Graceland 2019-07-21

“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)

Download Full Version in PDF

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Happiness Group began with a holy discontent, which was then led by the Holy Spirit, and the ministry of the whole church was launched – for those eager to evangelize experienced God’s abundant grace; for the timid or those stagnated spiritually experienced turnover of their lives. Countless nonbelievers were exposed to the gospel, and many accepted Christ as their personal Savior. They and their families have the joy of eternal life! In this issue, we are counting the great, good and wonderous deeds that God has accomplished through Happiness Group. Glory to the Lord!

 

Great, Good and Wonderous Deeds accomplished through “Happiness”

Thoughts on Happiness Group Ministry

By Pastor Rose Gong, Mandarin Pastor, Main Campus

Our God of faith and grace has led us through the first season of Happiness Group. As I reflect on various facets of the experience, I am in awe, grateful, and deeply touched.

  1. In awe: God’s wondrous, mighty work

The Happiness Group met a total of eight times. During one of those meetings, we decided to have a BBQ with the BESTs after the meeting, to celebrate Chinese New Year. Although the weather forecast called for rain, our all-encompassing God heard our prayers and granted us a sunny day until after the end of the BBQ. It was on that special occasion that one of the BESTs was unable to participate because she suddenly had a dizzy spell. We all regretted that she missed the meeting and the BBQ. But His will surpassed ours and worked wonders when we prayed to Him in our spiritual struggle. During the subsequent two days, when she called three of her college friends, she was surprised to learn that they had all become Christians. They also provided her with their individual testimonies to embracing Jesus Christ as their savior.

During the week that followed, God who controls our hearts and transforms the impossible to possible not only brought her back to our group but also touched her heart during our meeting. With conviction, she decided to embrace Jesus Christ! And she was baptized on Easter!  We joined her in marveling at God’s work.

  1. Grateful: Group members’ tacit mutual understand and single-minded cooperation

The Happiness Group served as a team. We were thankful that, even though in the beginning group members did not know one another, because of God’s call and our recognition of the unified mission, we grew closer together as the days went by, and we became comrades with a deep bond and shared happiness. As group leader, I am especially grateful to God for having had these four comrades in happiness—three of them being in charge of childcare, and one of them being a comrade in my prayer group. Not only did they fulfill their responsibilities; they also looked after and coordinated with one another. My heart was filled with inexplicable gratitude and joy when I read or heard the dialogues, discussions, prayers, and support that they shared through Line. I am grateful because they made me feel that I was the happiest group leader in the world.

  1. Deeply touched: Whole-person, whole-hearted, and whole-family service

I would be hard pressed to count the many deeply moving ways that characterize the Happiness Group. Even before our work began, some group members had started to spread the gospel to their family members during their family cruise, through ice-breaking, singing hymns, bearing witnesses, and sharing messages. Group members who were in charge of praying for others behind the scene had already begun their work for every BEST and his or her children. One group member had to rush back to China because her mother had been scheduled for emergency surgery. After booking her flight, she communicated, through Line, with the brothers and sisters in her weekly group-prayer fellowship by telling them that, after she arrived in China, she would join them in their prayers.  Upon hearing a BEST telling the group that she was looking for a house to move into, one group member immediately volunteered to babysit her three children when she was ready to move. One couple of our group who have three children opened their home continually. Acting as their parents’ co-workers, the children helped make presents and look after BESTs’ children. Another couple’s daughter helped design the invitation card for the gospel tea parties. After the first season had concluded, the Happiness Group members still continued to pray for the BESTs, regularly expressing their concerns for the BESTs, visiting them, and even accompanying them to their classes.

During its first season, the Happiness Group was truly abundantly blessed and countlessly in awe, grateful, and deeply touched.  To sum it up in one sentence: Thanks be to God! ◆


First Generation of CBC’s Happiness Group

By Rev. Mingsheng Qin,

4S Campus Executive Pastor, Mission Pastor

The first generation of CBC’s Happiness Group,

Unsteadily strode forward;

Sincerely co-worked by the leaders and assistants,

Who invited the BEST to enter their homes.

Amazing was the work of the Holy Spirit,

Giving birth to Happiness babies;

Thankfulness be to the Lord for His great love,

To foster His disciples without delay.

Should you wonder how beautiful Happiness is,

And how more splendid life can be?

The second season of Happiness Group will soon begin,

Hurry up and participate is to be expected.

The mission of the gospel will surely be accomplished,

The Lord of grace will be with you.

There’s reward before the judgment seat of Christ,

Let’s hold hands and enter into His embrace. ◆


Serving – Fixing Eyes on God’s Mighty Power

By Tim Chung, Main Campus Cantonese

I was delighted after the first day at the Happiness Group Conference because that training had equipped me to spread the good news. I was also hoping that it would help me bring the love of Christ to others. The speaker mentioned that the number of people who believed was surprisingly high and that the number is still increasing. I was very excited because I could see myself leading others to Jesus. However, I also had a little doubt. This training was from Taiwan, meaning there was a cultural difference issue. It might not work in the US as it did in Taiwan. However, no matter what, we should try our best.

