“…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col 3:10)
Thanks and praise be to God who blessed our 2017 SBC so abundantly! The six chapters in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), together with Hamilton and London held a joint SBC on July 28-30, at Upper Canada Camp, located about one hour’s driving distance from Toronto, Hamilton and London. Ottawa and Rideau chapters also joined us, and 2 guests from Vancouver and 4 from UIC, Chicago, participated, as well. Altogether, 157 people attended.
In preparing the conference, chapter directors and leaders gathered once a month over the course of this year, and had Bible study, discussion and prayers. Just before the conference, all coworkers gathered to have united prayer meetings on three consecutive Sunday evenings, with clear prayer topics for God’s regeneration work and for God’s calling of disciples to new life in Christ. We also had two times of messengers’ camps. God accepted all our preparation work and blessed this conference richly.
First of all, God blessed all 5 messages. M. Isaac Kim (North York) served the opening message on John 5-1-9 with the title, “Do you want to get well?” His message helped the attendees to have a holy desire for healing and a new life in Christ. Natan Bekit (York) delivered the Friday evening message “New Birth” on John 3:1-21. He spoke confidently about the necessity of new birth through Jesus, the love of God. On the 2nd day, Samuel Mukwedeya (St. George) served the morning devotion message “Rooted and Built up in Christ” on Colossians 2:6-8. His message set a good stage for the main message. After GBS, Sara Lee (Toronto) delivered her message “The New Self in Christ” on Colossians 3:1-17. She spoke clearly about the transformation of our old self into the new self through the gospel, and about new life through the new self’s being renewed in the knowledge of Christ. Joseph Minnelli (Humber) who established a new house church with Anna last October, joyfully and thankfully delivered the Sunday message on Philemon, entitled “Formerly Useless, Now Useful”. We thank God that all the messengers received messengers’ training humbly and well-presented the words of God.
On the first night, there were 4 life-testimonies sharers: Marhtoora Sie (St. Georg) testified about God’s protection of his believing family under Burmese Army oppression and bringing them to Canada. He also shared about God’s grace of establishing his family with a prudent wife Sheila based on Proverbs 19:14. Frank Lin (Ryerson) was a rebellious son to his caring and suffering mom in China, but Jesus the Good Shepherd has brought him to Canada and found him and gave him God’s good purpose in his life based on Ephesians 2:10. Jane Lee (North York) shared how God brought her to Canada from Korea and helped her to have faith in God based on Deuteronomy 31:8. Lastly, Brooke Budzilenit (UIC, Chicago) had a hard childhood in a broken earthly family, but Jesus saved her and adopted her into the family of God as a precious heavenly princess based on Romans 8:15. We praised God for his wonderful mercy and grace upon each of them.
On the second night, there were 5 new life symposium speakers: Charles Kim Jr. (Ryerson) with a title “Inner Self, Responsibility, Maturity” showed his desire to be changed in his inner self, growing in taking responsibility and maturity so that he may be ready for a house church. Aaron Yu (York) shared how he lived by walking with the Holy Spirit, who gave him strength and life direction, when he was weak and needed a direction. He held to Colossians 2:6-7 and prayed to be rooted and continuously built up in Christ. Wah Paw (St. George) testified to God’s help and grace upon her family life with M. Jacob Jang. God taught her to remain in Jesus and put her hope in God, instead of putting hope in “my man of God.” Daniel Kwon Jr. (Vancouver) shared about God’s humbleness training based on 1 Peter 5:5-6. When he was too proud, he failed in entering a medical school, but when he humbled himself and depended on God, God enabled him to start his MD. PhD. Ian Agard (Toronto) shared “A fruitful house church” with his key verse Luke 9:23. He testified about God’s calling grace into a new life as Jesus’ disciple from a nominal Christian, and God’s leading and blessing upon his courtship and a marriage by faith with Jemmie. He prays to continue to deny himself, take up his cross as a disciple-maker, and follow Jesus, glorifying God as a fruitful house church. All symposium testimonies well testified to God’s grace and new life in Christ.
All attendees wrote testimony, staying late at night or getting up early in the morning, and shared it in groups on Sunday morning. 5 representative testimony speakers shared their testimonies before the Sunday Worship Service. M. Esther Kim (Toronto) showed how God restored and renewed her in His grace through this conference after she had been very much exhausted in her seemingly fruitless efforts in serving God’s flock of sheep. Alex McCaffrey (Ottawa) shared the wonderful work of God in him that he could hear the gospel truth in “his own language” through the Colossians 3 message, finally accepted Christ Jesus as his Saviour and Lord after 7 years of 1:1 Bible study. He was full of joy and deep thanks for God’s grace. The work of God in him was a great encouragement to all of us. Ephrem Mulugeta (London) is from Ethiopia, and his mom passed away when he was 2 months old. He prays to forgive his father in Jesus’ grace, and seeks to live by the Holy Spirit. Tino Minielli (Humber) shared a repentant testimony after 2 years of a wandering life in unbearable loneliness. We pray that he may faithfully grow as a disciple. John Koo (Vancouver) said he could have a totally new understanding of Colossians 3, and of the new self, which is not a mere self-improvement, but a total transformation of Christ in him. All these representative testimonies were the beautiful fruit of this conference.
At this conference God raised 18 GBS leaders among our shepherds and missionaries. All the chapters participated in the programs: Ottawa – Ken’s harp solo, North York – vocal song, Toronto – Paulina’s violin solo, St. George – worship dance, Hamilton – mini orchestra and Caleb’s vocal solo, Humber – special song, and Ryerson - offering song, Particularly UIC coworkers’ support was precious through Brooke’s life testimony, Erick’s GBS leading, Stephanie’s prayer and their special song with Chateline. We thank God for their coming all the way, supporting this conference greatly and having mutual encouragement in Christ Jesus. We also thank God for all the hidden servants behind the scenes. We finished the conference with Dr. Henry Kim’s announcement and Dr. Samuel Yoon’s prayer. We could renew God’s hope and vision for the powerful gospel in Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, London, Ottawa and the whole Canada through the gospel and our new life in Christ.
M. Joshua Lee