Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Life is Short

I apologize. STTA hasn't provided much to ponder recently. Today, though life--or I suppose I should day "death," got me to thinking. A friend of mine, a fellow pastor, about ten years younger than me died. My friend graduated from Pacific Islands University and served as the chair of our Board of Trastees, so I thought it my duty to let others know of Hiob's passing. I realize that most of you weren't Hiob Ngirachemoi's friend, as I was. Still, I think what I had to say about his passing might give you reason to think about life and death, and perhaps make better use of the former.
I only have a few minutes to write about my friend and colleague, Hiob. My time constraints, as Hiob's passing, remind me of the vapor-like fragility and brevity of ur time on earth.
I am privileged to call Hiob, "My friend." That is a privilege that Hiob shared with many. As one who worked with him as well as enjoyed his friendship, I both enjoyed and was frustrated by Hiob's ability to focus in on the person in front of him. Sometimes that focus caused him to forget other things, but for the person who was the recipient of his attention, it was like a good satisfying meal--all you could want and more.
In 2010, Hiob spent a day showing Kathy and me around the island of Babeldaob. We heard the story of how he broke, and almost lost, his arm when he was a boy. I also know that in spite of that stunted, misformed limb Hiob was a respectable athlete. It certainly didn't prevent him from doing what he wanted to do. Over the last couple of years when I talked to Hiob on the phone I would always ask him if he had been fishing. Fishing did his heart good.
When Hiob showed me around his home island and then later when he took a group of us camping in the Rock Islands (one of Palau's treasures), Hiob's pride in, and love for, Palau was obvious. I once commented to someone else who knows Hiob, that he might be the most Palauan person I know.
At the time of his death, Hiob was Pastor of Koror Evangelical Church, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Pacific Islands University, and involved in many other organizations. His counsel was sought by various leaders in Palau and beyond. Most significantly Hiob was wife to Leah and Daddy to Micah and Jireh. They are in California. Hiob had been traveling in the States when the illness that took him suddenly came on him.
Please pray for those Pastor Hiob left behind. Pray for those who will be called on to speak at the services that honor him and point others to the Saviour Hiob loved.
I look forward to the day when I will see a big smile, hear a hearty "Alli," and be engulfed in a hug from two big arms. There is a river of life in heaven. I don't see why there won't be fish to catch. I look forward to sitting next to my friend and catching a few while we catch up. 

The picture above is of Hiob on the day eight years ago, when we toured his home. The one on the left is of the PIU Trustees at our last meeting.
Often my parting words to people are, "Live for Jesus." Thinking of life's here-and-then-gone quality, those three words make all the more sense.

It's Something To Think About.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Prayer Update/Lot's of News, 6/9/18

Kathy and I serve as Liebenzell Mission USA missionaries (If you ask, I'll let you know how we got that strange name). About once a quarter LMUSA publishes a min-magazine, Live Ready. This edition features Pacific Islands University, where Kathy and I serve.

In my career as a pastor I noticed some trends in churches:
  • An emphasis on church-planting--I am totally convinced in the primacy of the local church as
    God's tool for this time, and I believe that virtually all missions should result in planting of or strengthening local churches. However, I have observed that too often mission strategies seem to not recognize that churches in the USA, and other places with well-developed church infrastructure, ignore the fact that their church flourishes in an environment rich with Christian education, publishing houses, conferences, etc. yet the mission strategies they espouse seem to assume that churches in other places don't need any of that.
  • A business model of missions that sees support for missions as investment--think owning shares in a company--with a demand for guaranteed results. Apart from God's sovereignty--something we believe and depend on but don't understand completely--working with people is always a risky business. Yet, churches often want visible, measurable results, and they want them quickly.
  • An opportunity for laypersons to be involved in missions--the proliferation of  short-term missions is one outgrowth of this. The reality is, though, that many (most) missionary advances take place because of lifetimes of dedicated service. There is a great place for short-term missions, both LMUSA, and PIU benefit greatly from the contributions of short-termers, but we must not allow this trend to erode the church's commitment to those who go and stay, often doing non-glamorous tasks.
In my brief second career I have continued to observe these trends from a new perspective. As my comments above indicate, I don't totally disagree with these trends. I do see that too often they lead to short-sighted, inadequate strategies. Obviously, I'm biased, but I am convinced that providing high quality Christian education can be one of the keys to consolidating the progress of pioneer missionaries, and enabling mission fields to become regions from which new missionaries are sent to yet unreached places.