After praying with a few brothers and sisters, we formed a small group called, “Adding Happiness,” and I became the group leader. For the first meeting, we decided to have a BBQ. On BBQ day, there were more than 10 nonbelievers coming, and I was very optimistic.

One week before the official Happiness Group started, we started inviting the BESTs. However, only one person promised to come.  Although I was a little disappointed, I still kept inviting. Eventually we had three BESTs who came to our first meeting. However, only one came on the second meeting, and still only one on the third. Then, I started questioning why no one wanted to come to our meeting, why those who came before decided not to come anymore. Was it because we didn’t prepare well? Was it a lack of prayers? Was it that we didn’t follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Was it my message? Or was it because of me? The questions became a burden pressing on my heart…

My wife saw me frowning and asked me about what was bothering me. I told her, “The Happiness Group meeting only has one BEST coming and I’m very anxious. I wonder if I should even continue.” She said, “Maybe you can pray and think about why you started it in the first place.” That night, I did a short prayer and went to bed early. The very next day, my wife forwarded me a short video, Timothy Keller’s sermon, titled “War and Peace.” It was about how we continuously fight with God. Before we become Christians, we fight with God; even after we commit, we still doubt if God really loves us. However, because Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we could reconnect with God and live in peace, we can control the old self who fights with God with help from the Holy Spirit. I finally understood that I had been fighting with God all along. All the negativity was because of my old self who fought with God’s will. God’s will is to have every single disciple go spread the good news because He wants everyone to understand the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Therefore, no matter how many people come to Happiness Group, I should keep doing what I am supposed to do. And even though I might not be good enough to be the leader, God told me His grace is sufficient for me, His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Thus, I should fix my eyes on God’s mighty power, instead of my own weaknesses. We should not be worried about the result, because that’s not something we can control. Only God knows and has control.

The experience with the Happiness Group taught me a lesson that when we serve, we need to fix our eyes on the mighty power of God, not on our own circumstances.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Miraculously Healed

By Limin Su, North Campus

My daughter asked one day, “There are some aunties from church coming to our house, is that okay?” I replied, “Of course!”

Angie, Lucy, and Catherine from the North Campus came to our house as expected. It was a joyful meeting. They asked me if I wanted to participate in some meetings. I answered without hesitation, “Of course!” Thus, my husband and I joined the Happiness Group together. During the eight weeks, we shared our stories with others and became best friends.

There had been a lot of rainy days this year. My chronic sciatic nerve pain was unbearable, and once the pain spread from my waist to heel, it was painful to stand, sit, walk, and even to sleep. I could only survive on painkillers. However, after a while, the painkillers stopped working.

During one of the meetings, I heard about brothers and sisters’ testimonies about being healed. I started wondering if they were true, and if it would happen to me, too. I could not imagine! There was one time when Angie asked me, “How’s everything? Is there anything I can pray about for you?” I was hesitating, not sure if I should tell her about my pain.  Angie said, “Don’t worry, if you tell us, we can pray for you.” I finally told her about my condition. Angie said, “Let’s pray for your chronic condition.” When Angie held my hands and prayed for me, I could feel that my pain was melting away. However, after a couple of days, the pain came back again.

After that day, Pastor William and Angie came to our house and asked us if we needed any prayers. We told them it seemed okay and there was nothing to pray about. Angie asked, “How about your pain, was it healed?” I told them that it was still painful. Then Pastor William put his hand on my head, Angie held my shoulder, and they prayed, “…… in the name of Jesus, she is healed.” One day, two days, three days passed, and I didn’t feel any pain.  God’s miracle is working on me!

I praise God the Father who healed me through Pastor William and Angie. God’s power can overcome all. Jesus already died for our sin and took all the pain and disease. He has made it possible for us to be healed by His Grace.

It’s stated in the Bible, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

I thank all the brothers and sisters in Happiness Group. You are all the light of Jesus. It is you who led me to walk through the valley and return to God’s home. ◆


Testimony for My Baptism

By Wen Li, West Campus (Living Water)

I used to be a very stubborn and arrogant person.

My parents became believers over a decade ago. They shared the good news with me many times, but I always turned it down. They told me that I could be saved if I would believe in the Lord. Indeed, many Christians I knew turned to the Lord when they faced troubles that they didn’t know how to deal with on their own.  I was pretty opinionated at the time that salvation was meant only for people who had committed crimes or were desperate and not for “innocent” and “normal” people like me.

