Rev. Kleyn is 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 and an update concerning the work being done on our mission fields in Ghana and in the Philippines. Although the FMC has also corresponded with various contacts in other countries (e.g., Nigeria and Haiti), the focus of our work has definitely been upon the above named mission fields. It has been especially in these places that the Lord has given us opportunity in the past year to be busy in the work of preaching the gospel.
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, Rev. Daniel Kleyn, James Regnerus, and Gene Van Bemmel.
Rev. Richard Smit was also a member of the FMC in the past several years. However, in May of 2004 he accepted the call to be pastor of Immanuel (Lacombe) PRC and thus resigned from the committee. We acknowledge, with thanks to God, the many years of faithful work Rev. Smit did for foreign missions, especially during his years as FMC secretary from 1998 to 2004.
The Lord willing, Rev. David Overway, who has now been installed as minister in Doon PRC, will join the FMC after synod gives approval for this in June.
The Calling Churches
As Foreign Mission Committee, we acknowledge at the outset that the major share of the work on the two mission fields falls on the shoulders of the two calling churches—Doon PRC for the Philippines, and Hull PRC for Ghana.
The councils of both Doon and Hull are kept busy from month to month and from week to week in the constant work of supervising the fields. This is especially true of their mission field sub-committees, which must consider all the reports and correspondence from the fields, and present recommendations each month to their respective councils. The councils then send on their decisions to the FMC for our review and concurrence.
We are thankful for the faithful labors of both calling churches, for that has helped us immensely in our duty to oversee the work of foreign missions.
Presently our missionary in Ghana is Rev. Rodney Miersma, who, with his wife Sharon, has been on the field since January 2004. Their arrival in Ghana meant that we had two missionaries who could labor together. But in the providence of God, the other missionary, Rev. Wayne Bekkering, retired early due to health reasons. This was a sad event, and both Rev. Bekkering and his wife Phyllis are greatly missed on the field. We commend them to the Lord’s care and keeping in the years ahead.
Ably assisting the Miersmas in Ghana are John and Judy Bouma, members of Grandville PRC. Earlier in the past year, Justin and Cathie Koole, members of Faith PRC, were our missionary assistants. We are grateful for the work of the assistants, and thankful that God has continued to provide us with assistants who not only help immensely in the day-to-day running of things on the field, but also provide valued companionship to the missionary and his wife. We also thank all who have given and continue to give for the support of the missionary assistants.
Rev. Miersma is busy especially with the work of preaching the gospel. The sermons are translated each time into the Twi language, with one of them being aired each Tuesday evening on a local radio station. In addition to this, the missionary leads a number of Bible studies, teaches various catechism classes each week, and gives public lectures now and then (e.g., for Reformation Day). Also keeping him busy is his pastoral work, which includes especially the work of benevolence.
When time has allowed, Rev. and Sharon Miersma have taken classes to learn the Twi language. This has been helpful, for they are now able to understand most conversation. When necessary, Rev. Miersma is also able to read the Scriptures in the native language during pastoral visits.
As part of the oversight and care of our work in Ghana, a delegation visited the field in November 2004. This delegation consisted of Gerald Brummel (representing the FMC) and Alvin Bylsma (representing Hull PRC). Their wives also accompanied them on this visit. The men were kept busy during their time in Ghana and presented to the FMC and Hull Council a detailed report of their many labors.
The major item of news concerning our mission work in Ghana is the recommendation that will be coming to Synod 2005 that the mission field in Ghana be closed. After careful deliberation, the FMC and Hull Council came to a joint decision to bring this recommendation to synod. We do so especially on the ground that we do not see, after some six years of preaching of the Word in Ghana, positive fruit toward the establishment of an indigenous church there. The details and many different aspects of our recommendation will be published, the Lord willing, in the 2005 Acts of Synod.
Having presented this recommendation, we now wait to see what the Lord’s will is through the decision of synod. May He give us the grace to know that will, and the wisdom to be faithful in carrying it out.
