- Category: Pastor Letters
- Published: Friday, 24 July 2020 23:00
從三月中起，大部分的我們都生活在居家令中，五月初起，各州開始陸續開放，也有許多人回到工作崗位上。再過兩個星期，秋季班就要開課了，經過超過半年的蟄居，相信大部分的人都要再次回到校園，休息是為走更遠的路，雖然疫情好像吼叫的獅子仍在我們旁邊肆虐叫囂，求主讓我們用堅固的信心去抵擋他 (彼前5:8-9)， 這是一 場不容易的戰爭，但靠著主，我們足能得勝 (民13:30) ，我們要問的是: 您是否像約書亞和迦勒已裝備好， 成為屬靈英勇的戰士(書 14:11)? 預備新學期新的挑戰?
每一個時代，神都要興起剛強勇敢的人作主的見證人，可是近來這樣的基督徒是越來越少。當前很多大城市的暴亂，有如當年大陸的文化大革命。我們敢對我們的朋友說，「這是不對的」嗎？當您的朋友說要defunding police (不給警察經費)，你有勇氣對他說，「這是危險的要求」嗎？當暴徒攻擊教會，推倒主耶穌的像，用話語攻擊主名的時候，您有勇氣說，「神都看見！主的審判會來臨」嗎？這也就是因為攻擊主名的事情增加，主的恩典就減少。在其他國家疫情減輕趨緩時，美國的疫情卻增高，確診人數不斷上升。
今天美國教會與社會都需要勇敢的基督徒能走出來為主作見證。很多華人基督徒若不是為了買菜，連家門也不敢出；教會的門，就算是打開也不敢進。我們卻看見當美國教會打開，弟兄姊妹就回到教會；教會內不夠坐，就把車停在停車場，坐在車內對著神的殿敬拜主。實在顯明他們真有羨慕永生神的殿的心，勇敢的心，在神殿中瞻仰神榮美的心。華人教會中，肯勇敢走出來，羨慕神殿的人在哪裡呢？我們說，「要等病毒過去才回教會」，Dr. Fauci說，「這大概是一、兩年以後的事情」；我們說，「等到疫苗出來後，我們就回到教會」，Dr. Fauci也說，「疫苗可能一直不會出來」。即使疫苗今年就出來，您有膽量去接受剛出來的疫苗接種嗎？您有預備好這次的病毒會一直存在這世上嗎？我們可能會一直與這病毒共存，那麼，我們要等到什麼時候呢？福音朋友不來，弟兄姊妹的關係越來越疏離，教會又能在這樣的光景中維持多久呢？教會需要弟兄姊妹勇敢出來，走進教會敬拜主，走進社會見證主！
這次我們是實體舉行，雖有人不克前來，但仍有近五十位弟兄姊妹，因為渴慕神的話語，在過去半年內好好的準備了功課，也做了專題作業，仍不懼外面讓人驚心的疫情報導，還是來參加，我們為他們感謝主！更感恩的是: 除了這些弟兄姊妹外，中心過去的舊同工或退休同工， 如王壽忠牧師 (Dennis Wong)、 曾瑗姊妹(Vivian Tsen)、 關靜淳 (Ching-Chun Kuan)姊妹及 Lawrence, Kansas 的李榮健 (Danny Li)牧師，也都會來幫忙。這次讀經營將研讀詩歌書，講員為：諶志豪牧師、與吳徐南玨師母，吳師母的先生、吳正群牧師(Peter Wu)也會同來分享教導，我們為這些神的僕人獻上感謝。請您們特別為這個聚會禱告，求主保守中心免受病毒的侵擾，讓弟兄姊妹能安心、且專心地浸淫在神的話語中，也能與其他弟兄姊妹有美好的交通。很遺憾的是高牧師雖不能參加，但他已把他要分享的書卷，均事先預錄好，要與弟兄姊妹一起來讀寶貴的詩歌書。
八月、九月份美中短宣 ( 8月21-30日， 9月11-20日)
感謝主！餐廳工程已經完成。目前我們正在開始建造兒童活動中心，就是會在馬可樓前面的平台上加建，這樣以後兒童與青少年的活動，在天候不好時，也可以在室內舉行。這個工程已經開工， Harold Shull 牧師與他的孫子，兩個人每天在炎熱的天氣下工作，求主紀念與加添他們力量，費用預估約需八萬元。請為工程進行順利與建造經費禱告。
每主日黃昏高牧師仍會與弟兄姊妹一起讀經與禱告，我們會從聖經人物學習「主工人的品性」，也會有禱告的時間。願神的話餵養裝備我們，並塑造我們成為祂所合用的器皿，在這後疫情時代，作主美好的工人。我們在網上讀經禱告時間是每主日6：30pm (美國中部時間），我們會使用 Zoom， 帳號是： 8110999917，若需要密碼，請發短信給我，573-999-6235， 請大家一同參加。
- 為八月門徒與同工訓練營講員： 葉裕波牧師、林心昂牧師等禱告，求主藉著這次營會，建立下學期新的同工，並為每一位參加者禱告。
- 為同工梁慶龍的服事禱告，求主使用他在哥城與各地的事奉都能結出美好的果子。也求主祝福他一家，也為他申請R-1 工作簽証能順利禱告，求主帶領與開路。
- 為維修同工 Scott 手上的工作禱告，特別是在讀經營及訓練當中的維護，也求主賜福他們的家人。
- 為開學後學生事工的新挑戰禱告，求主幫助我們，不論環境如何 ，我們仍站在主這邊，體貼神的心意服事禱告。
Dear Brothers and Sister, Greetings in the peace of the Lord!
