Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Tool of Hospitality; The Areopagus of Television; The Call of Continual Learning for Pastors

We have a few updates and prayer requests.

Visitors and More Visitors

This Sunday we are scheduled to have many students come to our house. Some are Chinese and Korean international students at the local university here in Alabama. We've also invited some young men, American college students, who are potential future pastors. This year, I have been mentoring one American and one Nepalese, and both of these men have been involved in the outreach and discipleship of the students whom we are hosting this Sunday afternoon.

Please pray for our time and opportunities to share the Gospel or mentor those who are already Christians.

The following month, we will be hosting visitors from Taiwan. Please also pray for our conversations, that we would make the most of every opportunity.

We have hosted quite a few people this past year, some from Taiwan, and God has already given us the opportunity to get into
several very good, deep spiritual conversations about the Gospel and God's plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. God uses hospitality, and He commands in the New Testament that as Christians we make it a practice in our homes.

My daughters get a picture with a Taiwanese graduate student at the famous well in Sheffield, Alabama where Helen Keller learned her first word, "water."

Christianity Communicated on Taiwan Television:
Although much of the younger generation in Taiwan spend hours upon hours on online computer gaming, the middle age and older generation have their televisions on, often all day. We've been considering how best to get the Gospel message into Taiwanese homes through television. As surely as Paul went directly to the middle of the ideas market place in Athens, we want to get our message smack in the middle of Taiwan's ideas marketplace -- the television. There are several video projects in process that could be used to reach especially the retirees who spend much of their time at home. Among them are converting the Children's Ministries International curriculum into an animated format where the lessons could be put onto DVD's or broadcast on the air.

This video is from a popular Buddhist television station in Taiwan called "Great Love" Television. Surprisingly this particular program is about a doctor who served at a Christian hospital in ChangHua.

Currently there are not many quality Christian programs on Taiwanese TV. New Eyes TV has produced a situation Taiwanese-language comedy coupled with a English language teaching that may reach the older generation. In Mandarin, there is a similar kind of program called "Let's Talk English." Other than these two English-language related outreaches, there is one television station almost exclusively devoted to Christian programming: Good TV. It is found very near on the dial to a Buddhist religious station with an extremely popular drama. One would hope that viewers would stumble upon GoodTV as they change channels to get to the Buddhist drama.

English Around the Block - New Eyes TV program uses Taiwanese to teach English to reach Taiwanese-speaking older generation and countryside population

Let's Talk English - ORTV

Good TV Taiwanese language program

Unfortunately GoodTV does not always practice much discernment on what is aired. Almost anything professing Christianity can be found. There are great interviews and good testimonies, good outreach programs like Let's Talk English. But there are also a plethora of health/wealth prosperity false gospel teaching including that of Benny Hinn. Such teaching appeals to the ears of traditional Taiwanese religion which often is mercenary in seeking a tit-for-tat exchange of favors with the god or goddess being worshipped.

There is one good recent development we have heard. The sermons of Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City will be aired. The wife of one of the elders of New Hope, the church we started in Taipei, has been hired to translate the subtitles for Tim Keller's preaching. That's good because she is an excellent translator and would take care to accurately convey the meaning of what is said.

Please pray that there will be an increase of good, Gospel-message, programming on Taiwan's television. Pray that God will use it to open hearts, especially of the elderly who have little contact with Christians as they tend to stay in their homes much of the time.

Please pray for wisdom and skill as we think through and develop good teaching through video.

Please pray that Taiwan's pastors will be positively influenced by seeing good American preachers so that their teaching will be increasingly Christ-centered, Gospel driven, and expository.

Further theological studies
I've also been using my time before we return to Taiwan to do further theological studies. I am taking two classes this fall towards a doctorate of ministry in pastoral leadership at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Alabama. It has been really great getting to know the other pastors in my classes as well as the professors.

with Dr. Eyrich and two of my classmates in biblical counseling. One is a pastor from Tuscaloosa, the other from Huntsville

Dr. Howard Eyrich, one of Briarwood Presbyterian Church's pastors, is teaching both my classes this semester. It is great that I will be able to continue some of my coursework online from Taiwan. Beyond all the coursework and the writing that comes along with it, I intend to do my thesis focused on the special issues and needs of rural and small town churches and rural church planting. I chose this topic because it is often overlooked by church planting conferences and training, yet I plan to target rural areas in Taiwan that have few or no churches. Inspired by Tim Keller's success at planting Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, so many church planters have focussed on city-center urban church planting. However there is also as great a need for rural church planting, and so I hope my thesis will contribute to encouraging others to take up this labor.

Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

In Christ,

Joel (for the Lintons in Taiwan)

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