When you read this edition of Live Ready, you may think that Dr. Manana and I sat down and planned together what we were going to write. We didn't. It is just that we see the same needs in Africa and Micronesia. I hope that consensus opinion/observation will encourage you in prayer and in continued faithful support. You can be of great service to the work of PIU if you let your circle of friends and co-laborers know about the opportunity to invest in the future of potential leaders like those you will meet in the April-June 2018 Live Ready. Please refer them to the ongoing fundraising, friend-reaching, campaign, Coffee with the President. If you are in a position to do so, please present the opportunities at Pacific Islands University, piu.edu. to the mission committee (or other mission leadership) at your church. The contents of this mini-magazine would serve as a good introduction. I'm glad to share further with interested persons.

On a personal note:
I am writing this from my older son's living room in Rock Hill South Carolina. Kathy and I landed in Houston Texas May 9. We spent most of a week with our younger son's family in College Station, Texas. We were able to help them move from an apartment to a house, and help them get settled. We spent a couple of days in Sterlington, Louisiana, with Daughter-in-law Tanisha. Chad was already, here in Rock Hill. We helped Tanisha get ready for a moving sale, and then traveled to Covington, VA with a brief stop in Charlotte, where we saw Kathy's sister and family. We spent almost three weeks at our Virginia home. Our time has been full of doing various maintenance tasks, catching up with friends and supporters, riding my bike. and spending some time relaxing. Thanks to the internet, I've been able to stay in touch with colleagues at PIU. I head back toward Guam on June 13. I have a brief stop in California, an overnight in Hawaii, and a two day stop in the Republic of Marshall Islands. I arrive back in Guam on June 18. Kathy travels back on July 2-3. 

  • My  friends and colleagues, Dave and Joyce Owen were able to fly to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit with their son's family. Dave made the trip with minimal swelling. I think you can see, they are happy. 

  • Computer upgrades--PIU was recently awarded a $5,000 grant for upgrading our Study-Center computers. This will enable us to purchase six new laptops with up to date programming.

    In addition, Gateway Bible Church, Scotts Valley CA, has collected a number of computers much newer than we are currently using. A big part of my stop in California will be spent arranging transport for these units. I'm planning to take some with me on United. Thanks GBC!
  • We sold our Honda Civic to one of our grandkids. We are selling our VA truck to a friend. It will be a blessing to us to no longer have to be concerned about them. Pray that they will be a blessing to their new owners.
  • We praise the Lord for the support our mission shows, not only to us, but to PIU. The linked mini-magazine is an illustration of that support.
  • We have a larger than average group of summer students.
  • Kathy greatly enjoyed teaching music in the Spring Semester.
  • By God's grace, PIU continues to function.
  • We thank you and the Lord for faithful support, and prayer.
Prayer Requests:
  • Pray for a good group of new students in the fall.
  • We are in the reaffirmation process for maintaining our accreditation. This is a difficult process in the best of times. With our short-staff, it is more so.
  • One of our faculty members, Peter Knapp's, Mother-in-law, died suddenly. Peter, Robin, and their boys are traveling to be with family in New York state.
  • I will be teaching a class in the second summer session, starting July 2.
  • Pray for the numbers, budget and enrollment.
  • Recent graduates are finding their way to "next." 
  • Pray that I'll be able to make arrangements for the computers in CA, and that I'll have good contacts in the Marshalls.
  • While here in SC, I had a meeting with the Seminary Dean at Columbia International University. This could be significant for the future of Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary. Pray for wisdom and that God's will would be done.
  • Page 10 of the mini-mag lists some of our personnel needs.
I know I'm forgetting some things. If you remember them, praise the Lord and pray for them as well.

