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Interview with Ian Peng, Director of RTF Press

Recently I interviewed a couple of the staffs and translators at RTF Press in Taiwan.  This year we began with the interview with Mr Ian Peng, director of RTF Press in Taipei, Taiwan.  Overseeing the operation of both translations and publishing phrase for the ministry.

It is my hope through these interviews, we will gain more appreciation for translation ministries such as RTF is engaged in, and why it is an important ministry for our continuous support.
 
Steven
 
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Hi Ian, please introduce yourself?

My name is Ian Peng, and I am the director (general manager) of Reformation Translation Fellowship Press here in Taiwan.

When did you come across Reformed theology?

I became a believer in 2004, and later being introduced to Rev Stephen Tong's preaching, and that was the first time I heard of Reformed Theology.  In 2007, after attending Rev Tong's public lectures, I sensed God's calling for me to become a preacher and enrolled into Reformed Theological Seminary on the following year and received my MDiv in 2012.

How long have you been involved with RTF Press?

I started doing some assisting editorial work for the press while I was in the seminary.  Upon my graduation, I was asked by then the RTF director, Rev Andrew McCafferty, to become full-time staff.  First as deputy director and as director upon Andrew's retirement in 2015.

How many people are currently serving in RTF Press?

Currently, we have eight staffs; seven of them are full-time and one part-time.

What are the day-to-day tasks involved as the general manager?

Besides the general administrative duties, my day-to-day work is mainly editing books I usually work on the more difficult theological texts, which are not easy to translate.  They are times when a translation was not done correctly or capture the author's underlying meaning, and these require me to edit these substantially, sometimes even to the point for the whole chapter or even the entire book to retranslated. 

How does a book get from English to Chinese?

Firstly, a book is usually being put forward in our general meetings through one of our own. Sometimes, by recommendation from an external party like the Reformed Theological Seminary or RTF Australia.

Once we decided to translate a book, we started by asking the original publisher/author for a Chinese edition's translation rights.  After acquiring the rights, we then set to find a suitable translator.

After the first draft has been translated, we will go through the whole book, reading the correcting any errors, and make sure the sentence flow clearly for the message to be understood by the readers.

The text is then sent to the art department for the cover design and the laying out of the text.  The book is then again thoroughly check against errors to make sure nothing was lost from the editing.

Finally, we applied for the ISBN for the book before sending it to the printers. Usually, the first press consists of 1000 prints.

Where are your readers?  Are the majority in Taiwan and China?  Or Chinese expatriate living in a country like the USA, or Australia?

We have readers worldwide, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Australia, USA, Canada…  The majority are Christians in China.

In China, not Taiwan?

Yes, even though the ministry has since moved to Taiwan, our readers are still majority based in China, where the numbers of Chinese Reformed Christian are much greater than those in Taiwan and other areas.

Over the years, the West has been fascinated by the rapid growth of Christians in China. Some scholars have pointed out Christian publications played a significant role in the spread of Christianity. What is your view on this?

I think that observation is correct, and especially the Reformed books.  Ever since RTF been found by Rev Charles Chao and Rev Samuel Boyle, many Chinese Christianity encounters the gospel's truth by reading their translations.  In fact, many of the house church leaders, who cannot be trained in a seminary (especially in the rural areas), their only means of education are through readings.  Hence, translation ministries such as RTF are vital for them to be equipped by God's Word to make disciples and pastoral the sheep.

With the outbreak of COVID, how have you or the ministry been affected by it?

Since the outbreak of COVID last year, cities around the world have been closed, and shipment for the books has become very difficult.  In certain countries, the entire air traffics are being grounded, so the books can not be sent at all.  Even for those countries that allow deliveries, many of our readers are still unable to peruse the books or make orders with the closure of their local bookstores.  COVID has made a major impacted on the ministry of RTF.

What are the current focuses for RTF?

We are currently focusing our publishing efforts on several book series to cover all age groups.  From children Sunday School to Old and New Testament commentaries for those who what to do an in-depth study of the Scripture.  Our vision is that every book published by RTF will equip believers, especially lay believers.  We hope that many of them by reading our publications will be filled with zeal to know more about Christ and move on to deeper works like commentaries or even enrolled for seminary education.

