The Work of God in Montreal UBF 2014 by Andrew Christopher

I. 2014 Annual Review: Our 2014 Journey of Life and Faith.

2014 was a year of great transition for us. Our ministry key verse was Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead the people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” Challenges to our church included the retirement of our director’s family, M. Luke and M. Grace Hong, who had led our ministry and Canadian ministry for 23 years, a growing youth population to serve, the ongoing indifference of highly secularized university students to the gospel, the challenge and difficulty of growing new leaders as disciples of Jesus, the challenge of family responsibilities, age and life issues of our main missionary and shepherd families, center management and the list goes on. This was my first year of a 4 year term of being coordinator for our ministry. I was like Joshua who stepped out of the shadow of Moses and was commanded by God to lead the people to conquer the land and face these challenges together with faith. I was never alone. Just as God was with Joshua and then gained the support of leaders trained by God, our missionaries and shepherds by and large responded to these challenges. Personally, God helped me by giving me lots of word of God to think about, prepare and serve to our members. I got some good advice to serve them as if I was serving a delicious meal, so I did a lot of meditation and research and my messages improved over the year. God’s work in us and through his word helped us to face each of these challenges one by one. 

  Our Sr. men co-workers responded to the loss of leadership in M. Luke Hong by offering themselves regularly to prepare SWS messages. This was the key to so much of our victory this year. As we studied Mark’s gospel we were amazed at the great servant Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for us. We realized that it’s not us who “serve” Jesus because Jesus doesn’t need anyone to serve him and he didn’t come to be served. Instead if we look perceptively it’s Jesus who serves us. It’s Jesus who has mercy on us. It’s Jesus who picks us up after we fall down. It’s Jesus who cheers us up and encourages us when we are not doing well. It’s Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Sometimes as we studied we were transfixed on every move of Jesus’ servant life and we could know and feel that he was serving us too. This gave us the desire to serve students, our children and growing youth group even though sometimes we feel tired, we have to face students’ indifference or from other kinds of Satan’s discouragement. One great source of encouragement was hearing younger leaders in our ministry give messages at different conferences as well as seeing God’s growing work in them.

  Some of our leaders who had worked in Canadian ministry for a long time participated in the Canada Night held by Chicago UBF on March 7th. God reminded us of our pioneering key verse, “‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’” (Mk 9:23). This encouraged us to press on in faith in the work of evangelizing campuses regardless of hardships or setbacks.  On April 18-20 we held an Easter Bible Retreat called “The Cross: God’s Power Revealed”.  In preparation for the conference each of us prayed to God for a 40 day challenge in which we asked God to help us to defeat powerlessness in one area of life.  1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” S. Lesedi Masisi gave us the conference’s main message, based on Jesus’ cry on the cross “Eloi, Eloi lamasabachthani which means, “My God, my God , why have you forsaken me.”  He showed us that a great power was revealed from God when Jesus died on the cross. When Jesus went to the cross and died on the cross the effect was the saving of many. Human beings are sinful and we feel uneasy, vulnerable, disconnected and lonely. There is a gap between us and God. Jesus’ cry on the cross filled the gap and enabled sinners to be connected with God in love, in grace, and in truth. We shared our challenge testimonies. Many people expected nothing to happen during their challenge but in fact there were many works of God.  One of our women BT’s Vani had a personal victory while serving the  message “He is Risen…Go”. She had felt torn between the time lost from her kids while serving campus students, however, she testified to the fact of Jesus' resurrection which means our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life. We can face our reality and our future with boldness, investing and sacrificing for God’s work without regret. The HBF youth group also experienced God’s power through personal challenges. They went through 8-10 weeks of music lessons and performed a Hillsong Y & F song called, “Close” testifying to the strength God gives us as we become close to Him. This youth group has such great potential in God. We thank God for all our JBF leaders who fed them spiritually, listened to their issues, prepared topical sessions of education, gathered and planned so many events with them. The Canadian JBF conference was another greatly encouraging event for them and 2 of S. David’s daughters attended the Well conference at the end of the year.

