News from All Churches
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
18 December, 2017
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
Visit of the Engelsmas
We greatly enjoyed the visit of Prof. and Mrs. Engelsma (19 October-6 November). The CPRC invited them for two main reasons. First, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and our congregation wanted to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Prof. Engelsma is a man who embodies the Reformation, so we asked him to give lectures on this great theme and preach in the CPRC. Second, the latter enabled me to fill the pulpit of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), while Rev. McGeown was in America speaking at Reformation conferences in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Loveland, Colorado.
Our Reformation commemorations began with a half-day conference on Saturday, 21 October. Prof. spoke powerfully on “Martin Luther: Theologian of the Glory of God” and “Justification in Paul and in James,” while the ladies served a lovely lunch between the two speeches. Carolyn and Erik Prins (Trinity PRC) were present, as were three friends from Wales and a brother from England, plus local visitors.
Prof. Engelsma's other lectures dealt with key figures and truths of the Reformation: “Martin Luther: Man of Conviction” (Friday, 27 October) and “Calvin's Doctrine of the Covenant” (Friday, 3 November).
The 6 Sunday sermons by Prof. Engelsma also addressed vital Reformation subjects. All of his 10 public speeches are online on audio and video, with the latter including some question-and-answer sessions. They were made into an attractive box set of DVDs or CDs. It is available for £10 in the UK and $20 in the US (inc. P&P).
We paid for advertisements twice in the Belfast News Letter and the Ballymena Guardian. The latter paper also published two articles about Prof. Engelsma's visit. The saints in the CPRC were very encouraged by our brother's labours in our midst. A good number joined us live online, and his videos have received a lot of attention.
The CPRC now has over 2,000 videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI). Very appropriately for a congregation that is called the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, our 2,000th video was Prof. Engelsma's lecture on “Calvin's Doctrine of the Covenant.” Our thanks to Stephen Murray, our audio-visual man, for his labour of putting the videos online every week for many years. It is working too, for we have now had over 1/4 million video watches on our YouTube channel.
Over 3,000 people have subscribed to the CPRC Facebook page. Though this is hardly what Mark Zuckerberg intended, it has helped us get out the Reformed faith and reach new translators.
In our online languages section, Hungarian saw the biggest growth in the last two months, thanks to Bálint Vásárhelyi and Tibor Bognár. With their 10 recent written translations, we now have 216 pieces in Hungarian (www.cprf.co.uk/languages/hungarian.html). We also added a second sermon video with Hungarian subtitles: “The Sovereignty of God (II).” Now we have 27 videos in 4 foreign languages: Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian, and French (www.youtube.com). We added 3 more Russian pieces, including material from Prof. Engelsma's Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, and 3 Danish pieces, thanks to a faithful pastor from Denmark. A brother in India translated “Knowing the True God,” a pamphlet by Rev. Houck, into Hindi. Is this the first Protestant Reformed writing online in Hindi?
The CPRC has used various means to honour the work of Jesus Christ through the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. These include Prof. Engelsma's excellent Reformation speeches, letters in the local press, five installments on “What Is a Protestant?” in the Covenant Reformed News and a 12-sermon series on the great Reformation truth of “Righteousness by Faith Alone” (Rom. 4).
Other recent writings on this subject include “The Reformation and the Nature of the Church” for the Standard Bearer, “Martin and Katie Luther: A Reformation Marriage” for the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, and “Martin Luther and God's Saving Righteousness” for the British Reformed Journal.
I spoke on “Martin Luther's Great Discovery” for the Limerick Reformed Fellowship on Saturday, 28 October. An encouraging number attended, including some people we had never seen before, and we had a good question session afterwards. At this meeting in Limerick and at Prof. Engelsma's lectures, we sold books, and CD and DVD box sets at reduced prices.
In order to promote the Reformed Witness Hour (RWH) in the British Isles, we posted RWH booklets along with the Covenant Reformed News. The RWH gave us these spare copies for free and we waited until we had gotten enough of them across the Atlantic before mailing them with the News. Hopefully, more people will tune in to the RWH radio programme that we sponsor and that is broadcast from outside Londonderry in Northern Ireland on Sunday mornings (8:30-9:00 A.M. on Radio North/Gospel 846 AM or MW) or go to their website (www.reformedwitnesshour.org).
The British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conference on “The Reformed Family— According to the Word of God” (21-28 July, 2018) is drawing nearer. Booking forms, including prices, are (or very soon will be) online (www.britishreformed.org). You are all very warmly invited to join us at Hebron Hall in South Wales. Prof. Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning will be our main speakers. It promises to be a rich time of fellowship and growth under the Word of God.
Thank you for your support and prayers, and for your cards. Our covenant “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love” (Heb. 6:10). May the Lord be with you all!
Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart
Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
Monday, December 18, 2017
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
Life on the mission field without a church building has its challenges. As you know, we rent a room in Conradh na Gaelige, an Irish language centre, in Limerick city. Until recently, we were on the first floor, with a main room for the worship service and an adjacent room for a “cry room” and storage (of the lectern, psalm books, Bibles, pamphlets, etc.). For various reasons, we recently moved downstairs to An Cistin, which translates as “The kitchen.” There are fewer stairs, which is helpful for Bill and Jimmy, who find the stairs a challenge. The bathrooms are on the same floor, which again reduces the need to climb stairs. The seats are also slightly more comfortable (cloth-covered instead of bare wood). And there is a kitchen, so we can make tea or coffee after the services on occasion.
As a small fellowship with several young children (ranging from 8 months to 6 years) we faced the problem of a lack of “cry room” facilities. To make matters worse, the kitchen has a wooden cabinet filled with delicate—and I presume expensive—china, something we don’t want little hands to handle! Therefore, some arranging of furniture is necessary every week to block off the cabinet and to free up some space for a nursery and cry room (during church) and a play area (after church). The next thing we need to do is to find a way to make it possible for parents with crying children to hear the service in the cry room. The door separating the two rooms is quite thick, which blocks out most of the sound. Our “tech experts” are working on a way to install speakers in the cry room. Thankfully, the saints are cooperating together on this, so that parents and children, young and old, can feel comfortable in public worship. “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
Catechism with Sebastian (6) and Jason (5) is going well. Both boys learn their lessons well and are enthusiastic listeners and contributors. Last week, we reached the history of Isaac (Old Testament History for Beginners, Lesson 11). Catechism also continues (via Google hangout) with my nieces, Anna, Lily, and Hope; and with Chester and Dale Mansona (we are currently studying the Canons of Dordt, having finished the Belgic Confession). The other regular church activities are the Bible studies: the Tuesday evening study recently began Ezra (we have reached chapter 3—the postexilic history is fascinating, but less known than other Bible history); while the Bible study in the Mansona home has finished Romans chapter 1—the truth of God giving people and nations over to sin is both sobering and relevant in our day!
Yesterday morning, I finished a series on “The Coming of the Holy Spirit of Christ,” with the peculiar history of Acts 19:1-7: “The Spirit Coming on Certain Disciples of John.” I have almost finished my fourth series through the Heidelberg Catechism, having preached on the Sixth Petition yesterday evening.
I have also given speeches recently in Wales (23 November) and in Limerick (9 December). The latter speech was the seventeenth “Back to Basics” lecture, this time on “Peace with God.” These speeches are relatively short and simple introductions to the Christian faith. Rev. Stewart also gave a special lecture in Limerick (28 October), which we entitled, “Luther’s Great Discovery,” with 13 in attendance. I was also invited to speak on 24 November at the United Youth Rally of some local Welsh Evangelical churches. The meeting was hosted by the church of Brian Harris, who arranged for me to speak with his pastor’s permission. I spoke on “Who Is Jesus?” to a group of 55-60 people (mostly late teens and early twenties, with a few older people and one or two children). It was an enjoyable experience, and I stayed at the Harris’s house for one night and at a hotel (near the airport) for the second night. That weekend, Julian Kennedy from the CPRC came to visit.
On the weekend of 1 October, three young men from Michigan visited the LRF: Jason Corson, David Kalsbeek, and Eric Schipper. Our little fellowship enjoys visitors, so we would like to encourage as much of that as possible. With Dale Mansona we did a “walking tour” of Limerick. Do not forget the possibility of “Study Abroad” programmes at the University of Limerick, and the British Reformed Conference this summer!
Under the category of “evangelism” I mention my visit to Michigan and Colorado to participate in two Reformation conferences. First, I spoke on 28 October in Grand Rapids, MI; and second, I spoke on 4 November in Loveland, CO. Both conferences were very enjoyable. It was great to meet (Rev.) David and Ruth Torlach again (as Prof Cammenga mentioned at the Conference in Michigan, David graduated—with (Rev.) Dan Holstege and me—in the top three of his class!). In Colorado, I preached in Loveland on 5 November, taught a church history class on John Wycliffe in the Protestant Reformed school, and gave a short presentation on the LRF to the study hall group. What a blessing to see Christian education in action! Blake DeBoer, one of the teachers in Loveland, brought me to see Estes Park. It was a joy to meet the saints in Loveland, a congregation that I had not previously visited.
The exciting news, of course, is that Larisa DeJong and I are engaged to be married! But I am sure most of you already knew that, for Prof Cammenga announced it at the Reformation Conference, and, even without that publicity, news travels fast. Larisa and I are happily making plans for our wedding. We thank you for your prayerful support and for your many congratulations.
Pray for us, as we do for you,
In Christian love,
Rev. Martyn McGeown
"Covenant Keepers", the youth ministry of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (our sister church), has now released the November 2017 issue of "Salt Shakers" (#46),their youth magazine.
The November 2017 issue of "SS" is once again filled with interesting and profitable articles, and our PRC young people especially are encouraged to make it part of their reading content.
Below you will find a note from the "SS" Committee introducing the contents of this issue and images of the cover and table of contents. The entire issue is also attached here in pdf form.
