Monday, June 25, 2007

A fresh vision of God's sovereignty from his Word


We are all well at the moment. Matthew's high temperatures only lasted for two days and he is healthy again now. Glen's mother is still with us and is helping out a great deal. We also celebrated Rachael's birthday last week and it was nice to have company for that.

** This weeks email is fairly long. If you don't have time to read it please skip to the prayer points which are short. **
** That is what this email is really for!!! **

Every now and then the same biblical idea turns up in many different places to challenge you afresh. In my classes this week it has been like that with the sovereignty and power of God. In "Knowledge of God" we have just finished reflecting on God as the ruler of the world, who provides what we need and is at work in all things. In "Pentateuch" we are continuing to work through Exodus and it has really struck me how Exodus 5-11 is hardly about the rescue of the Israelites at all! God had power to destroy Pharaoh in an instant and lead the people quickly out of Egypt, but he didn't. Instead, he deliberately hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he could demonstrate his power and show to both the Israelites and the Egyptians who he is. In these chapters the rescue of his people is clearly secondary to that primary aim of glorifying himself, although clearly he brings glory to himself by the way he rescues his people. So Exodus 5-11 is firstly about God showing his power and glory. Then in "Hebrews to Revelation" we have reached chapters 4 and 5 which are a majestic vision of God the King who is worthy of all honour and glory and power, and of the Lamb who was slain now sitting on the throne and who is worthy of all honour and glory and power. Finally, last night we listened to a sermon by John Piper on Romans 15:14-18 about how we glory in Christ Jesus because it is he who is working through us to prepare a people who are holy and obedient. This has been a wonderful reminder of how God is all powerful and is at work in all things. He is greater than we can ever comprehend and is worthy of all glory and honour.

Talua Open Day will be held this week so it is a busy time. On Friday and Saturday there will be a football and volleyball competition to raise money for Talua. This normally attracts quite a few people from the surrounding areas. Then on Sunday there will be a music festival with lots of different styles of music, centred around a Christian theme. The students are spending all of their free time this week getting organised.

Mentoring went well last Friday night. Glen read through Ephesians 2:1-10 with the men. When they were asked what they would say if they died and were standing before God and whether they thought that he would accept them, most of them were very uncertain. The answer most gave was that God knows how they have lived their lives, including both the good and bad things, and that he is the one who will make the decision based on that. They couldn't really be sure what he would say. One of them talked about how he believes in Christ and Christ has taken away his sin. We are finding this to be a big issue, probably like it is in most places in the world! People find it hard to understand and accept God's grace or that our salvation is secured by the work of Christ rather than by our own works. Please continue to pray that students at Talua would clearly understand the Good News of Jesus Christ so that they can proclaim it faithfully throughout Vanuatu.

Rachael met with five of the women on Saturday night, mostly wives of diploma 1 students. (This is a different group to the women she met with last time because a change has been made.) They were all very keen to talk about things and were more open than she has previously experienced. It was very encouraging for her and she will try to meet with the women individually, but will wait until after open day when they have some free time again. In class next week we'll be talking about King Solomon and how although he was the son of David and the King who ruled wisely, in the end he turned from God. We'll see how Jesus is wiser and greater King, the son of David who rules forever.

Yours in Christ,
Glen and Rachael Connor

P.S. The phones have been down for a few days so you may receive this email late. We are also sorry that we have not been very quick in replying to your emails. We are finding it difficult with the poor internet access. We receive no emails for a long time, and then suddenly the inbox has a huge number of unread emails that take us days to get through.

• Praise and glorify God for his greatness, and for the work that he has done through us (i.e. through all of you there and all of us here) to make his Son known and to create a holy and obedient people.
• Pray that God would use open day to spread the knowledge of Christ in the areas around Talua, through the words and actions of the Talua staff.
• Pray that God would give the students a deep understanding of the love and mercy and grace of God, and that they would depend fully on Christ for their salvation. Pray that God would give Glen further opportunities to talk through this issue with the students.
• Pray for the women Rachael will meet with; Julie, Susan, Esther, Kajiri and Delly.
• Pray for the preparations for the degree program next year. Andy Williamson is doing most of this work and is finding it quite demanding. Over the next few months we are trying to finalise staff allocations and subject outlines, order books, make sure the right people are encouraged to apply, etc etc. Glen will probably teach some subjects in this program next year but details are still being finalised.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Visit from Glen's parents


We are all well. The phone is still not connected and our email is fairly irregular, so sorry that we are not able to reply quickly to your emails.

We had a very enjoyable week with Glen's parents. It is over a year since we last saw each other and there was a lot of catching up to do. Glen's father returned to Australia today and his mother will stay for two more weeks.

Prayer Points
• Matthew has picked up a cold or something. He is having trouble feeding and sleeping and his temperature is up. Please pray that he will recover quickly and that Rachael will continue to get enough sleep. It is very helpful having Glen's mother here at this time.

