NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
The Bonn, Mainz UBF Spring Bible Conference 2012 was held from May 17-20 in a historic Roman town called Xanten. The youth hostel was located at a short walking distance from a beautiful lake. We chose “New life in Christ” as our conference theme based on Ephesians 2:10 as our prayer for our new Bible students, next generation student leaders, and JBF- and CBF children, that they may meet Jesus personally and start a new life in Christ practically. It was a small international Bible conference together with Msn. Grace Park, Sh. David Gates and Joel Park from New Jersey UBF, Msn. Anna Lee and Livingstone Lee from Nigeria UBF, Sh. Ales Maca and Young Woo Kim from Prague UBF. In total we had 113 attendants. This conference became a spiritual milestone for many attendees.
First, Main Lectures
Sh. Christoph Tornau gave the first main lecture based on John 19, “It is finished”. The new and victorious life starts when we believe and accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins defeating the power of sins and breaking the sting of death. Sh. David Gates from New Jersey spoke about the risen Jesus based on the Bible passage from Luke 24. He emphasized that the new life in Christ means to believe in the historical fact that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead. A new life in Christ does not mean keeping oneself busy with his earthly life or indulging oneself in sin. He testified how the risen Jesus gave him a new life through Mt 6:33 and Gen 12:2 and shared his vision to be his witness in America and even in North Korea.
Xenofon Grigoriadis gave the third main lecture based on Ephesians 2. We were dead in our transgressions and sins, but we were made alive with Christ. Furthermore, he seated us in the heavenly realms with Jesus Christ and sent us as his messengers to the earth. A new life in Christ is not a recycled version of our old life, but a life of holding on to God’s mission and of doing the good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). Xenofon confessed that he was dead because of humanism and pride in him, but that God made him alive and raised him as a Bible teacher and heavenly ambassador to serve the German campus mission and the discipleship ministry in Europe.
Through the fourth main lecture on Romans 6 by Petrus Chang, we learned how we should continue living a new life in Christ when the conference has ended. First, saying “No!” to sin and second, actively offering the parts of our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. Ehrfurcht Kösters gave the fifth main lecture on John 21. Praise Jesus who heals all our inner scars caused by sin and calls us to a life of mission as shepherds and Bible teachers on German campuses. He pointed out that a new life in Christ is about confessing our love to Jesus by faith and shepherding his children. In the closing message on Acts 1:8 Hudson Kim from Mainz reminded us of what a new life in Christ is through a short review of all the lectures and encouraged us to live as Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Second, group Bible study and testimonies
This time, we decided to have brief group Bible studies before every lecture. In this way, everyone including our children could listen to the lectures with a prepared heart. After each lecture we heard a personal testimony based on the Bible passage of the message or a personal life key verse. Martin Schreck accepted Lk 5:10 and God’s calling to be a fisher of men. Jöran H. thanked God for the new life in Jesus and expressed his desire to know Jesus more and to grow to be a campus shepherd. Esther W. confessed that Jesus’ grace is enough for her and decided to please Jesus through her life. Jonas P. repented of his addiction to computer games and made a decision to grow as a witness of the gospel. Aster B. shared her life testimony based on John 21:15 and thanked God for Jesus’ unchanging and unconditional love. She confessed that only Jesus gave her true love and meaning of life and decided to live as a mother of faith for her people. Rebekka R. repented of her love for the world and laziness with tears. Through John 19:30 she accepted that Jesus died on the cross to forgive all her sins and made a decision to devote her life to Christ.
On the last night, we heard a total of 17 testimonies on based on Ephesians 2 or Romans 6. It was like a blessed heavenly feast welcoming the sinners coming back to God. All shared their testimonies with tears, confessing their sins and receiving Jesus’ healing and calling. As the preparation for conference, all JBF members studied Ephesians 2 and Romans 6 with their parents and Bible teachers and wrote the testimonies several times. As a fruit of this preparation, all JBF and CBF members (from 3rd grade up) shared their honest testimonies and decided to co-operate as instruments of righteousness for Germany and Europe mission. Each presider shared one-page life testimony with based on life key verse. Especially, the CBF members Sarah Schweitzer, Daniela Schneider, Samuel Abraham Chang (3rd generation missionary) and Josua Elsholz’ life testimonies amazed and opened our eyes toward the work of the Holy Spirit. They honestly confessed their sins and testified God’s grace. We were amazed by God’s mighty work and saw God’s vision that God’s work will continue through our second and third generation missionaries.
Third, morning devotions
For the morning devotions, we had two messengers every morning. They shared a short message and a personal testimony. Elke Dietzel and Alexander Ripken made it very clear that to live a new life in Christ means to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow Jesus. Holy Maria Park and Maria Lee said we have to live according to the Spirit of God because our old sinful nature died on the cross with Christ. Dr. Christian Kremers and Doris R. spoke about “Rejoice in the sufferings” based on 1 Peter 4:12-14. Doris R. emphasized that the heavenly glory is far greater than the sufferings we have to endure in this world. She was encouraged that Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven although he denied him three times. Through this hope and love of Jesus, we are strengthened to offer our lives for the salvation work and to rejoice even in the midst of sufferings.
