Advent is a time to reflect on Christ's birth and on the past year as we prepare ourselves for a new year. Kay and I have begun our sixth year at Friendship. We couldn't have enjoyed it more, and have tried to build on the gospel foundation established by your previous pastors.
Some of the highlights and challenges have been:
- Every year we have around 25% of the congregation who move on to new challenges and callings. We can only hope and pray that the seeds of the gospel grew in their lives, and that they can take that seed and plant it somewhere else. At the same time, we almost always receive back as many new people. This dynamic makes the congregation quite welcoming. In short, everyone knows what it feels like to be "the new kid on the block" and so along with trying to provide hospitable worship, it makes for an environment that is dynamic, welcoming and a real opportunity to speak to both those who know the Lord and those seeking to know Him.
- We try to grow community and small groups. It's not easy as people work long hours, are often tired, and scattered over the city. Pastor Jason has done the church special service in expanding the number of Beta and mid-week groups.
- I had the opportunity of taking a few men to India this last spring to serve a mission where they plant churches and staff a children's home. Some of our younger people participated in an English camp on the southern part of the Island. We also had the opportunity to give toward the typhoon that devastated the Philippines.
- We love our international students and so it's been a special joy to see the regular contingent of Indonesian, African students and others from all over the world on any given Sunday.
- Our attendance with the children during the fall to spring months continues to be somewhere between 200 and 225 most Sundays.
- We continue to have a connection with the Redeemer City to City Church Planting Movement. It has enriched Pastor Jason and myself in an extraordinary way.
- We have had a growing contingent of young couples with small children and more weddings in the past year than anytime that I can recall since I have been here. That has increased the numbers in the children's ministry. We continue to pray about how to improve our ministry to teenagers.
- We are grateful for our elders, deacons, small group leaders, Li Lin Wu, Pastor Jason and Jerry Chiao who all make significant contributions.
Kay and I would like to thank you for your generosity to both of us. Nee-tai-ku-che (that's my poor attempt to say in Mandarin, "you are too generous." We also thank you for your financial support of the church. Even though you have taken on two full-time pastors, the giving has kept pace. May his grace and peace be with all of you during this season.