(FRANCE/Update) Report - God Blessed A Joint French Summer Bible Conference on August 1-2, 2020
LOVE, FROM HEAVEN TO THE EARTH, FROM THE EARTH TO THE HEAVEN
“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14.23)
God has greatly blessed our Summer Bible Conference, which took place from 1st to August 2nd, 2020 in Aix-en-Provence in southern France, with the theme “Love, from heaven to the earth, from the earth to the heavens.” 40 people attended this conference, including 5 children, and 3 people from Switzerland (Yann's family).
We were originally supposed to have this conference at the end of May, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic we had postponed it. Early June, the French government gave permission to churches of welcome people, and families to meet unlimited number, in compliance barriers gestures. At this time, we have had a meeting with the UBF pastors in France (Isaac Lee-Paris I, Jean Kim-Aix, Paul Heo-Paris II, Bruno Aussant- Nantes) to find out if we were to organize this conference. We decided to have this conference face-to-face, but by imposing barrier gestures on the participants: all the programs would be held outside, the wearing of a mask would be compulsory inside and outside and in cars, no more than 6 people per table (Bible study and meal), distance of 1 meter between each, no physical contact (hugging or shaking hands).
Like almost all conference centers were closed due to the Covid-19, Misn. Jean and Jeanne Kim offered to accommodate us in their big house. Three families slept at home, and the other families were housed at the hotel or Airbnb. The temperature was very high during the conference (41°C on Saturday afternoon). But we were comfortably installed outside, in the shade of the trees in the garden, to listen to the word of God. The wind caressed our faces, the cicadas sang around us, and the word of God rejoiced our hearts. We had the impression of being like the disciples receiving the teaching of Jesus in the shade of the olive trees on the Mount of Olives.
For this conference, we decided to have lots of free times, in order to let the brothers and sisters of the moment of fellowship and sharing. Thus, the biblical programs were happening only in the morning. The afternoons were devoted to visits, and the evenings were free. The word of God was active, and several brothers and sisters confessed they have received one word in their heart. Also, the participants were greatly encouraged and moved by the sacrificial service of the family of Jean and Jeanne Kim. A young student from our church said that it was the best conference she had attended so far. Several Bible students have also testified that they have received much grace through messages, testimonies or Bible study. A brother from Aix-en- Provence said with tears in his eyes: “I was very moved by such sincere life testimonies and messages.” Another sister confessed in her prayer she felt the presence of God during Bible study.
The conference began on Saturday morning with a welcome, where we presented the program and recalled the barrier gestures to respect. We then had our first group Bible study. After Bible study, we listened to Misn. Jean Kim’s message: “If someone loves me.” (John 14:15-31) We have learned how we can concretely witness our love for Jesus, by obeying his word. Jean Kim obeyed the word of Luke 4.43, by coming in France as a missionary. He found a job as a microwave engineer and moved to Manosque with his family in October 2017. But there was no University nearby. Then Misn. Jean invited his colleague's work to Bible study (Hao, Man, Philip, Dr Lim, Tai- Hyung). Several of them began to study and read the Bible with him. Then last year, Jean and Jeanne decided to move by faith near the University of Aix-Marseille, which is 55 km from Jean's workplace. Jean met a French student on the campus, Rebecca, who faithfully studied the Bible with him in English for several months, and regularly participates in Sunday worship service. She is now preparing for baptism, and will be baptized in our church in the fall. After the 2020 New Year's Conference, Misn. Jean Kim decided to obey the word of John 2.7-8, and to serve the SWS in French once a month, despite his insufficient French level. When he obeyed the word, God blessed his decision of faith, and allowed him to serve the SWS in French not once a month, but every week during the Covid-19 lock down. Since then he has been serving the message in French continuously with vision for French students and faith.
After the message, Hao shared his life testimony. He was born in Shanghai, and works in the same company as Jean Kim (ITER). He lives an hour's drive from Aix-en-Provence. His grandmother and mother were Christians. He had met Protestant missionaries when he was a student at the University of Shanghai, but it was in France that he received the word of God. Through Bible study, SWS, and sincere love of Christians, his heart was moved by the Holy Spirit, and he accepted the Lord into his life. He was baptized in July 2013. He confessed in his life testimony how he walked in the presence of God in his current life in France. He faithfully participates in SWS with Jean Kim’s family.
Then we ate a delicious barbecue. Everyone feasted, especially brothers and sisters from Paris, who do not have much opportunity to eat BBQ. Afterwards, we left to visit the village of Cassis, who is a typical Provençal village, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Several people are bathed, and others have used the time while eating ice cream or drinking an iced coffee. Then we took the boat to visit the Calanques (creeks). Tai-Hyung Kim and his wife Eun-Hee Choi, a Korean Christian couple who serve the “Timothy Mission” in Aix-en-Provence, and who are friends of Jean Kim, offered us the price of all the boat tickets. They had a desire to bless our conference with this offering. All the brothers and sisters were amazed through this boat ride, and the beauty of God's creation. In the evening, we had times of fraternal fellowship around the meal.
On Sunday morning, after the Bible study, we celebrated the Sunday Worship Service. Misn. Paul Heo from Paris preached the message in English, translated by Bruno Aussant, on the theme: “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” (Jn 15) We have learned of Jesus' love for his disciple Peter, who had denied him three times. Jesus stooped down to him, and helped him sincerely to confess his love with humility. Then Jesus asked Peter to show his love in return, taking care of his sheep.
