- Category: Pastor Letters
- Published: Monday, 10 February 2020 00:00
過年時我們常常會說: 「新年快樂」，但今年人們最需要的是「新年平安」。有教會同工問我：在武漢肺炎蔓延期，教會新年特別聚會要不要繼續舉行? 我回答說：這病毒是國難，人們需要的不是「新年快樂」，乃是需要「新年平安」，平安是在基督裏，透過向主禱告才有平安，我們應當將新年聚會改成禱告聚會。在基督裡，新年我們才能享有平安，只有在神的話語中，我們才能在患難中得安慰。
詩篇 91篇 – 在病毒與瘟疫中得安慰
人生必定會經歷低谷與黑暗，困難也常如冷箭突然臨到，各樣的瘟疫（人與動物）一年比一年更頻繁出現，令人覺得生活很困難，面對恐懼，人們越來越束手無策。現在有路人在您前面突然摔倒，人們也開始想要不要去扶他一把? 或是趕快跑開? 因為心中充滿了恐懼。但心中有神的人就會趕快過去幫助他，因為主的平安在他心中。這不代表信主的人一定不會受病毒感染，但這些病毒不會成為我們的災難 ，因為神應許：「我們曉得萬事都互相效力，叫愛神的人得益處，就是按他旨意被召的人。」（羅 8:28）。一切事情的發生，包括人看來是相當困難或不如意的事情，神應許我們: 我們心中會因相信神就有平安。
- 更多親近神 - 住在神的裡面，在忙碌與恐懼當中，更需要親近神，維持美好的靈修生活，讓主的愛與平安更多居住在我們心中。
- 正常生活 - 當美國衛生部已經建議美國國民仍然照常生活，也不要停止正常的社交活動時，我們基督徒就不要停止聚會，憑信心正常的參加各樣的聚會，特別要鼓勵更多人參加禱告會，用禱告的心與手去托住教會，讓神大能醫治的手臨到眾人的身體與心靈。
- 保持聚會 - 只要疫情不至於被要求要閉門隔離，總是要參加聚會。不適合大型聚會時，也要參加小組的聚會。真的要閉門隔離、不適宜出門聚會時，也要在自己家中聚會，家人一同敬拜神。被隔離時，也可以透過電話、視頻等工具參加聚會。保持參加聚會，會讓我們在困難中仍然彼此互相扶持，一同走主的道路。
- 把握機會向人傳福音 - 在人心惶惶時，眾人更需要福音，困難會使人心更加柔軟，所以我們必須把握機會傳福音。若別人願意，我們就可以家訪；當別人害怕不敢接受探訪時，我們可以多用電話、或視頻關懷與傳福音，因為這時是人期待被關懷的時候，我們不僅要把愛心帶給他們，更要直接與他們分享福音的內容，因為只有他們在基督裡成為新造的人，才能在他們心中得著基督的平安。
- 把握機會邀請人來參加福音營 – 這期間的人需要福音，我們要趕緊將福音傳給他們，別忘了邀請他們來參加福音營，一個能放下手中的工作與學業，願意遠道來參加福音營的人，他們信主的機率是相當高的，我們要把握這機會讓他們聽福音，並有機會信耶穌，好叫主永遠的平安長存在他們的心中。神是賜平安的神，就是要預備人心聽主的福音，神已經作了預備的工作，祂要我們與祂同工，邀請人聽福音，讓福音朋友能成為神的兒女，危機常常就是轉機，在危機中，可以讓他們更願意作為神的兒女。
八月讀經營將研讀詩歌書(又稱智慧書) ，就是從約伯記到雅歌書，閱讀智慧書，不僅能使人心中享有主的平安與喜樂，更可以在生命與生活中有屬天的智慧。讀經營將從 7 月 26 日起至 8 月 1 日，在中心舉行，講員是諶志豪牧師等。報名截止日期為 6 月15日: 請儘早報名，好早點開始準備功課，預備自己與其他弟兄姊妹一同追求與學習主的話。
- 為同工梁慶龍弟兄一家，在Columbia, Missouri與各地校園的事奉能帶出美好的果效禱告，也求主賜福他們一家。
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Peace to you in Chinese New Year!
We always say “Happy New Year” during the Lunar New Year, but this year we need most a “Peaceful New Year”. Some church coworkers asked me, “Should we continue to hold special celebrations for Lunar New Year during this Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic?” My answer is that this virus is a nation’s disaster. Thus we need not a “Happy New Year”, but peace during the coming year. Happiness comes from what happens. Peace comes from abiding in Christ, through prayers to the Lord. We can adapt the Lunar New Year gathering to a prayer meeting. Only by abiding in Christ can we enjoy the real peace in this new year. Only by abiding in the Word of God can we receive comfort in the midst of suffering.
