Why I Admired The Christian Fellowship Among UBF Missionaries As A New Believer

Why I Admired The Christian Fellowship Among UBF Missionaries As A New Believer

      What attracted me to University Bible Fellowship when I was a new believer?  I think the world has to know about the beautiful spiritual environment that God formed among our Korean missionaries in Winnipeg Canada in the 1980’s.  Such an environment is only possible in Jesus Christ. It can be formed only among people who love God and want to preach the Gospel together. It is called Christian Koininia. This spiritual fellowship is a part of how God worked to help me to open my heart to Jesus and to surrender to Christ and dedicate my life to live as a servant of God.   And so I want to share 28 reasons why I was attracted to the Christian fellowship of Winnipeg UBF.  Enjoy! (Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF)

  1. People who were living what they believed with no excuses. It is hard in this world to find people who live what they profess to believe. It is because it requires sacrifice. The missionaries sacrificed so much. One missionary couldn’t take the bus to work because he couldn’t afford it. Yet he tried to serve others. Another snacked on coffee condiments because he was poor (and he laughed about it.) He too served others. They worked as sewing machine operators and McDonald’s workers. Though they eventually found better jobs, they were willing to pay the price to live what they believed.  This impressed me.
  1. They were willing to put their money where their mouth was. Even before meeting Jesus I couldn’t understand why people were not giving cold, hard cash to causes that they truly believed in. Why spend your time with a bake sale or a rummage sale? Why not work an extra shift at work and give the earnings to your cause. The missionaries were not having bake sales and rummage sales. They were working and out of their poverty they were giving to the cause they believed in, raising disciples of Jesus on Canadian campus’ and building up the local church.
  1. Korean food and culture. This was exciting. It was healthy and multicultural and healthy and abundant. I was expanding my knowledge of the world.
  1. Lot’s more food. This may sound selfish and one dimensional, but it is important to a young disciple of Jesus.  There were times when groups of us went to buffets. When we went on to conferences the food was good and abundant. When we attended international conferences, again…lots of food.
  1. Christian families who accepted me for who I was. Before meeting Jesus I was a “party animal”. It was not easy for anyone to accept me into their homes, but the missionaries did. It was because they trusted God.
  1.  World travel. My parents took me on vacation acrossCanada and the USA. But after meeting Jesus I went Bible conferences around the world. I went to South Korea X2,Russia,Germany,Holland,Kenya,India,USA and Canada. I had to pay my way, but I had a purpose and a mission.
  1. Structured and planned conferences and post conference touring. Traveling in UBF was different than secular travel. We did not go to tourist traps. We had structured Bible conferences and lots of post conference visiting, like the Taj  Majal, Masi Mara safari, Russian one ring circus, the Kremlin armory, Russian ballet, the Korean white house, Seoul Tower, a Buddhist temple, Old Montreal City, Beethoven’s birthplace, Heidelberg castle, lots of different University campus’. Again, I had to pay, but I would never have gone on my own without Christ’s mission.  There was a lot of world travel for a young man and I thank God for it.
  1. God’s hope in me to be someone who can influence the course of world history. On my own, without Jesus, I could barely take care of myself. I could, at most, be the friendly guy who hung out at the neighborhood bar, or the father struggling to make ends meet and send the kids off to college. But growing up as servant of God in UBF I could be someone very important in God’s eyes. In Christ I was one of the early converts in the Canadian UBF ministry. I was the hope of God for Canada. Now God hopes in me to raise disciples in the western suburbs of Chicago.  I know that in Jesus I am making a mark on history.
  1. Deep, textual and systematic Bible study.   Bible study here is as good as it gets, I believe. It is what you make of it. It is challenging and scholarly. The missionaries always placed deep, textual and systematic Bible study at the forefront of all that they did. In a world where Biblical illiteracy is rampant, Bible study with the missionaries was very satisfying to my soul. And so their disciplined Bible study impressed me when I was a young Christian.
  1. Daily morning devotion.  I remember the missionaries running to not be late for daily devotional in the early morning. They did it in order to have the word of God in their hearts before they went to work. I read that Jesus got up every morning to pray. These missionaries were doing it too. I heard about Korean Christian grandmothers getting up early to pray in Korean churches. These missionaries were doing it. It was hard, but I enjoyed daily devotional time and we do it now with my family.
