- Category: Pastor Letters
- Published: Saturday, 04 April 2020 00:00
「 時候將到，如今就是了，那真正拜父的，要用心靈和誠實拜他，因為父要這樣的人拜他。」 神是個靈（或無個字），所以拜他的必須用心靈和誠實拜他。」 神是個靈（或無個字），所以拜他的必須用心靈和誠實拜他。（約 4:23-24）
在疫情剛變嚴重的時候，第一個面臨的決定就是聚會要如常進行嗎？最少有四個選擇：照常在教會裡聚會、停止聚會、透過網路聚會、或網路與實體並行聚會。絕大部份的教會都同意: 特別是主日崇拜是不當取消的，因此有一部份人選擇繼續在教會聚會，大部份的教會改在網路上聚會，有些教會一方面照常聚會，一方面也有線上聚會，讓弟兄姊妹選擇出席聚會的方式。教會作決定之後，弟兄姊妹必須要尊重、與接受教會同工會或長執會的決定，更不要埋怨，因為不論是那一個決定，往往都是一個痛苦、與多方考慮後的決定。我們要帶著一個尊重、接納、與順服的心去配合。教會與教會之間也要彼此尊重，不要批評別的教會沒有信心，不到教堂聚會。也不要批評別的教會，沒有愛心，繼續實體聚會，可能會傳播細菌，損害公眾的衛生與安全。我們都在基督聖而公同的教會中，總要彼此尊重，站在別人的立場去了解與接納他們，總要維持在愛中合一的心，如保羅的教導：「用和平彼此聯絡，竭力保守聖靈所賜合而為一的心。」（弗 4:3）
- 要用「心靈和誠實」來敬拜：耶穌對撒瑪利亞婦人說: 「時候將到，如今就是了，那真正拜父的，要用心靈和誠實（真誠 – 呂振中譯）拜他，因為父要這樣的人拜他。」（約 4:23）神要求人敬拜神要用心靈去敬拜，「心靈」是指著全人的敬拜，不僅身體到神面前，你的全人，包括靈性、思想、理智、情感都要到神的面前，神要的是全人去敬拜祂，因為神是靈，有靈、思想、理智與情感。在敬拜中神要藉著靈、思想、理智、和情感中與人相交，使人進入祂的榮耀與豐富中。
- 早起床，準時聚會 – 晚上早點睡，早上早點起來，預備你的身、心、靈，這是全人的敬拜。不要睡到五分鐘前才起床，不要遲到，以為網上敬拜遲到別人看不見，也不影響別人。其實神知道我們遲到，雖然沒有影響別人，但影響自已帶著真誠的心來到神面前，遲到就是偷了神的時間，這就是不誠實的敬拜。
- 衣著整齊 - 我們也需要保持敬畏、與敬拜神的心去敬拜神，因此我們要好像過去一樣，早點起來，稍作整理，穿整齊的衣服到神面前，衣服會加強我們敬拜神的心。不要穿睡衣敬拜神，穿睡衣見人是代表帶著隨便的心見人，不尊重對方，也不尊重自已，這就不會是一個真誠的敬拜。
- 打開鏡頭 、端莊的在神面前 – 打開鏡頭可以加強我們敬拜神的心，專心的聽道。幫助我們不會在聚會中走來走去，因為這是全人的敬拜，敬拜時不要人在心不在，更不要「頭像」在（在螢幕上），人卻不在 （離開了），這是欺騙，不是真誠的敬拜。大家都將鏡頭打開，我們有更大的參與感，更多被連繫在一起。講員看見大家的臉時，也會被鼓勵，能看到弟兄姊妹的臉與反應，就不會覺得是在向電腦講話。平時我們怎樣坐在教會聽道，我們在線上聚會也當這樣，端端莊莊的坐在神前敬拜祂，聆聽祂的話。
- 專心的敬拜 – 敬拜是全人的敬拜，真誠的出自我們的內心，因此敬拜主的時候大家都要專心，不要一心兩用或三用；不要一邊聽道，一邊作功課或上班，作其他事情。不要只將半個心、半個頭腦給主，要有馬利亞專心聽道的心，才能得到那上好的福份。
- 同心的敬拜 – 雖然我們分散在各地敬拜，也要保守我們合而為一的心，透過網路同心敬拜祂，我們不僅有同樣的心思，也當有同樣的行動，唱歌的時候我們一同大聲唱詩，讀經時大家都讀經，禱告的時候我們就一個接一個的禱告，也要同聲阿門別人的禱告，讓合一的靈運行在分散的弟兄姊妹中大大工作。
- 忠心的奉獻 – 奉獻是敬拜的一部分，我們都當按時間，奉獻給主。弟兄姊妹也按主的教導一同忠心奉獻，按自已教會指定的奉獻方法送上。疫情時教會要關門，但不代表這段期間，教會沒有支出：房租、維修、水電，傳道人的生活供應，都是一個很大的數字，還是需要大家一起更愛主，愛去奉獻、幫助別人，榮上加榮。
