PRC Archives – A Missionary’s 1949 Expense Book

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For our latest PRC Archives post, we focus on a unique item from the PRC’s Mission Committee’s materials found today in an envelope – a collection of expense reports from PRC ministers who traveled for missionary work in the late 40s and early 50s.

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The one we feature is from December 1949 and was filled in by Rev. Andrew Cammenga, PRC home missionary at the time. The little booklet that was used for these expenses is also unique, being a handy pocket-size, monthly “traveler’s expense book” – “Beach’s ‘Common Sense'” – published by Beach Publishing Co. of Detroit, MI.

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A glance at the pages shows various entries for mileage, meals, laundry, and hotels. And special entries for mission labors: hall rentals, advertising, phone calls, etc. And, when you see the numbers, you will realize that they reflect the times – three meals a day for under $5.00! Others showed train and airline fares (including a flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids for $9.37!).

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Another small treasure from the past. I keep telling people when they see all those gray and tan archive boxes on the shelves that they only look boring on the outside. Inside are wonderful tidbits of historic tales! Come and check them out yourselves some day!

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 10:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

A Portuguese Bible Translation with Dutch Reformed Roots

Part of my Sunday-before-worship reading was in the January-March 2019 Quarterly Record of the Trinitarian Bible Society (cf. link below). One of the fascinating articles was on the history and development of the TBS’s Portuguese Bible. Did you know that this unique Bible has Dutch Reformed roots – and that through a sixteen-year- old convert to the Reformed faith?

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that; I had no idea either. But that is, in fact, the truth of the matter!

Here’s the story and the update on where this Bible is at today.

Introduction

Portuguese is the official language of several countries, including Portugal and Brazil. It is also spoken in many other parts of the world, including former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. It is the sixth most widely-spoken native language, having over 250 million speakers.

Christianity in Brazil

Christianity, albeit in a corrupted form, came to Brazil in the 1500s when the country was claimed for Portugal by Roman Catholic sailors. In the following century Dutch explorers and missionaries brought with them the teachings of Protestant Reformer John Calvin. During the mid-1800s Portuguese rule allowed freedom of religion in Brazil. It is estimated that today about 65% of Brazilians are Roman Catholics, with only about 4% traditional Protestants.

Portuguese Bible

The translation of the Portuguese Bible was begun by sixteen-year-old João Ferreira de Almeida in 1644. A Roman Catholic turned Dutch Reformed Christian, he no doubt understood the need that people be able to read the Scriptures for themselves. Almeida had emigrated to the Dutch East Indies at fourteen and in time ministered there in the Portuguese-speaking Dutch church. He finished the New Testament in 1681 and most of the Old Testament during the last ten years of his life, and was rewarded by the Dutch authorities for his zeal in the Bible’s translation. The Old Testament was brought to completion by another minister of the Dutch church, Jacobus op den Akker, and finally published in 1753.

TBS Portuguese Bible

The first revision of the Portuguese Bible by the Trinitarian Bible Society began in 1837 under the leadership of the Rev. Thomas Boys of Trinity College, Cambridge. The work was completed in 1844 and the Bible printed in London in 1847. In 1968 the Trinitarian Bible Society of Brazil was founded in São Paulo, with the purpose of reverting the changes incorporated into the Almeida Bible during the intervening years and restoring the more pure original Almeida, as well as of updating the language into more modern Portuguese.
This work was completed in early 1994 and published as the Almeida Corrigida Fiel (ACF: Almeida Corrected and Faithful) edition. Since then further minor revisions have been made to ensure that the text conforms completely to the best Biblical language texts as well as to the latest international standards of Portuguese syntax and orthography.

Today

For centuries Almeida’s translation has been the favourite of the vast majority of Portuguese Bible readers. Arguably so it remains; by God’s grace the Trinitarian Bible Society ACF edition has received widespread acceptance in Brazil across denominational boundaries.
Thus over recent decades millions of TBS ACF Bibles and New Testaments have been distributed in Brazil and further afield, many under license by the Gideons International. The wide circulation of this translation of the Scriptures contributes to the fulfilment of our aim:
to distribute the Word of God among all nations.

Source: Magazine – Trinitarian Bible Society

A Special Standard Bearer and Two Special Interviews on Dordt 400 *(Updated)

Today we feature two items in this post.

