit of the island. Above you can see Brandon and I at the Santa Marian Kamalin Park in Malesso. We also stopped and looked at Inarajan Pools, Ceti Bay Overlook, Agat Park and Asan Overlook.

One of the fun stops was at Fort Soledad in Umatac. This fort was built in 1810 near where Magellan originally landed on Guam in 1521. After touring the fort there we met a friendly Chammoro man who gave us a lesson about carabao and sold us some sweet Guam bananas.

After the tour we stopped at Jamaican Grill for my birthday lunch. Jamaican Grill is our kids favorite restaurant on Guam - sorry kids to eat there without you - and certainly one of our favorites. We got the Family Platter Deal with more ribs and chicken than we could eat. We also loved the fruit salad and chicken kelaguen. We finished with a fried banana dessert. Thank you Dale and Marion for a great birthday dinner.

Tuesday we will be heading down to Palau to teach the class, meet with the Palau Evangelical Church leadership and with several PIBC alumni and friends. Please pray for us that the LORD will give us a productive time down there and that we will be able to minister effectively to the students and others we meet.