Celebrating Chinese New Year in China – A New Apostolic Christian’s Experience

As global interest in China grows, more foreigners are coming to live, study or work in China. Stacy Julius, is a young South African New Apostolic sister, currently living in China. It was the year 2001 when Stacy came to China for the first time, saying it was an unforgettable memory and she was only 12 years old at the time. Since then she has completed her undergraduate (Bachelor Degree), graduate (Masters Degree) studies and is currently completing her postgraduate (Doctoral Degree) at one of the famous Chinese universities. Stacy is also closely involved with social media and undertakes regular projects on behalf of a major Chinese social media company, which is the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, Inc.

According to Stacy “I have seen how China develops faster and faster. It is comfortable here”. For the past years Stacy witnessed how the country changed. She says,” The biggest change is the people from the middle class beginning to live better. Of course, there are poor, there are rich. The Chinese people are in principle confident in their future. That is, they are sure that the nation is always behind them.”

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The year 2017 is the “Year of the Rooster” also called “Year of the Chicken” and Stacy is looking forward to celebrating her 13th Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, in China.  Stacy, whose Chinese name is Zhu Si Wen (珠思文), easily speaks about her life in China. She says that a person can feel the wonderful warmth of family atmosphere, during the Spring Festival.

At a New Year’s dinner held by the University, where she is currently completing her doctoral degree, Stacy sang Chinese songs and her performance won warm applause from her Chinese colleagues. She can speak fluent Chinese and also has abundant knowledge about Chinese culture. According to one of her friends, “Among all foreigners I know, Stacy speaks the best Chinese. Her pronunciation is very clear. If you don’t look at her face, you won’t even know that it is a foreigner speaking Chinese.”

Talking about her impression of the Chinese New Year, she says that she feels very happy and says, with a smile, “During the Spring Festival, I receive many presents and good wishes from my Chinese friends.

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Stacy has never regretted coming to China, on the contrary, she loves China with respect. Living in China allowed her to understand the extensive and profound impact of Chinese culture. She expresses her best wishes to the Chinese people for Chinese New Year and wishes the Chinese people prosperity. Stacy concludes by saying “Hopefully one day our Chief Apostle can also come and visit us here in North China”.

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Chief Apostle Schneider in Silvertown, South Africa. Sunday, 18 December 2016

Impressions from the divine service, as recorded by our social media team. Please note that these are unofficial notes.

Opening hymn: 430 – To Christ the Lord be faithful

Text: Mark 1:2-3

“Behold I send My messenger before your face, Who will prepare Your way before You, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'”

Chief Apostle Schneider

My very dear brothers and dear sisters here and in all the connected congregations in the different countries, I am aware that it is a very special day and important day in the church because the District Apostle Barnes is going to be retired. We will create a new district church of Southern Africa. So it really is a very historical day for the church here in this part of Africa.

But, I think you will agree, that this is not the most important thing today. The most important thing for God and for us is the preparation of the bride of Christ. Because we are waiting for the return of Christ and we want to be prepared for his return. And that is what really matters, that is the most important thing.

May I add something, to God something more is important, that is you, you my brother you my sister, your concerns, your pain, your joy, your wishes, your faults. They matter for God. He is not only interested in but He wants to help you. He wants to heal you. He wants to comfort you. He wants you to be joyful and to be strong. You are very important to God. Whatever you did, God loves you because you are His beloved child.

God wanted to send the Saviour, His son, on earth and he sent John the Baptist to prepare the way or as it says here, to make the way straight for the Lord. Why? Because the faithful Jews, they waited for the Saviour, but they had their own idea about the mission of the Saviour. The faithful ones. They waited for the Saviour to be the successor of the King David. To restore the glory of the kingdom of Israel, and hence to deliver from the domination of the Romans. So that was what the faithful Jews was waiting for, that was God’s promise, David will have a successor and He will restore the kingdom of Israel and deliver them.ca4m

But that was the earthly understanding and then John the Baptist had to explain. The Saviour will come but His purpose is a different one He wants to save you from the domination of sin, to deliver you from the power of evil, that’s the mission of the Saviour. And we have to prepare his arrival, we have to prepare His coming in being repentant we have to recognize that we are sinners and we need to be saved, we need to be redeemed. We have to renounce sin, to remove sin, and to change our mind, and to come to God. That was, roughly said, the mission, of John the Baptist to explain how to receive the Saviour. That He didn’t come to save them from the domination of the Romans, and to restore the kingdom of David in the way they understood it, He wanted to deliver them from sin and evil and for that they had to do something they had to be repentant to recognize their sins, to remove from sin to come to God to change their mind

What applied for the people in that time, applies for us too, our God want to save us He wants to save us from the domination of evil from the domination and the power of sin. That is God’s will. That is what God wants to do with each and everyone of us.

But we have to prepare the way for him and to make the way straight that means we have to remove all the obstacles that could hinder God to save us, I know saying that it sounds strange. Because you think, Hey! What could hinder God to save me? He is the Almighty One. Nobody has more power than God. So what’s the matter with you? If you say we have to prepare the way of the Saviour. To remove the obstacles that can hinder Him? He is the Almighty One. Nobody can hinder him to do something when He wants to do something.

Yes and No, because God is faithful and he respects his own law, and when he created man he gave man freedom. He created man and gave him the ability to make free decisions and free choices and that’s a basic rule for God. That was His will , man is free he has the ability to do free choices. And that’s the only obstacle actually that can hinder God from saving us. Our own will. He won’t save us against our will. And the key of the thing, God wants to save us but we have to make the path straight, we have to remove all the obstacles that could hinder Him. And the only obstacle is our own will.

So to be able to be saved, we have, as John said, to be repentant. God saved us through the Holy Baptism. He delivered us from the domination of the evil from sin, in every service He wants to deliver us through forgiveness of sins. But for that we have to do something, to be baptized one need to have the will to renounce sin and to overcome evil. That’s the principle of the baptism, God saves you, but you have to be willing to say I renounce sin I renounce the evil I want to overcome evil. The same applies for forgiveness of sins that’s an ongoing process, salvation is an ongoing process, and to make sure that God can save us we have to be willing, we have to have this strong determination. We want to renounce sin and to overcome evil.

What about our determination today brothers and sisters? Are we still really willing to overcome evil and to renounce sin? It may happen that we change a little bit our mind and thinking, oh that sin isn’t that serious especially when I consider my situation and the environment I live in, you have to admit that sin considering all these things. That sin is not that serious. And look we are close to make an arrangement with evil, we are close to compromise, and that doesn’t work. Then there is an obstacle in our salvation. Please brothers and sisters. Let us be firm in our determination. We do want to overcome evil and we do want to renounce sin. All sin, not just the big visible ones. All sin. Jesus wants to save us in leading us into his kingdom. And when we are in His kingdom, we will be definitely delivered from all pain and suffering and injustice, all the things we have to deal with today. That’s the ultimate salvation. Jesus wants to lead us into his kingdom, but again we have to make the way straight we have to remove the obstacles. But that kind of obstacle that’s the old Adam, he cannot enter the kingdom of God, we have to overcome him and to become a new creature in Christ, to become the image of Christ and for that we have to denounce all our thoughts and all our opinions that do not match with those of Jesus, and all of us we know by experience that is not always easy.

We have our thoughts our opinions and then we are told, Yes, but Jesus sees the thing in another way and then we have to denounce our own opinion our own idea to match with the ones of Jesus. It’s not that easy but it’s necessary, the old Adam is an obstacle on our way to salvation, let us make the way straight for our salvation. Let us be willing to renounce sin, to overcome evil and to overcome the old Adam. That’s the main part of the salvation, but, Ok, Jesus also wants to come to us to serve us in the divine service. And in the divine service, He needs us also to prepare His way, and to remove all the obstacles that could hinder him to serve us during the service.

The first thing we need to do to prepare for the service, you know that, we have to sanctify ourselves and to tidy our heart. To put all things in their place and to respect the priorities. For sure and all of us we do that we can come to our Heavenly Father and telling him all our concerns, our pains, our wishes, related to our life, related to our family, our children, grandchildren, our wife, our husband and that’s absolutely normal ok, and our Father wants us to do that. Nevertheless it’s important that we sanctify ourselves before coming to service, setting our priorities, and telling God, You know what my concerns my wishes, but you know the most important for me, I do want to remain faithful until the end, I do want to enter Your kingdom, that’s priority number one. All the other things are very important to me, but that’s the most important thing. That’s our job, no one will do it for us. We have to do it. We have to prepare the way and to do the cleaning in our hearts and set our priorities, to make the way straight.

