RE Quarterly Newsletter
Volume I, No. 1, Fall 2014
Thank God for His guidance, our very first RE Newsletter is hot off the press! Thank all the RE teachers who have contributed and made this possible. The RE Department is planning to publish its own newsletter on a quarterly basis. Through this media we hope to keep everyone abreast of what is going on in RE and encourage one another with different sharing. Since RE plays a very important role in our next generation’s faith, let us take a more active role in understanding and caring for the RE through actual participation and prayer. May the Lord strengthen every RE teacher so that we can bring our students before Him, and continue to pass down the baton of faith to them!
Religious Education Department
2015 RE goal and theme
By Sis. Yachi Liang
因而，早在舊約時代，神就藉著以賽亞先知大聲疾呼的宣告說：「就是少年人也要疲乏困倦，強壯的也必全然跌倒；但那等候神的，必從新得力，他們必如鷹展翅上騰，他們奔跑卻不困倦，行走卻不疲乏。」〈賽四十 30、31〉 神殷切的期許每一位信靠祂的選民在靈性上都要有此「自知之明」，能夠意識到在信仰的旅程中單靠自己的力量、智慧是絕對行不通的，唯有等候神才有可能從新得力，才有辦法突破瓶頸而邁向成功；只不過，在這裡所謂的「等候」，並非坐在那邊呆呆的等待，也非躺在床上癡癡的奢望，而是要我們全心全力、隨時隨地的多方禱告，這就是為什麼主耶穌在升天之前交代門徒必須往普天下去傳福音之後，卻又囑咐門徒不要離開耶路撒冷，一定得先「等候」父所應許的聖靈最主要的理由，因為唯有聖靈降臨在門徒身上，門徒才能真的得著那上頭來的能力〈徒一4、5、8〉，也唯有門徒透過禱告領受那上頭來的能力，才能真正滿得那上頭來的智慧〈雅三13~18〉，如此才有可能克服重重困難，完成主所託付的神聖使命！
THE SECRET TO GAINING STRENGTH ~ PRAYER
Translated by Sis. Elin Chang
Prayer is as important as breathing everyday, without it we would not be able to sustain our lives. Prayer is like a motor of the machine in a factory, without it all the machines would not work. Therefore some people say, “The secret to gaining strength is prayer, and the secret to prayer is persistence.” This is indeed true! Prayer really is an important source to gaining strength for our spiritual life. It is also the motivation for us to consistently walk the heavenly path and bravely moving forward until we reach the heavenly home. No wonder the children’s hymn reminds us, “If you pray more, you will gain more strength. If you pray less, you will gain less strength. If you don’t pray at all, you will have no strength. That is why we need to pray often.” This indicates that if we do not pray our faith is in vain. If we stop praying, our spiritual life will start to wither, until it dies. Let our servitude not be out of routine without life, but be a watchful one.
Thus, early in the old testament, God has used prophet Isaiah to proclaim His words, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isa 40: 30~31) God has promised all chosen people that they shall have this “acknowledgement” in their spiritual lives. They should be aware that they cannot rely on their own strength and wisdom in this path of faith. Only when they wait on the Lord shall they regain strength. Only then can they break through the bottleneck and walk towards success. However, the “waiting” as referred here, is not waiting passively or lying idle on the bed. This refers to praying wholeheartedly and constantly while waiting. This is why before Jesus has ascended to Heaven He asked the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to “wait” for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Only after that they can preach the gospel to the ends of the Earth. The reason being it is when the disciples receive the promised Holy Spirit they will have the strength from above (Acts 1: 4,5,8). Also when the disciples are filled with the strength of prayer, they will receive the wisdom from above (James 3: 13~18). With such power they can overcome all the difficulties and complete the mission that is entrusted by God!
Therefore, today when we perform any church work, we need all the members to pray and support the work. This includes the Religious Education. If we want our children to grow and be strengthened in their spiritual lives, we need them to experience prayer in their daily living. Teachers should be able to influence them with their leadership, and pass on the baton of faith to the next generation. We need to use prayer to root our faith.
