Why is IPC engaged in Asia?
When God called His people together to start Irvine Presbyterian Church, there were many IPC members who had ties in Asia.
There has always been an emphasis at IPC to look outward toward how we can serve the world, as opposed to just the inward nurture of our spiritual needs. Because of Irvine’s unique demographics and the connections members have, we currently support mission partners in China, Japan, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. With God, nothing goes to waste: He uses our skills, talents, education, even our ethnic backgrounds to serve His kingdom. It should not be surprising that He has called us to be light and salt to our neighbors on the Pacific Rim.
For more information on how to get involved with IPC missions in Asia, contact Jon Dietz.
Caring for China (CFC)
Some of IPC’s longest serving mission partners are Cyril and Gabrielle Thomas of Caring For China. They started sending English teachers into Southern China in the early 1980s, just after the Cultural Revolution. Soon, there were teachers all over the country, sharing the gospel as their students asked about their lives. On Christmas Day in 1990, several teachers decided to volunteer at a local orphanage in Central China, hoping to spread some cheer to the babies and children there. What they found was heartbreaking.
The teachers prayed that somehow God would rescue the children from such a desperate situation. Four years later, their prayers were answered when the authorities asked the teachers if their organization would consider setting up a model orphanage that would bring the facility up to international standards and prepare the children for adoption. This was the beginning of the work with orphanages, and CFC now helps manage three facilities in Central China.
Many of the children have medical issues or are disabled. In 1997, a medical program was started to meet their needs. Today, the healthcare team is partnered with a local hospital and CFC has half a floor of a hospital, including an operating room. In 2005, a group of 40 IPC members visited China and got to see firsthand the work in the orphanages and meet the volunteers.
Today, Caring For China still recruits and places teachers in China. The orphanages are running well and the healthcare program is reaching out to local villages to teach preventive medicine that, they hope, will result in fewer abandoned babies with birth defects. Adult training for special needs children is being administered and older children with special needs are being taught vocational skills through Caring For China programs.
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Pravaham: A Community for Peace and Justice
Ministry Contact: Lucy Shyamsundar
IPC Contact: Anita Coleman
Pravaham means an "ever flowing stream." Located in South India, Pravaham was established in 1993 by the Rt. Rev. Ananda Rao Samuel, former Moderator and Bishop of the Church of South India. With very little outside help, its ministries serve the marginalized, oppressed, poor, and rural villages among whom it is situated. Programs include:
- 1-year nursing aide program for high school drop-outs
- Evening tuition centers in the villages
- Model school outreach, whereby students are brought to the Pravaham campus for fun, Christian devotions and hot, nutritional meals
- Free health and medical camps
- Christian ecumenical retreats
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Rex joined Wycliffe in 1982 and went to the
Philippines as a translator in 1988 with his first wife, Beth. When she passed
away in 1996, he returned to the US with his kids. Now he does typesetting of
Scripture, as well as academic publications about Asian languages (such as journal
articles, dictionaries, and grammars). He has recently started typesetting
Scripture in languages that read from right-to-left and use Middle-eastern
alphabets like Arabic and Syriac. Rex and Susan have worked in the Philippines
for many years, but with family needs and the current ease of typesetting from
a distance, he is on remote assignment and does typesetting from home in the US.
At some point they may go back overseas, but most likely not to the Philippines
since translation projects are finishing up there. He’s excited to see how his
assignment is developing into a more global work.
Susan joined Wycliffe in 1984 and worked in West Africa and the Philippines as a teacher. She was in California, retraining as a counselor, when she met and married Rex in 1997 and they joined IPC. The family returned to the Philippines and Wycliffe expressed a need for more career guidance counselors, so Susan got training to help members explore their gifts, interests, values, and God’s calling in their lives; so they will continue serving Bible translation in a job that fits well. She was recently reassigned to Wycliffe USA, so is working with members in the US, Asia, and around the world who have requested career guidance.
Rex and Susan have found it very rewarding to be involved in people's lives and have a small part in fulfilling the Great Commission.