Another point, oh we know God wants to serve us in the divine service, but he will use human beings for that.

We have to prepare the way removing all the obstacles that could hinder this experience. What should we do? We should gather together in Jesus name. We have to be aware now I am with my brother, with my sister, with the members of our congregation and as Jesus died for me He died for my neighbor this is really something very important to me and I would like to be sure that everytime  the congregation gathers everyone is aware of that. You see you brother you see your sister, they are very different. They are what they are. To make it short, they are just what they are, but never forget that Jesus died for them. That’s the value that they have in Jesus eyes, He died for them, they were so important to Him. And if we are aware of that, then we gather together in a very special manner. Being aware of the value of this gathering ‘he is so important to Jesus that he died for him’ then I cannot see him just as a sinner, just as a strange person. We have to remove all obstacles so that we can experience the presence of Jesus in our fellowship. We have to solve our problems and to reconcile. God won’t do that for us. It would be nice every time there is a problem in the congregation we call on God, oh! Dear Heavenly Father, can you come and solve this. It would be nice, but I tell you it doesn’t work, He doesn’t come. He wants us to solve our problems together and to reconcile. That’s our task that’s the obstacles we make, and he wants us to remove these obstacles, and when it is solved then He will come. So let us be aware of that. We want to experience the presence of Jesus in our meetings, when the congregation gathers for whatever purpose, but we He cannot do it if we don’t gather in the name of Jesus Christ, being aware, he (my brother) has been saved by Jesus as I have been saved by Jesus, and we have to do the step to reconciliation for solving our problems.

Jesus wants also to save our neighbor and he would like us to prepare the way, also to remove the obstacles that can hinder the neighbor to be saved by Jesus, that’s also our task. We can prepare the way for our neighbor to be saved by Jesus, in preaching the gospel, not just by words but also by our conduct. “Let our conduct be worthy of the gospel” said the Apostle Paul. We want our conduct to be worthy of the gospel. That’s a wonderful way to prepare the way of Jesus. Today many people pretend that it’s no longer possible to act according to the gospel. We have prepare the way of the Saviour just showing them it’s absolutely possible, it’s not easy but with God’s help we can do it. And we can live according to the gospel and have a conduct that is worthy of the gospel. That is the way we can remove this obstacle of all this people saying it’s no longer possible in our world or if you would know the situation in our region in our country. It is possible, we will show you that with God’s help we can do it. We apply the gospel.

We want the people to recognize that here is the work of God where living  apostles are preparing the bride to be saved. How can we convince people that here, it is the work of God? Where living apostles are preparing that? We can try to convince them showing them how big our churches are, how many members we have. I’m not sure that that is very convincing. Jesus gave us one solution, if you love each other they will know that you are really my disciples, that is the solution, if you love each other they will see at you are really my disciples. The unity of God’s people, we don’t pretend that the New Apostolic Christians are perfect, and we do not want to lie and say oh in our church everything is perfect. But, the way we forgive each other, the way we love each other the way we overcome our differences, that’s the sign that here it is God’s work. And I urge God’s children also in this country, let us prove that here it is the work of God, in forgiving each other, in loving each other, in overcoming all our differences. Doing that we are blessed by Jesus and we will be a blessing for our neighbour, because we have prepared the way for the savior to save him and we will be a blessing for this country. Let us prepare the way for the Saviour.

And the last point, a very practical one. Jesus had his disciples and he wanted them to prepare the way even in a very simple manner. He asked them’ go and buy some food because we need to eat’ He wanted to celebrate the feast of the Passover He said to them ‘OK go and prepare the place so that we can have the feast of the Passover’ so they had to do something very practical, that is also preparing the way of the Saviour and removing all the obstacles, making the way straight.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, and that’s the fifth and the last point. Let us make the way straight for the Savior so that he can work his work of salvation in helping in a practical manner. That concerns our offerings, that concerns our commitment in the congregations, all we can do to help the savior to save in His work of salvation. It is very practical but it is needed too. That is the way we want to prepare the way of our Saviour and doing that we will be saved and it’s our wish that as many as possible, our neighbors, are saved.

Amen.

So I was announcing the retirement of your District Apostle, and Ja I think it will beca52m nice if he is the first one that is called up and we listen to harp and flute.

District Apostle Noel Barnes

My Dear Brothers and Dear Sisters dear friends, our Chief apostle has again as always made what sounded complicated when he read it out the text word he has made it very simple and put in our everyday language and explained exactly what is  required to keep it straight, that is for us a task, not only as a servant but as a child of God.

The Lord God has always had a wonderful relationship with the crown of His creation and that is us, human beings. It was always His objective to have this absolute direct connection, and as time went by and we know from history, things happened that disturbed this connection and then he brought in other interventions. He sent us His son, Jesus. In order to fix up, if I may use that term, what went wrong in his direct connection with Adam and Eve in the beginning. And Jesus He was so great in His example and his life that it almost seems impossible for us to do as He did. And it is a high standard that He set and He did make allowance for us, and the allowance we find in His grace that He gave us.

ca18mThrough the grace of our Saviour and we can add through the grace of God, we can do what has been explained to us here today. To resist temptation to do the will of the Father dear brothers and sisters in theory it sounds as if it’s impossible, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the worthy partaking of Holy Communion, through the forgiveness of sins, we can do this. And when we do fail, and when we do make mistakes, the Lords grace is there to cover us, always has been in the past and always will be. And today I again thought of how loving the Lord is for us that He provides the right word at the right time. That we do not have any reason to doubt Him and even if circumstances appear so, and even as we heard, we are served by human beings who are not perfect, who strive for perfection, certainly. Who sanctify themselves, but remain imperfect, and through this we have to battle.

Let us remember one thing, let us never ever find anything wrong with God. We may be able to find something wrong with our bearer of blessing, not maybe, I’m sure we will but, with God we will never find anything wrong because God’s love is perfect and He’s love is perfect because He cares for all of us and if he cares for all of us, and cares for me, and cared for me, and will care for me in the future, then we are all eligible and able to lay claim to His care and to His love and should have no fear of the future. But we may simply come to a conclusion, by being thankful for what he has done what he does for us today. And I think the greatest of all lies in our thankfulness for what He will do for us, what He will do for us in His Kingdom.

Dear brothers and dear sisters we have often heard in the divine service, the eternity will be too short to thank him for what he has done for us, when we find ourselves in His kingdom. But before we reach that kingdom, Let it also be so that the time is too short to thank Him for what He will do for us through the guidance of his sprit, through the leadership in His church, and that at the end, and this is what is decisive , when the Saviour comes as certainly as he came after the paths were made straight for him, as certainly as He appeared so he will appear again.

Amen!

So we are thankful for these thoughts out of the heart of a senior District Apostle, today I can say it. Now I also invited for this special service, all the District Apostles and helpers from Africa. And which one can I call up, oh Ja I make it easy. Let’s call the youngest one. That’s the District Apostle Tshisekedi from Congo, and we could sing together, to prepare his way.

