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Reflections on the Philippines -Wells Around the World

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Actually, I really did not know what to expect from my recent trip to the Philippines. I knew that we would see some installations of the 60 bio-sand water filters ($10,000) our church members raised through the “Wells Around the World” ministry. I knew we would visit the recipients of the filters. I knew I would share at the dedication ceremony for the filters. I knew I would meet COO Darrell Nelson of BSF Philippines and Pastor Rudy Galambao, Emie Morita’s father. I knew our trip would be quick with only four days in country and a series of flights, boat rides and van rides to get to the village of Santo Niño. What more was there to expect? A lot actually.

Here are my reflections from my time in the Philippines. Continue reading

One Word to Sum Up all of Outreach

This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14

This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14

This article appears is the upcoming Evergreen SGV newsletter.

When I stepped into the role of Outreach Pastor late last year, I knew I had to wait. Before I could recast vision or implement changes in the ministry, I had to sit and listen to our missionaries, our partners, community leaders and most of all, God.

I still have a lot of waiting to do. But from these few months of sitting and observing, I have settled on one word to sum up all of Outreach:

Relationship.

Outreach is all about relationship -relationship with missionaries, relationship with partners overseas and in the community and relationship to Jesus, the One who calls us to reach out and the One we call others to reach out to.

It’s funny because many see Outreach, especially local outreach, as being comprised of programs such as evangelistic rallies, community outreach service projects or short-term missions programs. However, my time has been marked by personal meetings with our missionaries both local and abroad, community leaders and God in prayer. I like to say that my role as Outreach Pastor thus far can best be described as meeting God, meeting others.

Relationships have been key to what God has done through Evergreen SGV in our community and around the world. Our relationship with Don Julian Elementary over the years brought forth the Community Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Celebration. Our relationship with the Workman Mill Association and community leaders brought about the opportunity to testify at a Regional Planning hearing against an adult establishment in our community where multiple violations and crime were committed. Key relationships have spurred and sustained our ministry in East Asia and we are committed to Japan primarily because of our relationships with Ian Nagata, Garrett Inouye, ChildD and the Kagawa family.

Moving forward, I don’t anticipate anything changing Outreach being all about relationship. If anything, new relationships will be developed, existing ones will be strengthened and more friendships will continue in partnership for the spread of the gospel in Avocado Heights/La Puente, greater San Gabriel Valley and to the ends of the earth.

Outreach is all about relationship. But then again, such can be said about any other ministry or the Christian life.

Hopefully you won’t have to wait to discover that.

My 2013 Japan Trip In Less Than 4 Minutes


I didn’t take as much video once my family came (footage with Ian Nagata and Pastor Joshua Hari’s family is nonexistent). As such, this video is not exhaustive of everything I experienced, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into my journey through Japan.

Reflections on Japan

Reflections on Japan

In 2004, I applied to go on a short-term summer missions trip to Japan. I had developed a heart for Japan after serving as the Missionary Support Group leader to a certain Ian Nagata, who had gone to Japan on a summer team about a year earlier.

There were not enough people to send a team to Japan that year, so I was redirected to E. Asia, where I would eventually return on five different occasions. I was able to embark on ministry trips to other countries since then, just not Japan.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when the Lord allowed me to finally visit Japan, particularly the Sendai, Nagoya and Tokyo areas over the course of three weeks. Here are my reflections on the time: Continue reading

For Such a Time as This

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Wait.

That was what Elliott Snuggs of Asian Access advised after the tsunami hit Japan in 2011. Though it was difficult seeing other churches heading out to the devastated Tohoku region, we waited.

On May 7-29, we will embark on the biggest surge of ministry overseas in recent memory. And it all came about by waiting.

Last September, we sent out our worship pastor Ian Nagata to roam the land of Japan to discern his long-term ministry there. A few weeks later, we commissioned Garrett Inouye for a two-year term with Asian Access as a church planting associate in the Tohoku region.

The Prayer Council had been praying for a missions trip where they could train up churches in prayer ministry. They were invited by Asian Access to do prayer ministry at their annual staff and missionary retreat in Japan this year. However, Pastor Ron was hesitant about committing until they heard who the speaker was going to be.

When Pastor Cory was asked by Asian Access to speak at their retreat, he was open yet reluctant, because of his reluctance to travel. When he heard members of the Prayer Council were invited, he knew God may be calling him and his wife Reine to Japan.

Elliott had asked me if I wanted to attend the retreat but I saw no reason to, until I found out Pastor Cory, Auntie Reine and members of the Prayer Council were going. I asked Pastor Ron if I could be an honorary Prayer Council member and assist in their ministry, as I already made a promise to Ian and Garrett that I would visit them within their first six months in Japan.

After the retreat, Pastor Cory will be speaking to various groups of pastors in the Tohoku region. This came about due to the impactful time of sharing he had with a visiting group of pastors from Japan on the day Garrett was commissioned. The prayer team will train churches in the Tohouku region in prayer ministry. I will spend a week with Garrett and pay for my family to come join me to see Garrett’s church and thank the individuals and families that have supported him. We will visit Kelly’s family in Nagoya during the following week and then head to Tokyo on the weekend to visit Ian, his church and also thank the individuals and families that have supported him.

