Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PIBC Objective #7 - Evangelical Cooperation

At PIBC we recognize that God's church is made up of people from many different places, cultures, outlooks and perspectives. Though we are made in the image of God, each one of us is also marred by the effects of sin in the world. This is not only true for individuals, but also for cultures, denominations, philosophies and theologies. Thus we recognize that each part of the world-wide multi-varietal body of Christ has something unique to say to the rest of the body and needs that can only be met by brothers and sisters different than themselves. We want our students to be exposed to and respect a wide variety of evangelical perspectives. Therefore our 7th objective is...

Evangelical Cooperation: As a Christian educational institution for members of many different churches and cultures, we seek to model the unity of mind, heart, and activity which must characterize the people of God. We do this by including a diversity of evangelical perspectives on the faculty and staff. We strive to be multi-cultural in faculty, staff, and student recruiting --

  • that the student will be mentored and taught by faculty from a wide variety of evangelical perspectives and denominations.
  • that the student will be exposed to a wide variety of ministry and worship styles.
  • that the student will gain an understanding and appreciation for the diversity of theological viewpoints and practice within the evangelical church.

We know that Godly people who respect and submit to the authority of scripture may differ on some minor points of doctrine and we believe that we need to carefully hear what each other, and each others' ethnic and church cultures are saying. It is a blessing to me to work in an environment where these differences can be discussed in a loving and honest way.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Back From Chuuk

I am back on Guam after spending four days in Chuuk this past week. The scheduled reason for the trip was to teach the classroom portion of my Genesis Exegesis class. The class is a hybrid traditional-distance education class with 8 2 hour plus sessions of classroom discussion-lecture time with the rest of the class done by on line threaded discussion, readings on the class web site and on-line quizzes and tests. Homework is done by email. The class has 6 students with two from Guam and four from Chuuk (pictured). The Guam students finished up their classroom time last week. We crammed 7 of the 8 Chuuk sessions into the 4 days I was there. I think the students were pretty tired after sitting through two sessions per day in addition to their regular classes. I was encouraged to see that all four students attended every session and am even more encouraged to see that they are starting to get caught up on their homework and class discussions. We will finish the other session when I return to Chuuk in April.

Between class sessions I had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the PIBC Chuuk sites and with some of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk leaders. We have a staffing crisis in Chuuk right now. We still need an administrator, English teachers, maintenance person and a couple other critical positions to be filled. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that we are also losing two missionary couples from the Guam office who do a lot of the work that support our sites throughout the islands. Several options were discussed for a solution to the problem that I will be presenting to our board this week. Please pray for our board to have wisdom about the direction we should go and that the needed personnel would be supplied by the "Lord of the Harvest."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bowling Night at PIBC

Last night we got our PIBC community group together for a night of bowling and pizza. Community groups consist of a couple PIBC faculty-staff members and a group of students. We have periodic activities for fun, fellowship, communication and just getting to know one another better. So last night we (the Owen's and Boydston's) took our group up to Leo Palace to bowl at the newest bowling alley on island. I had not been up to Leo Palace in a while and I was amazed to see how nice it was. The golf course was advertising an upcoming LPGA tournament to be played there. I also found out that several Japanese professional baseball and women's softball teams had done their spring training there. There were some absolutely beautiful baseball and soccer fields there with all the modern scoreboards and other conveniences.

The bowling alley was also beautiful and very high tech. The four Chuukese guys that are part of our group Alvin, Mavrick, TK and Dave Souleng had never bowled before so I thought I was pretty safe to volunteer to buy ice cream for anyone who beat me in a game. I now owe ice cream to Alvin, Daisy, and Dave. (I did better in the 2nd game) We had a great time and enjoyed all the computer animations that would play on the screen when someone got a strike or threw a gutter ball. After the bowling we went over to Pizza Hut and got a few Big New Yorkers. We took them down to Paseo Stadium and enjoyed pizza and soft drinks on the beach. It was a perfect, cool breezy evening. It poured down rain while we were bowling but the sky was clear when we were outside. I enjoyed the wide-ranging discussions with the students as we were eating pizza (including everything from the interpreatation of Genesis 1-11, the Matrix and Star Trek, to why there are no beef cattle or dairy cows on Guam). I especially enjoyed the opportunity to get away from the administrative desk and get to know the students a little better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PIBC Objectives #6 Ministry Competency

At PIBC/PIU we hope to never lose the original vision that we are training ministers for the church of God in the islands and around the world. However, it is important to recognize that the organizational church is just the training ground for all the church body to all be ministers to their community and world around them. Thus, we are training not only pastors and missionaries, but also teachers, businessmen and women, and people of other professions who can be ministers wherever they work. We also recognize that many pastors in the island communities will need other jobs to finance their ministries as their churches cannot afford full-time pastors. Our training enables a "tent-making" pastor to have some ministry training along with gaining skills in a secular profession.

