Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Children's Day 2017

One of the great things I get to do in my role as President of Pacific Islands University is hang out with some really sharp people.
Like Dr. Christel Wood, for instance. Dr. Wood has been teaching Education, and other courses for a long time, but she hasn't lost any of her enthusiasm. Every year, she and her students--another sharp group of people--hold Children's Day. This gives the students an opportunity to put to use what they learn in class, as well as reach out to kids in our community.

Here are some pictures Christel and I took of the most recent Children's Day.

The brain-trust at work: Zaloma, Jen, Andrew (in green), Jella, & Brianna.

The theme of the day was God is love.

We had more than 75 children in attendance.

The students were in charge of decorations.

 Jella & Restme doing their thing.
 Zaloma teaching.

"I know. I know!

Bible lessons, team times, good stuff.

 We didn't lack for enthusiasm

Matty leading he group.

Dinnery offering cool drinks.

We finished off with a lunch.

I'm proud of our kids and our staff. It is one of the ways PIU is reaching out to our community.

Friday, December 8, 2017

December Newsletter:

From here on Guam we wish you a Merry Christmas.
Below is our latest Newsletter.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas from our little apartment on the lovely Island of Guam. As many of you know, for many years when people would ask if we were “going home for Christmas?” I’d reply, I live at home. Though we have a house in VA, and we miss our friends and family stateside, we are home. Howard took a major trip to the mainland at the end of October. The purpose was to attend PIU’s accreditation conference and make some other contacts, but he was able to visit Chris and Chad’s families, and even spend a few hours with Niece Audrey & Rob Chestnut and their family. He was also able to speak at Covington Bible, and Faith Baptist in Covington VA, and see a number of friends there. Kathy was at Covington Bible for the Missions weekend, and spent a lovely week with all our family, at Chad & Tanisha’s in LA. We were all together for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s me in the computer, under the map. Though we miss you, for now, this is home. We’ll be spending Christmas at this home.
If you haven’t gotten the latest news, scroll down on this blog, In the latest Tide’s Currents you’ll find the announcement about Howard’s appointment as President of PIU.

Kathy is involved with helping to disciple the student girls. She enjoys her “Mama Kat” status. She is active at the church we attend, Faith Presbyterian Christian Reformed. She plays piano and together with Howard helps lead music from time to time.  She teaches a Coffee Break-like women’s Bible study at our church and is involved in maintenance/decoration projects at PIU. She is currently painting the main office area. In addition to teaching, administering, fundraising, and helping with maintenance, Howard preaches once or twice a month. We have a lovely out-and-back walking route where we exercise several times a week.
People ask how things are going at Pacific Islands University. By God’s grace we are still functioning. We need more money, students, and staff. We have some serious infrastructure issues. Other than that, everything is good. It has been very encouraging to see the response to the Coffee with the President campaign, the fundraising initiative that we launched. We are praying for an even greater response. You can read about it at http://piu.edu/coffee-with-the-president-2.

When some folk find out about what we are doing, they respond with amazement. What is truly amazing is that people hear the glorious John 3:16 message of Christmas and yet go on living as if Christ’s coming really made no difference.

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Cor. 5:15, NLT)

MERRY CHRISTMAS, from Guam, where America’s day begins,


PS: if you haven't seen the video report of recent activities, click here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pictorial/video Report of Student Activity at PIU

Our November Tide's Currents newsletter is shorter than usual. When we sent it out we promised that we would supplement it with some more pictures. I had also promised Coffee with the President partners a video update. So to kill two birds with one stone (though here on Guam we are trying to preserve birds) here is a graphic report of some good things at PIU.

For any who are considering becoming a Coffee with the President Partner, you can find out about the campaign here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Excellent article on Micronesian Emigration and some follow-up thoughts about what PIU is doing:

Karyn Sorenson is a part-time missionary to Micronesians, both in their native islands and in the diaspora. She is a full-time advocate for the people of Micronesia. As I write she is holding conferences among some Micronesian communities in the Northwest of the US Mainland.
Karyn recently posted this excellent article about the problem of and, even more so, the problems faced by Micronesians who exercise their right to emigrate to the United States.

The article is fairly long, but it does a good job of describing an issue that everyone who is familiar with Micronesia recognizes. Here is a line that jumped out at me. A Micronesian spokesperson says,

“The only resource we have is people. In order to have a dynamic, well-producing economy, you need healthy people and educated people — human capital. We don’t have diamond mines or oil or gas.”
People, that is the business that we are in at PIU.

One of the questions that is frequently asked about what we are doing at Pacific Islands University is, "How many of your graduates go back to their home areas to work among their own people?"
 It's an excellent question. The answer is, "A great many." 
But that doesn't tell the whole story. The article points out that about 30% of the population of the nations that are part of the Compact of Free Association (a treaty with the USA that allows Micronesians to enter the USA without restriction) have emigrated to the USA. Large numbers of Micronesians are in Guam and Hawaii. Their range of settlement, however, goes far beyond those islands. I'm far from being an expert, but I am aware, off the top my head, of Micronesian communities in California, Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Alaska, and Arizona. At least for the first couple of generations, these communities maintain their Micronesia-ness. Graduates from PIU are not only ministering in the nations of Micronesia but in Micronesian communities around the world. Again, without really thinking about it, I am aware of a very capable pastor in California, a social worker in the same region, a teacher's aid working with Micronesian immigrant children in Hawaii, and a number of pastors, and other professionals, working with Micronesians here in Guam. All of them are PIU alumnae.

As I read the article, I was struck with the obvious need. And, I also felt a bit of satisfaction in my heart. We are providing Micronesians an opportunity to get an education that they need. We are willing to see them not merely as students who have been denied some of the opportunities that many of us take for granted, but as children of God with infinite value. We are willing to go the extra mile to make education accessible for them. As well, we are imparting a Biblical worldview. Part of what that worldview teaches is, when I am given something, I am to share. That's a place where Micronesian culture has it right.
Coffee with the President

It is one of the reasons why PIU is worthy of support.
Read about our fundraising/friend-reaching campaign here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Project to help PIU move into the future:

Welcome to H&K's mailing list.
View this email in your browser

October 4, 2017
Dear Friend,

Let me get a few preliminaries out of the way.
Kathy and I, thank the Lord, are well.
l had the privilege of preaching at the Lutheran Church of Guam, last Sunday, the first Sunday of a month-long recognition of Luther's part in the Reformation. I had to work on my sermon Saturday, but we took time to go to one of Guam's most beautiful places, Ritidian Beach.
The class I am teaching is going well.
Administration at PIU continues to be a challenge. By God's grace, we are doing well. I think we are making progress in several areas.
Dave Owen is, now, in the bone marrow transplant program at Stanford. His will be an autotransplant. (His own bone marrow, healthy after recent chemo, will be reintroduced after his present stem-cells are essentially killed. (It's more complicated than that, but that is the short version.) He and Joyce were able to go to San Diego to see their son's family. Grandkid time is a good prep for a strenuous medical campaign.
We enjoy our church, here. For the last two weeks of October Kathy and I led the singing. We are in a rotation. As I said I preached last Sunday at the Guam Lutheran Church, a thoroughly Evangelical group.
We are back to just the two of us being in the little apartment. A guest teacher had been our house guest for a month.

The main reason for this note:
Since you keep up with what we are doing, you know that finances at PIU have been and are a problem. In most college settings there is an advancement department, which oversees grant requests, fundraising, and public relations. At present these tasks land on my desk. I am able to call on whoever I can to be of help, but we don't have anyone who is doing this as their main task. It is easy to get into a dog-chasing-its-tail syndrome. We need money. The Advancement Department should do something. We don't have an Advancement Department. Why not? Because, we don't have money.