感謝神！福音營今年所選的日子，本來是有誤差，因為大部份學校都不在該週末放春假，只有Kansas 州的兩個大學放假，再加上疫情傳播的風聲，開始一天緊過一天，但我們相信在這動蕩的時候，人心更需要福音，所以我們決定靠著主的恩典，仍是照常地舉行。雖然人數比去年減少，但還是有不少弟兄姊妹與福音朋友來參加，參加的福音朋友中，有近一半的人相信耶穌，這是主偉大的恩典與作為。福音營結束兩天後，世界衛生組織（WHO）就宣佈疫情升級至全球大流感（Pandemic）, 再過幾天後，大部份的大學都就宣佈停課，或轉成線上上課。感謝主！若不是提早一星期舉行，這次營會舉行起來就會更困難。在人看來，日子可能選的不適時，但上帝卻有奇妙的帶領，我們為此也感謝主！請繼續為剛信主的弟兄姊妹在主裡的成長禱告。
我們盼望藉著禱告，這次的疫情能在六月得著舒緩，青少年門徒訓練營可以如期舉行，因此我們還是積極的籌備中。在這末世，青少年需要更多的被裝備起來，面對末世的試探與誘惑，為神的國作出美好的見證。這次青少年訓練營的講員有Pastor Janas Caruncho, Pastor Steve Tan, Pastor Barry 等，請為他們禱告，求主保守他們身體健康，靈力豐盛，可以更有能力帶領青少年到主面前。請為此聚會禱告，並鼓勵您的孩子快快報名。更多資訊將於近期張貼上網。
美國總統曾說過這次的疫情，可能會延燒到七、八月，所以在三月十五的主日，他宣布這天為全國禱告日，特別為疫情禱告，讓人知道，若不藉著禱告，人是沒有辦法勝過這嚴重的疫情。各地都有不少教會與弟兄姊妹都響應，有的到教堂禱告，有的在網上一同禱告。雖然在這科學時代，有人輕看這禱告的抗疫法，但我們相信神會讓人看見禱告的大能，但需要更多禱告的力量。只有一天、 或一個主日的全國禱告日是不夠的，這禱告日應當是全國禱告的開始，在疫情當中，我們應當每週都當安排特定時間來禱告。所以我們每主日都會在網上為疫情禱告，也會有一些靈修分享與聖經的學習，在這時候讓神的話充塞我們的心，好叫我們能站立得穩，也能幫助更多的人。時間是每主日6：30pm (美國中部時間），我們會使用 Zoom， 帳號是： 8110999917， 請大家一同參加。
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this time of pestilence as peoples’ hearts are filled with uncertainty and fear, we greet you in the peace from the Lord. May the Heavenly Father who neither slumbers nor sleeps always be your shade on your right hand. May Lord Jesus keep you from all evil. He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121)
Worship in the midst of Pandemic
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
Covid-19 sweeps throughout the world. Suddenly almost all the schools announce suspending classes. Many companies and offices are forced to shut down. Most local government suggested or requested people not to go out unless necessary. Don’t go to places where people aggregate. Keep a safe distance if a few people need to meet. Facing such sudden change, churches need to decide quickly: how to lead brothers and sister to continue to meet and worship during the pandemic?