Misn. Paul came to France as a research student in biology in 2016. Little by little, the Lord put in his heart the desire to continually serve the ministry of France with his wife, Maria Heo, and their daughter, Claire. Misn. Paul then started looking for a job in Paris, in research institutes or universities. By the grace of God, he was selected to pass several job interviews. He particularly prayed to enter the CNRS (national center for scientific research). He passed all the mid-term interviews, but failed the final interview. The day after this failure, he also learned that his scholarship was suspended, due to lack of budget. Then he began to doubt God's will for him. It was just before the conference, during his message preparation. Misn. Paul struggled with the word of God. He confessed in his message that, through this personal failure, he could well understand the heart of Peter, who had known a great failure in his life as a disciple. He was also moved by the love of Jesus, who loved Peter despite his failure, and established him as the shepherd of his sheep, not because of his abilities, but by His grace and love. Misn. Paul was comforted, and he humbly agreed to submit to the will of God. We pray that he will find a job in Paris to co-work with the new united Parisian ministry, according to God’s will, and the need of His church. We pray that he successfully passes his interview at INSERM soon.
After the message, we listened a heart moving life testimony from Misn. Jeanne Kim. She received the Lord in Korea, through Proverbs 3.6, and served the Church and students with the word of God. But when she arrived in France, she founded that she had too much human ambition and still sought the approval of people. She repented of her sins, and met Jesus again personally. She preaches the message in French once every 3 weeks in Aix- en-Provence, and serves the Lord's sheep with words and meals. She co-worked with her husband, to help Dr Lim, a Korean visiting researcher from Postecht University. They organized a one-day Bible Academy exclusively for him. Through Romans 1 and 2, Dr Lim began to open his heart to God and repent his sins. He returned now in Korean.
After Jeanne's life testimony, we celebrated Holy Communion, in memory of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and to demonstrate the unity of our church. Then we prayed with hands for Misn. Jacob and Esther Han. Jacob and Esther came to France in 2004 as directors of Nice ministry. After 3 years, Misn. Jacob had returned in Korea for his job, and Misn Esther joined the church in Paris with her children in 2008. In 2011, they came to Nantes to co-work with the family of Bruno and Christine Aussant, and Jacob joined them in 2012. Since then they have collaborated faithfully with the brothers and sisters of Nantes. As the Aussant family will go up to Paris to serve the new united church of Paris, Misn. Jacob was established as the new director of Nantes UBF.
Misn Jacob prays according to Mt 6.33 to love God, love the word of God and love the sheep of God. Misn. Esther prays to obey the word of God, according to John 14.23.
After the lunch, we went to the Aix-Marseille University campus to pray. Rebecca explain us that this university welcomes 80,000 students, including 10,000 international students, making it the largest multidisciplinary French-speaking university in the world. Rebecca is studying Japanese there. The French ministry has been linked to the University of Aix-Marseille since its beginning. In 1985, the first UBF's Korean missionary, Dr Henri Chai, was sent to the University of Aix-Marseille, before settling in Paris. The first fruit of the French ministry was a Korean student at Aix-Marseille University, Dr Marc Choi, who served that ministry for a few years. Thierry and Beatrice Clio were also students of this University. We pray that God will once again bless the University of Aix-Marseille through the sacrificial service of the family of Jean and Jeanne Kim. We pray that Rebecca will grow up as a mother of prayer for the University of Aix-Marseille.
Then, we went to Marseille to visit Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, which overlooks the city and the port. Then we took some free time in the port of Marseille. In the evening we had a long time of fellowship. There was a lot of peace and joy in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. The brothers and sisters shared their prayer topics and prayed for each other.
Personally, I have learned that whatever the program is during the conference, the most important thing is prayer and faith in the word of God. I have seen how God has worked during our conference, because the messengers believed in the power of God's word. In preparing for this conference, I prayed that every opportunity to listen to the word of God (message, Bible study, discussions) would be a unique opportunity for everyone to receive the word of God in their heart. I also understood that the brothers and sisters, especially young people, liked to have many fellowship times.
I thank the Holy Spirit who has worked during this conference, and pray that those who have attended this conference will be able to obey the word of God and take care of his sheep, for the sake of the Lord. I thank everyone who has worked to serve this conference, especially Misn. Jean and Jeanne Kim's family, who welcomed us to their house. I thank Misn. James Kang and all the brothers and sisters in Europe and around the world who have prayed for this conference. I pray that God bless France as a united church, filled with brotherly love, and which loves God, his word and his sheep. Amen.
The love from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven
4 chapters (Nantes, Paris 1 and 2, Aix Marseille) will have a joint French Summer Bible Conference on 8/1-2.
The title: "The love from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven."
Message 1: J*eanKim, "If someone loves me" (Jn 14:15-31)
Message 2: P*aulHeo, “Do you love me?”(Jn 21)
Life testimony: J*eanneKim
Our prayer topics:
1. May the word of God be powerful so that each participant can accept the love of God personally
2. May God help us to express our love for Him in return by taking care of his sheep
3. May God give us a lovely fraternal fellowship to be one in Him