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No. 5, Lane 269, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, 106
Taiwan

02-2362-1395

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Blog

Thoughts on faith and life at Friendship Church

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

Grace

Dennis Brown

Grace! 

This Sunday, we are in 2 Samuel 9--the story of Mephibosheth. It is one of the sweetest stories in the Bible and it drips with grace. It’s the story of how David asks if there is anyone he can show kindness to because of his commitment to Jonathan. It was a commitment made long before. You can read the story how a young, frightened man is summoned into the presence of the king. He likely expects certain death, but instead is showered with amazing grace. 

The Bible is one story and these mini-stories actually point to the mega-story of God’s redemption of rebels like ourselves who deserve the opposite of grace. But grace isn't just for how you become a Christian. It’s for every relationship in life…parenting, marriage, work. Are you a grace-giver? Or do you live by law. I would recommend Paul Zahl’s “Grace in Practice” to see how it can apply everywhere.

If someone asked me why I am a Christian, there are many reasons, but four stand out:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus. It’s just a stubborn, annoying fact and if it happened, you have to deal with it.
  2. The fine tuning of the universe. Read Eric Metaxas book on “Miracles” and you will be stunned at how the entire universe seems to be rigged to support human life
  3. The cross as the only antidote for the addiction I have to myself and my sin.
  4. Grace. C.S. Lewis was once asked if there was one word that described Christianity. He said it was grace. You can’t find that anywhere in the world or in any religion except Jesus and the movement he started 2000 years ago.

Life at Friendship

Dr. Vern and Diane Poythress Summer Ministry. Sometimes, we say that if you are looking for an answer to a difficult question check out the Frame-Poythress website.  Together, Frame & Poythress represent brilliant, Biblically and theologically solid commentary on almost any subject. Dr. Poythress teaches at Westminster Seminary, has degrees in mathematics and theology, has written many books (most of which you can read on the website), and comes to Taiwan every year to teach a couple of classes at Reformed Seminary. His wife, Diane is equally formidable and loves Taiwan. 

  1. Friday, June 17, 8-10 PM. Skeptics Welcome at the Cafe Odeon at #11, Lane 86, Sec 3, Xin Sheng S. Road (just down the street from the church). This is on Friday, June 17 from 8 to 10 PM.
  2. Saturday, 18, 7 PM, God: Creator, Physicist, King. This is an event at the home of Jason and Donna Warren. God is the creator of the universe, but as we discover more about his creation, it raises questions about how we as scientists, engineers and seekers of truth can discern the Biblical origins of the universe. If you would like to attend please e-mail Donna here. RSVP Donna by June 15. Light refreshments will be provided.
  3. Dr. Poythress will be preaching beginning on Sunday, June 19, 26, and July 3 and 10. He will be speaking from the first chapters of Genesis which address the big questions of life: Where did we come from? Who created the world and universe? How does this story fit with modern discoveries of science? Who made marriage and what should it look like? Who made gender and what should it look like?
  4. “Counseling Leah with the Gospel”. This is a lecture led by Diane Poythress on Wednesday, June 15 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. This will be held in the back elevator room in the church. Tea and refreshments will be provided. Sign up by e-mailing the church or at the Welcome Table on Sunday.

Pastor Vacation Schedule. 

On Monday, June 20, Pastor Dennis and Kay are flying to the US--first to Austin, Texas and then on to Philadelphia, Pa. Dennis will be in the States and return to Taipei on July 26.  During that time, feel free to contact the elders, the deacons or Anna Furness on any question you might have. Here is the preaching schedule for the next couple of months:

  1. Sunday, June 12, Pastor Dennis
  2. Sunday, June 19, Dr. Vern Poythress
  3. Sunday, June 26, Dr. Vern Poythress
  4. Sunday, July 3, Dr. Vern Poythress
  5. Sunday, July 10, Dr. Vern Poythress
  6. Sunday, July 17, Dr. Paul Kong
  7. Sunday, July 24, Jonathan Schumate 
  8. Sunday, July 31, Pastor Dennis