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You can’t say that here

Posted by functionalchurch on 2013/12/03

I am sure that everyone has heard of Yolanda, the massive typhoon that struck the central Philippines in early Nov 2013. The storm not only brought a lot of high winds to the area, it also pushed a 6m-high storm surge into the city of Tacloban. Reports say that this storm surge reached up to 700m inland destroying most of what lay in its path. The result was immense destruction and heartache that will continue for years to come. 

Of course after a disaster of this magnitude assessments are made to find out what went wrong with the plans that were made and how can they be improved in the future. In this case, one of the issues appears to center around the warnings that were issued regarding the coming “storm surge.” Many apparently did not understand what a “storm surge” was and therefore did not take adequate precautions. Studies are now underway to find out what Filipino terms might be used in the future that would help people better understand the dangers that may be approaching. Current options include daluyong and humbak but the debate continues.

There is a similar issue in theology. The group I currently work with in the Philippines uses an Affirmation of Faith that is in English. This is because it was adopted from the Affirmation of Faith from the first missionaries to the area, who happened to be Americans. I recently had a discussion with one of my Filipino colleagues about this statement that seeks to express the faith of Filipinos in a language that is not entirely their own. Our discussion centered around making our faith understood. Of course, translating concepts between languages is fraught with danger. What if there are words that have no equivalents? What if concepts are not transferrable? Like the use of the word “storm surge” was not adequate to communication danger to those in Samar and Leyte, perhaps words like “grace,” “baptism” and “church,” which have no Filipino equivalents, are also inadequate to express God’s desire for Filipinos today. In fact the word “baptism” is itself not even adequately translated into English. Rather it is merely transliterated from the original Greek word.

It leaves us with the question: How do we make our beliefs understandable to those of other languages and cultures and how do those beliefs legitimately change when that translation occurs?

I had intended to end this post here until I was reminded of something. When I was a child in Canada, we had heard of tidal waves — massive surges of water that inundate the land. When I got older I found out that in fact “tidal wave” was not the correct term at all for that kind of wave. Rather it is “tsunami,” from the Japanese. I guess part of my misunderstanding lay in the fact that those kinds of events are quite far from Saskatchewan and therefore my frame of reference is skewed. In this case, a foreign word was needed to help me express a foreign experience.

I guess that leads to another question: How much of theology is a similar “foreign experience” that needs new words in order to be adequately expressed? Or must theology always be expressed in one’s heart language in order to be truly understood?


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So if you had to make a choice, which wo

Posted by functionalchurch on 2011/03/18

So if you had to make a choice, which would win: God’s love or God’s justice?

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o god …

Posted by functionalchurch on 2006/10/27

in november-december 2004 the philippines was hit with 2 typhoons that devasted many parts of rural luzon, particularly those communities located along the eastern coast of the island of luzon (facing the pacific ocean). one of these communities is real, quezon.

the major problem was not the wind, as one would expect from a typhoon. the problem was the rain. so much rain fell that massive landslides occurred. adding to the problem was that fact that there had been too much logging done in the mountains, thereby removing any tree cover that slopes might have needed. many cut logs were still lying on the mountains, ready to be taken to the sawmill. the result? the logs slid down the mountains in the landslides and destroyed whole communities.

the devasation was tremendous. the death toll was high. i am sure many faces were turned toward heaven shouting, ‘why god? why have we been cursed?’

so many logs were swept out to sea that helecopter pilots flying over the area said they resembled spilt matches.

a week later the people living in on patnanungan island, about 40 miles east of real, were awakened to shouts of joy. ‘come to the sea, look at what god has brought us!’ everyone ran down to the shore and began to claim their blessings. taking rope, they tied their family mark onto what the tide had brought in.

logs. many logs. many many logs were scattered on the shoreline. the people were so happy. now they woule be able to build houses, boats, and other needed things. god was good to them. i am sure many faces were turned toward heaven shouting, ‘thank you lord for all the blessings you have given us.’

of course, you have figured it out by now. the logs that had been so devastating one week — destroying houses and people — were the same logs that brought such hope to the people of patnanungan.


how can such a tragedy be at the same time such a joy?

perhaps the ways of god are harder to figure out than i thought.

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thoughts on god’s plan

Posted by functionalchurch on 2005/07/06

welcome to our blog.

for a while i have been thinking of way to effectively get out our thoughts on church life, missions, and life in south east asia as wel as encourage others to join us in our ministry here.

i came across this site from one of my former classmates’ sites and since in enjoyed the stuff he had on his, i decided to give it a try. since i am new at this whole thing, please bear with me as i get the hang of this.

today i sit here as a single man–well actually a single man with 2 kids!! eva left me for 2 weeks to attend the wedding of mike and christine, two of our former youth group members in langley, bc. she will get back on 21 july.

in my job i have the opportunity to preach in a lot of different churches. just last sunday i had the chance to preach in one of our sister churches. during the service they had a special part where they talked about raising funds for a new building. as i listened to their dreams i began to think about the dream god has for us as christians. pleas understand that i am not being critical of what is happening today in churches — i actually think they are doing a great job — i am just coming to terms with my thoughts on what impact can i have on the world!

i began to realise that god is not primarily looking for us to establish a 1000-seat church that has so many members, etc ., etc., etc.

how does god describe what he is looking for on earth? a place of justice, no poverty, blessing, hope, joy, peace, etc., in society as a whole–not just among a small group of people!!

so what does that look like? how do you create a society with those attributes? i guess that is the $64,000 question! i think that it would be more like a movement than an organisation.

how does one start a movement like that? how do we get people to change their lives to conform to those ideals?

eva gave me some good advice the other day. she told me not to change the world in a day but to start the process and slowly build up until all of a sudden the world is changed. i guess i need to change the way i think and act and not worry too much about others–the way i drive, my attitude toward those who are around me.

o, of course, i need to pray 🙂

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