District Apostle Tshisekedi from Congo

My Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am really thankful to our Chief Apostle at the beginning of this divine service. He puts in our hearts the peace and the most important things for us like the children of God. Because I know change can also bring stress, and we need to be consecrated to the work of the bride of Christ and at a central point of this work is our salvation. Sometimes, when I have the time to discuss with the people in my country about the change. I ask them why are you afraid of that? What’s wrong? What’s happened? They say oh I don’t know how it will be in the future, with the new man, we don’t know what happened with the old or former one. Then I have just one answer, I say man can change but the Christ remains the same. I will be afraid if the Chief Apostle can say this morning we had an older Christ, now we need to have a new one or a younger one. But if it is the same Christ in the past and will be the same one in the future for me, nothing change. Then I will remain the same, prepare my salvation, and grow stronger to my Jesus Christ.  ca22m

Now when I listen to my Chief Apostle this morning, I’m really a lazy man, I can say oh Chief, it’s really difficult for me, remove the obstacle? I’m tired, it’s so heavy, it is very high, it is so difficult I can’t do it. But I remember what I learnt from my driver, when we went far in the bush of Congo, sometimes when we go back after the divine service, there is no road because after raining all the sands from the hills comes down and just near you is river and on the other side, there isn’t another way. What we need to do? One of the first things I can say is, I prefer to go back, no it’s not a good decision to go back, we need to go to go and complete your work and complete your task. Then my driver told me, oh don’t worry, we will find how to create a small way. But where? There, in the obstacle we need to find a way then we try to find the way and go , this means you have to overcome, we need to say. Oh Chief Apostle can you show us the short cuts? Which one will be easy? Which one will be better? Or is it just impossible for us to do it. No we need to overcome, just find a small road within this big obstacle so we can go on the other side. For me to create this small one, is just to put away my own opinion, I need to put away my own knowledge I would like to put away my own will, I would like to put away my own position, and accept what Jesus Christ ask me to do to be really a Bride of  Him. Then our Lord Bless us.

Amen!

Chief Apostle Schneider

So that was Congo, now we talked about the new man, and I’m sure he was inspired by the spirit, and the spirit told me you should call up the new man now. Don’t you think so? I think so. And we can listen to the male choir and the baritone please.ca27m

Male Choir: “Like men that wait”

District Apostle Helper John Kriel

My Dear Brothers and Dear Sisters what a powerful message we receive today and it is so good that after every divine service Chief Apostle makes it so clear, we have work to do. So we have to go and do that.

While he served us our thought when Lazarus was raised from the dead, that was a big job which Jesus did, but before he did that he asked, “Who will roll away the stone?” Somebody had to do that. And I think it would’ve been easier to roll away the stone than to bring him back to life. But somebody had to do that, so that Jesus could do what He needed to do. And while Chief Apostle served us I thought how often are we busy with the work that is actually God’s work? We want to change our neighbour, we want to change all the things that has happened. We want to change decisions here and there, that is God’s work. Leave that to God. And He will not hesitate to do that.ca29m

What is our work? and that became clear, our work is to make the path straight, our work is to remove the obstacles, and the obstacles often was made by ourselves anyway. You know often God didn’t put it there. It’s our own. We put it there, so come let’s remove it and under the serving, I thought, I don’t think any of us can say I’ve got nothing to do, we all have work to do, We all have to do that so that we can have the maximum blessing. Chief Apostle spoke about our sanctification for divine service. And I remembered and old priest that told us, when we were still in Sunday school, that we must bring our lamps to the Lord. But if it’s filled with a lot of dirt, you’re not going to get a lot of oil and the lamp won’t but for very long. So the sanctification process is the emptying out of that which does not belong within our heart and when we do that, there is so much more capacity for the Lord to do and for this wonderful work that He has begun.

Amen!

Chief Apostle Schneider

Dear brothers and sisters, today also we have the grace to celebrate Holy Communion. Communion, Jesus wants to have fellowship with us. Or, to give an image, He wants to enter our heart. To have fellowship with us, but here also, we have to make the way straight and to prepare this way. And one part of this preparation is we have to forgive our neighbor. That’s our task as the Apostles, to always tell people, please forgive your neighbour.ca31m

Brothers and Sisters, we are also human beings and during soul care, we are aware that in many cases it’s not easy at all to forgive. When one has to go through awful situations, it is easy to say “you have to forgive ” But to forgive, seems just to be impossible. So it’s not a threat, Jesus doesn’t threaten us. ‘If you don’t forgive!’ But He wants us to be willing to forgive. Remember the will, the free decision, the rest God will help. But we have to be willing. And how can we strengthen this will to forgive our neighbor? Just becoming aware that we want to be saved.

You know sometimes when someone is in very difficult situations, ‘oh please help me, I will do whatever you ask me to do, but please save me’ That is exactly the case when it comes to forgiveness of sins. Only Jesus can forgive and when we are aware of that without forgiveness we cannot be saved. We need to be forgiven then we say to Jesus ‘ save me, and will do what you want,’ and He says ‘Ok, I would like you to forgive your neighbour’. The apostle says, we are thankful for what God has done and what He will do for us, that was the message of the District Apostle. And my dear Brothers and Sisters, that’s also motivation to forgive, knowing that it’s really the wish of Jesus that, to forgive our neighbour. And out of thankfulness we are ready to do that. And don’t forget out purpose our goal is to become like Jesus, and for me that’s the main point. It is very difficult for us, don’t you think so? To have our idea our opinion about our neighbor knowing that Jesus thinks quite the contrary, if we have this wish, ‘I would like to have fellowship with Jesus, I want to be one with him, So I have to change my mind and to renounce my faults also about my neighbor and to adopt the thoughts and opinions of Jesus about my neighbour’

I tell you, that is my motivation, because we suffer so often, because I realize, my thoughts, are not yet the thoughts of Jesus, and I would like to be one with Him. Oh for sure it costs something, but when I consider my neighbour, I know exactly what Jesus thinks about him, and I realize I do not agree with Jesus. If we love Jesus, if we want to become like Him, it’s a suffering when we realize our thoughts are not Jesus thoughts and then we want to change our minds about our neighbor, and that is very helpful to forgive him.

To prepare ourselves for Holy Communion, let us sing together verse one of the hymn 281.

We want to stand up and pray the Lord’s Prayer.

Holy communion:

  1. Hymnal 365 – Come Everyone and Join our song
  2. Hymnal 561 – The first Nowell

Preparation for serving of the departed. 

Chief Apostle Schneider

My dear brothers and sisters we have this grace to know out of our faith that our beloved ones from the yonder world are here, they share the experience this divine service with us and they are longing as we were longing for celebrating holy communion having this communion with our Lord Jesus Christ .

We think of all those who worked before us and they prepared the way for our salvation we don’t even know them. For sure we think about the District apostles and Apostles the Rectors and the Brothers in the yonder world. We have no idea how many brothers and sisters worked and prayed to prepare the way of the savior here in South Africa in Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, all the countries. There were so many who worked, who brought sacrifices, who prepared the way so that the Saviour can save us. And we are so thankful for that.

Some couldn’t make it to remain faithful until the end. And it happened here as well as elsewhere on earth, that they left the church because they have been disappointed, because of human weaknesses in the church. Maybe our weaknesses the weaknesses of our forefathers, that doesn’t matter, Jesus wants to save them, they are our brothers and sisters and we want also to remove the last obstacles that hinders them to come and have fellowship with the Lord. We cannot repair the past, but we beg their pardon and we apologize for all the things that were not right that happened in the recent past or far away in the past. Because all of us are human beings and we are sinners, and from time to time it happens that somebody somewhere did something wrong. And it really comes out of the bottom of our hearts, we beg their pardon, we apologized, and we pray for them please come we welcome you at the altar of Jesus Christ. He is waiting for you. Maybe you can make it today, this last step to receive again Holy Communion through the living apostles and so enter the real fellowship with Jesus Christ. We invite them out of the bottom of our hearts.

ca40mTo prepare this we sing together verse 3 of the hymn 386 – O love the golden sunshine bright.

And now listen to this godly call, Jesus Christ invites you, come all of you come and receive what I lay in the hands and the hearts of these apostles of Jesus Christ. The body and the blood of Jesus Christ is given for each one of you. For your salvation, for eternal life for the joy in Christ and for our eternal fellowship with God. Amen.

Bassoon soloca41m

Chief Apostle Schneider

Now Ja, brothers and sisters, it was announced and now I have to act. Dear District Apostle, if you still agree to be retired, you can join me.

