Posts Tagged ‘Word of Life’
Support the ministry of ABI by becoming an International Ministry Partner
A few weeks ago I posted an ABI blog outlining the tremendous international ministry opportunities the Lord has set before us. I noted that as each trip gets closer I will send additional updates and see if there might be those who would be interested in giving toward one or more of these important missions trips.
In order to be able to maintain ABI’s international ministry we need the help of the many friends who receive the ABI updates and who believe in what we are doing. The focus of this blog update is my upcoming trip to South Korea and the Philippines.
To date, about $1500 of the needed $2300 for travel and expenses for this trip has already been given and we hope that you might consider helping us cover the remaining $800 by the end of October (I leave for S. Korea on October 21). A possible scenario might be the following: 1-$200 gift, 2-$100 gifts, 5-$50 gifts, and 10-$25 gifts. And even a number of $10 gifts would go a long way in helping us reach the full amount.
If you would like to partner with us for this or a future trip, please just send me a quick email at email@example.com, so I can keep our total of gifts and pledges updated on the ABI website. Information concerning where and how to send your support can be found on the ABI Support page.
South Korea: Word of Life Bible Institute
Last month, after many years of planning, the Word of Life Bible Institute in Korea is now open! The ongoing story of Word of Life in that part of the world continues to be a testimony to the faithfulness of God and his servants. Because of their location on the visa-free Korean island of Jeju they can receive students from anywhere in the world.
During my 2-week stay, I will be teaching the Gospel of Matthew to students from 5 different countries, as well as preaching and ministering in other ways.
Steve Nichols, the regional Director for WOL in northeast Asia writes:
Over 60% of the world live in Asia and over half of these have yet to hear the gospel. This fall WOL Bible Institute opened a new campus on Jeju Island in Korea. This site is only a two hour direct flight from Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong.
For this first term there are 23 guys and 10 girls from Korea, Japan, China, the United States and Canada. Most of these students are seriously considering and preparing for where the Lord would have them serve in future ministry.
Top Bible teachers come in each week as guest lectures to teach and train them to “rightly divide the word of truth” so they will be able to influence and make a great impact to reach the unreached and train a new generation of Christian leaders in this part of the world.
This is an historic and important year for WOL Korea for many reasons, not the least of which is that it begins laying the foundation for sending trained leaders back into the Peoples’ Republic of China. It is a special privilege and honor to be a guest teacher for this class – and you, too, can have a strategic role in this unique ministry opportunity.
Philippines: WOL Bible Institute, Pastors Conference on Hermeneutics
Word of Life Philippines began in 1973, with the Bible Institute opening its doors in 1981. Since then, many hundreds of students have studied the Word of God to reach this diverse nation of over 7,000 islands.
After my two weeks in South Korea, I will be traveling to WOL Philippines to teach the course, “Current Theological Issues.” There is a saying concerning religious trends in Christianity that says, “As go the schools, so go the churches.” But in today’s world with quick travel and instantaneous communication everywhere, we can now see that, “As goes the U.S., so goes the world.” I was invited to teach this course specifically because the churches in the Philippines are being increasingly impacted by the many negative theological influences coming out of America.
In addition to this 15-hour class, ABI will be joining Word of Life as it hosts a two-day pastors conference on biblical hermeneutics: “Rightly Dividing the Word.” One of the great evangelists of this generation, Wendell Calder, will open the conference. ABI cofounder Paul Barecca and I will be teaching 3 sessions each for the remainder of the conference.
I will be returning to the Philippines in January to teach a course on Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods in a new masters-level program that is being started by Overseas Instruction in Counseling (OIC). I will be sending an ABI update concerning that trip in about a month.
I have mentioned the email to Jimmy DeYoung asking about whether there was a need for an organization similar to the Pre-Trib Study Group to help hold the line on historic, conservative evangelicalism. This is where we pick up the conclusion of the story about the beginnings of ABI.
