More than 50 representatives from the eleven Philippine districts as well as nations of Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Thailand gathered in Manila from 28 February to 3 March 2018 for the second Asia-Pacific Regional Holiness Writers Conference. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, Dr. Neville Bartle retired District Superintendent and missionary from New Zealand, taught us Biblical foundations of holiness as Christlikeness and the true victory we have in this life because Christ was our complete sacrifice that triumphed over sin, death, and evil. Together we began to see that holiness as Christlikeness must be our lifestyle demonstrated in forgiveness, surrender of self-love, submission and compassion as Jesus’ hands and feet in a broken world as we await the day when all will be fully restored in God’s image. David Ackerman, the Education Coordinator of Philippine and Micronesia Field, reflected, “He caused all of us to think deeply about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. He also challenged some of the easy answers we give about holiness. Those who attended will need to return to his ideas and rethink some of our own ideas. I personally found his messages challenging and refreshing. I learned a lot.”
In addition to the morning teaching sessions by Neville, participants attended workshops throughout the week on topics such as photography, video production, writing articles and sermon illustrations, writing discipleship lessons and curriculum for children and adults, illustrating holiness themes, writing for small groups, blog writing, and basic writing principles.
Fruit of the conference began to be seen immediately in answers to prayer. God moved among us throughout the week during daily focused prayer times for each of the nations represented, a time of prayer response to the teachings on Friday morning and during a concert of prayer and praise on Friday night. Answered prayers ranged from a participant’s lost mobile phone being found to pastors’ hearts being revived. One participant shared honestly on Friday, “I hate writing. I didn’t want to come to this conference, but I’m glad I came. God is doing something here.” At least two participants also shared that God taught them that forgiveness is a first step in becoming like Jesus, walking out holiness. A pastor added, “We’ve got to get the pen on paper! Let’s keep the fire of holiness burning and make sure it first consumes us.”
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Additional fruit from the conference that will continue to grow with time includes a tremendous response from Philippine leaders towards forming a field literature committee. Almost every participant from the Philippines is interested to help develop literature on the field ranging from writing children’s and VBS curriculum, writing Bible studies and discipleship lessons, to creating media and video resources to communicate the solid teaching of theologians and scholars grounded in God’s Word. The PNG participants also expressed commitment to re-organize or restart their field literature committee following this conference.
It is our field and regional leadership’s prayer that more Asian Pacific leaders will hear God’s call to write and/or to develop the writing skills of those they lead. May the Lord continue to lead us forward into Christlikeness that is both a viable witness and a fruitful communication of living holiness in our varied cultural contexts.
Submitted by: Lisa Lehman, Regional Literature Coordinator