Graceland 2019-01-20

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of … is a land of the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it… (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)

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Words from the Editor:

Dear brothers and sisters:

In the course of life, we often encounter a lot of storms and challenges. If we rely on our own strength, we will only become weak and even vulnerable. Thank God for the kindness, through Jesus, we can overcome all the trials – widowed, lost, sickness, car accident,facing the growth of our children… In the new year, whether it is the beginning of a new ministry or individual spiritual growth, hope we could rely more on God because He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Victory in Jesus

 

The Gracious Lord Led Me Through

the Grieving Trail

By Pastor Dora Wang

Time flies! It has been two and a half years since John’s home going! Although tears have not been completely wiped away—often still triggered to flow down my cheeks without warning, my heart is filled with gratitude, because the Lord has personally led me through my grieving trail—accompanying me with His gracious words, leading me with his noble calling, and sending angels to render help in times of needs! I would like to share with you the secret to my gratefulness for the Lord’s tender loving care throughout the journey of my grieving over the loss of my dearly beloved husband John!

First of all, of utmost importance to me in this grieving process is to recognize that everything belongs to God, for I have brought nothing into the world (1 Tim 6:7)—even my own life and everything that I have, including my over 45 years of a blessed marriage with John are all gifts from God, as the Psalmist proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, also as Job recognizes, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the Name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21b)!

Nevertheless, we are created with rational and emotional capacities. When our loved ones depart, our hearts are inevitably filled with contradictions and pain. During the first year of John’s home-going, countless number of questions had dashed through my mind and spontaneous tears, flooded over my face in the Lord’s presence. The Lord called to my attention a Bible passage that had made a strong impression on me from years ago, which is the episode of Martha’s and Mary’s encounter with Jesus four days after their beloved brother Lazarus had died. The first words that came out of their mouths were similarly those of complaint, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32)! But following this first statement, their reactions were totally different! Martha engaged Jesus in a rational conversation, whereas no longer able to utter a single word, Mary wept! In response to Martha, Jesus gently challenged her rationally, leading her to a deeper knowledge of Him, that she was able to finally make an extraordinary statement of faith, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27). In response to Mary, however, seeing that she and those who came with her wept, Jesus wept (John 11:33-35)! From Jesus’ responses to the two sisters, we can be assured that in our grieving, the Lord totally accepts our various rational and emotional expressions! Therefore, throughout my grieving course, I cried my heart out whenever I felt like crying, sensing the gracious Lord was crying alongside me; I also boldly confronted Him with questions whenever they arose in my mind, and He gently challenged me accordingly, and led me to knowing Him more fully!

Another secret to my gratefulness for the Lord’s leading through my grieving trail is His noble calling—to better equip myself on spiritual formation, that I may place on the altar my last life-time offering to the Lord’s beloved Chinese American Church. Many years ago, President Kathryn Leung of China Evangelical Seminary North America had invited me to teach courses in Spiritual Formation, but sensing my lack of training in the field, I dared not take up the challenge; but realizing spiritual transformationbeing essential to making disciples of Christ, I returned to seminary to better equip myself as soon as I retired from official pastoral ministry. When John was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer, I was going to withdraw from seminary, but with my advisor’s encouragement, I temporarily took a leave of absence instead. After John’s home-going, I prayed to the Lord for guidance: “If You enable me to maintain concentration on my studies, I would continue; otherwise, I would withdraw.” As it turned out, I could hardly maintain concentration on anything else except my studies! So, I took it as the Lord’s confirmation for me to keep going; and by God’s grace, I am coming close to the finishing line despite many obstacles along the way!

Besides these rational, emotional, and ministry calling challenges, there have been numerous household matters, including those I used to have no clues, which John had taken full responsibility, so I might serve the Lord without distractions. Yet the Lord has been gracious in sending angels to give me advice and assistance when the needs arise, such as helping me file tax return, providing me with transportations to go to seminary for teaching, to hospitals for physical check-ups, or to the airport or train station for out-of-town or out-of-state ministries. In the past two years, my aging body had also been calling for attention, and by God’s provision of professional care, correct diagnoses and thorough treatments from my primary physician and medical specialists, it is now slowly recuperating, and in some aspect, even healthier than before!