Since mid-March most of us live under the “stay at home” order. Since the beginning of May each state has reopened gradually, and more go back to work. In around two weeks, schools’ fall semester will begin. After almost over six months’ staying at home, I believe most students will go back to school. Resting is for preparing for a long journey. Even if the pestilence is like a roaring lion roaring and attacking, we need to resist him standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). It is not an easy battle. But trusting in the Lord, we will win (Numbers 13:30). So we must ask: are you equipped well as spiritual and brave soldiers such as Joshua and Caleb (Joshua 14:11)? Are you ready for the new challenges in the new semester?
Be strong, be strong, be strong
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. (Haggai 2:4)
When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, initially they were filled with joy. With one accord they rebuilt the Temple which had laid destroyed for many years. With the great support and financial backing from the king of Persia, the rebuild went smoothly. After ten years, king Cyrus died. The life of Israelites became more difficult with continuous attacks of nearby enemies and complaints to another Persian king. Finally king Darius Hystaspes ordered them to suspend the rebuilding. Not long after the suspension, God used Haggai the prophet to encourage the Israelites to get up and rebuilt the Temple. Thus, the Israelites together started to rebuild the Temple. When they were beginning the task, they found that they did not have enough resources. As they were worried and panicked, Haggai encouraged them three more times with “Be strong! Be strong! Be strong!” The Israelites were strengthened and with one accord rebuilt the Temple fearlessly despite the difficult situation. They finished the rebuilding the Temple in about four years. Be strong and depend on God to fulfill God’s mission. This is the basis of the Israelites’ victory.
When I graduated from seminary forty-one years ago, I prayed for God to guide me where to serve Him as soon as I turned in my thesis. The Lord showed me that He wanted me to stay in Missouri to serve. I was worried. If I stayed at Kansas City to serve the Lord, how can I support my life? There were no Chinese churches, only Chinese Christian fellowships at that time. How could I cover living expenses? I was merely a newly-grad from seminary in my twenties. What could I do in the Midwest? I was truly anxious. The Lord gave me this passage from the Book of Haggai to remind me, “Be strong! Be strong! Be strong!” I decided to make a commitment, accept God’s mission, and be strong to serve Him boldly. I was willing to trust the Lord to walk this path of faith with no return. When I told my wife my decision made in front of the Lord, she was stronger than me by responding me at once “Great!” Many decades later, when I walk this path of faith boldly trusting the Lord, I continually experience the Lord’s abiding presence and grace richer and richer.
Every generation God will raise up strong and courageous people to be His witnesses. But recently there are fewer and fewer this kind of Christians. At this moment, many big cities have riots, not unlike the cultural revolution in mainland China. Are we brave enough to say to our friends, “It is not right”? When your friends want to defund the police, do you have the courage to tell him, “this is a dangerous request”? When the rioters attack the churches and in Florida tear behead a statue of Jesus or use words to attack our Lord’s name, do you have the courage to say, “God watches! The Lord’s judgment will come”? Evidence of the Lord’s grace decreases with more incidents of people attacking the Lord’s name. As the pandemic subsides in other countries, Covid-19 positive cases increase in the US.
