- Category: Pastor Letters
- Published: Sunday, 04 November 2018 00:00
中國教會歷史告訴我們，在上掌權者帶給教會的火煉是非常嚴厲的，是難以讓人可以站立的。唐朝時景教（基督教的一派）宣教士阿羅本覲見唐太宗時，太宗欣然允許景教在中國宣教，也熱心幫助景教在首都、及其他重要城市建立他們的教堂，太宗使景教快速傳遍中國，自此一百年間，基督信仰已在中國遍傳，不僅一般百姓接受它，連政府的大臣和將軍都接受了。著名出土的「景教流行中國紀念碑」的碑文，述說當時景教在全國的盛景 : 「景教遍傳十州。王國富裕深享安寧。修院遍及百餘城市 ; 家族興旺繁榮，享有極大歡樂。」可是好景不常，當景教在中國興旺時，佛教與回教也相繼傳入中國； 唐武宗時篤信道家，他力圖使道教成為國教。反對任何形式外國來的僧人與寺院，因此武宗敕令禁止佛教，命令所外國宗教的僧侶都要還俗回國，寺廟被解散，歷史稱為「會昌滅法」。佛教、景教與伊斯蘭教的宣教士都被歸類外國僧侶，被迫返回自己的國家。景教在華剛開始有點根基，這「會昌滅法」的迫害，使景教信仰連根被拔起、基督教在中國因此消失約千年之久。
海歸弟兄姊妹若能在逼迫中靠主站立得穩，主得榮糧，我們心中也得安慰，他們若失敗跌倒，就是我們北美華人教會全體弟兄姊姊的失敗，也是我們蒙召作校園事工同工的差恥，因為神曾把他們托負給我們，要藉著我們的手建立他們，他們的失敗，就顯明我們所作的工程，都是草木禾稭的工程，正如保羅所說：「 若有人用金、銀、寶石、草木，禾楷在這根基上建造， 各人的工程必然顯露，因為那日子要將他表明出來，有火發現；這火要試驗各人的工程怎樣。」（林前2:12-13）火的試煉是同時臨到國內與國外的教會與信徒。臨到國內的弟兄姊姊是為了顯明他們是怎樣的人；臨到國外的弟兄姊妹，是為了顯明我們所作的是怎麼樣的工程？是草木禾稭的工作嗎？當我們看到火的試煉就在我們眼前時，我們作工時，就不能再作草禾稭的工作，必須扎扎實實的帶人到主面前，減少用活動吸引人，扎扎實實的做門徒訓練是非常重要，使人在真理上站立，愛主的心要穩定，常以為主受苦的心志為兵器，可以忠心走在十架道路上。校園同工不需花太多的時間建立我們與學生的關係，要盡早透過我與他的關係，建立他與主的關係，盡早讓他們成為一個沒有你，他們不僅仍可以堅定地站立，也能帶領別人。教會中比較成長的弟兄姊妹，必須常作初信的弟兄姊妹的榜樣，讓初信的弟兄姊妹從我們身上能學到，如何願意為主受苦、勝過考驗。可惜在這方面，我們卻常常成為他們負面的榜樣，我們常常工作一忙，就不來參加聚會；身體有點疲累，我們就不來參加禱告會；晚上睡不好，就不來參加主日學；考試來時，我們就從教會失蹤好幾個星期；申請研究基金的日期靠近，我們就不想見人，也不想見主…!小小火的試驗來，我們就倒下！初信的弟兄姊妹（大部份都是從國內來，不久就會回去的人），他們就以為這是作主門徒的「常態」，他們也跟著效法，還沒有回國就經不起小火的考驗，回國後有可能在大火的試驗中為主站立作見證嗎？他們跌倒，我們是源首！
- 冬令會: 一年快近尾聲，大家期待的冬令會轉眼就要來到。 感謝主!今年為我們很多為神所重用的講員如：許道良牧師、 黃子嘉牧師、 莊祖鯤牧師、 梁燕城博士、 李道宏牧師、 林心昂牧師等來傳揚信息，幫助我們一起在主裏追求，挑旺我們愛主的心， 引導我們走主十架的道路，同心合意將福音傳給我們的福音朋友。中心同工們正在積極的預備這次的聚會。請常為中心同工們禱告。 今年的冬令會還是於十二月廿一至廿五日在密蘇里州堪薩斯城的Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center舉行。網上 報名將在十一月中開始至十二月十六日下午四時正嚴格截止。