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The first is something archive assistant Bob Drnek found today while sorting through two large boxes containing PRC Foreign Mission Committee material (and that will be your only hint as to the source of what is to come). He pulled out copies of three issues of the Standard Bearer, translated in a foreign tongue and published as complete issues (cf. image above).

And, of course, he wondered what language they were in, so he came up and asked. I guessed one of two, based on a little knowledge of our mission history. But I will let you make a guess before revealing it. It was a nice find, and a good addition to our mission archives.

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*UPDATE: The translation is indeed into Burmese (confirmed by John VB of Hope PRC and Rev. J. Laning of the FMC). And the work, as supposed, was that of Rev. Titus, who continues to do some of this for his weekly “Sunday Digest.” Above is a picture of two other issues that he translated.

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The second item we feature today is notice of two special interviews to be held TOMORROW, Wednesday, April 3. Both Prof. Doug Kuiper and Prof. David Engelsma (PRC Seminary) are going to be interviewed on the live Internet program Iron Sharpens Iron.

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Host Chris Arntzen will interview Prof. Kuiper on the subject of his upcoming Dordt400 Conference speech, “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Canons of Dordt,” while he will interview Prof. Engelsma on the subject of “The Great War: What Led to the Synod of Dordt?” 

These back-to-back interviews will take place Wednesday, April 3, from 4-6 pm (ET). Sounds like something you won’t want to miss!

*UPDATE: The audio file of these interviews are now available at the “Iron Sharpens Iron” website. You can listen to both interviews at this link.

The Canons of Dordt and Missions – Rev. D. Kleyn (Feb.15, 2019 “Standard Bearer”)

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Standard Bearer (February 15, 2019) is now out and among its ten (10) articles are two on the Canons of Dordt, marking its 400th anniversary.

The first is Part 7 of Prof. Douglas Kuiper’s series “Dordt 400: Memorial Stones,” a year-long tribute to the “great Synod.” This installment treats Dordt’s consideration of “training students for the ministry.” It is another interesting, edifying, and relevant article on the Synod’s work and decisions.

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The second article is the one we feature in this post. It is PRC Missionary-pastor (Philippines) Daniel Kleyn’s second installment on “The Canons of Dordt and Missions.” We pull a section from this fine article, which shows how the Canons teaches that the gospel is to be preached “far and wide.”

Missions is to Preach Promiscuously

More significantly, the Canons of Dordt give an explicit call to the church to do mission work. Among the Three Forms of Unity, the Canons is the only creed to do this. This more than anything else proves the missionary character and missionary usefulness of this creed.

The Canons order the church to go out into the world with the gospel. That order is found in Head II, Article 5, which reads: “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.”

Who can deny that this call to missions is in full harmony with the biblical commands concerning missions? Even if no other passages in the Canons either taught or implied anything regarding missions, Head II, Article 5 would be enough to prove that the Canons promote mission work.

The word “promiscuously” is key here. This means the preaching must go far and wide, to every land and nation under heaven. This must be done by the church “without distinction.” God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). The church must not be such in her mission work either.

God’s purpose is that the promiscuous preaching of His Word will be used by Him to bring the elect to a conscious faith in Christ. The church and missionaries do not and cannot know who the elect are. They must, therefore, preach God’s Word to all to whom God gives them opportunity. In this way the elect will hear that Word and will, by the power of the Spirit, be saved.

New Shipment for Bookshelves in the Philippines

In the “good news in books” department, this new post on the Kleyn’s blog (PRC missionaries in the Philippines) certainly qualifies. Their November 2 report (last Friday) on the latest shipment of books from the RFPA warmed my heart – and should yours too.

Visit the post at the link below and learn in word and pictures all that is involved in collecting, shipping, receiving, and organizing these books for assisting the believers in that far east country in spreading the Reformed faith and in building a good Reformed library.

In the end, Sharon leaves us with this comment:

 We take this opportunity to thank the Protestant Reformed Churches in America for their collections for this cause, which collections allow us to make all this literature available to Filipinos at affordable prices so that they are able to “give attendance to reading” (I Timothy 4:13).

We rejoice with them in this wonderful means of spreading the gospel and of building up the saints. May we continue generously to support this worthy cause.

