Curriculum Revision Training

It was a great relief to me (Brian) that we have finally concluded our 18-month process of organizational restructuring. I helped spearhead this process and early on we decided we could choose band-aids or surgery. We chose surgery to position ourselves for the next decade of ministry opportunities. It was painful at times (70% of us have new job descriptions!), but we’re already starting to see the fruit.

The next step now that we have the foundations of organizational culture and structure is curriculum revision in view of our vision. It’s been long overdue given the rise of students from South Asian countries and given how much the world has changed in the last 10 years since the last curriculum was designed.

Last week we had Dr. Perry Shaw from Arab Baptist Theological Seminary visit us and do 4 days of curriculum training. This will be an ongoing project for our faculty team over the next year but it’s critical to our future Great Commission effectiveness throughout Asia. Please pray for this as you pray for us and IGSL this year!

Highs and Lows

THE HIGHS

         This week I (Brian) experienced one of the highs that come with doing the ministry. A young couple from Northern Vietnam in their 2nd year of studies asked me to start meeting with them to play for their church planting strategy after they graduate in one more year. I asked them to share with me some of their vision. They told me, “In our region of Vietnam there are 32 unreached people groups in high security and high persecution areas. We want to reach all of them. We want them to be able to read the Bible in their own dialects and be released from their spiritual blindness and captivity. This is the vision God has given us.”

We spent the next couple hours talking through how they can begin planning for their future research, strategy, and partnerships they will need for the vision to be realized. They told me, “We are nobodies in the Church and we don’t really know where to start, but we know that because God has called us that He will provide what we need.”

Now the reality is – this husband and wife team are a couple of the sharpest minds out of all our students, but they are as pure in heart as they are smart!  They have asked me to meet with them every couple of months prior to their graduation so please pray that God gives them clarity and focus as they move forward in faith. These types of connections with these types of students are why we are here and are truly the highs of being at IGSL!
THE LOWS

Unfortunately, our last month at IGSL has been full of sadness, grieving, and disappointments. Here’s a few of we and some of our community have been facing this past month as you pray for us and IGSL….

  • Shortly after the start of this term, a young baby boy of a couple of our students passed away unexpectedly as a result of pneumonia. It has been devastating for the community. Please pray for the parents as they grieve.

    In God’s wisdom – each is in a small group with other parents who have lost children unexpectedly. There’s an Indian family we shared about a couple years ago that God is using to bring comfort to them now. But for many in South and SE Asia, events like this bring out old worldview assumptions driven by karma and echoes of animism. Please pray we disciple people well as they process pain and tragedy through a Christian worldview.

  • A few weeks ago, our student affairs team determined that a couple in their third year of study needed to have their studies put on hold while they attend to urgent and severe marital and family issues. The husband never fully repented, though the process of discipline finally broke through. Please pray for them as we all care for them. They are going to be undergoing more counseling and mentoring in their home country and prayerfully they will return to IGSL in a year to finish their final year. These things are painful, but we’re grateful to serve in a ministry and school that cares more about marriages and families than degrees and certificates.
  • And finally, the couple from Nepal we asked you to pray about a few months ago because they were in danger of having to go home because they never could pass the English Proficiency Test receiving the news that they will not be graduating from IGSL and need to return to Nepal. Christine and I have mentored this couple for quite a while now and have walked through so much.

    We love them and it’s so hard for them to return to their churches in Nepal without a degree because of cultural expectations and shame. But God has done so much and the experience has taken them into a deeper experience of their identity in Christ than they ever would have experienced otherwise. We are so proud of them, but it is a great sadness to send them home. We are meeting with them as well right now to prepare them as much as we can for their future ministry of church planting among mountain peoples in the shadows of Mt. Everest.

Ministry is full of highs and lows, but God is good and faithful. Please pray for IGSL as we go through some of these lows right now together and that God continues to raise up men and women after his own heart to reach the nations. Thank you for journeying with us and supporting us through these highs and lows as we all follow God’s leading together!

In Christ,
Brian & Christine

Thank You for 2016!

         Our family did our annual family year in review reflection time last night (see above).  It’s become a tradition for us to reflect together on the highlights and lowlights of the year through drawing. It’s a time to practice thankfulness to the Lord for the good and hard of the year. 2016 was not a graceful or smooth year for our family. Between Brian’s new role, PhD studies, and losing our carpool for the kids – it has been a physically and emotionally demanding year. It was a great encouragement to see God’s hand in some many things.

