By Rev. Gabriel Gan
“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name.” (Psalm 29:1-2a).
It’s been almost two years since the Lord called me to serve in New Life BP Church. So I guess it is time to do some reflection and review. Allow me to share honestly.
Frankly, this is the most stressful of the three churches I have pastored so far. The two previous churches I pastored have less than a hundred members. Pastoring a church which has over 200 members requires much more time and energy and has taken a toll on my health (please pray that God will provide a younger assistant soon, to whom I can pass the baton). But it has also stretched my faith as there are numerous challenges to face.
Being new, there are many adjustments I had to make: the difference in church governance (polity), keeping office hours and working in a new environment, trying to find out and understand how things work (system and processes), learning many, many new names and trying to put faces to them, and coping with outreach ministries (BB, GB, Kindergarten, JEH) besides the usual pastoral work-load (prayer, preaching, teaching, counselling, visitation, marriage, funeral, etc.). I thank God for my co-workers and other church staff. Although these two years have been tough, I am encouraged by my beloved wife’s faithful support and also the positive responses and kind words from many members.
God has once again shown that His grace is sufficient for my weakness. I am re-learning the lessons of faith—when God calls us to a task, He will enable us to accomplish it. Like Peter, we will only be able to walk on the water if our focus is on the Lord and not on the boisterous winds and the waves. Problems and difficulties will overwhelm us if our eyes are turned away from the Lord. I am reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus and the task given.
Besides, I also realize that we need to depend on God, and that the prayer meeting is the powerhouse of the church. If you recall, our church theme for 2014 was “Revive Us, O LORD!” (2 Chron. 7:14). My priority is to encourage the leaders and members to pray together because only God can revive His people. I sensed that some members were cold, others indifferent, and a minority hypercritical. There were also many hurting people in the church, and relationships needed repair and reconciliation. Hence, our camp theme for that year was ‘From Faith to Forgiveness’ with messages from the life of Joseph. As relationship matters—both our relationship with God and our relationship with men, especially those in the household of faith—this was my goal and emphasis for 2014. We prayed that God will revive His people and heal broken relationships in families and the church.
The next task is to restore unity in the church as the Apostle Paul exhorts in Ephesians 4:1-3. Since my coming here, I observed that the many church activities and programs can run without the guidance of the leadership—the church is on auto-pilot. This is both good and bad. Let me explain. On the one hand, it shows that the church has many zealous volunteers who are exercising their gifts and talents to serve God – that’s good! But, there is a flip side: people are doing “their own thing”—there is no coherence and unity in working towards a common goal. In short, the church is “fragmented,” and we need to get everyone moving in the same direction. This will take some time as the leaders need to formulate the vision and mission of the church.
This year (2015), our church theme is “Renew Us, O LORD!” We can see that the fallow ground is slowly breaking up, and the seeds sown are bearing fruit. The Spirit of God is renewing New Life! Thank God for working in all our hearts to walk humbly before Him and one another. We see a more united Session, a hunger and thirst to learn God’s Word and more spiritual vibrancy. The Session has had eight consecutive weeks of Bible study together and the Adults SS Classes are seeing very good participation. More members are ordering books by Jim Berg for personal reading and reflection after listening to his series of lectures. I trust there is also renewal in our fellowship groups and NBCs. The church is seeing more members going for mission trips: 13 to Cambodia, 14 to India, and 20 to the Philippines. And not forgetting the recent evangelistic movie outreach. What a blessing to see a zealous team praying & working diligently and God bringing in 40 new visitors, and more than a hundred people to this event exceeding our expectation! Praise the Lord!
There is one more thing I must give God the glory. It’s been almost 2 years since I stress the vital importance of praying together as a church. After much constant reminder and plea to the members to attend the prayer meeting at least once a month, I’m glad to report that since 2014, we have 137 New Lifers coming to the prayer meeting at least once. Our average prayer meeting attendance has also increased from an average of 20+ last year to 30+ this year. Our lowest attendance this year is 20 and the highest is 43. But what thrills my heart as your pastor is that even the youths are coming to the prayer meeting in recent months. Hey, there is hope for New Life!
Praise God, we have a mix of age groups coming to pray during the mid-week: from ages 4 to over 70. Bro. Robert Yuan came to the prayer meeting about a month ago and shared that this was his first time attending after so many years in New Life (and he came again last Wed)—that, beloved is revival! Yes, God can revive both the young and the old. I hope to see more of our YFers, YAFers, AFers and SAFers come regularly to pray. Now, if the Queen of Scots feared the prayer of one man, John Knox; think of how a church of 200 faithful prayer warriors will shake the kingdom of darkness!
But, New Lifers, we are not out of the woods yet. There are many obstacles we still have to overcome and some “giants” to fight. So let us not be complacent, but continue the good work, and be alert to the wiles of the evil one. I urge every New Lifer to do his/her part for the edification and growth of NLBPC. Together, let us press upward and onward!
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord!” And “let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You for reviving and renewing New Life BP Church. And dear Lord Jesus, King eternal, lead us onward from victory to victory by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of Your Glory! Amen.