One year ago I began to inform churches and individuals that, if the Lord wills, I planned to begin a new phase in my ministry of the Word. I had accepted the position of Director of English Studies with Miami International Seminary (MINTS). The position would involve me in following up on requests for English courses which have come from study centers around the world. Though I began fund-raising late in 2006, I received 25% of what we set as a full-time budget. During the past year I have visited meetings of church leaders in my denomination (Classes and Synod) and have written my first course. This Update intends to inform you concerning my first two teaching trips overseas.
MINTS has been in correspondence for some time with an emerging school in Uyo, Nigeria. This is a small city in the southeast corner of the country, about fifty miles west of Calabar. I had the privilege of traveling to Uyo in the second week of September to establish personal contact with the leader of the school, Rev. John Paul Idio. (He told me that he was not named after the Pope; his name is John and his father’s name is Paul.) John Paul is one of several pastors in his local church. None of them is paid. He is employed in the public secondary school where he teaches Bible knowledge. Though he has received some theological training, he desires more thorough training for the young men who are eager to become pastors in his area of churches. He does not know Reformed theology, but he was very interested in the book on divine election which I assigned in my course. He said it was a very good book.
I had hoped to teach the students of the school, but they were on school vacation during the time that I was there. So I taught my course, The Trinity and the Cults, to church leaders in John Paul’s congregation; some of them are teachers at the theology school. I believe the course was challenging for them and that they learned some basics of the Christian understanding of who God is.
A New Goal
My trip to Nigeria made me think through the level of English I use in the courses I write. Before I was ordained as a minister of the Gospel, I was a teacher in Nigeria for two years. In those years I often listened to the Voice of America radio broadcasts in “Special English.” These broadcasts included news, stories about English words, and news features. They utilized a limited English vocabulary, were delivered at approximately two-thirds the normal speed of speaking English, and employed only one main verb in each sentence. What fascinated me then was the great skill the broadcasts exhibited in presenting complex concepts with simple English. During this recent trip to Nigeria I concluded that I would be a more effective teacher overseas if I developed a similar way to communicate complex concepts to bright mature minds with simplified English. This is a new goal I have given myself for future writing and speaking projects.
I also traveled to St. Vincent in October. St. Vincent is an island in the southeast Caribbean about 250 miles north of Venezuela. This teaching trip was very different from teaching in Nigeria. The study center was established several years ago by Rev. Neal Hegeman. It is under experienced and organized local management, and it produced its own graduates last year. I taught the same course that I did in Nigeria. These experienced students seemed to appreciate what I presented to them.
There was another graduation this year. Approximately fifty graduated with a one-year certificate. Five more received more advanced degrees. It was encouraging to see what may become of the study centers we hope to establish in other countries in the future.
I hope to travel to the Philippines in January where an emerging group of pastors, who have discovered and embraced Reformed theology, is asking MINTS for teaching. Like my trip to Nigeria, this trip is planned to establish initial contacts and set up the organization needed for a study center to be formed. I also hope to teach a course.
As other plans are being explored, another hope for 2008 is that full funding will be established. Churches are being contacted for next year. If you or your church sends gifts, please send them to:
Vander Pol Support Fund First United Reformed Church 6159 Riverside Drive Chino, CA 91710. Prayer
Since neither the Christian life nor Christian service can succeed without the grace and blessing of the Lord, please remember MINTS and my work in prayer. Please pray:
1) that the Lord will provide more complete funding;
2) that I will be able to make progress on my new course, The Doctrine of Man (I believe this is essential for students to understand the Gospel fully.);
3) that the Lord will bless plans being made to visit new places where study centers can be established;
4) that the Lord will give safety when I travel.