November 27, 2020
Dear TCCBC church family,
Greetings in the Lord to you and your family! I’m writing this letter on the eve of Thanksgiving, wondering how you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. No matter how, I am sure it will be a very different Thanksgiving. From a news report from yesterday, President Trump pardoned a pair of turkeys according to the traditional practice. Perhaps there is no need for the pardon since many turkeys will be spared this year anyway. Because of the pandemic, many families will not be buying turkeys this year. Many state governors have imposed no gathering restrictions that included families, so there is no need to buy and roast turkeys. You might be thinking, so what is there to give thanks when we cannot even have turkeys for Thanksgiving?
It is certainly true that it feels like a reality that many things are different from before. Our lifestyles have changed as a result of sheltering-in-place. Even our time and place to worship God have changed (perhaps we even feel like are deprived of our rights). Our treasured congregational singing with brothers and sisters has become more difficult doing it online. The livestream time delay causes our singing to sound disorganized as if we were in a busy market. Even when we sang, we were asked to turn on mute to avoid disrupting each other.
To many, the extended sheltering-in-place has caused certain impact to their lives. It not only makes it difficult to maintain relationships with each other, even family relationships have been distanced without in-person gatherings. Many have suffered serious depression, despair, and insomnia, including incidents of attempted suicides have gone up. Beyond the aggravating pandemic, there have been frequent reports of demonstrations and rioting across the country, destruction of shops, looting and arson. Waves of defunding and abolishing the police are causing worries of law and order outlook in the country. Our hope for the November 3 presidential election coming to a conclusion did not happen as anticipated. Even as President Trump has agreed to begin the transition of power, he has not conceded defeat. Believing that there was serious fraud in the election, his team of attorneys are contending with legal filings in various states. It appears that this situation will not resolve itself until there are decisions at the Supreme Court. The entire country will remain in a high level of uncertainties, with oppositions from the two parties reaching unprecedented tension in the past century. Regardless of how the election is by decided the courts, the shock and trauma to the country appear unavoidable.
As God’s children surrounded by these negative circumstances, we must continue to draw our hope from God. We ask our Lord to grant us strong faith to overcome the various obstacles, and break through the various difficulties. We trust God as our steadfast rock, our fortress, and our continuous help in times of trials. His eyes are upon all the earth, His grace and mercy are upon all His people. He grants wisdom so that we have discernment on difficult issues, just like how James exhorted the disciples, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
From my perspective, we still have much to give thanks for in this past year.
Even under the sheltering restrictions, God has placed us also in an era of online video technologies. The pandemic did not prevent us from worshiping God. Although it feels differently worshiping online as compared to doing it in-person, the number of online participants appears to be higher than normal. There might be various factors involved, but the fact is the development of online video has undoubtedly broken through the distance constraints, and provided opportunities for us to meet in the cloud online.
This pandemic also causes our traditional church to seriously consider the future of the Generation E church. We must admit, our lifestyle has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Not only in worship, but in shopping, commercial transactions, the forms of communication, etc. are all different from before. The magnitude of the use of online videos has forced many elderly folks to learn how to use electronic devices for Bible studies and to maintain communication and praying for each other online. We begin to appreciate that using new technologies and online media is no longer an option, but a “necessity”. Otherwise, we will be eliminated by this new era and become truly “isolated”.
Inevitably, this causes us to consider how God is preparing us for the next generation church. How should the church shepherd the younger next generation? What kind of ministers can effectively lead the next generation gospel ministries? Can traditional ministers with traditional ministry methods be effective with the future generations? Thinking this over, I can’t help but thank God for leading our church’s deacons and council members to a clear consensus, that we would search for ministers who could train up and disciple the younger generation, open opportunities for new generation thoughts and ministry methods in this traditional church of over 40 years, to develop the gospel work for the next generation using the ancient and unchanging gospel truths. When we have a new generation minister with us, leading the new ministry concepts and work of our church, it will bring about major reform and breakthrough at our church.
Based on this consideration, the Pastoral Search Committee is recommending to the church a very young English pastor candidate. If this is God’s will, and through the possible confirmation from our brothers and sisters, it is quite probable that our church can add a historically youngest minister to our church. This is an important juncture of our church that requires everyone’s prayers and united hearts. We must earnestly seek God for His will to be established among us. Here is a good reminder for us from the apostle Paul exhorting the young Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The main point is not on his young age, but his pursuit of “speech, conduct, love, faith and purity” in his life, and becoming an example to the young generation. I invite you to try to carve out time to join the online meetings with Stephen Choy next weekend. Let us open our sights to discern and sense the guidance from God among us. I look forward to the future decisions from God’s will, aligned with our hearts moved by Him.
Please note and join the scheduled meetings with Stephen Choy the weekend of Dec 6. You can select to join one of the three introduction and sharing sessions, or join all of them. Your participation represents your care for the church, as well as letting Stephen know how important it is for you and how much you care about our discernment process.
Dec. 5, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Introduction and sharing with English congregation (Zoom Meeting)
Dec. 5, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Introduction and sharing with Cantonese congregation (Zoom Meeting)
Dec. 5, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. Introduction and sharing with Mandarin congregation (Zoom Meeting)
Dec. 6, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. Preach in English Worship (YouTube Livestream)
Dec. 6, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. Preach in Cantonese Worship (Pre-recorded on YouTube)
Dec. 6, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Preach in Mandarin Worship (Pre-recorded on YouTube)
Operation Christmas Child that started last week has concluded successfully. We thank God for the opportunity to share in this labor of love. The team reported having received 1,185 shoeboxes from churches and the community, with 102 shoeboxes from our own church. We are grateful for God’s grace, and the warmth felt by the underprivileged children in this season of the birth of our Lord Jesus. They will also have the opportunity to learn the love of Jesus. We also thank God for Melissa’s leadership and the support from our church’s OCC team of 29 volunteers. Together, they sacrificed nearly 140 hours to complete this operation. The shoeboxes were delivered to the Pleasanton collection center. We appreciate the faithfulness and labor of our volunteers. May God reward them and bless their work.
By the way, a reminder that this week is the last week for you to turn in your voting ballots on the three resolutions. The first one is to consider approving calling Pastor Michael Kwong to be our Cantonese Pastor. The second is the ratification and approval of the church’s 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. The third is to approve the election of Jachin Hsu to be our church Trustee as recommended by the council. Please make sure that your completed ballots are mailed back and delivered to the church by December 5 to be considered valid.
Another reminder to please write an article for the December publication of the “Heavenly Dew”. You can share with each other your thoughts on the pandemic and your spiritual insights. Please send your articles to Sara Wei (email: email@example.com) before the end of this month. May your sharing become a blessing to brothers and sisters among us.
May you all be filled with peace and joy from our Lord during this time of Thanksgiving. Let us also offer to God sacrifices of thanksgiving from our hearts. “Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.” (Psalms 107:22)
Caring about the next generation church with you together,
Pastor Job Lee, Senior Pastor
With fellow church leadership team