PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
NOVEMBER 2017 NEWSLETTER
Dear members of the Protestant Reformed Churches and our sister churches,
The past five months have been eventful. He whom God set at His own right hand in the heavenly places and gave to be the head over all things to the church summoned Rev. Richard Smit to return to the Philippines as our third missionary. He also led our Synod to recognize the unity of the Spirit that exists between the PRCA and PRCP by approving a sister church relationship with them.
Let us go back and briefly trace these eventful months. Last June, Rev. Heath and Deb Bleyenberg visited the Philippines while considering the call to be a third missionary. Although the head of the church did not summon him to this field of labor, we enjoyed their visit immensely and greatly appreciated their help and fellowship.
Later in June, and into August, Mr. Matt and Sarah Kortus arrived on the field for an eight-week mini-internship. Matt had finished his second year of seminary and was given the opportunity to spend part of the summer in the Philippines. While they were here, Matt accompanied Rev. Kleyn, Rev. John Flores, and Bro. Eric Mescallado on a trip to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Leyte (one of the Philippine islands); he joined Rev. Holstege and Rev. Ibe on a trip to Gabaldon (a town on the same island as Manila, but a fair distance to the northeast); and he went on the trip to Negros where he also gave a lecture. In addition, Matt gave a word of edification several times in the churches here, taught catechism to the children at Provident Christian Church, and with Sarah experienced life on the mission field for a while. We appreciated and enjoyed their visit very much as well.
In August, the Kleyns went to the U.S. for a four-week furlough. Many of you saw the presentation that Rev. Kleyn gave on our work here. The Kleyns report that many of you showed great interest in our work here in the Philippines, for which we are glad.
Last October, a delegation from the PRCA Contact Committee came to the Philippines, Rev. Smit and Elder Dave Kregel. Their mandate was to attend the Classis of the PRCP to convey officially and in person that the PRCA Synod approved a sister church relationship with them. Elder Kregel said to the Classis, “You were our daughter, but now you have become our sister, and that is an amazing thing.” We all rejoiced in the work of Christ who has prospered our feeble efforts for the coming of His glorious kingdom.
Also noteworthy is that the PRCP Classis declared the fellowship in Leyte to be their first official mission work. The PRC in Bulacan was appointed as the calling church, and the Classis advised them to send monthly delegations to Leyte until a missionary can be called and sent.
No doubt like all of you, we here in the Philippines celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. We held an all-day conference at Provident Christian Church in Marikina. Rev. Kleyn gave us an overview of the history of the Reformation. Rev. Smit spoke on the legacy of Martin Luther. Rev. Holstege presented John Calvin’s doctrine of providence. You can find these speeches on our website (prcaphilippinesaudio. wordpress.com). During the conference, our book manager, Mrs. Sharon Kleyn, sold a ton of RFPA books. My wife Leah managed our four active little ones. Thank you, ladies, for being such faithful wives, for your excellent attitudes, without which we simply could not do our work. Over 150 people attended the conference, including many young people. From what I could tell, everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.
Speaking of Rev. Smit, as indicated earlier, the Lord led him to accept the call to be our third missionary in the Philippines. This is the first time, as far as I am aware, that our churches have put three missionaries on one field. These are exciting times because now the work of establishing a Protestant Reformed seminary here in the Philippines can go forward. That is necessary because the calls to come over and help are many, but the laborers are few. The PRCP has three pastors, one of whom is approaching retirement age. We will soon have three missionaries on the field, but we are not fluent enough in Tagalog, or the other dialects, to be able to communicate the gospel clearly and build the church effectively in some parts of the Philippines. What has always been true throughout the ages is still true today: the church must establish a seminary to train indigenous pastors who can be sent to preach to people of their own culture. This is especially where we can help, as the PRCA. With the arrival of the Smits, Lord willing, at the end of this year, the work of establishing a seminary can go forward. Rev. Kleyn and I, Doon PRC and the Foreign Mission Committee, all rejoiced greatly when we heard the news of Rev. Smit’s acceptance. We are also glad to hear of the broad and solid support that exists among all of you for this work of the church in the Philippines.
So why do we need three men? Well, because there is a lot of other work here in addition to establishing a seminary. Rev. Kleyn has been occupied with a wide variety of activities, including preaching at Bulacan, Maranatha, and occasionally at Provident; teaching church order at Maranatha and catechism at Provident; making monthly trips to Negros (another one of the Philippine islands) where he gives classes to a large number of pastors who are eager to become Reformed in all respects; advising committees of the PRCP; and more. Rev. Holstege has been occupied especially at Provident, preaching twice on most Sundays; teaching the church order and leading a youth Bible study; teaching the Canons of Dordt midweek and engaging in evangelism work; chairing Steering Committee meetings; attending Tagalog classes every Tuesday and doing the homework; and more. We cannot just stop all of these things and establish a seminary. But we need a seminary greatly. So Rev. Smit is a welcome addition to our mission work and we are very excited about the future.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in His care.
Pray for us often.
Rev. Daniel Holstege