When the pandemic started to get worse, the first decision we faced was: shall we have meetings as routine? There are at least four choices: meet as usual in the church, stop meetings, meet online, or meet simultaneously online and in person. Many churches agreed to not cancel especially Sunday services. Most of churches chose or had no option except online meetings. Some churches maintained regular meetings yet made online meeting available to let brothers and sisters choose for themselves. After each church made decision, brothers and sisters should respect the decision made by coworkers, deacons, and elders instead of complaining. No matter the leaders’ choice, it is painful and after thorough consideration decision from all different aspects. We should keep an attitude of respect and acceptance to obey and cooperate. Churches need to respect each other. We should not criticize other churches lacking of faith just because they did not worship at the churches. From another side, we should not criticize other churches lacking of love just because they still hold in-person meetings and it may spread the virus and harm the health and safety of the public. We are all in the churches being consecrated to Christ. We should respect one another and try to understand other’s positions and accept them to maintain unity in love. As Paul teaches, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
Worship with brothers and sisters
When church leaders made the new arrangement due to the pandemic situation, brothers and sisters should follow Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” It is not easy for church leaders to make these temporary arrangements for they have considered all aspects and conclude ideas from all the coworkers. We need to understand their efforts because they do it for the benefits of believers. We should respect their decision and arrangement and do our best to cooperate. Their decision most likely is based on the rapid changing of the situation then quickly come to a conclusion. It is not perfect. We should bear each other. It is only for temporary use anyway. We need to cooperate. Especially for the online worship service, we should pay attention the following:
- Worship in spirit and truth: Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (sincerity in some version), for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23) God requests people to worship Him in spirit. Spirit refers whole person worship, not just the physical body comes to the presence of God, your whole including spirit, mind, will and emotion all come in front of God. During the worship, God will fellowship with people through spirit, mind, will and emotion, so that people can enter into His glory and abundance.
- Get up early to join the meeting on time—Going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to prepare your body, soul, and spirit. This is worship as a whole person. Don’t sleep until 5 minutes before the meeting. Don’t be late, thinking you will not affect others. God knows we are late. Even if we do not affect others, it affects our own hearts to come to the presence of God. Being late is stealing time from others, and all time is God’s time. This is not a truthful worship.
- Dress modestly —We also need to have an attitude of reverence and a heart of worship to worship God. So we need to get up early, get everything ready, and dress appropriately to come to God. Clothes can enhance our hearts of worship. Don’t wear your pajamas to worship God. Wearing pajamas in front of others represents a careless heart and disrespect of others and self. This too is not a truthful worship.
- Turn on the camera, be dignified in front of God—Keeping the camera on can enhance our hearts of worship and focus our minds during the services. It helps not to walk around during the meeting. It is still a whole person worship. Even with our face on screen, we are not present if our heart is absent. Don’t freeze your photo on screen and leave. This is cheating, not a truthful worship. Keeping the camera on increases the sense of participation and connection. When people—especially the speaker—sees each person’s face, they will be encouraged. When he sees brothers and sisters’ faces and reaction, he will not feel that he is talking to a machine. However we sit to listen to sermons at the churches in the past, we should do the same for online services by sitting to worship God and listen to His Words.
- Concentrate on worship—Worship is worship as a whole person, and truth comes from our hearts; so we need to focus during worship, not one heart for two or three functions. Don’t listen to sermon while doing homework or other stuff. Don’t give only half the heart and half the brain to the Lord. We need to have Mary’s heart to concentrate while listening to God’s Words. Then we can receive the good blessing.
- Worship in one accord—Even though we are scattered in different places to worship, we need to have a unified heart to worship God online. We not only have the same hearts, we need to have actions matching it. During singing time, we sing aloud. We read together during Bible reading. During prayer, we pray one after another one and Amen other’s prayers. Let the unifying spirit work among the scattered brothers and sisters.
- Offer faithfully—Offertory is part of worship. We should give to the Lord according to schedule. Brothers and sisters also should obey the Lord’s teaching to give faithfully by methods each church designates. During the pandemic, the churches door may be closed, but most expenses for the church continue: rent, maintenance, utility, living expense of staff, and so on continue. Everybody needs to love God, give cheerfully and generously, and help others, glory upon glory.
End of Pandemic:
It seems like the pandemic will not end as the weather warms up. There are many Covid-19 cases in tropical regions. The Summer Olympics, originally scheduled for the end of July, is postponed. At this writing, government officials remind us to be prepared that the social distancing may not end till July or August. With the great power of prayers, we deeply believe that God is merciful and will shorten the days of global suffering to allow the pandemic to end quickly. More importantly, may God’s will must be done and let the world see the helplessness of man and the fragility of life, so the world will know and turn to the God who created us. We also pray that God allows His children not only to get through this disaster, but also have the experience of Job to grasp God, to witness God. After the disaster, we can see God with our own eyes and our relationship with God becomes closer. We not only become people of prayer, but also bring blessings to others. May the Lord allow His children experience these quarantine days that we can become more independent disciple, drawing near to God in the hiding place, being edified before the Lord, sharing the Lord to others to witness for Him. May the Lord use the pandemic to build up more soldiers throughout all the churches and world that can be used by the Lord.