Which RTF book has made an impact on you the most?

The book that had the most profound impact on me is "The Religious Affections" by Jonathan Edwards, which I work as the translator myself. Edwards' arguments are very persuasive and logical.  Because of this book, some of my misunderstandings on spiritual life were corrected after reading through it, and now I have come to a biblical understanding of what the life in Christ is.

Any books you would like to see in Chinese in the nears future?

There are many books that I would like to see been translated into Chinese.  For example, J.I. Packer's "A Quest for Godliness", Calvin's commentaries, Jonathan Edward's "Freedom of the Will", and works by the Puritans.  There are many excellent and best-selling books out there today.  However, as a publisher, we need to ask why people still want to read these books decades later?  For me, works that stand the test of time are the best, and I would love to see those classics in Chinese one day.

How can we help? Anything you would like us to pray for?

Pray for people to come together to promote RTF publication, and to orders books from RTF Press.  Our purpose is to edify and equip Chinese believers, the more people who read our books, the more encouragement we will have.  Translation ministry is not easy, and our finances are often in the red.   We certainly can not make this far without the generous donations from our supporters.  The online bookshop is not there to make money but to have a sustainable income to support the publishing house and continue to operate and bring good Reformed books for the believers.

Ian, thanks for your time!

My pleasure.

2021 Pray for China Day

In recent years, it has been our practice to encourage our supporters and their local congregations to join in a united effort to uphold the work of RTF and the church in China in prayer before our God in Heaven. This year, we hope you will set aside the Sunday after Chinese New Year (12th February) and the Reformation Sunday (31st October) as the 2021 Pray for China Day.  We hope that this will provide an opportunity for the work of RTF to be known by the Australian churches.  Feel free to send in your pictures of the day so that we can use it for our next newsletter!

Several resources for you to spread the word about RTF.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1: 11).  We valued your prayerful interest in this ministry in the past and encourage you to continue helping those who hunger for the doctrines of grace in China.

2020 RTF Press (Taiwan) End of Year Update

Life around the world has been disrupted by the outbreak of COVID since February.  With border closure, our shipments have been reduced to half compared to the previous year.  Readers in China and Malaysia can not order from us, leaving only bookstores in Taiwan and individual online orders, our revenue has dropped to less than half of what it normally is.

Under such circumstances, we have to think about how to break out the current predicament.  With our readership in Taiwan is almost exclusively within the Reformed circles, we hope to break into other denominational and church circles with booklets on the foundation of faith.

With this in mind, we have selected 16 out of the 40 booklets from P&R's "Basics of the Faith" series, these booklets are suitable for new believers and adult Sunday School.  We hope that believers who are unfamiliar with the fundamental truths will begin with these booklets, then become interested in other Reformed books.

In addition to our publishing ministry, we have also started working with Ligonier Ministries in the US.  We have recently helped them translate their statement on Christology and prepare the reprint of the Chinese version of "The Holiness of God" by the late R. C. Sproul.  God willing, the corporation between Ligonier Ministries and RTF Press and Reformed TV will become the most important evangelical and mission partnership in the Asia region.

We continue to work with several Reformed publishers.  We are currently working with Classical Heritage Press in Hong Kong to sell and deliver their most recent translation, "Puritan Theology" by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones.

2020 Publications

  • Basic of the Faith Series (P&R)
    • What Is the Bible?
    • How Do We Glorify God?
    • What Is Evangelism?
    • What Is the Trinity?
    • What Is Grace?
    • What Is Regeneration?
    • What Is Resurrection?
    • What Happens after Death?
  • Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God
  • Guy Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church
  • Anthony T. Selvaggio, From Bondage to Liberty: The Gospel According to Moses
Upcoming Publications in 2021
  • Basic of the Faith Series (P&R)
    • What is Church Government?
    • What is the Lord's Supper?
    • What is the Christian Worldview?
    • Why Do We Have Creeds?
  • Richard Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption
  • David Cook (Ed.), Trust Matters
  • Sinclair Ferguson, Let's Study Mark
  • Biblical Psalms & Hymns
  • Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic
  • John Calvin, Commentary on First and Second Peter and Jude
  • John Calvin, Commentary on Acts
  • Joel Beeke, Reformed Preaching.

