November 2017 Newsletter
By Pastor Craig
On October 1st, six staff members from four different Japan King’s Garden facilities landed in Seattle. Their arrival marked the end of weeks of planning including recruiting drivers to meet them at the airport, coordinating tours and appointments at CRISTA, reserving hotel rooms, arranging transportation to and from meetings and assuring that their days with us were full without them feeling overwhelmed. Then, once they arrived, it involved spending 12-15 hours a day with them, taking them places, showing them things and interpreting for them since none of them spoke much English. There were times I found myself asking, “Why am I doing all this?”
That question was answered as they shared their impressions of the trip their last evening here. Some discussed how they were feeling crushed by the weight of their responsibilities at work, but knowing that things continued on while they were away being refreshed gave them renewed strength and joy to return. Others spoke of the new relationships that were formed during their time in Seattle and their intentions to continue their new-found friendships once they return to Japan. Another person spoke of the freedom they felt and that they were finally able to pray out loud in front of other people. Once the group returned to Japan, I received an email from the president of Japan King’s Garden. She told me how several had returned saying that their lives were changed by their time with us as a church.
That’s why we do what we do; to help change lives for the Kingdom of God. Many times, we never hear about the impact of the things we do. And in most cases, it’s not really a single event or one individual that accomplishes life-change. It’s a series of people and occurrences that God uses in a person’s life to bring about the change that He ultimately produces. And that’s what we need to remember when ask ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing; that God is also working in the midst of our doing and that one day, we’ll see or hear the great things He has done.
Pictures from JKG Seattle Tour
Fall Conference 2017 Recap Video by Daniel Mayda
Fall Conference 2017
by Pastor Mike Kurtz
Every fall we have the privilege of holding an all-church conference. It is a privilege not every church has, and so we honor the tradition and value how it serves to foster healthy relationships in our church family as well as grow together through compelling session speakers and group discussion.
This year our conference was held at Black Diamond Camps in Auburn. Under new ownership, the conference center saw upgrades in most areas including the meeting spaces and gym. Spread throughout the conference grounds, we held four “camps”: Children’s, Youth, Japanese, and English camps. For the youth, we brought in Pastor Kevin Lane from Berean Bible Church in Shoreline. He is a personal friend of Kenji Kumai whose sons played baseball together. The Japanese group was pleased to welcome back Pastor Satoru Nakanishi from Japanese Presbyterian Church. For the English group, we were honored to have Dr. Paul Louis Metzger, a professor from Multnomah Biblical Seminary. And finally, for the children’s camp, the Lau family was back again to lead our children through Camp Zoom! – a quest to find the fingerprints of God in His creation and Word. It was a packed weekend full of solid teaching, challenging discussions, and good fellowship.
This year our sessions were held in the Crystal Mountain meeting space. It was a larger space with more room for small group discussions, a nursery right next door, and the children’s camp a very short walk away.
Our speaker, Dr. Metzger, spoke on the theme “Building Walls or Building Bridges?”. In general, we were challenged to consider how we interact with one another and the world – do we build walls that isolate and insulate us from others, or do we build bridges that invite and encourage dialogue, the kind that earns a listening ear, that invites others to the table, so to speak? With 1 Corinthians as the backdrop, Dr. Metzger spoke on building bridges in four areas: Conflict, Family, Worship, and Ministry.
In conflict, Metzger raised the question of false boasts (i.e. boasts of things that are good, but are turned sour through pride). The source of conflict is often rooted in boasting and pride and a desire to be superior. He noted that our unguarded strengths can become glaring weaknesses. As a group we were challenged with the question: What are the strengths of FBC and how do we guard them so that they don’t become glaring weaknesses?
In family, the key cause of conflict is false expectations. Not that expectations are bad, but when expectations are centered on self and pride, they naturally lead to conflict. The Corinthians had prideful expectations of their liberty in Christ; they expected people to be part of their “fraternity” and excluded the poor in their family feasts; they expected Paul to be their patron rather than they be his children. Metzger challenged us to think about our expectations toward singles, spouses, children, parents, and our church family. Do we love them where they are or where we want them to be? How might we become more adept at cultivating healthy expectations that honor God and others, and which do not become burdensome and oppressive?
In worship, Metzger noted that increased diversity requires increased spiritual sensitivity, meaning that there needs to be a greater awareness to guard against divisions in the church and society due to differing viewpoints and experiences. A key cause of conflict according to Metzger is snobbery: putting acquired taste and style over substance; putting acquired status over grace. How do we move from preference and ground ourselves in love? How do we get beyond a concern for individual status and become a people of grace that cares for everyone?