Notice the tongue hanging out?
Not good.

To keep the canine image going a bit longer, it is said, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well, unless this old dog is going to wear a donut-shaped groove in his office floor, he has to learn a new act.

I came up with the Coffee with the President campaign.
If you are interested I can tell you about the thought/ideas that went behind it. For now, just remember these points:
  • From the viewpoint of fundraising principles this campaign has to make meaningful contact with 10,000 people in order to work
  • It is set up, not to seek large gifts from a relatively small number of donors, but gifts of various sizes from a large (for us) number of donors.
  • Our goal is not to just seek one-time gifts that will get us through the current rough patch, but to build a far greater network of friends, who will support us in prayer, with their good will, and financial gifts.
I'm not asking our supporters to become givers in this campaign. You are already supporting PIU by supporting us. Thank you.

If you are not supporting us, I assume that you are on this mailing list because you are interested in what we are doing. You may choose to partner with us by joining the CwtP campaign.

Mainly the reason I am sending this letter to this group of friends is to ask you to help me reach out to that 10,000.
I don't know 10,000 people, but collectively we do.
Some of the people in your network are interested in helping people where opportunities are limited.
Please share the CwtP material with them.
I have tried to make that as easy to do as possible.
You could share the Coffee with the President video with them. It is less than 6 minutes long.

Or you can direct them to PIU.edu, and tell them to click on the "News" tab. Thefirst item is a brief announcement of the campaign (They'll need to click "more" at the end of the summary. The news item contains links to the video, as well as to some other web-based articles that explain the program. This link goes straight to the "News Release."

Knowing that some people want a lot of information about a campaign like this, while others take the "Just the facts." approach, I have chosen to break this campaign into a number of pieces. On the same YouTube channel that contains the above video, you will find some testimonies from PIU alumni that tell about the impact Pacific Islands University had in their lives. And the impact they are having as a result.
I also set up a blog that contains a description of the CwtP campaign. It will also serve as a place to post updates about how the campaign is going.
So a person can choose to read or watch, or both. They can look at a little or a lot. And if you/they don't find what you/they are looking for, you/they can write our Advancement Director--oh, wait, we don't have one, so--write me.

So, here is what I'm asking you to do:o
  • Please pray for the success of the Coffee with the President campaign. I'm praying for more than $60,000 over the next year, and at least 1,000 partners who will pray with us and support us in various ways.
  • Please share this opportunity to invest in PIU with those in your network who might be interested. Share a personal note, let them know that this is a ministry you support . . . I'll list the various links below, so it will be easier for you to copy and paste.
  • Continue to pray for Kathy and me. We appreciate your support.
Here is a list of the links that will take you to the various items related to the Coffee with the President: If someone starts on any of the URLs above there are links or prompts that will lead them to everything else.

Thank you for any help you can give PIU in expanding out base of friends/supporters.

Here is a follow-up on the wild things and threats mentioned in our previous prayer update:
We didn't see it, but we are quite sure that on a recent morning walk we heard a wild pig grunting. Bruce Porterfield has nothing on us.

The threats from North Korea continue to elicit yawns from my neighbors, however, the plight of the people of NK continues to be a matter of major concern. See here for more.

Thank you so much for standing with us.

By His Grace.

172 Kinney’s Road Mangilao, Guam 96913 / 671-483-0371 / 540-784-1195 / hmerrell@piu.edu / Skype, howard.merrell
Howard and Kathy Merrell
c/o PIU
172 Kinney’s Road
Mangilao, GU 96913

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Mission From God:

I was privileged to speak in Chapel at PIU this morning.
I really appreciate the students giving their attention as I shared.
We looked at Matthew 10 and noticed some parallels between the mission on which the Lord sent the Apostles and the one that we find ourselves on.

Really, I had less of an introduction than a ramping up to the main point of the message. I pointed out that PIU finds itself in a hole right now. The good news is I think we have stopped digging and are on our way out. We have a ways to go, though.