I believe it is because we waited, that God has allowed us to embark on ministries with a longer projected impact than if we had simply responded right after the tsunami. We are heading into the Tohoku region when all the major relief organizations have pulled out.

Even prior to the tsunami, our ministry in Japan had grown dormant to the point where people were questioning whether we were even called to Japan. But our ministry in Japan is not done.

God just wanted us to wait for such a time as this.

My Search for the Best Children’s Bible …

My search for the best children’s bible has ended.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me …” -John 5:39 (ESV)

I was searching for a children’s bible that ties the biblical accounts together into a unifying gospel theme, rather than reduces them into “moralistic” stories like so many children’s bibles do. The title of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones speaks for itself and I love the tagline, “Every story whispers his name”, because that is true of the Bible itself (John 5:39).

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” -C.S. Lewis

I was searching for a children’s bible that I could glean from as well. Here is a book that distills biblical passages to simple yet profound truths, in a manner that makes these biblical accounts refreshing and compelling. I look forward to reading this children’s bible each night as much as my daughter.

Finally, I was searching for a children's bible with illustrations that would cause children (and this child) to pause in awe and wonder at God’s glory. The illustrations by Jago capture the emotion of each character in a unique style that can be appreciated by children young and old. For young children, it's often the pictures that open their hearts to the stories.

“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian–from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning–a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.” -Tim Keller

Since discovering this amazing children's bible, it has been a staple in our bedtime routine. When my 3-year-old daughter reminds me to read from it each night, she affectionately refers to it as the "Jesus Bible".

For children's bibles, it shouldn't be referred to any other way.

Have You Ever Been Thirsty Before?

Have you ever been thirsty before?

Have you ever been thirsty before?

I mean thirsty to the point where it feels like your mouth is filled with cotton balls and you yearn for one taste of water. Just one taste.

Thirsty to the point where your mouth is so parched, your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and you’d find relief in swallowing your saliva but that too has run dry.

Thirsty after playing basketball or running on a hot summer day it doesn’t even matter if it’s lukewarm, you’re dying for some water.

If you’ve ever felt that way before, then you probably don’t have any idea of what Jesus experienced when he uttered on the cross, “I thirst”, in John 19:28. Continue reading

Evergreen SGV Missions Q&A

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In case you missed it, here is the edited recording from our Evergreen SGV Missions Q&A session. Listen as we addressed questions such as:

  • Are Short-term trips a waste of time and money? (27:44)
  • Should we be sending money to support indigenous missionaries rather than spending more money to send foreign missionaries? (32:51)
  • Why get involved with global outreach when there are people who need Jesus here? (54:12)
  •  

    Make it Personal

    As Pastor Cory shared recently, one of the guiding principles for our church in the area of missions is to “make it personal”. We are currently experiencing the amazing fruit of this:

    • One of our families adopts a girl from an orphanage in E. Asia and develops a relationship with the Orphanage director in the mid-nineties.
    • Various construction, dental and medical teams are sent to minister to the children and staff beginning in 1999.
    • The first summer team was sent in 2004 to specifically minister to the children by running a VBS camp. Teams are sent every summer thereafter.
    • Evergreen SGV commits to supporting the staff of the “Precious” children of the orphanage, those children with severe special needs around 2006.
    • The orphanage is shut down late 2011 but the orphanage director reaches out to Evergreen SGV to consider adopting six of the special needs children eligible for adoption. The director cites that Evergreen SGV has been like “family” to the children.
    • Four families stepped forward to adopt four of the children (one from one of our church plants). Two are already in the states, with the other two arriving next week.

    What began as a personal relationship between a family and an orphanage director turned into a fully invested personal endeavor on the part of the church. A few of the children we once loved and embraced as our little sisters and brothers on our short-term trips, are now actually a part of our church family.

    Such personal endeavors should not be foreign to us because we worship a personal God. And God made it personal when He sent His Son to this world to live a perfect life, die a sinner’s death and be raised from the dead so that we could live through Him.

    I remember on that first summer trip in 2004 being greeted by a little five-year old boy who took the time to shake each of our hands. Today he sits in service among our church family now 12 years old.

    You could imagine my joy when I brought him to my office to see a picture I have kept for many years.

    A picture of me and him as that five-year old boy.

    Make it personal.

    Quotes on Missions

    Quotes on Missions

    For those praying through Operation World, we were blessed a few days ago with a series of quotes on missions (check out some awesome quotes on prayer from the book here). May these powerful quotes encourage you in your prayers for the nations.

    The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.
    Samuel Zwemer

    If Jesus be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.
    C.T. Studd

    The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become.
    Henry Martyn

    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
    Jim Eliot

    All God’s giants are weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned that God was with them.
    Hudson Taylor

    If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honour, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?
    David Livingstone

    If God has called you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.
    Jordan Groom

    As long as there are millions destitute of theWord of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ,it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both.
    J.L. Ewen

    The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.
    Hudson Taylor

    The weakness of much current mission work is that we betray the sense that what is yet to be done is greater than what Christ has already done.The world’s gravest need is less than Christ’s great victory.
    P.T. Forsyth

    Expect great things from God.Attempt great things for God.
    William Carey

    Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.Then, the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
    Bishop Phillips Brooks

    I have but one passion – it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field, and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.
    Count Nikolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf