The next UBF international summer Bible conference (ISBC) will be held on August 9-12, 2018, at Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Lodging will be accommodated by the Galt House hotel, and major sessions will be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center, located two blocks from the hotel, being connected by a skyway. We thank all the overseas delegates and members of the US/Canadian West Coast chapters who have traveled by air to attend the ISBCs. Those who drive or take a bus, Louisville is located at a 15 hour-drive from Montreal and Colorado, 12-hour drive from New York and Minneapolis, 10-hour drive from Toronto and Washington DC, 7-hour drive from Atlanta, and a 5-hour drive from Chicago and Toledo.
Overview of the recent ISBCs
Since UBF had the first ISBC in 1981 at Niagara Falls, international Bible conferences have been an inspirational force for our members to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). These are the recent ISBCs that were held with their themes at various locations:
2001 ISBC at Illinois State University: “A Kingdom of Priests and A Holy Nation” (1Pe 2:9)
2004 ISBC at Michigan State University: “Your Kingdom Come” (Mt 6:10)
2008 ISBC at Purdue University: “God So Loved the World” (Jn 3:16)
2013 ISBC at Indiana University of Pennsylvania: “So Loved, So Love” (Jn 13:34, 20:21)
Since the 2004 MSU ISBC, more than 2,500 people from North America and more than 80 countries have gathered in one place. Through the ISBCs, many have met Christ for the first time and many others have accepted missionary calling. It is a time to learn from each other, network, and worship God. Nevertheless, attending an ISBC requires investment of time and money for all of us, more so for international delegates.
Why do we have ISBCs?
So why do we have ISBCs? Let’s think about the biblical meaning of an international Bible conference. Deuteronomy 16:16 reads, “Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose….. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed.” In Deuteronomy 31:12, God commanded the Israelites to assemble all men, women and children, and foreigners among them for hearing the words of the law. God called Israel and wanted them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world (Ex 19:6). For Israel to live out God’s hope and purpose, God knew that they needed Bible conferences at least three times a year. God knew that, for many of them, coming to the conferences would be costly. Nevertheless, God taught them to come to meet him with offerings. God wanted them to put their relationship with God and their spiritual identity as a chosen people to be the top priority in their lives.
For UBF as a community, the international Bible conference is a time to see that the work of God is much greater than we imagined. It is a time to confirm God’s calling and renew our identity as God’s special people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1Pe 2:9).
Overview of 2018 “His Kingdom” ISBC
After the last year’s North America staff conference survey, North America senior staff and ISBC program committee have met to pray for a layout of the 2018 ISBC. Finally, the theme of 2018 ISBC is set to be “His Kingdom.” Why “His Kingdom”? The kingdom of God is the heart of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching. His first message was “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15) He taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). When God reigns on the throne of our hearts, we dwell in his light and life. We have love, peace, joy, and freedom in all circumstances. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to serve people with the good news of salvation. The kingdom of God is everything and our life and ministries flow out of it. The kingdom of God has come in us and in the church community, yet it needs to ever grow through our faith and obedience to our King Jesus.
So through the 2018 ISBC, we want to see the vision of God’s kingdom for ourselves and the world. The kingdom of God will be fully realized in the entire universe when Jesus comes again. The Lord Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:20) The Lord said that the gospel will first be preached to all nations before his coming (Mk 13:10). We can speed the Lord’s coming by preaching the gospel to all nations. Through the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the promise of his Coming, we want to be refreshed and inspired to be Kingdom workers for world missions.
On the first day, Thursday evening, we will have an opening message followed by the World Mission Night I. Friday morning will be devoted to a group Bible study and the first main message. In the afternoon, we will have Peer/Interest Group sessions twice so that everyone may participate in two sessions of their choice. In the evening, we will have World Mission Night II as a plenary session beginning with a message. On Saturday morning, we will have the second group Bible study and main message. The afternoon is devoted to reflection writing and sharing. On the Saturday evening, we will have a special lecture by our guest speaker, Dr. John L. Fain, a pioneer missionary to Indonesia from the PIONEERS global ministries. He is now its area director, ministering in Thailand. After the lecture, we will have a Kingdom Festival. This Festival is new and will be the climax of the conference as we offer chorus, music, dance and orchestra as our corporate worship to God and King Jesus. On Sunday morning, we will have a short group Bible study or representative testimonies followed by a Sunday message. There will be a call for a missionary pledge and the conference will end with a short inauguration ceremony of the fifth General Director.
P. Jacob Lee, HQ World Mission Department Chairperson, will organize the World Mission Nights along with Los Angeles, Montreal, New York and Washington DC chapters. Dr. Moses Noh and Dr. John Yoon will be the main organizers of the Peer/Interest group sessions. Lt. Sarah Kim of Chicago will work with North America chapters and continental coordinators to prepare the Kingdom Festival. We will raise two presiders and three singing-along leaders teams from North America. Please recommend gifted young leaders who would serve the upcoming ISBC.
After discussions and recommendations by senior staff and chapter leaders, ISBC Program Committee and HQ staff prayerfully worked to choose Bible passages that expound the nature of God’s kingdom and the kingdom values and vision. After prayers, the passages were chosen that are relatively new.
· Opening message: “Your Kingdom Come” (Mt 6:9-13). This message on the Lord’s prayer will help us to examine ourselves and challenge us to seek His Kingdom.
· Main message I” “I Have Come to Call Sinners” (Mt 9:1-12). The passage is about Jesus’ calling us into His kingdom of grace and discipleship.
