An Amazing Trip to Singapore & the Philippines
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As I said in May's newsletter the month of May was a time of rejoicing with the wonderful time we had in Singapore and the Philippines, but also a time of weeping with Brendon Pyle's tragic death (see last months newsletter).
This month I am focusing on the time of rejoicing we had. It was a very special time for us, as the workshops (seminars) we had previously started having in New Zealand (NZ) really began to take shape. Our initial reason for going to Singapore was to attend a Navigators Discipleship Consultation (Conference), which our family had been invited to. The Navigators are a Para-Church Disciplemaking organization. Approximately 100 delegates were there from 15 different countries.
Our family is not officially part of the Navigator Organization. I do, however, want to say that the Navigators have been incredibly influential in the life of our family and would like to explain why.
At the Billy Graham Crusade in NZ in 1969, at aged 16, Kathy made an adult commitment to follow Christ. She was followed up by Navigators, and for about the next 9 years she received discipleship training from these wonderful people.
Later when I was a pastor at two churches, Kathy ran a Navigator discipleship course called the 2:7 Course (From Colossians 2:7). I attended this course and an article in it called "Tyranny of the Urgent" changed my thinking. I realized that I was doing all the "urgent" things of ministry ahead of the most important, which is spending time with God. When I did spend more time with the Lord I was amazed at how He began to speak to me.
A few years later when we were worried about the direction in which our 10 year old son, Joseph, was going, I gave him a 2:7 Quiet Time(QT) sheet. I adapted the sheet so that even a child could do a QT. Two weeks later when I read his QT's I was astonished at how the Lord was speaking to him.
After a few months I got our cell group (including the children) doing the QT's and each week we shared together what God was saying to us. The cell group immediately came alive.
About a year after I gave Joseph the QT sheet, I started asking him and his brother, Jeremy, what the Lord had said to them. About a week later, Kathy joined us and so began the daily sharing time we had as a family.
One of the Navigators who had discipled Kathy was Selene Chew. Selene and her husband, Jim, have been a great blessing to our family over many years. They have lived part time in NZ and in Singapore. Jim is the Asia-Pacific Missions Coordinator for the Navigators.
We are extremely grateful to Jim because it was at his recommendation that we received an invitation to attend this Consultation. We are also grateful to Mogan Mannar from Singapore who ran the Consultation. He was the one who invited us. Mogan heads the Church Discipleship Ministry in Singapore.
The aim of the Consultation was to encourage disciplemaking within the local church. Because of this a number of pastors, mainly from Singapore but also countries such as U.S.A., spoke on how they were integrating disciplemaking into their churches. We regularly split into groups where we discussed the disciplemaking principles that were being taught.
It was a very special time for us, listening to all the messages, being involved in small group discussions and also making many new friends from these countries.
Our family didn't speak, although Matthew was asked to share briefly what our family does. He said how grateful he was that Kathy and I had decided to disciple our family. He said we began doing this because we saw the large number of children from good Christian homes leaving the Christian faith.
What Matthew shared had quite an impact, and delegates from countries such as Singapore, the Philippines and Tonga have since begun getting their families doing the Quiet Times. A number of workshops have resulted from Matthew's talk.
Before going to the Consultation a woman, Jane Ng, who is Singaporean Chinese, organized one workshop in NZ and two workshops in Singapore. She advised us on how we could improve these workshops. Jane has been living in NZ for the past six years working with International Student Ministries (ISM), which is an offshoot of the Navigators. Jane had spent two days staying at our home and had joined with our family in the family sharing time. She thought of the many wonderful parents she knew who were struggling with their children. Since Jane's visit we have been extremely busy running workshops which she has organized in Singapore and NZ. Jane is an incredibly committed Christian and in the few months we have known her she has been a great encouragement to our family.
After the Consultation we stayed in Singapore for a few days and ran a workshop in the Navigators Headquarters before leaving for the Philippines for 8 days. We returned to Singapore for a further 5 days before returning to NZ. During this time we stayed with a special lady Kate Cheah. In her younger days she was a missionary in China. She now runs a large family food business called Polar Puffs. We enjoyed visiting one of her factories that produces the food. Kate says that they get 23 tons of butter a month from NZ.