The work in the Philippines appears to be progressing well. Our missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma, and his wife Alva and daughter Jessica have been in the Philippines since 2002. The Spriensmas live in Manila and labor especially among the saints in the Berean Church of God Reformed (BCGR) there. In addition to preaching, Rev. Spriensma also teaches catechism, does pastoral work, and gives instruction to the men of the BCGR in Reformed church government.
The BCGR consists of some sixteen families who faithfully attend the worship services each Sunday. Quite often visitors are present as well. A great encouragement in the work is the fact that the BCGR is composed of families. They are a vibrant and committed fellowship. By the grace of God we continue to see spiritual growth in and enthusiasm for the Reformed truth.
We also see the Lord’s blessing upon the work through His providing a goodly number of men who could serve as officebearers. The men are receiving instruction from Rev. Spriensma by means of a thorough study of the Church Order. They give evidence of a good knowledge of the Scriptures and of being well grounded in the Reformed faith.
Doon’s Council, Rev. Sprien—sma, and the FMC are all very thankful for the positive fruit we see upon our labors. It has led us to begin considering the possibility of the organization of the BCGR into a church. Although no specific plans are yet in place, we hope to labor toward recommending this to Synod 2006, the Lord willing.
Rev. Spriensma is also involved in mission labors in especially two other places. One is in the Batassan Hills area of Manila. Rev. Spriensma meets with and gives instruction in the Reformed faith to a group of pastors whose churches recently came out of Pentecos—talism. These men, too, show a keen interest in the truth. Rev. Spriensma also reports that the men are eager to instruct the members of their congregations in the truths they learn.
Another area of labor is in Bacolod City. Rev. Spriensma travels, usually every other month, to the island of Negros Occidental in order to conduct conferences and to lead worship services for the Reformed Covenant Fellowship there. The group is small, but has given evidence of a firm commitment to the Reformed faith. Every Sunday they meet for two worship services. When Rev. Spriensma is not there, the fellowship makes use of sermons that they receive on DVD from a number of our churches in the States.
In addition to the direct labors of the missionary, the truths of the Reformed faith are also propagated in the Philippines by means of radio. The Reformed Witness Hour is broadcast every week, both in Manila and in Bacolod City. From time to time we receive responses to these broadcasts. The FMC appreciates very much the work of Rev. Haak and of the RWH Committee, which enables the gospel truths to be proclaimed through radio in the Philippines.
Another aspect of the work is the distribution of Reformed literature. One way in which this is done is through giving gift subscriptions to the Standard Bearer. But it also involves distribution of books. Rev. Spriensma has a supply of good Reformed books, some of which were provided by members of our churches who collected them specifically for the saints in the Philippines. The literature is carefully distributed by our missionary, and we have found this to be a very beneficial way to spread the truth.
A delegation of Andrew Brummel (representing the FMC) and Warren Boon (representing Doon’s council) visited the field for two weeks in late January 2005. Andrew’s wife also accompanied them on this visit. The delegates stayed with the Spriensmas and were kept busy with visits to the families and members of the BCGR, a weekend trip to Bacolod City, and attending the various instruction classes that Rev. Spriensma leads.
The safety of our missionary and his family remains a conscious concern of the calling church and the FMC. The Spriensmas, as well as Doon’s Council and the FMC, are kept informed by the US Embassy and the US State Department of any safety concerns. The Spriensmas live in a safe area of Manila, near to the school (Faith Academy) that Jessica attends. They feel safe where they live, as well as when they travel within Manila or elsewhere. We are thankful to our heavenly Father for His care and safekeeping.
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 missionaries, the calling churches, 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 concerns of the earth. We hope and pray, therefore, that both the missionaries’ 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 assistants, the calling churches, and the FMC in your prayers. We would also encourage you to write the missionaries, their families, and the assistants. They make a great sacrifice in order to do the work of foreign 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 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.