And you made our year in review! We took some special time as a family to pray for you and your family.  We could not sustain our life or ministry here without the generous giving and faithful prayer of people like you.  It was a good way to help our children understand the great privilege of being sent to Asia by you among others.

We took some time to name our biggest challenges in 2016 and thank God for how He was at work through them and also shared some of our worries going into 2017 and prayed for them too. With kids – it’s amazing what you learn when you create the space. Here’s some of what was shared.

 KK shared many highlights, but one of the things she shared as pictured below is that the hardest thing about her year was being separated from Colin and Morgan all day during school. She misses being together with everyone now that she’s in kindergarten all day.

  Colin’s biggest struggle of 2016 was finding it hard to balance social groups – he wants to be friends and spent time with everyone and finds it hard to choose who to spend time with at times. That’s about right for him.

Morgan expressed how much she’s been stretched by a particularly challenging person in her grade at school and how it’s helped her grow. She also expressed anxiety about going on her 6th-grade outdoor education trip in 6 weeks, where she will be climbing a volcano with her class and roughing it outside.

2016 wasn’t our favorite year as a family, but we see God’s hand at work in each person’s life and in our family as a whole. We were taken deeper in our character and spiritually through the challenges faced.   Thank you for your prayers and support of us as a family and our ministry. We are consistently mindful of how important you are to us and to our ministry here and how wonderful it is that God brings people together to accomplish His purposes.

Thank you so much and Happy New Year!

 

Hope For Surrenderees! Our End of Year Giving Letter

Dear Friends,

      When the President of the Philippines Duterte was campaigning earlier this year for office, his slogan was “Change is Coming” with a image of a big fist to symbolize strength. He still is controversial in some respects, but one of his first big policies was to demand that drug users and dealers surrender to authorities or else be faced with significant and potentially lethal consequences. This policy struck fear at the heart of many in this life and last I heard there were over 800,000 people throughout the Philippines that surrendered themselves to the government.

     Duterte’s drug policy is “Rehabilitate the User, Eliminate the Pusher.” He has backed up the “eliminate” part in some ways, but with 800,000 surrenderees – the government has been unable to back up the rehabilitation part of the plan. A few months ago, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) as a result requested CCF (Christ’s Commission Fellowship), one of the largest churches in Manila (60,000 people) to lead a pilot program of recovery and rehabilitation for drug addicts. The lead pastor of CCF is an alumni of IGSL and a current member of our board. The pastor tasked with designing and heading this program is Danny Urquico – also an IGSL alumni – and also a former drug addict and criminal who spent time in  prison prior to coming to Christ. He is pictured below in the center from when we went to Tacloban for typhoon relief together.

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     Danny is one of several convicts turned pastors that was trained by IGSL. I got to know him well in Tacloban doing relief after Typhoon Yolanda. Danny now has a far reaching ministry through CCF and he had already been involved in recovery ministry to addicts and prisoners because of his own journey. He is a great man for the job.

          In an Philippines Daily Inquirer article, Pastor Danny was quoted saying, “Our President (Duterte) always say ‘Change is coming,’ but  you see, transformation, real change happens only when we surrender our life to Jesus.” They were tasked to run a pilot program of 5000 drug users and surrenders in the cities of Cainta and Pasig. Cainta is the city we drive through to take our kids to school every day. Pasig is the city we drive through on the way to our church here.     

         The recovery program is well under way as a 12 session program that addresses addiction, family dynamics, and spiritual development among other things. Last we heard they are beginning to train hundreds of pastors and leaders to start the program through other churches throughout the Philippines. 

IMG_2993        Please be praying for Pastor Danny, CCF, and the many IGSL alumni and many other pastors and churches who are responding in faith to what really is a huge national problem.  Hundreds of thousands of people, both drug dealers and addicts, have   surrendered to President Duterte over the past six months. 