· World Mission Night II” “Forgiveness of Sins to All Nations” (Lk 24:45-49). These words of the Risen Christ testify that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the fulfillment of God’s promises, that God brings His kingdom to the peoples of all nations through the preaching of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that we are to be witnesses of the gospel.
· Main message II: “You Are the Salt and Light of the World” (Mt 5:1-16). These words of the Beatitudes teach us the kingdom values and Christian’s inner life by which we can overcome worldly temptations and live holy lives according to God’s hope.
· The Kingdom Festival: “Glory to the King and the Lamb” (Rev 5:9-14). This passage is a heavenly picture of all peoples and creatures worshipping God. Worship is the ultimate purpose of creation, evangelism and redemption. It is essential for us to know why our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus are worthy to receive our praise and worship and why worshipping God should be at the center of our lives.
· Sunday message: “A New Heaven and a New Earth” (Rev 21-22). The new heaven and the new earth will extend our hope to the kingdom perfected through the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. With this hope, we can endure all hardships and fully devote ourselves to his kingdom work.
Significance of 2018 ISBC
At the birth of UBF in the early 1960s in Korea, UBF was a community of love made up of college students who found new life in Christ. In the 1970s and through the 1990s, these young people received God’s vision for the world and went out to 95 countries as missionaries. Thus, God raised UBF to be a large-scale, lay-missionary movement, after the Moravian missionary movement in the 18-19th centuries and an international church that carries out world campus mission. In the new millennium, God has led us to grow and mature as a church. The church exists to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Ac 1:8). World mission vision makes a church a true church (Mt 28:19-20). A passion for world missions makes a believer a true Christian. There is no work more urgent and important than saving the lost. There is nothing more valuable we can devote our lives to than leading people to God’s kingdom. World missions has been the DNA of UBF. Now we feel that the Holy Spirit is inspiring UBF to renew its missionary vision and passion for all countries, cities, and campuses of the world.
“All Should Go, and Go to All.” This challenging slogan is what Dr. Arthur Pierson said at the Mount Hermon conference in 1886 that initiated Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (SVM), which sent out over 20,000 missionaries. M. Sarah Barry came to Korea inspired by the SVM. UBF missionaries also went out with this spirit. Some of our missionaries retired from work and many are going to retire. I praise God, for their passion to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth has not weakened after decades of their missionary life. How beautiful is the life of the silver missionaries like Dr. Joseph and Esther Chung in Uganda, Moses and Sarah Chang in Belize, Isaac and Rebekah Lim in Kyrgyzstan, and Daniel Yang in Rwanda! An old UBF missionary/shepherd never dies, but only re-tires to go. At the last North America staff conference, Dr. Steve Shadrach, author of “The Fuel and The Flame”, reminded us that campus mission is worthwhile to devote our lives to and challenged us to continue the ministry until we die. I pray that all of our missionaries and shepherds including you and me re-tire and go somewhere.
Through our lives and ministries, God has raised precious new generation leaders including our children. Let’s pray that all of these new generation leaders may grow to put their hope on God’s kingdom and give their hearts to God. Our Lord Jesus was most happy when Mary broke her alabaster jar and poured the very expensive perfume on him. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. Wherever the gospel is preached, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mk 14:6,9). Everything in the world passes away. Only God’s kingdom and what we did for Christ will last forever. May God raise many men and women among our new generation leaders who do beautiful things to the Lord. May God raise many short- and long-term missionaries among our young leaders who would dedicate six-months or a year or two to world missions before they seek out social career and marriage.
Post-2018 ISBC Options
After the 2018 ISBC, there are two options for international delegates and North American members as well—a 2.5-day Missionaries-Shepherds Conference at the Galt House hotel or a tour. The Missionaries-Shepherds Conference is mainly for a study of the whole book of Hebrews. P. Ron Ward and Dr. Mark Yang are organizing the conference. Dr. Elijah Park of Chicago is contacting travel agencies to arrange six tour options including chapter visits—Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Louisville/Chicago area, New York, Washington DC, Toronto to Niagara Falls. Participation of North America members to these post-ISBC program will be a great opportunity to have fellowship with the international delegates and to encourage them.
The theme of Missionaries-Shepherds Conference is “King Jesus, Our Great High Priest.” Why study Hebrews? The book of Hebrews uniquely expounds Jesus’ priesthood. Knowing Jesus’ perfect priesthood elevates our intimate walk with God that becomes the source of our conviction, strength and holy life. On Sunday evening, there will be an inductive Bible study workshop led by senior staff. On Monday and Tuesday, there will be Bible studies in small groups over the entire book of Hebrews, along with time of fellowship, sharing about mission field experiences, reflections on the lessons studies and sharing, and a general session.
Preparations for 2018 ISBC
Information about 2018 “His Kingdom” ISBC is provided on its website: http://ubf.org/announcements/2018-international-summer-bible-conference
Registration for 2018 ISBC and optional Missionaries-Shepherds Conference will be open in August 2017, so that students may pay the conference fees by installments. An International Coordination Committee will be formed and North America working committees will be formed to begin preparations. I think prayers are the most powerful and effective preparations of the ISBC. A fire of prayers comes from the word of God. I’d like to suggest that each chapter may consider studying some passages about God’s kingdom during a year of preparation. HQ Education Committee will work to create some selected Bible study materials to help.
The church today faces many challenges. Nonetheless the Spirit of God is working mightily as ever through his people who embrace His kingdom vision. May God inspire many young leaders to participate in preparation for 2018 ISBC. Let’s all pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit may work mightily in the whole UBF community to rekindle the passion for world missions and raise many long-term and short-term missionaries through 2018 “His Kingdom” international Bible conference.
“Our Father in heaven,
hollowed be your name
your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”