That being said it is still important to train pastors for the organizational church in the Pacific Islands who will be providing pastoral care, training and encouragement for the church in the community. This is the focus of the pastoral emphasis in the bachelor's degree program and especially of the seminary Master of Arts in Religion program. Thus, the mission of Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary is to be the leading provider of theologically trained leaders to the churches of Micronesia and a key developer of effective missionaries to the unreached peoples of Southeast Asia. This dual mission is accomplished by providing a devotionally centered, biblically solid, theologically informed, and practically focused foundation for ministry. There is a great need on Guam, in Micronesia and throughout the Pacific islands for this kind of church leader.

Competency in Ministry Skills: It is our aim to develop leaders who can serve in the church, community, and around the world. Some will exercise their leadership in secular realms and family. Others will minister within the church and mission structures. Most will become family leaders. We aim to provide skills which will help our graduates serve in many capacities. For those who will be pastors and church leaders, we provide classes in pastoral leadership, teaching, preaching, and counseling. We do this on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Likewise, for those who will serve as missionaries, we provide training in cross cultural service. For those who will serve in secular professions, we teach ethics and skills in communication, business, education, art, and leadership geared toward their needs. We require supervised and reflective field education of all of our students --

  • that the student will show competence and have experience in biblical and culturally relevant church ministry inside and outside the institutional church.
  • that the student will possess the skills necessary to lead professionally in the church, classroom, and other areas of community service.

e other thing: one of the ways we show our commitment to this objective is that almost all of our teachers in Bible and theology have years of experience as senior pastors, including many with experience pastoring in cross-cultural churches in the islands. This is fairly unusual in seminaries in the Western world. The point: At PIBC we are not just teaching theory, but out of our own experience of working with God's people in many parts of the world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Close Encounter With a Pig

Today after getting home Joyce and I, and Steve Stinnette, went over to the Yigo Fire Station for our afternoon walk. We usually go over there Monday, Wednesday and Friday at about 5:00 PM to walk/jog for some exercise. It is nice to get out and get some exercise after spending the day inside in an office or classroom, especially when you are writing self-studies. We walk up to the back gate of the old Andy South housing area which is a little over 3 miles and has a nice uphill portion to get the heart rate up. Since noone lives there any more there are very few cars on the road, unless there is a military exercise going on. Today I got up almost to the top about 30-50 yards from the gate and a wild pig came wandering out and crossed the road right in front of me. He didn't seem to notice that I was there and started walking toward me down the side of the road where I was walking. When he got to within about 10 yards of me he noticed I was there. I kept walking toward him and he stared at me for a second or two and then shuffled off into the jungle. I could hear him grunting and moving through the trees for a few seconds after that. He was black and maybe about 30 pounds (full disclosure: I am a terrible size, weight, length, estimator). I was excited to get back down the hill to tell Joyce and Steve about my close encounter but when I got back to the car Joyce said, "Guess what I saw on my walk." Yep, a pig. Couldn't have been the same one because we were too far apart at the time. I guess it was a pig migration. One might ask, "why did the pigs cross the road?" We don't know because they didn't stop to tell us. And no this was not the pig I saw. It is an old picture. I do not take my camera jogging.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Some Books I Have Read Lately

I thought I would take a break from writing about the new objectives of Pacific Islands (soon to be University) Bible College and tell you a little about some of the books I have been reading lately. Since I finished my dissertation about 3 years ago I have been enjoying reading whatever I want and have taken the opportunity to get caught up on books in my field and some books I just read for fun. I am not going to give an extensive review of anything but basically just tell you what it was about and whether I liked it or not. For those of you who know me, you can take that for what it is worth. Here are some books I have made it through in 2009.

The best novel I have read this year is A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. Last year the best novel I read was his Kite Runner. Like Kite Runner, 1000 Splendid Suns takes place in Afghanistan during the 70's to 2000's and tells the story of two women who are married to an Afghani Muslim man. In some places it was hard for me to read because it was hard to experience even vicariously the abuse these women endured. There are heroic moments of great love and self-sacrifice in the story, but a lot of brutality and senseless violence (but true to life and history). I would highly recommend it. It shows very clearly that the God you worship has a great effect on the way you live your life and the way you treat others.