By His Grace,
Howard and Kathy

PS: If you would like a print version of the Live Ready, mini-magazine. Contact Lisa Jones at LMUSA, ljones@liebenzellusa.org. She'll be glad to accommodate you.

Also, The picture at the top is our new prayer card. We are thankful to Mylene Combs, wife of Joshua, staff-member at PIU, for the nice picture. It was taken at Ypao Beach, on Guam. If you want a copy of our new card, let us know.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Graduation at PIU

In a letter I recently sent to a group of supporters of PIU, I pointed out that I am behind on providing video reports. Hopefully, this will make up for the lack.

Here is the link to the video of the 2018 PIU graduation.
Since the audio was recorded by means of an ambient microphone, it contains a good bit of noise from the crowd, but all is clear enough to easily understand.

In case you are looking for a specific part of the ceremony"

  • The Procession begins just after the 3:00 mark.
  • The Invocation and Welcome begin about 5:00.
  • Rev. Steve Stinnette's keynote speech begins at about 10:10.
  • Valedictorian Zaloma Tangelbad's address begins at 45:05.
  • The awarding of degrees begins at about 54:00.
  • At about 1:05:00, HM's thanksgiving remarks and his charge to the graduates begin.
Please pray for PIU, our alumni, and the Class of 2018.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

March/April Prayer Letter

April 2018
Dear Teammates.

Our son, Chris, knows a lot about missionary life. He has told us numerous times that making a transition to another culture and place has its ups and downs. Even though Guam is part of the United States, it is not only 8,000 miles away from Virginia, it is quite a jump culturally. Though everyone here speaks English, when we go out we often hear more that we can’t understand than we can. We enjoy a meal when we can say “Please pass the potatoes.” Usually it is, “Can I have some more rice.” Back in Virginia, hunters would regularly give us venison. Right now we have some great fish in the freezer, a gift from a Palauan friend. We are enjoying new foods that represent the cultural mix of Guam. Like the waves and tide that surround our island we have had our ups and downs.
A while back I wrote to our granddaughter, Carrington. There is a lot of change in her family. I “We need to keep stability in our hearts.” That comes from walking with the Lord.
reminded myself, as I was writing the words to her.
More than the changes that come from relocating, the changes of new tasks, new responsibilities and new pressures have kept us busy making adjustments. February and the first few days of March were spent in preparation for our annual board meeting, then the intense three days of the meeting, were particularly challenging. For the sixteen months we have been here, we have made do, muddled through, gotten along, and by God’s grace figured out ways to keep going. That was the number one question our board considered: Can we, should we, will we, continue? I served for about a dozen years on the PIU Board of Trustees, for the last several years as chairman. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the work that board members do. The seven members worked hard for the three days of our meeting. By the end of the first day they (we) had reached a consensus. We will go on. What we are doing is too important not to continue. The task before us is formidable (see the prayer list below). We know that we cannot know the workings of God, but we do see what we are doing as being in line with the commands and priorities of Scripture, so we see ourselves like the Israelites with the Red see in front of them and Egyptian army behind them. “Stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). Pray with us that we will pass through this time to firmer ground.

Word from Kathy:

It has been a busy but good semester here at PIU!  I love working with the students and spend time with them in many ways, such as teaching Music 201 two nights per week, attending dorm devotions with the girls, having them stop in to talk or get help with studies.  Living on campus provides many opportunities to interact and just "be around" for them.  One of the girls has asked to meet for discipleship.  They have given me the name "Mama Kat" which is a real honor.  I take advantage of the Mama part at times...loving them, giving them rides to the store or appointments which gives me opportunity go deeper into their dear hearts, or even telling them to "clean things up" if needed!!!  Just like a mom!  Some days find me doing "banking runs" or errands for the school.

Our church has been a great blessing to us. We have met many wonderful new friends there and have some opportunities for ministry from time to time.   We enjoy looking for ways to encourage our pastor and his wife.

Our apartment is very nice and has become our "other home" where we enjoy our down time.

The "winter" has been milder and one of our favorite weather and adventure times found us driving around the south part of the island in glorious weather one Sunday afternoon.  We also discovered a gorgeous overlook that is hidden away and watched kite surfing which was amazing!  It was just one of those special days that was good for the soul being together and seeing God's mighty creation.

There are only three weeks left before graduation and much to be done in preparing to
travel back to the states for a month or more.  We ask your prayers for planning that time.  We hope to see some of you that have faithfully prayed and helped us be able to serve the Lord here at PIU.  We wish we could
see all of you!  Your prayers and notes have come at times to bring great encouragement. Know that each of you are a part of the ministry of PIU.
We have your name on a prayer card on our kitchen table and pray for you too.  Please let us know how we can uphold you.

God bless you and keep you and we send our love and prayers to you.

Prayer and Praise:

  • ·      Praise the Lord that a group of PIU students had a successful ministry trip to Saipan, a       neighboring island. This trip is part of our “reset.” It is the first such trip in seven years.
  • ·      Pray for a good end to the semester.
  • ·      H. was privileged to speak at a church on Easter Sunday.
  • ·      Pray for traction for our student recruitment and fundraising efforts.
  • ·      We need others to help us with these efforts. Pray for effective networking.
  • ·      We are in the reaccreditation process. I have been spending about 8 hours a week, writing a self-study proposal, the first step in the process.
  • ·     People in that hard-working World War 2 generation, taught us much that I know about work. One lesson was, “Don’t quit until you get to a stopping place.” With the reaffirmation of our accreditation, efforts to stabilize the finances, build a recruitment network, fill some staff vacancies, we aren’t at a stopping place. We plan to stay for a while. I would say that indicators at this time point to us staying through the 2018-19 academic year. We praise the Lord that we are healthy, overall. Kathy has (hopefully had a pulled muscle in her groin that has kept from exercise-walking for a couple of months. Pray that it will heal. My shoulder has healed to the point that I have actually been able to do a few pushups. Pray that health concerns won’t hinder us in what we are doing.
  • ·     We bought a 2000 Nissan pickup for a second vehicle and to use for campus maintenance. Pray
    that it will serve well. It has already been hauling furniture. We praise the Lord that a friend gave us four new tires for the truck.
  • ·         Dave Owen’s last scan was not as conclusive as hoped for. He has another April 24.
  • ·         Pray for some neighbors with whom we are trying to build a relationship.
  • ·         We are making plans for a trip to the mainland in May.
We leave Guam May 9. We'll be in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina and should be in Covington by the 19th. H will leave VA on June 13, and Kathy on July 2.

We are privileged to be your partners in this venture for God’s glory,


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PIU Staff/Faculty/Board

For as long as I have had any involvement with PIU the school has had a staff/faculty appreciation event in the Spring. This year Liebenzell Mission USA, the agency with which Kathy, I, and some other PIU staff serve treated us, and our significant others, to a lovely evening at Fiesta, a favorite buffet of the PIU family.
Forty-four PIU-ers had a great evening of food, fellowship and celebration.
Joshua Combs had planned several rewards. Here Kaki Binejal  receives a certificate of recognition for years of service as school counselor. She and husband, Jele, plan to return to the Marshall Islands after Jele's graduation this spring.

Billy Edwin also received recognition for his years of service in our maintenance department, most recently as director. Billy plans to return to Chuuk in FSM.

It's been my privilege to work with Billy on a number of campus projects. I have greatly enjoyed my time with Billy.

Someone let us know it was Ruth Dixon's birthday. We sang to her.
You can tell that a good time was had by all.

I really enjoyed presenting the Christian Vision Award to Paul Drake, PIU's Librarian. Paul exemplifies the character and attitude that we foster in the PIU family. He cares for students greatly, and loves the Lord deeply. The award was totally unexpected to Paul. Congratulaions!

The Student Council got in the appreciation act. They gave gifts to the Binejals, "Uncle" Billy, and to the family on campus who does much to care for the students, Student Development Dean, Alex Tavarez, and his wife Dani.
Dave Owen's Profile Photo, Image may contain: Dave Owen and Joyce Fay Owen, people smilingIt was a lovely evening. I think everyone hated to see it end. Part of the PIU family in diaspora, Joyce and Dave Owen recorded a five minute greeting. We let it run through the evening so guests could stop by, here from the Owens, and share a word of greeting with them (Be watching Dave and Joyce. They are on the way).

Again, many thanks to LMUSA for letting a group of dedicated servants know that their labor is appreciated.

Below are a few more pictures, including one with me and the wonderful woman with whom I share life and ministry.
Image result for fiesta food bar guamImage result for fiesta food bar guam

 By the way, our matching outfits are a gift from the Binejals.

Thanks to Hartmut Scherer for the pictures.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Welcome to the Battle

It has been my privilege to lead Pacific Islands University for over a year now. PIU is an institution of higher learning. Wow, have I ever been learning. My entrance into this position was a "battlefield promotion." I am incredibly honored be in line behind Dr. Roland Rauchholz, Dr. William Wood, and Dr. David Owen. My job is made much easier because of the work these past presidents have done in making PIU the institution that it is.
Some of what I have been learning is important to you, as you make the decision about what is next in your life. 
  • PIU’s reason for existing places us in a small, perhaps tiny, group of educational institutions.
    We want to provide you with an education that will help you make a living, but that is not really what we are about. Far more important than the salary you will earn or the title you will be given is the life you will build--the person you will become. Sometimes I rebuke myself for being arrogant when I say that I want our students to go out and change the world. Who am I, what is PIU, to expect such a lofty outcome? Then I think of a shepherd boy named David, or a band of twelve unlikely characters that Jesus sent into "all the world," and I know it can be. I look at PIU alumni out faithfully serving, and I think, "Why not?"
    PIU exists to transform. The paradigm for that transformation is the Word of God. Transformed people transform their surroundings, and as they model and share the life-changing word of God, others are transformed, and . . .
  • The kind of transformative teaching we are offering at PIU can only come from a highly dedicated faculty and staff. Another thing I'm learning is that those who serve at PIU truly do serve. They are professionals, to be sure, but theirs is not a mere profession. It is a calling.
  • I'm also learning that we live in a world of rapid change. Changes that took decades to evolve in the mainland US are thrust upon this region with the ferocity of a typhoon. Those changes bring a plethora of opportunities, including educational opportunities. 
At PIU we believe that knowledge should be practical, so let me practice that and apply what I have been learning. Why should I expect bright young students, full of hope, to choose to attend a small school in a rural area of Guam? What gives me hope that some of them will choose, out of all the options available to them, to attend Pacific Islands University? That hope burns in my heart because I believe there are some of you who realize that bigger isn't better, that there are young adults who aren't interested in studying What this World has to Offer 101. In their hearts there is a flame that could be fanned at PIU. It's a little light that illuminates a basic concept, God does great things through those who are yielded to Him and who are prepared to do His work. 
If you are one of those dedicated people, then welcome. My welcome is not a light-hearted greeting, like one receives when he arrives at a party. No, while we have a lot of fun at PIU, we are not here to party. We are here because we want to change the world, and by God's grace, and with His power, we believe that we can. My welcome comes from the heart of an old warrior clasping the hand of one younger than he, another who is ready to join the battle. Welcome, comrade, welcome to the conflict. By His grace, we will prevail.