VANCOUVER – Starting Apr. 24, the 36th Annual Greater Vancouver Area Evangelism Conference with the theme titled “Words of Eternal Life”, will feature Mr. Bian Yunbo, an 83 years-old Chinese preacher and former coworker of one of the China's church fathers Mr. Ming Dao Wang, as the main speaker in the following three days. On the first night, Mr. Bian explicated Romans 12:1-2, encouraging the attendants to “Serve under grace, Renew the Minds”.
Eleven years ago, Mr. Bian was also the main speaker for that year's annual Great Vancouver Area Evangelism Conference. While the host that year was introducing Mr. Bian, it was revealed that during the meeting in deciding who the speaker of that year would be when someone mentioned the name Benny Pope, everyone’s major concern was whether he was still alive.
Today, Mr. Bian is still standing to preach at this year's evangelism conference. Through the Lord's grace, Mr. Bian gave thanks to those who have prayed for him so that he was able to recover from a serious illness in 2003 in Australia. That time, Mr. Bain fainted for 20 days, and the doctors announced that it is hopeless. However, God allowed him to live year after year. Every time that he brings up this experience, he shared that God may have left him here on earth because of some unfinished homework. Therefore, he treasures each opportunity to serve and treats each sermon as the last. With such kind of attitude, he would prepare for the sermons.
“Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.”
In Romans 12:1-2, it says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
On that day, Mr. Bian interpreted the meaning that this verse has for those who have been saved by grace. He explained that from the perspective of an individual, we must serve with a willing heart; from the perspective of brothers and sisters in Christ, we must love each other and be indebted to each other; from the church’s perspective towards the world, we must live for Christ and testify the Lord’s grace.
Apostle Peter first mentioned the “Words of Eternal Life”, which is the theme of this conference, in John 6. Mr. Bian said that when the Lord first began to preach the word, many people followed him. Yet, when he prophesized that he must go to Jerusalem and to experience sufferings and to those following him, he said that they must deny themselves and daily carry their own crosses, at this moment, some disciples left him and no longer followed him.
When speaking about this, Mr. Bian fell in tears at one time. He said that the ones who left are neither the onlookers nor the ones who did not understand salvation, but they are the ones who are among the disciples.
Then, Jesus asked the disciples: “You do not want to leave too do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Your have the words of eternal life.”
Although some people left, but some people kept the words of eternal life, and followed the Lord till the end. Mr. Bian said that we are all sinners who are saved by grace. We were originally destined to destruction, but because of the redemption of Jesus Christ, we were called as righteous. Then, how should we return this gratitude? He gave an example of someone who almost drowned but was saved by another person, but the one who saved him fell into the rapid river and died. How should the person who was saved show his gratitude?
Sometimes we, the sinners saved by grace, enjoy the Lord's grace and are filled with joy, but when speaking of returning this gratitude back to the Lord, we are slow to take actions. Mr. Bian referred to the book of Romans and reminded the crowd that the Lord has died for us and now we live because of His sacrifice. Thus, it logically follows that we should serve.
Furthermore, in the letter that Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, instead of using the titles such as elders, deacons, or small group leaders, he used the title of brothers. From this, we can see that it is every believer’s responsibility to serve. In addition, the meaning of the service isn't that everyone should become missionaries, but the most important thing is to serve God with the heart.
Mr. Bian stressed that we must have an inner renewal in our spirits, where true service can only come from the heart of fearing God. This is neither an outward decoration nor something that can be pretended, but it is really living the life of Christ. He then shared several testimonies of those who used their lives to reveal the message of the gospel and then he encouraged the attendants to proclaim Christ through good deeds. In the altar call prayer towards the end, the spirit of God touched the attendants, and numerous people responded by devoting themselves in the Lord's service.
On the remaining two days of the conference, Mr. Bian will share the messages titled “Loving Each Other, Always be Indebted to Each Other” and “Living for the Lord, Testifying the Lord’s grace” every night at 7:30pm at the Broadway Church.
[Editor's Note: reporter James Chow from Vancouver contributed to this report.]