Words are Not Enough

<This is one of our missionary newsletters. I don’t normally put newsletters in my blogs, but I think this one is relevant to Pastoral Theology. You decide for yourself.>

Greetings again.  
Recently I figured out that I have been writing A LOT. Recently, Celia and I finished our second book on Pastoral Care, “Dynamics in Pastoral Counseling and Training.” I looked in our shelf at our counseling office and I had a weird and wild discovery— I had written 6 books. Hardly shocking perhaps… but I really had never taken time to count them. They will never be best-sellers. They are self-published, mostly to help students in Asia to prepare for ministry— but there is a need for that. And then I thought about it some more and realized that I had also partly written 3 more books— books that I decided to never finish because I lost motivation, or I began to question the premise and purpose of the book. These were scavenged and used for blogposts, presentations, and incorporated into other books. And then I realized that I had also assisted several other people in editing, formatting, and such their books. I think the number is also six. Three of them are done and three are still in process. And then I remembered that I have written around 2000 blogposts. My main blog has over 1000 posts, and a majority of the posts are long.

That is a lot of writing. And sometimes it feels so good to write… and I feel like it is real ministry. But sometimes I get to the point where I have run out of things to say— like right now— so I stop.

I think that is a good thing. If you walk into a Christian bookstore and grab some books of the most popular Christian writers today, it is pretty obvious that most all of them ran out of things to say, but kept writing anyway.

Books and blogs and things are fine and are good to extend one’s message beyond just those you meet face to face. It also acknowledges one’s own mortality, so that one must write now for when one is no longer able to speak.  But writing can also be an excuse to avoid interacting directly with people. Sometimes one has to go to jail or hospital where people in need are— people who do not read blogposts or books on Christian missions. Sometimes one must cross the religious-secular divide to reach those and express Bible truths in a way that the secular community can understand. Later this month we are going to Mankayan— a very mountainous and remote part of our province to hold training on suicide prevention with local government officials. Suicide is a big big problem in their community. One common way they commit suicide is to take a handful of pesticides (brands illegal in the US, but legal in the Philippines) and breathe it into their lungs (sorry for the unpleasant thought). In December. we will be going to Aurora Province and will be leading a conflict resolution seminar with local government leaders. Right now we tentatively have planned a mini-medical mission in our neighborhood (“barangay”) as a church activity between Christmas and New Years to reach out to the people in our community. We used to do a lot of medical missions, but the last one we fully organized was something like 6 years ago (despite the fact that we have been involved in approximately 70 medical missions reaching over 30,000 people in our first several years in the Philippines). So it is good sometimes to lose motivation to write. Sometimes one must go into the world and serve.

Please pray with us as we prepare for our trip to the US in late March. We will be there for around 6 weeks. We plan to leave Becky and Esther in the US at that time. We pray that Becky’s left eye is fully better by then. Medical costs are just way way way too high to deal with this in the US, so we pray that everything can be worked out over here before that. We also may be returning to the US for 3 weeks in October. That is less than a month before the 2020 elections in the US… so I am not sure we could pick a worse time to be in the states, but it is about the only time that we can take care of “checking on the kids.” We hope to see many of you in one of these two trips.

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