On Sunday, June 17, 2018, the second anniversary of John’s home-going, I got up early in the morning, with a grateful heart I went to attend the church prayer meeting before worship service. As I stepped into the lobby and heard the praise team practice singing “Abba Father,” I was so touched that I could not hold my tears; but uttered my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the Lord, “Dear heavenly Abba Father! How wonderful has been Your tender loving care for me!” ◆

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Meeting Other’s Expectation, or God’s?

By Rev. Timothy Lo, Main Campus Youth Ministry Pastor

Time and time again I felt that I was a disappointment in life.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong and Taiwan so that I could achieve success academically and professionally. It was therefore no surprise that they enrolled me into an exclusive, private elementary school. There were fewer than twenty students in each grade, and they had subject teachers that wrote quarterly, hand-written evaluations for each student. Mine always had a common theme: though I was extremely gifted, I was underperforming, and not living up to my potential.

When applying to secondary schools, I was expected to get a perfect score on the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test). Because I did not, I failed to gain acceptance into many of the top boarding schools. On the bright side, I was still able to attend a second-tier, prestigious, all-boys school. The yearly admission was almost as much as that of a private university! My performance in middle school unfortunately ended up the same as elementary school: I found myself working hard but not attaining the results expected of me. I regularly got C’s (and even one D!) on my quarter, semester, and final report cards.

In high school, in order to boost my GPA, I “dropped out” of the private school system to attend one of the top 200 best public schools in America. Though I was able to get much better grades, I still was not accepted into Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Even worse, I didn’t even go to Stanford or any Ivy League school.

All the while, as a gifted musician in high school, I was taking piano lessons from a teacher at one of the top five colleges for music in the country. Despite showing potential to have a career in music, I did not enjoy it and, to the disappointment of my parents, ended up quitting.

In college, I started as pre-med, but did not do well in my pre-med classes. I then transitioned to a pre-law philosophy major. Yet again, I disappointed, since I was clearly at the bottom of each philosophy class that I took. So, I double majored in theology, striving to get a Ph.D. to be a professor, only to later realize that I was just not cut out for that kind of academic work and study.

Through all of these disappointments, failures, and challenges, I struggled with trying to meet the expectations of others.  I then tried to figure out what my own expectations might be. But in the end, what God taught me was that neither how others viewed me, or how I viewed myself, was important.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul had many critics, and in one instance he addressed them by writing, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). What he is saying is that it doesn’t matter what other people think of him, and it actually doesn’t even matter what he thinks about himself! All that matters is what God thinks of him.

To find joy, purpose, and meaning in my life, I needed to discover and trust in what God has positioned me to do, and in how he has called me to honor him. Regardless of how others would judge my life, or even what I think of it myself, all that matters is doing my best to faithfully honor and live for him. It is the Lord who judges me. ◆

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 You are My Rod and My Staff

By George Chu, 4S Campus

One day in February 2017, I went to play tennis as usual. Right after, my back began suffering from sharp pain. The pain didn’t go away this time; instead, it got worse every day.

I started trying different means and ways to help with healing: acupuncture, massage, and the inversion table. Vickie, my wife, also attempted to help me with medicinal ointment, but the pain remained.  After visiting the doctor, I was diagnosed with disc herniation. The doctor suggested surgical correction or using steroids to help with the pain. I didn’t want surgery, so I took two shots of steroids instead. However, that didn’t work either. The pain grew more severe as the days passed. It extended from my back to my left hip, then the thigh, and eventually all my toes. It became unbearable. My wife had to assist me every day in getting out of bed. Double doses of painkillers could barely get me through my daily life.