Source: Kleyns In The Philippines: * New Shipment for Bookshelves

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 9:41 PM  Leave a Comment  

July 2018 “Tabletalk” – The Eighteenth Century of the Church

The July 2018 issue of Tabletalk continues a series Ligonier has been doing for some years now on the centuries of church history. As you will judge from the cover, this one focuses on the eighteenth century (Can you identify the significant man whose image is on the cover?).

If you are like me, you probably do not know a lot about the history of the church in that century. Maybe in part because we so focus on the sixteenth century and the Reformation that we ignore God’s work in His church in subsequent centuries. But we ought not do that. If we believe, as our Heidelberg Catechism teaches us in Q&A 54, that Jesus Christ is at work gathering, defending, and preserving His elect church in every age (from the beginning of the world until the end!), then we may not neglect to study each century of church history. This month’s issue of “TT” will help us overcome both our ignorance and neglect of the eighteenth century.

Burk Parsons introduces the issue with his editorial “To the Ends of the Earth.” Pointing out that this was an era of mission fervor as well as of personal piety, Parsons tells us what we can gain from studying this century:

We study church history not merely to learn from and remember the past but to help us wisely serve and glorify God now and for the future. We look to the great figures of eras gone by in order to learn from their successes and failures. We examine their lives that we might be encouraged to imitate them insofar as they followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). For until Christ returns, we must be concerned to see the conversion and discipleship of our neighbors and the nations. As we labor toward this end, we must rest in the glorious truth that God is sovereignly fulfilling His purposes as He sovereignly works in and through us as His instruments. As some have said, history is a story written by the finger of God, and that story is centered around the history of the cross of Christ Jesus, who is coming again at the culmination of His mission, when the Great Commission has been fulfilled and all the elect have been saved from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

The first featured article is an overview of the century, and well worth your reading. “The Eighteenth Century: An Overview” by Dr. Nick Needham is linked below, but we quote from a portion of it here. Needham covers these main topics: “Enlightenment and Religion,” “The Kantian Revolution,” “Moravian Missions,” “The Church in America,” “Rome and the East,” and “Machines and Music.” How’s that for a  variety of significant subjects covering this century? While we could reference any of these sections this evening, I chose the last subject from which to quote. Let that be a good reason to read the rest of Needham’s article linked below.

Machines and Music

One last word on the eighteenth century—another paradox. On the one side, it was the century that witnessed the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution—the birth of the machine age, with all its transforming impact on technology, society, and human thought patterns.

On the other side, the same “century of the machine” witnessed an outpouring of creative musical genius perhaps unsurpassed in history. Composers including Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91), Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) ensured that music would never quite be the same again. Many of their works are explicitly Christian in nature and have provided spiritual as well as aesthetic inspiration to millions. Karl Barth captured this in a beautiful if half-humorous saying: “When the angels play music for God, they play Bach. When they play for themselves, they play Mozart.”

Tolle lege!

Source: The Eighteenth Century

The Founding of Frankenmuth (Michigan) | Christian History Institute

Today’s “It Happened Today” feature from the Christian History Institute noted that on this date, May 3, 1891 the founder of the famous little Michigan town of Frankenmuth died.

For those of us who have made the trip to that beautiful little place and enjoyed its Christmas store and decorations (Bronner’s), its Bavarian themes, as well as its delicious chicken dinners (Zehnder’s), we marveled at the industrious German settlers and what they made of this once desolate area.

But maybe you didn’t realize the Lutheran Christian founding of this town. That’s what was featured in today’s church history note. Here’s an important part of the history of that little berg on the east side of Michigan:

Death of Friedrich August Crämer, Founder of Frankenmuth

 

The hardworking minister was a founder of Frankenmuth, MI and Lutheran educator.

WHEN THE LUTHERAN CHURCH in Germany appealed for Lutheran missionaries and ministers to go to the American frontier, Friedrich August Crämer answered the call. Born in Klein-Langheim, Bavaria in 1812, Cramer was arrested while a university student at Erlangen for his involvement in a plot to start a revolution. He went to prison a radical social activist but emerged a Christian, reasoning, “If Christ has redeemed lost and condemned sinners, then He has redeemed me also; because everything in me and in my life is lost…”

Pastor Wilhelm Loehe Loehe recruited German families to form a mission settlement in Michigan and become a “living book,” showing Native Americans what it was like to live with Christ as savior. He selected Crämer, a theology student, as their pastor.

