Dear prayer warrior,
This is greeting from Mu-tien. This letter is always a precious channel through which I can connect with you whose support I appreciate so much. Winter is finally coming to Chicagoland….and holiday season too!! …Eh., almost! As I just finished all mid-term assignments and exams, it becomes a good time for reflection.
I spent the past summer in South Bend, IN helping Michiana Chinese Christian Church with a variety of ministries. Great "first-time" as well as "first-hand" experiences! From Sunday preachings, Chinese Christian student fellowship (in University of Notre Dame), curricular Sunday school, to youth music band training, ministry, and so on! Spiritually and materially, no doubt that MCCC is a HUGE blessing that God has given to me.
The power of team ministry demonstrated throughout the entire time I spent with Chinese students is the greatest lesson I learnt and would like to share, for fruitful student ministry hinges upon nothing more than activities and interpersonal relationships that manifest Christian care and love.
Hardly would any significant progress be expected from a student minister on his own in three months. And in fact it is rather the church leaders’ vision— led by the Holy Spirit and united in the symphony of our prayers— that "saving souls of this young generation of Chinese is our calling, one that is like sowing seeds; harvest may not be ours, and we are not expecting immediate material/substantial returns." Every week I was touched by people around me in the church, and we together made the progress possible.
At our outdoor baptismal service on June 13, seven young people made their public vows to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of all their lives, and even more people were touched by the gospel and responded in faith during the New Student Outreach on Aug. 29. At Sunday school class, I always have a hard time keeping people’s hands down, because they are so eager to ask questions and want to know more about the Word of God!
When I joined to MCCC in the end of May, we were still looking for a new pastor. We haven’t ceased our prayer until God promised to send his servant Pastor Arthur Xie and his family from Dallas, TX by early August. God really answers those who seek Him. Praise the Lord for His Providence and faithfulness! We should never underestimate to power of prayer.
The entire ministry experience just transforms my mind by complementing what I have been learning in the seminary, where, notwithstanding, our academic culture sometimes can be too obstinate with individual learning endeavors.
This semester I am enrolled in four classes that totaled 10 credit hours.
Social & Cultural Exegesis (2)
Developing a healthy congregational culture (2)
Formation Group (0)
Current Issues in Systematic theology: Use of hermeneutics in Theological Interpretation (3)
Elementary Hebrew (3)
Dr. Peter Cha
Dr. Peter Cha
Prof. Elisabeth Sung
Prof. Elisabeth Sung
Dr. John Monson
Worth mentioning above all is the Formation Group that features diversity of [ethno-cultural-gender] background. Whereas the "homogeneity principle" easily-as-always manipulates how people will spontaneously form their friend circle (which means, for example, I always have to make extra effort to maintain good fellowship with white, female, or older people), in the Formation Group student members are randomly assigned and we just comfortably and effortlessly chat and have deep communion in Spirit.
This is reminiscent of three years ago (when I was still in China Evangelical Seminary (華神), when I was [reluctantly] assuming the leadership of our formation group then. Being event-organizer and facilitator used to be such a painful task to me, if not mission impossible at that time. It was never something that I felt encouraged to do. But just right now through what I learnt, I no longer withhold my appreciation of all the elements that make up a group dynamics— what we also call ‘fellowship’.
At the classes of Dr. Peter Cha, we’d say that group dynamics is facilitated by "individuals’ intentional self-outpouring" and stabilized through "the structural presentation of cultural artifacts". Dr. Cha is a Korean-born American professor of sociology who is passionate about the possibility of multi-ethnic churches. Lots of stimulating thoughts are raised in his classes, and they seldom go too technical. So if I am to tell you what’s great in his class, a single illustration would suffice:
(Faith Community of Saint Sabina)
As partial fulfillment of Cha’s course requirement, in October we spent a Sunday visiting the south side of Chicago City for the worship service of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina. It is a Catholic church with a strong presence of Evangelical elements in its liturgical and ecclesial forms. An African-American-based multi-ethnic church with notwithstanding a Caucasian pastor, Saint Sabina identified itself as a "vibrant church with a liturgy rich in African tradition", "a progressive force in the city of Chicago" with its "spirit-filled worship and impact on social justice issues", etc. People are all so kindly-mannered and welcoming to newcomers. The joint congregational service took nearly four hours long, but we were too enjoying in it to notice that times went by. The worship experience is like a spiritual Sabbath with an awesome interplay between liturgy and theology.