         This is a great example of our ministry vision at IGSL. While equipping people for ministries of spiritual multiplication, we also envision equipping people to represent Christ in society – especially in areas that reflect God’s heart. Leaders like Danny are an answer to our prayer and the fruit of your giving and partnership in the ministry. But maybe what’s most encouraging is that God sovereignly has worked through the political situation and government policy to open doors for the church to have  this ministry and He has sovereignly prepared Danny and others for the task at hand.

         As we come to the end of the year we want to invite you to make a year-end gift unto the Lord towards what He is doing here at IGSL through missionaries, pastors, and leaders like Danny who are tangibly and strategically take the love of Christ into many spiritually dark places throughout Asia.

        This summer we are required to return to the U.S. to go through the 5 week Cru training in Colorado for international staff that we have deferred the last 2 summers because of our long-term transition. This training will provide additional intercultural and missionary training for Christine and I AND for the kids. The kids will go through contextualized cross-cultural missions training for their age levels, helping them debrief their experience growing up in a different culture. As a family – we are very ready for some additional input and coaching for our international life as a family and for our ministry.

        This trip, including travel, housing, training fees and the Cru national staff conference will be about $15,000 for our whole family.  Additionally, the expenses of Brian’s PhD program are about $2,500 per year so our current need is $17,500. We began raising for this training last year and through your gifts we have $7500 already raised towards this need so currently our summer needs stand at $10,000.

      Would you prayerfully consider giving a year-end financial gift of $100, $300, $500 or of any amount towards our summer 2017 expenses?  We believe this training will greatly help our family’s development, capacity, and well-being as an international missionary family.

      If God leads you to give, you can follow this link to either give a one-time gift or begin a monthly commitment

      We are so grateful to have been sent her by you and to be prayed for consistently by you. God continues to bring hope to some of the darkest places in Asia through the love of Jesus Christ. We pray you have a blessed Christmas season!       

  Brian, Christine & the kids

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PhD Update

A big change we want to let you know about is that 6 months ago Brian began a PhD program in Peace Studies that IGSL offers in association with Asia Graduate School of Theology and Peacemakers Int’l. It has been very challenging for him in light of everything else he is doing, but we can tell it is energizing him too. I’ll let him share a bit more about it since it’s such a big commitment.

(Brian)
“As a faculty member at a seminary and graduate school all faculty need to have or be pursuing an advanced degree. It is important for the school, but it’s a great developmental opportunity for me. After researching programs around the globe, I landed on a program that is hosted by IGSL and just happened to be exactly what I wanted to do (for a fraction of the cost too!)

Through the PhD in Peace Studies at IGSL I get to learn from some of the best Christian specialists from around the globe in Biblical conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, and reconciliation with wide-ranging application. The last week alone has demonstrated the need for more leaders who can lead and facilitate Biblical reconciliation efforts across cultures, in congregations, and throughout society. This is an area where my background in cross-cultural ministry, multi-ethnic leadership development, teaching leadership at the seminary level, and the human resource world all come together.

You can pray for grace, discipline, and wisdom in my family and organizational leadership as well as research. It’s a lot to juggle, but it will be a big part of my life part-time for the next 4-5 years in addition to everything else! –”

As you can see, this is a major addition to our lives yet it’s clear this is part of God’s continued preparation for what He has for us both now and in the future.  Thank you so much for praying for us and making it possible for us to contribute to the Great Commission in Asia and beyond!

Thanks!  Christine for the family

Family Update: Guys Edition

Dear Friends!

         Hello again! It’s only been a week or so since sending out part one of this ministry update about our family, yet it feels like so much has happened.  We’ve been praying for the United States, for you, and for the future in light of what has transpired and in light of how so many are processing the events. It’s a challenge to be far away in times like these, but we’re praying and trying to keep up with what is happening.

That being said – I’m (Christine) excited to update you on the men in our family. We’ll start with the emotional barometer of our family. No – that is not Brian! 🙂

Colin

This picture tells you most of what you need to know about Colin.

He is Mr. Social and seems to know everyone at school including middle schoolers and even high schoolers. We celebrated his 9th birthday last week. Colin was farthest behind in school when we transitioned from homeschooling, but he is now fully caught up and starting to excel in some areas – especially reading. His reading has taken off this year and he’s currently working his way through The Hobbit.

