Archives for August 2022

Arrival in South Korea

Yesterday I completed teaching these seminary students and friends (photo 1) the last 5.5 hours of my Puritan Theology class in Jakarta, Indonesia. The founder of the seminary, Dr. Steven Tong joined us for the picture of the class and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with him (photo 2). We then enjoyed more fellowship in his office, and got to meet his wife as well (photo 3).

Soon we had to say goodbye to Ardita, who was celebrating his 36th birthday and who had been so helpful to us both throughout our Jakarta stay. Here he is with his wife Christiana and their identical twin boys (photo 4). Before heading out to the airport to fly to Seoul, South Korea, we had a blessed time over dinner with Dr. Tong and several faculty members (photo 5). Dr. Tong kept dishing out various foods on my plate–more than I could eat(!), and then gave me a special pen, after which he gave both Mary and me a special watch that commemorated the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth. In return, I gave him a copy of my “A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.” By the time we said goodbye to him, we felt that we had known him for years. We found him to be warm, godly, and yet humorous at the same time–a real delight to be with. He and the seminary president, Ben Intan, are pressing us to come back to preach and teach more next year, but we haven’t committed yet!

Despite all kinds of paperwork to fill out in relation to Covid in order to enter South Korea, Mary persevered and completed it all after tens of hours of work (thank you so much, my Queen), and we made it through all the lines and tests, as well as the seven hour overnight flight, and arrived safely at the home of our very good friends in Seoul this morning, Rev. Changwon Shu and Myeungja Yoo, whom we have known for decades. We are enjoying fellowship now, and preparing to speak next week for the conference of ministers that he has founded and led for the last thirty years. Pray for God’s blessing on it.

Continued Teaching in Indonesia

Today I enjoyed lecturing for 5.5 hours on the Puritan theology of salvation (focusing particularly on adoption, sanctification, and assurance of faith) to my 46 theological students at the International Reformed Evangelical Seminary, founded by Dr. Stephen Tong and housed in the Reformed Millennium Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. Tomorrow I hope to finish the class with another 5.5 hours of lectures on Puritan theology, focusing on their teaching about the church (ecclesiology) and the last things (eschatology)—especially on heaven and hell.

Dr. Tong, founder of the Gereja Reformed Injili Indonesia denomination, also loves education, architecture, music, and art, so he designed the Reformed Millennium Center to house the Messiah Cathedral, a K-12 Christian school, the John Calvin Institute of Technology (a university), and his seminary, as well as a concert hall (photo 1) and an art museum (photo 2). Classical music concerts are held periodically in this well-equipped venue. The art museum covers two floors and is filled by the impressive personal collection of Dr. Tong and several church members. It includes replicas of many famous paintings from around the world, and a broad collection of Asian artifacts.

We also drove to the impressive downtown area of Jakarta to enjoy fellowship and a delicious meal with the Ben Intan family (photo 3, on the right) and the Robin Wijaya family (photo 3, on the left). Ben is now the president of the seminary, having taken over from Dr. Tong. He has been so very helpful to us on this trip with all of the logistics involved. I have come to appreciate him immensely. Robin was the CFO of a large company with 10,000 employees but felt strongly called in his early 50s to the ministry, so he gave up his career and now is in his last year of seminary training at the age of 57!

Please pray for us as we move on to teach and preach in South Korea tomorrow evening, D.V., for the concluding six days of our Asian itinerary.

Puritan Theology Course in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Exciting news: We have a new grandchild our 8th)—Liberty Ann, born to Calvin and Laura Beeke, who now have three daughters and one son. Her middle name is named after my dear wife, Mary Ann. Both mother and daughter are doing well, and are home already.

Pray that this precious child will have been born to be born again.We haven’t been able to see Liberty Ann yet as we are still in Jakarta, Indonesia. Yesterday and today, I taught the first half of my course (11 hours) on Puritan Theology to close to 50 students (photo 1) at the seminary founded by Dr. Stephen Tong, which is located in the Reformed Millennium Center. Our friend Benyamin Intan is currently the president of the seminary. He and his associates have been very helpful.

This evening I spoke on “The Puritans on Marriage and Child-Rearing” at a public seminar hosted by the Reformed Millennium Center, and did a QA afterward, for 550+ people (photo 2). The questions were thoughtful and excellent.

Here is a view of the night skyline of Jakarta from our hotel (photo 3).

Tomorrow and Thursday I hope to teach the remaining 11 hours of my Puritan Theology course and then head for the Jakarta airport to take a red-eye overnight flight to So. Korea where I hope to speak about a dozen times before returning home a week from now. Your prayer for our health and strength and for unction in speaking would be greatly appreciated.

Lord’s Day in Jakarta, Indonesia

We spent yesterday, the Lord’s Day, at the Reformed Millennium Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is the largest Christian church building (600,000 square feet) in southeast Asia (photo 1). It was founded by Dr. Stephen Tong, who is 82 years old and still is very active in the ministry. He also leads the denomination known as Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia, and has founded many other Reformed ministries as well as Reformed Christian schools, including a K-12 school, a university, and a seminary. (One of his seminary students is now pursuing a PhD at our Puritan Reformed Seminary.) He is the most well-known Reformed preacher in all of Indonesia and China. (My alma mater, Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, awarded him an honorary doctorate.)

Before Pastor Tong preached the morning service for about 2500 people in a sanctuary that holds more than 4000 (photo 2), he invited me up to the pulpit with him to ask me a few questions about myself, my family, and my ministry (photo 3). (I had wanted to meet him for many years, but never thought that would first happen behind his pulpit!) Then I went to a separate auditorium to preach in English to a smaller crowd (mostly young adults) on how Jesus, the great Prophet, Priest, and King meets all the needs of His people (Luke 22:31-32). Late afternoon, I preached in yet another sanctuary in the complex through an excellent Indonesian interpreter, on how to persevere in running the Christian race from Hebrews 12:1-2.

This morning, I begin teaching an intensive course on Puritan Theology at the seminary Dr. Tong founded which is now located in the Reformed Millennium Center (22 hours of teaching in four days). Your prayers would be deeply appreciated.

Singapore and Jakarta

We have spent two days on the island of Bali, Indonesia resting and getting over jet lag, as well as meeting with friends of the seminary I will teach at in Jakarta, Indonesia next week, the International Reformed Evangelical Seminary (IRES). Friday we flew three hours to Singapore, where I spoke to 175 young adults on the Puritan view of marriage and family, followed by a QA session. Enjoyable conversation followed, as we met with Nam Tuck, a minister for whom I preached on my last trip to Singapore and who attended PRTS for a few months on his sabbatical, and Jack Sin, a well-known Singaporean minister with whom I have corresponded for years (photo 1). It was also wonderful to see Sam and Carolyn Poon, and their children Joseph and Alithia (photo 2—Sam is on the far right). Sam graduated from PRTS with a ThM degree several years ago, then went on to get his PhD from Scotland, and is now pastoring and doing part-time teaching in a seminary in Singapore. Later that night we enjoyed the stunning city lights of Singapore from the 24th floor of our hotel room (photo 3).

On Saturday, we enjoyed a delicious lunch with another group of new and old friends (photo 4). The main course was codfish and watermelon fruit bowls, spectacularly prepared in a steaming display (photo 5). Then we headed to the airport, flew to Jakarta, Indonesia, and are settled into our hotel for five days, as I look forward to preaching twice tomorrow in the church founded by Rev. Steven Tong, Reformed Millennium Center Indonesia, and teaching at IRES next week.


On Thursday, our Indonesian friends took us to beautiful Mount Batur, in Bali, Indonesia, where I enjoyed a mango smoothie and Mary sipped coconut water (photo 1). While Indonesia as a whole has the largest population of Muslims of any country, the island of Bali is primarily Hindu. Tourism is their highest source of income. It has a very low crime rate. Population of Indonesia is 270 million, of which 87.5% is Muslim and 6% are Protestant. They were under Dutch rule for 350 years, then from 1942 to 1945 Japan controlled them. In 1945 they became independent.

We ate lunch on the way back with Ben Intan and John and Yanda Prawiro at a stunningly beautiful resort overlooking a river (photo 2)—probably the most picturesque resort we’ve seen in our lives. Mary and I both couldn’t help but think of the Garden of Eden as we viewed the panorama of amazingly lush greenery everywhere in front of us. We could see rafters floating over the rapids below (photo 3). The Queen and I tried out an old Volkswagon that was parked by the entrance of the resort (photo 4). Over a delicious supper, we enjoyed fellowship with friends of the International Reformed Evangelical Seminary (IRES). On Friday morning, we strolled along the quiet, picturesque beach which looks out over the Indian Ocean (photo 5) prior to flying to Singapore.

Arrival in Bali, Indonesia

Mary and I left Grand Rapids at Monday noon and arrived in Bali, Indonesia mid-afternoon on Wednesday after four flights–including a 15.5 hour flight from California to Singapore. (In Bali, we are 11 hours ahead of Michigan time.) Everything went well except that our checked luggage didn’t arrive–perhaps it will be located tomorrow. More importantly, we had an opportunity to evangelize two people sitting next to us: a friendly pilot from London, England who is an agnostic and a young lady who lives in America but was returning to Thailand to visit her family. We are sending both of them some of our Christian books and Mary was able to give a Bible in her luggage to the woman who was raised as a nominal Buddhist in Thailand. She received it very warmly and reverently after telling Mary that she had never had a Bible in her life. She will start her reading with the Gospel of John.

This evening we had dinner with the president of the seminary (Benyamin Intan) from Jakarta, Indonesia where I hope to teach next week, together with an elder from his denomination, their wives, and another friend. We ate right on the sandy beach of the Pacific Ocean served by a restaurant that is famous for grilled fish (photo #1). Typical of Asians, they order several dishes and pass them around. Our favorites were red snapper, large shrimp, and lobster. While eating, four men came to our table with guitars and asked us what we wanted them to sing. We said, “Amazing Grace” and quite remarkably, they sang it well from memorization even though our guests said they were probably Hindus (photo #2).

Afterward we returned to our suite in the Westin Hotel, where the recent G20 meeting of leaders of twenty nations took place, so there is a large red sign at the entrance to the hotel to commemorate this (photo #3). Tomorrow our guests hope to take us hiking in the mountains of Bali to help us continue to get over our jet lag, and then on Friday we hope to fly back to Singapore where my speaking itinerary begins.

Boarding the Plane for Indonesia

The Queen and I are just boarding the plane in Grand Rapids for flights to Indonesia. In the next 2.5 weeks I am scheduled to teach and preach for 30 hours in Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea. Your prayers are coveted.

How Can I Cultivate Private Prayer?

Prayer is a crucial part of the Christian life and deserves our careful attention and cultivation. Praying is as natural to true Christians as breathing is to a living child. When God’s people pray, they breathe forth the living motions of their faith, repentance, submission, obedience, hope, and love. However, just as a child needs to grow, so believers in Christ need to grow in their praying. Indeed, a child’s breathing can be dangerously hindered by illness, and at times the prayer life of a believer can be constricted and enervated by spiritual diseases. Therefore, we do well to examine ourselves and emulate the disciples, who said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Felicity Houghton writes, “Prayer is the way by which Christians express and develop the relationship that God Himself has chosen to make with them as their Father through Jesus Christ…. As often as I pray, I still find I need to be taught how to pray.”

Learn more about “How Can I Cultivate Private Prayer” here.

The Kindness of our Great and Gracious God

I recently received the picture from a mother who wrote:

Tonight while putting sheets on the bed for our 14-year-old son I noticed his notebook atop Vol. I of Reformed Systematic Theology by Beeke and Smalley which he packed for the trip. Opening it I saw the notes he’s taking. A few days ago he asked me for the next volumes. Oh this is the kindness of our great and gracious God to turn our son’s heart to these matters! We continue to pray for the ongoing, sustained, persevering work of the Holy Spirit in all our children—heat and light! Soli Deo Gloria!