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Thoughts on faith and life at Friendship Church

Newsletter - Nov. 2017

Peter Brown

Sinclair Ferguson Visit

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Renowned theologian and leader of Reformed Christianity, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson is coming to Friendship Presbyterian to deliver a week-long lecture series, free and open to the public, during the last week of November. Sponsored by China Reformed Theological Seminary (CRTS), the series will take an in-depth look at the biblical teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit from creation onwards. Please note, this will be a bilingual presentation, with line-by-line oral translation provided by CRTS honorary president, Dr. Luke Lu.

You may register for the event here.

You can read a sample of Sinclair Ferguson's thought and writing here.

 

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Romans, Reformation, FPC, and You!

by Pastor Dennis Brown

I hope you are receiving at least a small portion of what I am receiving by the recent series of messages on Romans that we began in September. As I have said on numerous occasions, the goal is that you and the church together would be rocked by the Romans revolution as Luther, Calvin, and all the Reformers were in the 16th century. For many of us it can seem like ancient history (yawn), and conjure images of memorizing dates for an eighth-grade history exam (yawn).

Over thirty years ago, my little world was rocked by Romans and the Reformation when I stumbled over some sermons by Charles Spurgeon (the great London, Baptist preacher of the 1800’s). He took me to the Bible and Christ and the gospel like no one ever had. I’m still recovering. Several other friends experienced the same revolution, and in our enthusiasm we even created a “dead theologians society” (a take-off on Robin Williams’ 1989 film, Dead Poets Society).

So you may say, what is all the fuss about? Or you might say, “We live in Asia — what do these old, dead, white (non-Asian) guys have to say to us in Taiwan in the twenty-first century?”

These old, dead, white guys discovered something that had gotten lost. Namely, the gospel! The church was in deep darkness, and Martin Luther discovered something that has changed entire civilizations and countless lives ever since. But, unhappily, it is equally true that the gospel has gotten lost in our own day. Most evangelical (not just Catholic) churches have no idea what Luther and Calvin and others were protesting. Remember they were called “Protestants.”

As a consequence, more often than not, evangelical “Protestant” churches have fallen into moralism, legalism, liberalism, or the prosperity gospel (which is no gospel at all). All of these are a departure from the pure, unadulterated gospel that we read about in Romans. In short, in too many places the gospel has gotten lost.

So what needs to be recovered? In a recent post on The Gospel Coalition Website (quoted at length below), Union School of Theology president Michael Reeves gives us three things about the Reformation that all of us should know. He also highlights some of what got lost then and continues to get lost today:

1. IT WAS ABOUT HAPPINESS.
Luther discovered a powerful secret that would shake the world, unleashing happiness wherever it went. The secret was this: failing, broken people “are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.”

Could that be more counter cultural today? It is deep in our blood that the more attractive we make ourselves, the more loved and happy we will be. The Reformation was a story of one man discovering to his delight that, with God, it the other way around. God does not love people because they have sorted themselves out. He loves failures, and his love makes them flourish.

So Luther was concerned with people’s happiness. In fact, he would come to believe, he had found the secret of happiness. And that, at its heart, was what the Reformation was all about. Not moralizing. Not self-improvement. It was a discovery of stunningly happy news, news that would transform millions of lives and change the world.


2. IT WAS ABOUT FREEDOM.
The Reformation was the beginning of Protestantism, so people sometimes assume it was simply about protesting, arguing, and getting tied up in knots about what was right and wrong to believe.

Yet when Luther wrote a short book to explain his discovery, he called it The Freedom of a Christian. In it we find that the Reformation was a freedom movement, not an excuse to impose new rules or complexity.

In fact, Luther argued that the gospel was breathtakingly straightforward. He said the good news he had found was like the story of a wealthy king (representing Jesus) who marries a debt-ridden prostitute (representing one who trusts him). The girl could never make herself a queen. But then the king comes along, full of love for her. And on their wedding day he makes his marriage vow to her. With that, she is his, and the prostitute becomes a queen. He takes and bears all her debts, and she now shares his boundless wealth and status.

It is not that she earned it. She didn’t become a queen by behaving royally. Indeed, she doesn’t know how to behave royally. But when the king made his marriage promise, he changed her status. Despite all her backstreet ways, the poor girl is now a queen.

Likewise, the greatest failure who accepts Jesus Christ gets to share his righteousness and status. What happens is a happy status-swap: When Jesus died on the cross, he absorbed and dealt with all our guilt and failure; and out of sheer love he now shares with those who trust him all his righteousness and life.

It means, wrote Luther gleefully, her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, which she may boast of as her own and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.”


3. IT WAS ABOUT THE FUTURE.
Consider these words, written by a team of scholars in Westminster, England, in the 1640s: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Those words capture the heart of the Reformation. For what Luther’s discovery had made abundantly clear was that God is glorious: beautiful, good, kind, and generous. We can therefore actually enjoy God. Not hate. Not avoid. Not appease. Enjoy.

This was all quite different to what so many had known before. As a monk Luther had confessed he’d come to hate God; doubtful of whether he’d made himself worthy of heaven, he shook with fear at the thought of how God might judge him on the last day. Yet armed with his new discovery, Luther realized he could face such fears like this:

"When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satis­faction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’ "

And so the terrifying doomsday became for him “the most happy Last Day.” The gospel had so transformed Luther’s life that he was able to look to the future with unshakeable hope and assurance that he would enjoy the living God forever. And there could be no better hope for hurting, hopeless people today.

Imagine what your life might be like if you experienced Luther and Calvin’s Romans revolution? Imagine what we would be as a church if we experienced it together? Amen!

 

What If I'm Not "Hurting" or "Hopeless" Today?

by Peter Brown

Michael Reeves’ helpful article on three things about the Reformation (read here) ends with this thought: “…there could be no better hope [than the Romans revolution] for hurting, hopeless people today.”

Without question, Luther and Calvin’s Romans revolution was a profound and joyfully life-transforming event for millions of people. But what about those of us who are not sure that our lives need transforming? What if our lives actually seem pretty good already? Sure, things could always be better in some way.  But as long as we have the basics covered (good job, good health, good friends), do we really need a “revolution?”  

If this describes you (as it once did me), the Romans revolution is quite possibly more important to you than to those who do feel hurt and hopeless. For as Pastor Dennis has shown us, one of the essential teachings of Romans is that no matter how comfortable our lives may be at the moment, the wrath of God at human unrighteousness is being revealed (Romans 1:18), and none of us are righteous (Rom. 3:9). What’s more, we are made righteous only through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin (Rom.3:20-25).

Romans teaches that God’s blessings to us in this life are meant to remind us of him, to turn us to him in repentance (Rom.2:4)–in spite of the fact that we suppress the truth of his very existence (Rom. 1:18-20). It can be tempting to think that having a good job, good health, and good friends means God is pleased with us. But Christ tells us otherwise: “Blessed are you who are poor…you who hunger now…you who weep now….But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:20-24).

 

Update From the Session

by Alan Fiol

The session (church elders Alan Fiol, David MacRaild, Kalan Spencer, and Pastor Dennis) has been working hard to serve you.  As the governing body for our church, we meet and communicate regularly with one another to understand, plan, and prepare for all aspects of our church life.  It’s not all business, of course.  We pray with and for one another and for the church’s needs.  That includes the needs of members, regular attendees, and visitors.  We invite you to pray with and for us.  Please feel free to share with us your needs.  If you have a special burden you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to share with one of us.  

Here are a few of the items currently or recently on our “agenda”.  Hopefully, this brief list will help you become better acquainted with what we’re doing and to pray with and for us. Please do!  We also want to remind you of the work our brothers and sisters are doing on a regular basis and to encourage you to pray for them as well:

  • Church renovation.  The congregation voted last week to release NT$1.7M for the much-needed renovation of our church apartment.  We are thankful for the church’s full support.  Pray for Donna Warren, David MacRaild and the rest of the planning team.
  • We have been spending much time in thought, discussion and planning for FPC’s staffing as we are now in a period of transition.  Together with the search committee, we have been working to find the right pastor to succeed Pastor Dennis.  In addition, we are developing and clarifying our church’s missions and goals and planning the best way to arrange staffing/structure to best meet those goals.  Pray for this most-important area.
  • The deacons and church staff work hard to serve you as well!  Together with them, we seek to serve the needs of the Sunday worship service, including ushering, greeting, reaching out to newcomers, preparing and managing refreshments, arranging and managing the welcome tables, among a number of other items.
  • Four very important aspects of church life which are continuously on our hearts and in our planning and prayers are: Children’s Sunday School; welcoming and connecting with newcomers; small groups; and outreach. We very thankful for our staff, Anna Furness and Peter Brown, who do the bulk of the day-to-day, week-to-week work in these areas.  
  • We are grateful for the worship teams.  Pray for the team leaders and teams, as well as Donna Warren who heads up and coordinates the teams.
  • Let’s all lift up the Sunday School teachers to the Lord.  We thank the Lord for each one of them.  Pray that God’s Spirit may empower them with His love and grace as they serve our precious children and youth.

A quick update from the search committee: We shared in our recent congregational meeting that, at the end of a thorough application review process with our most recent candidate, we decided not to proceed with him.  We are currently resetting our “outreach” to advertise in a number of key places to receive fresh applicants, which we need.  Finding a suitable pastor can be one of a church’s most important and also most difficult tasks. Please pray that God will give us patience, faith, and wisdom in reaching out and in processing applicants. Pray that God will send the man of His choice to us soon.

 

College Ministry

by Peter Kim

This Fall has been a fun-filled and exciting time for G2C (Gospel 2 the Campus). First off, we had the opportunity to go to Yilan during a national holiday where we filmed our first ever music video (https://goo.gl/878Zjb)! Secondly, we were able to hold our very first English/Chinese Exchange (https://goo.gl/F9JMfK) through which we hope to meet new friends who are unbelievers. We won’t use the English/Chinese Exchange to evangelize directly, but our hope is that we can build friendships and begin sharing with them the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Lastly, our weekly meetings have been a joy as we learn more and more about the depths of the good news of Jesus Christ in our lives. 

One prayer request is for effective discipleship. The problem that we constantly face is that since students are so transient, it is difficult to build deeper relationships, grow in the Word together, and send them off as deeper lovers of Jesus Christ who will continue to share this good news with others. But this is exactly what we are striving for: to receive, disciple, and send them forth!

To learn more about G2C, visit   http://www.facebook.com/groups/fpccollege.

 

"Living Stones" and "Building Up"

by Peter Brown

#tbt ("That Bible, though...")

#tbt ("That Bible, though...")

In their handbook on church community groups, the staff of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York lay out a compelling biblical foundation for community groups. Starting in the Old Testament, we see that the tabernacle and temple are called God’s dwelling, or his “house” (1 Chronicles 6:48, 25:6; Ezra 5:2, 15). But, rather amazingly, in the New Testament, the people of God themselves have become the dwelling of God. Individual Christians receive the Holy Spirit and become “living stones” being built up into God’s “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), or “God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Indonesian Student Group

Indonesian Student Group

Therefore, in the New Testament age that we live in, the main work of Christ in the church is “building up” (oikodomeo, in the original Greek). God is the one who can “build you up” (Acts 20:32). “In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple to the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). The church grows not just by joining physical stones, but by joining and uniting human lives filled with the Spirit of God.

Finding Grace

Finding Grace

Accordingly, the main work of the “living stones” is also “building up.” “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “Speaking the truth in love…the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:15-16). This “building up” cannot happen only (or even mainly) in large worship services. It happens in face-to-face groups.

G2C ("Gospel 2 the Campus")

G2C ("Gospel 2 the Campus")

So whether you are with us at FPC for three months or three years, we are always encouraging you to visit our community groups, find one that you connect with, and commit to it. To be clear, Christians are not saved by participating in a community group. They are simply walking in the good works for which they have been created (Eph. 2:10).

 

You can find information about FPC's community groups here.

 

Sanchong Ministry

by Kalan and Kayt Spencer

Over thirty-five people attended the Moon Festival barbecue outreach in Sanchong last month, and several families expressed interest in attending the Sanchong small group. The small group has been meeting faithfully every week for worship, Bible study, and prayer. The Spencer family and a local Taiwanese family attend every week, and we continue to pray that more non-Christians friends will join us and encounter Jesus.

We’re very thankful for FPC members Alan and Rinah Fiol, as well as Sara Hook, who have been a great help with childcare. Kalan and Kayt continue to meet with individuals regularly for evangelism and discipleship. This past month Kalan made some new connections with local men through teaching English, and we are praying for expanded opportunities to share the gospel.

Looking ahead, a “Fit Kids Sanchong” outreach and a Christmas outreach are in the works. If you’d like to be involved, please contact the Spencers at Kalan.spencer@gmail.com.

 

December Travels and Preaching Schedule

by Pastor Dennis Brown

On November 1st, I began year ten at Friendship. What a wonderful journey it has been. Before the summer, I reached an agreement with the elders and congregation that I would continue for the year, if they would allow me to spend most of the summer in the States and then allow me time over Christmas to connect with family. They graciously built that into the contract, and so I will be going to the States from December 5th to January 4th. It also coincides with the apartment renovation which was approved by the congregation on Sunday, Oct. 29th.

During Christmas, we will take a break from our sermon series on Romans, and different preachers will take up a Christmas text—likely, texts that will coincide with the Advent candle readings each Sunday. Here is the schedule for December:

Sunday, Dec. 3:   Dennis Brown, Romans (Note: Communion served)
Sunday, Dec. 10:   Peter Kim (Christmas, part 1)
Sunday, Dec. 17:  Peter Wang (Christmas, part 2)
Sunday, Dec. 24: Kalan Spencer (Lessons and Carols Service/No Sunday School)
Sunday, Dec. 31:  Peter Brown (New Years)
Sunday, Jan. 7:    Dennis Brown, Romans

Also, Christmas plans are in the works. Wait for further information on plans for the annual night-market caroling, New Year’s Eve service, and other Christmas activities. Note that we will not be having the Christmas Eve rooftop service event. Instead, we will have a service of a lesson and carols that morning at 11:00am. There will be no Sunday School. Children will be with us for the service and we will end by noon and have a large, joyous fellowship afterwards. 

 

Sermon Series: Romans: The Power of the Gospel

Through November, we are continuing our sermon series on the Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul's great exposition of the gospel. In case you missed any of it, here is a quick recap of the passages we have covered so far, brought to you by the creative team at The Bible Project.

FPC FALL NEWSLETTER - 2017

Dennis Brown

Summer Travels and Reflections

by Pastor Dennis Brown

I say again and again that I always feel like I have two families--one here and the other in the States. Very shortly, I will begin year ten at Friendship. It was only supposed to be three. But it has now stretched into ten because as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become dear to us.”

But I had a lot of catching up to do with family, friends, and high school classmates in Pennsylvania, Montana, and Texas. During that time, we celebrated Ben’s high school graduation (you can see him in the picture for the celebration of Kay’s birthday),  my Mom’s 90th birthday, a class reunion that was truly redemptive, and visits with family and grandchildren (now nine of them). My itinerary took me to Philadelphia, Montana, Texas and back to Taipei.

One precious memory was my little grandson Jax. He loves to play baseball, but also is learning to love the Bible. We would play outside and then he would say, “Grandpa, let’s take a break and read the Bible.” So we would read “The Jesus Story Bible” until he said he wanted to read my Bible. I ended up giving him my Bible and tears literally came to his eyes.

Ben has been the apple of my eye after coming into our home eighteen years ago following a difficult teenage season with my oldest daughter. She is married now to a wonderful man, and Ben has been like a son as much as or more than a grandson. He’s now a tall, strapping boy with a great ethic, drives heavy machinery, repairs vehicles, and ran his own landscaping business. Pray for him and all young men and women who are seeking to live their faith in this world.

