Mrs. Kleyn is the wife of Missionary Daniel Kleyn, stationed in the Philippines.
What believest thou concerning the “holy catholic church” of Christ? That the Son of God, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to Himself by His Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof. Lord’s Day 21, Q&A 54
The above Lord’s Day on the holy, catholic church of Christ has always been a favorite of mine. I remember as a young person receiving comfort from the confession we make with an assured confidence at the end of the answer in those beautiful words, “I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.”
This confession thrills the heart of the child of God. The church in which we are living members is “from the beginning to the end of the world,” is “out of the whole human race,” and is “chosen to everlasting life.” What grand words! And what an all-encompassing work! This work of the Son of God extends through all of history from Adam until now and into all eternity. It extends over the whole earth and to all nations and peoples. That God has gathered us into that church and defends and preserves us as living members of that church is a marvelous wonder of His grace.
For most of our lives, my husband and I have seen Christ’s work of gathering in the established church. We heard the faithful gospel preached from the time we were very young. We were baptized ourselves, and since then have seen many more babies born to believing parents and baptized into membership in the church. We saw young people make public confession of their faith and, by God’s grace, we also made the same public confession. We saw young men and young women marry and become covenant fathers and mothers, and young men take up leadership in the church.
But now we are privileged to see Christ’s work on the mission field. We witness this when, as the gospel is preached, some hear the truth for the first time, and believe and love it. One man said, “Reformed preaching always first humbles you, but then it gives you comfort and hope.” We witness this when pastors gather to learn more of the Reformed faith and life (there are sometimes as many as 30 to 40 questions in a few hours of class time). We witness this when churches organize for the first time or reorganize on the basis of the Reformed confessions and church order (we started with one congregation here and now God has added two more.) We witness this when families come to know and apply the doctrine of the covenant (fathers start leading their family in devotions, mothers start teaching their children to pray at meal time and at bed time). We witness this when new members are baptized and added to the church (sometimes as adults or even as whole families). One of the joys of mission work is to be a firsthand witness to all of this. Although, we do also see the other effect of the gospel in that some turn away and oppose it. God’s Word is a two-edged sword.
One of the main joys in the work of missions is to meet so many of God’s people from a different nationality and culture, and to see that God gathers, defends, and preserves His people in all these different circumstances and struggles. The church gathered out of the whole human race lives in different cultures, with each culture and country having its own evils and sins and unique problems. Some of God’s people have an abundance of material possessions and have to fight the battle against the love of the things of the world. Some of God’s people face poverty and the temptations and struggles that come with that. Some of God’s people live in a culture that idolizes man—whether that be man’s knowledge and science, man’s athletic abilities, or man’s determination to make this world his world and force God out of it. Some of God’s people live in cultures that are very superstitious and among people who trust in pagan gods or images.
One of the reasons that God gathers His church from so many different nations and so many of these different circumstances is that His grace can shine forth in all its power. His grace defends and preserves His people, causing them to overcome the world, the devil, and their own sinful flesh in all the diverse evils and circumstances of their lives, wherever they live. We rejoice when we see God’s grace at work.
In contrast to the joys in the work, one of the difficulties is when we see that there is so much work to do, so many requests for help, and we are not able to do it all. There are contacts and groups who would like more teaching, more visits, more guidance in organizing as a Reformed church. So often we receive questions and requests: “How do you teach catechism?” “What is the work of deacons and how should that be carried out?” “When can we become a Protestant Reformed Church?” “My brother is seeing the errors of Pentecostalism and wants to learn more about the Reformed truth. Are you able to work with a group in his area?” Often we feel, and are, inadequate for the task.
When we see the people crying out for more teaching and guidance and we are not able at this time to help, then we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Holsteges (and also a third missionary, the Lord willing). But it is also a reminder to us that this is God’s work and not ours. God knows (better than we do) where His people are, what they need, and even the exact time they need it. He is all wise. He sees the whole picture, while we see only a few details in our corner of His church. And He is adequate and faithful to supply all their needs in His time. The Son of God does the work of missions, not we. “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer” ().