My life hadchanged dramatically. In April 2017, I engaged in several ministries outside of our church. Eventually, I started doubting if I could even travel. I had plans to go to China and Taiwan for mission trips in May, and this became my prayer in those days. I hoped God would heal me and keep me able to travel. So many nights I woke up from the pain and knelt in front of my bed, pleading for divine healing. However, nothing happened, until one day I read 2 Corinthians 12 again. In 2 Corinthians, Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to remove the thorn away from him, but God’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I suddenly came to an understanding and no longer asked for complete healing. Being healed or not is God’s will but I could ask the Lord to give me the strength to overcome the pain.

One night I couldn’t sleep because of the pain so I spent the night weeping, reading the scriptures, and praying. God led me to Psalm 40:2: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” I knew God was speaking to me; He will set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand. Not only that, but He will make every step steady. I knew God had answered my prayer. Thus, the trips to China and Taiwan in May became my journey of faith. I decided not to cancel those mission trips. With a CVS store-bought cane, I went on the mission trip. It was six-day training in Taiwan and China with three Sunday worship messages, which I survived in God’s grace. Even though it was painful, God always used the scriptures to encourage me on the road. I was encouraged even with the pain and slowly but surely, I went through the 6 days.

My pain got even worse after returning to US, almost to the point of crawling on the ground. My wife and I prayed in tears every day. On a Saturday in July, I was sharing a testimony at God’s Grace fellowship. My testimony was not for God’s healing, but God’s presence when I was in pain. I shared “I don’t know if God is going to heal me or not, but I am certain God is using this experience to let me know the miracle of walking with Him together.” There was a brother, who had not been with us for a while, who came and heard my testimony. He knew his friend just had a surgery and been completely healed. He gave me this friend’s contact information and I was able to get a hold of this sister on that very Saturday night. She told me there was a Dr. Peppers in Carlsbad. I called in on Monday and was told that I would have to wait for 2 months. As I was talking to the nurse, she put me on hold because there was another phone call came in. It was a phone call to cancel a scheduled surgery.  Naturally I stepped in for surgery on August 4, with only four-day wait.

After the surgery, my pain disappeared immediately. I am a new born again. After a four-week rest, I resumed my mission trip in October. Until today, I continue the path of serving my Lord. I recite Psalm 103:1-5 every day to my Lord:

“1Praise the LORD, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” ◆

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Victory in Jesus –

A Testimony by a Missionary’s Mother

Interviewed by Yuwei Chiu

Q: Could you please give a brief introduction regarding P’s ministry?

A: P’s ministry is mostly sharing the Lord’s love with families through helping their special needs children and other children with disabilities. Through the ministry, the families will feel more loved and accepted and at the same time, will be less likely to abandon or give up on their children with disabilities. Another goal is to help these children have capabilities similar to average children and to help them see the value in their lives through physical and psychological habitation. Ultimately, through the change of these children and their families, P’s ministry aims to change the community that’s around them.

Q: Did you have any expectation of P when she was little? Does her decision to become a missionary live up to your expectation?

A: P loved music from a very young age and she loved playing different instruments as well. She has compassion, especially for the less fortunate. Looking back, I am amazed at how God led the way in her study, serving, and work; He made everything work together to benefit her later and meet needs when she became a missionary. This is not something we as parents could ever ask for.

From her college graduation to studying at seminary, from serving at CBC youth ministry to finding a job that could help people who had Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy, you could see God’s guidance every step of the way. At the same time, God also called on her to join the mission field. She first went to an orphanage in mainland China, teaching English, music, and counseling youth for two years. During the two-year service, she built up a strong friendship with the children, which lasts until this day. Returning to San Diego after two years, she continued to work with cerebral palsy adults. God also led her to start a non-profit organization which prepared her to go back to China to help special needs children. God’s guidance is the best. Her God-given talents are being used at its highest capacity. Watching her serve with joy year after year is already more than what a parent could ask for!

Q: When she decided to go to a rural area to evangelize, did you have any struggles?

