A letter from Jonathan and Emily Seitz in Taiwan
Summer is a transitional time, and for seminaries, we are at the end of the school year. We have just graduated 55 students who have spent from two to seven years here. They’ve completed degrees in music, social work, counseling, or theology. After our years together I have enormous respect for them. The pastor who baptized our twins just received his D.Min. Two students with whom I worked on theses have graduated but will continue their studies with the hope of being teachers in the future. The transformations that have happened in these years sometimes amaze me. A student who turned in mostly plagiarized work three years ago wrote one of the best theses. One who stumbled giving a student report has become an excellent preacher. Students who were exploring calls are clearer on God’s calling and will soon go to their new churches.
Earlier this week the graduating Master of Divinity students drew slips of paper to determine the presbytery in which they will serve. It’s a fairly simple act of faith, but one that always impresses me. U.S. seminarians often write that they are willing to serve “wherever God call them,” but in Taiwan students really do go wherever they are sent. The presbytery whose name they’ve pulled will assign them to a rural congregation to serve for two or three years.
Some of the graduates will also go as newlyweds. This was the largest crop of student marriages in recent memory, with around 20 students marrying in the last several months. There were at least four weddings in June alone. I’m very happy for our students who meet here and whose friendship develops into the love that can form a shared life. It is one of the small joys of life on a campus like this. Many of them go on to careers as clergy couples.
This is also a bittersweet time. One of our second career students, Ch’en Chih-Ch’uan, died the week before graduation, without much notice, from kidney disease. He was a kind man who did both his undergraduate and two years of seminary here, all after he had already finished one entire career. I remember how he was eager to add to almost any discussion in class. He grew up in a non-Christian family and was especially enthusiastic in sharing when we discussed Taiwanese religions and Christian faith. Kind and friendly, he was widely beloved by his classmates. The community was understandably upset, but also deeply, movingly grateful for his life among us the last six years.
We thank you for the chance to serve here. Your support, your encouragement, and your prayer mean a lot to us. This month we received a letter from a Sunday School in the Louisville area. We hope you will continue to encourage and support us in the years ahead.
The PC(USA) Brief Statement of Faith concludes with these words, which are certainly appropriate to us here:
"With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen."
The Seitz Family (Jonathan, Emily, Samuel, Eva, Eli)
P.S. Our PC(USA) website is at this address, and includes directions on how to donate. We will be back in Summer 2014 and look forward to visiting churches in the U.S. then:
http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/seitz-jonathan-and-emily/ (Or use the "Read more" link below.)
P.P.S. 50 mission workers will be at this summer’s PC(USA) “Big Tent” event. For more info, click here:
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 214
Read more about Jonathan and Emily Seitz' ministry