Time flies, and 2014 is almost over now. 2015 will be here in the blink of an eye. In this transition of old to the new, let us remember our past and look forward to the future. San Jose Church Religious Education Department will use “Prayer” as the main goal for the year 2015. We hope to emphasize on the art of prayer, and have every class fulfill this goal in every quarter. We shall gradually cultivate the habit of prayer for our children. We strive to focus on prayer with a pure heart. We will also learn to intercede for one another, to experience the effectiveness of prayer, and to integrate prayer into our daily lives. May the Lord give strength to all the teachers so we will have spiritual power, wisdom and be a good shepherd who walks in front of the flock. Against all odds, we will participate in all the fellowships and prayers in the church. Believing that if we have a willing heart, it will be pleasing in the eyes of God (II Cor 8:12). We firmly trust that the effectiveness of prayer will always follow us (I Cor 15:58; Rev 14:13)!
SJ Kindergarten Class - Concluding Prayer. Click on the photo to see more!
RE Choir：gospel tea fellowship - sing along
By Sis. Stephanie Chen
Translated by Bro. Yuechiao Liang
Thank God for guiding us through a series of church events in September and October. From the Gospel Tea Fellowship to the fall ESSC, We felt the abidance of God as we shared and preached His Word to the truth seekers who joined us.
Personally, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to participate and be in charge of the work of the Religious Education choir. Initially when I came to the San Jose Church I was unfamiliar with everything, so having to take on this leadership role was a challenge for me and I hesitated a bit. However, thank God for providing me with many wonderful co-workers, who helped me and gave me suggestions whenever I am not sure what to do. Seeing the church youth participate in the hymnal worship made my heart overflow with thanksgiving and praise for our Heavenly Father. At the end of September, the Religious Education choir helped out with the sing-along during the Gospel Tea Fellowship. We only had two weeks to practice (1 hour total) after we were informed that we need to assist with this event. The song that we presented for the sing-along was called “wide wide as the ocean”, and the choir sang it once in English and once in Chinese. Thank God, even though we had little time to practice, we were able to complete this holy work with the cooperation of the students and the help of some youths.
Music is a gift that God has given to us. Let us continue to use this beautiful gift to praise and glorify His holy name!
J classes: FLYER DISTRIBUTION training
By Sis. Maggi Kuo
In order to equip our J students for flyer distribution holy work, we have invited Brother John Liang to conduct a training class for them. Flyer distribution is like passing on God’s name to others. We started with the hymn “Pass it On” to lighten up the training. After singing the hymn, our hearts were warmed and our spirits were ready for the training.
First, we shared a passage from Matthew 28. Jesus has personally commanded His disciples to preach to all the nations. He also promised His disciples that He would be with them always, even to the end of the age. This is a great encouragement to all of us. Since we are doing His holy works and we know that He is with us, there is no need to be afraid or be worried. He will grant us the power we need to accomplish the works that He has entrusted us.
To be more practical, we let our students role played. Half of the students played the role as TJC members, while the other half played the role as supermarket shoppers. After the first round, the roles were switched. Then all the students shared their feelings about being TJC members. Some of the obstacles that they mentioned for flyer distribution were encountering strangers, being rejected, being ignored and having to chase after people whom they have never talked to before.
Then we shared the passage about Jesus preaching to the Samaritan woman in John 4. In this passage, Jesus demonstrated how to transform the need for physical water to the need for spiritual water. Students were asked to think about how to guide a stranger from this story. One of the ideas that our students shared was to tell them about the free food and free child care that our church offer during the ESSC. This would probably be a good starting point for a conversation. Since the conversation time with each potential comer is very limited, the students were reminded to mention our church's name- "True Jesus Church"- within the 3 minutes time frame. Lastly we encouraged our students to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we can overcome our fears and all kinds of obstacles we might encounter.
To get familiar with the drill, we started another round of role play. The more practice we have, the more courage we will have to start a conversation with a stranger. Students were also reminded that what matters the most is not how many flyers were passed out, or how many people would come after receiving the flyer, but to train ourselves to be brave and be able to identify ourselves as TJC members. What God is pleased with is our willingness to pass on the good news to those who have never heard of Him.
We concluded the training class with a prayer and asked for God's abidance and power, so that we can do His holy works according to His will.