This is an excerpt from Pastor Ko’s “Church during the Pandemic”. Click here for the whole writing.
March Gospel Camp
Thanks be to God. Originally, we were slightly mistaken in choosing the date for Gospel camp, for most schools didn’t have spring break during the chosen weekend. Only two major universities in Kansas had spring break then. But then, the potential threat of Covid-19 started to spread. We believe that during this difficult time, people need the Gospel even more urgently. So we decided to trust the Lord’s grace to hold Gospel Camp as planned. We had fewer attendees than last year, but still many brothers and sisters and nonbelievers attended. Among the nonbelievers, near half of them accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. This was the mighty grace and work of our Lord. Two days after the conclusion of Gospel camp, WHO (World Health Organization) announced Covid-19 epidemic was a pandemic. A few days later, most universities suspended classes and turned to online classes. Praise God! If we did not hold Gospel Camp a week “too soon”, it would have been difficult to hold this Camp. In human’s eyes, the date was premature,. but God has wonderful guidance. We thank God for that! Please continue to pray for the spiritual growth of the new brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Disciple and Coworker Training Camps during the Pandemic
Covid-19 causes a lot of the activities to pause. However the pause note in music always brings out more beautiful melody subsequently. Selah! God also reminds us to use more efforts to build up disciples and coworkers during this pause. So that the disciples and coworkers can be more solid and more effectively serve the Lord. We are in the planning phase of May disciple and coworker training camp. We don’t know the development of the pandemic, but we will prepare faithfully. The Lord’s willing, we can hold meetings at CWC camp ground as usual, but we can make different arrangements. No matter what, it is very important to build up brothers and sisters’ spiritual lives and to equip the coworkers. So we hope that brothers and sisters can sign up soon and prepare their hearts to be equipped and serve the Lord.
May Disciple and Coworker Training Camp (May 17-22)
Campus is one of the places from which viruses can spread widely, because students, staffs, and scholars often travel to other places. As students, scholars, and faculties were confirmed infected by Covid-19 one by one and all the campuses were shut down. Many young students had never experienced the threat of death. Suddenly, death is sitting beside you. They start to think of eternal matters. Now it is the right time to equip and encourage students to share the Gospel. Pray the Lord that more students are willing to be equipped and share the Gospel to their classmates. Pray that campus ministry can continue revival. Both students and families can participate in the May Disciple and Coworker Training Camp to be edified so that they can be the good witnesses for the Lord in this difficult time. Our speakers include brother Eric Wu and CWC coworkers. Please pray for them that God will use them. Also prepare our hearts to sign up earlier and encourage others to come.
Lay-minister Disciple Training Camp (May 22-25)
The spreading of Covid-19 causes the global economy to decline. Many companies were forced to temporarily shut down or close permanently. Some people were laid off. Some people can work from home for the time being, but don’t know the future of the companies. Will they be laid off? What is my future? This reminds us work is God’s grace, but work is not our security. We once again offer ourselves to the Lord. Ask God to lead us and decide to live for the Lord to become servants of the Lord while working. Memorial Day weekend training camp is for the full time working brothers and sisters in order to renew our life goals and offer ourselves to the Lord to be a little shepherd that can feed and nurture the Lord’s sheep. Speakers are Brother Eric Wu and Elder Johnson Lee. Please pray for them. May the Lord give them words from heaven and the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord help us to register quickly.
June Youth Disciple Training Camp (May 31-June 6)
We hope that through prayers the Covid-19 pandemic will be calmed down by June so that Youth Disciple Training Camp can be held as planned. For this reason, we are still actively planning for the camp. Our youths need to be built up to face the temptation and seduction so that they can be beautiful witnesses for God’s kingdom. Our speakers include Pastor Janas Caruncho, Pastor Steve Tan, and Pastor Barry Edwards. Please pray for them. May the Lord keep them healthy and thriving in spirit in order to lead youth to the Lord. Please pray for the camp and encourage your children to register sooner. We will post more details on our webpage soon.
August Bible Camp (July 26-August 1)
Many brothers and sisters have already signed up for August Bible Camp. As they are staying home due to the pandemic, they actively work on their assignments to prepare for the camp. We have seen some ministers leading brothers and sisters to read the poetry books to prepare for Bible Camp assignment. How nice it is! We pray that God will use Bible camp to let brothers and sisters root and grow in God’s Words. And also not only they can walk but share the Word of God. The prerequisite of the Bible camp is attending the Discipleship training first. Not only this, they need to continue attending the Discipleship Trainings at least once in the past two years. If you plan to attend the August Bible Camp, but have not been to disciple training camp, please take advantage of the May disciple Training Camp and Lay-minister Training Camp.