District Apostle Barnes runs up to the altar and says – ‘Before you change your mind’

My dear District Apostle, I must say it is not that easy for me to do this, and to be honest I stand in front of you with a deep respect, because you have such a long career. And you have been doing 30 years an Apostle, and 20 years a District Apostle. And you have been, I must say, a true servant of God and a faithful Apostle of Jesus Christ. It’s just impossible to summarize all things and we want to make it short, but I’ve always admired, and I’ not the only one, your deep faith. You believe in Jesus Christ, you believe in His gospel that’s the truth, you believe in his return and you trust and you believe that He is love. One could feel that looking at you. And you prove your faith. Also, when sometimes in your life, you couldn’t understand God’s decision. But out of your faith came this trust in God, and you followed Jesus, going on serving Him out of faith and of love.

ca45mA truly faithful man, a man of deep faith. I liked, and I’m not the only one, the way you served the Lord. Because you served the Lord with zeal and enthusiasm, and this enthusiasm was contagious. And the way you served the Lord, with joy with zeal, being enthusiastic about God’s work, that helped you to have always have more ideas. It was always your motto, we can do we should do, we have to do more and better. And you were successful in this, you had also always new thoughts to help the work of God to go forward. And I cannot quote examples all of you, all of you know him better. But this enthusiasm for Jesus Christ and his work that was something great. And then I must say, God has provided you with so many gifts and talents that one could be jealous. And you understood it to use these talents and gifts just to serve God, not your own glory, just to make God be great in our heart and in His work, and we are really thankful for it.

We thank you for your service and your work, we thank your wife and your family for their sacrifices and their willingness to help you and to support you, we don’t forget your late wife in the yonder world, we send a thought there, she has to know that we do not forget here and we are thankful for her sacrifices, may she have full joy in the yonder world. We thank you family , Miriam and the whole family, for what they did. I will tell her later.

We thank you also, and here I’m the spokesman of the Apostles and especially of the Chief Apostles. We thank you for your help in the leadership of the church, you were a wonderful coworker for all the Chief Apostles you worked with, helping them and bringing input in our meetings to help us to lead the church in Gods manner and in Gods way. Thank you for that, and thank you for your friendship, it’s just great to be your brother and your friend. And I really appreciate it. I make it short.

Thank you out of the bottom of our heart. My dear District Apostle, herewith I relieve you from your mandate as an active District Apostle, and from this day on as the leader of this district church. And I place you into retirement, you will remain our Apostle our District  Apostle our brother, and I do not remove all of the gifts you’ve  received, use it in another manner but please keep on serving God, I trust you. We thank you out of the bottom of our heart and we wish you and promise you God’s blessing may you be full of joy in your congregation and experience the love of God each and everyday. Thanks a lot!

As an exception you can remain besides the altar as a retired District Apostle.

I feel the need to give some explanation for what is going to happening now. You know that we are merging the two District Apostle Areas of Cape Town and Johannesburg with all the related countries. And oh I know there are questions ‘why does he do that??’ My answer is another question, ‘why not?’ We are in charge in the circle of the District Apostles and especially in the Chief Apostle, we’re in charge of the leadership of the church, of the strategy of the church and it’s very safe and healthy when from time to time we ask ourselves, why? Why in that way and not another way? For instance why are there two district churches in South Africa? Then the first reason was we can say, Ja because of the size, otherwise it’s too big, but that’s no longer relevant because in Africa we have much bigger district churches and they work retry well, I tell you. So the size is not longer relevant. Then one could say, Ja, for historical reasons, that’s always interesting, but let’s look at this reasons, and then we discover that from a New Apostolic point of view, they are no longer relevant.

Then others could say there are two district churches because there are two district apostles. We always preach and teach that we are just servants of our Lord and master Jesus Christ, and as a servant we do what Jesus tells us to do , when he says go there, we go there, when he says do this we do this. So also a District Apostle is a servant of God and he follows what the Master say and I am very thankful I tell him later again, that District Apostle Mkhwanazi, sees it that way. I am a servant of God I will do what the Lord ask me to do, so the argument that there are two district apostles cannot hinder us to change we are just servants we do whatever the lord asks us to do.

So why you do it now, because you know I have seen the costs of the administration, becomes very high, that is worldwide we are concerned with that so we have to keep an eye on it.  And that is also my job as Chief Apostle to make sure that the offerings of our members are spent in the most efficient manner and maybe it makes no sense to pay double for things that we could pay once. In the last time, for many reasons, it was two big parts of the offerings of our brothers and sisters in Johannesburg that was spent, just to cover the cost of the administration. So we had to do something. And that’s the other reason, because we want to use the offerings of our members in the best manner, and now we’ve decided that the building in Johannesburg, we can use this money for our members, that makes sense. These are a few reasons, because we do that and I want to say again, it’s not the District Church of Cape Town that absorbs the District Church of Johannesburg, that would be silly. It is not the case. We are creating something new. A new district church, it’s not one that eats the other, it is a new one that is born today and that is very important for me. Now one could say, ‘Ja this is just a speech’ You will see it, I promise you, you will see that something new. Ok that’s a few explanation, now I ask our two brothers, District Apostle Mkhwanazi and the District Apostle Helper Kriel to join me.

So my dear brothers, everything was said and we had enough discussion I can make it short again, and I just want to wish you and to promise you God’s blessing in this special task you get today I know that you will be supported by your brothers and sisters and I got many may signs of our brothers and sisters they will support you and the most important thing, God is with you. Don’t fear just do what your masters tell you to do in oneness with the chief apostle and you will be blessed and you will be a source of blessing for all the children of God here in South Africa but also in all the countries who are served from here. The blessing will increase.

Ordination of District Apostle John Krielordination_m

Closing Prayer

Choir: After divine service hymn – “A Happy Bride”

End

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District Apostle Noel Barnes: A man totally anchored in God’s work – “Fearless Barnes”, we thank you!

District Apostle Noel Barnes is currently the most senior district apostle in the world. On Sunday, 18th December 2016, Chief Apostle Jean Luc Schneider will place him into retirement, after having served for 30 years as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Noel Barnes comes from a long lineage of New Apostolic ancestry, as his great-grandfather was New Apostolic too.

It all began in 1907 when humble children of God in Cape Town told their postman, James Henry Barnes, about the New Apostolic doctrine. He was born in 1884. In 1909, Noel Barnes’s grandfather, his wife and children, were sealed. And it was the grandfather’s greatest wish that his father (the great-grandfather of Noel Barnes) —who was very ill at the time—would also turn to this doctrine and accept it. This would send the blessing back-wards as it were, and make it available to the generations before Grandfather James Barnes.

The wishes of the grandfather of District Apostle Barnes were fulfilled when Great-Grandfather Barnes was visited by three men—among them the later Bishop Hollander. Arriving at his bedside they were told, however, that he had gone into a deep coma. “Oh, no,” they exclaimed, “we have come to bring him testimony of the Lord’s work!” They prayed beside his bed, and sang a number of hymns; Great-Grandpa awoke from the coma and lived another three years in which time he became New Apostolic. He had thus become equipped for his confrontation with his ancestors in the eventuality of his entering the beyond.

Noel Barnes’ grandfather, James Henry Barnes; in the meantime had been working zealously in the cause of the Lord. He was ordained as a Bishop in 1935. At that time the apostle district in the Cape was divided into three bishop areas, led by the Bishops R.E. de Vries, Gaugusch and Barnes. Bishop Barnes was regarded as a pioneer of the New Apostolic Church in the Cape Peninsula. He was always very keen to conduct conversations on spiritual matters, and he was also very well disposed to technical progress and its advantages, also in the furtherance of the Church. In 1944 Bishop Barnes retired. From then on he attended the services in the Zonnebloem congregation, then known as Virginia Street. He died in 1966. He had three daughters and three sons.

One of these sons was Aubrey, the father of District Apostle Barnes. He had the good fortune, to have been born into a New Apostolic family. Aubrey Barnes carried various ministries. Until 1974 he was District Elder in Athlone, Silvertown, Garden Village and in Somerset West. Then he was sent by District Apostle Karl Gut to Durban, Natal. He came to the Pietermaritzburg East and Saunders Road districts. The districts in Natal province were restructured by District Apostle Rissik Kitching, and Aubrey Barnes found himself in a new district, in Wentworth. After his ministerial period of some 49 years—thirty as District Elder—he retired in July 1983.

Aubrey Barnes was a schoolteacher for 40 years and the conditions under which he started his profession were not easy. At one stage he was offered a teaching position if he would renounce his faith! Naturally, he could not do such a thing. Being ostracized for one’s faith makes life difficult. He had to take a job as a shop assistant at a much lower salary. He was there for seven years before he could again practice his profession. One day a customer, whom he had often assisted, visited a service which he, then a Priest, held. She was so astounded by what came from this man, whom she knew only as a humble shop assistant, that she wanted to know more about the New Apostolic faith. She became acquainted with the New Apostolic community and a little while later she and her family were sealed in the New Apostolic Church.