In 1845, the Lutheran immigrants settled in Saginaw Valley, where they battled mosquitoes and broke ground for a town they named “Frankenmuth” (Courage of Franconia). They erected a few log cabins before winter, helped their pastor and his wife construct a place to live, and cleared land for next spring’s planting.

As soon as he could do so, Crämer began teaching Indian children, assisted by Jim Grant, his interpreter, who was half Chippewa. In time, he baptized thirty-one Indians. Although Crämer taught from his own home, he also visited the Chippewa Indians in their villages and ate their food with them. When the local Indians succumbed to western diseases, Crämer extended his work by building three mission stations, one at a distance of seventy miles. He visited each of these every month regardless of weather or his own state of health.

During 1846, close to one hundred additional German immigrants swelled Frankenmuth’s population. Up to this time, the community had been worshipping in the Crämer living room. Now it was apparent a church was needed. The settlers erected St. Lorenz Lutheran Church and dedicated it on Christmas Day. The date of dedication was appropriate, for Christmas would become a major day for Frankenmuth—which much later would call itself the Christmas capital of the world, with Christmas stores, restaurants, and retreats that stayed open year-round.

The Indian mission folded as the Indians migrated westward. Theological difficulties also arose when Lutherans teaching other, less-confessional doctrines arrived. To counter this, Crämer helped found the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and taught in its seminaries. His hearers considered him an excellent teacher. While teaching in St. Louis, he organized a congregation of Irish and German immigrants whom he served without pay as their church grew to over three hundred members. In 1881, he lost three of his grown children and two grandchildren. His wife’s health declined from the shock and in 1884 she died as well.

Unable to support its own growth, the seminary in St. Louis eventually split.  Part of the seminary moved to Illinois, and Crämer led the move despite his age. He continued to work himself relentlessly, and as a result, his health gave way. The Lutheran Witness of May 7, 1891 reported: “It is our sad duty to chronicle the bereavement of our synod and the Springfield Seminary by the demise of Rev. Prof. A. Crämer, late senior professor of our synod and president of our Concordia Seminary, Springfield, Ill. … he had been suffering from a severe attack of the grippe [influenza], and fell asleep in Jesus on the 3rd of May at 3.50 A.M.” Altogether, he had prepared six hundred and thirty five candidates for ministry.

Dan Graves

Source: It Happened Today | Christian History Institute

May 1, 2017 Standard Bearer – Special Missions & Evangelism Issue

The last issue of the Standard Bearer (May 1, 2017) was another special issue in this volume year (93, 2016-17). This one featured the Great Commission of our Lord and the PRC’s work of missions and evangelism in obedience to that call.

Below you will see the cover and the contents of this special issue, as all of the major labors of the PRC and some of the local evangelism efforts of the PRC congregations were featured.

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Rev. Daniel Holstege, the new missionary to the Philippines, penned the meditation on the Great Commission, expounding Jesus’ words in Matt.28:19,20 and Mark 16:15, spoken to His disciples just before He ascended into heaven.

Below are a few of his thoughts, significant for those called to herald the gospel to this nation and the nations of the world, and for all who are called to bear witness to the Lord and to support these heralds. May God use these words to encourage us in this grand labor of our ascended Lord through His church.

What an amazing privilege He has just given to us, His specially called and ordained apostles! To be leaders in His church whom He will use to build His church upon the rock of brother Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God! We are no men of high repute or earthly power, no kings or governors, whom He has sent to do this task, but mere servants of our King, in a spiritual kingdom, ordained ministers of the gospel.

What a blessed work we are sent to do – and not only we, but all whom the Master calls into this ministry of the Word, laborers in His vineyard, pastors and teachers in His church, preachers of the gospel of peace and glad tidings of good things! Let all who follow after us do the work of an evangelist! Let them go out into the highways and byways and bid their neighbors to the marriage of the Lord! Let them not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but be eager and open and ready to speak with their lost, heathen neighbors. Let them go, too, into other nations, across vast oceans, over mighty mountains, afar off to preach the gospel or aid and encourage those who do.

And, O, that all His disciples, male and female, farmer, sailor, builder, lawyer, doctor, engineer, craftsman, businessman, single and married, mother and father – would support and participate in our great commission! O that they all would pray for us, with intimate understanding of our work, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified! O, that they would give cheerfully and liberally to support us who preach the gospel, so that we need not make tents or have another occupation to eat our daily bread! O, that they might have opportunity to visit us on faraway mission fields to witness the glorious work and appreciate it all the more!