   Our Sr. missionary and shepherd families attended the NA Staff conference where were studied Galatians and got strength through participating in long hours of Bible study, testimonies and education/discussion on serving students in post-Christian North America. During the summer we studied Galatians again in our ministry, where the effect of God’s word was even greater and as we adapted the messages for use with the young people we are currently serving. Galatians helped us to let go of our forms of legalism and to be free in Jesus. We learned that Jesus really came for our freedom and by ridding ourselves of legalism and boasting only in the cross we are free, safe and at peace with God.

At the beginning of the summer, our co-workers decided to do visitation. Many of our co-workers visited UBF ministries in Ottawa, S. David Jumeau visited Lincoln Park UBF and delivered a message, and our family (Christophers) visited Akron and Toledo ministry. These visits promoted a lot of mutual encouragement in the gospel with our long-term partners. Our summer conference gave us the opportunity to hear more messages from our young leaders and missionaries. The theme of our conference was, “Jesus: Light/Love/Life”. M. Pierre Jung gave us a great opening message called, “In Him Was Life”, M. David Na “Jesus the Light of the World”, Shep. Marcel, “Jesus Life in His Name.” Shep. Lesedi “Remain in My Love” and Luke Jr, “Fueled by Vision”. For me as coordinator and our elders were so glad to see and hear the effect of God’s words on our young leaders and their messages were so good that it gives us great hope for the future of our prayers for Bible Canada and world campus mission in Canada.

  I really thank God for Luke Jr. who really worked on his 2nd gen blues, was a good friend and willing shepherd for the punky JBF kids. After his fuelled by vision message, God turned his physiotherapy stage in Uganda into a full time short term mission. In the midst of a very unwelcome situation there, God gave Luke Jr the courage to stay in Uganda even though he was under very difficult circumstances and his finances were cut off. He decided to stay and God blessed his creative fundraising on a website. Through Luke our ministry and our young people got a glimpse into Uganda and God’s world mission there. God also gave Luke Jr new vision to apply for medical school and be used as a medical missionary in the future. Luke Jr served the Kampala ministry, the Bethesda Medical clinic, the Sanyu Babies orphanage, the Africa Institute of music and participated in the first Rwandan Summer Bible Conference.

Another great work of God in discipleship was in Shep. Marcel. He traveled to the western Canada conference as a conference servant and main messenger. He was willing to work hard on his message and combined with his testimony M. Daniel Kwon of Vancouver UBF reported that his presence and message were a great blessing to the conference. We have to thank Grace Ahn from Chicago, who sacrificed her vacation just prior to her wedding to come to Montreal for a visit with our co-workers and to give her time to serve the JBF/HBF ministry. This was important because many of them desperately need an older friend and role model to help the sort our spiritual issues. We are thankful for her serving and encouraging visit.

   M. Luke and Grace continue to assist serving and leading the JBF/HBF ministry while teaching the Bible to different people. Lately we had the challenge of teaching the Bible to people with troubled marriages, who don’t know Christ.  I thank God for M. Luke & Grace and M. Stephen & M Monique for all their efforts to bring Christ to these troubled people and their marriages which presents lots of difficulty. In the summer we received Joseph and Helen Kim from Korea. They had been missionaries in France whom several of us knew. They came seeking God’s direction for possibly joining God’s work in Montreal. God is working in our UBF people, stirring them to new mission work.  We thank God so much for our women missionaries and shepherdesses who served so many students through 1:1 Bible studies not to mention regular Sunday service meals, Saturday night disciples meals fellowship, the Men’s Saturday morning GBS and all other special events. It’s their service and love that makes an environment that students and our youth feel cared for and welcomed. I thank God for M. Melissa who had to bear with my sins and weaknesses the most. After mission demands we come often come to each other so tired, at wits' end and speechless but the love of Jesus and the cross of mission holds us as well as our children strong in accomplishing God’s work at even the cost of our lives. 

  God helped us to run 6 Tyrannus Bible Academies which keep us up to date on issues facing the gospel, ourselves and young people. They also provide a venue and kept us motivated in inviting new students. I thank God so much for the hard late night work of S. John and S. Marcel in getting these topics and presenters ready.

Tyrannus Bible Academies 2014.

  • January: “Shadows and Light at the End of Life” with special guest speaker Dr. Patrick Vinay who heads up the coalition of medical doctors in Quebec against euthanasia.
  • February: Secularism and “La Charte des Valeurs” (Nicolas St. Arnault)
  • March: “Can We Be Good Without God” (Marcel Rodney)
  • May: “Lifting the Veil” (Rita Tsipkis)
  • September: “The Substance of Faith” (John Giesbrecht)
  • October: “A World of Difference” (Melissa Christopher)

  Overall in 2014, in addition to our own 3 weekly leaders GBS, we ran over 50 GBS on the campuses and 885 1:1 Bible studies with students. Praise the Lord! In the fall we decided to try table fishing on campus even though we have no club status. We faced some opposition when one female student protested against us, but God worked and we were able to maintain table fishing at McGill. God brought new students to the group study at McGill like Ashley, Maddy and Michael as well as a returning student Jose. S. Marcel ran the group studies there working with S. Vani and M. Melissa. S. Marcel now prays that God may make GBS at McGill a permanent event in God’s work in Montreal. I thank God for his determination.

In the fall we began Matthew’s gospel study to know our King Jesus. While we studied the Beatitudes God gave us a deep sovereign joy over life and he caused us to grow spiritually.  We thank God for bringing us together as a  people through our Christmas worship service in which our students, our young people and precious co-workers all celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought the best news of all, “Immanuel’ God with Us”. Our year ended with a concert presentation at the Fulford Residence for Elderly Persons arranged by S. Connie and our CBF Christmas service. I cannot thank God adequately for all the love, Bible studies, messages, godly games and shepherd care provided by S. Phillip, S. Connie, M. Faith, M. Elena and all the CBF teachers. I thank God for helping me to serve one Muslim student B. Mohammed and for sending one post-doc student from Ottawa UBF to study with S. John.

  As well, we really thank our HQ and Dr. Abraham Kim for supporting us through prayers, education and practical support. I thank God for giving Pastor Abraham an all-encompassing vision for UBF international of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Even though we made mistakes, even though we spent ourselves and worked hard, God made our sufferings light and momentary and our reward so great in Christ.

When thinking back over the year I felt nervous about my sins; sometimes I was rushed too businesslike and I think I made our church environment like that sometimes too. I have small petty desire and was unwilling to deny myself to get more work done. As a result I did not report each of our Montreal UBF events even after people had served and worked so hard to accomplish them to the Lord. To my wife I have to be more loving and communicating even to make our relationship better. Sometimes I give her the impression that I don’t appreciate and sympathize with her health problems or hard work. I pray that I may get rid of my pride and ego that strangles me from communicating better. Please pray for me as coordinator. I need more faith and courage to keep caring about campus students as well the needs of our community of faith. Thank you for your prayers and may God grant me wisdom to accomplish this.

II. 2015 Vision and Strategy

Our main prayer topics are similar to those of last year and will continue to be the focus of our preoccupations and prayers during the time of my coordination of Montreal ministry.

•Evangelize Montreal area campuses

•New growing student leaders in each fellowship

•Nurturing and engaging JBF ministry

•Bilingual ministry (French / English)

The process of conquering the land to have fruitful discipleship ministry and caring for our own young people, as well as our personal challenges will challenge us for years to come. However as I reviewed the book of Joshua I see that God helped them to meet challenges and conquer kingdoms and strongholds one at a time. They did this as a people and not as individuals. Despite our regular invitation of students, Canada remains deeply secularized. Getting students to have the desire to come to our Bible studies and church center can seem like a “river of impossibility”.  The deep indifference and individualism of students’ lives seems like the walled city of Jericho. Frontline ministry seems to bear so little fruit yet this year God’s love, felt through God’s word, compelled us to go, face rejections, invite, love strangers-students and share the gospel.  Some of our leaders functioned like “spies” and were able to hold Bible studies on both McGill and Concordia campuses even though we are not a recognized group on either campus. We began discussion with one previous missionary for combining to produce a club with group status at one of the universities. Both ministry and personal challenges require obedience of faith to overcome our unbelief.  I could see that as a people what we need is to never give up on the message that saves, to stand as shepherds who care about the souls of young people, and to have a loving and active (not business-like) faith community to be successful. For this I chose Acts 2:36-47 as key verse: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,”

One Word: The Fellowship of Believers; Inherit the Land

 

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