2015 Report on Europe UBF by Henry Park, Walter Nett
- Light Shining in the Darkness
“For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Cor. 4:6)
The work of God in Europe began with the 2015 European directors’ conference in Wlderswil, Switzerland on December 27-29, 2014. We thank God for missionaries in Switzerland who hosted this conference with much prayer. Many second gens attended this conference as well. Dr. Abraham Kim gave a message based on 2 Corinthians 4:6 with the title, “The gospel: God’s glory in the face of Christ.” Based on this key verse, he encouraged us not to lose our hearts due to lack of visible fruits or presence of hardships but to fix our eyes on God’s glory revealed in the face (life, suffering, death and resurrection) of Christ. He encouraged us to share the gospel with all people, especially young college students, who are the future of the world and the church of God.
2015 was a year of great challenges and changes across Europe. More than a million people from Africa and Asia sought refuge in this continent. Many fled from war and persecution. Others had economic reasons. Europeans were overwhelmed with this influx and even Christians were (and still are) divided whether to welcome these people or stop them before entering Europe. Missionary Andrew Kim shared his conviction in his mission report like this: “I believe that it is God’s will that the gospel be preached first to the Muslims in Europe and through them further on in the Muslim countries.”
At the same time, we saw a new generation of Jesus' disciples grow in faith, in spirit, and in commitment. This is a light shining in the darkness.
First, the “Encounter” conference. The 2015 youth conference “Encounter” was organized by a team of four young people, aged 19 – 26, namely Esra Hong (Heidelberg), Esther Nett (Cologne 1), Lydia Lee (Athens 1), and Sua Kim (Mannheim). They were supported by senior new gens as well as seasoned missionaries and shepherds. The conference at Frankfurt saw 110+ participants with a strong number of 18 – 25 year olds, the focal age group. Each of the four days had a clear gospel-centered message and program. It was especially noteworthy, that Lachezar Krastev from Bulgaria served the first message on John 3 graciously, even one week before his marriage to Joy Sarah Shin in Korea. Workshops and group activities filled the program. The workshop on evangelization included a practical outreach. In the end, 3 young people dedicated their lives to Christ openly. The young people were very grateful for support from UBF headquarters in the USA and Korea as well as from Canada, Russia, and Ukraine.
Second, the growth of native shepherds and second generation missionaries. Meanwhile, native shepherds who regularly serve Sunday messages after Germany, France and UK, also in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria and Portugal. Again, second generation missionaries have also grown as Sunday messengers in Greece, Hungary and Sweden.
Third, God established house churches. God extended our vision through the marriage of Sara Neusa Figueiredo (Lisbon) to Thapelo Motubane (Johannesburg); they intend to pioneer Mozambique for which purpose Thapelo is now learning Portuguese language in Lisbon. Further marriages were Sara Kum (Cologne 2) to David Park (Canberra) and Maria Hong (Stuttgart) to Paul Heo (Korea). God has also prepared and meanwhile performed the marriage of Stamatis Savvanis (Greece) to Akmaral (Kazakhstan) as the first indigenous house church in Greece. God established a new house church between [maybe mention marriage of Lachezar Krastev and Joy Sarah Shin, as the second house church established in Bulgaria after that of Georgi Kumanichliev and Heather.again?]
Fourth, new chapters in Dresden (Eastern Germany) and Paris 2. God led the family of Harm Meyer from Kiel to Dresden and thus established a foothold again in this city and in Eastern Germany, for which we have prayed year by year (it is already the 3rd start in Dresden). In September 2016, the German staff conference will be held there. In Paris, the families of Isaac Lee and Josué Kim have started a new ministry, coworking with Nantes UBF. The ministries in Brussels and Geneva support them through monthly skype meetings. The ministry in Belgrade (Serbia) was restored when M. Kaleb and Sarah Hong from Heidelberg visited them twice last year and once more this January, for deep Bible study and fellowship.
Fifth, a few thanksgiving topics and news. We thank God for enabling M. Hannah Shin to give a 4 minute welcome speech for the Korean president, sitting at the right side of the president as the president of the Korean community in the Czech Republic when she visited Czech at the beginning of December. We thank God that God granted M. Joseph Sohn a residence permit in Israel. His family prayed for this holding on to Mark 9:23 everyday. Finally at the beginning of July they were notified by their lawyer that the residency permit was granted. They accepted this as God’s sign and calling for them to remain in Israel and preach the gospel there. From Germany, Dr. Ulrike Gross faithfully served Uganda medical mission with four coworkers from Germany, even when the Korean and U.S. Teams could not come. We are very thankful to God for granting Lukas Kim (Cologne 1) to receive his Ph.D. for his thesis on “The Origin of the Chinese New Literature Movement.” He worked on this subject for more than 20 years because he would put priority to serving God's work instead of pursuing a title. He honored God during the ceremony in front of his faculty dean, other professors, fellow students and audience.
Dr. Peter Oh's family moved back to Kiel, leaving Hamburg behind. Bonn UBF commissioned Samuel and Hanna Ryu to Mainz UBF where they have become very active serving young people. At the same time, God sent the family of Johannes and Elizabeth Kim to Frankfurt 3. The UBF coworkers in Finland, the Netherlands and in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium had to return to Korea (Italy UBF has been “dormant”). We pray for coworkers who are recovering from their sicknesses. We are thankful for the full recovery of M. Joseph Chin (Norway). We keep praying for M. Elizabeth Yoon (Serbia) who has remained on Jeju island for her cancer treatment throughout this year. With many tears, we are also grateful to God for receiving his precious daughter M. Susanna Chaa (London). We thank Dr. Mark and Anna Yang as well as Shepherd Moses Yoon for their sacrificial serving the bereft family of M. Andrew Chaa with three young children.
European coworkers are very grateful for the mutual exchange with chapters in Korea and in the USA and around the world. In many practical ways, they experienced God's help and guidance through these networking. Please pray for Europe UBF to follow Jesus as Bible teachers and disciple-makers, especially among new generation leaders, to pioneer new campuses, cities and nations such as Slovenia and Albania and to share the light of the gospel to Muslim refugees. May God grant Shepherd Walter Nett stewardship over Europe UBF ministry as the coordinator and beautiful coworking by all mission coworkers from six regions: English-speaking, French-speaking, Iberian, Northern Europe, Middle Europe and Balkan regions.