Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Domestic Missions

philmap2The PRC have three foreign missionaries working in the Philippines at present, with metro Manila as the base. Rev.Daniel Kleyn (assisted by his wife Sharon), Rev. Daniel Holstege (assisted by his wife Leah), and Rev. Richard Smit (assisted by his wife Tricia) carry out the responsibilities for a number of labors with churches, pastors, and contacts throughout this country (See map to the left). Visit their website to learn more about these labors. You may also visit the Kleyn's blog to see a more personal side to the life and work in this foreign land.

In addition, the PRC help support the mission labors of the Covenant PRC (N.Ireland) in Limerick, Ireland, where Rev. Martyn McGeown serves as missionary. And, several of our congregations are involved with labors in India (Georgetown PRC) and in Myanmar (Hope PRC, Walker). Our sister church in Singapore (Covenant ERC) is also involved in mission labors in India, in Kolkata, through her missionary Rev. Emmanuel Singh.

Secretary for Foreign Mission Committee: 

Rev. James Laning: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PRC Missions in the Philippines (45)

2018 delegation missionaries

Missionaries Daniel (Sharon) Kleyn, Daniel (Leah) Holstege & family, Richard Smit (Tricia) & family
Calling Church: Doon PRC, Doon, IA

Philippine Mission Resource website (audio and literature)

Missionary blogs:

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Republic of Ireland (Mission Field of the CPRCNI) (26)

Website

This is a mission field of the Covenant PRCNI, financially supported by the PRCA.

LimerickmeetingplaceMissionary: Rev. Martyn McGeown

38 Abbeyvale, Corbally,
Limerick, Ireland.

martynmcgeown@gmail.com

Mission:Limerick Reformed Fellowship

Worshiping at: Conradh na Gaeilge Hall 

Thomas St., Limerick City

Services: 11:00 a.m.; 5:30 p.m.

Coming lectures in the British Isles

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Myanmar Labors (Hope PRC, GR) (11)

This is a mission labor of Hope PRC, Grand Rapids, MI, with assistance from her Reformed Witness Committee and the Foreign Mission Committee of the PRC.

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India Missions (0)

The India mission labors involve the work of Georgetown PRC in Vellore with assistance from the Foreign Mission Committee of the PRC, and the work of Covenant ERC (Singapore) in Kolkata.

Map India 1

 

ESingh Nov 2015
Emmanuel Singh presenting in CERC on the Kolkata, India missions, 2016

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - November 2020

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
NOVEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ in the PRCA,

Another update from your missionaries in the Philippines. While many of you enjoyed the warm fall colors, crisp cool air, and sweet apple cider, we enjoyed rain, rain, and more rain! This rainy season, one particular typhoon (hurricane) was quite remarkable, to say the least. I will come back to that.

Missionary Labors

Last August, we missionaries began our second year of training men for the ministry of the gospel on behalf of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines (PRCP). I am teaching Biblical Hermeneutics again and have added OT History. Rev. Kleyn is teaching Homiletics and Church History again and has added Reformed Symbols (the study of the creeds). Rev. Smit is teaching Dogmatics and has added Greek Reading and NT Exegesis. We are teaching a total of 3 seminary students. A few visitors have also been attending or watching our online lectures on Zoom, Skype, or YouTube. It has been a very different format for teaching, sitting in front of our computers in our studies at home and teaching through a webcam. But it is working well enough. We expect to finish the first semester in early December when the students will take their final exams.

3 missionaries 2020

Although the Philippine government has been very strict throughout this pandemic, there have been some happy developments recently. In their quarantine guidelines, mass gatherings, including religious services, are now allowed up to 50% of the venue capacity. So, with much thanksgiving to God, the churches of the PRCP are gradually returning to normalcy in terms of their Sunday worship services.

Phil sem students 2020

First year seminarians Jethro Flores (left) and Emmanuel Jasojaso (right) taking a midterm exam.

In other labors, I have continued to pastor the Provident PRC with preaching on Sundays in their sanctuary and teaching during the week on Zoom. We recently completed a very enjoyable and very relevant Bible study on the book of Revelation on Wednesday nights from April through October. I am currently teaching OT Bible stories to the children and Essentials of Reformed Doctrine to the youth. We rejoiced greatly when three of the young women in the Essentials class came before the Council to profess their faith and to ask for approval to make public confession.This they will do, Lord willing, on December 13. I also attend (as advisor) the meetings of the Mission/Contact Committee and Translation Committee of the PRCP. However, Provident’s outreach work to two Brethren churches north of Manilawas put on hold because the congregations were not gathering during the quarantine. The work will continue, Lord willing, in January. In the meantime, the pastor of one of the churches (Pastor Ronil Domingo) has been attending many of our seminary classes as a visitor.

Rev. Kleyn, in addition to his full-timeload of preparation and teachingat the seminary, also continues to preach regularly on Sundays when requested by area churchesof the PRCP. He also attends(as advisor) themeetings of the very busy Finance Committee of the PRCP (on Zoom). However, the mission work in Southern Negros Occidental, which is primarily the workof Rev. Kleyn and Rev. Smit,has been put on hold due to the tight travel restrictions between the islands.

Rev. Smit, in addition to his full-time load of preparation and teaching at the seminary, continues to preach regularly on Sundays mainly for the Maranatha PRC through their Facebook page. He also attends the meetings of the Theological School Committee of the PRCP (as advisor) and devotes a lot of time to theological studies (reading and writing) for a program he is taking at a local Presbyterian seminary.

All three of us attended the Classis of the PRCP (as advisors) on October 31 which is currently recessed and scheduled to continue on November 30.

Typhoon!

On November 1 (a Sunday), a super typhoon passed through the Philippines. Due to the potentially strong winds and heavy rain, Provident’s Council decided to cancel the worship services. In the end, though, the storm did not hit Manila very hard or result in much damage. The experience was like so many before. A typhoon comes. It looks menacing on the radar. Then it breaks apart, at least in our area. And we are thankful.

typhoon 2020

But then came the typhoon of the evening of November 11. The Philippines called it Typhoon Ulysses (the rest of the world named it Typhoon Vamco). At midnight, we lost our electricity. Our fans turned off. Our kids’ night lights went dark and they woke up. The mighty hurricane wind rushed over our house like a freight trainin gust after gust. Having grown up in Michigan, far from hurricane territory, I had rarely heard the wind blow like that before. After a night of little sleep, we discovered the results the next morning. A large branch had fallen from a tree in our front yard. One of our neighbor’s mango trees fell down. More trees were down in the streets.

But the worst damage was not in our neighborhood, which is up in the mountains east of Manila. The worst, we soon discovered, was down in Metro Manila, in the city of Marikina where Provident PRC is located. The Marikina River overflowed the dike around Provident Village and filled the village with muddy water. The flood waters rose higher and higher, submerging the first story of all buildings and rising into the second story of many, including Provident’s church building. Perhaps you saw the bulletin announcement from the Contact Committee of the PRCA regarding this flood. Although all thel ibrary books were lost, as well as the sanctuary Bibles and Psalters, much equipment was destroyed, and there was even some structural damage... Although personal property was also lost by some of the five families of the church who live in that area... Yet the congregation is thankful to God for sparing all their lives and comforting them with the precious Reformed faith that they have come to know and love: the truth of the sovereignty of God over rain and drought, riches and poverty, and all things, and His eternal love for His elect and beloved people in Christ, using our light and momentary afflictions to work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

typhoon flooding 2020

As of this writing, the church building is still being cleaned and repaired from the flood damage, but our heavenly Father is meeting the needs of the congregation. Please remember our Filipino brethrenin Christ and us missionaries in your prayers. We the Holsteges look forward to seeing many of you on our furlough from December 16-June 30, the Lord willing.