Psalm 91 – Getting comfort in the midest of pestilence and virus
Lunar New Year is a time for Chinese to celebrate. As the Wuhan Coronavirus spreads in Mainland China and spreads to other countries, everyone is in panic mode. Chinese New Year becomes a disaster. It should be a time of joy, not days of anxiety. As the situation develops everyone worries for themselves and for family members and relatives afar. Every day they ponder: Will they go to work? Or go to school? Will I stay at home for weeks or longer like a sick person? Their bodies are not sick, but their spirits are sick from living under the shadow of death. Their hearts are filled with anxiety, tension, and depressing thoughts. Psalm 91 gives us comforting message when we are facing urgent trouble:
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
We all will experience low valleys and darkness. Difficulties are like cold arrows shooting at us. Plagues appear with higher frequency. Life is so hard. People are helpless facing fear. Suppose a person falls on the ground. Do we hesitate to should lift this person up? Do we in fear run away quickly? He who knows God will quickly go to help the fallen, because the peace of the Lord is in his heart. This doesn’t mean believers won’t contract the virus, but that this virus won’t become our disaster. God has promised, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Everything that happens, including what people seem as difficult, God has promised us: our hearts will have peace because we believe in God.
The only requirement for this promise is that we first must become the ones who love God. When we prioritize God, God will prioritize us. For those who love God are precious in the eyes of God, and God will watch over them. As Psalm 91:14 says, “ Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name”. Loving God with one heart, the believer will not waste complaints even though in the difficulties. He sees God as precious because he knows the names of God. There are many names of God and each name reveals each of God’s good attributes. Difficulties can help believers rejoice in the Lord because they know God’s goodness. Believers can praise God in the mist of difficulties. And the result is that spirits are lifted up, delivered from the difficulties because God has set them securely on high.
In order to become the one who loves God, we must always dwell in the shelter of the Most High. “Dwelling” means living with God. It is not a mindset of a stranger or alien to God, but draws close to God daily by reading the Bible and prayer. Only when we constantly have fellowship with God in His shelter, then we will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Thus, when trouble comes, we will discover that we are already dwelling in God’s refuge and fortress. God has already delivered us from the deadly pestilence. Even we are in different kinds of difficulties, still we live in God’s presence in peace and joy.
The secret of overcoming difficulties is to become one who loves God and exults in God. During these days of Coronavirus epidemic, we should spend more time getting close to God and trusting in God. Only abiding in the Lord that we can have a heart of peace and live safely. For this reason, we should constantly pay attention to the following things during these days:
- Be closer to God—Abide in the Lord. In the midst of busyness and fear, we need to get closer to God even more urgently. Maintaining a good devotional life, letting God’s love and peace dwell in our hearts.
- Live normally—the US Department of Health has already suggested people in the US live normally, not stopping normal activity. We Christians should not stop church meetings. Attend all the meetings by faith. Encourage more people to attend prayer meetings. Use prayerful hearts and hands to uplift God’s people. Let God’s mighty healing hands be upon everyone’s body and spirit.
- Maintain regular church meetings—As long as the epidemic doesn’t require quarantine, we should keep going to church meetings. If a big gathering is not permitted, we should attend smaller group meetings. If quarantine is needed and we cannot go out for church, we still can worship at our homes. We can use technology to join in church meetings. Keeping regular church lives will lead us to support one another during these hard times, walking the path of the Lord together.
- Grasp the opportunity to share the Gospel—When people’s hearts are upset they more easily pay attention to the Gospel. We should grasp the opportunity to share the Gospel. If they are willing, we can visit them at their homes. When they are afraid and do not want to be visited, we can use a phone call or video call to care for them and share the Gospel. This is the time that people want and hope for and even expect comfort. We not only love them, but also directly share the content of the Gospel with them. Because only when they become new creatures in Christ, they can truly experience the peace of Christ in their hearts.
- Grasp the chance to invite them to the Gospel Camp—People always need the Gospel, but in times of trouble they know they need the Gospel. We should hurry up to share the Gospel with them. Don’t forget to invite them to the Gospel Camp. If one person who is willing to put down work and study and travel this far to the Gospel Camp, he has more chances to believe in the Lord. We need to seize this opportunity to let them hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus. Let the eternal peace from the Lord come into their hearts. God is the one who gives peace. God also has prepared people’s hearts to hear the Gospel. Since God has done the preparation works, He wants us to cowork with Him to invite people to hear the Gospel and let the nonbelievers become children of God. Crisis always can turn into opportunity. During crisis, people are more willing to become children of God.