Noel Edward Barnes was born on 24 December 1949 in Cape Town, Athlone, the youngest of four children, and sealed on 9 July 1950 by Apostle De Vries. In 1969 he married Hazel Smith. The marriage was blessed with three daughters and one son. Noel Barnes worked for an international oil company in the Department of Finance and Sales. Until his appointment to the pastoral ministry he devoted his time mainly to the promotion of music in the New Apostolic Church. In 2001 his wife died. In August 2003, he married again.

Ordinations:

  • 1969/02/23               Sub-Deacon
  • 1971/01/30                 Deacon
  • 1973/04/04                 Priest
  • 1981/11/15                 Shepherd
  • 1982/05/16                 District Evangelist
  • 1984/08/12                 Bishop
  • 1986/06/22                 Apostle
  • 1996/15/12                 District Apostle

During 1999, District Apostle Noel Barnes was commissioned by Chief Apostle Richard Fehr to support the Lord’s work in Mainland China. During this period, substantial contacts were made with the Chinese Ministry of Religious Affairs, the South African Ministry of Foreign and International Relations as well as the Presidency.

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District Apostle Barnes with a Chinese Government official in Beijing, China

District Apostle Barnes’s passion and love for music and choir development led him to authorize numerous music exchanges between China and South Africa. This resulted in the choirs of the New Apostolic Church Cape District visiting China, to perform for the benefit of Chinese audiences as well as Government officials in Beijing, China. In addition, various networks between China and South Africa were established and are currently in place. The continued interaction between Chinese and South Africans, resulted in the Chinese government giving approval for Foreign New Apostolic Church members to conduct divine services and host music concerts in China. Over the past seventeen (17) years, since 1999, contact has been maintained with the Chinese networks by New Apostolic Christians, who are currently living in China.

Globalization has resulted in many of the members who used to be cared for by District Apostle Noel Barnes, being spread all over the world. They can be found in countries like China, Japan, Australia, Dubai, Germany, USA, Spain, England, New Zealand, etc.  As New Apostolic Christians here in China, and as part of the legacy of District Apostle Barnes, we reflect upon the many gems and blessings we have been privileged to receive from such an incredible servant of God. District Apostle Barnes’s firm and resolute works of faith and love are evident in all the members that he has cared for. Not only in the congregations in South Africa but everywhere in the world where his members moved to. For this reason, District Apostle Barnes’s contribution to the Lord’s work has not only benefited South Africa, but all countries where these members have been allowed to practice their faith in UNITY with the local population, especially countries like Australia, New Zealand and those in the Middle-East.

District Apostle Barnes is known as a humble but strong servant of God and has left an indelible mark on the hearts of God’s children worldwide. With his ordination as district apostle, Noel Barnes expressed the desire that he wanted to lead “a Happy Bride” home! We are sure that his retirement will not stop the zeal and vigor for God’s work and pray that our Heavenly Father blesses him abundantly with everything that he needs for his soul salvation and worthiness!

We, the New Apostolic Christians in China (NACIC), pay tribute to such a humble and great servant of God and wish him, and his beloved wife, well in his retirement.

Thank you, “FEARLESS“ Barnes! We salute you and will continue to remember you in prayer!

-S –

Is UNITY among Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China ever possible?

Prior to the year 2007, Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China were allowed, by the church, to associate with one another. This however changed and during 2007 the New Apostolic Church made two important decisions, namely:

  • Dismiss the Chinese Apostle Daniel Wang (Chinese name: Wang Liwei) and stop soul-care for the 10,000 New Apostolic Church members and ministers in his work area,
  • Instruct Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church to stay away from Chinese members of the church, in China

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What does the Bible tell us about UNITY amongst Christians?

The Bible underlines the importance of “unity” and “oneness.” Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” UNITY is absolutely essential because the church is the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), and a body cannot be in disunity or disharmony with itself. If disunity occurs, it essentially ceases to be a body and becomes a disjointed group of individuals. Jesus’ plan for His church is people unified in the faith.

The statement of Jesus, in John 17, indicates the fundamental importance of the spiritual UNITY between the Father and the Son, and those whom God has chosen out of the world (John 17:6).

John 17:21 – “that they all may be one, as You, Father are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me”. The Unity between Father and Son and among the followers was of the utmost importance to the credibility of Jesus’s sending by the Father…”so that the world may believe”.  It can therefore be interpreted that Jesus wanted to indicate that the lack of UNITY among His followers, would make it difficult for the world (Non-Christians) to believe that God sent Him.

The ultimate aim of Christian UNITY is the glory of God. Apostle Paul prayed, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:5-7).

Conclusion

It is acceptable to have differences of opinion on non-essential spiritual matters, like the impact of culture on worship styles, dress codes, local laws, etc. Whether you believe one or the other, it does not affect your salvation. However, some people use these non-essential differences as justification for division among Christians.

Our main focus as Christians, here in China, should be to work together to glorify God and expand His kingdom. We should all display an attitude of humility and help to bring about this important UNITY.  It is the devil that wants us to fall into the trap of divisions and separations. The devil knows that the lack of unity and the forced separation of Christians, will make it difficult for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, here in China.

Despite the dangers, which the first Christians faced, they were prepared to sacrifice their lives, rather than being separated. They fought to preserve the UNITY. We should follow the example of the first Christians, as described in Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

To answer the question, “Is UNITY among Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China ever possible?” The answer surely must be, “With God nothing is impossible.”

S

What is it like to be a Christian in China today? Insights from a New Apostolic Youth sister in China.

Many New Apostolic Church members always ask me, “What is it like to be a Christian living in China?” There is no simple or short answer, and the answer changes with every year that passes. When I first came to China, more than a decade ago, I would have told you that it is extremely lonely and depressing to be a Christian in this country. I was told to stay away from our Chinese New Apostolic members and, at the time, I had no Foreign New Apostolic Brothers and Sisters in the City I lived in. There was not even a Priest, who could serve me with Holy Communion. All I had, was a “Bread Letter” and Consecrated Holy Communion.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was, and still am, extremely grateful for this experience, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was better than being completely isolated from Word and Sacrament, like so many of our Chinese brothers and sisters are, and secondly, the experience of being alone in my university dormitory room on a Sunday morning, reading a bread letter and serving myself with Holy Communion, brought me so much closer to God.

When all the ‘bells and whistles’ are stripped away, all that is left is you and your God. You have to really intensify your faith and your prayers and truly activate your Holy Spirit, in order to eliminate the distance you feel from the Altar and His presence. This experience will always remain with me. During the times that I went back to my home country and attended a “normal” divine service, it was a struggle to not become emotional. I remembered thinking to myself “if only I can go home, just for a Sunday, and come back….” I started to appreciate every little thing, even just travelling to a church building, having a doorkeeper greet me as I enter the congregation, being able to sit on a church bench and fold my hands and pray. This is what I would fantasize about on a Sunday morning.

beijing-station

After a few years passed, things got a bit better. I was no longer the only Foreign New Apostolic Christian and being in fellowship with other Foreign New Apostolic brothers and sisters, allowed us to share our burdens – “A shared burden is half a burden”. Then of course, as a young person in the youth, I really missed attending youth activities. I am not talking about just “fun activities” with zero spiritual meaning, but activities like, visiting the sick or the elderly and singing for them. Having fellowship with retired office bearers and listening to their experiences of faith, relaxing with the youth on a Friday night and singing hymns like “The Lord is my light….” To me, these were normal youth activities, but in China and Asia, youth activities seem to take on a more “cultural feel”, rather than spiritual. We had to get accustomed to this as well.

After a year or two, things really started getting more bearable. I decided to get involved in the broader Christian community in China. I was surprised to discover that there was such a huge Christian movement in China, among foreigners and Chinese, alike. You might be surprised to hear that, on numerous occasions, Chinese came up to me to testify about the Gospel of Christ. Once I was in a taxi cab and the Chinese driver started talking to me about the city and cool places to check out. After a few minutes he asked me if I was Christian. I immediately answered him, saying “Yes I am”. He replied “We are part of one family, God’s family”. You can imagine how touched I was by this.