A: When P was 13 years old, she started to have the calling to be a missionary. She read a lot of James Taylor and George Mueller and was greatly influenced by them. She often mentioned that when she grew up she wanted to be a missionary. In the beginning, I thought it was just a simultaneous impulse of a youth and that it would fade away. However, her passion never faded; on the contrary, it became stronger and stronger. She went on short term mission trips a few times during her college years. When she came to tell me that she wanted to go to the orphanage to become a music teacher in 2002, I knew from deep down that this was something I would have to face sooner or later. On one hand, I was happy for her to find her passion in life. On the other hand, I was concerned about her travelling to a completely strange place by herself, alone. She didn’t know the language. Could she adjust well? When I asked God to give me a sign for confirmation, He did in several different ways. It was a calling from God. Then I was in peace knowing that God would for sure be with her no matter where she went.

Q: What was your first response to her? Do you remember what you said? Could you share with us how you prayed?

A: P always knew that one day she would go out on the mission field and God has slowly but surely prepared me to learn that this is His calling. However, P said she would only go if both her dad and I agreed. At that time, P and I both knew it was hard to convince her dad. I remember we prayed together asking God to help us to soften his heart. If her dad would agree to let her go, this would be a sign from Him. Eventually, God miraculously removed the barrier, and Dad agreed to let her go.

Q: As a mother, were you concerned about her decision?  Could you share with us how you triumphed through Jesus?

A: Because P liked to share her “dreams” from a young age, we all knew she was a “dreamer.”  I knew exactly what she wanted, so after so many years, I anticipated that there would be one day when she would actually leave me. God also prepared my heart and taught me to let go and let Him take control. Of course, I also had worried moments, especially during the first year. However, God’s word is always comforting to me, and it became an encouragement as well. Besides, our brothers and sisters at church and their prayers are our constant support.

Q: Watching her coming all this way, have you had any moments of weak faith?

A: 2012 was a year of many concerns. P was very healthy and rarely got sick. However, she was sick almost that entire year. She had a cold, was coughing, and was red-eyed with no particular reason for many months. Eventually she got a chance to go to a big city to see a doctor and they found that she had pneumonia. In addition, due to the high altitude, the ultra violet rays damaged her eyes. As her mom, I worried. But with God’s grace, P completely recovered.

No matter where we are in this world, we all face challenges in our lives. P has served at that location for more than nine years, during which there were difficulties and challenges. But God also gave her so many days of joy, of feeling love from brothers and sisters, and experiencing a unified goal to accomplish God’s will. The most important part is to experience God’s faithfulness, His promise, and His presence. ◆

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God’s Presence – A Car Accident Testimony

By Grace Chang, Main Campus

I am so grateful that God gave me such a large loving family in CBC. I am thankful that many of you prayed for me, and delivered meals to our home. I personally can’t pay back each one of you, but I pray for God’s remembrance of your kindness.

On September 13th, before the accident, I just finished serving at church and had some time to visit a sister’s home and pray for her. During the prayer, I felt God’s presence and the Holy Spirit. I could feel God’s mercy and love on His children!  Once more I felt the truth in God’s Word and felt that every prayer was a strike on the enemy. In spirit, it was a huge step of triumph in our faith! I was happily driving back home after that.

As I was driving straight on a wide road, there was a huge white truck on my right side that suddenly started turning left. It was turning left to me from my right side. It was shocking! The first thought that came into my mind was “The enemy is attacking me!” Soon after, the second thought came in, “God protects me!” It seems that I span in the middle of the road many times, as horrible as how Hollywood would depict a horrific accident. However, I was not afraid. Rather, I felt like I was wrapped in a safe bubble. God spoke to me: “Nothing can touch me!”

