Mr. Brummel is the secretary of the Foreign Mission Committee.
The Foreign Mission Committee of the Protestant Reformed Churches hereby presents a brief annual overview of the foreign mission work being done by our churches. Specifically we provide you with information on the process of closing the Ghana field and the work being done on our mission field in the Philippines. Although the FMC has also corresponded with various contacts in other countries, the focus of our work this past year has definitely been in the Philippines. It has been especially in the Philippines that the Lord has given us opportunity in the past year to be busy in the work of preaching the gospel.
It was with sadness that the field in Ghana had to be closed down during the past year.
The Foreign Mission Committee meets at least once every month. The committee is made up of three ministers and six elders (or ex-elders) from our churches in Doon and Hull, IA, and Edgerton, MN. The current members are James Andringa, Allen Brummel, Andrew Brummel, Gerald Brummel, Rev. Steven Key, Robert Mantel, Rev. David Overway, and Gene VanBemmel.
Rev. Daniel Kleyn was also a member of the FMC in the past several years. However, in September of 2005 he accepted the call to be pastor of First PRC of Holland, MI and thus resigned from the committee. We acknowledge, with thanks to God, the many years of faithful work Rev. Kleyn did for foreign missions, especially during his time as FMC secretary from 2004-2005.
The Lord willing, Rev. Dennis Lee, who has now been installed as minister in Edgerton PRC, will join the FMC after synod gives approval for this in June.
The Calling Church
As Foreign Mission Committee, we acknowledge that the major share of the work on the mission field falls on the shoulders of the calling church of Doon PRC for the Philippines.
The council of Doon is kept busy from month to month and from week to week in the constant work of supervising the field. This is especially true of their mission field sub-committee, which must consider all the reports and correspondence from the field, and present recommendations each month to their council. The council then sends their decisions to the FMC for our review and concurrence. The sub-committee attends the FMC meeting as liaison between the council and FMC while the Philippine matters are being discussed.
We are thankful for the faithful labors of the calling church, for that has helped us immensely in our duty to oversee the work of foreign missions.
After careful deliberation, the FMC and Hull council came to a joint decision to bring a recommendation to Synod 2005 to close the field. Synod concurred with the recommendation and instructed the FMC and Hull council to proceed with implementing the closure in a timely and careful manner.
The members of the mission fellowship were first notified on April 24, 2005 of the Hull council recommendation to Synod 2005 that the mission field in Ghana be closed. Soon after this announcement, our missionary, Rev. Rodney Miersma, and our missionary assistant, Mr. John Bouma, began to check into the requirements for the sale of the mission property as well as the value of this property. After they received notification of synod’s decision, they reached an agreement to sell the mission property to the Global Evangelical Church, of which Gabriel Anyigba is a pastor.
Our missionary assistant assisted in the closure of the mission field by selling the equipment that he used while laboring on the field. This equipment included a pickup, furniture, and other items. Upon completion of these labors, John and Judy Bouma left Ghana on July 1, 2005 and arrived back in the United States on July 2.
Our missionary continued to preach the Word of God to the fellowship as long as we maintained possession of our mission building. The final worship service was held on Sunday, July 10, 2005. Our missionary continued to seek the spiritual welfare of the fellowship members by seeking alternative worship possibilities for these saints. In the end, the members of the fellowship were encouraged to seek contact with a group known as Revival Chapel. This group is associated with Rev. Kenneth Hovingh, an OPC minister with whom we had previous contact. Having left Psalters and library books with the fellowship members, we also continue to send literature, such as the Standard Bearer and theBeacon Lights, to Ghana to assist these saints in their Bible study and spiritual growth.
Our missionary was also busy with the disposition of the mission assets. He negotiated the sale of the mission property along with the pickup and other miscellaneous equipment that was used in our labors in Ghana. The missionary, along with the Hull council, calculated an appropriate severance package for Emanuel Osafo, the caretaker of the mission property, who would be displaced with the closing of the mission. After working through many obstacles in clearing the remainder of our funds for departure from Ghana, Rev. and Mrs. Miersma left Ghana and returned to the United States on July 29, 2005.
Although it is difficult to leave behind a remnant of saints who are desirous to hear God’s Word, God’s will has been made evident to us even in the events of closing the mission field in Ghana. We continue to maintain contact with some of the saints in Ghana and we pray that the Lord of the harvest will sustain and bless them as they seek to grow in the truth of His Word.
The FMC would like to extend its hearty thanks to Rev. Rodney Miersma for his faithful labors in preaching the Word of God throughout his time in Ghana, and to Mrs. Miersma for her faithful support of her husband in the mission work.
The FMC is also very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. John Bouma for their volunteer work in assisting our missionary in Ghana.
Our missionary, Rev. Spriensma, continues to labor with the core group in Manila, the Berean Church of God Reformed. There are some 13 families who are members of the group, along with more families who visit somewhat regularly. On the Sabbath, the group meets twice for worship, with catechism classes being taught between services. Also, the saints enjoy a Sunday meal together, because travel to and from church is difficult for some. Rev. Spriensma reports that the group continues to grow under the preaching and catechism instruction. They are maturing in their faith and knowledge of the particulars of the Reformed faith. The men of the church also participate in a church government class with a view to being able someday soon to organize as a church. In addition, there is a Board of Trustees, which sees to the day-to-day operation of the fellowship and deals with the benevolent needs of some of the saints. In this way, they are beginning to learn how to conduct meetings properly, and they are learning some practical lessons in church polity.
In the past year, we were able to send a delegation of Rev. Overway and Rev. Bruinsma to evaluate the work on behalf of the FMC and Doon’s council and to visit our missionary. They report that the men of the fellowship are committed to the Reformed truths we hold so dear, and that they benefit much from Rev. Spriensma’s instruction and preaching. Our delegation was able to visit many of the saints in their homes and also observed the church government class. They can and do joyfully testify that the work in the Philippines has indeed been blessed by our heavenly Father. There is a spirit of unity among the group, and there is a desire on the part of many to be baptized, to make profession of their faith, and to baptize their covenant seed. The saints there are eager to begin to stand on their own, and to organize into a church. It is the testimony of our missionary, and it is the testimony of our delegation, that the saints in Manila are indeed ready to be organized as a church. On the basis of this, the Doon council and the FMC heartily recommend that the Berean Church of God proceed to organization. This request has been forwarded to Synod 2006 for approval.
In other work, Rev. Spriensma continues to conduct classes with pastors and elders of the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches. This is a small group of churches that perhaps in time will be interested in joining the BCGR in a denomination. The men of the churches are committed to the Reformed faith, and they seek our instruction. Also, Rev. Spriensma continues to work in Inayuaun, holding conferences when possible with a group in that place. This area may be a place where an organized BCGR can labor. The work in Bacolod was discontinued recently because our main contact broke with us and is unwilling to help us. We pray that God will in the future provide us the opportunity to minister in this area again.
Our missionary family has endured much trial in the past year in the way of the afflictions of their daughter Jessica. We are thankful to God for the measure of healing given to her, and we pray that she may continue to experience His grace. Rev. Spriensma and his family feel safe in the Philippines, but take reasonable precautions when they feel it to be necessary. The FMC is grateful to God for Rev. Spriensma’s faithful labors and for his family’s support of him in his work.
Our prayer is that God will continue to bless the work in the Philippines, and we pray that God will sustain Rev. Spriensma, Alva, and Jessica in that foreign land. Finally, we are thankful to our heavenly Father for His mercy toward His people, and that He gathers, defends, and preserves His church. With the psalmist, we pray, “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise” (Ps. 106:47).
There is obviously much work to be done in the Philippines. We thank the Lord for the opportunity He has given us to be busy in this work. We thank Him also for our missionary, for the faithful and energetic work the missionary does, and for His blessing upon the labors that are being performed.
As you know, the mission work of our churches is carried out and performed especially by the missionary, the calling church, and the FMC. But these men and bodies, though they are indeed the ones who are directly involved in the work, do what they do on behalf of the churches as a whole. This means that all who are members of our churches are part of this important work. The Lord gives all of us the opportunity and privilege to be involved in the spread of His truth to the four corners of the earth. We hope and pray, therefore, that both the missionary’s newsletters and this annual review help to keep you informed of your work in foreign missions.
We thank you for your support, both through prayers and financial gifts. We ask that you continue to remember the missionaries and their families, the calling churches, and the FMC in your prayers. We would also encourage you to write the missionaries and their families. They make a great sacrifice in order to do the work of missions. Please take the time to send them a letter or e-mail. They enjoy any and all correspondence, and have specifically stated that this provides encouragement for them in the great task that the Lord has set before them.
May it please the Lord to continue to use us as instruments in His hands in Christ’s great work of gathering, defending, and preserving His church.