RTF Australia 2021 Translations Projects

For the year 2021, RTF Australia committee continues to seek donation to support the following two titles:

  1. Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God
  2. Anthony T. Selvaggio, From Bondage to Liberty: The Gospel According to Moses
Mark Jones has written many excellent books over the years and is a scholar on the Puritans' writings. In this book, he summarised teachings from the early church fathers and works by puritans like Stephen Charnocks, Edward Leigh, and John Owen Jones in twenty-seven concise chapters.  It is a beneficial and needful reference on our great God and his all-beautiful character. Highly recommended as a tool for personal devotion or group study.

“The Gospel According to the Old Testament” series published by P&R is an excellent guide into the Scripture through significant Old Testament figures with Christ-focused theology at an accessible level. We believe it will bring a good grounding for ministers and seminary students through the Old Testament.

We will be seeking to raise 5,000+ AUD this year to cover the translation and initial publication cost; you can find our donation details at the end of the newsletter or on our website.

2021 Pray Requests

The Reformation Translation Fellowship welcomes you and your congregation to join in a concerted effort to pray for God’s blessing upon the Church in China. We rejoice that many people are hearing the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. Yet we continue to pray for:

  • The Coronavirus may not hinder the gathering for Christians in China.  Pray for God to strengthen and sustain them, and to protect them from the virus and for God’s mercy to stop the spread of the virus both in China and around the world.
  • That the emerging Churches in China will be solidly grounded upon the Scriptures and sound Reformed doctrine.
  • That ministers and elders would be rooted in the historic Christian faith so that they might train the flock under their care.
  • That RTF would be enabled to translate and distribute sound Reformed literature to all who can read it.
  • That dangerous cult and false doctrine would be arrested and prevented from spreading.
  • That persecuted Christians and their families would be enabled to stand firm in the faith and speak the gospel boldly.
Thank God that RTF has been able to print and distribute the following titles during 2020:
  • Basic of the Faith Series (P&R)
    • What Is the Bible?
    • How Do We Glorify God?
    • What Is Evangelism?
    • What Is the Trinity?
    • What Is Grace?
    • What Is Regeneration?
    • What Is Resurrection?
    • What Happens after Death?
  • Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God
  • Guy Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church
  • Anthony T. Selvaggio, From Bondage to Liberty: The Gospel According to Moses
Pray for those who will be translating, editing, printing, and distributing the following titles in 2021:
  • Basic of the Faith Series (P&R)
    • What is Church Government?
    • What is the Lord's Supper?
    • What is the Christian Worldview?
    • Why Do We Have Creeds?
  • Richard Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption
  • David Cook (Ed.), Trust Matters
  • Sinclair Ferguson, Let's Study Mark
  • Biblical Psalms & Hymns
  • Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic
  • John Calvin, Commentary on First and Second Peter and Jude
  • John Calvin, Commentary on Acts
  • Joel Beeke, Reformed Preaching.

Request for Speaker

Would like to invite someone to engage your church or group about the necessity for a translation ministry? Committee members of RTF Australia are available as guest speakers for mission events, youth groups, prayer groups, and other ministry events.  Please feel free to contact us at enquiries@rtfa.org.au.

Do you know you can purchase RTF publication here in Australia?  Visit The Wandering Bookseller for more detail.

Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia

 
Chairman: Mr Steven Yu 0401 043 641  
  Maroubra, NSW    
       
Secretary: Rev. Andrew Stewart 03 5229 4697  
  Geelong, VIC    
       
Treasurer: Mr. David Barkley 0417 310 197  
  Geelong, VIC    
       
  Rev. Stuart Bonnington 08 9398 1304 0400 012 865
  Fremantle, WA    
       
  Rev. Julian Bull 0435 245 919  
  Perth, WA    
       
       
Website:    www.rtfa.org.au Email: enquiries@rtfa.org.au
       
       
Contact: Rev. Andrew Stewart, 12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
       
Donation: By Cheque: RTF Australia
12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
     
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Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia · 12 Fenwick Street · Geelong, VIC 3220 · Australia