Aside from the above-mentioned aspects of mission work, life on the mission field can be very quiet and routine. When we were first on the field, there were many changes, adjustments, and things to learn. There was nothing routine about it! We sometimes felt confused or frustrated because of our ignorance and unfamiliarity with just about everything around us—the food, the climate and geography, the shopping, the way of communicating, the driving, just to mention a few. It took some time to learn and feel comfortable with just the day-today necessary activities of our life. Because of this our life was always interesting, sometimes exciting, and, at times, overwhelming.
Now that we have been on the field for several years, a lot of these things have become more routine and our day-to-day life has settled down into something more “normal.” Our daily routine is generally rather quiet, and we spend a lot of our time at home. As far as the work goes, my husband (Rev. D. Kleyn) preaches in mainly two different churches on Sundays, leads pastor classes several times a month, as well as leading a weekly Bible study and catechism class, and being a part of other regular meetings (consistory meetings, committee and classis meetings). I am able to assist him in some of that work in a small way.
One of the main ways I “help” him is to be his traveling companion. With the traffic situation in Manila, we spend a lot of time on the road whenever we go out for church, Bible studies, and whatever errands we have. The monthly trips to Negros Island (Bacolod City and Sipalay) include a few hours in the air, several hours in airports, and around ten hours on the road. It reduces the tedium of travel to do it together, and is also safer.
The distribution and sale of Reformed materials is fairly steady. In the last six months we have had an average of twenty orders a month. The ordering and stocking, the sales and shipping, and the finances of the book and literature distribution give me a few hours of work each week. With the help of Rev. Kleyn and some of the church members, we also set up book tables at the various conferences, two of which were held so far this year.
Learning the language is an important part of living in a different country. A country’s language can teach you about the culture and people of that country. For example, being indirect in communication so as not to create offense is an important part of Filipino culture. In Tagalog there are many, many different forms of each verb, which allow a person to express himself indirectly. Also, respect is very important in Filipino culture and is built into the language. There are a lot of different terms and titles for family members, strangers, friends and elderly that express your respect for them.
Learning the language helps us understand and thus also relate to the people in their day-to-day lives. Although we wish we were faster and better at learning, we do use Tagalog words and phrases and can sometimes understand what others say. In this way we seek to show a respect for and interest in their country, language and people, and to convey that we have a long-term commitment to the work here and have made the Philippines our home.
On the mission field God’s people are still learning just how far reaching and all-encompassing the Reformed faith is. It reaches into every nook and cranny of our hearts and minds and encompasses every area of our lives—marriage and home, work and walk in the world, church and school. As missionary and wife, we have to be extra careful to be examples in all of these areas, as God gives us opportunity. We pray that, though we often fail, God can use us to show the Reformed Christian’s role as husband/wife, fellow church member, member of society in general, as well as pastor and wife with the congregations and with other pastors.
On Sundays we enjoy fellowship with our fellow saints. Often times, while my husband is in consistory meetings at the various churches (these are mostly held on Sundays), I have occasion to spend time visiting with some of the ladies. Also, over the years, there have been various sisters in Christ who are at times looking for answers to questions or struggles they are having. As new Reformed Christians, they desire and are often working hard (as we all should be) to align their lives with the Word of God and are looking for guidance regarding the Christian life. Sometimes there are questions about marriage and children, about their work, about which church to attend if there is not a PRC in their area, or about how to answer the questions or objections of a friend. In this way we help each other grow and establish close friendships.
Many people here work long hours, travel is not so easy, and Rev. Kleyn is busy. But we do have times when we are able to spend some relaxing time during the week with our fellow saints. We are sometimes invited to birthday or anniversary parties (these are important occasions for Filipinos), or we are able to have a day outing with some of the people. On holidays we have the occasional opportunity (if there is not a church meeting) to open our home to one or more of the church groups so that we can spend the day together.
We love God’s people in the Philippines and feel privileged that God has called us to live and work in His church in this part of the world. We invite you to come and see our life and the churches here first hand!