The cost of hotels in Singapore is very expensive and Kate's generous hospitality saved us a lot of money. One workshop was in her home for Chinese speaking Singaporeans. This workshop was received well, but I don't know how much they understood because of the translation difficulties. We have since had the diaries translated into Chinese.
The other two workshops went well. One was in the Nazareth Bible Presbyterian Church. This one was at the invitation of Francis Ng, a wonderful man of God.
The other was at the Calvary Baptist Church. This one was at the invitation of Chris and Pat Lian. Chris and Pat are committed Navigators. Pat works at the Navigator Headquarters in Singapore, and she and Chris attended the Consultation where we got to know them. They also attended our workshop at the Nav Headquarters and asked if we could run one at their church, Calvary Baptist, on our way home to NZ. Chris and Pat are now passionate about these family QT's and have become like personal friends to us. They have got a number of other families doing the QT's.
Our reasons for going to the Philippines was to meet Erline Guzman, meet with the printers of our diaries and catch up with my cousin, Nigel Pyle, and his family. We stayed at the Navigator Headquarters in Manila for 2 days. We had a wonderful time there and ran a workshop. It was also a joy to catch up with Erline Guzman. We get our diaries printed in Manila. Erline kindly distributes them around the Philippines, Singapore and further afield.
While we were in Manila a man, Henry Gula, txted our sons to see whether he could catch up with them. He had enjoyed getting to know them at the Consultation and wanted his wife and children to meet us. We, therefore, visited a lovely swimming resort in Manila. While at the resort I told them about our Quiet Times and gave him some diaries/folders. After we got back to NZ we received an email to say that he wanted 20 more diaries/folders. A few weeks later we received a further very encouraging email requesting more diaries/folders. Below is the email from him:
Email from Henry Gula
My family started using the workbook two days before my birthday last May 21. It has been over a month since we have used it. We wanted to try it first before we shared it to other people so as to build credibility to them.
Thank you for the 18 free workbooks that you gave me. I gave it to my small group composed of 9 couples. And we guided them on how to use it. It has been 5 weeks since we started it as a group material and how it has been a blessing to them. They said the following:
- it is simple to use leading to a focus and concentrated quiet time. QT used to be "laborious" due to the long passages to work on.
- it has helped them tremendously as a couple
- one guy has to confess that it has been years that he has not done the discipline of solitude.
- it has helped them journalize their journey with God.
In fact one of our small group members asked me to go back to the Navigator bookstore and buy 13 workbooks. She gave all her staff a copy and started sharing it with them! Amazing :)
Also, we gave out 3 copies to our homeschool neighbor/friend. The following day we received an SMS/text message from the wife sharing her joy of how her husband wrote in his thanksgiving about her :)
By July 16, I am asked by a leader to speak to 100 teachers for the out of school youth program. At the moment, they agreed that I will teach their team the Walking With God workbook.
The material has been very helpful to me, my family, my small group, and to other believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I am privileged to share it to them and lead people to a growing intimacy with Jesus.
Living for Jesus,
Henry for the Gulas (Virgie, Leonna, and Matthew)
PS: it would be great to receive another round of FREE workbooks (about 20 pcs). I desire to share it with other groups :)
After being in Manila for 3 days we flew to Cebu City (Philippines) where my cousin Nigel Pyle runs a Bible College. We had five wonderful days there with Nigel and his family. We also renewed friendships with many others who we had met three years earlier. We ran three workshops at the Bible College.
We have been doing these Quiet Times for the past 18 years. We have been urging families to disciple their own children with only a few families in NZ doing them, a few in the Philippines and in other countries. Even though these families loved them, there didn't seem to be much interest from other families. Over the past 4 months, however, all that has changed. We are now struggling to keep up with the demand for the diaries/folders. This demand is coming not only from Navigator families but others as well. We are also very busy in NZ running workshops for families.
I will probably include in our July Newsletter Mafi Latu's testimony about the family Q.T's. We met Mafi at the Consultation. He is a Tongan, but is now living in Auckland, NZ.
It was four years ago that we set up the website, walkingwithGod.com. About a year ago we had the website redone where it is much easier to work and with a new look. I omitted, however, to read through it. Recently when I read it, I was shocked at how confusing it was. The instructions on how to have a QT were especially confusing. This has now been rectified.