Here & There

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Thousands Visit BTGH’s Chinese-Ministry website

The Internet is an increasingly important part of the Back to God Hour’s Chinese ministry. Five years ago, when BTGH launched www.chinese-goodnews.org, 16,625 users interacted with the site in one year. In just one month this year, users numbered more than 17,000.

“By logging on to our website, Chinese people around the world can listen to our radio programs, request booklets and CDs that we produce, communicate with individual hosts of our programs, and even ask questions about the Christian faith and life,” says Rev. Jimmy Lin, BTGH’s Chinese-language ministry leader.

The Internet enables the agency to reach areas where its programs cannot be heard, either because there are no radio stations or because of budget limitations.

“The Lord surprised us with e-mails received through our website from Chinese people living in Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Chile, Nigeria—literally from five continents!” Lin reported.

One responder e-mailed: “I was very happy that while searching on Yahoo.com under the category of ‘Bible’ I accidentally found your site. I was even more pleased to be able to listen to your programs online. . . . We have heard the gospel because of your site—praise the Lord!”

—Nancy Vander Meer

Small-Group Training Reaches Puerto Rico

Church leaders in Puerto Rico are learning new ways to use small groups for outreach.

Viviana Cornejo, Hispanic small-group ministry developer for Christian Reformed Home Missions, recently led a small-group-ministry seminar for leaders and members of Principe de Paz Christian Reformed Church, a church in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, that joined Classis Southeast U.S. in 2003. The response was fantastic.

“Hispanic churches will often have Bible studies or prayer meetings,” Cornejo said. “But the idea of using any kind of small group for outreach is absolutely new. At first, they wondered what I could teach them, but after seven hours of training, they wanted more.”

Principle-based small groups start by showing friendship and building relationships. Eventually opportunities arise for sharing the gospel.

Among those who attended the one-day workshop was Bishop Angel Marcial, representing 600 congregations of the Church of God in Puerto Rico. Cornejo expects to return to Puerto Rico later this year to offer similar training for those church leaders.

—Don McCrory is senior writer for Christian Reformed Home Missions.

Macedonian Call From Nigeria

This is a Macedonian call,” Simon Ndubuisi wrote to Rev. David Feddes at the Back to God Hour (BTGH). “Please, Nigerians in particular need your type of sermons.”

So began the process in 1998 of expanding the BTGH radio broadcast in Nigeria, which resulted in six new congregations joining the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN) last year.

Ndubuisi, a longtime listener and subscriber to the radio ministry’s printed sermons, was distressed when rebels in Liberia blew up the only radio station that carried the Back to God Hour to Nigerian listeners. He contacted Feddes, pleading with him to air his messages on Nigerian radio stations and offering to serve as a local contact. Largely through Ndubuisi’s efforts the BTGH now broadcasts on 20 stations in Nigeria.

Feddes traveled to Nigeria in April to thank Ndubuisi for his volunteer work on behalf of the BTGH and to encourage him to keep working to expand God’s kingdom in Nigeria. Feddes also met with Prince Noah and new believers in southern Nigeria, encouraging them and cementing their relationship to the CRCN.

“I wanted to worship with them and communicate how much we value their partnership in the gospel,” Feddes said.

Feddes, who plans to leave his position as English-language ministry leader to pursue a doctorate in intercultural studies, said the trip was valuable for gathering information as the BTGH board makes decisions about the direction of the international English broadcast ministry.

While in Nigeria, Feddes was the guest speaker at the annual spiritual conference of CRCN missionaries and senior staff. Eighty people attended, including North American and Nigerian staff from BTGH, Christian Reformed World Missions, and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.

—Nancy Vander Meer is a freelance writer for the Back to God Hour.

What are seniors seeking?

No two people are alike. Yet you may find two extremes among the older members in your church: people who drop out of ministry in their prime and those who just won’t give up a position.

“Reminds me of an old country music song,” says James R. Kok, pastor of care ministries at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. “Some people don’t know when to hold ’em, and others don’t know when to fold ’em. But it’s something each person has to discover and decide on his or her own.”

Kok discusses more than a dozen such issues in his book No Such Thing as Over the Hill: Making the Most of Life After 60, published by Faith Alive Christian Resources. He gleaned from a wealth of experience with people aged 55 to 89-plus, with an eye to helping the “younger older” make some key life-transition decisions.

“I’ve seen so many seniors make mistakes when they retire,” says Kok. “They sell everything, move to a milder climate, and give up their friends and familiar surroundings. A few years later they’re lonely and depressed, which makes them vulnerable to serious illness.”

Kok’s book complements a longtime favorite by Jacob D. Eppinga titled As Long As I Live: Thoughts on Growing Older. Eppinga’s book includes engaging anecdotes, personal insights, Scripture passages, and questions for group discussion.

Nancy DeVries, a member of Smithers Christian Reformed Church in British Columbia, said their group of empty nesters has been studying As Long As I Live with great results. “We really liked it because the topics have a lot to do with our age group, plus we love Rev. Eppinga’s writings,” she says.

For more information on these two books, contact Faith Alive Christian Resources at 1-800-333-8300 or log on to www.FaithAliveResources.org.

—Bonny Mulder-Behnia is a freelance writer for CRC Publications/Faith Alive Christian Resources.

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