A Summer in the Psalms  and “the Doctor”

by Pastor Dennis Brown

You heard good preaching this summer from Dr. Vern Poythress, Ken McAlpin, Dr. Paul Kang, Peter Brown, and Peter Kim. I’m continuing on the series, A Summer in the Psalms.  One of the greatest preachers in the history of the church who has impacted my life in countless ways is “the Doctor.” I’m referring to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who was the preacher for many years at Westminster Chapel in London. He was called “the Doctor” because he was a notable surgeon in London before being called to the ministry in a fishing village in Wales, and before assuming the prestigious pulpit in London. They said it was as though he  always envisioned “the patient” in front of him (individuals as well as the world), and would apply the scripture in a searching and convicting manner.

He was considered to be perhaps the greatest preacher of the twentieth century. And hundreds of his sermons have been transcribed into books and can be listened to at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust (https://www.mljtrust.org).  Every day this summer I began the morning with my coffee, my Bible, and a sermon of MLJ’s. It was glorious. I particularly enjoyed his series on Psalm 73 where the sermons were published under the title “Faith on Trial.” I recommend it to you. If you don’t have access, you can listen to some of the sermons at the link above. I was so encouraged by them that I will be drawing heavily on them for a couple of messages that I will be giving on the same passage as we continue in this series.

59 One Anothers

By Peter Brown

There are 59 “one another” statements in the New Testament. 59 Biblical exhortations to actually “do” something towards a fellow believer. Encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13). Instruct one another (Romans 15:14). Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9). And, of course, love one another (John 13:34; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9...). And there is no easier place to engage in these “one anothers” than in a small group. What’s more, our mantra at FPC is that whether you’re with us for three months or three years, we encourage everyone to “worship, connect, and serve”--and small groups are the essential place to connect beyond casual conversation over coffee in the fellowship hall. Here is the list of small groups for the fall. Peter Brown is the organizer and is happy to visit with you to give you direction (pb2059@gmail.com).

Join the Movement: Prayer Walk in San Chong September 9

Every church needs to be part of something bigger than itself. In short, it needs to be part of a church-planting movement that seeks to impact and change cities. Why church planting? Because it has been proven to be the single best approach to evangelism. We also need tons of new churches to meet the different, changing demographics of a city.

For several years we have participated in Redeemer City to City and their church-planting movement. In May, I went to Reformation 500 in Hong Kong, where over 3500 people gathered (mostly from China) to celebrate the 500th year of the Reformation. An article that I wrote on this event was cited by The Gospel Coalition (www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/reformation-500-for-the-chinese-church).

Now we have two of our own men who are planting churches in needy neighborhoods and we are seeking to find ways of connecting you with them. As a starter, we would ask you to join us on Saturday, September 9th, in Sanchong where we will join Kalan and Kayt Spencer for a prayer walk.

Here are the details:  “Saturday, September 9th. Join us in prayer for Taiwan, as many Taiwanese celebrate ‘Ghost Month,’ a spiritually dark time for many people in the country. We will meet at Sanchong Elementary MRT at 10:00am. We will provide a prayer guide and map of the area, then walk through and pray at various locations in the city. You can walk at your own pace, but we will join together for lunch and worship after the walk is over. To sign up for this event, please email Kalan Spencer at kalan.spencer@gmail.com.”

Also, Alan Fiol is working with Toon Yeo in the Banqiao church plant to offer a Christmas musical outreach. It will utilize families and children from the church and community. So again, have you joined the movement? Are you using your ordinary occupation to be a good witness for the Lord, so that together we can exist “for the glory of God and the good of Taipei?”

Moreover, there are opportunities to participate with Tim Yates and Reformed Theological Seminary; and Michelle Ko, who will be commissioned in November as she prepares to return to Africa with Sudan Interior Mission (SIM); and Peter Kim, who is expanding his college ministry to different campuses.  Please note that Michelle just returned to us from Europe last week.

Bowling and the Bible: College Student Fellowship

by Peter Kim

As spring came to a close and summer began, our group saw many students leave, either to visit home or because they had completed their degree. As a result, we wondered whether or not we should continue meeting throughout the summer. When June rolled around, we had a gathering at my home and found a number of new students that had just arrived in Taiwan. Some were planning on studying for at least a year, but some were there only for the summer. We had to continue our ministry!

During the summer months, we really grew close to each other as we grew in the knowledge of the Word and as we expanded our Christian worldview. We spent a few weeks sharing testimonies, which really helped us to understand one another more as we heard how God worked in each of our lives. We also spent a few weeks on how to answer some commonly asked questions about the faith, such as "How do we understand evolution as Christians?"; "What about homosexuality?"; and "How do we understand the justice of God in the Old Testament?" Many students expressed how blessed they were through both the testimonies and the question-and-answer seminars.

What was perhaps the most blessed session, in my opinion, was the Sunday when we held a session on understanding the importance of getting involved in God's kingdom work. I challenged the students to consider their lives and how they were living. Were they keeping in mind what God was doing around them? Would they be willing to join the work of spreading the gospel as students?

As we wrestled through many questions this summer and as we heard how God has worked in our lives, we were reminded over and over that God's grace is sufficient for us. It is only by His grace that we are able to understand, or say, or do anything. Of course, we also had fun bowling and visiting a famous waterfall in Shifen. As the new school year begins, we hope to continue to expand our ministry to reach students on campuses around us. We hope to encourage our students to be mindful of how they can be a light in their classrooms and dorm rooms.

We want to continue to teach our students about the gospel so that when the gospel becomes a reality in their own lives, they will be able to go and share it with others. Please pray that God would continue to use our ministry not only to edify our students, but also to spread the gospel through us.

Thy Kingdom Come…

By Peter Brown

The (relatively) new Friendship Prayer Group has continued its monthly prayer meetings over the summer, offering praise to God, and intercessory prayer for our church, our city, our country, and our world. It goes without saying that prayer is an essential,  joyful part of the Christian life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The focus of the prayer group, however, is on kingdom-centered prayer in particular. That is, prayer that God’s “kingdom” may “come” (Matthew 6:10). This allows us to save prayer for personal needs and the needs of each other for our weekly small groups, where we know each other better. All are welcome to attend. For details, contact Peter Brown, Director of Community Life (pb2059@gmail.com).

Covenant and Commitment: Membership Class, Sept. 24th, 25th

by Pastor Dennis Brown

Here is my favorite quote on membership, which everyone has heard if they have been here for any length of time: “Where does it teach us in the Bible that we need to become members? Answer--on every page of the Bible.” So says Tim Keller as he reflects on the fact that all the Bible is about covenant, or commitment, both concepts that have fallen on hard times. If you want to grow in Christ, find a good evangelical church, commit to it, and become a member. Become a regular worshipper. Connect in a small group. And join the movement by serving in the church, your workplace, and your community. In short, live your life “for the glory of God and the good of Taipei.”

So if you aren’t a member or haven’t been baptized join us on Saturday, September 23rd from 9:30am to 12:00pm in room 601, and Sunday, September 24th from 1:15pm to 3:00pm in room 402. Please bring your lunch for the Sunday after church event! We will share with you our vision, beliefs, ministries, and what it means to become a member.

Congregational Update

Dennis Brown

August, 2016

To the congregation of Friendship Church,

I hope everyone is having a good summer. Kay and I enjoyed our family in Texas and then in the greater Philadelphia area. I also am glad to be back with you. I always say that that we have two families—one in the States and one here.

You need to be updated on a number of things. Let me summarize them under three headings:  (1) Our plans for the future; (2) Recommendation of new elders; (3) Lead pastor search.

Our plans for the future

Back in January, we announced that we would continue till the end of 2016. We also appointed a search team to look for a new lead pastor. The search team to this point has not been able to recommend a viable candidate. Because of the needs of the church, as well as some personal needs, we have offered to continue our service for six months beyond our contractual time till the end of June, 2017. At the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28 following worship, one of the items the congregation will be asked to approve is the extension of my contract for that period of time. The meeting will take place at 1:00 pm in the Roosevelt Rd Location. The address is Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. As you come out of the church head towards Roosevelt road and turn right. We will also be providing a buffet lunch.

Recommendation of new elders

On Sunday, August 28, we are recommending two new elders to be elected to serve the church. They are David MacRaild and Alan Fiol.  Both of them are well known in the congregation. David has served as a deacon for several years, leads a small group, and is a wonderful, devoted husband to his wife Yining.  David has a servant and pastoral heart which many of you can attest. He grew up in an evangelical, and Presbyterian reformed home in Scotland. After wandering from the faith, he had a dramatic conversion. He came to the church shortly after his conversion and his story was a powerful reminder of God’s grace. We have watched him grow in Christ and serve us in a myriad of ways.

Alan has served as a missionary with MTW (Mission to the World), the PCA mission’s arm of the church. He also served at Christ College. In recent years, he taught at Morrison Academy at the Bethany Campus near the church. He is married to his wife Chinglien and their daughters Tevah and Rinah. He is a mature man of God, and has worked with Yufen Yang to improve the quality of our musical ministry for the Sunday School. A vote will be taken by members who will be asked to affirm the call of each candidate to their office. Non-members of the church are invited to attend, but will be unable to vote.

We will also be asking David and Alan to share their testimony of faith with you in two worship services in August prior to the congregational meeting.

Here are their short Bio’s:

Alan Fiol

Alan grew up in a south Asian country where his parents served as missionaries.  After graduating from Covenant College, Tennessee, he joined Mission to the World (MTW) to serve in Taiwan in short-term ministry.  He taught at Christ’s College in Guandu for two years.  Then, believing the Lord was calling him back to Asia for full-time ministry, he returned to the States for seminary.  He completed his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) studies at Covenant Seminary in 1996 and the same year enrolled in Columbia International University (CIU) for additional graduate work in preparation for long-term ministry in Taiwan.  At CIU he met his wife, Chinglien, who is from Taiwan.  In 1999 they moved to Taiwan where they did campus ministry at Christ’s College for ten years with MTW.  Following this, Alan did graduate work in music, and has been teaching music in Taipei.  He aims to bring the love of Christ to children and adults through his teaching, composing and in other ways.  Alan and Chinglien have two daughters, Tevah and Rinah.

David MacRaild

David MacRaild originates from Scotland and has lived with his wife, Yining, in Taipei for over six years and has attended FPC for this same duration. He has served with the church as a deacon for 2 years and also , at the moment, is involved in leading bible studies for newcomers. David studied sculpture in art school and since graduation has worked as an art technician.

Lead Pastor Search

As a congregation we are in the midst of a time of transition. Historically, finding qualified pastors has been an arduous process. Finding men who fit our congregation who are willing to move with their family to Taiwan has always been a challenge. The government also has restrictive visa policies that complicate the process. Moreover, the financial challenges are difficult for prospective pastors and the congregation. Pray for the search team as they continue the process. The members of the committee are Jonathan Shumate, Kalan Spencer, David Ludwig, Sohee Chu, John Huang, Monica Hsiao, and myself.  You are welcome to visit with any of them on any question you might have. Also pray for the Shumate family who are in the States now on missionary furlough.

Also pray for pastoral staffing in general. Each week there are between 225 and 300 people. The only paid staff members are myself and Anna Furness. There is great need for more help in the areas of training small group leaders, supervising the small groups, following up with new people, conducting training weekends, providing pre-marital counseling for couples, conducting new members classes, and providing the kind of coordination of ministries that is needed to have excellence in both outreach and discipleship. Ever since Jason Truell’s departure, we have not had an assistant pastor. We greatly need to add another staff person to be able to move forward as a congregation.

Come and talk to us about any of these questions. Along with the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28, we will endeavor to incorporate time for any questions you might have as well as prayer together. Maybe our greatest need is prayer. We don’t do that nearly enough as a congregation. So we are also inviting you to join us for a special congregational prayer meeting on Sunday, August 21 from 1:15 to 2:30 at Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. Bring your lunch and we will eat and pray together.

The Lord has blessed our church greatly and met all of our needs. We believe this same Lord has a good plan for our future. I love you a lot. More, the Lord loves you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon you all.

For the peace and blessing of the church,

Pastor Dennis Brown