請隨時注意網上的報名資訊，儘早下載，開始邀請人來參加，並早日為他們禱告，求主預備人心參加，好讓更多人生命能被主改變，福音朋友能得著新生命。青少年與英文部 的講員為有:Dr. Jim Anderson and Dr. Clark. 他們過去都曾是神學院院長，教授，至今神仍重用他們，此外還有 Randy Dolan 弟兄及 Pastor Steve Tan 等。也請為Uncle Dan and Aunty Cathy 夫婦與並其他美國同工帶領兒童事工禱告。
- 十二月門徒與同工訓練營: 這個時代必須建立弟兄姊妹背起十架跟從主，這次訓練營是為了幫助弟兄姊妹建立扎實的根基，真實的以基督為主，肯付代價跟從主，使學生們在求學時，雖在功課的壓力下仍然忠心於主，在校園作見證與事奉主，畢業後能在工作與社會的壓力中活出美好的見證，學成歸國後能在困難中勇於為主站立。門徒訓練營將於十二月廿五晚至二十九日中午在基督工人中心的營地(Warsaw, MO)舉行，嚴格截止報名日期為十二月十六日。請儘早報名參加，也請為講員莊祖鯤牧師與梁燕城博士禱告。
- 一月讀經營: 信徒要站立在聖經的真理與應許上，才能站在得勝的地位上，在逼迫中仍能站在堅定的地位上為主作見證。讀經營不僅能建立作忠心見證人的基礎，又能預備自已成為一個小牧人，成為神話語的出口，不論日後在美國或回國，都能牧養與餵養主的小羊。這次讀經營會研讀使徒行傳，參加者必須在十一月十五日前報名，好將中心指定的功課按計劃完成。讀經營將於十二月三十至2019年一月五日中午在基督工人中心的營地(Warsaw, MO)舉行。嚴格報名截止日期為十一月十五日。請儘早報名，儘早準備，也可以與教會或團契的弟兄姊妹一同研讀，好好準備。 請為講員諶志豪牧師、高昭鑾姊妹等講員及聚會代禱。
- 擴建工程 － 五對美國退修夫婦於十月初來中心三週，協助中心的蓋建工作，感謝主！美國同工 Scott 住家的擴建工程進行得非常順利，外牆的工程基本上已經完成，裡面的工程尚在進行中，盼望能儘早完成，這樣美國同工一家就不需要有人睡在客廳，冬天能有一個溫暖的家。請為工程順利完成禱告，也為所需要的建築經費禱告。
- 本月中心同工將會很忙碌的籌備讀經營、 門徒訓練及冬令會，我們不僅要聯絡講員，還要輔導弟兄姊妹讀經營的作業。每份作業至少也要花一、兩小時去閱讀、去輔導。請為同工所需的智慧與能力禱告。
The Test and Mission of the Fire
Brothers and sisters, peace be with you in Christ during this Thanksgiving season!
Very soon we are going to prepare for Thanksgiving dinners. While many turkeys are put into the oven, we especially need to pray fervently for the brothers and sisters elsewhere. They too are being tested in fire. The furnace was lit not too long ago, yet the heat is almost unbearable. Even though we pray to the Lord to quickly extinguishing the fire, we must be prepared for the worst because the fire is burning more and more violently and fiercely.