Last year, I got an opportunity to go to the University of Chicago as a visiting scholar. As I liked Christians in general, and I was also quite curious about Christian life in America, I reached out to a sister from the Christian fellowship at U of C. I attended many of their events, and I also made a lot of Christian friends. From my observation, Christians in America are filled with joy. Initially, I thought their happiness and contentment were due to the many blessings they received from God. As time went by, I overheard in their prayers that they too were faced with many challenges in their lives, some of which were even life threatening. Nevertheless, their pure faith had led them to believe in God who is invisible, but capable of extending His grace to all unconditionally; as such grace is always sufficient, these Christians, in turn, very willingly shared their resources with those in need and never hesitated to extend a helping hand.

I spend my money wisely. I bought a lot of items on sale during Thanksgiving last year and was quite happy to have gotten so many good deals. In January of this year, I transferred to UCSD. As I was driving with a full carload of personal belongs (including all the new purchases from Thanksgiving) to San Diego, I got into a traffic accident. I felt so hopeless at the instant of the collision. My car was on fire. I couldn’t open the trunk and had to evacuate for fear of an explosion. My car burnt down to bare steel frames right in front of my eyes, and all my belongings, personal identification, as well as my cell phone, turned into ashes. I was so confused and didn’t know what to do. Just then, Jason, a Caucasian Christian, came into my life. He tried everything he could to get me in contact with my friends and relatives. He also provided food, shelter, clothes, transportation as well as many doses of encouragement to me.

God has sent a clear message to me through an angel like Jason that He is always there whether I believe it or not, and I am a sinner whether I admit it or not. I can be saved as long as I repent and admit my pride and weaknesses, because His grace is sufficient for me. Through this accident, I also realized what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. As we know, a person grows the fastest when he/she is dependent on the parents (as during infancy). However, as one matures and becomes “smarter,” he/she actually starts the aging process and will eventually face death. So, from today onwards, I pray that I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and cling to Him just as a baby clings to his/her parents. I also pray that God will feed me with His word so that I can grow stronger in Christ.

Praise the Lord! Thank you very much, brothers and sisters! Happy birthday to all who are baptized today!◆

——————————————————————————————–

God’s Great, Good and Wondrous Deeds

at the “Meeting-God Camp”

By Shawyan Li, Main Campus

“Oh, there’s a foreign evangelist,” my grandmother told me.  I was seven or eight, washing something in grandmother’s front yard, when suddenly a man wearing a long gown appeared. He was wearing a cross, holding a book, and saying something that I couldn’t understand as he approached us. That chance meeting in my childhood was like the breeze that brushed my face in that it didn’t leave any imprint on me. It wasn’t until today when I was trying to record how I became God’s daughter that this chance meeting jumped out of my mind.

Around 2014 or so, when I was attending a Chinese Christian church in Arizona, I had made up my mind to become a Christian, but I did not go through baptism. After moving to San Diego last Thanksgiving, by chance I attended CBC’s Happiness Group and subsequently attended the “Meeting-God Camp.” The camp was held on a Friday evening for three hours. During those three hours, participants had a chance to reflect on their old life. At 8 am Saturday, a new day dawned while brothers and sisters greeted one another, followed by an appealing breakfast. A brand new day began. Following the singing of hymns, the pastors enabled us to gain a complete understanding of sin. On both sides of a piece of A4 paper were printed sins of various kinds with different names. I was surprised by the detailed and multitudinous sins. When I saw that many things we do in our daily lives, such as playing video games, watching TV series, and feeling jealous, are all sins, I realized then why we are regarded as sinners. After I had circled those sins that I committed day in and day out, under a pastor’s guidance, I nailed my sins on the wooden cross. In so doing, I let Jesus take over my sins, and it is He who gave me an everlasting life. This experience made me feel free, knowing that God has shouldered all the sins and weaknesses of the first half of my life. From that moment on, I could begin to live like a new person, one whom Jesus loves. I felt an inexplicable peace. No longer did I find it hard to understand why brothers and sisters were singing hymns with a trembling voice; nor was I surprised that some of them were moved to tears. Among the sharing done by different brothers and sisters, one that truly moved me was that of a sister who used to suffer from depression. Witnessing how openly and confidently she shared her story as she stood upon the podium so as to encourage others, I was extremely happy for her.