But, O, that they would themselves participate, being ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks them a reason for the hope that is in them! O, that they would shine as lights in the world, in the midst of crooked and perverse nations, ready and eager to hold forth the Word of life to those who are without! Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but knowing that it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes! Would to God that they will radiate every day with the hope of eternal life, having faces that show that the joy of the Lord is their strength! Master, use them too to bring others into the fold to hear the blessed tidings of salvation! Give them too to hear the call – GO! – as the Lord puts in front of them an opportunity in their daily life to bear witness of Christ Jesus!

The Reformed Witness Hour at 55 Years – 1941-1996

Yes, it is true, as we have noted several times already this year, that 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the Reformed Witness Hour radio program – a program under the supervision of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI and supported by the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, our sister churches, and other friends.

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But today for our PRC archives post, we feature the program from the 55th anniversary, which was held at Faith PRC in Jenison, MI on April 18, 1996. This was another “live broadcast” program; in other words, part of the program was recorded live for broadcast on the RWH program (which turned out to be broadcast #2886).

You will note that one of our current radio pastors spoke that night – Rev. Carl Haak – under the theme “That All the World May Know.” You will also see that a variety of musical groups were part of the program – the Voices of Victory quartet, the Faith PRC choir, and the SE PRC choir.

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Inside the program was a special insert for this RWH “rally”, with notes on it from Rev.R. Van Overloop, who led the program. Those notes included some special recognitions for those who served on the radio committee: Stu Looyenga (treasurer) had served 18 years at that point, Dwight Monsma (president and announcer) for 15 years, and Bill  Swart (recording, dubbing, printing/mailing) for over 30 years.

As we celebrate our 75th this year, we may continue to be thankful for these men and the many other men and women who have served on the RWHC over the years.

And, while we are on the subject, we hope you will join us THIS SATURDAY for our very special 75th anniversary program and mission awareness morning, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Georgetown PRC in Hudsonville, MI. If you need the details, visit this page on the PRC website.

Published in: on August 11, 2016 at 4:48 PM  Leave a Comment  

Islam Today – James Anderson

TT-April-2016As we noted last week, this month’s issue of Tabletalk addresses the significant subject of Islam. The second main article dealing with this growing and mysterious religion is by Dr. James Anderson. It’s title is “Islam Today” and in it Anderson points out the wide diversity within Islam, similar to what one finds also in Christianity.

His article is well worth reading, as it taught me a number of previously unknown things about Islam. Below are a few paragraphs; find the rest at the Ligonier link below.

Christians in the West tend to identify Islam with the fundamentalist Qur’an-based religion found in the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia—and with good reason. Even so, Islamic fundamentalism represents only one of several directions in which Islam is being driven today. The Islamic world has faced a crisis of confidence since the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. Since that date, there has been no recognizable caliphate to which Muslims can look for leadership. The various Islamic dynasties that dominated much of the civilized world in previous centuries have fallen, and Muslims are consequently asking, “What went wrong, and how do we fix it?”

Broadly speaking, two very different reform movements have arisen in response to this crisis. The fundamentalist movement insists that Islam needs to return to its roots: Muslims today, including the leaders of Muslim-majority countries, are simply not Islamic enough. The proposed solution is a return to an uncompromising adherence to the Qur’an and Hadith (traditions about Muhammad and the early Muslim community). In contrast, the progressivist movement contends that Islam has stumbled because, unlike the Christian West, it has failed to come to terms with modernity. In this view, the way forward is to reform and contemporize Islam, accommodating it to the modern world. Clearly, this demands a more flexible and selective approach to the Islamic sources.

The question arises: Where do most Muslims today stand with respect to these conflicting reform movements? There’s no simple answer, but it’s fair to say that most Muslims find themselves torn between the two. The prospect of living under the strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law) advocated by the fundamentalists holds little appeal, and they’re disillusioned by the cycle of violence perpetuated by hardline Islamism. Yet they cannot shake the sense that when it comes to representing “true Islam” based on the Qur’an and Hadith, the fundamentalists have the better claim than the modernists.

Source: Islam Today by James Anderson | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org