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No. 5, Lane 269, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, 106
Taiwan

02-2362-1395

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Blog

Thoughts on faith and life at Friendship Church

Congregational Update

Dennis Brown

August, 2016

To the congregation of Friendship Church,

I hope everyone is having a good summer. Kay and I enjoyed our family in Texas and then in the greater Philadelphia area. I also am glad to be back with you. I always say that that we have two families—one in the States and one here.

You need to be updated on a number of things. Let me summarize them under three headings:  (1) Our plans for the future; (2) Recommendation of new elders; (3) Lead pastor search.

Our plans for the future

Back in January, we announced that we would continue till the end of 2016. We also appointed a search team to look for a new lead pastor. The search team to this point has not been able to recommend a viable candidate. Because of the needs of the church, as well as some personal needs, we have offered to continue our service for six months beyond our contractual time till the end of June, 2017. At the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28 following worship, one of the items the congregation will be asked to approve is the extension of my contract for that period of time. The meeting will take place at 1:00 pm in the Roosevelt Rd Location. The address is Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. As you come out of the church head towards Roosevelt road and turn right. We will also be providing a buffet lunch.

Recommendation of new elders

On Sunday, August 28, we are recommending two new elders to be elected to serve the church. They are David MacRaild and Alan Fiol.  Both of them are well known in the congregation. David has served as a deacon for several years, leads a small group, and is a wonderful, devoted husband to his wife Yining.  David has a servant and pastoral heart which many of you can attest. He grew up in an evangelical, and Presbyterian reformed home in Scotland. After wandering from the faith, he had a dramatic conversion. He came to the church shortly after his conversion and his story was a powerful reminder of God’s grace. We have watched him grow in Christ and serve us in a myriad of ways.

Alan has served as a missionary with MTW (Mission to the World), the PCA mission’s arm of the church. He also served at Christ College. In recent years, he taught at Morrison Academy at the Bethany Campus near the church. He is married to his wife Chinglien and their daughters Tevah and Rinah. He is a mature man of God, and has worked with Yufen Yang to improve the quality of our musical ministry for the Sunday School. A vote will be taken by members who will be asked to affirm the call of each candidate to their office. Non-members of the church are invited to attend, but will be unable to vote.

We will also be asking David and Alan to share their testimony of faith with you in two worship services in August prior to the congregational meeting.

Here are their short Bio’s:

Alan Fiol

Alan grew up in a south Asian country where his parents served as missionaries.  After graduating from Covenant College, Tennessee, he joined Mission to the World (MTW) to serve in Taiwan in short-term ministry.  He taught at Christ’s College in Guandu for two years.  Then, believing the Lord was calling him back to Asia for full-time ministry, he returned to the States for seminary.  He completed his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) studies at Covenant Seminary in 1996 and the same year enrolled in Columbia International University (CIU) for additional graduate work in preparation for long-term ministry in Taiwan.  At CIU he met his wife, Chinglien, who is from Taiwan.  In 1999 they moved to Taiwan where they did campus ministry at Christ’s College for ten years with MTW.  Following this, Alan did graduate work in music, and has been teaching music in Taipei.  He aims to bring the love of Christ to children and adults through his teaching, composing and in other ways.  Alan and Chinglien have two daughters, Tevah and Rinah.

David MacRaild

David MacRaild originates from Scotland and has lived with his wife, Yining, in Taipei for over six years and has attended FPC for this same duration. He has served with the church as a deacon for 2 years and also , at the moment, is involved in leading bible studies for newcomers. David studied sculpture in art school and since graduation has worked as an art technician.

Lead Pastor Search

As a congregation we are in the midst of a time of transition. Historically, finding qualified pastors has been an arduous process. Finding men who fit our congregation who are willing to move with their family to Taiwan has always been a challenge. The government also has restrictive visa policies that complicate the process. Moreover, the financial challenges are difficult for prospective pastors and the congregation. Pray for the search team as they continue the process. The members of the committee are Jonathan Shumate, Kalan Spencer, David Ludwig, Sohee Chu, John Huang, Monica Hsiao, and myself.  You are welcome to visit with any of them on any question you might have. Also pray for the Shumate family who are in the States now on missionary furlough.

Also pray for pastoral staffing in general. Each week there are between 225 and 300 people. The only paid staff members are myself and Anna Furness. There is great need for more help in the areas of training small group leaders, supervising the small groups, following up with new people, conducting training weekends, providing pre-marital counseling for couples, conducting new members classes, and providing the kind of coordination of ministries that is needed to have excellence in both outreach and discipleship. Ever since Jason Truell’s departure, we have not had an assistant pastor. We greatly need to add another staff person to be able to move forward as a congregation.

Come and talk to us about any of these questions. Along with the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28, we will endeavor to incorporate time for any questions you might have as well as prayer together. Maybe our greatest need is prayer. We don’t do that nearly enough as a congregation. So we are also inviting you to join us for a special congregational prayer meeting on Sunday, August 21 from 1:15 to 2:30 at Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. Bring your lunch and we will eat and pray together.

The Lord has blessed our church greatly and met all of our needs. We believe this same Lord has a good plan for our future. I love you a lot. More, the Lord loves you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon you all.

For the peace and blessing of the church,

Pastor Dennis Brown

Grace

Dennis Brown

Grace! 

This Sunday, we are in 2 Samuel 9--the story of Mephibosheth. It is one of the sweetest stories in the Bible and it drips with grace. It’s the story of how David asks if there is anyone he can show kindness to because of his commitment to Jonathan. It was a commitment made long before. You can read the story how a young, frightened man is summoned into the presence of the king. He likely expects certain death, but instead is showered with amazing grace. 

The Bible is one story and these mini-stories actually point to the mega-story of God’s redemption of rebels like ourselves who deserve the opposite of grace. But grace isn't just for how you become a Christian. It’s for every relationship in life…parenting, marriage, work. Are you a grace-giver? Or do you live by law. I would recommend Paul Zahl’s “Grace in Practice” to see how it can apply everywhere.

If someone asked me why I am a Christian, there are many reasons, but four stand out:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus. It’s just a stubborn, annoying fact and if it happened, you have to deal with it.
  2. The fine tuning of the universe. Read Eric Metaxas book on “Miracles” and you will be stunned at how the entire universe seems to be rigged to support human life
  3. The cross as the only antidote for the addiction I have to myself and my sin.
  4. Grace. C.S. Lewis was once asked if there was one word that described Christianity. He said it was grace. You can’t find that anywhere in the world or in any religion except Jesus and the movement he started 2000 years ago.

Life at Friendship

Dr. Vern and Diane Poythress Summer Ministry. Sometimes, we say that if you are looking for an answer to a difficult question check out the Frame-Poythress website.  Together, Frame & Poythress represent brilliant, Biblically and theologically solid commentary on almost any subject. Dr. Poythress teaches at Westminster Seminary, has degrees in mathematics and theology, has written many books (most of which you can read on the website), and comes to Taiwan every year to teach a couple of classes at Reformed Seminary. His wife, Diane is equally formidable and loves Taiwan. 

  1. Friday, June 17, 8-10 PM. Skeptics Welcome at the Cafe Odeon at #11, Lane 86, Sec 3, Xin Sheng S. Road (just down the street from the church). This is on Friday, June 17 from 8 to 10 PM.
  2. Saturday, 18, 7 PM, God: Creator, Physicist, King. This is an event at the home of Jason and Donna Warren. God is the creator of the universe, but as we discover more about his creation, it raises questions about how we as scientists, engineers and seekers of truth can discern the Biblical origins of the universe. If you would like to attend please e-mail Donna here. RSVP Donna by June 15. Light refreshments will be provided.
  3. Dr. Poythress will be preaching beginning on Sunday, June 19, 26, and July 3 and 10. He will be speaking from the first chapters of Genesis which address the big questions of life: Where did we come from? Who created the world and universe? How does this story fit with modern discoveries of science? Who made marriage and what should it look like? Who made gender and what should it look like?
  4. “Counseling Leah with the Gospel”. This is a lecture led by Diane Poythress on Wednesday, June 15 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. This will be held in the back elevator room in the church. Tea and refreshments will be provided. Sign up by e-mailing the church or at the Welcome Table on Sunday.

Pastor Vacation Schedule. 

On Monday, June 20, Pastor Dennis and Kay are flying to the US--first to Austin, Texas and then on to Philadelphia, Pa. Dennis will be in the States and return to Taipei on July 26.  During that time, feel free to contact the elders, the deacons or Anna Furness on any question you might have. Here is the preaching schedule for the next couple of months:

  1. Sunday, June 12, Pastor Dennis
  2. Sunday, June 19, Dr. Vern Poythress
  3. Sunday, June 26, Dr. Vern Poythress
  4. Sunday, July 3, Dr. Vern Poythress
  5. Sunday, July 10, Dr. Vern Poythress
  6. Sunday, July 17, Dr. Paul Kong
  7. Sunday, July 24, Jonathan Schumate 
  8. Sunday, July 31, Pastor Dennis

Elisha's Call and Yours!