  1. Professionals and leaders humbling themselves to serve young people. When I met Jesus I was 22 and just passed a college course in chemistry. I was poor and basically a nobody. But these UBF missionaries were professors and PhD’s and former army generals, doctors etc and they were humbling themselves to serve the likes of me with sincere hearts. They were genuinely interested in me and my life. This impressed me. It reminded me of Jesus who is the Creator God and yet he came to serve sinners.
  1.  People listened to me and cared to know my name. One thing I despaired about as a non Christian is that people didn’t really care about what I said and I felt I really didn’t have anything important to say anyway. Did you know that nobody came to my graduation from Chemical Technology (that took me three years)? But the missionaries wanted to listen to me. They cared about who I was and what I was doing. People in other countries cared to know my name and even sent me gifts every time someone went away on an international; journey. Many attended the testimony sharing meetings to hear about our spiritual struggles to live by faith. They reflect the heart of Jesus who wants to know even the lowliest person very personally.
  1. They treated me as a human being with value.  Sometimes people do not feel valued.  In the world people are not valued. I was valued as long as I made money, took care of myself and enjoyed sinning with others. Otherwise I was one to be forgotten. But in Christ the missionaries valued me for who I was, a forgiven child of God. They hoped in me to share the gospel with the people of my generation. Again they reflected the heart of Jesus.
  1.  They cared about my spiritual life. In this world it is a miracle if someone cares about your physical condition and your financial situation, but the missionaries cared about my spiritual condition. After meeting Jesus, soon I became very superficial and insincere in my quest to know Jesus. My Bible teacher, Ruth Hwang, sensed this. In her counseling she actually shed tears for me! Before her tears I repented of my insincerity and started newly to get to know my Lord and Savior better.
  1. They were committed to one another. Growing up I despaired a lot about peoples’ lack of commitment to friendship. So many times, I would try to invite people to an activity and many would say, “I am not sure what I am doing. I will let you know.” In other words, “If I have nothing better to do then I will meet with you.” But these missionaries were committed to each other and to me. My Bible teacher kept her appointments with me (and she was prepared with her Bible material). The missionaries kept the time for Sunday worship service and Friday meetings. They were committed to the fellowship of believers. You could count on them. I liked their faithfulness. They were reflecting the heart of faithful Jesus.
  1.  They were committed to Christ’s mission. I was used to people being committed to family, to work, at school and friends trying to have a good time together. I had just finished college. For three I grew close to my classmates and then the day after graduation…nothing. I was all alone. But the missionaries were committed to one another. They were not just hanging out. They were on a meaningful mission. One time I wanted to host a church meal. I spent $200 on food. All the “church ladies” gathered together to cook and serve. All attended, not because of free food, but because they loved each other and worked together for the good of the church. Their commitment to each other was not just for a couple years or for eight hours, Monday to Friday. It was for a lifetime and I liked that.
  1. Love lived there. This is what my wife, Julie said she experienced in UBF. It is true that love lives anywhere Christ and God’s people are. But she experienced love among the UBF missionaries. I experienced this too, for all the reasons that I am discussing now.
  1.  They lived for a higher purpose. They valued something more than money and seeking comfort, rest and pleasure. For the missionaries, it was not all about money. If it was they were in a losing business. They gave of their lives for a higher purpose. I was tired of doing everything to make money. I wanted more. I wanted to share in the Jesus’ higher Gospel purpose.
  1. The church was always open and alive and active. To me it was like a Christian clubhouse. We see in the movies, people coming into the empty church to pray. We see fugitives on movies entering an unlocked church to seek refuge and talking with a priest. When I was a new Christian I wondered why churches were locked most of the time. But this was not so with the UBF Bible house. It was a hub of activity. It was open all the time to pray and study. Missionaries were assigned to be “stewards” of the Bible house. Their church was what I envisioned it to be.
  1. There was no pressure to date. They tried to keep a pure atmosphere. This was important to me. Prior to meeting Jesus all I wanted to do was find a date. This caused many disappointments and a lot of stress. But among the missionaries and congregants I was free to have plutonic Christian friendships. This was relieving to me.
  1. Families were intact and prospering and growing. In a world where divorce seems to be the expected norm it was nice to see families unified and together. The missionaries had such families. They set a great example for the young disciples.
  1. They were real, not plastic. I grew up in the 1970’s and early 80’s. This was a time of great transition. When I was young there were an abundance of neighborhood cafes, “Mom and Pap” joints. But in the early eighties there was a great proliferation of plastic, “fast food” type places and super stores. To me this was an aspect of culture that was fake. But the missionaries and the UBF church was real. There was nothing plastic about them. I appreciated that.
  1. The missionaries were the nicest people I knew. When I was a young Christian, there were many “doubt planters” around me telling me this and that. Should I just forget about this whole Christianity thing? Should I leave this fellowship seeing if the grass was greener somewhere else? But God helped me to hold onto one fact…”These missionaries were the nicest people I knew.”
  1. The missionaries studied hard.  Many of them had given up careers to come toCanada as missionaries and work job that were at the bottom of society. But they studied hard. Some studied cytology others advanced in the fashion design. They studied English very hard. The men gathered together in the Bible house to encourage each other. They studied hard in Bible study also, sometimes spending hours writing their testimonies in English. They were very sincere in their studies.
  1. The environment was therapeutic and healing to mind, body and soul. Prior to meeting Jesus I was exposed to lots of rock music and partying. My mind and heart was filled with hedonistic images. But fellowship among the missionaries included classical music, reading books, studying the Bible, singing, prayer, preaching, meeting new people, studying at university, exposure to Korean language and culture along with dancing and acting at conferences. My Bible teacher even took me to a ballet. Right from the beginning I knew that life in the fellowship was good to me.
  1.  Common life experience. Before meeting Jesus I always had roommate. They were nice, but our life together was for cheaper rent and for having fun together. But among the fellowship we lived together as disciples of Jesus. All of us were on the same page, spiritually. We shared the same hope and the same life purpose. We had daily bread together, wrote testimonies together, fixed the church together, traveled to conferences together, etc. It was a beautiful time of fellowship. Two of my common life brothers are life long friends today.
  1.  Power to effect change.  As a non Christian I spent too much time complaining about life’s hardships and making excuses as to why I could not do something. I spent years in stagnation while others left me behind in the dust of life while I was trying to have fun. But these missionaries were different. They came from a foreign country. The women established a fruitful church right away. They established themselves in a foreign land. When we moved our Bible house to another campus, they sold and bought houses and many families relocated in record time. They overcame. It was God’s strength in them. This power and strength to affect change impressed me.
  1. They kept their mission despite of opposition. When faced with opposition, most people would succumb to fear and keep quiet about the gospel. But not the Korean missionaries. Though they knew broken English and were one foot shorter than most Canadians, they were fearless in reaching out to others. They kept preaching and teaching. When I served God along side them I felt like I was on a grand adventure. 
  2.  They listened more than they talked.  The missionaries did have a lot to say. They were mostly professionals with a lot of Bible knowledge. But they chose to listen to others much more than they talked. God made us with two eyes and two ears and one mouth. They used these in the correct proportion. Sometimes, when we are talking to others it is hard to get a word in edge-wise. But the missionaries listened and I appreciated that.
  3. They were willing to “do” church according to an alternative church paradigm.   In the West we think that church must be done in certain ways. The worship services and the programs of protestant churches are not much different from each other. There are only about three, or so, variations. We tend to think that these are the only ways. But the missionaries brought with them a new church paradigm. They had a new, fresh, way of doing “church”, that included self-supporting mission, house church ministry, 1:1 Bible study and shepherding of others. These have all been done before and some may not like these methods, but they do represent new ways of thinking to many of us in the West. Every culture needs some “new blood” infused into it. To me, the missionary’s ways were this “new blood”. They helped me to think outside the box in regards to church life.
  4.  They were willing to be friends with people who were not like themselves. How often do we make friends only with those whom we like or are like us. Sadly, Christians can be like this too. But the missionaries were willing to be friends with those who were much different than themselves. As an unbelieving, hedonistic, young Canadian, what did I have in common with Korean missionaries? But they became my friends. They were committed and faithful to me even though it was hard to do so. They practiced what Jesus did, befriending “sinners”. My heart was touched by this.
  5. They demonstrated that God’s work can be done by anyone. In John 9, Jesus healed a man using spit and mud. This is powerful for it tells disciple of Jesus that they can do the work of God with what God has given them not matter how humble. The missionaries demonstrated this. They had no theology degrees, no special privileges, no expensive programs. They served God with what they had and that was enough. This gave me confidence that I too can serve Jesus with what God has provided.

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