J classes: Flyer distribution session
By Sis. Olivia Hung
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
We all know of the power of the Holy Spirit and we know that we should do our best to spread the gospel to our family and friends who don't know about God. But, have we? Thankfully our J Class students have had an opportunity to reach out to complete strangers and this is what they got out of it.
"Although we were rejected a lot, we gained more and more confidence as we approached more people, and felt more comfortable with speak to total strangers." - Jasmine Deng
"I like flyering, it is fun, I enjoy it. Especially when someone is interested." - Joshua Deng
"I think we should have more languages. We should also have some little kids, who are more persuasive. We should also put ads on webpages." - Gabriel Tseng
"I thought it was a good experience." - Julia Deng
"I thought the flyer passing was an experience that makes you encouraged to ask people to go to church." - Justin Shih
"I felt more confident and would like to do it again." - Caitlin Lu
We understand that flyering doesn't mean that everyone will come to believe, but it shows that we have that faith in Him, and we are courageous and willing to speak to others about Him. We can continue to reach out to anyone at all times, we don't need to have a special event/occasion to invite them to our church. May the Lord give us the wisdom and the opportunity to spread His Gospel!
RE coordinator workshop: sharing
By Sis. Jen Lu
Have you considered how long a student is in the RE system? Assume that they entered as a preschooler, two years prior to the start of elementary school. That means that they will have spent 15 years in church classes. Although once or twice a week doesn’t seem like much out of the entire week for the student, those who need to teach it voluntarily may find their assignments sometimes daunting, repetitive, and even tiring. Rest assured, this is normal. Even Jesus felt it. However, do also recognize that RE teachers may be the only ones in any given week that expose the students to godly stories and Biblical values. So how do teachers stay fresh and ready to tackle their lessons from week to week? During the RE Coordinator Workshop (RECW), one idea that was a recurring theme was finding a spiritual partner. Although we tend to think of these partners as our spouses, in RE, that doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, your spouse isn’t always the best person to turn to for critical insight or just for brainstorming. If they always agree with you, you will think you are right. If they disagree with you, then there may be unwanted friction in your relationship. What do I mean when I say a spiritual partner in RE? Specifically, I am talking about someone that you trust enough to share your ideas and thoughts about your teaching, and feel comfortable enough hearing their answers. As I thought about this notion of a spiritual partner, I realized that I had had one for many years, only we probably never acknowledged it out loud. This sister is someone I have always turned to for advice and ideas when it comes to RE. She is one who will be honest with her feedback and is ready to give suggestions, whether it is about the lesson, the students, or the parents. She also takes on extra work for me, often without me asking. Although I did not actively seek her out as a spiritual partner, I am thankful that she has always been around for me. When you can share your frustrations and questions with someone else, it helps relieve a lot of your stress and builds your confidence in your ability to teach and reach the students.
How do you find one of these gems? Unfortunately, there isn’t a checklist you can use. It is like shopping: when you really want something specific, you never find it. However, look around your local church or your church friends. Who have you always gone to when things become difficult in RE? Who has given you advice that you feel is fair? It doesn’t have to be someone you teach with. It can be someone from a different grade level. It doesn’t even have to be a fellow teacher, nor does it have to be limited to one person solely. And if you can’t pinpoint any one you feel fits that bill right now, turn yourself into someone’s spiritual partner. If you can offer the advice, support, and listening ear, you might just find yourself a spiritual partner in RE.
Photo 1: 2014 RECW group picture. Photo 2: 2014 RE-Year End Service - RE Teachers' presentation.
re prayer: encouragement
By Bro. Jeremy Wu
The San Jose Church RE students and teachers held our most recent monthly RE prayer on November 8th. During this prayer session, Brother John Liang, our prayer leader, used the content of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to encourage our students and provide them a direction on what they should pray about.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
These three short but succinct verses teach us three important pointers on how to be pleasing to God in our prayers as well as our daily life in general. To help illustrate these three pointers, the students were first asked questions relevant to each pointer. Their responses were then used to help explain the meaning of each pointer in ways that the younger students can understand.
Rejoice Always: It is easy for many of our students to feel happy; simply being at church with their friends would suffice for most of them. But then they were told that simply being happy is not enough, because the happiness we get from worldly things only last for a short time. Rather, we should pray for joy or long-term happiness from God, because only He can make us truly happy by being with us wherever we are.