On another occasion, earlier this year, I was in hospital, it was late at night and I could not fall asleep because of the extreme pain I endured. The Chinese lady in the hospital bed next to me must have heard my sobbing and she turned to me and said “Don’t worry, I will pray to God to give you strength” and she folded her hands, closed her eyes and prayed for me. On more than one occasion while traveling in the bus, together with Chinese people, I overheard conversations about God. I distinctly remember three Chinese ladies, or as we would call them “aunties”. They were sitting in the bus and talking loudly (as aunties normally do) and when I listened to their conversation, I realized that they were actually sharing experiences of faith, as one of them spoke, the rest would confirm by saying “Hallelujah, Amen!”, loud in the bus for everybody to hear!

I have even been approached in shopping malls by Chinese asking me if I have heard the “Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. I would respond by saying: “Yes I have, but you can remind me and tell me ……”.

The development of Christianity since I first arrived in China until now has been astronomical. More and more Christian churches and denominations have been successful in negotiations, for recognition, with the Chinese Government and Religious Affairs Bureaus on various levels.

Looking back, one thing I have realized is that, I might have originally come to China for higher education purposes, but it turns out that I learned more about my faith than anything else. A Catholic brother, whom I met here in China, once said, “God is in China, I feel that China is a training ground for me, to train me in my faith”. I could not agree with him more.

To answer the question, “What is it like to be a Christian in China?” Today my answer is, I have never felt closer to God than I have felt here in China. Living in China brings you back to the basics of our faith. When I look at the New Apostolic community internationally, I realize that so much of our values have changed. Nowadays posting a “selfie” with an Apostle or the Chief Apostle seems to be more important than remembering and sharing the word that they have preached.

So simply said: Yes, it is still extremely hard and challenging to practice our faith in this Communist country, but at the same time, because of all of the challenges, I make countless experiences of faith, thereby feeling God’s nearness, and that is a great comfort. My prayer and hope for the future is that God’s work can grow from strength to strength in this vast country of Communist China. For now, being involved with the broader Christian community in China, helps to ease the feeling of abandonment and loneliness due to the absence of access to the New Apostolic Church in China.

As far as the forced separation between Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church, here in China is concerned, I plead with all Christians to join me in intensifying their prayers for the restoration of the unity between the Chinese and Foreign members of our Church. I believe that any separation, between Chinese and Foreign Christians, is wrong and against the teachings of Jesus Christ and our Godly laws. All other Christian Churches, in China, are united and engage the Chinese Government with an united front. The New Apostolic Church, in China, is the only Christian Church which keeps their members separated, similar to “Apartheid” in the old South Africa. I am sure that this is against the Godly laws. Unity was at the center of the teachings of Jesus and He expressed this in the prayer to His Heavenly Father, the night before He was crucified, as we read in John 17: 21 -23:

“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one;

“I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”

Our response to this deep desire for unity, as expressed by Jesus, should be to do everything humanly possible to bring about unity and oneness in the Church, especially the church here in China.

Let us all pray together. One Goal, One Faith. Victory with Christ!

-S-

Chief Apostle Schneider in Blantyre, Malawi. Divine Service for the Departed, 6th November 2016.

Impressions and informal notes from the divine service for the service of departed in Blantyre, Malawi, as recorded by members of our social media team. Please note that these notes are not official transcripts.

Bible word (Text word): John 14-6: Jesus said to Him “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.

 Opening Hymn: 396 – “The love of God”

 Chief Apostle Schneider

My dear brothers and sisters here and all connected congregations.

We join our choir to worship our God. I wish you all over a great encounter with our Heavenly Father.

One day Apostle Peter and John went to the temple and a man was begging. When he saw the Apostles coming he asked for money and Peter said I have no silver no gold, but I give you what I have in the name of Jesus get up and walk. And the lame man stood up and entered with them into the temple, he went into the temple, God’s dwelling place and he praised God,

Many today ask God, please help me. Grant me your help in the daily life. Heal me, give me some money. But Jesus said the Apostle has one mission to tell people, “Hey, we don’t want to stay here on earth, we want to enter the kingdom of God. Get up and walk with us to the temple. Walk with us to enter God’s Kingdom. That’s the task of God’s Apostles. Dear brothers and sisters let us get up and follow God. That’s the desire that God wants us to enter his kingdom and have fellowship with Him and that is salvation. Salvation is to be in the fellowship with God and that’s only possible with Jesus Christ. Without Him no one can enter the kingdom of God.

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Without him no one can be saved and that applies on earth as well as in the realms of the beyond, and that’s what Jesus explained. “No one comes to the Father but by me, I am the way the truth and the life”, and that’s also the message for the souls in the beyond, Jesus is the way to enter the Kingdom, and that means we have to believe that Jesus is the son of God, believe that he came, in his sacrifice, his resurrection and that he went back to be with God, and in His gospel and his teaching and to follow His way. It would be silly to say “Oh the gospel that’s ok Jesus is the son of God and the way, but I don’t want to follow and act according in the daily life.”

On earth and in the beyond we have to believe in God and the sacrifice of Jesus, no one can come to God without Jesus’ sacrifice. That means that no one can receive salvation if they don’t believe in this sacrifice.

There are many good people that entered the realms and they feel they deserve salvation just because they have good deeds, but that isn’t the case. We need God’s grace to be saved, on earth and in the yonder world, and to take grace we have to come to God like children “I am nothing without thee, I need you”. Dear brothers and sisters we need the sacrifice, we need his grace, we cannot deserve salvation, we need God’s grace and the forgiveness of sins and to obtain that we have to be humble. “Please help me I am nothing without you”. And for some people that’s extremely difficult u know, and I can imagine that many souls feel they deserve salvation, but first they should be humble, and come to God and ask for His grace.

Jesus is the way. He also explained that we must be baptized with water and the spirit, we have to be reborn, otherwise we cannot enter the kingdom of God, and then He sent His Apostles and told them “I send you as My father sent Me, go teach, preach and baptize all nations.”

That’s not the way of the New Apostolic Church, that’s the way of Jesus. He taught us. He sent His Apostles to dispense the Holy Spirit. That’s the way defined by Jesus Christ.

He gave us the one way to follow, to enter His kingdom. Jesus is the way, we need his grace out of His sacrifice and for that we have to be humble and asking for grace. We cannot deserve salvation and one has to be baptized through water and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said I am the truth, and that’s also valid on earth and in the beyond. It means His word is truth. He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but by no means will my word pass away.” So the whole Gospel is the truth. Some people think maybe if they apply half of the Gospel it’s ok because some parts I cannot adapt into my life, people are funny they want to define what is a sin and what isn’t. They even invent their own gratification of sins, there are serious sins and not so serious. To kill my neighbor is serious but if you steal your neighbor’s money, not so serious. Look at the world today, if everyone thought that taking your neighbor’s money is a sin, the world would be a different place. Sometimes it seems like this sin has been erased from the Bible.

Some people realize when they enter heaven “Oh Jesus was serious about His teaching, every word was serious” … and then they become aware, Jesus is the truth all His words are truth. Many are surprised to discover that even the smallest word of Jesus was the truth.

Jesus tells us the truth about ourselves. Remember the Revelation, “You say you are rich but I tell you that you are poor.” There are men with a high opinion of themselves and Jesus will tell them the truth. And that’s the case in the yonder world and suddenly the souls discover “Oh I’m much different than what I thought” and then they must accept that Jesus is the truth.

Quite often people react like children, when the Father says “Oh you did something wrong” we say “Oh no it was him and he forced me and it’s not serious because everyone’s doing it”. Jesus tells us that’s a sin that we are committing. Jesus is the truth, also has another meaning. Jesus actually meant I am God because God is truth. He meant he is God and God is him, the one who saw Jesus, saw God. They think God is a superior being, the punisher and judge, but Jesus showed us he didn’t come to punish but to save. That’s the meaning of “I am the truth”. I am God you can see me as God.

