Pastor's Blog

In September 2000 an email from one of our missionaries popped into my inbox.  A missionary teacher at a little Christian college in the Pacific Islands had to return to the US because of illness, and an instructor was needed to teach two intense classes – a semester’s worth of information squeezed into three weeks – on the subjects of Genesis and Church History.  The instructor was needed by the end of November – about eight weeks from the time I read the email.

The situation caught my interest, as it seemed a providential convergence of a few of the streams of my life.  I had always wanted to teach at a college level and this would provide me that opportunity without having to leave my job.  My graduate degree is in Hebrew and Old Testament studies, so a class on Genesis was right up my alley.  Furthermore, history is a special interest of mine and I had taken numerous elective classes on church history.  I had never been out of the country, much less to any sort of mission field, so I thought it would be important exposure for me as a pastor.  The Chuukese speak English so I could get to work immediately without language preparations.  And finally, my head needed a break from the stresses I had been under; three weeks teaching in the Pacific Islands sounded good to me.

The elders of our church graciously agreed to pay my salary while I was gone and to cover my airfare for the trip.  There was a lot to do in eight weeks – flights to arrange, a passport to be gotten, supplies to be purchased, class materials to be put together, and a crash course in missions and Chuukese culture to be taken.

Pacific Islands Bible College was in Chuuk, one of the states in the Federated States of Micronesia.  Chuuk is a lagoon, a ring of volcanic islands rising from the ocean.  During WWII, Chuuk was called “Truk Lagoon” and was held by the Japanese fleet.  On February 17-18, 1944 American air and land forces sank the Japanese fleet harbored there in Operation Hailstone.  During my preparations to go to Chuuk I discovered another little providence:  my step-grandfather was one of the Marines that landed there as a part of Operation Hailstone in 1944!

Today, Chuuk is a diver’s paradise.  Divers from all around the world come to explore the sunken Japanese wrecks at the bottom of the lagoon.

The flight to Chuuk took seventeen hours over two days.  I left from Philadelphia and had to switch planes in Houston and again in Honolulu.  From Honolulu I flew into Guam and stayed overnight with one of the missionaries.  The next morning I took the hour long flight south to Chuuk.

That was the first time I ever flew on a jet plane.  I was almost forty years old. 

Maybe I’ll share some of my experiences at Pacific Islands Bible College in upcoming blogs.  In closing this chapter, let me just say that my time in Chuuk was an eye-opening, life-changing experience.  It was a teaching experience custom-made for my soul and for the person I had become.  It was academic but it wasn’t mere academia.  It was chock-full of practical experience and life application for me and for my students.  It was not a teaching experience I would have ever dreamed of, but it was the dream God had for me – and when I lived it out, it was a wonderfully fulfilling dream come true.  He knew what I needed far better than I did.  God is truly so, so good.

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