News from All Churches
Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
Monday, August 6, 2018
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
This is my first newsletter as a married man: as all of you know, Larisa (DeJong) and I were married on April 6. We honeymooned in California (April 9-17), beginning in San Francisco and traveling southwards on Highway 1 to San Diego, and stopping for a few days to stay with Travis and Kayla Feenstra (Kayla is one of Larisa’s cousins), during which time we spent a few days with the saints in Hope PRC (Redlands, CA). Married life is a great blessing for both of us and Larisa is settling well into life in Ireland: she has already learned to drive a man-ual (“stick shift”) car, having mastered the clutch and the art of navigating roundabouts, for example; she is getting used to grocery shopping, cooking/baking with the metric system; and she is acclimatizing to doing laundry in a rainy country without a dryer. She also hopes to compensate for the lack of fresh Michigan fruit (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are expensive here) by growing her own. (We shall see how that goes in the Irish climate.) In addition, we have made good progress in our application with the Irish immigration service for permanent residency for Larisa in Ireland.
Rev. and Larisa McGeown cutting cake
Unusual for newly married couples is the number of wedding receptions (and cake-cutting ceremonies) that we have had: we cut cake on April 6, then at a second reception for my Irish/Northern Irish relatives/friends in Cookstown on May 12, and then finally in Wales on May 24, when some of the women brought a cake for us after one of the speeches! As I always say, you can never have too much cake, especially if it is chocolate cake!
While I was in the USA for the wedding (with all the preparations that such things entail, including entertaining my family—my parents, siblings, brother-in-law, and three nieces—who were there for the occasion, and spending time with my American friends), Jonathan Langerak, now pastor-elect Langerak, was ably holding the fort: he and his grandparents, Harry and Evelyn Langerak, occupied my house during that time, and Jonathan preached, taught catechism, and led Bible study: the saints greatly enjoyed his ministry; our only regret is that he was not able to finish his sermon series on Jonah, for which he has an open invitation to come back.
Pastor-elect J. Langerak with Jimmy Hogan and Noel Kelly
My last newsletter was March 2, so I did not mention the kerfuffle we had on March 4: on that Sunday morning we arrived at the hall to discover that the access code had been changed and that the employees at the building did not know the new one. After some scrambling, we all managed to get to the Wattersons’ house by about noon (about 30 minutes outside of Limerick city centre), but because one of our regulars had to pick up his wife at 1 P.M. we decided to shorten the service and rearrange the order so that he could hear the preaching: I preached the sermon at the beginning of the service, prayed the congregational prayer after the sermon, and cut the number of psalms down to two. Thankfully, we were able to have the full service at the right time (although again at the Wattersons’ house) that evening. Such flexibility is necessary on the mission field.
Recent sermons in Limerick have included a series on Romans 1:18-32 (“The Operation of God’s Wrath in the World”) from February 11 to March 18, a series on Romans 5:6-11 (from April 29 to May 20), and a series on Hebrews 12:12-17 on “Responses to Chastisement” (from June 3 to July 15). Yesterday, I finished the section of Christ’s humiliation in the Heidelberg Catechism with “Our Saviour Descending into Hell,” a sobering and comforting section of the great Reformation catechism. Catechism for the children finished in May: Sebastian Kuhs and Jason Watterson successfully completed Old Testament History for Beginners (Book 1), as did my two younger nieces, Lily and Hope, while my older niece, Anna, finished Old Testament History for Juniors. We look forward to resuming catechism in September, when Penelope Kuhs will be joining the class for Old Testament History for Beginners (Book 2).
My catechumens are very intelligent, which a few stories will illustrate. When asked: “What sign did Rahab put in her window to show the Israelites that it was her house?” Sebastian Kuhs (then aged 6) answered, “A sign that said, ‘I love God.’” When I explained that it was more of a secret sign that the people of Jericho would not understand, namely a piece of scarlet rope, Sebastian referred to it as a “nothing sign,” for it was a wordless sign! Moreover, when I asked how an army might conquer a walled city such as Jericho, Sebastian answered, “A trebuchet!” When I expressed surprise, Sebastian began to explain what a trebuchet is. “I know what a trebuchet is,” I responded, “but how do you know the word trebuchet?” It is always a delight to teach children the Word of God. May the Lord bless His Word to their hearts and lives!
In addition, Colm and Irini have been taking an Essentials of Reformed Doctrine class on Saturday mornings. We have made very good progress, for both are very keen to learn. We finished Lessons 1-7 on Theology proper. Irini is on vacation for a few weeks in Greece, but after she returns we hope to continue with Lesson 8 on Creation.