What followed that deeply moved me was the forgiveness session. When I tried to decide whether to forgive men or women for having hurt me, I did not know which gender to choose, because no one needs my forgiveness. Eventually, I chose women, because ultimately what I needed to forgive was I myself. When I approached Pastor Wanda to tell her that I had chosen to forgive myself, she started to chat with me. And somehow, I began to ramble about my story. Subconsciously, I felt wronged during the time when my mother-in-law and I lived together. Tears filled my eyes uncontrollably, though I didn’t know why. I thought I had forced myself not to care and to forget. After all, she has passed away, and so did everything. At that moment, I realized that I had suppressed everything; I had tried to cover up my true feelings. At the moment when Pastor Wanda embraced me, I truly forgave. I had become a new daughter of Jesus Christ. Subsequently, the camp introduced a new chapter, teaching us how to live our lives in which we become God’s beloved children. This day-long training camp enabled me to shed the old me, to confess my sin, to forgive the past, to begin a new journey in which to rely on God, and to be God’s steadfast daughter. Therefore, on Sunday, I completed the baptism that had been postponed for several years. For me, this training camp not only moved me but also enabled me to understand Christian terminology on a deeper level and to both acknowledge and announce that I am a Christian.

Ultimately, everything seems to be predestined. Ever since I was a child, God has called me to go home. In a way, it is like the weather in San Diego, when I leave my house, the sun shines brightly and the sky is clear. But in my dream, the rain soothe the multitude of beings and saturate one’s dried heart. Thanks be to the Lord!◆

____________________________________________________________

I was not a coworker in Happiness Group; I was just a coworker in the support team. From this ministry, I learned how to coordinate with others. Initially, I didn’t think that it would succeed. But, after coming in contact with the BESTs, I was surprised that one of the BESTs had accepted Christ. Actually, his wife was the one who needed greater solace. But the one who decided to be baptized turned out to be his wife. Only twice did she attend Happiness Group. Through this experience I realized that God was with the planning and execution of Happiness Group Ministry. Had it not been for God, we wouldn’t have succeeded. God’s arrangement and planning made me aware how amazing He is.(Lan Tang, Central Campus)

During the Oath-taking Rally for the Happiness Group, I was especially touched. But when I began to participate in Happiness Group, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. During the entire learning process, I had many opportunities to learn, breaking the bounds of my character.  By nature, I was not talkative, and it wasn’t easy for me to socialize with others. In the Happiness Group, the activities that I was in charge of were hymn singing, worshipping, and playing games. Gradually, I emerged out of my comfort zone. And when we were waiting for the BESTs, we felt God’s presence. (Julie Yuan, Central Campus)

I’m a coworker of Pastor Donald’s Happiness Group. In the beginning, when Pastor Donald invited me to participate, I declined his invitation because I thought that the pressure might be too overwhelming. But God had His plans. I still ended up in his group. What I gained from my participation is the knowledge that, when God put the group leader and coworkers together, we all put forth our best effort to achieve the desired goal. I was in charge of making presents, a skill for which I was not equipped. But once I made the commitment, even if I had to pull my hair out often, I did experience flashes of inspiration and was able to come up with some good ideas. Besides, I learned that God will help us achieve our goals if coworkers would act together in one heart and mind. (Lina Ou, Central Campus)

I’m most thankful to have been a coworker in Happiness Group while my husband is my BEST. He had been attending CBC for a long time. At first, he thought all he had to do was to be my helper, helping me make desserts for everyone. As it turned out, he participated full time except for the two times when he went to Taiwan. Having participated in the Happiness Group, he decided to be baptized. (Pauline Li, Main Campus)

Review of First Happiness Group

Important Dates

  • 10/26-29/2018 – Happiness Special Meeting
  • 1/12/2019 – Oath-taking Rally for the Happiness Group
  • 1/13/2019 – Kick-off of the Happiness Group
  • 3/10, 17,24/2019- Happiness Celebrity Sunday Service
  • 3/31/2019 – Happiness Celebration Sunday
  • 4/21/2019 – Easter Baptism
  • 4/26-27/2019– Meeting-God Camp
  • 5/5/2019 – Happiness Thanksgiving Meeting

Special Statistics

  • Number of BESTs contacted: 553 people
  • Number of BESTs attended HG: 442 people
  • Number of BESTs accepted Christ: 88 people
  • Number of BESTs got baptized: 76 people
  • Number of Happiness Groups: 27 groups ◆

Latest Updates:

From Pastor Lam: With great excitement and gratitude, I would like to announce that our application for building at Four Gee Road was unanimously approved by the five county supervisors at the Board of Supervisors public hearing on June 26, allowing us to build on the property – a church for 1,500 people and several other buildings for worship, classes, and fellowship. Thanks to God while facing such a huge opposition, we were able to get all the votes. It has far exceeded our expectations. We can only be humble and may all the glory be with God. Here I would like to thank our brothers and sisters and many prayer warriors who have been praying steadfastly for the past ten years. Today (6/26) we really see the results of concerted prayer. We would also like to thank the building committee and the Council for their spiritual and energetic efforts in this ministry in the past ten years. They sacrificed personal and family time for the Lord to work on the project. May the Lord remember their hard work. We still have a lot to do for the building project. We need to continue to pray with one heart and be humble, so that the future new church will become a powerful lampstand and shine across the land.