Dr. Joseph Arthur and the Dawn of PSALM
By: Christian Jay P. Tardo
Dr. Joseph “Joe” Arthur was born on in July 21, 1935 in Hamilton, Ohio, USA. He is the youngest of five siblings of Lloyd Arthur Sr., and Goldie (Marcum) Arthur . Some believed that he was born with a twin sibling . His parents were devoted religious believers of The Nazarene Church. The Arthur family customarily held a family devotion time at night. As Joseph reached his teenage years, he was influenced by his friends to attend the neighbouring church of The Christian and Missionary Alliance of America (CMA) in that peaceful town of Hamilton, Ohio, USA.
By the age of sixteen, he recognized that he fell short of the glory of God and he recognized that he needed a Saviour. He repented from his sin and invited Jesus Christ into his life. Rev. Ronald J. Smith, the senior minister of Bethel Community Church, discipled and trained him how to become an effective servant of God for about two years. He was also mentored and given a leadership role in youth ministry in the church, wherein God prepared him for his calling.
In 1953 he graduated from Hamilton High School at the age of eighteen. Soon after, he got married to Ms. Donna Joe. Few years passed and he felt the Lord calling him to enrol at St. Paul Bible College in St. Paul, Minnesota . According to some accounts, “While attending the college, he began a club on campus called the ‘Fishers-of-men.’ The purpose of the club was to encourage college students to reach out in the community to the homeless and share with them the Good News of God’s love.” After several years of studying in St. Paul, he graduated with a B.A in Bible and Theology. He also attended Seattle Pacific College, Washington, USA, with the degree of B.A.in Psychology. His schooling was sponsored by the Free Methodist Congregation, while he earned his living allowance in pastoring the youth of North Seattle Alliance Church .
He finished his degree in Master of Divinity at Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. With the help of General Conference Baptist for his tuition fees, while he worked as the Christian Education Director for the Northwest District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, USA.
After some time he received an invitation from Dr. Julian Bandy, the President of Toccoa Falls College, Toccoa Falls, Georgia, to be part of the faculty and teach Bible and Theology. He invested five years in that school in teaching, coaching and discipling young Church leaders. In spite of his academic success in his career, the couple failed to have a biological child.
The Birth of CYC/PSALM
It was in the mid 60's when the Christian and Missionary Alliance International Office requested the couple to consider an appointment to help train Filipino ministerial students at Ebenezer Bible College in Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City, Philippines. After much contemplation, they grabbed the opportunity to teach and empower the future Church leaders in the Philippines.
It was then while teaching in the college that he received a vision from God for the youth in the city. In 1968, he surveyed the colleges in Zamboanga City and discovered that Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) was the only existing youth organization that wasworking for 18,000 students. He shared the vision to co-professor Dr. Metosalem Castillo. They both prayed and planned together at the nearby beach after work. Miss Connie Montesino, who was then the president of IVCF at A.E. College in Zamboanga City, was influenced by the founder to join and later became the catalyst of the movement.
In August 8, 1969, the College Youth Center (CYC) was formally opened in the heart of the city. It was a place where the students felt at home. Membership was open to all youth, students and out of school youth, regardless of their denomination, religions, sect, age, background as long as they were willing to abide by the rules and regulations set forth in the membership. CYC existed with five main purposes: 1st. To provide a place of recreation, study area, library, personal counselling and group instruction. 2nd. To help the student think creatively, develop wholesome moral character. 3rd. To provide an outlet for constructive discussions and community problem. 4th. To evangelize the unevangelized and 5th. To develop Spirit-filled Leaders on college campuses and in local churches.
In 1970, a year after its founding, CYC was transferred to a new site in Ho Sin Building, Alvarez St. Zamboanga City because of its strategic location and more spacious accommodation.
In 1972, the founder went back to the U.S.A. to finish his Doctorate degree at Fuller Theological Seminary at Pasadena, California in concentration to World Missions. In spite of his hectic schedule, the Lord inspired him to expand CYC nationwide and even beyond. Prior to that year CYC had already expanded in three more cities: General Santos, Davao and Cagayan de Oro. This was through the help of the CYC alumni.
In 1973, while he was pursuing his Doctoral studies, the movement’s name was change from CYC to Philippine Student Alliance Lay Movement (PSALM). Together with the change of name, was a bigger and brighter vision, mission, challenges, obstacles, manpower, finances and all kinds of blessings for the Glory of God. During his absence, Rev. Lee Peters took the leadership position.
The Return of the Founder
In 1974, the founder went back to the Philippines. At that time, the National office was transferred to Cebu City due to its strategic location and expansion opportunity. His doctoral dissertation “The Sleeping Giant” became the basis for the training manual of PSALM. In the same year, Rev. Willy Marquez was appointed as the first National Director while the founder served as the National Training Director.
From 1974-1978, passionate and caring men and women from Canadian Bible College assisted the movement. There were 5 or 6 of them who were “exchange students”. They mainly helped the expansion of the work in three Universities in Cebu City: University of San Carlos, University of Southern Philippines and University of Visayas.
After few years of implementing his dissertation and mentoring the future leaders of the Movement, in 1978, the founder returned back to his country. He acquired a debilitating physical illness known as “Multiple Sclerosis”. In spite of his condition, it was believed that “for the past eighteen to twenty consecutive years he has served four churches, three as senior pastor, and one as assistant pastor.” One of that is in Friendship Bible Church in Keystone Heights, Florida, USA in early 80’s.
In1983, together with The Women’s Missionary Prayer Fellowship Movement, the founder and his wife went back to the Philippines, to equip and encourage the twenty-two staffs of PSALM at the National Training Base in Talisay, Cebu. In spite of his illness and hardships, which was not shown or known to the people around him, he remained passionate and dynamic in his teaching. There were times that when he would climb up the stairs heading to the men’s quarters at the base’s 2nd floor, he had to lift his foot gently and slowly. Those were the times when he was alone and no one was around to see him because it seemed that he didn’t want to show the pain to the disciples.
A few years ago, Dr. Joseph Arthur published a book entitled: “The 12 Essentials for Disciple-Making” where he discussed his “patterned of ministry as found in Romans 1:1. “Called to be a bond-servant” – The general calling. “Called to be an apostle” – The specific calling. “Called to be separated unto the Gospel” – The high calling.”