March Gospel Camp
The fear from the Wuhan Coronavirus is surrounding us. The shadow of death is upon us anytime. People need the Good News even more urgently to carry them through in these days of disasters. Mankind needs God’s peace. May the Lord use this virus crisis as an opportunity for people. If people do not turn to God in crisis, God’s Gospel will rarely interest them in times of ease. Gospel Camp is only a bit over a month away. It is a critical moment to share the Gospel. Both US and China need the Good News. May God light the fire of Gospel from the Midwest that we can share the Good News to our homeland. Let us work hard for this Gospel Camp by praying fervently. We first sign up. By this example and with prayer, then we invite people to come. Thus more people will attend the camp and more people will turn to the Lord. The theme for this camp is New Life and New Mission. It will be held from evening of March 6 till noon of March 9. Speakers are Rev. Tsu-Kung Chuang and Rev. George Hsu. Location is at CWC in Warsaw, Missouri with freewill offering. We have family housing and a children’s program. Students and families are all welcome.
March East Coast Disciple and Coworker Training Camp
May Disciple and Coworker Training Camp
The prosperity of a campus ministry depends on building up students to become the frontline campus coworkers. Within the first year of believing in Jesus, students should be able to witness among their classmates, express caring, and lead others to believe. In order to reach this goal, campus fellowships should have regular disciple training classes. So encourage people to attend the CWC’s Disciple and Coworker Training Camp. With these two efforts, the student coworkers can be built up. So they can have one or two years to influence other students to believe in the Lord and follow the Lord before their graduation. This semester will end in three months. Before the students purchase tickets to return home, we need to encourage them to defer a week in order to attend disciple and coworker training camp, to prepare themselves to share the Gospel in their home town and return to campus to serve the Lord. The camp is May 17-22 at CWC camp. Speakers are Rev. Kenny Lai and CWC coworkers etc.
May Lay-Minister Disciple Training Camp
This camp is to build up working brothers and sisters to become little shepherds who love the Lord and faithfully follow the Lord and offer themselves for the Lord’s works. They can be examples for others and also feed and nurture the Lord’s lambs. The Midwest generally lacks pastors, so more working brothers and sisters are needed to become little shepherds. The speakers are Rev. Kenny Lai, Elder Johnson Lee, and CWC coworkers. It will be held from evening dinner time of May 22 till lunch of May 25 at CWC camp. Since the time is so short, everybody should arrive before 5:30 pm on May 22. A freewill offering helps defray costs. To accommodate the needs of families, the camp will have family dormitories and children and youth classes.
August Bible Camp
August Bible Camp will study the Biblical Books of Poetry (also called Books of Wisdom) from Job to Song of Solomon. Reading the Books of Wisdom not only will give us joy and peace in our hearts, but also brings wisdom from above for us to live on earth. The camp is held from July 26 till August 1 at CWC camp. Speakers are Rev. Chihhao Shen and others. Deadline is June 15. Please sign up—the sooner the better—and start doing homework. Prepare yourselves and other brothers and sisters to pursue and study God’s Words together.
- Pray for this semester’s campus ministries everywhere. Pray that student coworkers can be built up quickly.
- Pray for the sufferers of Wuhan Coronavirus that both their physical bodies and spirit are healed.
- Pray for the preparation work of the CWC coworkers for the March Gospel Camp. And also pray the Lord to prepare hearts to attend.
- Pray for the invitation work of the Gospel Camp and brothers and sisters have enthusiastic hearts to share the Gospel. Pray the Lord that brothers and sisters can apply earlier so that they can encourage the nonbelievers to apply. Also pray that the nonbelievers will accept Christ sooner.
- Pray for Rev Tsu-Kung Chuang and Rev. George Hsu and the short-term mission team. May the Holy Spirit give them wisdom to prepare the message that can touch people’s hearts to bring out the effect of the Gospel to save people.
- Pray for the East Coast Disciple Training Camp in early March that the Lord will prepare brothers and sisters’ hearts to attend, so that more brothers and sisters can be witnesses of this age on their campuses and churches so God’s works can be revived. Also pray for the building expansion project of the East Coast Camp.
- Pray for the May Disciple and Coworker Training Camp and Lay Minister Coworker Training Camp. May the Lord use the camps to build up more student coworkers to be witnesses on their campuses. During summer break or after they return to their home countries, they can boldly share the Gospel to be faithful witnesses.
- Pray for Sister Cindy Chiang as she is very busy on preparing tax documents. By God’s great power, wisdom, and strength, she may mail out your offering receipts by the end of February.
- Pray that the Lord will raise up more coworkers for CWC that can serve on campuses to share the Gospel, and train more young students and scholars to be the Lord’s disciples.
- Pray for Brother Qing-Long Liang and his family who are serving at Columbia, Missouri and in other campuses, that their work bears good fruit. May the Lord bless his whole family.
Pastor Billy Ko