1. How did you first get involved with Friendship Presbyterian? When we were preparing to come to Taiwan to teach at Christ’s College in 1991, we met former Taiwan missionary Diane Poythress in Philadelphia for some orientation to Chinese language and culture. She had worked at Friendship with the Chinese section while she was serving in Taipei and knew of their need for a pastor at the time we were preparing to come. She encouraged us to commit to FPC from the start. After we moved to Taiwan, we were able to borrow a van and drive to FPC each Sunday. I was guest preaching frequently during the year FPC was searching for a new pastor, and was involved with the elder search committee, until Tim Conkling came in 1992. [Rev. Yates eventually served as Senior Pastor of FPC from 2002 to 2008.]
2. What do you do Monday through Saturday? I am responsible for three different roles at China Reformed Theological Seminary here in Taipei. Each has varying time commitments at various seasons of the year. First, I am the Academic Dean, with the job of preparing the quarterly faculty meeting agenda, leading the faculty in implementing relevant decisions of the board and faculty, planning the fall seminary retreat, choosing the topics/texts and arranging the speakers for the weekly chapel schedule, and meeting with students and seminary visitors as needed since we don’t have any administrators above my role. Second, I am Dean of the M.A. Biblical Counseling (MABC) program. I designed the six-course required and elective curriculum in 2002, adding two new courses in 2014, and I teach 3 classes each semester in this program on-site at CRTS, and serve as thesis advisor to MABC students. Finally, as Dean of the Distance Learning program, I have implemented the administrative structure for our Distance M.A. in Christian Studies. This has also included supervising the video recording of most M.A./M.Div. classes, revising all DVD course syllabi from 2009-2015 to facilitate lower individual maintenance, hiring a grader, and transferring the system to total online formats in 2016. I am also a missionary under Friends of CRTS, supported by numerous churches and families in the U.S. Recently, I have been spending time writing, editing, and publishing my own books related to my teaching ministry.
3. What is something people might be surprised to know about you? I ride my bicycle back and forth to work from JingMei to Taipei Arena. It is about 16km round-trip. I’ve been using a bike recording device with an odometer for about the past year and a half, and have recorded most of my rides, recently passing 3000km of recorded riding.
4. What do you find most challenging about being a Christian today? The concepts and practice of discipleship--passing on what I have learned and experienced to those of the next generation who will be faithful to teach, build on, and apply what I’ve taught. In my Chinese seminary teaching context, the specific discipleship challenge means the appointment of new, qualified faculty to train the next generation of CRTS students. This would be a man with training in biblical counseling (preferably a CRTS M.A. Biblical Counseling graduate who also has an M.Div.), pastoral and counseling experience, a doctoral degree, Chinese fluency, ordained with Reformed faith commitments, and the exegetical skill to apply Scripture to new challenges of the next generation--not just copy previous received material, but internalize and re-examine Scripture, and transmit it for a new generation. This transfer is further "complicated" by the fact that most candidates for the Biblical Counseling degree at CRTS are women. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest (Matt 9:38).
5. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Probably Philippians, since it is my most often quoted book in personal discipleship and counseling. Paul’s God-centered optimism about other redeemed sinners as God’s-works-in-progress has been so helpful to me in shaping joyful, encouraging attitudes towards Christians with growth struggles (Phil. 1:3-6; 2:2).