Dennis Brown

There is probably no question a pastor is asked more than, “What is the will of God for my life?” It’s an obvious question for anyone,  but particularly in a young congregation like ours. We have so many young singles, students, people early in their careers. And then added to everything is the bewildering social context where people hear the words of traditional culture (to honor family and society), modern culture (which tells you to follow your own heart). As someone said Taipei is a modern city affected by modern values, but underneath there is always a deep sense of traditional Chinese culture. In any case, it leaves people confused and wondering, “Who am I?” and “What do I do with my life?”

The story of Elisha can actually help us a lot. Elijah places his mantle on Elisha which is a call to succeed him as a prophet living in a time when the king and his queen were out to destroy prophets. For Elisha it means leaving a life of wealth and comfort to become Elijah’s servant for around eighteen years!  Please note that he is called to “being” before he is called to “doing.”

If you read the New Testament, there is no question what the basic will of God is. It is to become like Christ in the ordinary circumstances of life. 1 Corinthians 7:23 and 24 say, “You were bought with a price and do not become slaves of men. So brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” There are special calls for people to go into professional ministry. But for most people, the call of God will be seeking in ordinary life to follow Christ with sacrifice, service to others and growing Christlikeness. Answer the call to “being” and in time you will discover the call to “doing.”

Here is a quotation from Elisabeth Elliot that I find helpful:

The consciousness of His origin and destiny enabled Jesus to do very humdrum things. We get things completely backward when we feel that because of who we are or where we came from or what an important job we have to do we can’t stoop to do the humdrum; or we are engaged in the high and holy will of God and can’t be bothered with the ordinary. A look at how humdrum it must have been for the Son of God to become the Son of man will help us regain a proper perspective. His whole human life was a humiliation. At the Last Supper, we read, Jesus, “well aware… that He had come from God and was going back to God…taking a towel…began to wash the disciple’s feet”.

Taking Advantage of the Poythress Visit

We have a special opportunity from June 17 to July 10 to have in our midst some truly amazing people. I am speaking of Dr. Vern Poythress and his wife, Dr. Diane Poythress. Dr. Poythress has degrees in mathematics from Harvard, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Stellenbosh in South Africa. More than that, he is a brilliant man who has used his considerable gifts to apply the Bible to the deep questions of our age. He and his colleague John Frame have posted many of their books online to read at http://frame-poythress.org.  His wife, Diane, is equally formidable and I will share later some of her credentials.

On June 12, 19 and July 3 and 10, he will preaching on Sunday morning from the first chapters of Genesis which tell us where the world, and the universe came from. They also tell us why we are here, the meaning of marriage, sexualiity, gender--in short all the big questions people have. In addition, we have provided informal opportunities for you and your skeptical friends to meet up with them and bring any question. Please note that there are skeptics welcome opportunities at a local pub, an informal gathering at the Warren home regarding questions of science and faith, and several table talk discussions being hosted by our small groups. They will also be making available Dr. Poythress’ book “Redeeming Science”--the best work of its kind in my opinion.

Poythress Schedule:

Preaching

Dr. Poythress will be preaching from Genesis on Sunday, June 12, 19 and July 3 and 10

Friday June 17 & July, 1 8:00 – 10:00

Skeptics Welcome by Dr. Poythress

Café Odeon, 8 to 10 pm

Saturday June 18

Quantum Theory & The Bible

Warren’s Home

Sunday June 19, June 26, July 3 & July 10, 1:00 – 3:00

Table Talks with Dr. Poythress

Sunday afternoon 1:00 - 3:00

June 26, July 3 & July 10

FFF Women’s group / Lectures led by Diane Poythress

Wednesday June 15, June 22 & July 6, 7:30 – 9:30

Back Elevator room at church

Dr. Diane Poythress is also available for personal counselling at the church office on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10 to 12.  Please contact the church at fpchurch@friendshiptaipei.com  to make appointments.

Bowling Night:

You are invited to join the Martin and Red group for dinner and a bowling night on Saturday, May 28. Dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 and bowling to follow (near Shirlin station). Contact Sam Huang at samuelyhuang@gmail.com.