Nowadays, American churches and societies need brave Christians to come out to witness for the Lord. Many Chinese Christian will not even leave their homes unless they have to get groceries. They dare not enter the churches even the church doors are open. But we can see when American churches reopen, brothers and sisters return to the churches. Lacking distancing space indoors, in the parking lot they worship the Lord from their vehicles. It really shows they have hearts that long for the dwelling of the Eternal God, hearts of bravery, hearts that desire to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in His temple. Where are those brave enough to walk into the churches to long for the Lord’s dwelling among Chinese churches? We say that we will wait until the virus is over then to return to the churches. Dr Fauci said that this would not happen until one or two years later. We say, “we will return to churches when the vaccine comes out.” Dr Fauci also said, an “effective vaccine may not be there.” Even if a vaccine is developed this year, are you brave enough to receive this a new vaccine? Are you prepared that this virus will continue to co-exist with us in this world? We may have to live with this virus. Then, how long will we keep waiting? Non-believers do not come to the churches and the relationship between believers becomes more and more alienated. How long will churches last in this kind of atmosphere? Churches need brothers and sisters to be brave to enter to worship the Lord and to walk out into society to witness for the Lord!
Most of the Midwest campuses are preparing to reopen. Even though very few new students coming from Mainland China, there are still many remaining students that we can share the Gospel with. In addition, some students will be transferred to the Midwest temporarily from East and West Coast universities, because many East and West Coast universities don’t have in-person classes but the US Government requires international students attend in-person classes. There will be also some new students from Hong Kong coming to US because of that political predicament. These are opportunities for campus evangelism ministry! Nevertheless, many Midwest brothers and sisters are content with Zoom services. They dare not fulfill God’s commission. They want to preserve their own lives, and perhaps to enjoy convenience. Thanks be to the Lord! Short-term mission teams from East and West Coasts and Texas see that Midwest campuses are reopening and decided to seize this challenging opportunity to come to Midwest to share the Gospel. They have experienced more the seriousness of the pandemic than our Midwest believers, yet they are determined to come to the Midwest to share the Gospel. Their bravery and determination are good examples. Some worry that West Coast people will bring the virus to us. In fact, they know better than us the importance of protection. Many of them have been working from home in the past few months and seldom go out. They are as safe as our Midwest people. They can leave their homes to come to the Midwest to do mission. How beautiful their witness and examples are! We should pray for them, work with them, and learn from their examples.
August Bible Camp and Disciple and Coworker Training Camp will be held in person. Even though attendees could be fewer than the recent online camp, our emphasis for these camps is to build up people who are brave enough to walk out for the Lord. They can come to camp now and go to churches to worship in the future. With all kinds of wisdom and with a cautious heart, it is still possible to share the Gospel with others. It is important to train people to read the Bible and be the Lord’s disciples. Still, practice is more crucial than mere knowledge-learning. Coming to CWC in person camp and church service is an important training in faith and life, helping us to learn to gain balance between preserving life and fulfilling mission, to be the Lord’s mighty warriors. We can do more to pursue the Lord and serve the Lord even during the pandemic. Today’s Chinese churches need to raise this kind of brothers and sisters! Thanks be to the Lord, there are dozens of brothers and sisters signed up to come to the two in-person camps. May the Lord equip and bless them not only for building up themselves, but also for influencing others to pursue the Lord bravely, to serve the Lord!
So far I have not heard that any Midwest brothers and sisters have been infected by Covid-19. We are the most blessed! We need to be strong to go to churches as usual and bravely share the Gospel with others. Open your homes again and invite others to go to the churches. Reopening churches and campus ministry will allow us to become good soldiers for Christ in God’s amazing grace.
August Bible Camp (July 26-August 1)
We will hold the camp in person. Though some cannot come, we still anticipate about fifty brothers and sisters present because they thirst for God’s Words, having prepared their homework in the past six months and finishing their special topic assignment. They are not afraid of scary news of the pandemic situation and are still willing to come. We thank God for them! We are even more grateful for the special help from our previous and retired CWC coworkers: Rev. Dennis Wong, Sister Vivian Tsen, Sister Ching-Chun Kuan, and Pastor Denny Li from Lawrence Kansas. We are studying the five books of Wisdom. Our speakers are Rev. Chih-Hao Shen, Mrs. Juanna Wu and her husband, Rev. Peter Wu. We give thanks to God for these servants of the Lord. Please specially pray for this camp that the Lord will protect CWC camp from sickness, give attendees peace of mind to submerge in God’s Word, and to have good fellowship with other brothers and sisters. We regret that Pastor Ko cannot attend this Bible Camp because of chemo and related recovery. He has recorded what he will share, and thus still can join us to study those precious Wisdom books.
August Disciple and Coworker Training Camp (August 2-8) Deadline will extend to July 31st
The second evening after the Bible Camp will be Disciple and Coworker Training Camp in CWC. One of our speakers is Rev. James Ip, the vice chair president of Christian Witness Theological Seminary in California. The other speaker is Rev. Andrew Lin who has served many years in the West Coast and also in edifying ministry overseas. This is a great opportunity to equip brothers and sisters and student coworkers to undertake the more challenging campus ministry in the new semester. If you miss the Bible Camp, you can still register for Disciple Training Camp as the deadline has been extended to July 31. Please seize this opportunity before the new semester to be equipped well in God’s house. A registration form has been posted on CWC website. Please download and register.
August and September Midwest Short-term Mission (August 21-30, September 11-20)
Currently we have five churches from East Coast, West Coast, and Texas willing to send short term mission teams to the Midwest. Our prayer is that the Lord will allow more churches to resume physical meetings in August and schools to resume physical classes. We all share the Gospel with others together during the beginning of the new semester. Praise the Lord! We have a tentative schedule already. Many Midwest churches are willing to work with the mission teams to share the Gospel during the new semester. The formats and tools our mission teams utilize will be more flexible and mobile during the pandemic. Please pray for the campus ministries on different campuses and the short-term mission teams.
Expansion of the Children Activity Center
Thanks be to the Lord! Our dining hall expansion has been completed. Now we are starting to build a children’s activity center in front of Mark Hall. This will become the indoor place for children and youth activities especially during bad weather. We laid the foundation for the area more than a decade ago. Now we just need to build on it. Pastor Harold Shull and his grandson are working on this project during the hot summer. It is not easy. May the Lord remember them and strengthen them. Our budget is estimated to be $80,000. Please pray that the project will go smoothly and for the building fund.
Update of Pastor Ko’s health
By the end of July, Pastor Ko will have completed four chemotherapy treatments for his stomach cancer. Praise the Lord! God has blessed and kept him. His body has responded to treatment very well! He has not lost faith and his joyful heart. After the chemotherapy treatments, the doctors plan to do surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding cancer cells by the end of August. Then there will be two more months of chemotherapy after the surgery. Please pray for Pastor Ko’s treatment and recovery during these six months. He plans to share updates on his health condition weekly on the CWC website. Please continue to read it and supplicate.
Prayers and Study during the Pandemic
Every Sunday evening Pastor Ko will still lead the Bible study and prayers with the brothers and sisters. We are studying several Bible persons to learn “the characteristics of God’s servants”. We will also spend time praying to allow God’s Words to establish us, that we too can be molded as the useful vessels for the Lord. We can be good servants for our Lord in this post-pandemic era, please join our online prayer and Bible study time (Sundays 6:30pm central time, Zoom ID:8110999917). If you need the password, please text us at 573-999-6235. Please join us.
- Pray that God will make the pandemic subside in August so that people can resume normal schooling and worship by the end of August, and so brothers and sisters can come to CWC Camp in person for August Bible Camp and August Disciple Training Camp.
- Pray for speakers of August Bible Camp, Rev. Chih-Hao Shen, Mrs. Juanna Wu and Rev. Petr Wu. May God use them to help us understand the wisdom books, knowing deep in their hearts that fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
- Pray for speakers for August Disciple Training Camp: Rev. James Ip and Rev. Andrew Lin. May God use this camp to equip new coworkers for the fall semester. Pray for each attendee.
- Pray for the August and September short-term mission teams. It is a very challenging mission. May the Lord give them wisdom and understanding to help more students who have been staying home for a long time and need God’s salvation and Words badly. Also pray for Midwest churches and fellowships that they will work seamlessly with the mission teams to strive to prosper the Gospel.
- Pray for Cindy Chiang’s ministry. From the end of July to mid-September, there are two camps and two ten-day mission team journeys. May her strength equal her days.
- Pray for Qing-Long Liang to bear good fruit as he serves in Columbia, Missouri and other churches. May God bless his whole family. Also pray for his R-1 religious visa application. May God guide and lead the way.
- May the Lord help Pastor Ko, that while he is going through many treatments that he can rely on the Lord and experience God’s grace and might while serving, Pray for Mrs. Ko’s thyroid surgery. May God keep her and heal her.
- Pray for Scott, the maintenance coworker, especially concerning the work during Bible camp and training camp. May God also bless his family.
- Pray for new challenges of campus ministry after school reopening. Pray that the Lord will help us no matter the circumstances, that we still stand on the Lord’s side to obey His will and serve Him.
- Pray for the operating fund for the CWC. May God move among more brothers and sisters to support our ministry by prayers and offerings.
Especially pray for the new semester. Let us equip ourselves well now to prepare to be used by the Lord during the new semester!
Pastor Billy Ko