There are many souls that don’t accept this, on earth and in the beyond. They cannot understand or accept why God doesn’t punish the sinner. They are disappointed and angry when they see the sinner goes unpunished. Think about this, it isn’t easy to accept. When someone mistreats you, we would like God to do something and Jesus tells you “No, you know I love him exactly like I love you, I want to save him too, I want him to be in eternity with me as I want the same for you”. You agree with me, this is hard to accept. But to receive salvation one has to accept. Jesus is the truth God is like Jesus.

Jesus is the truth, He keeps His promises. There are people who sacrifice for God but God didn’t help them when they were sick and remained that way until death and they are so disappointed, “God promised He will help me, I called Him please help me and actually He didn’t. Where is this Saviour you talked about? And now Jesus says “I am the truth, I keep my promises”, and one has to believe it. Then we have to remember what the promise is, Jesus said those who believe and follow me won’t die I will give them eternal life.

He didn’t speak about the life on earth. He spoke about eternal life, salvation of the soul, fellowship with God. We will experience God and we can experience this now.  We can feel God is with me. Even in sickness. We can feel He is beside me. He gives me peace and joy. But one has to believe He keeps His promises He is the truth.

Jesus is the truth, He tells us the truth about ourselves and we have to accept it, He loves the sinner and wants to save them, we believe in His promise of eternal life, and then Jesus said “I am the life” and what does that mean, we have to be aware what does life mean in the Bible. In the very beginning God gave man life when He made man a living being, he gave man life to stay with him in paradise. For God life was “I want man with me. I can talk with him. We can talk together”. That’s the reason God created man. To have fellowship with him. You know that was destroyed because of sin. Man was separated and now we understand what he meant when Jesus said I am the life. Through Jesus we can have this life again, we can come to Jesus and to God and again we can have fellowship with God.

Through Jesus we can have eternal fellowship with God. Jesus also said “I am the bread of life”. We need to celebrate Holy Communion to eat his body to eat his blood. That’s also a condition placed by Jesus. Not the New Apostolic Church. ‘If u don’t eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no part of me”. To have this, we must celebrate Holy Communion continuously. Jesus asked His Apostles to dispense it. He told them, “Do this in remembrance of me”. Jesus is the life! Through Him we can have eternal life but we need to have Holy Communion.

We WANT to renounce evil and the sinful life. We want to live for Christ. In Christ Jesus is the life. We have renounced our life and to live in Christ and become like him and the more we celebrate Holy Communion we can become like Christ.

So He can give us grace and we can enter His kingdom. Dear brothers and sisters this is what Jesus wanted to tell people, both to us here and in the beyond. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and let me change it a little bit. “Jesus is our way our truth our life!” Amen

District Apostle Helper João Uanuque Misselo from Angola

Dear brothers and sisters.  The Chief Apostle today and this morning has really given a lot of the commission he has received from above. Jesus is able to tell Peter “It is you the rock and upon you I build my church” And today he has really fulfilled the word about what the Lord desires from our heart. Maybe we can also give one example. Small as it may be. If a parent was able to tell the child, please I am sleeping if anyone comes tell them not to disturb me, that child  as  little as he may be, he has the authority from the father. Whoever comes in whatever stature when he comes the child will say sorry my father is sleeping, you cannot enter.

Jesus Christ is saying “I am the way, and the truth and also the life. Not one can come to the father except through Me.” He has said “I am” He didn’t day “He is or that one is”, but “I am” He said this out of the authority and power He has received from His Father, and this is what we should accept as now the Chief Apostle is telling us this. Whoever will believe that Jesus is the Son of Man, he who believes in the sacraments that He has left, he who believes that Jesus died for our sins, He has left us a promise “I have gone to my father to prepare a place so that where I am there u will be”.

When we were in Australia, the Chief Apostle told us, “There is nothing that God promised that he was unable to fulfill. He has made a promise of eternal life. He has made a promise that His Son will come and take us home. And He has also made a promise that He will make for us a new heaven, and He has left a promise with His Apostles I will be with you until the end of the age.”

This is offering us joy to you brothers and sisters, alive and in the beyond. Even today, when we are sorrowful because we are separate from those in the beyond. When the Lord will come we will be filled with jubilation. Amen

Children’s choir: “Saviour like a Shepherd leads us”

District Apostle Ndandula

My dear brothers and Sisters, dear guests and friends,. For almost two years when we received the message that Chief Apostle will be in Blantyre, Malawi. We have prayed we have pulled the curtains within our souls and our dear Chief Apostle has fulfilled his promise. He is here with us and we have heard that which he has brought for us. A message from our Heavenly Father. There is no other way. We may have heard that Jesus and God are like mountains we can climb from any angle and we will reach the top. This is the message from Jesus Christ and how do we know the way? The way is very difficult to pass through and we will experience many challenges.

In life you also have challenges, with the power of the spirit let nothing hinder us, let nothing distract us from the way. He is the way that leads to eternal life. He assured us that because He overcame so we can also overcome.

He is the truth. Many people say the truth can save you. The greatest truth is Jesus Christ.  Not only the truth but OUR truth. Let our Lord Jesus Christ be in us. Like Jesus said: “If you have seen Me, you have seen My Father”. Then those who see us should be able to see Jesus Christ, and beloved like forgiveness is not so easy, because as human beings we always see human beings, but as our Chief Apostle teaches us through the Holy Baptism we can also see Jesus in one another. He is the life. Beloved in the Lord, I saw a sign on a store it said “No money ,no life”, but Jesus is the life. Yes we may die, but if He lives in us we will resurrect, death isn’t the end.

We also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and with it, we will also be able to resurrect. Let us remain on this way, let us pray for the Lord’s help. Challenges will be there, but the Lord will grant us strength, the Lord won’t remove the challenges so we can walk freely with our hands in our pockets. We have the same needs here and in the beyond, He is the same God and the same Christ, He loves us and we love Him, and one day we will be with Him forever. Let us believe Him and trust Him and keep our faith till the end. Amen

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider

On this day we can experience the forgiveness of sins, but we have to be humble, not coming to God mentioning all our good deeds, let us come to Jesus like a little child, I have nothing, without you I can do nothing. I can give you nothing, please give me Your grace and I can be saved.

And then we celebrate Holy Communion together. We will receive the bread of life this allows us to become a new creature in Christ. Count the number of times the members of our church have celebrated Holy Communion and look at the many that haven’t changed. It’s not just one. Does this mean that Holy Communion isn’t efficient? Oh what God gives is always perfect.

Holy Communion contains life and strength of God but the efficiency of it depends on our will and that’s the problem. Is our will strong enough? Yes, we want to become like Jesus, we do want His thoughts to be our thoughts. I do want that His priorities becomes mine, I do want to see my neighbor as Jesus sees my neighbor. From time to time we will become weak. We don’t want to change our opinion of our neighbor, and so Holy Communion has no effect. Jesus will not force me to change my opinion. Dear brothers and sisters let’s celebrate this Holy Communion today with the strong desire that we want the thoughts of Jesus to become ours and then this Holy Communion will produce this effect, and not only we will experience it but the people around us will see.

Repentance Hymn: “Oh Saviour hear my cry” – Hymnal 53

Prayer

Celebration of Holy Communion

Holy Communion Hymns: “A sparkling stream”. “A wonderful savior”. “Safe in the arms of Jesus“

Choir Hymn: “A glorious land awaits us”

Serving for the departed

Hymn: violin solo: “I see in Spirit ”

Special acts : Ordination of District Elder Jacob Mwansa as Apostle.

Closing prayer

Closing choir anthem: “Glory praise and honor and We shall remain united” special arrangement.

Chief Apostle Schneider in Perth, Western Australia. Sunday, 23rd October 2016

Below are impressions from the divine service as recorded by our social media team, who were connected to the live transmission of the service in Beijing, China. Please note that these are unofficial notes.

Chief Apostle prayed: “God of grace and God of love, we come to Thee. We believe You are the God of love. We believe You love us…We pray for all those who are suffering. We need Your grace. Grant us that which we need.”

Bible word (Text word): Hebrews 6:19-20: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become the High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Choir Hymn: “The Lord is my light” (Hymn Collection: 165)

Chief Apostle

My dear brothers and sisters here and in all the connected congregations. First let me be your spokesperson and express my gratitude to the choir. It was very impressive the way you sang that hymn, it is our will to remain in Gods house forever.

