The Power of Praying Together
Happy New Year! As we move into 2024, my prayer is that our entire church family will be spiritually aligned in God’s Word as we continue our daily reading through the New Testament. But another way that we can deepen our spiritual alignment is through corporate prayer. In the coming months, my hope is that we will experience the power of praying together!
There’s an amazing story in Acts 16 involving Paul and Silas. Paul is on his second missionary journey in Philippi and casts out an evil spirit from a fortune teller, which creates an intense commotion in which he and Silas are severely beaten and thrown into prison without a fair trial. Can you imagine? One moment you’re a missionary doing God’s work and the next moment you’re bleeding and suffering in a dark, smelly prison cell with hardened criminals all around you.
But look what happens next in verses 25-33: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
What an incredible story! Paul and Silas have every reason to be angry and upset, to complain to one another about how they have been treated unfairly, to even question the goodness of God. Yet even in the worst of circumstances, they demonstrate unshakeable faith as they pray. As they pray together, they know they are not alone and that God is still in control.
And in response to their faithful prayers, God shows up in a powerful way. What’s even more miraculous than Paul and Silas being freed from their prison cell is the fact that the jailer and his household come to believe in Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas walked away from this experience fully convinced of the power of praying together!
If that’s what can happen when two men of God pray in faith, imagine what can happen when our entire church gathers to pray in faith! As we enter into 50 Days of Prayer from February 11 to Easter Sunday, let’s not only pray individually in our personal times with God, but let’s pray corporately with other believers at GVBC. There will soon be a listing of various 50-minute prayer meetings, and I encourage you to attend one prayer meeting per week for these seven weeks leading up to Easter. I truly believe that if we approach God with the faith of Paul and Silas, God will show up in some incredible ways. In the coming months, may we experience the power of praying together and may God receive all the glory!
GVBC Senior Pastor
GVBC College Retreat 2024
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” Philippians 3:10
The College Ministry had its annual Winter Retreat on 1/19-21, 2024 at a beach house in Ventura. The theme of the retreat was “That I May Know Him”, and it centered around personal communion and intimacy with the Lord. Speaker Pastor Tommy Wang gave the students a picture of what it looks like to truly walk with the Lord in intimate fellowship, and described the joy and blessings that go along with it. We had a fun and encouraging weekend and we thank the church body for their support and prayer.
Global Missions: 2024 Thailand Team
From January 3 – 17, 2024, GVBC sent a team of eight back to Thailand for 14 days. We partnered, once again, with long-term American Baptist missionaries Mike and Becky Mann. Over the past 30 years, the Manns, through their organization Integrated Tribal Development Foundation (ITDF), have built over 300 water projects for hill tribe villages in the mountainous area of Northern Thailand. The main task of our team was to work with the Manns, the staff of ITDF, and the local villagers to build a water system for Samorchar Lang, a Karen hill tribe village.
Though the team did work on a water project, the primary purpose of this mission trip was not the water. The water served as an opportunity to show God’s love to the villagers, which is the actual goal. The team worked side-by-side with the Samorchar Lang villagers and ITDF to dig trenches, build a water filtration tank and a water storage tank, install faucets, and build bathrooms for the village families. During this time, they had the opportunity to stay 9 nights as the home-stay guests of the villagers.
Samorchar Lang village has 24 homes, with 10 Christian families, 2 Buddhist families and 10 animist families. There are a total of 152 villagers, ranging in age from toddlers to over 60 years of age. The village is located in the far western Mae Chaem district of Chiang Mai Province (map on back). The villagers are in desperate need for clean and safe drinking water, as their current water source is contaminated by chemicals used to plant corn.
January Board Updates
The board, the staff and the Core Ministry leads all gathered together on Sunday, January 20 to begin the year with the traditional “Advance.” New Board members Marsha Yoshiba (Vice-Moderator), Hollord Choi, Johanna Gromis and Violet Dresser (members-at-large) were welcomed by incoming Moderator Paul Hirano as everyone shared a lunch together. After lunch, a Prayer Walk was conducted through the GVBC facility as we lifted up the entirety of the GVBC family, spiritual growth and discipleship within the GVBC family, the KIDS, youth, college, young adult, and Nihongo ministries, as well as the Pastoral and Administrative staffs.
At the Board meeting, the 2023 finances were reviewed. Although the complete 2023 statement is not yet available, the preliminary indications are that very strong December giving of approximately $222,000 propelled the church into the black for the full year, after approved transfers to the General Fund, with a net annual gain to the General Fund of about $11,500. The 2023 Advent Conspiracy gifts generated over $64,000 to support short-term mission trips to Japan, Brazil and Thailand in the coming year. We continue to thank our church family for their generous and abundant giving and support!
The board also discussed various upcoming technology and security upgrades being planned for the GVBC facility. These projects include Keyless Entry, re-keying all locks for a (backup) master key, incorporation of security cameras, the installation of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), improvements to our wiring and servers to support increased data traffic and enhanced WiFi capability, and the previously deferred upgrade to Sanctuary and Community Hall lighting, as well as routine maintenance needs for the GVBC facility. While the board did approve the procurement of a 4-hour rated UPS, the costs, priorities, and sequencing of the other projects, as well as the potential availability of state and federal grant funding for some of the security related projects, continue to be worked out.
The board acknowledged the passing of beloved church member Garrett Ho, who passed away on November 5, 2023. Also, three new church members were approved by the board. The board extends a warm welcome to David Clayton, Sheryl Iijima and Barry Kadowaki!
The board also approved the nominations of Perry Ishibashi and Jenny Yamada-Clayton to each serve a 2-year term on the Personnel Committee. Perry and Jenny were nominated by the Nominating Committee.
Finally, the board addressed several administrative issues heading into the new year. Both the board and the staff continue to thank you for your prayers and support!
The family of the late Merrick Yoshida sincerely thank you for your kind and thoughtful expressions of sympathy. Your prayers, love, support, and generous gifts during this difficult time are greatly appreciated. Thank you for the beautiful floral spray and all the love and support the church has shown our family over the years.
Jodie, Voltaire, Julie & Xander Rivera
Dear members of GVBC,
We are extremely grateful for the love, care friendships, and spiritual growth our parents, Alice & and Perry Miyake, received when they were members at GVBC. We are grateful to Pastors Ron Matsuda, Steve Langley, Daniel Matsuda, Eiji Osato, James Chang, and other pastors and staff at GVBC for their support, encouragement, and love for our parents over the years they were part of the GVBC family. We pray for the Lord’s continued blessings on GVBC in the years to come.
Ron Miyake & Perry Miyake, Jr.