“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Praise Jesus who is our good shepherd because he laid down his life on the cross for sinners such as us! Praise Jesus who trained his disciples to learn the shepherd heart of Jesus so that God can reveal his great love for the lost. Jesus needs all Christians to become shepherds in our respective nations to bring the lost flock of God back to the pastures of the kingdom of God. (Jn 10:16) On Jan. 4, 5, our Canadian shepherds organized the first historical Canadian disciples’ conference at Braeside camp in Paris, Ontario (about 1 hour from Toronto.) The main objective for this conference was twofold: to remember how God has been our good shepherd, and to make a small practical decision to grow as a shepherd for God’s flock. About 65 people attended which consisted of growing Bible students, growing leaders, Canadian house church leaders and young missionaries. Some of our Canadian UBF directors attended as observers to support us in prayer.
On Friday evening, God used S. John Giesbrecht (our beloved Abraham of faith of Canada) to give the opening message on Psalms 23: “The LORD is My Shepherd” to reflect on how God shepherded King David’s life. Then Shepherdess Dana Brinkerhoff and Shepherd David Jumeau then shared their annual key verse testimonies. Following this, S. Andrew Christopher, and S. Ernest Chan teamed up to give a powerpoint presentation on how God shepherded Jacob. Afterwards, we broke out into groups and discussed about how God was a good shepherd for each of us. To close the evening program, the North York praise band “5ive 2wo” led in praise and worship. During praise and worship, Paul Lee Jr broke out in tears when he thought about God’s shepherd love in his life.
The next day, S. Philip Wong gave the main message on John 10: “Jesus, Our Good Shepherd” Jesus is our good shepherd because he alone laid down his life for wretched sinners like us. After the message, each attendant wrote personal and repentant testimonies. Some repented of taking in God’s word habitually, some repented of their selfish busy-minded student life to make more effort to shepherd others, and while others renewed their commitment to shepherd Bible students on their respective campuses. Finally, S. Joshua Brinkerhoff gave us the closing message based on John 13:15 : “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” It was the Passover feast and Jesus’ death was close at hand. He could have thought about how to save his life. Instead, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet to show them the best example of love. We are to follow Jesus’ example to love each other to show the world that we are truly his disciples. S. Humble Joshua Brinkerhoff borrowed some of S. Andy Stumpf’s YDC message by instructing us to take off our shoes and socks. Then S. Humble asked us to smell our neighbor’s socks. Not many were willing to do this, but it still hit home on how Jesus not only bore sinners but how we should love one another. Just as we bear one others’ stinky socks, so do we bear each others’ stinky sins. After we prayed to be good shepherds in 2008 and support the upcoming 2008 Purdue International conference. After having snowball fights and some street hockey, we returned to our mission fields.
To conclude, we learned the grace of God of how he has been our good shepherd in our lives and how we can be good shepherds by following Jesus’ example. At this conference, some students were challenged to go out of their comfort zone of being sheep-level disciples while they progress to shepherd-level disciples of Jesus. Those who had attended YDC produced the good fruit of practicing Jesus’ servantship. I praise God that our second gens and the other junior shepherds had willing hearts to serve Christ. We could vision for Canadians to become stewards of God’s ministry to restore Canada as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. May God bless the preparations for the upcoming Purdue International Bible Conference! May God use Dr. John Jun and the behind-the-scenes servants to serve the preparations of this conference! May God make Canada and the USA as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!