Fourth, Special reports
On the first night Samuel Ryu gave a special report about the UBF ministry. He spoke about the philosophy, the strategy and the method of UBF ministry and emphasized on the importance of considering one soul more precious than universe and raising him as an influential disciple of Jesus through discipleship training. Deborah Chang reported about the Western European Call2All Congress in Netherlands. Call2All is a partnership of hundreds of the top mission agencies, denominations, and organizations in Europe, all working together, strategizing and sharing ministry know-hows to complete the Great Commission in our generation. UBF attended the Call2All Congress and shared the discipleship training of UBF as a tool for the spiritual revival of Europe.
On the second day Samuel Ryu, Deborah Chang, Peter Schweitzer and Johannes Chang held a workshop on the inductive Bible study method. The three steps of inductive Bible study are careful observation, interpretation, and practical application. We realized that inductive Bible study is about humbly letting the Bible speak to us and transform our lives. We learned that the life-transforming power comes from deep, personal inductive Bible study and made decisions to commit to serving the 1:1 Bible study ministry.
On the second night, Peter Lee led a book forum on David Platt’s “Radical – Taking back your faith from the American Dream”. He clarified the meaning of Mark 8:34 through his presentation. When Jesus called us to follow him, he meant, “Get ready to die”. This life style may seem radical, but that is actually the life Jesus called us to live. Through this presentation, we were challenged to renew our identities as disciple makers and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Msn. Monica reported about the life of Pastor John Oak who called himself a “discipleship maniac”. His life as a disciple maker testified to his craziness for discipleship ministry. He said we have to crazy about Jesus and making his disciples. We were greatly encouraged through the example of Dr. Samuel Lee, Dr. John Jun and Pastor John Oak to be discipleship maniacs and to raise disciples and disciple makers who are as crazy.
We invited Dr. Friedhelm Jung, a professor of systematic theology at the Bible Seminary in Bonn who is a spiritual friend of Dr. Peter Chang. He gave a special lecture on Ephesians 2 and he pointed out three things, which are crucial for our new life in Christ. First, regular Bible reading and studying. Second, honest confession of sins before God and people. Third, regular fellowship within a Christian community. He stressed that these three things are vital for spiritual rebirth and growth. His lecture proved UBF to be one of the best role models of evangelical ministries.
Fifth, world mission prayer nights
Every evening we had a prayer night for world mission. On the first night we prayed for European mission. Msn. Priska Schweitzer distributed postcards with the prayer topics of Europe UBF chapters and we prayed for the spiritual revival of Europe wholeheartedly. On the second night Msn. Debora Elsholz shared about prayer topics of Africa. As a guest, Msn. Anna Lee of Nigeria UBF shared a heart-moving story of her struggles and prayer topics. We prayed for the ministry in Nigeria, for Africa UBF chapters and leaders, for the 2012 African regional Bible conferences. We prayed also for Stefan Elsholz, who will be serving the conference in Nigeria as one of the main messengers. On the last day, Msn. Pauline Chang gave a presentation on UBF world mission. She encouraged us to pray because God works through our prayers. She shared prayer topics to send out 100,000 missionaries to all nations, to China, North Korea and Muslim nations until 2041. Then, Msn. Grace Park from New Jersey UBF shared the prayer topics of the New Jersey ministry and North America and encouraged us to pray for the 2013 International Summer Bible Conference in Indiana University in Pennsylvania.
Sixth, pioneering ministry
At this conference we especially prayed for our pioneering ministry. Esther W. from Rostock University, Olaf W. from Koblenz University, Jöran H. and Peter Ryu from Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences attended this conference. Our young disciples are serving their campus through their prayer and Bible studies. We could see the vision that God will use each one of us as Jesus’ witnesses on the entrusted campuses. May God send his gospel workers to all 1,700 campuses in Europe through Europe UBF ministry.
Seventh, Outdoor Concert and the “New Life” skit
We had an outdoor concert in the inner courtyard of the youth hostel. We had solo performances of CBF, JBF, and the next generation leaders. The orchestra performed selections from Bizet’s Carmen under the leadership of Johannes Chang. Johannes Chang is now doing residency and he has given his heart to prepare each one of our JBF co-workers to perform a solo through Bible study and spiritual training. We opened this concert to everyone who were staying at the youth hostel and shared a blessed afternoon with classical music. Anja Schweitzer prepared a skit based on Romans 6:11-13 as her prayer that all co-workers and Bible students may grasp what it practically means to live a new life Christ as an instrument of righteousness. Alexander Ripken was a drug addict and his life was hopeless and full of despair. Through playing the main character, he decided for a radical change in Christ.
First, Spring Bible Conference 2012 we focused on the new life in Christ. Second, we experienced the importance and the fruit of discipleship and key member training through 1:1 Bible study and life together fellowship. Third, through this conference junior shepherds, next generation student leaders, JBF, CBF members and Bible students decided to be spiritual ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom and to rebuild the broken spiritual walls of Europe together. Fourth, through the special lecture of Prof. Friedhelm Jung, we were able to see that UBF is one of the best role models of evangelical ministries in this generation.
At the end of the conference we prayed wholeheartedly with two prayer topics. First, to rebuild the broken spiritual walls in Europe through 1:1 Bible study and for the reconstruction of the new church building. Second, for the health of Sh. Barbara Lee from Mainz UBF. She had a stroke and possibly has a brain tumor. We pray for an accurate diagnosis and her full recovery. Thank God for blessing the co-work of our leaders Msn. Stephanus Park, Peter Schweitzer, Joachim Dietzel, Jochen Schweitzer, and Stefan Elsholz as well as the co-work between the national leaders and the next generation leaders. We are thankful for the prayer support of all our world mission co-workers.
Reported by Dr. Peter Chang