On May 25 the Irish electorate voted to remove the right to life of the unborn from the Irish Constitution. Around that time (May 16), I was interviewed on a radio station in Cork (Life FM) in connection with a lecture I gave on “The Bible and Abortion” in Limerick (May 19). I reported more fully on the referendum in the August 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer.
The British Reformed Conference (July 21-28) has just ended: it was such a wonderful, spiritually uplifting, and encouraging week: excellent speeches, delightful fellowship, enjoyable activities, and good food. The airlines managed to make the return journey from Wales to Ireland unpleasant, however: although we should have been back in Limerick on Saturday (July 28) at about 10:30 am, we arrived at 1 A.M. on Sunday morning (July 29)! Although we were tired, we had our two worship services and a congregational get-together with food in the afternoon. It was good to have many pre- and post-conference visitors: Joanna Koerner, Danae Overweg, Kristen Pawloski, Rose and Kate Doezema, Emily Feenstra, Rachel Buiter, and Dave and Linda Poortinga stayed at our home (not at the same time). The Poortingas left this morning—our next guests will be (this evening) Lidi Cecilio (from Brazil) and (on Friday) Joshua Harris (from Wales), DV. Others visited the LRF, but did not stay at our house: Ed Bos, Phil Harbach, Christine Wierenga, Hannah Bos, Marco Barone, Paula Kuiper, and Greg, Candace, Patrick, and Megan Duerr. Visitors are always welcome!
Pray for us, as we do for you,
In Christian love,
Rev. Martyn & Larisa McGeown
PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
JULY 2018 NEWSLETTER
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines
Dear Members of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and of our Sister Churches. We greet you in Christ with the news that we and our families and the saints here are, by God’s grace, all doing well. We often think of the words of Proverbs 25:25 (“As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country”) when news comes our way. We trust it may be the same for you.
The Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines (made up of the Berean PRC pastored by Rev. V. Ibe, the PRC in Bulacan pastored by Rev. J. Flores, and the Maranatha PRC pastored by Rev. L. Trinidad) is very thankful to the Lord for the establishment of a sister church relationship between them and the PRCA, as finalized at this year’s PRCA Synod. As many of you know, Rev. Trinidad was able to attend the synod as a representative of the PRCP. He thoroughly enjoyed his time at synod and among the saints in our churches. Upon his return he was very excited to tell us about it. He also appreciated very much (and we do too) the hospitality he was shown. Now that this sister relationship is in place, the PRCP decided (at their June 12 Classis) to pursue next a sister church relationship with the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.
As missionaries, we continue to labor in the PRCP churches. We serve as advisors at their classis and consistory meetings, assist in church visitation, serve on their standing committees (for missions, contact, translation, theological training, etc.), give lectures at their conferences, provide teaching in their churches, and regularly provide pulpit supply.
The need for pulpit supply sometimes arises when the pastors are busy on certain Sundays with congregational outreach work (preaching and teaching among various contacts the churches have). It also arises when the pastors are on one of the monthly visits that are made to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Albuera, Leyte (pictured above). The PRFA is now an official mission work of the PRCP, with the PRC in Bulacan as the calling church. For now the PRCB is sending a monthly delegation over a weekend for preaching, teaching, pastoral work, etc. The goal, however, is to call a missionary, and the main preparation that is currently being done for that is to put together a budget for a missionary and his family to serve there. Once this budget has been presented to and approved by Classis (perhaps this coming October), the PRCB will most likely begin the process of calling a missionary from among the pastors of the PRCP.
The standing committees of the PRCP have been busy lately with mission work (the PRFA mentioned above), contact committee work (sister church relationships), translation work (translating the Three Forms of Unity), and theological training (adopting various constitutions, organizing pre-seminary Greek, and preparing a seminary program). As regards the latter, one of our missionaries (namely, Rev. Smit) has been able to devote the majority of his time to assist the PRCP with these seminary related matters. We are very glad that progress is now being made toward the PRCP having a seminary in the near future, the Lord willing. At this point in time, a definite start date has not yet been decided.
The most recent conference in the PRCP was held on May 1. The theme was: “The Power of the Gospel” and the speakers were Rev. Trinidad, Rev. Smit, Rev. Ibe, and I. Approximately 120 attended the conference (pictured below). Sharon, with much help from others, set up a book table and sold close to 200 books. These conferences serve well to bring together not only the members of the PRCP, but many of their and our contacts, too.
As usual, lively discussion followed the lectures with many good questions from the attendees. Here’s a small sampling of the questions asked: Is it correct to say that the gospel adds condemnation to the reprobate who hear it? When did the reprobate become children of the devil? How do you distinguish between true preaching and Arminian preaching? Since we are saved by means of faith, what about children who die before birth or in infancy? Does 1 Timothy 2:4 teach that God does really desire that all men be saved? Can God save without preaching? Weren’t Adam and Eve and the thief on the cross saved without preaching? Can a false gospel save and work faith? What does it mean that we must “work out our own salvation” (Philippians 2:12)? Because regeneration is immediate, is it possible that a regenerated person can live in sin for a long time prior to his conversion and believing?
The Provident Christian Church in Marikina, in which we have been laboring since the end of 2012, is hoping to be ready to join the PRCP sometime in the next six to twelve months, the Lord willing. Rev. Holstege mostly labors in this church. The congregation has come to understand and love the Reformed faith not only through weekly preaching but also through a study of all three of our creeds. Rev. Holstege has also taught them the Church Order. PCC hopes soon to adopt the Three Forms of Unity and the Church Order, and then to reorganize themselves as a Reformed church (their background is a mixture of Brethren and Baptist). We are grateful to God for the progress that has been made and look forward to another church being added to the PRCP, the Lord willing.
Due to your generous support of the Philippine Bookfund, we were recently able to expand the use of the fund to include giving a larger discount to churches who buy the books for their church libraries. Recently one of the churches did just that, purchasing over 150 books. In addition to this, Doon and the FMC also recently approved using the funds to subsidize the cost of seminary books for PRCP seminary students. We also continue to use the funds to cover the cost of magazines, pamphlets, and the translation and publication of some PRCA literature into Tagalog (current projects are Come Ye Children and various pamphlets). We express our sincere thanks for your generous gifts toward this fund.
Monthly visits are still being made to the pastors in Southern Negros Occidental. Rev. Smit and I usually make these visits. Rev. Smit is lecturing in Dogmatics (currently in Christology). Recently I completed a study of the Church Order and am now giving lectures concerning the Reformed Creeds. This will eventually include instruction concerning Heidelberg Catechism preaching, something the men have specifically requested. Usually a group of 10 to 15 pastors attend each month (pictured below).
Currently Rev. and Leah Holstege and their family are on furlough in the USA. Rev. Holstege has been preaching and giving presentations. From what we hear, the Holsteges are enjoying the time in the churches and the opportunity to be with their loved ones again for a while. The next missionary to be taking a furlough will be myself and my wife Sharon. Synod approved the FMC’s proposal that we take a 4 to 6 month furlough in 2019, especially for the purpose of missionary development. We hope to begin our furlough in January, and my plan is to use the time mainly for further studies in missions as well as for preparing courses that I might start teaching in the PRCP seminary here in the near future. My wife and I look forward to this upcoming furlough.
We thank you for your continued prayers for us and for the saints here. We remember you all in our prayers as well.
In Christian love,
Rev. Daniel Kleyn
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
28 June, 2018
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
Family visitation in the CPRC has included 24 meetings on 11 different days over 2 weeks (7-21 May). Our Scripture passage this year was Ephesians 5:22-6:8, which deals with the respective callings of husbands, wives, children, fathers, and employees. As always, family visitation was a profitable exercise. Only one visit remains, that with one of our members who is currently studying at a university in Wales.
Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 28 May included reports by Stephen Murray (audio-visual), Julian Kennedy (financial), and Rev. Martyn McGeown (missionary). I spoke on our plans for the future, covering events, speakers, books, etc., involving the CPRC in the next year, DV.
In the last year, our best-selling book was Called to Watch for Christ Return by Rev. McGeown, and our best-selling box set (CD or DVD) was “Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation,” consisting of the 10 speeches and sermons by Prof. Engelsma in the CPRC in the autumn of 2017. The visitors on the written pages of our website (www.cprc.co.uk) have averaged 1,880 per day over the last year, which marks steady growth year on year.
In January - May, 2018, our most hit audio was “Job's Comfort and Our Comfort” (Lord's Day 1). Over the same period, the 10 countries that listened most to CPRC sermons were, in order, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, Israel, Australia, Qatar, Canada, and South Korea. Turning to the top 10 countries for the written pages on our main website for the first 5 months in 2018, we have the United States, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Peru, Italy, Russia, Germany, and Hungary. If we remove from this list the English-speaking nations (USA at #1, UK at #5, and the Netherlands at #2, for almost all the Dutch speak English), there is a strong correlation between the remaining 7 countries included in the top 10 and the languages in which we have a lot of translations: Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian, German, Indonesian, Spanish, and Russian.
The CPRC has (or very soon will have) two new lady members. First, we received the membership papers of Larisa McGeown from First Holland PRC (6 June). Second, Grace Mae was born to David and Kristin Crossett (20 June); she is to be baptized this Sunday (1 July).
Grace Mae Crossett with big sister Sophie
Our Tuesday morning Bible study has moved to the topic of the Old Testament sacrifices. Currently, we are working our way through the 6 main stages in offering bloody sacrifices. So far, we have covered the presentation of the animal, the laying of hands upon the beast, and its slaughter, in connection with our Saviour's cross.
This year, I was the CPRC delegate to the Synod at Byron Center PRC in mid June, my first time at the PRC's broadest assembly since 2002. I hasten to add that there were various good and wholly innocent reasons for my lengthy absence, including that attending Synod means that the CPRC goes without live preaching for a Sunday. This is the first year that Mary's parents will not be able to come to the biennial British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference and the opportunity to stay with them tipped the balance in favour of going to Synod.
It was good to witness the working of Synod, especially since our congregation has no broader assemblies on this side of the Atlantic. I enjoyed fellowship with the ministers, elders, and professors, as well as the brethren from the Philippines and Singapore. I was also pleasantly surprised that I was able to watch other people working while I was largely inactive, with less difficulty than I had expected!
While in Grand Rapids, I gave a speech on “Gottschalk: Medieval Confessor of God's Absolute Sovereignty” in Georgetown PRC and sponsored by Trinity PRC (13 June). This amazing ninth-century monk spent some two decades under house arrest for teaching, by God's Spirit, the truth of unconditional election and reprobation, particular atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. He even boldly and uncompromisingly denied the well-meant gospel offer, in the faithful tradition of Augustine of Hippo and Fulgentius of Ruspe, declaring, “All those whom God wills to be saved (I Tm 2:4) are without doubt saved, nor can any be saved but those God wills to be saved. Nor is there any one whom God wills to be saved, and is not saved, since our God has done all things whatever he willed [Ps. 135:6]. They therefore are all saved—all whom he wills to be saved.” The video of the Gottschalk lecture is on-line, including the slides and the Q. & A. session (www.youtube. com/watch?v=9hKDOcaTbFA).
Our Lord's day in America (17 June) was spent in Chicagoland in 2 churches we had not seen for some years. First, I preached in Crete PRC (Jude 20-21), after we joined the saints the previous day for their annual church picnic. Second, I spoke in Bethel PRC (II Kings 6:8-23), where I also gave a PowerPoint presentation on the witness of the CPRC. Our thanks to Phil and Karen Van Baren and Fred and Rose Iwema for their kind hospitality.
Mary and I then flew to Washington DC for a few days of informative and enjoyable sightseeing at the capital, including Arlington National Cemetery. Arriving in Dublin on Saturday, I preached in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), while Rev. McGeown was in the CPRC.
We brought back a good weight of RFPA books, especially Here We Stand, edited by Prof. Cammenga, and The Belgic Confession: A Commentary, volume 1, by Prof. Engelsma. Chief among the pamphlets we transported home are “The Bible Versus Mormonism” by Rev. Hanko and “Spousal Abuse in the Reformed Community” by Prof. Engelsma. All such materials help our witness to God's truth, and encourage saints in the British Isles and other parts of the world.
On 28 April, Marco Barone was interviewed live by phone on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio in Pennsylvania in connection with his fine book, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion (www.ironsharpens ironradio.com/podcast/april-26-2018-show-with-marco-barone-on-luthers-augustinian-theology-of-the-cross). His article on the “500th Anniversary of Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation” was published in the English Churchman (27 April & 4 May).
Our thanks to saints from England, Northern Ireland, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois who recently donated to the CPRC Translators Fund. The last 3 boxes of books we posted out went to 2 ministers in Kenya and a Brazilian pastor in the Azores, a cluster of islands in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal. In the last couple of months, we added 14 translations to our website: Hungarian 7, Greek 4, Swahili 2, and Portuguese 1 (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm).
We are now just a few weeks from the 2018 BRF Family Conference on “The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God” with Prof. D. J. Engelsma and Rev. A. Lanning in S. Wales (21-28 July). We are delighted that as many as 108 people are booked in, including a good number of our translators.
Some 4,500 copies of the new BRF book, Behold, I Come Quickly, consisting of the speeches and sermons at the 2016 BRF Conference are due to be published any day now. This excellent little volume will be available from many PR congregations in America and Canada, the churches in the Philippines and Singapore, and the CPRC Bookstore of course.
Thank you for your interest and your prayers. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you!
Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart