In just a few hours, we will be marking the end to the year 2006. Looking back at the past year, I am sure that everyone has a good sense of the many graces God has bestowed on our church. The writer wishes at this time to recall with you all the things that have happened this year, so as to inspire your thanksgiving and praises to God.
1. The building of the church completed in a debt-free state ¡V Thank God! After many years of planning and a whole year of construction, we were finally able to move in March into this elegant and spacious assembly hall for our gatherings. On March 5, we held a ¡§Church Dedication and 11th Anniversary Thanksgiving Assembly¡¨. At the beginning of the year, the church still owed $630,000 in building fees. But in April, God converted our debt into a surplus through the help of a member in Christ. It is truly the miraculous work of God.
2. Change of meeting schedule ¡V Beginning from the move into the new assembly building, some new changes were implemented for our meeting schedule on Sunday. After months of observation, we see that these changes have indeed brought benefits to us that allowed the church as a whole to develop spiritually.
3. The coordination of the caring and nurturing ministries ¡V Because of the changes in the assembly venue and schedule, the brothers and sisters were glad to submit to the leadership of the pastoral staff by fulfilling their responsibilities at various Sunday duty positions, complementing each other and serving faithfully. Thank God! He continues to entrust precious souls to us. Through the caring of new visitors, and the New Believers¡¦ and Faith Seekers¡¦ Classes and Truth Development Classes for both Mandarin and Cantonese speakers, we see the grace of the Lord at work in increasing the attendance numbers.
4. Breakthroughs in adult and children¡¦s Sunday School ¡V Another matter that deserves our thanksgiving is the development of the Sunday School ministry. Because of the lack of space and undesirable time allocation, the attendance at adult Sunday School in the beginning of the year was low. Thank God! After moving into the new building, space, time and human will all came together. We even established the Mandarin and English Sunday Schools and there has been an increase in overall numbers.
5. The establishment of the Caleb Fellowship ¡V Since the church created this seniors¡¦ fellowship in April, God worked in the hearts of the elderly members. They have a wonderful fellowship, and the members are willing to learn to intercede in prayer and care for each other.
6. Spreading the Gospel all over Richmond ¡V From April to June, around 30 members of the church joined in the ¡§Spreading the Gospel all over Richmond¡¨ event conducted by the Short Term Missionary Centre. From July to September, there were follow-through visits. Thank God! We had an opportunity to connect with over 700 people and testify to them about the Gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom. Some converted or re-asserted their willingness to follow the Lord because of this, and joined our church¡¦s meetings.
7. Members dedicating their service ¡V This year, God moved several members amongst us to dedicate themselves to be equipped by enrolling full time into the seminary or Short Term Missionary Centre. Please continue to intercede for brother Alfa Pau and sisters Josephine Hung, Amy Li and Rosita Chow.
8. Eight members were baptized into the church ¡V The church conducted a Baptism Ceremony on July 2. We are thankful for the advancement of these members in their spiritual journey.
9. English Summer Camp ¡V The church held its first English Summer Camp in August. May God continue to bestow His grace on our youth and teens.
10. The members served as one ¡V Thank God! In the past year, the brothers and sisters all loved the House of the Lord very much, and served with one heart, whether it was in the Church-building Committee, the process of moving, production of the church-building commemorative booklet and ¡§100 Reasons for Thanksgiving in our Church-building¡¨, the Commissioning and Preaching Network, the Letters of Recommendation of Salvation, each month¡¦s Gospel outreach, support for prayers of intercession, church finances, charitable care and support, the children¡¦s ministry, the English and Mandarin ministries, outreach for the Short Term Missionary Centre, the fellowship ministries, administration and property management, or telecommunications and audio/video etc.
Finally, the writer would like to encourage everyone and praise God for His presence and blessings in the past year together with you through a Psalm. ¡§Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.¡¨ (Psalm 103:1-2)
By: Daniel To