One week before the accident, God gave me His word, “God’s boundless mercy and love protects His Children.” It had been in my mind for a week, and right then, I recalled it. It comforted me, and I was not afraid. Finally, I felt the impact of my car hitting some other cars and completely halting in front of a tree. I thought all the windows were shattered, but none of the glass pieces were on me. However, I felt the excruciating pain. Later when the first responders arrived, they asked me questions nonstop, I was a little mad; “Can’t you all see that I’m already in pain?” I learned later that they were afraid I would go unconscious after such a traumatic crash. When we arrived at the ER, they were very surprised that I had no cuts, not even bruises! They took an X-ray and a CT scan and found out I had seven broken ribs and a broken collar bone. My lungs were also severely damaged, and the left lung was only one third of its original size and it caused severe internal bleeding. They suspected that there might be other damaged internal organs, which would be even more frightening! Thank God that my other organs were fine. The doctors immediately started preparing operations, vacuumed out the blood, and at the same time began to help my breathing. Then they sent me to the ICU for trauma patients.

At that moment, the surgeon told me that my lung would not function like before for the rest of my life. I started praying right away, “take back that conclusion! I proclaim God’s healing!” We were worried that we had to go under surgery for my lung if I couldn’t breathe on my own. Thanks be to the God who listens to our prayers. The first time wasn’t a success, but the second time, it was! God sheltered me from being under surgery.

Even with seven ribs broken, I was still joyful. The nurse came and asked me, “How are you like this? All the other patients are screaming and crying.” I told her it was because of my faith in God. I reread my spiritual diary and reflected on God’s promise – which was His presence. I realized that the most important thing is God’s presence. I was so ignorant. This promise of His presence is such an important promise from God! I asked for God’s forgiveness and hoped that this objective truth would take over, becoming part of my life and subjective experience.

Not only did God protect me, He healed me speedily. On the fourth day, I could get off the bed and walk on my own. On the sixth day, I was out of the hospital. There were some inconveniences in daily life. From getting up from bed to getting on the bed, I was almost like a baby who needed assistance; I couldn’t even hold the weight of a telephone. However, these little inconveniences helped my husband and I have more opportunities for interactions; sometimes, it could even be fun! For example, my husband acted not only as a driver but also as a guide when I rode on the car, since the bumpy roads caused further pain. Announcing whether it was a right turn or a left turn ahead helped me better anticipate and get ready for the movement. I am so thankful for my other half! During these days, I could do nothing but grow closer to God. God gave me a long vacation, and all I did everyday was draw myself closer to Him, read His Word, and pray. Spiritually, I was rejoicing, high-spirited, and at ease.

p.s. an excerpt from my diary!

Isaiah 31:4-9

The enemy is evil, but God, with boundless mercy and love, looks over and protects His children. God would never just watch His people suffer, His own children being bullies, and pretend to not see the evil. God is with us. We only need to seek out His presence. The highest achievement is that God lives with us forever.

God’s timing is the best timing. The first week out of hospital was the week my son could return home. He helped us a lot around the house, even with cooking. He gave me comfort and helped me forget about the pain.

Praise God! Even though this incident looked like a disaster, after we walked to this point, I feel like it was more of a blessing than a detriment. I know God loves me so much! A friend who didn’t believe in Jesus was the only one who saw firsthand that my car was completely destroyed at the accident. Now that she saw that I was protected by God’s almighty hands, she changed and believed! She believes that God protects His children! The doctor also told me that I was very lucky.

A month later, the doctor told me my lung was recovering well, and I could start bathing in hot water to help the blood circulation and ease the pain. I went to a spa and happened to meet a group of Chinese people. While they were talking about politics, I started sharing with them my testimony. They were amazed that God protected me and healed me so quickly. They all said in unity that it was a miracle. They were also curious about how I could hear God’s voice. Nonbeliever friends came to my house and saw this miracle too. I prayed for them and strengthened their faith. Our prayers shake the enemy’s kingdom. Our enemies are afraid.

This car accident brought me closer to God and helped me experience His presence! Glory to our God!◆

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Latest Updates:

Our consultants havebeen working hard to prepare all the corresponding documents for the Supervisor Public Hearing as per County’s request. If everything goes well, we are expecting the Hearing will be held at the end of March. A lot of works are still ahead and the coming months are going to be very busy for the team and the consultants.

Please continue to pray for the preparation works. Pray that the Supervisor Report will be ready on time and the public hearing will be held in March.