And lastly, in ministry, we were challenged to let go of our rights and our “right to be right” for the sake of building bridges in our relationships. As asked by Metzger, how often does proving one is right and demanding rights build relationships? Demanding rights often builds walls, but is that love? Does that draw a person to Christ?
These were extremely challenging questions. These are questions that always need to be at the forefront of our minds as we live and work with people. Building bridges is what Jesus did. He built a bridge back to God. He built bridges to Himself by attracting and inviting “outsiders” by becoming an “outsider” Himself. Our challenge is to do the same.
Next year, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Metzger will be back again to continue thoughts on these matters. Mark your calendars: our next conference will be Oct. 13-14, 2018.
by Amy Li
Hello FBC family! This year, I had the privilege of not only attending FBC Fall Conference for the first time, but also helping out the youth program for ROCK and WASABI students. I know I am not just speaking for myself when I say that the short weekend retreat was a great time to abide in the Lord and to rest in His goodness among fellow brothers and sisters. I was reminded how necessary these times to refresh our souls are, especially among the younger generation with all that they juggle, including school, sports, extracurricular activities, social life, etc. Two of the students even came to the Fall Conference after taking their SAT that day, talk about commitment (Julia Kumai and Hanna Nakamura, you guys rock!). Thank you to everyone who worked hard this year to make the retreat happen!
Our group of students and leaders were guided into this space of reflection and learning by our speaker for the weekend, Pastor Kevin Lane from Berean Bible Church. We have received nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback from the kids on his teachings. During the sessions, we played some icebreaker games and opened with a few songs of worship led by Jerjou. We opted to give Kevin the entire length of time to freely speak and share as he felt led, and even that wasn’t enough time to hear all of his stories and take in all of his lessons! He is truly a gifted and captivating speaker. Even with an audience ranging from junior high to high school seniors to the leaders, he made the messages relatable and engaging for everyone. I especially loved his messages’ titles: Christo-centricity, Imago Dei (the image of Christ) and Ex Nihilo (out of nothing), through which he expanded on theological topics like the supremacy of God and what it means to be made a new creation in Christ, but also intimately personal topics like shame. One of my biggest takeaways, and a theme that was often repeated throughout his sessions, is that there are no such things as coincidences and it is a truth that is so blatantly evident when you listen to his powerful testimony.
We were not only blessed with these sessions where we received God’s word, but also times of fellowship with one another. It was awesome to see friendships among the students strengthened even further this weekend as we shared meals while cuddling cute babies around the dinner table, snacked on a never-ending supply of Hi-Chews, and spent Saturday night together in the gym, watching Kenji Kumai dive for the volleyball as if he were one of the high schoolers and Chris Jo lose to every student he challenged in basketball. Even though I have only recently met this group of young men and women, I find myself encouraged and humbled by their desire to learn more about God, invest in this group, and walk with one another through life. Their great joy and laughter is a great reminder for me to pursue the same child-likeness that Jesus emphasizes in the Bible.
This year, myself and a few others (shout out to Stacie Lee and El Iseri) will be joining the ROCK team, a ministry that has been faithfully carried out through the years by Jeanne and Kenji Kumai, Alisa Williamson, and Melissa and Vernon Yutuc. We are so excited to serve these young people and as always, we appreciate all the prayers of support from our FBC family as we seek God’s will for the leadership and this ministry as a whole.
by Ichiro Otsu
The Japanese program was held in the Mt. Si room. The speaker was Pastor Satoru Nakanishi from Japanese Presbyterian Church. The theme was ‘Taste God’s Words’. He taught that in order to have a correct understanding of the Bible, we need to have ears to hear and keep each passage in context of the entire Bible: Creation, Fall and Covenant, the Cross and completion of Salvation.
During the first session, we saw two interesting videos showing what it means to be able to hear. Through the second to the forth sessions, he summarized the whole Bible from Creation to Glorification with pertinent scripture verses. We also learned Bible content song and sang them at each session. We sang praise in the beginning of every session. Small group discussions followed after each message on Saturday. Sunday started with morning prayer time. During the Sunday service, Pastor Nakanishi gave the message of the fourth session and spoke of the hope that we have in Christ. The Japanese program helped us to see the big picture of the Bible and to treasure God’s words. We also enjoyed all-camp activities, such as dining together and free time activities.
