- Category: Pastor Letters
- Published: Tuesday, 11 September 2018 00:00
校園事工不會永遠是一帆風順的，教會事工也是一樣！當人覺得走入低谷的時候，千萬不要灰心失望，要想到哈巴谷先知所說：「 雖然無花果樹不發旺，葡萄樹不結果，橄欖樹也不效力，田地不出糧食，圈中絕了羊，棚內也沒有牛； 然而，我要因耶和華歡欣，因救我的神喜樂。 主耶和華是我的力量；他使我的腳快如母鹿的蹄，又使我穩行在高處。」（哈3：17－19）。先知讓我們看到，他真是覺得已經走到了谷底，真的一無所有，所種的沒有收成，所養的牛羊都絕蹤，實在低到沒有辦法再低，處境非常困難，連活命的指望都成問題。先知卻能從這絕境中出來，留下「從絕境中脫離」的方法給我們：
- 視野從數據中出來 － 數字增加時，會使人興奮，數字減少時，會使人失望頹喪。眼睛若定睛在數字上，會使人事奉的心情不穩，當我們把自己的眼光「從以神為中心」，變成「以自己為中心」時，最終必以灰心喪志收場。先知學會了將眼目從將數字轉移到神的身上，什麼時候我們的視線能從數字與果效中移走，什麼時候我們就能從壓力中得釋放。數據對世上的人或許重要，但卻不一定是神衡量我們事工的標準，因為「所求於管家的，是要他有忠心。」（林前4:2）
- 眼目轉向神 － 眼睛從環境中出來，就能看見榮耀的神在等待著我們，這就是先知所分享的：「 然而，我要因耶和華歡欣，因救我的神喜樂」（哈3：18）。人的眼睛轉向神，就是救恩的開始，先知哈巴谷所經歷的，不是外面的救恩，牛羊還是絕蹤，田園還是不效力，但先知的心卻從頹喪中出來，裡面的黑暗轉為光明，這是可以等待、且可喜樂的救恩！因為先知的心被神改變，也被神吸引與挑旺，因為神的大能改變他、神的愛融化了他，他就成為一個以神為樂的人。神的救恩是從人的裡面開始，救恩的改變乃是從裡面湧出到外面，從自己的改變，影響到別人的改變，使別人也能成為以神為樂的人。
- 靠神再次得力量 － 被神改變後，先知在大能的神裡面就重新得力，能夠在惡劣的環境中剛強站立，更能在神的激勵中，不僅能往前行，也能重新得著動力。先知說：「 主耶和華是我的力量；他使我的腳快如母鹿的蹄」(哈3：19）。我們仰望神，也能在困難的環境中繼續為主忠心，很快地，我們就可以看見倚靠主所帶出的果效。
- 去年短宣隊去Kentucky 州一校園傳福音，全校華人學生應該不超過二百人，當地也沒有弟兄姊妹或同工，屬於拓荒傳福音性質。佈道會前同工們感覺可能來參加的人數不多，一同禱告神，立志不看人數多少，都忠心傳主的福音。那天晚上聚會除短宣隊員外，只有三位剛來讀大一的福音朋友來參加，吃過飯後，只剩下兩位參加聚會，他們最後也沒有信主。但他們以後每週都來參加中文查經班，這查經班是由附近三個華人教會同工們，輪流每週開車來回約五小時來帶領學生查經，每次聚會也只有幾個同學。感謝主！這兩位同學就在第一個學期信了主，第二個學期就開始帶領其他同學來參加聚會。今年短宣隊再來到這校園時，這兩位剛信主的姊妹們也邀請他們的朋友來參加，約有40人來參加，大多數是本科生； 主奇妙的工作，那晚佈道會約有四、五位信主。我們知道，今年的果效，是建立在過去全年短宣隊、 與當地附近幾間教會同工團隊的努力，一同忠心事奉主的結果，他們不看人數多少，風雨無阻，忠心幫助這校園學生信主的結果。不看人數，忠心的事奉，主必記念。時間到了，主必興旺祂的工作。
- 穩行在高處 － 先知說：「又使我穩行在高處」。仰賴神的人，不僅能衝過困難，更能不斷維持得勝的高度，越走越有能力，越走越多結出美好的果子。他們是在高處穩行的，就是高於困難，困難雖然還在，但困難不在他們的周圍，更不在他們的頭頂上，乃是在他們的腳下，他們是腳踏著困難、並帶著喜樂的心往前行，越走越脫離困難，越走越進入屬天的高處，更多的經歷神，更能按神的心意事奉，在生活與事奉中，更多彰顯神的榮耀與討神喜悅，結出美好的果子。「要穩行在高處」也提醒我們，在困難的事奉光景中，我們先要檢討一下，我們所作的，是否在神的心意中? 是否按著神的方法去作? 若答案是肯定的，就堅定的依靠神，神會使我們一步一步往前，人數不一定會增加，工作的果效必定隨著我們。
