Pacific Preaching Update
“What is the purpose of life?”
“Is God real? Is the Bible real?”
Stephen Williams – South Pacific Regional Coordinator (pictured right with a seminar participant from the Solomon Islands) writes: On the 1st March I flew to the Solomon Islands with the Reverend David Pettett to take two preacher-training seminars on how to preach from the Old Testament – one for men and the other for women (this arrangement was at the request of the women).
The training has been at the invitation of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the joy has been to see people learn to analyse a passage from the bible, find that God speaks to them from it and so build a sermon.
One minister has already used the material to train catechists in his district. He and a colleague are now off to Malaita (another island in the Solomons) to do the same thing at the request of the local bishop. The women have been particularly keen on the training. It has given them a time to study the bible seriously and prepared them for a variety of opportunities they have to teach it.
We returned to Australia in time (just) to avoid fourteen days quarantine and grateful to have completed the training when so many others have been postponed. The pattern began in February when two seminars in Fiji were stopped by an outbreak of measles. Further seminars for Aboriginal preachers in Australia, one on the island of Banks (Vanuatu) and the re-scheduled ones in Fiji as well as an introductory meeting in Tonga have all been postponed.
So, where are we with Langham preacher training in the South Pacific?
- The good news is that, so far, the islands have been spared a serious outbreak of Coronavirus due to an early lockdown and a warm climate.
- The sad news is that cyclone Harold hit the islands hard at the beginning of April. Talua College in Vanuatu, where Langham training is a required part of the curriculum, was badly damaged and teaching suspended. Damage to the Talua “bush kitchen” can be seen above. Iron roofs were ripped off other buildings.
- David Pettett has been appointed to the staff of Patteson College in the SoIomon Islands. It was also affected by the cyclone. David can’t get back and is teaching online from Queensland.
- Training in the New Guinea highlands is scheduled for mid-August but we’re not sure if this will go ahead.
- We await the opportunity to renew training where seminars have been postponed.
- Regional coordinators from Asia and the Pacific are meeting online and working on revising and updating our training material.
- Please pray for those who are preaching into this time that they will continue to be faithful, clear and relevant expositors of God’s Word, “rightly handling the word of truth”.
Thank you for your support.
Please join us in prayer for…
Pray for Egyptian Scholar George Bishai and his family in Alexandria. George has deferred his PhD and hopes to return to Australia later in 2020. Pray for all Scholars whose PhD research has been affected by the pandemic. Pray for new Scholars unable to commence their studies. Pray also for a Scholar from Myanmar hoping to come to Australia to study.
Due to COVID-19 all Langham Preaching Seminars are postponed or cancelled until end June 2020. The Global Leadership Team monitor the situation and revisit this decision every month. Pray that all who have attended training will put into practice what they have learnt and will be used by God to bless their communities. Pray especially for pastors across the world who are helping to meet their people’s basic need for food at this time when many cannot earn an income due to the lockdown.
Please continue to pray for all those involved in ongoing work on a number of One Volume Commentary projects, including: Slavik Bible Commentary translations, Central Asian Bible Commentary, Central Eastern European Bible Commentary, ABC Amharic translation, South Asia Bible Commentary translations into Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, Bangla and Malayalam, Latin American Bible Commentary – Portuguese translation.
Please pray for new arrangements to be made for the shipping of books and resources to bible colleges and pastors across the world. Shipping costs have significantly increased due to the pandemic.
This is a challenging time for the leadership of Langham Partnership. In some of our donor countries, a significant downturn in donations is expected. The pandemic is delaying recruitment of a new International Director to work alongside Chris Wright, International Ministries Director. Pray for wisdom and patience as our leaders try to have important conversations involving lots of people without being able to be in the same room (online technology is a blessing, but still has its limitations and frustrations).
The 2021 International Council meeting is due to be held in Sydney (the first time in Australia) next May, but even this has a cloud of uncertainty over it as it is not yet clear whether it will be affected by travel restrictions. Pray for wisdom, peace and guidance for Langham’s leadership.
Gillean Smiley writes…
In an online prayer meeting I attended recently, one participant asked God for forgiveness that it took a pandemic for us to begin to seriously address how the Church needs to respond to the changed environment in which we live. The changes are of course far broader than just the restrictions on gathering physically. We are now part of the global village, and we are connected in new ways that bring us new opportunities.
I am very excited to invite you to meet with one of our very special Scholars. Seblewengel Daniel is Lecturer in Theology and Head of Academic Affairs at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology – you met her last month through our e-News. At the same time, through her position and influence, Seble has found an opportunity to speak into the tragic cultural practice prevailing in Ethiopia, of female genital mutilation (FGM). On Wednesday evening, 27th May, Seble will be speaking to us through a zoom chat (also available on Facebook), discussing the current impact of COVID 19 in Ethiopia, the state of the Church, the work underway to eradicate FGM, and to respond to questions you can send in beforehand or throughout the session. This is remarkable opportunity for Christians in Australia to connect directly with a leading Christian woman in the Muslim world.
Don’t forget to log into zoom at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 27th. Perhaps your Bible Study or Home Group may wish to join, or you may know others to invite who have a particular interest in that part of the world and the challenges faced there. If technology should prove a problem on the night, the talk will also be available on our Facebook page.
Please send any questions you would like Seble to answer to email@example.com prior to the evening, or using zoom chat during the presentation. I look forward to sharing with you then, and to seeing how new opportunities we have contribute to our unity as the global Body of Christ.