A couple of days after sending Jimmy the email, I received a phone call from his office in Chattanooga. Steve asked if I would be available to do a radio interview with Jimmy concerning the results of the Pew Study that I have noted in previous posts.
About a week after the interview, Jimmy called to further discuss the idea of launching such a ministry. He, too, seeing the need in his many travels as a conference speaker. He mentioned that he knew two other men that might be interested.
One of the men was Rob Congdon. Rob is a regular guest on Jimmy DeYoung’s weekly radio program. He is is the director of Congdon Ministries International and the Internet Bible Institute and a conference speaker and author, who is a recognized authority on the European Union, especially in relation to potential fulfillment of end-times prophecies. For many years, he was a missionary with Friends of Israel in Great Britain and during that time he was involved in starting a similar ministry called Hermeneus Fellowship.
The second person was Paul Barreca. Paul is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Vineland, New Jersey. Jimmy had heard that Paul had recently preached a message entitled “Why I Am No Longer An Evangelical” (available on the ABI website). Based on this message, Jimmy saw that Paul also shared the same concerns that we had for the current state of the evangelical church.
Jimmy then suggested that perhaps we should all meet together, to get to know one another, and discuss whether launching a new ministry might be something we should consider. We scheduled a set of meetings to be in Asheville, North Carolina for early July, 2008.
We spent Monday evening just getting to know one another, since I had never met Rob or Paul and Paul did not know Rob or me. That evening, we found that we had all been seeing the same developments and trends within evangelicalism and that we all shared the same concerns. The next morning, we began discussing our theological views and found that we were all in agreement in even the smallest details. We also shared the conviction that the primary issue was the diminishing view of the authority of the Bible and a deficient hermeneutic (a system of princples of interpretation).
By early afternoon our discussion had turned to the question of starting a ministry. We agreed that there was a need for something like what we were discussing and that we were not aware of a ministry that had the particular set of distinctives that would soon come to define the new ministry. We decided that we would meet again in four weeks, giving us time to think and pray about about the final decision to start a ministry and also the role that each of us might have should we decide to proceed.
As part of the process, we also discussed a potential name for the ministry and within about 10 minutes we agreed on “The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.” An interesting sidenote: As soon as we decided on the name, Jimmy called his webmaster to see if the website name “www.biblicalintegrity.org” was available. And amazingly, out of all the millions of domain names already in use, no one had taken this name and within five minutes, we had reserved the domain for our use.
During the four weeks between meetings, Karen and I spent a lot of time in discussion, thought and prayer. Prior to our first set of meetings, I had written to Al Konya (WOL Hungary country director) letting him know about what we were doing because it potentially had implications concerning our ministry in Hungary. At the time, I never envisioned leaving the ministry of Word of Life and thought that even if we were involved in a new ministry, that it would be something we would do while staying with WOL. After the first meetings, I called Al again and told him that I didn’t know whether or not anything would come of this and he replied, “I think something will.” His reply sort of took me aback as I wasn’t expecting it. Then as we were driving back to Asheville in August, Karen and I were naturally discussing what this all might mean for our future. We agreed that this might very well be the next phase in our ministry lives. During the second set of meetings, we all concluded that we should proceed and begin establishing The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.
After we returned to Hungary at the end of the month, I met with Al to further discuss what was going on in our hearts and the passion that was developing for this new ministry. It soon became clear that ABI was something with which we would need to be involved full-time if we really hoped to have a significant impact. A few weeks later, I told Al of our decision to leave Word of Life and he replied, “I knew this would be your decision.”
In some ways it was a very difficult decision given that just a couple of months earlier we had never envisioned ever leaving WOL. In other ways, it was a very eary decision because we were so confident of the Lord’s guidance and because of the passion He had given us for this type of ministry. Looking back, He had been preparing us for this new phase of ministry for 25 years – and particulary for the 16 years we had been in Hungary – which is rather amazing in itself.