Chinese Church history records that governing authorities in China impose severe persecutions on the churches. During Tang Dynasty, a missionary, Ah Luo Ben, from the Nestorian Christian Church (a Christian denomination) made a pilgrimage to China. Emperor Taizong gladly allowed in China the good news of Christianity. The Emperor helped the Nestorian Christian Church plant churches in the capital and other major cities in China. The Emperor’s efforts let Christianity rapidly spread throughout China. Within the next 100 years, the Christian faith was so widespread that not only ordinary people embraced it but also government officials and military generals. Recorded on Nestorian Stele, one of the famous archeological finds, was an account of the popularity of Nestorian Christian faith at the time, “Nestorian Christianity widely spreads among ten provinces; the empire enjoys riches and peace; churches were planted in over one hundred cities; families enjoy prosperity and great joy.” Unfortunately, these good days did not last. Buddhism and Islam also made their ways into China. The Emperor Wuzhong strongly believed in Daoism, so he made Daoism as the official religion in China. The Emperor was against any other missionaries or monks from foreign countries. Therefore, he prohibited the practice of Buddhism and commanded all the monks of foreign religions to return to their home countries. Monasteries and temples were dismantled. Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim missionaries were all categorized as “foreign” and were forced to leave China. This persecution uprooted Nestorian Christianity completely. Christianity disappeared in China for about one thousand years.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the governing authorities in China promoted atheism and were exceedingly harsh to Christianity and other religions. This was especially true during the Cultural Revolution’s Red Guard Movement, which severely persecuted all religions. Christianity was especially targeted; countless number of believers were beaten, imprisoned, or martyred. Over decades of persecution, churches which honored God were preserved by God’s providence and were not uprooted, but majority of them became underground. This can be considered as a “repetition” of the religious persecution in Tang Dynasty. This persecuting fire lasted for decades.
As for the past twenty to thirty years, oppositions and pressures imposed by the governing authorities on churches were remarkably reduced. There was more freedom in sharing the gospel. Opportunities for equipping believers and ministers increased. The number of believers and churches corresponding increased. Yet as we started to form an optimistic outlook for the churches in China, the authorities took a U-turn and commanded demolition of crosses, removal of Bibles from store shelves, introduction of new religious reform, monitoring and curtailing gatherings, and even arrest of pastors and believers. Churches and believers who honor Christ as their Head are facing a new round of tests. Those who have religious beliefs, be it Christianity or Islam, are persecuted. Gradually, they are faced with crises of losing jobs because of their faith. Their lives are getting harder and harder. This seems to be just the beginning of tribulation. How long will this new round of religious persecution last? We don’t know. Right at this moment, we of course need to pray for the churches, believers, and evangelistic work, petitioning the Lord to change the hearts of kings and all those in authority, so that believers may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2), allowing the gospel to go out in freedom and safety. Yet, we should also be prepared and realize that this trial may last for a while, just as what we learned from history – children of wisdom ought to always prepare for the worst.
Standing here in North America, lots of us thought that this distant fire has no business with us. But we meet new friends who attend our church meetings and, being asked to introduce themselves, most are from mainland China. Some of them come to visit families and relatives; some come to work or study. They may stay in the States for weeks, months, or years. Very few of them remain permanently in the States; most return to their home countries. As we witness the mobility of fellow Chinese, we acknowledge the mission given by the Lord to the churches in North America – to build them up to serve as a witness for the Kingdom of God. Many campuses have a sizable population of Chinese students who come for a few years of education. Most of these students will return to their homeland upon graduation. We campus ministry coworkers know that the Lord not only entrusts these students and scholars’ souls to us, but also wants to use these young elites for His kingdom work. They therefore should be equipped while among us, before they return home. May the Lord open our eyes to see that they will be put to real tests as we send them home. Will they walk with the Lord in trials with ever-burning flaring flames? Will they still be faithful witnesses for the Lord? Several years ago, before this round of religious persecution, statistics suggest shown that more than 80% of the brothers and sisters who returned to their home countries drifted away from their faith. How many of them will remain faithful in this fire now? My serious speculation is not many. The time, resources, and efforts we invested on them might all be in vain.
Should any of brothers and sisters who returned to their home countries and stand firm in the trials, the Lord will be glorified, and we will be greatly comforted. Should any of them fail or stumble, it will be counted a failure of all Christians in North America. It will also be a shame to those who are called to campus ministry. The Lord has entrusted them to us to build up students and yet their failures revealed our faulty work of hay and straw. Just as Apostle Paul’s saying, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13.). The test of fire comes to believers and to churches, to our home countries and to North America. Trials reveal what kind of faith brothers and sisters have. Trials also reveal what kind of work we did in North America. Was it built on hay or straw? As we witness the test of fire, we should stop building with hay and straw and be more fervent in leading people to Christ. Instead of attracting people with fun activities, we ought to realize the utmost importance of solid discipleship training which helps brothers and sisters stand firm on the truth, love the Lord with perseverance, be willing to suffer for the Lord, and faithfully taking up the cross and following Him. More important than ministry coworkers building personal relationships with students, we all should try to be a channel through which students acquire personal relationship with the Lord. The goal is to help these students be spiritually independent and influential to people around them. Brothers and sisters who are relatively mature should serve as faithful role models, showing new believers how to labor and toil for Christ and how to resist temptations. Unfortunately, often we are their negative examples. For example, we often do not come to the churches when we are tied up with our work; we excuse ourselves from prayer meetings when we feel a little tired; we skip Sunday school because we did not sleep well on Saturday night; we are absent from church for several weeks when examination rolls around; we shy away from meeting people or the Lord as deadlines to apply for grants approach. We stumble and find excuses when we face such little trials. No wonder new believers—most of them from Mainland China—assume that this is the norm for being a disciple and copy our negligence accordingly. Can these new believers withstand real challenges and persecutions after they return to their home countries if we by example and they by imitation cannot endure a tiny “trial” while they are in the States? We are the cause of their failure.
To help brothers and sisters to stand firm despite trials and be victorious after they return to their home countries, we brothers and sisters in North America should be good models for these younger Christians, as those who faithfully pursue and serve the Lord. Confronted with daily temptations, pressure from work and study, these young Christians then will be determined to honor Jesus Christ as King and Lord, willing to suffer for Him, tried and found true. After returning to their home countries, they will lead others to faithfully love and serve the Lord. In this way our work will be valued and sustained by the Lord. Apostle Paul warned us this, “If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames”. (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). God is seeking to test our works. May we lead others to take the journey of the cross. May the Lord help us strengthen and build up His flocks wherever we go.
- Winter Conference. This year is coming to an end. The Winter Conference that everyone expects will come soon. Thank the Lord for providing many speakers who are greatly used by God, such as Pastor John Hsu, Pastor Caleb Huang, Pastor Tsu-Kung Chuang, Dr. Thomas Leung, Pastor Jeff Lee, Pastor Andrew Lin, and more. May God use their messages to encourage us to pursue Him, revive our hearts to love Him more, guide us to walk the path of discipleship, and help us share the gospel to unbelievers with one heart. Currently CWC coworkers are actively preparing for this conference. Please often pray for them. The Winter Conference will take place in Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, Kansas City, MO, from December 21th to 25th. Online registration will be open in middle of November and the strictly observed deadline is 4 p.m of December 16th. Please pay close attention to registration updates on CWC website. Once the registration form is available, please download it as soon as possible and use it to invite people. Please pray for those you invite as early as possible and ask God to prepare their hearts, so that more lives will be transformed, and more nonbelievers will be saved. The speakers for youth and English programs are Dr. Jim Anderson and Dr. Clark, former seminary presidents and professors. Till this day God is still using them greatly. Besides them, there are Brother Randy Dolan and Pastor Steve Tan and others. Please also pray for Uncle Dan and Aunty Kathy and other American teachers who will lead the children programs.
- December Disciple and Coworker Training Camp. We need to equip brothers and sisters to take up their cross and follow the Lord! This camp aims to help brothers and sisters build a solid foundation of faith, devotedly obey and serve the Lord, and follow Him at any cost. Though under pressure of study load, students will still faithfully serve the Lord and witness for Him on campus. After graduation they will be loyal to the Lord under pressure of work and society and bravely face challenges after returning to their home countries. The discipleship training camp will take place at CWC campsite (Warsaw, MO) from the evening of December 25th to the noon of 29th. The strictly observed deadline for registration is December 16th. Please register early and pray for speakers Pastor Tsu-Kung Chuang and Dr. Thomas Leung.
- January Bible Camp. To be victorious, believers ought to stand firm on the truth and promises of the Bible and witness for the Lord in persecutions. The Bible Camp will not only build up the foundation of faith but also prepare yourself to be little shepherds, sharing God’s Word and feeding the Lord’s sheep in the States or in their home countries. The topic of this Bible Camp is the book of Acts. Participants must register before November 15th to complete the CWC assigned homework on schedule. The strict deadline is November 15th. Please register and prepare early. You may also study with brothers and sisters from your church or fellowship. Please pray for speakers Pastor Shihao Shen and Sister Chao-Luan Kao, and for the meeting.
- Expansion Project. Five American couples came to CWC for three weeks in early October to help the construction. Praise the Lord! The expansion project for the American coworker Scott went very smoothly. The outside walls are almost done. The interior construction is still underway, and we hope that it will be completed soon. Then nobody in Scott’s family needs to sleep in the living room and can enjoy a warm place during the winter. Please pray for the success of this project and for the needed funds.
(They lived in their RVs while helping the construction)
- This month CWC coworkers will busily prepare for the Bible camp, disciple training camp, and the winter conference. We not only need to invite speakers but also advise brothers and sisters with their Bible camp assignments. It takes at least one to two hours to read one report and to advise on each assignment. Please pray for coworkers to have needed wisdom and strength for their ministries.
- Please pray for the maintenance coworker residence expansion. We hope that the basic interior construction can be finished in November and the room can be used in December. Then the maintenance coworker can focus on preparing for the three winter meetings. Please earnestly pray even though this goal seems hard to accomplish! Please also pray for the required funds.
- Please pray for Mrs. Ko’s treatment. Praise the Lord! The chemotherapy successfully came to an end. She will receive radiation therapy this month. Please pray that the Lord will have mercy on her and the treatment will be finished by middle of December.
- Please pray for East Coast Thanksgiving Disciple and Coworker Training Camp. May the Lord prepare brothers and sisters to attend and equip more people to stand firm for Him.
- Please pray for the Winter Conference, Disciple and Coworker Training Camp, and the Bible Camp. May the Lord win over souls through these meetings, expand His Kingdom, and build up His soldiers. It is already not easy to organize one camp. Hosting three camps at the same time truly needs your earnest prayer and support!
- Please pray for the preparation for the Paul’s Missionary Journey Tour next June. We hope to have application forms ready by the end of this year. May the Lord prepare people to attend so that they will know God’s Word better and recognize how much Paul toiled for the Lord.
- Please pray for Winter Conference short-term mission teams. May the Lord stir more churches to send coworkers. Every year we need at least 50 short -term mission team members to serve the Lord alongside us in the Winter Conference. May more people be blessed by them! May the Lord establish the work of their hands and help them bear more wonderful fruits for Him.
Thank the Lord! May the Lord bless and save more people through CWC ministry with your care, support, and prayers! Most importantly, more people will be determined to love Christ, be faithful to Him, and serve the King of Kings. Please reserve your time to attend the winter meetings. Please also invite brothers and sisters and nonbelievers to come with you.
May the Lord bestow more grace to you and make you a blessing to many people during the Thanksgiving season!
Together in His services with you,
Pastor Billy Ko