In Christ,
Rev. Dan Holstege

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - December 2020

Rev. Martyn McGeown

38 Abbeyvale, Corbally, Co. Limerick, Ireland, V94 K7ER

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

 Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Within two weeks of writing my last newsletter (October 8) Ireland entered “Level 5” of the coronavirus lockdown. “Level 5” restrictions are the most stringent: no mixed household gatherings, which makes “in person” Bible studies or worship services at our home impossible; no public worship services (online only); and a 5km (3.1 miles) travel limit, except for “essential journeys.”

Two bodies are involved in these decisions: NPHET (The National Public Health Emergency Team, the medical professionals who advise the government) and the Irish government, who makes the actual decisions. It appears that NPHET is more cautious than the government, for NPHET’s advice is often much stricter than that adopted by the government. For example, the government is trying to “save Christmas” (not the religious holiday as such, but the pre-Christmas shopping spree on which many businesses rely) and the government wants to avoid being seen to “ruin Christmas” for families. Therefore, the Irish authorities imposed a “Level 5 lockdown” (October 21 to December 1) with the hope of a more relaxed Christmas-New Year period.

Two examples stuck out for me. First, NPHET advised allowing public worship only from December 21 to January 3, while the government agreed to allow public worship capped at 50 persons from December 1 until January 6 with a review thereafter. This came after a lot of lobbying from religious groups here, including a meeting of the Taoiseach (prime minister) with the Irish (Roman Catholic) bishops, as well as petitions from evangelical groups. We shall see how long freedom for public worship continues in January, D.V. Second, NPHET advised a ban on all travel to and from Northern Ireland. The government rejected that idea, and will review it on December 18 when inter-county travel is permitted. At the moment we must remain inside our own county except for “essential” journeys. Therefore, time will tell on whether I am permitted to travel to Northern Ireland to see my family at Christmastime and to preach in the CPRC in Ballymena. I would be very surprised if the Irish government ever closed the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The political ramifications would be huge.

MMcGeown livestream preach Nov 2020

During the “Level 5” period I contacted the local Garda (police) station seeking advice on holding worship services in my home. The officer with whom I spoke was very cordial and sympathetic to my concerns, but he said that there was no “wriggle room:” gatherings of any kind, whether religious or secular, in public or in private, were prohibited under the legislation. I have also heard reports of priests celebrating Mass with a handful of souls whose meetings the police interrupted and who were threatened with prosecution if they persisted. Therefore, I preached to the handful of souls entrusted to me from my study: I began with “Christ in the Midst of the Smallest Gatherings” (Matt. 18:20) and I am preaching a series on “The Kingdom Parables of Jesus” (Matt. 13).

On December 1 the “Level 5” restrictions came to an end and we were delighted to hear that public worship would indeed be permitted again. We have secured the hall for the month of December and the first Sunday of January, five Sundays, with the hope that we might be allowed to continue after that. With the Wattersons and Kuhs moved to Northern Ireland, and one other person making that transition, we have fewer than 10 people (including Larisa and me) in attendance. Still, we were very happy to be together on Sunday (December 6): for one thing we could sing again, something we cannot do very well over the computer.

We continue our Bible study online on Tuesday evenings (Prov. 6), and I teach catechism to Providence PRC (Monday evenings) and to my nieces (Thursday evenings). In addition, we are permitted to meet with one other household in a public setting, so we go for walks with various members when the weather is dry enough.

Shortly before the Kuhs left Limerick the LRF gave me a gift: they rebound my Bible in beautiful, soft leather with an inscription: “In Gratitude for 10 Years of Faithful Shepherding: With Love from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship 2020.”

McGeown Bible 2020

As you have undoubtedly heard, our immigration appointment scheduled for November 6 was cancelled. The next available appointment, which we have booked, is March 8, 2021. That was certainly a disappointment, but in these trials, which are relatively light in comparison to what many others suffer, the Lord is teaching us patience. The Lord is good, and we remember His blessings to us.

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Ps. 27:14).

 

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

 

 

 

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - October 2020

Rev. Martyn McGeown
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally, Co. Limerick, Ireland, V94 K7ER

http://www.limerickreformed.com/
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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

In my last newsletter (July 15) I reported on the CPRC Council’s decision (March 9) to withdraw me, the missionary, from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, and my acceptance of the call to Providence PRC (April 4). I also mentioned how the COVID-19 restrictions have affected our activities, and I gave some indication of how long immigration might take before Larisa and I will be permitted to travel to the USA.

Larisa, being a U.S. citizen, was actually able to travel to the USA to attend her youngest brother’s wedding. Ben and Taylor (Griess) married on August 7 in Loveland, Colorado. Initially, Ben and Taylor had asked me to officiate their wedding, which I would have been honoured to do. Sadly, immigration issues made that impossible, so Larisa travelled to the USA alone. I was glad that she could go—she had missed two family funerals already in 2020—even though I had to stay at home without her. Her visit to the USA also gave her the opportunity to visit Providence PRC, meet the people of our future congregation, attend social events with friends, family, and future congregants, and see the parsonage that the saints in Providence PRC are preparing for us. Of course, travelling during the pandemic was not easy with mask wearing on the flight and self-isolation in Michigan and Limerick, but, thankfully, she and her family remained COVID-19 free.

 LimerickRF 2020

The Fellowship is slowly—and painfully—disbanding. Of the three main families, the Wattersons, Kuhs, and Mansonas, only one remains. The Wattersons moved to Northern Ireland in March, as I reported last time, and are now members in the CPRC in Ballymena. The Kuhs plan to move to Northern Ireland next week, DV. October 4 was their last Sunday worshipping in the Fellowship. They will be greatly missed. Now there are only a handful of souls left. Yesterday (October 7) was also my last day teaching the Kuhs children—Sebastian and Penelope—catechism. As “thank you” gifts the children made cards depicting me as their pastor/catechism teacher: as you can see, they are very artistic. Their new pastor/catechism teacher will be Rev Stewart. He is getting some very good students, who by God’s grace have grown greatly in the knowledge of God’s Word.

children notes 1 2020children notes 2 2020

The Irish government recently adopted a “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19,” which outlines a five-level approach to the disease. Yesterday, the whole country entered “Level 3.” Under Level 3 we are advised to have no more than six people to our home from one other household, which makes our Bible study difficult (we usually have two visitors to our Bible study, but they are from two other households); worship services must move to online only, so that the Conradh na Gaelige is again closed to us (we will most likely be back to “bubble church” on Sunday, although we could have up to six people from one household join us); and we are only allowed to leave our county for essential purposes. An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) have checkpoints on all major roads to check that people are complying with the “no non-essential journeys” rule. Although, for now, they have no powers of enforcement (they can only advise against unnecessary journeys), the government is considering introducing fines for crossing county borders. There are 26 counties in Ireland and to travel from Limerick to Dublin, we must travel through five counties: Tipperary, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, and Dublin. To travel to Northern Ireland would require travelling through two additional counties, Meath and Louth, with potential checkpoints and questions at every border. Media speculation is that on October 27 when the Level 3 restrictions expire, Level 4 or even Level 5 restrictions could be introduced.