But make no mistake – he is about people and being where the party is.  He is playing soccer this fall in the Faith Academy parent run league, but he’s coming off of a month where it’s all about baseball. His journey as a suffering Cubs fan was shorter than some of us – about a year before they got good. But his imagination was captured by baseball and the Cubs this past month and it’s been a special time for him and Brian.  But Colin feels the high’s and low’s of life and helps our family celebrate and grieve. He brings so much energy, fun, and honesty to the family that helps us all fully experience the important moments of life together.

You can pray that he continues to develop security in his identity in making good choices and not getting swept away by the social crowd or pleasing others.

Brian

For Brian, similar to what I shared for myself last week, this year has been much more demanding as well. Since joining the executive leadership team of IGSL, his ministry responsibilities have been much greater as he has spent the last year helping lead a complete organizational restructuring as well as a complete leadership succession transition for the first time in the school’s history. We’re excited that this process is finally coming to completion in January where the school will begin a full process of curriculum revision to catalyze towards effectiveness over the next decade. Brian still is loving teaching and the many opportunities he gets to pioneer ministry into different sectors of society through leadership seminars and training.

Thank you so much for praying for us and making it possible for us to contribute to the Great Commission in Asia and beyond!

Faithfully,
                                                      Christine (for the family)

 

 

 

Family Update – Ladies Edition

Hello Friends!

      We’ve been reflecting a lot on our time in the Philippines since we celebrated our 3 year anniversary a couple months ago and felt like it would be a good time to take a break from regular ministry updates to update you on the family and let you know some of how you can be praying. We are celebrating Kaelyn’s birthday this week as she turns 6 – and it’s hard to believe that she was 2 1/2 when we first arrived. She has lived more of her life in the Philippines than the United States! That explains also why her Tagalog is the best of all of us 🙂  Your partnership with us is not just through us, but in us and in our family as we minister here  together.  Here’s the latest!

Kaelyn

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      Kaelyn is a couple months into Kindergarten and loves it. She is extremely focused and responsible, yet has a very flamboyant performer side to her. In a recent family conversation she was voted, “Family Member Most Likely To Get a Tattoo.” (Let’s hope we don’t go down that road anytime soon!)  She is extremely caring and as we may have shared, her teachers have shared that at school she is often reaching out to the kids that are left out, who have special needs, or don’t know what to do. She is high in empathy as well as general toughness – she loves wrestling Colin 🙂  As you can see in the tricycle picture (from a school outing) that she is wearing glasses – she just had to get glasses so you can pray that adjusts well to them.

Morgan

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      Morgan has had the biggest transition this year as she has entered middle school. Thank you for your prayers! It has had its ups and downs. She has loved her classes, her teachers, and the learning and she’s being pushed to up her game as a student. We’ve had some challenges in finding an appropriate arrangement for her with adaptive P.E. with some people that it took a long time to help understand the challenges of cerebral palsy in the physical education department. You can keep praying because it’s not something the school is equipped to deal with at this point well.

         Socially it has been a challenge, but God is providing and Morgan is growing and getting out of her comfort zone more and more. Middle school is hard for everyone, but with some of her limitations that keep her from doing the activities everyone else is doing and the limitations that come with us living farther away than many of the other girls it has been a journey.

       You can pray for her that God would continue to build her emotional and social connection with friends that are good for her.  You can also pray for her spiritual development. She is old enough to start engaging Scripture more deeply and we’re having more and more conversations about perfectionism, identity in Christ,  pain, and grace. We’re proud of her, but it’s not an easy road for her.

Christine

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       It has been a harder year for me. The family that we carpooled with moved closer to the school so the year has been more demanding in terms of schedule and driving, but also more isolating in a lot of ways. But God has provided a great Bible Study with some other missionary moms, which has provided a lot of spiritual encouragement and relational support. It helps to know I’m not alone!

      I’ve been a part of teaching two classes this term at IGSL for the Partners in Ministry program – “God and Conflict” and “Ministry Communication.”  I am thankful I get to teach and serve in PIM. When our students share their stories, and talk about their ministries and I am always reminded of what a gift it is to serve at IGSL and why we sacrifice to be here.  You can pray for me that I would continue to learn as an international missionary. This was never part of my plan and I am being stretched in many ways!

         Thanks for praying for our family and investing in God’s work in and through all 5 of us!    

                                      Christine for the family

Training Servant Leaders For the Great Commission in Asia