Probably the book the most made me think was The Mission of God by Christopher Wright. Mostly focusing on the Old Testament, Wright looks at the big picture of how the Bible fits together to reveal God's mission to the world and from that derives what our part should be within that mission. Wright builds his biblical hermeneutic theocentrically, around who God is and what He is trying to do in the world. God wants to make Himself known and be in relationship with His creation, which, in a sinful world, means redemption and servant ministry for which he chooses people in His image (Israel, the church and of course, ultimately Jesus) to be his representatives. Seeing the Bible through this light opened up the old Bible stories to me in a lot of new ways. Normally I read straight through a book in a couple days, but I could only handle a chapter a day with this one, because I wanted to think through what he was saying.

It was fun to work through Wright, while at the same time reading through Bruce Waltke's Old Testament Theology. This is also a book you don't get through quickly and I have been re-reading it as I teach my Old Testament Survey class. Waltke is also looking for the big picture or big idea that would tie the Old Testament together or as he says, to find the "center" of Old Testament theology. He sees the center of the OT as the "irruption of God's Kingdom into the created universe" though chosen representatives. It was cool to see how Wright and Waltke fit together as they unfolded the OT. Waltke's OT Theology is definitely a book you would want in your theological library.

Finally, another book I have enjoyed within the last few weeks was Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill. The book explained how philosophy, art and science developed in the Middle Ages by focusing in on different prominent people of the period, some well-known, some not so well known. One of the surprising things to me was the important influence women had on the developments of the period. Cahill always writes in an entertaining style which makes learning history fun, as it should be.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

PIBC/PIU Objectives #5 - Cross Cultural Skills

Most of our students are from the Micronesian islands (about 80% on our Guam campus), an area of the world largely unknown to most of the rest of the world until a few years ago. 100 years ago most Micronesians could live all their lives without knowing anyone from outside of Micronesia and many of them never saw a non-Micronesian. This began slowly changing in the 20th century, but in the last few years the "multi-culturalizing" has accelerated. Throughout the islands one can meet Filipino and Bangladeshi workers, Japanese, Chinese, American and European tourists and other unexpected people. Did you know that one of the best Indian restaurants I have ever experienced is in Palau - the Taj? And I haven't even mentioned yet that Guam is one of the most multi-cultural gatherings of people anywhere in the world. In addition, many Micronesians live, work and minister in multi-cultural communities in Hawaii and on the mainland. And, with the proliferation of cable TV, internet and other media, global culture is sweeping into Micronesia.

Therefore to help our students prepare for this, one of the new objectives added to our PIBC goals is....

Cross Cultural Skills: As the world grows smaller and as a globalized culture emerges, it is not enough for students to simply be aware of or appreciate other cultures. They need to become culturally fluid so that they can relate to, learn from, and serve in several cultures. We seek to foster a culturally fluid environment by recruiting students and faculty from a wide variety of backgrounds, challenging students to develop relationships with people from other cultures, integrating cross-cultural emphases in all our classes, encouraging students to be a part of a mission team in a different culture, by teaching classes that are particularly focused on cross cultural communication, through our community English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes, and our teaching English for speakers of other languages (TESOL) training program --

  • that the student will be exposed to staff, faculty and fellow-students from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and understand and appreciate the many worldviews that they represent.
  • that the student will grasp the urgency of and participate in the biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations.
  • that the student will learn to appreciate art, music, literature, science, and other cultural expressions from around the world.

TO accomplish this we will need to have a wider variety of students, staff and faculty. We are actively recruiting students that will reflect the wide variety of cultures on Guam - Chammoros, Koreans, Japanese, Americans, Europeans and of course Micronesians (from their home islands, Hawaii and the US mainland) along with people from the other Pacific Islands. We believe that PIBC/PIU would be an excellent place for anyone interested in doing cross-cultural missions whether they are from the East, West or Islands.

Of course another main focus is to send our graduates into the unreached areas of the world as missionaries. Thus, we are looking for students from a wide variety of cultures and are working hard to diversify our staff and faculty even more than it is now. I would appreciate your prayers as we work toward this and would invite people from all over the world to join us. A multi-cultural campus is better for our Micronesian students and it enables to reach out to the world.