People voiced that they enjoyed Pastor Nakanishi’s messages, fellowship, small group discussions, time to get away from daily affairs and enjoy God’s words, overnight facility (big room with towels) and meals. They voiced some aspects which may need to be improved, as well.
Examples of feedback regarding what we learned from the messages and other activities are shown below.
- I would like to try reading through the Bible.
- I learned that we were created by God and originally His. Believers can have hope.
- I would like to place emphasis on ‘listening’ more.
- I learned the importance of reading the Bible with joy.
- I would like to organize my thoughts and take in what I learned this weekend.
- Everything will be food for the days ahead.
- I had great fun. I give thanks to those who prepared for this conference.
by Kazumi Groebli
I would like to share a little about my relationship with Christ with you.
My encounter with Jesus was when I was in the first or second grade. A house in my neighborhood held a Bible story time. I went there not because I wanted to learn about the Bible but because I wanted to have the snack that they provided. At the story time, I heard that Jesus was born from Mary, died on the Cross, and rose again. I had never heard these stories before. I continued attending the story time for several months without understanding the Bible much. My parents did not have any interests in religion. When I told my parents that Jesus is God, they just said “I see” but never showed any interest. They were not against it either. Seven or eight years after that, my older sister started learning English from Mr. Brown. He was a missionary from the States and invited her to go to church. My sister did not want to go to church by herself, so she asked me to go with her. At first, I went to the church rather reluctantly. I did not go every week but after I went there a couple times, the word ‘sin’ started speaking to my heart. I had been thinking that I was a sinner because I was lying to my parents or taking coins from my mother’s purse and I knew those behaviors were not good. I assumed that people who could be Christians were sinless perfect people. Even after ten years from that point, I was still thinking that I could not become a sinless perfect person, so I could not be a Christian. In fact, I became even more sinful. I eventually fell away from church and started to forget about God.
Around that time, I was having severe menstrual cramps but when I went to see a doctor, he only told me to take pain medication and could not figure out the cause. One day, I had even stronger pain and I thought I would die. I lost consciousness and when I woke up, it was the next day and my face was covered in my vomit. The strongest pain was gone but I kept having dull pain in my left lower abdomen. I went to the clinic that I always went to but they suggested Igo to a larger hospital. As soon as I was checked in, I had to have surgery. The cause of the pain was endometriosis and there was a tumor in my left ovary. It became too big and had ruptured. The tumor was benign, but after testing other organs, the result showed that I had uterus cancer. The doctor said if I did not have surgery to remove the cancerous cells right away, I would live less than five years. I would not even live till I was 30 years old. It was hard on my body to have another surgery right after the other one, but I had surgery a few weeks after that. I was told before the surgery that the cancer is at the second stage but it was actually at the beginning of the first stage. The doctor said some people around my age at that time do not usually find uterus cancer early enough to survive. If I did not have the first surgery for the uterus, I would not have found this cancer. Many nurses and doctors said I was lucky.
While I was in the hospital, my mother came to see me every day, but my mother, who was known to always be healthy, did not look well, so I suggested her to take a physical exam. It turned out that she also had uterus cancer and her cancer was advanced and there was nothing that the doctors could do. She was given three to four months to live. I was hopeless and could not understand why my mother had to die while I survived. I wanted to switch places if possible. At that time, I started praying for my mother thinking “I am okay because I believe in Jesus and will go to heaven, but my mother does not know Jesus, so I would like her to be saved.” I was away from church but the Word from the Bible stayed in my heart. There was not much time left for my mother, so I told her directly that I would like her to believe in Jesus and be saved. I don’t think she understood much about Jesus, but she replied and said “I would like you to believe in Jesus too.” Since then, I started reading the Bible very earnestly. A few words stayed in my heart. Luke 5:20 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”” 5:31 “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
I was seven years old when I heard the story in the Bible for the first time. Eighteen years after that, I felt that the eyes of my heart were finally opened. Jesus came not to invite perfect people but to invite imperfect sinners like me. I believed that Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again in three days and I was baptized. My mother also confessed her faith in Christ and was baptized a few weeks after I was. It took a long time for me to have faith because I thought that I had to become a sinless perfect person. However, because of my and my mother’s illness, I realized that when we confess our sins, our sins are forgiven because of the cross of Jesus and the best present from God is eternal life. I am like a head of the sinners in the world even now, but I am glad that I am alive and led to this church to fellowship with you.