It’s a special joy for us to be here in Australia. I must say this time it wasn’t difficult for me to convince my brothers to come to the meeting because of the location.

This District Apostles meeting was a blessing for all of us because we could strengthen our faith and each other by sharing experiences and strengthening the unity as well.

1aThis question of hope and the anchor. Apostle Paul compares the hope to an anchor on a boat, the hope we have is the anchor of our soul. We hope in God, we hope in Jesus Christ and this hope keeps us from being drifted away by the current. This anchor enters the presence behind the veil. This refers to the Jewish temple – the most holiest place in the temple where they believed God dwells, this means that our hope is anchored in God. The question is what is our hope? In the usual language we say we hope for something, we want something to happen, we believe it is possible to happen, this is the definition of hope.

Let me use an example. This is off the record. For instance, the rugby fans in Australia, they may hope that the Wallabies will beat the All Blacks………. but that’s not hope that’s a dream or a wish. It is different if the Wallabies hope to beat the Springboks……….that is hope.

As believers of Christ, our hope is of a higher quality, because we have wishes and we believe that with God it is possible, within His will. That’s the Christian hope, but this isn’t the hope we speak of today.

Our hope is expecting the future in confidence, because we know that God will fulfill His promises. Ok, so what did God promise?

  • God promised man eternal life, eternal fellowship with Him.
  • Jesus promised that he will come back and take us with him.
  • God promised that He will create a new creation, and all man that believes can enter the new creation, have fellowship and there will be no death, no tears, no pain.

When we talk about hope it’s related to these promises, our hope is anchored in God Himself.

We know God and we know that God is the TRUTH. God is faithful! The One we hope in is FAITHFUL and He will fulfill His word. He is ALMIGHTY. No one can prevent him or hinder His plan. Our hope is anchored in God.

Jesus came in Gods stead to place this anchor, he was the forerunner to open the way, and to prove that it’s possible, He made it and He will help us to make it too. He prays for us, He is our intercessor. That’s why our hope is so sure, because it’s anchored in God, our hope, our truth and it has been placed by Jesus the forerunner the one who prays for us.

What we hope for we cannot see, but we can see the effect of this hope in our daily life. Sometimes we face storms, but because our anchor is solid and sure, it cannot affect our boat because of the anchor, the boat tosses, moves but it stays firm. We are shaken by the tribulations and we are tested, and we suffer, but we have this wonderful solid and sure anchor and we know the glory that God wants to give us is much greater than the suffering we endure today.

Even without storms, the boat still needs an anchor or else it will be driven away by the current. We don’t always have suffering. Sometimes people even forget about God, because they are well fed, healthy, happy. And their life is calm, but we as children of God we have this anchor and we are longing for the eternal fellowship with God, no matter what happens we have this longing, to be with our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not swayed by the time passing, even if it takes a long time for the Lord to return, we remain at the same place, we remain with God. Sometimes we lose courage, we say we are sinners, we are not strong enough etc, but No, don’t forget we have this anchor, we have this hope. Jesus prays for us, we are hoping in his grace, and this anchor prevents us from drifting away from God. Isn’t this a wonderful anchor?

All the brothers in this vast area, the pacific, New Zealand, they have been doing a lot of work, but sometimes after all the working and serving, sometimes there are no successes, and we lose hope, and the Evil One is there that doesn’t want us to spread the gospel. But No, we have this anchor, this solid foundation in God.

Jesus promised that no evil will prevail against the Church. He promised that he will be with us till the end, and we believe in this promise that’s why we don’t give up. We continue working and serving the Lord, knowing that the work will not be in vain. Even if we experience the power of the devil, we have this anchor and we continue working for the Lord knowing that Jesus is with us.

Last point, Paul said rejoice in hope. This hope, this anchor allows us to be joyful even if there isn’t a visible reason to be joyful. This hope allows us to be joyful, just thinking about the future, expecting with confidence for what will happen, sharing eternity with Jesus being delivered from Evil and death. The joy of hope is a wonderful anchor in our lives.

The captain of a ship can lift the anchor whenever he wants and then the current and the wind can drive the ship away. It is up to us to make sure the anchor remains. How can we do that? Whenever Jesus is no longer at the first place in our heart, this is how we lift this anchor and then our soul is in danger, or to make it easy to understand, when the fact that God must fulfill our wishes becomes more important than the Promise of His return to us, then we are in danger, this is a piece of advice the Holy Spirit gives us, dear child of God don’t lift this anchor of hope in God. When we work for the Lord in His spirit we will feel the joy. Amen,

District Apostle Helper Robert Nsamba (Zambia)

My beloved in the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, I’m sure we cannot agree more with what we just heard, from the orchestra. From what we have heard this morning, we have been elevated to a point where we desire that He who has promised to take us home, that we will be able to be found worthy and be taken home.

1b

The images that the Chief Apostle has left us with this morning, about the ship that isn’t being spared, but it is untouched. There are forces who are working, and here we are being assured, don’t worry because God himself is the most powerful. So the designer of this anchor is a perfect one, so we need just to trust, but these movements/trials we must go through are meant for our maturity and development for our journey in Christ, that we don’t drift away but rather that we are orientated and aligned within the range of God’s love. Amen,

District Apostle Micheal Ehrich (South Germany)

My very dear beloved brothers and sisters. Yes, I think for us it is very important that faith, hope and love is strengthened.

In Germany we have a saying, It means half of his life, human beings hopes in vain. This is when someone promises us something and they don’t fulfill it then we are disappointed.

1c

Our Chief Apostle teaches us if we concentrate our hope in God then we will never be disappointed. Chief Apostle has mentioned that Jesus promised that “I will be with you until the end of the world” and this I will take very personal for myself. And Jesus has promised to come and fetch us and this is our hope, May He come soon. Amen.

District Apostle Leonard Kolb (USA)

Dear brothers and sisters, it’s so nice when the choirs hymn is a service in the midst of a service,

A Christian must always keep developing and keep moving forward in the Lord. Today our Chief Apostle teaches us, our hope is not a wish or a dream but it is a reality, Jesus Christ made it so. And we must know it, and then it becomes a security, then it becomes our Joy.  Apostle Paul said it, “If God is for us then who can be against us?”

1d

We must remain attached, we must make sure our anchor is secure. An anchor is connected by a chain. Hold on to this chain. Remain attached to this wonderful reality and that we are joyful in the hope in Christ. Amen,

District Apostle Noel Barnes (South Africa)

My dear brothers and sisters, friends. As everyone was called up my hope grew stronger, but at the end it was like hoping against hope. It’s great to be here and the hymn we heard now, “My Savior cares for me”, rounds it off beautifully.

1e

The hope we have in Jesus Christ. To underline that which our Chief Apostle has placed in our hearts. I thought of the first apostles, Jesus said to them go to Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit will come upon you. They had to hope that this will be fulfilled, and things happened that disturbed the plan. They thought that it wouldn’t happen, because they believed that Jesus was great and strong. They had to hope that Jesus’ plan will be fulfilled. Let us wait at the altar of Jesus, let us wait in the fellowship. Amen.

Chief Apostle Schneider – Preparation for the serving of Holy Communion

The Bible says that those who have this specific hope, it cleanses themselves. We want to cleanse and purify ourselves through this hope because we expect to enter His kingdom where everything is holy and pure and perfect. Where everything is like God. This is the place we would like to enter, and as long as we are sinners we cannot enter this place, and the only way to become pure is to have forgiveness of sins, for this Jesus wants us to be repentant and more than this to fight against sin.

Sometimes we take it too easily, **story of the 10 talents**

Jesus provides us with the strength and talents to fight off the sin, but do we utilize it or do we just do the minimum?

It’s not about just having the wish to want forgiveness. Jesus wants us to be committed to fight against our sins and to overcome, everyday.

The one who has the hope purifies himself. That means he is repentant and uses all the gifts God have given him to fight against sin.

Let’s fight against evil, and let us ask ourselves, “shouldn’t I fight a little bit more?” We can answer this for ourselves.

Repentance hymn: With contrite heart I come to Thee. (Hymn 340, Third verse)

Serving of Holy Communion for the Departed

5434

End