Graceland 2019-10-20

“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)

Download Full Version in PDF

Dear brothers and sisters:

Thank God for His faithfulness and protection. After striving for ten years, our church building project was finally approved by all five County Supervisors. Hopefully through this issue, we would review the progress of the past ten years: the difficulties, challenges and prayers, the blessings of God. Glory to the Lord! Pastor Lam also shares with us the vision of the future development of CBC. May God continue to guide the whole church to unite in order to expand, to more experience Him, rely on Him and glorify Him.

Striving for 10 Years -Review and Preview of Our Building Project

God Opened the Door Wide for CBCSD

By Rev. Albert Lam

From the beginning of this year, CBCSD experienced several spiritual battles. First of all, after searching for more than a year, finally we were able to initiate, formally, the ministry of the “Happiness Group” in mid-January. Brothers and sisters enthusiastically participated, be they on the frontline or in the background. Everyone actively participated.  Led and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, 27 teams were successfully formed and ready to begin the ministry. In a span of 8 weeks, we held 216 micro evangelical meetings, and there were 442 interested attendees. Among them, more than 100 embraced the Lord, and over 80 of them were baptized. Thank the Lord. It’s not easy to fight the evangelical battle.  And it isn’t the wisdom of humans that could make people whole-heartedly accept God. He truly fought the battle for us on the frontline.

In April, we formally launched the ministry of the Downtown Worship Center. The elderly who live downtown can walk to the newly established worship center to worship God every Sunday to derive nourishment and strength from sermons. In the process of preparing for and establishing the center, we encountered difficulties, but God used these difficulties to train our faith so that our faith would be even stronger and more steadfast. As a result, we gradually overcame those difficulties and challenges with the help of the Holy Spirit. Thank God that, after the work of the ministry took off, the number of people who come to the worship center has almost doubled. God manifested His glory in this second spiritual battle.

At the beginning of January this year, the building “12345” next to the main campus suddenly came on the market for sale. When brothers and sisters heard about this news, they couldn’t help asking themselves, “Is this a God-given opportunity for us to meet the needs of the church’s development in five to seven years?” In fact, we all know that, even if the proposal for building a church at Four Gee Road was approved today, we would still have to spend many years on building design, fund-raising, and architectural applications, etc. We immediately came together to pray.  And most of us shared the same stirring so that it was decided that we should purchase the property. Brothers and sisters actively made offerings. Within 10 short weeks, we raised nearly two million dollars to be used as down payment. God gifted the property at 12345 World Trade Drive to us. We can look upon this experience as the third spiritual battle this year.

June 26 was the day on which the County Supervisors would vote on our application for building our church at Four Gee Road. Indeed, God accomplished the most wondrous deed for us. All those who attended the hearing can bear witness to the miracle that all five County Supervisors, who had divergent opinions about the controversy concerning our building project, unanimously approved our application to construction a church building at Four Gee Road. This victory not only made brothers and sisters excited beyond belief but also greatly strengthened their faith and unity. This was the fourth spiritual battle this year.

Through these four spiritual battles, God gave us broader territory and greater opportunities to expand His kingdom. His wish is, of course, to bless the multitude through the expansion of His kingdom.  The Lord Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Before God we truly need to fearfully seek His will with faith and humility. In concert with God’s guidance, we have to use the land and resources that God has given us to accomplish the most effective and strategic deeds in order to speedily develop God’s kingdom.  Through praying, seeking, communicating, and reflecting in recent months, we are more certain than ever about the following spiritual projects that God wants us to emphasize in the coming three to five years:

  1. Strengthen the ministry for the next generation and new generation: College students, youths, and young couples are all targets of evangelical outreach and the inheritors of the life of CBCSD. Chinese-speaking congregations, English-speaking congregations, Youth congregations, Children’s Ministry should march forward hand-in-hand.
  2. Community concerns and testimonies: We must care for friends in our community; be concerned about the City of San Diego’s needs; make our love prodigiously flow; actively bring the duty and innate ability of the “light” into full play; promote society and church coordination, and produce the result of evangelical plans.
  3. Carefully use the technology of mass media to develop effectiveness of the coordination between evangelical ministry and today’s media; promote communication, conversation, and mutual cooperation with the next generation so that gospel ministry, missionary-training ministry, and evangelical ministry could fly faster and farther like a winged tiger lifting its wings to reach the firmament.
  4. Evangelical ministry among the “Golden Years” group, training and caring, mobilization of the church: More and more professionals will be retiring in San Diego; many people living in other states would like to move here for their retirement; the parents of brothers and sisters as well their friends’ parents who live in Asia will gradually move to San Diego to be near their children. Therefore, the work of evangelical ministry among the Third Age group and ministerial training is an urgent matter.We want to hear retired Christians say that retiring is actually re-tiring, that it is an excellent opportunity to change life’s lane to serve the Lord, and that it is a good juncture to turn the remaining years into splendorous years.
  5. Expansion and extension soaring in twin wings: On the wings of expansion, let us set up our church’s branches to benefit communities all around, e.g., Camel Valley in the west, Chula Vista in the south, and Riverside in the north. Through expansion, let our church become a stronghold, a training camp for the gifted, and a central kitchen for providing supplies to all fellowships, all congregations, and all gospel stations. A larger church will be able to help provide a central venue for large-scale gatherings of all Chinese churches in San Diego so as to unite all Chinese Christians to provide splendid testimonies for the Lord. Amen. ◆

*******************************************************************

Pure Heart, Faith and Unity

in the 10-Year Journey

By Dennis Ho,

Chairman of the Church Building Committee

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalms 126:5) A brother quoted this verse from the Bible to me after the church purchased the land successfully.

When the county supervisors approved the Four Gee Road land-use application of, this verse once again came to my mind.  There were millions of gratitude in my heart and I could no longer hold off the tears of joy.  The burden of the past 10 years has also been relieved.  Over the years, God’s miracle act finally put on a beautiful ending for this project.  During the public hearing, in the face of strong opposition, the county supervisors passed our application with 5 to 0 votes. What God entrusted us to do finally and miraculously achieved a critical milestone under His leadership.

Pure heart, Faith and Unity have been my prayers for the Building Project for the past ten years.

With a pure heart, we can see God and understand His vison. His vision is the direction of our way forward.  When we recognize the direction, we know that what we are doing will not be in vain.  The original plan of about two years was delayed because of various challenges and obstacles.  There were repeated changes in environmental regulations.  There were also numerous replacements of project planners and shortages of the county staff.  Coupled with strong opposition from some neighbors, dark cloud developed over our project path.  This dark cloud led us to have doubts sometimes about the direction.  Thanks God.   God is faithful.  When we held on His vision and were willing to follow faithfully, He led us to accomplish great things.

Faith enabled us to move courageously in the direction of God, though many obstacles made it difficult for us to do so.  There were times that I felt I couldn’t handle anymore.  Through faith I regained power from God.  There were difficulties in negotiating the land purchase.  In dealing with legal disputes with neighboring HOA, I experienced the first trial in my lifetime as a witness in court.  In the past 10 years, opponents also continued to generate challenges to the project.  Sometimes I really felt that all of these challenges were too much to cope with.  Prayer for faith from time to time led us through these rugged paths.

This Building Project is a big investment for our church.  There were different opinions and different practices.  Many important decisions were made also.  Therefore, the unity of co-workers was very important.  Unity led us to see the same vision and to pursue this project with faith.  Thanks be to God.  Over the years, the co-workers worked together diligently.  Brothers and sisters prayed in unity, and over 200 of them attended the public hearings.  CBCSD as a whole church witnessed together God’s amazing works.

Special thanks to God for providing us with a great team of brothers and sisters to serve in the Building Committee.  There are Pastor Lam, Pastor Edward Chiu, Chiamu Chang, Derek Wong, Lillian Teng, Lynn Chou, Vinson Lee and Yuyu Su.  Thanks also to those who helped in the past, full support from the Pastoral team, and the church Council.

10 years wasn’t a short time.  Through these years, we experienced God’s presence, God’s leadership, God’s all-encompassing might, and God’s wondrous deeds. There were excitements, waiting time, fear, frustration, fatigue, doubt, and laughter. There were ups and downs while we went through these experiences.  However, when I look back, all these ups and downs were truly connected as amazing graces from our Lord.  When we were weak and afraid, we saw that God was working.  When we were frustrated, God’s comfort was with us.  When we were joyful and cheering, we felt more of God’s presence.  May this gratitude be like an aromatic offering dedicated to our beautiful and perfect Lord.  And we shall also continue to faithfully follow Him and accomplish what He has entrusted to us.

“The Lord has done it this very day; Let us rejoice today and be glad.” (Psalms 118:24)◆

*******************************************************************

Walking with God in Whole-hearted Trust and Striving Forward through Wind and Rain

– My Personal Journey through the 4 GEE Church Building Project

By Yuyu Su, 4S Campus

Thank the Lord for His grace allowing me to serve, over the years, as a member of the Church Building Committee for the 4 GEE church-building project.   As such, I was able to observe closely God’s miraculous deeds regarding the endeavor.  In June we witnessed a double blessing: the smooth acquisition of the 12345 building on June 14 and the unanimous approval of the 4 GEE project at the hearing on June 16.  God has revealed His glory among us in San Diego!

The road that we have taken in the past ten years is a road of faith and a road of grace.  By putting us through many unfair treatments and challenges, God tested our faith many times so that we would learn to disregard ourselves and disregard the environment in order to pray persistently as a whole, placing our hope and trust only on the Lord Jesus.

  • From December 2011 to November 2013, God won justice for us in the lawsuit against Salviati HOA regarding the easement.
  • From February 2011 to September 2018, we journeyed in a wilderness, dealing with San Dieguito Community Planning Group’s numerous hearings held at Rancho Santa Fe’s fire station — The large and powerful opposition group; the Planning Group’s extremely strict requirements concerning environmental protection and traffic; and the need, incurred by the lapse of time, to redo and revise EIR and Traffic Study.Our church humbly and sincerely paid attention to the voices of opposition.  We revised the height of the church building and the church’s hours of operation, actively meeting the planning group’s requirements, to the result that we received conditional support in many ways at the end.
  • On November 16, 2018, as a result of the commissioner’s unfairness, we lost 4:2 at the public hearing of the county planning commission.Though we were full of confidence before the hearing, we had now fallen into a deep valley. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit once again made us aware that, through this failure, the all-encompassing God wanted us to place our trust entirely upon Him.
  • On June 26, 2019, at the County Supervisor’s public hearing, all five supervisors unanimously approved our application.Phillip Fisch (a major member of San Dieguito Community Planning Group), who strongly disapproved of our project before, showed up without invitation to speak on behave of our church.  Our God, gate keeper of the human heart, performed a wondrous deed for us!

May all the glory and praise be given to our Lord Jesus!  May God continue to lead the new church building project, using us and letting the new church building project be a channel for blessing 4S and extending God’s kingdom. ◆

__________________________________________________________________________________

Praying As One

By Pastor Angela Fu,

Central Campus Caring Assistant Pastor

Data organized by Lan Tang

On Wednesday June 26, the Board of San Diego County Supervisors held a public hearing on the petition for a new Chinese Bible Church building project on Four Gee Road.

When the pastoral team met to make arrangements for this public hearing on the preceding Friday, Pastor Lam suggested that a couple of the pastors should stay behind to provide prayer support, although he was not sure at the time if it would be better for them to pray at the main campus or the proposed building site on Four Gee Road. In the morning prayer meeting on June 24, the vision became clear to the pastoral team. It was decided that Pastor Mingsheng would lead brothers and sisters from 4S campus to a prayer walk at the Four Gee building site while Pastor Angela and some others would pray outside of the Campus Center Chamber,  and Pastor Lam and all church attendees of the hearing would pray in silence inside the Chamber.

On the morning of June 26, Pastor Angela brought with her 60 flyers filled with touching Bible verses hand-selected by the pastoral team. The flyers soon ran out because a greater number of brothers and sisters came to attend the public hearing. When the public hearing went into session, Pastor Angela started her prayer walk outside the Chamber. At the same time, Pastor Mingsheng and his team took to action as well on Four Gee Road. They prayed earnestly until they walked around the building site 7 times! The attendees in the Chamber were also praying in silence with the Bible verses on the flyer. Thus, the overflowing prayers by three teams converged from three different directions and became all the more powerful, just as the Bible says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Stated below is a recount of what happened at the public hearing according to Pastor Angela. Despite being alone outside the Chamber, she felt deeply connected with those at the public hearing and Four Gee Road, not only through text messages but also in spirit, as if she were riding in the same boat, experiencing the same spiritual power and fighting the same fight.

  • 9:12AM: Pastor Angela has been praying for a while already and asks for an update of the public hearing. Pastor Daniel responds that CBCSD is delivering the closing statement.

This appears to be ahead of schedule. She wonders if it is a good sign or not as the allotted time of 5 minutes per speaker has been cut down to 3.

  • 9:52AM: Pastor Daniel reports that the opposition starts their testimony.

The communication stalls for a while after that, as if everyone were undergoing a tremendous amount of pressure and could hardly breathe. Alone outside the Chamber, Pastor Angela feels the same spiritual darkness weighing down on her. She prays continuously with God’s words and receives many more in return.

  • 10:44AM: Pastor Angela shares what God put in her heart with everyone: No authority or power can make or break things. Only the Spirit of God can make things happen. All pastors in the Chamber say “Amen.” Pastor Wanda makes her appeal to God, “Lord, please manifest your righteousness, justice and honesty in the heart of each Supervisor and everyone present at the public hearing.” Pastor Lam proclaims, “We are fighting a hard battle, but God is with us and He is doing His work in the hearts of the community leaders!”

Thinking back to the last public hearing in the beginning of the year, Pastor Angela remembers how some of the brothers and sisters were disheartened by the aggressive and emotional words employed by the opposition. She says some more prayers for herself and those in the Chamber.

  • 10:54AM: Pastor Angela prays, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, His blood will guard our eyes, ears, spirit and thoughts.” Pastor Rose echoes with Proverbs 21:30, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”
  • 11:13AM: The battle inside the Chamber becomes more heated. Pastor Wanda calls for God’s reign over the earth. Pastor Rose appeals that God win over the hearts of the 5 Supervisors.
  • 11:22AM: The testimony of opposition is finally concluded and followed by inquiries from the Supervisors. Instead of being overwhelmed by the verbal assaults from 23 opponents, the two hours of continuous praying brings Pastor Angela peace as well as confidence.
  • 11:33AM: Pastor Wanda states, “One of the Supervisors has spoken fairly about the issues. She is brave and full of sound judgement.”

Exhausted, Pastor Angela rests on a bench. The peace inside her is so comforting that she almost falls asleep. She tells herself to have another glance at her phone, and, a second later, she hears herself laughing.

  • 12:16AM: Pastor Tim texts, “Unanimous!” ◆

*******************************************************************

The Heavens Were Opened

By Sijia Zhang, 4S Campus

In November 2018, I attended that public hearing.  Before the hearing convened, I prayed for the outcome of the hearing, and three words appeared in my mind: “Heavens were opened.” I instantly remembered that they appear in Matthew 3:16 – “…when he was baptized, went up straight out of the water: and behold, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.”  The outcome of the hearing was 4 against and 2 approve.  Brothers and sisters were very disappointed by this outcome, and I thought to myself, “Does this result mean the heavens were opened? How could the heavens be opened?”

In the blink of an eye, it seems, June 2019 was upon us.  Brothers and sisters were eagerly praying for this final hearing.  When I thought about the outcome of the previous hearing, I felt a load of weight on me and was afraid to pray.  But when I began to pray softly, once again those three words appeared on my mind.

With doubt on my mind, I attended the hearing and witnessed waves of opposition from various speakers.  Their concerns included: “I live in a two-million-dollar home and do not like to have a church in my community” or “I have young children, and I don’t like my peaceful living to be disturbed by the people that a church brings.”  At the time, my heart was sinking.  If public opinion prevails, the outcome of this hearing will again be a disapproval for our application.

After attentively listening to the arguments from both sides, the County Supervisors indicated that there would be no problem for building the church.  As to the problem of noise and traffic congestion, however, certain restrictions could be set, such as adding traffic signs or regulating that there be no outdoor activities after 8 p.m.

Thanks be to God for His blessings and mercy.  The heavens were opened.  The hearing’s outcome was 5 unanimous votes of approval. ◆

——————————————————————————————–

My Home CBCSD

By Daniel X. Chen, Main Campus Youth

I attended CBC since I was born, and at this point, it’s a second home for me. I remember back in first grade when I contracted encephalitis and spent weeks in the hospital. I was happy because I was missing school and sitting in a bed all day, but little did I knew that I came inches within death throughout that entire period. Possibly the darkest memory I had from that time was when I went blind. Nothing in high school even came close to the despair I felt when I realized I could not see. But through all the seizures, comas, and pain, there were two groups of people who kept me going: my family, and my church. The doctors couldn’t cure my condition; they just put me into comas and hoped my immune system would eventually kick in. My parents, though, were there for me day and night. And when they couldn’t be there, CBC people would come by in their place. Sitting in a hospital bed all day could have gotten lonely for me if I didn’t have anyone to play or talk with, but I don’t really remember being left alone at any time. As a month or two passed, my immune system started fighting the disease in my brain and my sight came back. But where would I have been without the prayers and other support from my family and church? And yet, it wasn’t until high school that I understood the gift of church community and life I had but did not appreciate.

Small wonder it should have been that I attended the public hearing for the church building project on June 26th.  I came in not knowing what to expect, as I had never attended such a meeting before, but seeing a unanimous approval for the church building project was pretty amazing. I remember past years when the only updates on the new church would be delays, and finally seeing the struggle end almost a decade later was a relief. Additionally, what was more impressive to me than the unanimous approval was how the supervisors seemed to have their decisions made before the hearing began. It was particularly touching to see Supervisor Gaspar act almost like a defense attorney for the church; I never would have imagined that any of the supervisors would go out of the way to shut down some of the opposition’s more illogical arguments. I might not be able to see the new church for a while, as I am just entering my first year at UCSD and have no idea where I’ll end up post-college, but even if I don’t stay in San Diego, attending this hearing was completely worth it. I can’t speak much for other congregations yet, but the youth pastors at Main have been critical for helping me get through high school. I hope after CBC moves to 4 Gee that the Central and 4S youth will be able to experience the same spiritual and cultural environment that I did.◆

____________________________________________________________

Being a Good Neighbor

By Winnie Soo Hoo, Lord’s Grace at Main

I was asked to write the article as the office manager of the church.  I once said to the Union Tribunereporter that we [CBCSD] will be good neighbors to those who live close to the Four Gee Road property.  You may not agree with what I’m about to say but as I reflect upon the purchase of 12345 World Trade Drive on June 14 and then the unanimous decision of the County Board of Supervisors on June 26, I cannot help but think that perhaps God did not allow us to build on the Four Gee Road property earlier was because we were not quite ready.  But at the right time, God prepared a smaller property for us to learn how to take care of a much bigger one later.

12345 World Trade Drive (“New Wing” so named by Pastor Lam) is not really a small property.  It’s over 16,000 sq. ft., sitting on 3.47 acres of land.  Together with the Main Campus, CBC now owns over 45,000 sq. ft. of space.  But unlike the Main Campus, we own the entire building and lot for the New Wing, meaning there are more things to manage.  A small example is setting up new accounts for water, trash/recycling pickup, and landscape maintenance, while these utilities are being handled by a management company at the Main Campus. But this is a gift that God gives us to learn how to take care of the church we will eventually build on Four Gee Road.

But what does this have to do with being a good neighbor?  Plenty.  I believe that being a good neighbor starts at home, i.e., it starts with how we take care of what God has given us because it reflects how good a neighbor we are to those within the church.  In Luke 10:38 Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The answer is the Samaritan who saw the man in need and did something about it.  If you see a need and do something about it, then you are a good neighbor.  Likewise, when we come to church, we see many needs.  Some have to do with people directly, but some have to do with the physical building that indirectly affects the people inside.

Let me give some concrete examples.  The Main Campus building is over 20 years old, and it definitely shows its age. For example, the doors: there are nine exterior doors in the Main Campus, and some of them have issues with latching properly.  While the Church Office arranges to have them fixed, we also need brothers and sisters to pay more attention to make sure the doors are properly closed when they exit, or remember to lock up the church if they’re the last ones to leave.  All our brothers and sisters love God and the church, but everyone needs to be more intentional in caring for the church property especially since we now have a new building to look after as well.  I wholeheartedly believe that, by taking care of these small things, we show our care for each other even more.  Making sure doors are properly closed keeps all brothers and sisters safer while at church.  Putting away tables and chairs after classes/meetings makes it easier for the next class to set up as well as to clean the floors.  Putting away kitchen utensils after using them means others don’t need to pick up after us.  Heeding the parking lot hours gives respect to our staff for their work hours.

As children, we learn how to behave at home.  It’s within the church that we learn how to behave properly towards those outside the church too.  With the New Wing, God has given us a new opportunity to learn to take care of His church.  So, let’s all be more mindful in being considerate at church, whether in the Main Campus or the New Wing so that when we step outside of the church we’re naturally considerate of others around us.  When we start worshiping at the church at Four Gee Road one day, the residents there will be watching to see if we will be good neighbors.  Will we end meetings on time at night so that they won’t be bothered by noise and light, or will we take short cuts through their quiet residential neighborhood just to get to the freeway more quickly? Let us prove that their concerns are unfounded and show ourselves to be good neighbors and witnesses for the Gospel. ◆