On November 1, 2008, I began my first year at Friendship. I flew to Taipei from Philadelphia the day after my beloved Phillies won the World Series. Some gently queried if I had perchance delayed my departure until the Phillies won! The answer to that remains between me and the Lord.
When I came to Taipei nine years ago, I had signed a three-year contract. We didn’t know how it would go, but I immediately fell in love with Friendship, Taipei, and the Taiwanese. And three years, little by little, stretched into ten. I have said to many that I would never return to the States if we didn’t have children, grandchildren, and extended family.
In the past year, there was the expectation that FPC would find a lead pastor to replace me. But alas, to this point, this hasn’t happened. And so when we came to the middle of this year, the elders offered a one-year contract to me (September to mid-summer, 2018) that would include much more leave than I have ever taken in this extended period of time. And so I was in the States most of the summer, and they have also allowed me the opportunity to be in the States over the Christmas holidays from December 5th to January 4th.
When I return in early January to conclude the last leg in this journey, the elders will also begin to share their transition plan. Much thought, discussion and prayer has gone into this. In short, it will call for using many of the extraordinary resources we have in the church to provide a staff team along with the elders and deacons to better insure the stability and the strength of the church going forward. You will be hearing more about this very shortly. I’m quite excited about it, and believe that with the Lord’s grace and all of your support, the stability and the strength of the church can be sustained.
In preparation, you need to mark your calendar for some important dates:
Sunday, January 14 – The annual budget will be distributed to all the members.
Sunday, January 21 - Town hall meeting and luncheon (1:00-3:00pm, room 702, 261 Roosevelt Rd. building). We want to gather our congregation, both members and regular attendees, for a family-style gathering over food, conversation, and a presentation on the part of the elders where they share their vision for the coming year. It will also include the rationale for the staffing of the church during an interim time while the search committee seeks a new pastor. This will also include any questions the congregation may have on anything—the proposed vision, the budget, anything. Be sure to join us for this family meeting!
Sunday, January 28 – Congregational meeting to approve the proposed budget (1:00-3:00pm, room 602, 261 Roosevelt Rd. building). This brief meeting will be an opportunity for members to vote on the new budget. The main discussion on the budget will have taken place the week prior.
Also, when I return, I will resume my teaching on the Book of Romans. I cannot tell you how this study has impacted my own life. I walk around with a sense of wonder, and astonishment of the glories of my salvation and my Redeemer. It has brought new joy, love, and worship into my life. I pray the same happens to you. Some of you are in BSF where you are studying Romans. If you aren’t reading Romans, e-mail me and I will send you some links and resources that have fired my own heart and may do the same for you.
Also, I want to say a word of thanks to my wife, Kay. She has been the love of my life for over 40 years, and I can honestly say that I love her more today than when we first met. She is back in the States lending support to her aging mother, as well as our children and grandchildren. I wouldn’t recommend being separated from one’s spouse as I have been during recent months. But there were special needs and circumstances, and so, with prayer and the counsel of the elders, Kay and I determined that this would be a reasonable option for a limited period of time. The Lord has given grace to both of us.
She is an extraordinary woman. How many women would be willing to pick up later in life and move away from close family, children, and grandchildren? How many would even consider staying beyond a three-year commitment until it grew to ten years? Kay is quiet, but ever so kind, gracious, and supportive of me. She always thinks the best of people, keeps confidences, doesn’t gossip, and in her quiet way shares her love, kindness, and good humor. We laugh a lot and, along with Jesus, it has kept us close all these years. I could never have stayed this long had it not been for her sacrifice and support. She can easily be overlooked, as she doesn’t like a lot of attention. But when she returns after Chinese New Year, you might want to express your appreciation to her.