• Please continue to pray for the six students Glen is mentoring, especially John, Jilivi, Songie and Kasai with whom Glen meets weekly. This week all six students will meet with Glen on Friday night and we will be discussing God's grace together. Please pray for the students to grasp more fully God's kindness to us in Christ, and to understand what it means for salvation to be based on the work of Christ by faith rather than our work. These are very difficult concepts to fully grasp. Pray also that the students would have assurance of God's forgiveness and deep joy.

• Glen is teaching Revelation to the second year certificate students. There are only two of them, so it has been a good chance to sit down and look carefully at the Bible together. Please pray that God would give us understanding of this difficult book and that we would be encouraged as we see more clearly the glory of the risen Christ and the work that he has done, is doing and will do in our world.

Thank you for your prayers, and thank you also to those of you who have sent us your prayer points.

Yours in Christ,
Glen, Rachael, Sophie, Bethany and Matthew Connor

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sophie's friend Steve is sick : (


God continues to bless us in many ways and things are going well overall. Classes are going well, and we finally have everything organised in the house.

This week Glen's parents will be staying with us. We haven't seen them for over a year so it will be good to spend some time together. Glen's father is not a Christian and so it will also be a difficult week for him as almost every activity at Talua is focused on God in some way.

Glen is really enjoying his 1st year diploma class. They are a very keen class who ask lots of questions and think carefully about what they are learning. This week we will begin looking at God's character, mainly by reading lots and lots of different stories and teachings from the Bible which are grouped together according to what they teach us about God. I am hoping we can see what God is like from all the things he has said and done, rather than looking at more abstract statements of the attributes of God.

In the Certificate class we finish off Hebrews and begin the book of Revelation, which will be quite a challenge. As there are only two students in this class, we are going to begin by just sitting down together and talking together about what the Bible says. I'll see how it goes this week before I decide how to continue.

The next door neighbour Steve has been in hospital over the last week with some sort of liver trouble. (Steve is the son of the secretary and the brother of Joshua, Bethany's little friend. Steve is a good friend of Sophie's and has lunch at our house most days.)

Please pray
• with thanks that God is protecting and providing for us.
• that Glen's parents would have a good week with us, and that God would use this week to show Glen's dad more of the reality of Christ so that he will come to repentance and faith.
• That students will enjoy studying the Bible, that they will learn a lot more about who God is and what he has done, and that these things will touch their hearts in a way that brings joy and obedience and willing service and godliness etc in their lives.
• For healing is Steve's body and that the doctors would make the right decisions about his treatment.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

More about our classes and mentoring

Hello everyone,

It has been a good week. No big dramas and we are enjoying our work here. I'll go straight to the prayer points.
The prayer points are fairly long, but they will get shorter each week because we will only need to add new information instead of explaining everything.

• In knowledge of God we will continue to look at why we believe that the Bible is God's Word. Please pray that the students would believe this in a way that means they want to read and learn the Bible and base the whole of their lives upon what it says.

• In Pentateuch we are up to the promises to Abraham. Many of the students struggle with how the Old Testament fits with Jesus and the New Testament. Pray that reading Genesis would help them see more clearly how Christ fulfils the OT promises. Pray that they would see the importance of trusting in God's promises, no matter what obstacles or difficulties they may face in their lives which make the promises look impossible.

• Most of the Diploma 2 students are keen to meet each week, and I am very thankful for that. I suggested different ideas of what we could do together and let them choose. I will be meeting with Jilivi and John (separately) to show them how to write Bible Studies. Please pray that together we would be able to work out helpful ways to write Bible studies that will be helpful for people in villages in Vanuatu where many people are illiterate. Someone who is illiterate can hear and think about the Bible and discuss it with other Christians, but the skills and methods in leading something like this are different to what we normally expect of Bible Study leaders in Australia.

• I was rostered on to lead devotions last Thursday, on Romans 8:14-17. It is wonderful passage about how God has put his Spirit in us and made us his children. Give thanks that I was able to prepare it in Bislama. I have always struggled to do this, but am now beginning to find it easier. Pray also that the students would think about the wonderful privilege it is to be children of God.

• Rachael is enjoying here Monday morning OT overview class, but finding it very hard because the women are very quiet in class. She has spoken to other lecturers and it seems that this is true in their classes too, but it makes it difficult to know how much they are following of her Bislama. Please pray that Rachael would be able to teach clearly and that the women would be able to understand. Pray also that they women would have confidence to speak with Rachael about what they are learning, both for their sake and to give Rachael feedback.

• Rachael will be looking after some of the women this year. She met with them formally last Saturday, but only one of the five came, possibly because of a mix up. Pray that Rachael would be able to catch up with these women individually before the next meeting at the end of this month, and that they would have helpful conversations. The women are often quite shy around staff, especially expatriates, so please pray that they would be able to talk openly with Rachael.

Sophie, Bethany & Matthew
• Each Wednesday is "Kids Prayer Warriors" when the children spend about an hour singing and praying. We give thanks that Sophie is absolutely loving this.
• We always appreciate prayer for good health for the children, and that they will grow up to know and love our Saviour!

• Give thanks that Sheila has returned to College and is well, and that Jon Parkes ulcer is now healing well.

Yours in Christ,
Glen and Rachael