When I was little, my father shared about his experiences that he remembered from while he was living in China. I was shocked to hear these stories. After believing Jesus, God put a desire in my heart to go to China and share the love of Christ. It took a while for that path to be available for me, but I met a Christian who did missionary work in China and I was able to join the trip to bring the Bible to a farming village in an inland area. It was about twenty years ago and we went through Hong Kong, but each providence had an inspection check point. If we were found carrying a Bible, the Bible would be taken away. We were so nervous and praying that we would be able to bring the Bible to the community. God protected our way and we were thankful that we were able to bring the Bible to them. It was an economically challenged area but some people walked hours to see us. What we did was such a small thing but they were so happy and some of them shed tears of joy and told us thank-you. They welcomed us, hosted us, and did their very best to serve us. We were grateful. The brothers and sisters there shared testimonies with us. Many of them had been arrested and tortured because of sharing the love of Christ. They were asked if they choose Mao Zedong or Jesus while an electroshock wand was held by their neck. If they said Jesus, the government officers turned on the electroshock wand and they flew several meters because of the shock. Even in this kind of circumstance, they said they would like to share about Jesus to people around them. When we were leaving their place, we asked them what we could do for them. They said “we would not be able to go visit you, but please come visit us again.” I went back to Japan and moved to China after a while. The first place I lived in China was a place near North Korea. There were many people who crossed the border from North Korea into China. They lived fearfully because if they were captured, they would be sent back to North Korea and might be killed. Back then, in North Korea, many people were dying because of draught and famine, some of them were eating dead people’s meat, and people sent back from China were severely tortured. One person from North Korea crossed the border by crossing the river and barely escaped alive, but shared tearfully with us how much she worried about her family left in North Korea.
In China, there are churches called “three-self patriotic churches” which were approved by the government. I don’t know how it is right now but I heard that the government set the limit on what can be preached. There are also many house churches. One time when I was still there, there was a conference of the house church attendees and about 100 people attended the conference. Public security officers sneaked into the conference. I was going to stay there for three days, so I reserved a hotel nearby. In the morning of the second day, I had a bad feeling and packed everything and left by the door of my hotel room before leaving the hotel for the conference. When I arrived at the conference, I was told to run away because the public security officers were coming and if foreigners were arrested, it would be a huge problem. I grabbed my language and ran away to the designated place that people at the conference suggested. After we ran away, the public security performed a crackdown and the main believers were arrested. One of the Korean missionaries I knew was arrested at another conference and he was tortured for several days while his hands and legs were tied to a chair. Because of Chinese believers’ help, I did not get arrested, but I cannot help but praying for those who are persecuted because of their work for the Lord even now. May God’s grace and mercy be poured out upon those who are persecuted.
Bill’s Book Blurbs
by Bill Hamasaki
New Book for November
The Real Heaven by Chip Ingram
In our culture, for the last several years, there has been a great deal of interest in the subject of heaven. There have been movies as well as many books written by those who had a near death experience, went to heaven, and returned to tell their stories. It is unfortunate that their descriptions are often unbiblical and even contradict one another. What does the Bible really have to say about heaven?
In this book, the author provides a biblical perspective on the subject of heaven. He writes in an appendix on his belief in the Bible, “The entire message of this book on Heaven rests on one foundational element: that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God. Everything written in this book is based on the belief that the Bible is credible, trustworthy, and accurate.”
The author gives three reasons to study Heaven:
- Our misconceptions are crippling us.
- We are commanded to think about Heaven.
- A faulty view of Heaven destines us to a wasted life on earth.
He also discusses such issues as:
- What does the Bible actually say about Heaven?
- What difference does it make?
- What happens the moment after we die?
- What will our relationships be like in Heaven?
After a death of a loved one, the subject of heaven brings great comfort if that person was a follower of Jesus Christ. The subject of heaven also provides great motivation to live our lives for God’s glory and for His purposes. Anyone interested in a biblical look at heaven will find this book both practical and informative.
Work Day – October 21, 2017
“Thank you” to everyone who came out to help with trimming trees and shrubs, painting, kitchen and nursery toy cleaning!
11/5: Potluck Fellowship Hour with Sacred Road Minsitires
11/17: CYC Thanksgiving Fellowship
12/2: CYC Christmas Party
12/9: Senior Christmas Celebration
12/17: Children’s Christmas Musical