That brings me to immigration news. On August 24 the immigration lawyer whom we hired for the R-1 religious worker visa informed us of USCIS approval, which is very good news. However, the next step is an interview in the US Consulate. Initially, I was told to book an interview in London, which I tried to do: the next available appointment is August 13, 2021! Then I tried the US Consulate in Dublin, and I have an appointment scheduled for November 6, 2020! You can imagine the rollercoaster of emotions of late August, as joy gave way to disappointment, which gave way to relief.

Everything, therefore, depends on a successful outcome in November, which is just four weeks away. Pray, first, that the US Consulate remains open during the COVID-19 restrictions; and, second, that the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, moves the immigration officials to approve our petition. I can assure that I will be telling every police officer between here and Dublin that my journey to Dublin is absolutely essential! (Incidentally, the R-1 visa, if successful, would permit me to work as a religious worker for a maximum of five years. The other petition, immigration based on marriage to a US citizen, is a separate issue: there is no progress on that petition).

While my catechism instruction of the children of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship has ended, I have begun to teach two classes online for Providence PRC. Because of the time difference I teach only the Beginners and Juniors classes (finishing at 10 PM on Mondays for me). I am enjoying very much getting to know the first through fifth graders as we study New Testament History together, and I look forward, DV, to meeting the rest of the catechumens and the other members of Providence PRC in due course.

In Christian love,

Rev Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - August 2020

3 missionaries Oct 2017

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES

August 2020 Newsletter

Rev. D. Holstege (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. D. Kleyn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. R. Smit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines

Dear Congregations of the PRCA,

Greetings again from the Philippines. It has been quite a while since we’ve sent out a newsletter. The reason for this is twofold. We waited, first of all, because you were able in recent months to read and digest a good amount of information about the mission field and work here in the Philippines through the special May 2020 issue of the Beacon Lights. But in the second place, we waited so that we could give you updated information concerning the upcoming year of seminary instruction, especially as that (along with everything else) continues to be affected by the coronavirus quarantines here.

COVID-19 has, of course, affected us all. Our day to day lives have changed. Perhaps permanently. For us those changes began with quarantines that were put in place on March 14. And although the quarantine levels have changed from time to time, basically we have had to stay at home. We are allowed to travel outside the home for essentials, but otherwise we are for the most part homebound. The latter is especially true for the children, for the rule is that any who are 21 or under, along with any who are 60 or above (thankfully none of us has reached that ripe old age yet) are on 24 hour curfew.

These restrictions certainly provide challenges for the Holstege and Smit families, as well as for all the families in the churches who have children or elderly in them. One of those challenges was that the previous school year had to be completed from home. That kept the families extra busy, especially the missionary wives. Thankfully they (both children and parents) were able to complete the school year well.

As regards schooling, there will again be no face-to-face classes for the first half (at least) of the upcoming school year. So once again the parents will be busy supervising the education of their children. One significant help is that Irene Smit (who was unable to return to the USA this past June) will be assisting Leah Holstege with this. The Holsteges have three young children in school, and supervising their studies takes quite a bit more work than for older students. The plan is for Irene to supervise the twins (Kirsten and Kiley). She hopes to do so by setting up a “classroom” in the guest house at the Kleyn’s residence. Irene is eager to do this and we’re all thankful that the Lord enables us to help each other in these ways.

The most significant effect of the quarantines, however, has been Sunday worship. To date we have had 5 months of Sundays at home. Initially no public gatherings were allowed at all, and so we preached and/or worshiped at home. Then for a while, with a change in our quarantine level (from Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine), the government allowed up to a maximum of 10 persons for religious gatherings. This enabled some of the churches to hold services with a handful of their members, and thus there were a few times that a few of us could preach in a church building. But just today (August 4) the government transitioned us back to a higher level of quarantine (Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine) and thus the limit is now a maximum of 5 people for religious gatherings. Some of the churches may still meet, but for the most part we will be required to continue staying at home on Sundays for a while to come.

All three of us missionaries have regularly preached to a webcam in our studies, or else to our families in our living rooms while being recorded live for one of the churches. I know that many of our colleagues in the PRCA have done the same. That’s far from normal and from how it ought to be. It can be awkward and difficult. The preacher loses and certainly misses the face-to-face contact with the people of God. And we all miss terribly the blessing of corporate worship and of the communion of the saints. But as regards the preaching, we know that God can even use the above-mentioned means for the edification and blessing of His sheep. And we know, too, that He has.

The quarantines have affected various other things, too. The annual delegation visit, which is made up of representatives from Doon PRC and the Foreign Mission Committee and which was planned for this past March, needed to be canceled. The Holsteges planned furlough during the months of June and July needed to be canceled and rescheduled (they have received approval to come instead for a six-month furlough from the middle of December onwards, DV). The regular PRCP Classis meeting on June 12 was limited to a maximum of 10 people, thus many of the delegates (along with the three missionaries) needed to join the meeting via Zoom. The monthly delegation visits that were being made by the PRC in Bulacan to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Albuera, Leyte have stopped for now. And our monthly visits to the churches in Negros Occidental, which visits recently began to include weekend stays in order to preach and teach in three of the churches there, have come to a sudden standstill, which could easily continue for the remainder of 2020.

But what about the seminary? The Lord willing, we will begin classes again on August 11. What’s exciting about this is that the Lord has given the PRCP two more students for the ministry – a wonderful answer to prayers. As a result, we will have two students in first year (Ace Flores and Emman Jasojaso – both members of Provident PRC), and one student in second year (Jeremiah Pascual – a member of the PRC in Bulacan). Because the government has placed us on a higher level of quarantine again, we will need to teach the classes online (Skype, YouTube, Zoom). One change we recently needed to make to our schedule was to delay the start of Hebrew Grammar, due to the difficulty of teaching this subject online. The plan is to delay this for just one semester, and to teach Reformed Symbols (Creeds) instead. The three of us are therefore scheduled to teach the following:

  • Rev. Holstege: Hermeneutics and OT History
  • Rev. Kleyn: Reformed Symbols, Homiletics, and Church History (Reformation period)
  • Rev. Smit: Dogmatics (Christology), Greek Reading, and NT Exegesis.

From a human perspective these (and many other things as well) can appear to be detrimental to the cause of Christ’s kingdom and gospel. But we know that is not so, for all things are directed by Him for the sake of His church (2 Cor. 4:15). We, along with the saints here, are comforted by the knowledge that God is sovereign, Jesus Christ is King, and all things are eternally planned and directed for our good.

One other piece of news is that our wives have started a reading club. One of the motivations was the fact that our families do not have the freedom to get together as much as before. So Leah, Tricia and Sharon have been reading through some RFPA books together (5 to 10 pages per day). This gives them opportunity to stay in touch regularly through messages as they chat together about their readings (and, of course, about sundry other things, too). Some of the ladies in the churches have also joined in reading through some of the books.