Prof. Sung’s systematic theology seminar is also one of featured investigative and molecular diversity. The opportunity to engage in in-depth discussion of reading materials has in particular given me many clear thoughts for further research, as I already started to contemplate on the possibility of a ‘post-liberal’ theological ethics that incorporates perspectives from Peter Berger’s sociology (to which I am indebted to Dr. Cha), Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics (to which I am indebted to Dr. Vanhoozer), Stanley Hauerwas’ ecclesiology (to which I am indebted to Prof. Sung), and a biblically informed Christology (to which I am indebted to Dr. Pao). This should tackle with issues not least concerning the positioning of ‘public’ Christianity in modern Chinese-speaking societies, as we will have to reexamine theologically the production of social knowledge, cultural ideology, and the role they play in our culturally-conditioned worldviews.
In short, I am hoping to do theology with deep cultural engagement. When sharing these with you, it would serve me especially well to keep me passionate about (and faithful to) this calling by doing reality check often. Just want to let you know: your feedback as well as critical insight will be fuel quintessential for my growth along the path.
….and your prayer, too.
At this particular moment, my specific prayer need that begs humble lift-up before God includes:
- In NSCCC, Saturday cell group, Wednesday prayer meeting, and Sunday school are areas of ministry in which I am involved. I will be co-teaching a class of ‘biblical hermeneutics’ for the winter-spring Sunday school calendar season, which starts in December. I will also being preaching on Sunday occasionally. NSCCC has been tremendously supportive to me, and it is crucial that I seize each opportunity to grow toward maturity. Pray that I can always rely on God’s grace and be a good minister of His Word.
- I will participate in the "Gospel for China" conference during Dec. 26-30 (http://www.smyxy.org/gfcc/gfcc2009/gfcc2009poster.php). I will be volunteering as audiovisual personnel and/or interpreter. Pray that this conference will be a blessing to the thousands who will attend and bring a multitude to faith.
- The Chinese translation of Greek Grammar beyond the Basics (authored by Daniel Wallace from Dallas Theological Seminary, Zondervan, 1996) is on its way to be published. My humble contribution to it yet privileges me to look forward to the day when it is used by God as a tool enabling a systematic study of the Scripture in its original Greek language at various pedagogical settings.
- "The Resurrection of the Son of God" (by N.T. Wright, SPCK, 2003) is the book I am currently translating. Pray that I will have good time-management and good spirit for all the tedious work this would entangle/entail.
Student life and academics
- More discipline needed.
- More spiritual and physical rest.
- More inspiration.
- More prayer (a better prayer life).
- The car that I drive for two years became the biggest troublemaker of my life this year. Since this year, I already put nearly $3000 into it, including getting the replacement of the entire engine, a set of four plus one new tires, new alternator, new battery, new brake pad, new car AC resistor, oil, and technical services such as towing, inspection, insurance, and maintenance labor. Behind each of these listed items are painful lessons and anxious suspension in finance and waiting. I am grateful that God has dispatched His angels who gave me technical support, discount rate, and direct financial help several times when I was on the verge of breakdown. Please pray that I can grow in perseverance and hope despite of challenges in life. On a positive note I know much more about cars now.
- Worsening the situation is the loss of cell phone on campus two weeks ago. I am still hoping that I can retrieve it.
- I am also looking for a part-time on-campus job and scholarships, some of which are very competing, but with a prayerful heart and diligent attitude, I will try my best and trust the Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(Greek) Eucaristw, to Qeo, gia thn anekdih,ghth dwrea, touÅ
(French) Grâce soit rendue à Dieu pour son don ineffable!
Thank you for take time reading, wish you a resourceful holyday season!
Mu-tien (and parents Justin & Catherine Chiou) 2009/11/28
Phone: 847.317.6549 (dorm); 626.841.1372 (cell; currently lost and unavailable)
Address: 2065, Half Day Rd. #D-160, Bannockburn, IL, 60015, USA
How to financially support Mu-tien’s study and ministry at Trinity:
1. Check in USD paid to the order of NYTEC (New York Theological Education Center) can be sent to NYTEC 132-03 Sanford Avenue, #1A, Flushing, NY 11355.
2. Jot down donor’s will such as ‘for use of seminary financial aid’ at check memo (a separate note to specify my name is preferable.), so the amount will be applied to my Trinity tuition deduction in the form of financial aid. A tax-reducible receipt will also be sent to you.