Pray Without Ceasing: To put it in terms that our young students understand, "pray without ceasing" simply means “don’t stop praying”. When asked how many times they pray each day, not counting meal grace, most students replied either once or twice. Building up a daily prayer regimen early on during childhood can help students to instinctively know to pray when they face difficulties.
In Everything Give Thanks: When asked about what they are thankful for in their lives, the students were able to give a diverse response that included food, friends, and toys. The students were then reminded that everything we have comes from God, so when we pray, we should give thanks to Him for all the good things we get to enjoy.
To conclude the encouragement, the students were asked to recite the three pointers in unison and they were encouraged to pray about these three things. By drilling these three pointers into their minds, our hope is that our students both young and old can use them as starting points to build up a more structured and focused conversation with God in their prayers.
By Sis. Nicole Chang
Reflection on Participation in the Religious EducatioN
Translated by Sis. Angel Liang
Thank God for His grace and guidance that we were able to come to the True Jesus Church at San Jose to participate in its Religious Education (RE) program. During this time, we were both parents and teachers of RE. Thank the Lord that we were overwhelmed and gained so much with everyone’s love. We will always treasure and remember the times we have spent here.
Our daughter Sydney, who participated the RE program at TJC-San Jose for three years, has graduated from Kindergarten to E1. Our son Amos has attended the Kindergarten class for two years. As parents, we are ever so grateful for all the labor and love the RE teachers have poured into working for the Lord as we can clearly see the results of your wonderful service. One time we were curious as to what the kids had learned in the RE class, so we asked our daughter about the different biblical characters and what they do. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Sydney was able to recount many details from the Bible. For instance, when Sydney was asked about David, she said that Jonathan was his best friend. She was able to act out vividly how Moses turned his staff into a snake and then back into a staff - just like how the teacher taught in the class. We believe that these deep impressions she had was all due to the lively instruction of the RE teachers. Praise and thank God.
From a teacher’s perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed serving the RE ministry as a Kindergarten teacher. During this one short year, I noticed that all of our teachers got along quite well with each other and were very willing to help each other. Every teacher is so talented in her own ways, and when we served together it was both efficient and productive. Praise and thank God.
There are many aspects of the RE in TJC-San Jose that are commendable, such as the monthly RE prayers, RE choir, classroom environments, and teacher quality. If there were anything to be improved upon, I’d have to say to arrange more RE student fellowships (i.e., playing basketball, outings) to improve the relationships within and among the classes. This way not only would it allow all of us to become good friends in church but also spiritual partners in our daily lives.
All in all, there is only “Thanks.” Thanks to all the teachers. Thanks to TJC-San Jose. Thanks to the Lord. May all the glory and praise be unto our Lord Jesus Christ.
Photo 1: 2014 RETS in San Jose Church. Photo 2: A gift from the K-students to our K-teacher Nicole and family.
upcoming re related activities & events in december
12/6 RE Prayer (12:50pm - 1:15pm @ Main Chapel)
Let’s take hold of the precious opportunity to pray together for our RE team! All the RE students and teachers are required to attend. RE parents and the congregation are invited and highly encouraged to participate.
12/13 RE Choir Presentation (10:30am - 10:40am @ Main Chapel)
Combined with the “Honoring Senior Members” event. Please come and enjoy the hymns! E2-J2 students: Please arrive at 10:00am and proceed to J2 classroom for warm up and final rehearsal.
12/13 Marriage Coordinator Workshop - Discussion session (3:00pm - 4:00pm @ Main Chapel)
Let’s care for our next generation’s marriage! All the J class parents and students are highly recommended to participate.
12/13 RE General Meeting (4:00pm - 6:00pm @ Dining Hall, followed by dinner)
2015 RE Theme, Goal and Annual Plan will be discussed during the meeting. All the RE teachers are required to attend. Please set aside this day so we can work together and plan a purposeful RE year!
12/20~26 Winter Student Spiritual Convocation (@ Baldwin Park Church)
Check-in begins on Saturday, December 20th at 5:00pm. All the registered E2-J2 students: Please prepare yourselves spiritually, mentally, and physically before the event. Let’s pray for this holy event so everyone may be edified!