As indicated above, our families have not been able to get together as much as before. However, whenever the quarantine level allowed for up to 10 people to gather, at least two of our families at a time could have fellowship and/or join each other for Sunday worship from time to time. While we do miss the freedom of visiting, doing things together in the neighborhood, going to Faith Academy for swimming and playground activities, and just being able to be out and about more, we make the most of staying in touch and of seeing each other as much as possible. We thank the Lord for whatever He makes possible.

In light of the ongoing restrictions, and especially because of how significantly they affect our Sundays, we have learned, by the grace of God, to long more earnestly and pray more sincerely for what David often did in his life when he too was in similar circumstances and unable to be in the Lord’s house on the Sabbath. The following prayers often come to mind: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2). And also Psalm 42:1-2. To these we add the prayer that every saint, by God’s grace, prays now (I trust) with added meaning and fervency: “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

We send you our Christian love and also our appreciation for your continued prayers and support for us and our families and for all the saints here. That means more to us than we can express. Be assured, too, that we keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. May God be gracious to our churches, both there and here. And may our Savior return soon to take us to Himself in eternal glory.

In Christian love,

Rev. Daniel Kleyn

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - July 2020

LimerickmeetingplaceLimerick Reformed Fellowship

Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary

38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

The last few months have been tumultuous for the Limerick Reformed Fellowship. On March 9, the CPRC Council, recognizing the LRF’s unviability, voted to withdraw me, the missionary, which effectively means the closing of the mission field. Since, sadly, we have seen the departure of people from the mission group in the last year, the conclusion of the Council was inevitable: we lack the criteria necessary—a large enough group, potential officebearers, and prospect for growth—for mission field viability. The decision, which Rev. Angus Stewart and Elder Brian Crossett communicated to LRF mid-March, was a huge, unexpected blow to the people here, but upon reflection they were able to understand. Nevertheless, many tears were shed, as the hopes and dreams of many for a Reformed church in Limerick were shattered.

The second reason for turmoil in Limerick is COVID-19 with the accompanying government-imposed restrictions to public gatherings. On March 22, just after the government had limited indoor gatherings, we worshipped as a congregation of only ten souls (young mothers and small children stayed away as a precaution). It was also the last Sunday that the Wattersons were in Limerick. Anga Watterson was very close to the end of her pregnancy at the time, so the Wattersons decided to move to Northern Ireland, so that they could be settled before their daughter Lara arrived on May 6. In a very short period of time, therefore, the Wattersons found work and accommodation in Northern Ireland before travel became impossible. Thus, the LRF is already down one family.

Most of the other members plan to relocate to Northern Ireland to join the CPRC, although not as rapidly as the Wattersons did. One family is making plans to move before the end of 2020, because on January 1, 2021 Brexit will make relocation from a EU country (Republic of Ireland) to a non-EU country (Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom) for non-Irish citizens more complicated. Others plan to relocate sometime in 2021, God willing. It thrills a missionary’s heart to see the Ruth-like faith of the people here, willing to forsake life in Limerick to join a true church in Ballymena. I know—and have heard—how painful it has been for them to inform their families that they will be moving to Northern Ireland, but they have bravely faced that pain in order to enjoy the benefits of church member-ship.

On March 29 we conducted our first “home service.” Because the Irish government prohibited all gatherings of people outside one’s own household and restricted movements of people to within 5 km (3.1 miles) of their homes, we were not permitted to gather in the hall, which was closed to the public; or even in our homes, which are too small to allow for social distancing anyway. A solution was quickly organised: I preached from my study through a computer with the various families watching from their homes. The solution even permitted singing, so that one family led the Psalm-singing, while the rest joined in. Various participants were muted so that, for example, during the sermon no one could interrupt my preaching, and during the singing, I was muted—only Larisa was privileged to hear my singing! The program, which I called “bubble church,” because the various people appeared in “bubbles” on the screen in front of me, enabled me to see my congregation while I preached, which helped me. Preaching to a blank screen is not enjoyable, nor is preaching to an empty room. The setup also permitted us to chat afterwards, so that we could still enjoy fellowship together. After fourteen weeks of “bubble church,” “bubble Bible study” (on Tuesday evenings we studied James and have now begun Ruth), and online catechism, we were very eager to be back together again. In the meantime, I preached on texts such as Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (“Jehovah Stirring up Our Nest”), Jeremiah 48:11-12 (“Moab Not Emptied from Vessel to Vessel”), a series on Psalm 46 and an ongoing series on Ephesians 2 (“The Gentiles Brought Nigh”).

Finally, after the Irish government permitted indoor gatherings for public worship again, we met on July 5. What joy it was to go back to the hall—even with a diminished congregation of fourteen and the obligatory social distancing! I preached on Psalm 122:1 (“Rejoicing in the Call to Public Worship”). Currently, we are also permitted to have six visitors to our homes, so we have resumed Bible study (on Ruth) in our house. We also resumed in person catechism: Old Testament History for Beginners for three children, one of whom who still joins by Skype from Northern Ireland. The Catechism season was actually over, but the families requested more Catechism, citing the great benefit that it has been to their children’s spiritual development.

Where does a missionary go when his work of almost ten years abruptly ends? We are so thankful for our sister church relationship, which makes me eligible for a call from a PRC congregation. Unbeknownst to me, God, who cares for His church, was already working to provide for our future: on March 22, the Sunday after the announcement, I received the call to be the pastor of Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), which call I accepted on April 4. Larisa and I are very grateful for this provision of a future place to labour.

Of course, it is not as easy as getting on a plane and heading to Michigan: immigration is a major hurdle. On April 28 Larisa submitted an I-130 (“petition for alien spouse”), which according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website has a processing time of 12.5—18 months! After obtaining further legal advice Providence PRC filed two additional immigration petitions (R-1 and I-360—for religious workers) in mid-June: they have currently 8—10.5 months processing time. The immigration lawyer hopes for a late 2020/early 2021 approval for the R-1. May God move the hearts of the immigration officials!

In the meantime, travel is greatly restricted. Only recently did the Irish government permit us to travel more than 25 km (15.5 miles) from our homes. International travel is not recommended, and the government recommends/requires a 14-day self-isolation period on return to Ireland. Besides, I am not permitted to travel to the USA because I do not qualify for an ESTA, which is essentially a visa waiver for tourists to the USA. To qualify for a short-term visitor visa, I would have to demonstrate that I do not intend to immigrate, which is difficult to do, for in the long-term, I do intend to immigrate.

So we wait on the Lord, while the LRF slowly winds down and the wheels of government agencies turn. In the meantime, for those who have asked, I am still missionary-pastor under the care and oversight of the CPRC Council. I will continue to preach, lead Bible study, and teach catechism to the group here, until I am permitted to travel elsewhere. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Ps. 27:14).

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - May 2020

Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
http://www.limerickreformed.com/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

In this newsletter I want to go back to happier times, before the current upheaval in church and state, although the happier times seem but distant memories now. In the last newsletter, 17 December 2019, I mentioned our plans to go to Australia.

The journey to Australia was long (bus trip from Limerick to Dublin, flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, second flight from Amsterdam to Singapore, and, finally, a third flight from Singapore to Brisbane). I am sorry that we could not visit the saints in Singapore; our layover was not long enough. Singapore airlines offer a wonderful service, by the way. Perhaps they need to do that in order to make such long flights bearable. Although I survived the flight to Singapore, my heart sank when realization hit that we had another flight of over eight hours to Brisbane. Nevertheless, we arrived safely, for which we thank the Lord.

Dear friends, (Pastor) David and Ruth Torlach (Brisbane Evangelical Presbyterian Church), whom I have known from my seminary days, were our gracious hosts in Australia. To see them again was a happy reunion: the only regret is that we did not see their children, who live in Tassie (Tasmania). Seth, with his wife Megan, was the exception: they came to Brisbane to attend the Youth Camp, and it was wonderful to see Seth again and meet his wife. David and Ruth welcomed us warmly and made us feel right at home the entire time that we were there.

MLMcgeown wallaby 2019Since David and I are both in the ministry and since we had not seen one another (except once) since our seminary days, we had a lot to talk about. I was greatly encouraged to be able to discuss the joys and sorrows of the ministry with a likeminded colleague. Ruth and Larisa also enjoyed chatting about the realities of being the wives of pastors. I discovered quite quickly that ministers the world over face the same basic issues; churches the world over have the same encouragements and discouragements; and the devil attacks churches across the world in very similar ways. How good it was to see the Lord’s work in different parts of His vineyard!

The main reason for our visit was the EPC Youth Camp, which is held every two years, and is hosted and organized by the youth of the different EPC congregations. This year the Brisbane youth hosted the camp in Minden, Queensland. The EPC youth camp is a much smaller and more intimate version of the Protestant Reformed YPC with about forty young people in attendance, with ages ranging from thirteen to the mid-twenties. They were truly a beautiful group of godly, spiritually mature, enthusiastic, servant-hearted, and fun-loving young people! Ruth Torlach and her sisterin-law, Sue Higgs, were the caterers, while the young people led devotions, served the food, and cleaned up afterwards. There was a lot of time for team games, swimming (when the temperatures hit the mid 30’s Celsius or mid 90’s Fahrenheit a pool is a must!), chatting, fellowship, and even wildlife exploration. Larisa and I even got an air-conditioned room. Speaking of wildlife, contrary to reports, not all the fabulous Australian fauna is deadly. One boy brought me an Australian tree frog, while another teenage boy caught a possum, which he cornered in a cupboard, and David showed me a rhinoceros beetle.

My role was camp speaker. Over the seven days of the camp I gave seven speeches/sermons on the Armour of God from Ephesians 6, instruction that the young people enthusiastically received. On Thursday, word got out that I planned a test to see how much the young people had learned and understood, so the young people started cramming for the quiz that I prepared. They took the test very seriously, huddling in corners, poring over their notes, and begging me for clues. The test was “Military Graduation Exercises,” in which the teams had to answer questions on the Armour of God to demonstrate that they were ready to deploy the various pieces of armour described in the speeches. The exam ended with a sword drill to test their ability to find passages in the Scriptures. None of the young people had any cause for embarrassment, for they all performed extremely well and duly graduated as “Christian soldiers.”

Another highlight of the visit to Australia was the privilege afforded to me to preach in Brisbane EPC for two consecutive Sundays. It was wonderful to meet the congregation, lead them in worship, and fellowship in their homes. The EPC uses the same Psalter as the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, the Scottish Metrical Version. Their order of worship is also almost identical to ours in Limerick, so I felt quite at home. Since December/January is the Australian summer, the other church activities (Bible studies, catechism, young people’s meetings, etc.) were not taking place, which gave the Torlachs lots of time to show us the sights of Brisbane and beyond.

Mcgeown lizard 2019When we arrived at the EPC worship place (Mount Ommaney Special School) I was surprised and fascinated to see a large lizard, an Australian water dragon, about the size of a small dog, sitting on the pathway. I was informed that such lizards are common: they run around freely and they are quite familiar with humans. I saw many such lizards in Australia (including geckos that gathered around a light outside the Torlachs’ house), and on one occasion David caught a lizard and gave it to me to hold it. In addition, we saw koalas, kangaroos, parrots, bats, kookaburras, and cane toads. The latter are a pest species, but I still found them interesting. We swam in the ocean, visited a mountain forest retreat (O’Reilly’s), explored the city of Brisbane, and visited the
famous Australia Zoo to see crocodiles and many other creatures.

All in all it was a wonderful trip, which gave us greater appreciation for the saints in Australia. It was difficult to bid the Torlachs farewell, but we had people in Limerick eagerly awaiting our return. In the next newsletter, I will get back to reporting about Limerick, which, as I write, is under a “lockdown” order, so that we have not met for public worship since March 22. Therefore, as a lot of you are doing, we have had to be creative to get the Word out.

In Christian love, Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - December 2019

Limerickmeetingplace

Limerick Reformed Fellowship

Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

The young man whom I mentioned in the last newsletter has not returned. In fact, he has not responded to my emails and messages to explain his decision to return to the bosom of Rome. Nor did he come to the special lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture: Which Books Belong in the Bible and Who Decides?” which I gave on November 23. I did not actually expect him to come, but maybe he listened online. My comfort is the truth that God’s Word does not return to him void, but “it shall accomplish that which [he pleases], and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto [he] sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Since coming to Limerick in July 2010, I have seen that twofold effect: the Word quickens, enlivens, strengthens, and blesses some, while it hardens and offends others, and who, as the apostle exclaims in II Corinthians 2:16, “is sufficient for these things?”

I have been continuing a series of sermons on texts related to the authority of Scripture, such as “Taking Heed to the More Sure Word of Scripture” (II Pet. 1:19-21); “The Bereans’ Reception of the Word” (Acts 17:11); “The Apostles Speaking Words that the Spirit Teaches” (I Cor. 2:12-13); and “Receiving the Word as the Word of God” (I Thess. 2:13). In the Heidelberg Catechism we are in the second section, having just finished three sermons on LD 12: Christ as our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king. In our Bible study we finished II Peter on November 12, and since Noel is our most faithful Bible study attendee, I let him choose the next topic, James. Noel, as you might recall, is blind, but despite that hindrance, participates enthusiastically in the Bible studies and rare-ly misses a meeting. We do enjoy his positive, upbeat attitude as he rejoices in the Lord despite his afflictions. He recently remarked that he has almost reached his two-year anniversary in the LRF: he came on December 31, 2017, and the first sermon he heard (I looked it up) was “Jehovah Turning Our Mourning into Dancing” (Ps. 30:11-12). The first chapter of the epistle of James teaches us a lot about trials and temptations and about our calling to count such things “all joy,” something for which we need wisdom, which is obtained through prayer.

Our catechism classes continue with the children—three children in Limerick studying New Testament History for Beginners, and three children via video link (my nieces) studying three different books, New Testament History for Beginners, New Testament History for Juniors, and Old Testament history for Seniors. The classes are enjoyable and the children’s participation enthusiastic. This week we will be studying Lesson 15. In addition, I teach an adult class on Essentials of Reformed Doctrine, which recently finished Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, and transitioned into Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church.

Speaking of Ecclesiology, not only did we have a special lecture on “The Canon of Scripture” and its relationship to the church (November 23), but also Rev. Stewart plans a special lecture on “The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church” in Limerick on January 10, 2020. Flyers are being designed and ordered, and advertising is being organized, as I write this. Samuel Watterson designs attractive flyers, and my wife liaises with the Limerick Post newspaper.

The Limerick Post also published a letter that I submitted on October 26, the occasion of which was the recent canonisation of John Henry (Cardinal) Newman (1801-1890), an apostate Anglican, who joined the Roman Church and was awarded a cardinalship for his contribution to ecumenism. Newman was declared “Venerable” or “mighty in virtue” in 1991; then, he was declared “Blessed” in 2010 because a miracle was attributed to his intercession; finally, Newman was canonised in October (a second miracle being attributed to his intercession) and declared a “saint,” although not infallibly pronounced to be in paradise. In my letter, I criticised Rome’s theology of saints and her dogma of purgatory. An atheist wrote a response, mocking Rome and my letter, but I did not respond to him. In addition, a Roman Catholic lady responded privately to my “attack on purgatory,” appealing to “saved as by fire” in I Corinthians 3:15. Therefore, I preached on that text (December 1) and wrote a blog post on the subject (December 3, https://www.limerick re-formed.com/blog/2019/12/3/purgatory).

We always enjoy visitors. First, we had a visit from Mary Gaastra and Denise Haan (Redlands, CA) at the end of October. Mary is the mother-in-law of my brother-in-law (Jeremy), while Denise is the aunt of Kristin Crossett (CPRC). We had enjoyed fellowship with them in Redlands, CA, when we visited there during our honey-moon in April 2018, so it was good to show them a little bit of Ireland when they were here. They also participated in—and en-joyed—our Bible study on October 29. Sadly, they were not here for a Sunday, but there is always a next time, we hope! Second, Rev. and Mary Stewart and Ivan and Lily Reid came at the beginning of November. Rev. and Ivan were here for the annual family visitation in which they visited all the families and regular attendees in the group, which greatly encouraged the people here. Their wives also came, which encouraged my wife. Third, Julian Kennedy (CPRC) and Jonathan and Daniel Moore (Reformed Presbyterian Church) were here towards the end of November, so, as a bonus, they were able to attend the lecture on the Canon of Scripture. Julian and Daniel participated in the Indoor Rowing Championships held at the University of Limerick.

The LRF also had time for a social event. A group of us attended the performance by the Limerick Choral Union of Handel’s Messiah on December 7. My wife would like to join that choir, but sadly they perform masses. She sang in the Messiah for many years in the Zeeland Civic Chorus. Unlike her, I am tone deaf—she was trying to explain to me the nuances in the performance, but I did not pick such things up. Still, I greatly enjoyed the performance, as did Noel, who had never heard the Messiah before. He was raving about how magnificent it was.

Larisa and I are making final preparations for our journey to Australia. We (especially I) are trying to figure out how to survive the long flights, the jetlag, and the heat (for it is high summer in Australia). We will arrive, DV, on the evening of December 24 and land in Dublin again on the morning of January 16. I will be speaking at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia (EPCA), having been asked to speak there by my good friend and former fellow seminarian, (Rev. Dr.) David Torlach (Brisbane EPC). We look forward to fellowship with David and Ruth Torlach and the other saints of God “Down Under.” In my absence, Rev. Stewart will preach for the Fellowship on January 5 and 12.

BornForOurSalvation MMG 2019

My latest book, Born for Our Salvation, was just published. I probably won’t see it until the end of January, however. Such is life when the author lives so far away from the publisher. Finally, we thank you for the cards and messages that are beginning to arrive here.

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - October 2019

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
OCTOBER 2019 NEWSLETTER


Rev. D. Holstege (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Rev. D. Kleyn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Rev. R. Smit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and our sister churches, warm greetings from us missionaries in the Philippines!

A New Theological School Begins

August 13, 2019 is now a significant date for the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines because that was the first day of classes at their theological school.

On the Sunday prior to August 13, special sermons were preached in the four Protestant Reformed Churches (PRCP) to direct the attention of God’s people to this momentous occasion in the life of their churches.

  • Rev. Vernon Ibe preached at the Berean PRC on “Men Entrusted with the Gospel” (II Tim. 2:1-6).
  • Rev. D. Kleyn preached at the PRC in Bulacan on “Abounding in the Lord’s Work” (I Cor. 15:58).
  • Rev. R. Smit preached at the Maranatha PRC on “Jesus’ Fishermen” (Mk. 1:14-20).
  • Rev. D. Holstege preached at the Provident PRC on “Training Men for the Ministry” (II Tim. 2:2).

We missionaries of the PRCA, with the approval of the PRCP Classis, are giving the instruction at the seminary at this time. Rev. Holstege is teaching Hermeneutics (The principles of interpreting Holy Scripture). Rev. Kleyn is in charge of Homiletics (The principles and practice of making a sermon). He is also teaching Ancient Church History. Rev. Smit is teaching Greek Grammar (for exegesis of the New Testament). He is also teaching the first locus of Reformed Dogmatics (Theology), rightly called the “queen of the sciences.” These courses aim to give the PRCP students a firm theological foundation in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which is life eternal.

There is one full-time student at the seminary for the 2019-2020 school year, Bro. Jeremiah Pascual (see picture). He and his wife are members of the PRC in Bulacan and are expecting their first child this November. Bro. Jethro Ace Flores served as a pastor for about eighteen years in another denomination. He attended some of the 7M classes of our missionaries in the past and became a member of Provident PRC with his wife and daughter just last July. His desire is to become a pastor in the PRCP and he is currently visiting a few classes at the seminary. Bro. Emmanuel Jasojaso is a school teacher who also plans to join Provident PRC with his wife and four little children. He too desires to become a pastor in the PRCP. With Bro. Jeremiah, he is studying Greek at seminary this year, with Classis’ approval. Besides these men, there are others who also plan, if the Lord wills, to begin studying at the seminary next year (2020-2021).

The classes are being taught this year in the sanctuary of Provident PRC in Marikina City, Metro Manila, a quiet and comfortable environment, which is conducive to teaching and learning. The classes meet in the mornings from Tuesday through Friday. For our devotions on the first day of class, we reflected together for a few moments on the mandate of the apostle to Timothy: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2).

PRCP Seminary opening day Aug 2019
Sitting from left to right: Bro. Emmanuel Jasojaso, Bro. Jeremiah Pascual, and Bro. Jethro Ace Flores

Other Developments on the Mission Field

On Sunday, August 25, I made the monthly visit to a congregation in the town of Guiguinto in the province of Bulacan: Bearers of Light Community Church (Pastor: Ronil Domingo). Deacon Jun Armas from Provident PRC accompanied me. This small congregation used to be a Brethren church, like Provident PRC. But now they too are reforming. They are the object of the evangelism work of Provident PRC (which is still the main focus of my labors). The office bearers of PPRC have begun to join me on these visits to assist and to oversee the work being done.

Bearers of light church AdultSS 2019

• [No benediction yet]
• Doxology (“Praise God from
whom all blessings flow…”)
• Psalter (#1)
• Ten Commandments
• Psalter (#53)
• Congregational prayer
• Psalter (#325)
• Scripture reading (Psalm 96)
• Sermon (Psalm 96:1-2)
• Prayer
• Offering
• Psalter (#257)
• Doxology (Psalter #196)

On August 25, as on prior visits, I first taught the Heidelberg Catechism (LD 7) in what they call the “adult Sunday school.” Later in the morning, at their request, I led them for the first time in a Reformed worship service, following the order of worship you see above, which is the order followed in the PRCP churches. We gave them some Psalters from which they sang a new song to Jehovah! After lunch, I began teaching them the Church Order of the PRC (photo above). The plan is to teach them the Church Order on each monthly visit. Pastor Ronil and his little flock have received all our instruction with eagerness; but sadly, some of their members have left because of the Reformed faith.

philippines map 1

Let me now turn your attention to Southern Negros Occidental (SNO), where our missionaries have been instructing a group of pastors for many years now. On Sunday, September 15, Rev. and Sharon Kleyn spent the day with the congregations of two of the pastors who normally attend the monthly classes: the Reformed Free Church in Inayauan (Pastor Ezekias Rosal) and the Reformed Church in Sialay, near Sipalay (Pastor Eduardo Donasco). The plan is to expand our work in Negros from teaching pastors to also preaching in their congregations and guiding them to organize properly as Reformed churches. We are very excited about this development because the SNO pastors are very enthusiastic and committed brethren who are eager for us to develop their churches. On September 15, Rev. Kleyn preached Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism in the “adult Sunday school” of the Reformed Free Church in Inayauan (pictured below; the one standing on the right is Pastor Rosal). Then he led their worship service, preaching on Deuteronomy 7:6-8 which speaks of divine election. There were about 100 in attendance. Later that afternoon, he gave a speech on “God’s Sovereignty in Salvation” to the Reformed Church in Sialay. In both locations, they worshiped God together using the Psalter.

Reformed Free Church Negros Sept 2019

Besides these developments, the four congregations of the PRCP in the area of Metro Manila continue to grow, sometimes through the crucible of fiery trials, sometimes through joys which earth cannot afford. We missionaries all preach and teach in these churches, give advice to their councils, committees, and Classis, and engage in other work. The great commission is being fulfilled! We count it a high privilege to participate in the spread of the gospel of gracious salvation through Christ. Pray for the believers who desire to become Reformed churches. Pray for the seminary that is training men for the ministry of the gospel. We thank God constantly for your support of the work here.

In Christ’s service,
Rev. Daniel Holstege

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - September 2019

Limerickmeetingplace

Limerick Reformed Fellowship

Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
http://www.limerickreformed.com/
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Life on the mission field brings disappointments as well as joys. One young man (“Catholic seeking alternative”), whom I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, has returned to Roman Catholicism more convinced than ever that the Roman Church is the one true church. If you recall, he emailed me on August 17, 2018, and I met with him shortly thereafter. He seemed to be enthusiastic about the Reformed faith for a while, but, sadly, his enthusiasm did not last. On July 30 he messaged me that he needed “a break from the church.” When I questioned him (we corresponded electronically—young people seem to prefer that, although I requested a face-to-face meeting), he explained that he needed time to study in order to determine which is the “true church.” I asked him how he planned to do that, to which he responded that he was reading the Church Fathers. After a few days, during which time he still declined to meet with me, he declared, “Pastor, I have decided to return to the Catholic Church,” whereupon he texted a few of the members of the LRF to inform them.

My young friend, whose name I will not mention (those of you who have visited in the last year will undoubtedly have met him), claims that since the “table of contents” of the Bible is a “manmade tradition” and since the Church of Rome (supposedly) determined which books belong in the Bible, that church, built upon Peter, must have the truth. He also claims that the early Church Fathers taught the “real presence” of Christ in the sacrament, which we Reformed supposedly reject. Of course, no one could possibly master the Church Fathers in a few weeks, so he has taken a few quotes out of context to justify his actions. For one thing, we Reformed do believe in the “real pres-ence,” but we reject a real, physical, material presence of Christ’s body and blood. The Belgic Confession even speaks of “the proper and natural body and the proper blood of Christ” (Art. 35). Unfortunately, due to illness, family problems, and other issues, my friend missed most of my sermons on the sacraments (LD 26-30).

Sadly, my attempts to reason with my friend from the Scriptures have fallen on deaf ears. On September 8, supposedly the birthday of the Virgin Mary, my friend posted a video on Facebook with the comment, “Beautiful Mass and homily today.” The video was two hours long, but he provided the timestamp for the “homily,” which I watched: it was 9 minutes long; it was in honour (supposedly) of the “Blessed Virgin”; and it contained the line that sufferings are sent “to permit us to make reparations for our past sins.” That someone can be present for approximately fifty Reformed sermons and then return to the emptiness and superstition of Rome is unfathomable to me! (Of course, it happened before: in 2013 a longstanding member who had listened to years of Reformed sermons returned to the Roman Church; this young man was a lot less educated in the Reformed faith, although he had been given plenty of material to read).

In response to this young man’s departure I have been preaching texts related to the authority of Scripture, tradition, and the church: II Thessalonians 2:15; Matthew 18:16; Luke 10:16; John 21:15-19; and I Timothy 3:15. I am also considering a speech on the Canon of Scripture to answer the Roman canard that she (the Roman Church) determined the Canon and, therefore, she has supreme authority over the meaning of Scripture.

Another disappointment concerned a family from Brazil. The wife of the family emailed me in February to inform me of their plans to move from Portugal to Ireland, where the husband had a job offer to work in Limerick. They were excited, they said, to find a Reformed church because they had belonged to a Presbyterian Church in Brazil and were dissatisfied with the Baptist Church that they attended in Portugal. (Europeans are often disappointed: good churches or fellowships are few and far between). The LRF were excited to welcome them, a married couple with a twelve year old son—think of the possibilities for a small group such as ours—but they only attended our services for two weeks. On their second Sunday, they began asking questions about the Lord’s Supper: when do we have it and could they partake? On discovering that we do not have the Lord’s Supper on the mission field and that we would, if we had it, practice close communion, they informed me—again by email—that they would be looking for another church. The last that I heard they were attending a Baptist Church in Limerick. This is a very unpresbyterian reaction: in Presbyterian/Reformed churches the preaching of the gospel—not the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper—is the chief means of grace. If one has the former, then one should patiently wait upon the Lord by supporting a Reformed Fellowship until God is pleased to grant the latter. Instead, such people abandon solid, biblical, Re-formed preaching for weaker evangelical preaching so that they can have the Supper in a church that usually practices open communion to the detriment of their spiritual life and that of their children.

Despite those two setbacks the core group remains unified and enthusiastic about the Reformed Faith. I recently finished a series of twenty-six sermons (December 9, 2018 through August 25, 2019) on John 14-16, which is a very profound and fascinating portion of God’s Word. I also began my sixth time through the Heidelberg Catechism on September 1. Our Bible study continued through the summer (and when I was at Synod in June, Rev. Smidstra kindly led it for me): we have been studying Peter’s two epistles, and are about halfway through II Peter 2. Catechism for the children also recommenced in September, which is always enjoyable. I teach Sebastian, Penelope, and Jason (New Testament History for Beginners) on Wednesdays; and my nieces, Anna, Lily, and Hope, via Google hangout (New Testament History for Beginners, New Testament History for Juniors, and Old Testament History for Seniors) on Thursdays. In addition, I teach an Essentials of Reformed Doctrine class on Saturdays, and we usually, weather permitting, spend a few hours at our “witness table” on Saturday afternoons, displaying tracts, engaging passers-by in conversation, and offering literature. We compete with other groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Climate Change Activists, buskers, and public reciters of the rosary!