Chua Lee Yang, on behalf of the Salt Shakers Committee
PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
NOVEMBER 2017 NEWSLETTER
Dear members of the Protestant Reformed Churches and our sister churches,
The past five months have been eventful. He whom God set at His own right hand in the heavenly places and gave to be the head over all things to the church summoned Rev. Richard Smit to return to the Philippines as our third missionary. He also led our Synod to recognize the unity of the Spirit that exists between the PRCA and PRCP by approving a sister church relationship with them.
Let us go back and briefly trace these eventful months. Last June, Rev. Heath and Deb Bleyenberg visited the Philippines while considering the call to be a third missionary. Although the head of the church did not summon him to this field of labor, we enjoyed their visit immensely and greatly appreciated their help and fellowship.
Later in June, and into August, Mr. Matt and Sarah Kortus arrived on the field for an eight-week mini-internship. Matt had finished his second year of seminary and was given the opportunity to spend part of the summer in the Philippines. While they were here, Matt accompanied Rev. Kleyn, Rev. John Flores, and Bro. Eric Mescallado on a trip to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Leyte (one of the Philippine islands); he joined Rev. Holstege and Rev. Ibe on a trip to Gabaldon (a town on the same island as Manila, but a fair distance to the northeast); and he went on the trip to Negros where he also gave a lecture. In addition, Matt gave a word of edification several times in the churches here, taught catechism to the children at Provident Christian Church, and with Sarah experienced life on the mission field for a while. We appreciated and enjoyed their visit very much as well.
In August, the Kleyns went to the U.S. for a four-week furlough. Many of you saw the presentation that Rev. Kleyn gave on our work here. The Kleyns report that many of you showed great interest in our work here in the Philippines, for which we are glad.
Last October, a delegation from the PRCA Contact Committee came to the Philippines, Rev. Smit and Elder Dave Kregel. Their mandate was to attend the Classis of the PRCP to convey officially and in person that the PRCA Synod approved a sister church relationship with them. Elder Kregel said to the Classis, “You were our daughter, but now you have become our sister, and that is an amazing thing.” We all rejoiced in the work of Christ who has prospered our feeble efforts for the coming of His glorious kingdom.
Also noteworthy is that the PRCP Classis declared the fellowship in Leyte to be their first official mission work. The PRC in Bulacan was appointed as the calling church, and the Classis advised them to send monthly delegations to Leyte until a missionary can be called and sent.
No doubt like all of you, we here in the Philippines celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. We held an all-day conference at Provident Christian Church in Marikina. Rev. Kleyn gave us an overview of the history of the Reformation. Rev. Smit spoke on the legacy of Martin Luther. Rev. Holstege presented John Calvin’s doctrine of providence. You can find these speeches on our website (prcaphilippinesaudio. wordpress.com). During the conference, our book manager, Mrs. Sharon Kleyn, sold a ton of RFPA books. My wife Leah managed our four active little ones. Thank you, ladies, for being such faithful wives, for your excellent attitudes, without which we simply could not do our work. Over 150 people attended the conference, including many young people. From what I could tell, everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.
Speaking of Rev. Smit, as indicated earlier, the Lord led him to accept the call to be our third missionary in the Philippines. This is the first time, as far as I am aware, that our churches have put three missionaries on one field. These are exciting times because now the work of establishing a Protestant Reformed seminary here in the Philippines can go forward. That is necessary because the calls to come over and help are many, but the laborers are few. The PRCP has three pastors, one of whom is approaching retirement age. We will soon have three missionaries on the field, but we are not fluent enough in Tagalog, or the other dialects, to be able to communicate the gospel clearly and build the church effectively in some parts of the Philippines. What has always been true throughout the ages is still true today: the church must establish a seminary to train indigenous pastors who can be sent to preach to people of their own culture. This is especially where we can help, as the PRCA. With the arrival of the Smits, Lord willing, at the end of this year, the work of establishing a seminary can go forward. Rev. Kleyn and I, Doon PRC and the Foreign Mission Committee, all rejoiced greatly when we heard the news of Rev. Smit’s acceptance. We are also glad to hear of the broad and solid support that exists among all of you for this work of the church in the Philippines.
So why do we need three men? Well, because there is a lot of other work here in addition to establishing a seminary. Rev. Kleyn has been occupied with a wide variety of activities, including preaching at Bulacan, Maranatha, and occasionally at Provident; teaching church order at Maranatha and catechism at Provident; making monthly trips to Negros (another one of the Philippine islands) where he gives classes to a large number of pastors who are eager to become Reformed in all respects; advising committees of the PRCP; and more. Rev. Holstege has been occupied especially at Provident, preaching twice on most Sundays; teaching the church order and leading a youth Bible study; teaching the Canons of Dordt midweek and engaging in evangelism work; chairing Steering Committee meetings; attending Tagalog classes every Tuesday and doing the homework; and more. We cannot just stop all of these things and establish a seminary. But we need a seminary greatly. So Rev. Smit is a welcome addition to our mission work and we are very excited about the future.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in His care.
Pray for us often.
Rev. Daniel Holstege