曾經有人問我，在我事奉主數十年間，那一段時間是我事奉的高峰? 我回答說：「事奉的路應當是沒有高峰也沒有低谷。」沒有高峰，是因為我們要不斷地被保羅的話提醒：「弟兄們，我不是以為自己已經得著了；我只有一件事，就是忘記背後，努力面前的，向著標竿直跑，要得神在基督耶穌裡從上面召我來得的獎賞。」(腓3:13-14) ， 一日沒有達到標竿，就是沒有達到高峰，我們達到的高峰，就是得主獎賞的那天。事奉也不應當有低谷，當我們仰望、與依賴神的時候，「低谷」只是神賜給我們的「安息年」，這段期間，神要我們少一點作在人前的事奉，多點在密室中經歷神，在神的安排中，「低谷」是我們安靜的日子，讓我們注重回到神面前檢討與裝備，準備走更遠的路，為神作更大的工作。當你若覺得你是在「高峰」時，千萬別驕傲，多學習謙卑的功課。當你覺得你是在「低谷」時，千萬別頹喪，快快學習專心仰望祂。保羅給我們美好的榜樣說：「我知道怎樣處卑賤，也知道怎樣處豐富。」讓我們無論在什麼景況中，都持守基督，忠心作祂的僕人。過去多年看到美中的教會與校園團契，不斷在興衰中打轉，但只要有一兩位能專一、謙卑仰望主、忠心為主「守住」、作一個「穩行高處」、又能影響別人、也專心跟從主的人，教會與團契就能憑著信心繼續往前，存著盼望等待神下一回的工作。
九月的短宣隊正在積極籌備中。從九月七日，將再有五間教會，分成七隊短宣隊來美中與我們一同配搭，繼續在各地校園傳福音。除了加州以外，也有從Taxes 而來。他們所走的路程比起八月短宣較遠，除了「附近」的Missouri、Kansas、Arkansas、Oklahoma、 Illinois、Iowa州的校園外，更要遠赴 Mississippi、Alabama、Kentucky、Indiana、S. Dakota, N. Dakota、 Wisconsin 與 Minnesota等地，求主加添各地同工的力量，在這些極需福音的地方，為主得著更多靈魂與日後各地的同工。求主的靈興起，挑旺各地弟兄姊妹同心合意傳福音的心志、帶出更多美好的果子、並堅立各地的福音與關懷事工。
- 為維修同工Scott一家八口禱告，也求主使他 的維修工作使多人蒙恩，在他的事奉中更多經歷神的大能與奇妙。為了配合他們一家八口的需要，我們正在他們住家旁加蓋一件睡房。求主使工程能早日平安完成，並為房子所需三萬元建造經費用禱告。
- 為建築同工Pastor Shull不僅要負責擴建同工的房子，並要著手餐廳的擴建兩大工程禱告，求主加添他的力量。
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Peace in the Lord!
August is a very busy month for CWC coworkers! The Disciple and Coworker training camp and the Bible camp already are keeping our hands very full. For example, I just arrived home from a ten-day short-term mission trip in the early morning of August 27th. I immediately am diving into preparation for the Labor Day Weekend Summer Retreat. Four days after Summer Retreat, another September short-term mission teams will arrive at the Midwest.
Facing the rise and fall of Campus Ministry
Many campuses reported a decline in the Chinese student populations this year, making campus ministry a challenging. Some campus coworkers even think the student ministry has fallen into the very bottom for it seems not too many people come to meetings. Even as they eagerly invite people to the meetings, the turnout is not so good. In May some students coworkers graduated, but new workers are not ready to pick up the ministry yet. Some coworkers unexpected move out. Few students stayed, but they are relatively immature in their spiritual walk and cannot yet serve much. Therefore, older coworkers again found the burden of ministry left on their shoulders. Yet they are already tied up by commitments in family and career, thus going through even more pressure. These older coworkers often lose some hope in the future: as they aged, they doubt their effectiveness as they see an ever-wider generation gap between themselves and the students. As a new school year starts, they can get so discouraged that they wonder if campus or church ministry is something they should further pursue. But they cannot bear to simply give up either. To help with this challenge, below is my sharing:
Neither campus ministry nor church ministry sails smoothly forever. Never be disheartened when you encounter “deep valleys”. Be reminded of prophet Habakkuk’s words, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19) The prophet felt like he lost everything and reached the worst scenario: he got no harvest from what he planted; he lost cattle and sheep he raised; he was in such a crunch that even his survival was threatened. Yet he taught us how to survive and triumph in such a desperate situation.
- Jump out from the views of “numbers”. Increasing numbers do excite us. Decreasing numbers discourage us. If we fix our gaze on numbers only, our emotions would be easily swayed. We would end up feeling totally dejected if we shift our efforts from a “God-centered” ministry to a “self-centered” one. The prophet learned to move his focus from numbers to God Himself. Likewise, we too will be freed from pressure once we learn to move our focus away from numbers and results. Numbers may be important in the eyes of this world but is not necessarily how our ministries are evaluated by God. For “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)
- Turn your eyes to God. Once our vision transcends the circumstance, we are able to see that our glorious God is waiting on us. This is exactly what the prophet shared: “yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:18). Salvation begins as we fix our eyes on God. Habakkuk did not experience a circumstantial deliverance. He still had neither animals nor crops. Yet he got over his depression, experiencing a transformation in his inner being from darkness to light. What a salvation that we can rejoice in and wait upon! As the Lord change the prophet’s heart, the prophet was revived and drawn to Him. God’s enormous power transformed him into a person who rejoices in the Lord, melted by His love. God’s salvation begins from our inner being, and then changes happen inside out. Our inner transformation thereby influences others, making others to rejoice in the Lord too.
- Be strengthened by God again. After being transformed by God, the prophet was strengthened and renewed by God’s power, withstanding harsh circumstances. In God’s encouragement he marched forward and had new found motivation. The prophet said, “GOD, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s.” (Habakkuk 3:19) As we look on God and preserve through difficult circumstances, we will soon see the fruits of depending solely on Him.
- Last year a short-term mission team visited a campus in Kentucky. The total number of Chinese students in the whole school should be no more than 200. There was no fellowship or coworkers on campus, so we came to pioneer the gospel outreach. Prior to the evangelistic meeting, the coworkers expected a low turnout. We prayed and committed not to focus on number of people but to be faithful in preaching the gospel. Besides short-term mission team members, only three new undergraduate students showed up that night, and only two remained for the meeting after dinner. None of the two believed in God at the end. Yet, the same two students came for Chinese Bible Study weeks after weeks ever since. This Bible study was led by three Chinese churches in the vicinity. Coworkers from these three churches took turn to drive a roundtrip of approximately 5 hours every week, leading a Bible study for just a handful of students. Praise the Lord! These same two students believed in the Lord in the first semester. They started to invite other students to the Bible study in second semester. This year, as the short-term mission team visited this campus again, we found that there were about 40 people attending the evangelistic meeting, mostly undergraduates. Through God’s marvelous work we had four to five new believers that night. We knew that these fruits are really attributable to efforts of the original short-term mission trip plus the faithful services of the coworkers coming from those three Chinese churches. They did not care about the number of attendance and have been helping this campus rain or shine. God remembers their faithful services and as His time came, God for sure revives His work.
- Tread on high places: The prophet also said, “He makes me tread on my high places.” Those who trust in the Lord not only overcome difficulties but preserve in victory. They gain momentum and bear increasingly more fruits as time goes by. They tread on high places, higher than all the difficulties. Obstacles exist but do not surround or overwhelm. These people tread on troubles and problems and do so joyfully. These overcomers are farther and farther away from difficulties along their way, advancing higher and higher spiritually towards heaven, and experiencing God more than ever. They are much more able to serve according to God’s will and glorify God through their lives and ministry. They bear beautiful fruits which are pleasing to God. In order to “tread on high places”, we must reflect whether we are serving in accordance to God’s will. Are we doing God’s work in God’s way? If the answers are affirmative, we should steadfastly depend on God. God will lead us step by step. Number of people may not increase but we for sure will see fruits of our work.
Ever since the September 11 incident in 2001, the U. S. government substantially reduced student visas to avoid infiltration of terrorists. As the number of Chinese students decreased at that time, the number of people attending disciple training camps also declined drastically. In view of that, some coworkers suggested cutting disciple training camps from three times a year to twice every year. I knew clearly that disciple training camps are crucial in fulfilling the Lord Jesus’ Great Commission. As such, we should not scale back on disciple training camps because of number of attendees. No matter many or few, we ought to be faithful in making disciples. I responded to coworkers that despite the drop in attendance, we were to stick to disciple training camps three times a year. When we are faithful to the Lord, He surely will continue to use us and bless us with more students in the future. Praise the Lord! After several years of faithful services without regard to number of attendees, the States experienced an influx of Chinese students starting 2008, again partly due to government actions. As the number of overseas students rapidly increased, we saw a corresponding rise in number of students attending disciple training camp and the Bible camp. Those who determine to wait on the Lord will surely experience His power. Their paths are made straighter and brighter as time goes by.
Once I was asked when the “peak”, meaning “culmination”, was amidst my several decades of serving the Lord. My answer was that there should be no “peaks” or “valleys” in ministry. No “peaks” as we are constantly being reminded of Apostle Paul’s words, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) “Peak” is not attained if the goal is not reached. The day we reach the peak should be the day we receive the prize or reward from God. There shall not be any “valleys” in our ministry either. If we look upon and depend on God, “valleys” are meant to be our “Sabbatical year”. During this time, God would like us to cut down the services in the eyes of people but to relate with Him intimately in the inner room. He ordains “valleys” to be our quiet time, helping us focus on candidly reflecting ourselves in the presence of God, as well as to equip ourselves for a longer and farther journey or a bigger mission in the future. Never be proud if you believe that you are currently at “peak”. Instead, learn to be humble. Don’t be discouraged if you believe that you are experiencing a “valley”. Quickly learn to trust in Him. Paul had set a beautiful example for us: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.” May we hold fast on the Lord Jesus Christ and be His faithful servants whatever may come. As I witnessed the rise and fall of Midwest churches and fellowships in years past, there was always hope if one or two Christians are committed to the Lord, humbly rely on Him, are to faithfully preserve for Him, “tread on high places”, influence others, and follow God wholeheartedly. With them, churches and fellowships can continue their journey by faith, and wait for God’s next wonderful works with hope.
August and September Short-term Mission Teams: Altogether 37 people from 5 churches at California and Jew Jersey came to the August Short-term missions. Praise the Lord! The weather in this August is the coolest in more than twenty years. With the help of this comfortable climate, short-term mission teams worked harder to share the gospel. It is a great joy to share the gospel on local churches alongside the short-term mission teams, witnessing God’s marvelous works everywhere. Although we were told that the number of students declined in many places, the fruit of evangelism has not been reduced comparing to that of previous years. The harvest is still plenty, and God’s wonderful works can be seen everywhere. The mission field in the Midwest is big. We pray that the Lord will continue to save souls everywhere.
The September short-term mission teams are actively preparing for their trips. From September 7th, five churches divided into seven teams, will serve alongside us, continuing to share the gospel on local campuses. They will come not only from California but also from Texas. They will travel farther than the previous teams. Besides campuses in “nearby” Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Iowa, they will visit Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. May the Lord increase the strength of local coworkers to win over more souls and train up future coworkers for the Lord where the gospel is desperately needed. May the spirit of the Lord rise and revive brothers and sisters everywhere to share the gospel with one heart, bear more good fruits, and consolidate local evangelism and caring ministry.
Two August camps: Praise the Lord! About 100 people attended the Bible camp. They not only came to learn the Bible, but also to build their own spiritual lives and regain strength to serve in the new semester. The messages of Pastor and Mrs. David Su helped brothers and sisters to see the beauty and sweetness of God’s Word and inspired them to pursue further. Later, more than 60 people attended the following Disciple Training camp. Through Pastor Taneng Chuang’s messages, the Lord strengthened brothers and sisters’ hearts to love the Lord and be His disciples. Their eyes were opened and enlightened to immense horizons of God’s Kingdom. They realized that, for the Kingdom of God they ought to be used by God to a greater degree locally or in faraway mission fields. Sister Grace Lee is herself a living witness of God when she stood among brothers and sisters. From her life and teaching, everyone thirsted more for the Word of God and be more equipped to serve Him.
January Bible Camp: Registration has already started. The purpose of this camp is to teach brothers and sisters the methods and skills of reading the Bible, leading Bible studies, and teaching the Word of God. As a result, they will become faithful stewards of God’s Word and hand out spiritual food at the proper time, serving as Bible study group leaders, Sunday school teachers, or Sunday worship preachers in their churches. The Bible camp will take place at CWC from December 30th, 2018 to January 5th, 2019, studying the book of Acts. The speakers are Pastor Chihao Shen and Sister Chao-Luan Kao. Please prepare yourself to attend by registering early and beginning your assignment early. The deadline for registration is November 15th. For more information please visit CWC website.
December Disciple and Coworker Training Camp: This camp will take place at CWC from December 25th to 29th, to equip brothers and sisters to become disciples of Christ and to faithfully serve Him. The speakers are Pastor Tsu-Kung Chuang and Dr. Thomas Leung. The registration is now open. Please visit CWC website for more information.
December Midwest Winter Conference: The purpose of this conference is to bring together brothers and sisters from all over the Midwest to share the gospel with one heart, to lead nonbelievers to Christ, and to pursue the Lord together. After their love for the Lord is rekindled, through them the love of Christ will revive every local church. The speakers are Pastor John Hsu, Pastor Tsu-Kung Chuang, Dr. Thomas Leung, Pastor Jeff Lee, etc. Please pray for this conference and prepare your heart to attend.
- Please pray for the early September short-term mission teams. They will journey further than the August teams. May the Lord give them peace and strength for their race and help them bear more fruits!
- Please pray for Mrs. Ko’s health. Please offer prayers and thanks for Pastor and Mrs. Ko’s two children as they live and work in California and Nevada. Mrs. Ko is receiving chemotherapy now. May the Lord bestow His presence and healing during the treatment process.
- Please pray for Sister Cindy Chiang’s daily and weekly busy administrative work. May the Lord give her strength to arrange the preparations for the three winter meetings. Please pray for her trips to different campuses and sharing the Word of God every weekend.
- Please pray that the dining hall expansion will be mostly finished before the December meetings. Please also pray for the funds needed.
- Please pray for our maintenance coworker Scott and his family of eight. May the Lord use his services to bless more people. Pray that he will more and more experience God’s marvelous power at his work. To meet their needs, we are adding a bedroom to their residence. May the Lord help us to finish it soon and well. Please pray for the needed construction expenses of $30,000.
- Construction coworker Pastor Shull is not only building this extra bedroom but also continuing the dining hall expansion. Please pray that the Lord add his strength.
- Please pray for the funding of CWC. May the Lord raise more brothers and sisters as well as churches to support CWC ministry and help with prayers and offerings.
- Please give thanks for August short-term mission teams. Please pray for new believers on local campuses. May the Lord help campus coworkers to build them up with wisdom, love, and perseverance.
May the Lord bless you!
In the Lord,
Pastor Billy Ko