We have also enjoyed visitors: Rev. and Pat Koole and Peter and Dorothy VanDerSchaaf (January 2019); Rev. and Kelly Smidstra (June 2019); a group of young people (Andrew and Briana Prins [Trinity PRC], Faith Bleyenberg and Kara Lubbers [Byron Center PRC], Taylor Doezema [Faith PRC], Sara Langerak [Hope PRC], and Melissa VanBaren [First PRC] in June 2019); Rev. and Nancy Key (July 2019); and Timothy Spence (CPRC in August 2019).

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not, but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (II Cor. 4:1-2).

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - July 2019

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
JULY 2019 NEWSLETTER

Rev. D. Holstege (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. D. Kleyn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. R. Smit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines

DHolstege family 2019RSmit family 2019DKleyns 2019

Greetings from the Philippines to the members of our Protestant Reformed Churches and Sister Churches.

At the time of my writing this newsletter, my wife Sharon and I have been back in the Philippines from our extended furlough (5 ½ months) for just under two weeks. We were warmly welcomed home, first of all by a good dose of tropical heat and humidity. It may take us a while to get used to it again. One thing in our favor, at least, is that the cooler rainy season has now started. But more importantly, we were also warmly welcomed back by the Smits and Holsteges as well as by the saints in the churches here. It has been good to see everyone again. And it is good to be home again. We are thankful to be here and grateful for the opportunity we continue to have to serve the Lord and His church in this part of His kingdom.

The furlough began in January. Most striking to us, at first, was the cold of winter. After a few days of constant shivering, we realized we needed to put on more layers. Many more layers. In spite of the cold, we did enjoy winter again and were able to appreciate the beauty of that season.

The longer furlough also gave us plenty time to be with our families. We both appreciated this very much. We had ample time to reconnect with them all, including many nephews and nieces whom we hardly knew. A special aspect was the amount of time we could have with our parents – time we will always treasure. Other furlough activity included the following: preaching in many of our churches (15 of them), spending two Sundays in our calling church (Doon PRC), promoting the mission field through presentations in our Protestant Reformed schools, sorting through and shipping books we still had in storage, attending the annual Synod, etc. Through all these activities and more, we were impressed by the overwhelming show of support for the work in the Philippines. It was also good to hear of the excitement for the start of a seminary in the Philippines. All of this support is heartwarming and a great encouragement to us all.

Going into the furlough, my plan was to begin working on an advanced degree (a Masters in Theology). This is something which the FMC and Doon have encouraged us as missionaries to pursue, if at all possible. I was able to make a good beginning, but soon needed to switch gears. The change came about when the Classis of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines made some decisions in February, 2019 that allowed for theological training in the PRCP to begin already in 2019. This meant that I needed to work instead on preparing the courses that I would be teaching in the PRCP’s seminary. That then became my focus during the remainder of the furlough. And the furlough was very helpful in that regard, not only because I was able to meet with and receive much helpful advice from our seminary professors, but also because I had more uninterrupted study time than I would on the mission field. I was also able to purchase the resources I will need for the classes I will be teaching as well as for the classes that the other missionaries plan to teach.

On behalf of my wife and myself, I take this opportunity to express our thanks to the churches for allowing us to take this furlough. We were able to accomplish many things during our time in the USA, and we were also rejuvenated for the work. Through the Lord’s blessing, the furlough served us very well. But now we are back in the Philippines. Time, therefore, to turn to some news from here.

While we were on furlough, Rev. Holstege and Rev. Smit were able to divide up the work in such a way that, for the most part, the work could continue as normal. This included providing pulpit supply in the PRCP churches, serving as advisors to consistories, standing committees and the Classis, continuing with the monthly visits to and lectures for the pastors in Southern Negros Occidental, hosting the annual delegation (Rev. J. Engelsma and Rev. N. Decker who came in February), teaching catechism classes, leading Bible studies, preaching and teaching among some of the newer groups/contacts, etc. Their workload did increase while I was gone, but the presence of three missionaries certainly helps a lot with furloughs, ensuring that ordinarily there are at least two of us here at any given time. That’s a good thing and very helpful as regards both the work and companionship.

I can also report concerning three significant developments in the churches here in the Philippines.

First of all, the PRCP now has a second sister church. As you know, a sister church relationship was established between the PRCP and PRCA in 2018. Now in 2019 a sister church relationship has been established between the PRCP and the CERCS (Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore). These denominations are close to each other geographically (a 3 ½ hour flight from Manila to Singapore), and even culturally (both are in southeast Asian countries). More significant, however, is their closeness to each other doctrinally. By means of correspondence and visits, both denominations became convinced of their unity in the truth and thus of the need to become sisters. We rejoice with them at this important development and hope and pray they may be of mutual help and encouragement to each other.

 ProvidentCC 2

Secondly, the PRCP now has a new member church. That new member is Provident Protestant Reformed Church (PPRC) in Marikina (picture above). Provident is a congregation of some 12 families. In addition to the families who are members, PPRC also has many regular attendees. The consistory consists of two elders and two deacons. This church has been a part of our labors since November, 2012. Through the work of Rev. Kleyn and then Rev. Holstege, the congregation has, over the years, become well established in the Reformed faith. For a good while, their desire had been to join the PRCP and this past February they eagerly applied for membership. The Contact Committee of the PRCP then met a number of times with the Consistory of PPRC, and as a fruit of these meetings, the CC recommended to Classis that PPRC be accepted into the churches. The Classis, at its June meeting, joyfully approved this recommendation. And so the churches have now grown from three to four. Those four are as follows: Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident PRC. We thank the Lord for His blessing on the churches through the addition of this congregation. Christ does build His church. He continues to gather together the faithful remnant.

Thirdly, the PRCP plans soon to begin providing theological training for men who aspire to the gospel ministry. In fact, seminary instruction is set to begin on Tuesday, August 13. The Lord willing, we will have one student starting this year (2019), and perhaps three or more next year (2020). The students who hope to start next year are currently completing their pre-seminary requirements, which are very similar to the pre-seminary requirements in the PRCA.

As regards the instruction that will be given, the Classis of the PRCP has requested that we three PRCA missionaries provide that instruction for now. This does not mean, however, that we will be professors. For one thing, we have not been and will not be called and ordained as professors. But secondly, the seminary is being established by and belongs to the PRCP. As missionaries, we simply provide advice and assistance in this process. And the goal is that eventually the PRCP will be able to call its own men to be the professors. In the meantime, we missionaries will serve as the instructors.

The PRCP plans to provide instruction, for the most part, in the same subjects as are taught in the theological school of the PRCA. They also plan to incorporate a six-month internship in the training program. The total program will be 4 ½ years, mainly because Greek has been included as a seminary subject (not a pre-seminary subject). The courses we have each been asked to teach in the first year are as follows: Rev. Smit will teach Dogmatics and Greek Grammar, Rev. Kleyn will teach Church History/History of Dogma and Homiletics, and Rev. Holstege will teach Hermeneutics.

As we approach the start date, the work before us is daunting. But we are also excited about it and confident of the Lord’s guidance and blessing. We are thankful that the churches here will be able to train men for the gospel ministry, for that is indeed the need of the hour. And we covet your prayers for this significant and crucially important aspect of our labors here. May God be pleased to bless and prosper this work.

In Christian love,
Rev. Daniel Kleyn

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