Our confidence in our decision was repeatedly confirmed over the coming months as we shared our decision with family, friends, trusted advisers and the leadership of Word of Life. We consistently received nothing but encouragement – not only regarding us personally being involved with the launch of such a ministry, but with regard to the great need for such a ministry, as well.
There are innumerable other things that have happened over the past year, almost on a weekly basis, that the Lord has used to encourage us and confirm to us that we have made the right decision. We have continually experienced His peace and countless blessings – and the truth is that we have not doubted our decision for even a moment.
I am incredibly thankful for our time with Word of Life. And although we are no longer on staff, we still feel part of the Word of Life family, especially the family in Hungary. Our relationship with Word of Life – as an organization and with individuals in WOL – remains as strong as ever. I will still be working closely with WOL, teaching at some of the Bible institutes – and hopefully helping in many other ways. I thank God for the many fine leaders in Word of Life and for the many dear friends we have with the staff and students who have been a part of our lives.
I’m sure many have wondered about the details of our transition from being with Word of Life in Hungary for 16 years to returning to the States to be involved with launching the new ministry of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity. Now that a year has passed since we first began thinking about the transition, I am now in a position to look back over the last several years and especially the last twelve months and give a fairly coherent summary of exactly what has happened and why we are so excited about this new phase in our lives.
For most of us, much of our lives is characterized by fairly predictable routine even when we are doing the Lord’s work and we are confident we are in His will. However, occasionally, and especially when the Lord begins to take us into a new phase of life and on a new path in our journey it’s not a lot different than riding a “mean” roller coaster in the dark. Things often get very unpredictable and about all you can do is hang on while making the wisest decisions you can at each unforeseen turn, drop and corkscrew. That is very much what the last year has been like for us.
To continue the analogy, looking back, I can see that we had been in line to get on the roller coaster for a couple of years. As early as August 2006, we had begun to sense that we had largely completed the task the Lord had given us when we went to Hungary. Although each year brought new challenges and tremendous ministry opportunities, the Bible School was well-established. The curriculum was in place. Week after week, some of the most well-known and gifted Bible teachers of this generation gave of their time, talent and resources to minister to our staff and students as guest lecturers. The resident faculty was stable and doing a great job. And most of the Bible school staff (as well as the entire WOL ministry staff) was comprised of Hungarian men and women who had been discipled and trained through the Bible School ministry. The Lord had truly given us the desires of our heart. But then there began to be an inexplicable restlessness (which often seems to be the first indication that something is about to change.)
Then last summer, in June, we were on furlough, when the results of a survey of over 30,000 church-goers in the United States was published. Of those, over 9,000 were self-identified evangelicals. The results of the survey included some alarming statistics: 57% had responded that they believed that “many religions can lead to eternal life;” 36% didn’t believe that the Bible is literally true, including 7% who believe the Bible is not the Word of God and written by men alone.
(To see these and other statistics from the study: http://religions.pewforum.org/portraits, then click on “Select a Tradition – Evangelical Churches” on the under “Beliefs and Practices.” You can also see that 83% of those in “mainline” churches believe that other religions can lead to eternal life – click on the “Portraits of” menu.)
These statistics seemed to reflect a major shift away from the evangelicalism that we knew when we left for the mission field in 1992. But, unfortunately they seemed consistent with what we had sensed as missionaries, especially over the last five years – that the worldview and theological perspective of the average church-goer was changing to such a degree that it was beginning to have a major impact on the interest and focus on world missions and the need to take the gospel to those who haven’t heard.
This prompted me to write a simple two-line email to Jimmy DeYoung (a long-time friend and Founding Director of Prophecy Today), asking the question: “Is there a need for an organization, something like the Pre-Trib Study Group, to help hold the line on historical, conservative evangelicalism?”
I could not have anticipated the chain of events that this simple question would trigger.
In a couple of days I will post Part II of “The Beginnings of ABI.” Please “stay tuned.”
The Alliance for Biblical Integrity