Prayers during pandemic:
President Trump once said that this pandemic might last until July or August. So he proclaimed March 15th to be the National Day of Prayer, especially to pray for the pandemic. Let people know, if we don’t rely on prayers, people cannot win over this serious pestilence. Many brothers and sisters from different churches have joined in. Some went to church buildings to pray. Some prayed together online. In this materialistic era, people sneer at prayer and deprecate prayer. But we believe that God will let people witness the great power of prayers. We need more prayer power. One National Day of Prayer is not enough, except as a new beginning of national prayers, of global prayers. During the span of pandemic, we should designate a time to pray together weekly. For this reason, every Sunday we will pray for the pandemic online and have devotional sharing and Bible study to let God’s Words fill our hearts that we can stand firm in order to help more people. We will use Zoom with meeting ID 811 099 9917 at 6:30 pm Central Time. Please join us.
- We are grateful for completion of March Gospel Camp by relying on God’s grace. May the Lord help the new believers continue growth in truth.
- Pray for May Disciple and Coworker Training Camp. May the Lord give the brothers and sisters the hearts to pursue the Lord and sign up for the camp, so that they can become influential student coworkers in a thriving campus ministry.
- May the Lord let those fulltime-working believers commit themselves more to Christ in this pandemic period. So that they can be witnesses for the Lord in society and little shepherds in churches to lead and build up the Lord’s little lambs. Also pray that they can arrange their schedule to attend the Lay-Minister Training Camp.
- Pray for the speakers Brothers Eric Wu and Elder Johnson Lee for the May Discipleship training camps. May the Lord give them words and power to lead brothers and sisters to become servants pleasing to the Lord.
- Pray for the preparation and promotion of the Youth Camp. May the Lord equip more youths to stand firmly in this challenge-filled age. So that they can be examples for other youths and also can influence and lead others to follow Jesus.
- May the Lord help Pastor Ko, during the pandemic, with strength and wisdom, can continue to thrive campus ministry with different methods. Also pray for the health of Mrs Ko. Pastor Ko used to be very busy, but now he is even busier working from home. May the Lord use him more and bless his family.
- Pray for brother Qing-Long Liang’s family. May the Lord give him strength to become a blessing for Columbia Chinese Christian church and other churches during these challenge-filled days.
- Thanks be to the Lord! The expansion of our maintenance coworker’s bedroom is almost completed. This will reduce his worries. Even during this pandemic period, he still continues maintenance and building projects in CWC daily. The CWC camp ground is located at a remote area with but few people with abundant fresh air. The pandemic has less influence on coworkers’ lives as they working at this campground.
- May the Lord give us more new coworkers to grow campus ministries all over so we can build up more students to become leaders to lead other students at the end time.
- Pray for the monthly financial needs of CWC. May the Lord give the burden on more brothers and sisters to support CWC ministries and pray for our ministries.
- Pray for the arrangements of August and September short-term mission teams. May the Lord let all the sending churches of the short-term mission teams and coworkers to have the vision of the importance of campus ministry in the Midwest during this age of turmoil. They will trust the Lord to complete the preparation and training work, so that they can reap a good harvest in various campuses in the Midwest.
- Pray for the churches as they start to use online worship services to continue to worship the Lord in the spirit and truth. May the Lord give the churches the spirit of unity that they can pursue and serve the Lord with one accord.
- Pray that brothers and sisters can stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Pray for local churches to trust the Lord on the ministry of caring and evangelism.
- Pray for local churches’ discipleship and coworkers training and establishment. May the Lord help them to more care for others, holding onto the Lord’s hand to bring out beautiful witnesses.
- During the pandemic, pray that local governments can turn to God, trust the Lord that both our bodies and spirit can be healed and thrive.
- May the Lord reveal His wonderful power to subside the pestilence before Easter. So that all the brothers and sisters everywhere can begin to back to their churches to worship. The world can see God’s great power. Let the believers experience the power of prayer.
May the Lord cover you with His love during this period! Use His mighty hand to support you! Allow you boldly living for Him! God always keep you and use your family!
In the Lord,
Pastor Billy Ko