Canaan’s English Ministry’s unique “flavor” was created by faithful and loving people like Byron and Maria Wang. Byron’s letter to us is a good reminder of our special qualities and our soon to be realized potential to reach our world for Christ. Please continue to pray for the Wangs as they adjust to life in Southern California. – Pastor Tim
July 30, 2010
Dear Canaan Family,
We want to thank God for providing us an opportunity to serve Him at Canaan over the past 10 years. He taught us about loving others, outreach, teaching and studying the Bible, and especially how to “do life” with other believers. We’re thankful for the partnership and friendship over the years.
When we first came to Canaan, we were recent graduates and new to the Bay Area. Through the genuine commitment to Christ and welcoming spirit of those like John Tang, Janet Tsai, and Torence Lu, we sensed something unique about Canaan. At first we felt that Canaan was too small and continued looking at other churches. Upon returning to Canaan several months later, I was shocked that people still remembered my name! We felt that Canaan was a family, that people cared about one another, and about us, even though we were new. I remember our first fellowship night during Thanksgiving of 2000 at Torence and Nicole’s home in Milpitas, chatting with Alice Miyai (then Alice Chen). Then FNL began with Joseph Huang and Wade Sun as leaders, helping to rally the young adults to a more outreach focus. It was then that many recent graduates and young professionals like Bob Lin, Mark Chang, Brian and Sherry Lin, visited and then committed to Canaan, and through the shepherding of Pastor Dan, we began to grow in ministry together. We held a yearly car wash to outreach to our neighbors, we also had a Halloween outreach event, and folks like Andrea Ng (then Andrea Wang) organized weekly fun activities.
Around that time Maria and I began teaching Jr. High Sunday School, interacting with many folks who are now college graduates. We were impressed with the sharpness of the kids and their interest in the Bible, and tried hard to treat them like adults and not water down or filter any truths of the Bible.
I remember going to men’s group with folks like George Hsia and Andrew Ng, asking tough questions as we kept each other accountable. We wrestled together with Bible passages, and together helped each other overcome the temptations of living in the Silicon Valley (greed, pride, selfishness, comfort). Canaan was also a place (unlike my prior larger church) where I was able to regularly learn from and talk to people at different life stages. For example, talking with Dr. James Lin about the challenge of being a physician and maintaining his faith during a rigorous schedule. It was also a delight to see Lucas Lin and Sarah Tai born and interact with new parents (an experience I can now relate to).
Joining a newlywed small group was a great highlight with couples like John and Sandra Wang, Jonathan Lin and Winnie So, and John Chen and Janet Tsai. As Maria and I struggled with typical newlywed adjustments, the small group was an anchor and support.
Many friendships were formed; much encouragement were given and received. There were times of excitement and joy mixed with times of repentance and learning. Canaan definitely provides many opportunities to serve and contribute to the church.
Were we the perfect church? No: people became frustrated and left the church, cultural differences and misunderstandings caused hurt and loss. Sometimes we were too insular and cliquish, sometimes we lost sight of the greater goal. But I still believe that Canaan was filled with people who took their Christian faith seriously, and though we stumbled, God’s grace covered our mistakes and led us onward.
And in light of Pastor Dan leaving, I’m sure many of us have grieved and been hurt, seeing what once was a close family atmosphere become strained by gossip, accusations, and hurtful words. People sinned against each other. And I believe that God called (and is continuing to call) each of us to repentance, to treat His church and His people with love and respect, not cold shoulders, not sweeping things under the rug. By His grace, I believe that he used a very sad situation and the departure of a great pastor to shake the English ministry down to its roots.
But Maria and I are very hopeful for the future of Canaan. We see people willing to repent, a new pastor who is willing to roll up his sleeves and be involved in the rebuilding process, and as always a group of committed Christians who take their faith seriously. Our last Sunday happened to be the first Sunday when the English ministry moved upstairs, and we both commented that we see Canaan English moving in a hopeful direction. We are excited in what God is doing at Canaan and trust Him to rebuild the English ministry!
Byron [email Byron]