There is a lot of difference between Matthew 10 and our situation. The students I was speaking to aren't the Apostles and I'm not Jesus. They were leaving on a mission trip that was part of the Lord's ministry. We are beginning a new academic year. Still there are parallels and areas of overlap.

Jesus broadened His scope far beyond His earthly life and the immediate mission on which the disciples were embarking. He envisaged the prospect of future hostility from both Jews and Gentiles, both frustrated family members and officials in high places with legal authority to persecute and potentially condemn Christ’s followers. 
(Blomberg, C. L. (1998). Matthew. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 412). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

It is clear that when you get past v. 16, Jesus is talking about something and someone beyond the group that was going out that day. What Jesus predicted would happen is seen in the book of Acts, and in church history down to the present.

Clearly the overlap between what Jesus told the Apostles and us, is that like them we are being sent out to change the world. Some folk have the idea that what God’s people ought to do is to huddle together for protection, hoping that the devil won’t get us.
Listen, young people. I’m really glad that you are here, but you are not here just so you can be safe. We brought you here so you can learn to be dangerous, so you can go out like the Christians after the day of Pentecost and turn the world upside down for Christ.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
(Matthew 10:34–36, NASB95)

Like Jesus, I am asking you to go on a mission.

A Mission that Will Result in Radical Change: The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. V. 7

A Mission that is Marked by God's Power and Authority:  

A Mission that Requires Trust in God:

A Mission that Hard, but it Cannot Fail:

Here is the question you have to ask yourself.

What I am proposing is frightening. I'm convinced that these guys were afraid as well. I think this because 3 times Jesus specifically told them to not be afraid, 26, 28, & 31.

  • V. 26, It's hard to be brave when people you love are telling you that this business of following Jesus doesn't make sense. Jesus says, I've got your back. I won't let you down. You follow me and in the end it will be clear that you are right.
  • V. 28, Don't try to make this say what it isn't saying. What it is saying is something like this. Don't fear that gecko that is smaller than your finger. Fear that 2,000 lb. crocodile that is in the floor in front of you. I don't want to give you the idea that God is out to get you. He isn't, but he is to be feared, as in respected, and, therefore, He is to be obeyed.
  • V. 31, Don't be afraid. You are more valuable than anything on earth.

The mission these guys went on was hard and dangerous. 1800 years later the mission that brave women and men went on to bring the Good News to these islands was also dangerous. Aren't you glad they did, though?
I believe for us the big Mission, what we usually call the Great Commission, and the mission before us meet right here.
I could be wrong, but I believe what PIU is doing, and what is happening in your lives because you are here, is part of God's bigger vision in Micronesia and beyond. The mission I'm asking you to take is hard. For some it could cost you friends, or even come between you and loved one. Some helpers of mine are going to give you a piece of paper that will tell you specifically what this mission entails.


My Mission from God Commitment:
By God's grace, I'm committed to do my best to make 2017-18 the best academic year at PIU that it possibly can be. I'm making this commitment because I believe God is preparing me this year to do great things in His service. Here are some of the steps I'm committing myself to. I believe these will help us have an outstanding year.
  • ·       I'll take advantage of the opportunities for spiritual growth that are put before me. Things like:
                 Dorm devotions,
                 Prayer times, K2 and PIU Days,
                 Personal quiet time with God.
  • ·         I'll be an agent of peace, not discord, in class, the dorm, in sports, and whenever I am with others.
  • ·         When I have problems or concerns, I will bring them to the proper person. When others misrepresent my school, I will humbly and respectfully offer correction. Mostly, I will live and serve in such a way that their criticism will not stick.

·         I'll pray for PIU, and for all who are a part of it.

I'll do these things, because together with the others who step up to make this commitment,
We are on a mission from God.

If you want to have some fun, especially if you are of a "certain age," watch this.