HONG KONG- Some hundreds of Chinese Methodists gathered for the 4th World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches Young Leaders’ Conference, on which they mediate on the Great Commission that Jesus has entrusted to his disciples.
At the Christian-based Chung Chi College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the 5 days- 4 nights camp had the theme "As You Go, Preach this Message" as quoted from Matthew Chapter 10. Just as how Jesus dispatched his twelve disciples to Israel to preach the message "the kingdom of heaven is near", young Methodists are challenged in this conference to speak up as they go around, in order to bring people back to the Lord by preaching, serving and demonstrating miracles.
Participants from Taiwan, East Malaysia, West Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Australia, England and Hong Kong are guided in three major aspects: to meditate the meaning of life, to study the reality of today’s society and to take corresponding actions. Each of these parts is addressed by a renowned Christian scholar with the theme "Faithfulness", "Transforming the World" and "Compassion" respectively.
When addressing on "Faithfulness", Dr. Wen Wai-yui first spoke on the three spiritual characters- Vision and Conviction, Accountability and Disciple, Community of Holiness- that the founder of Methodist movement John Wesley had. Wen urged the young people to have an urgent heart and a quick hand to reach out to the fallen world, showing them the truth of the Gospel.
Professor Kwan Shui Man, associate professor from the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, analyzed the face of Christianity while speaking on "Transforming the World". The Church today is dominated by the middle-class and faith is too personalized, so the commission to transform the world is being neglected. He reminded that young people must passionately pursue the ideal world.
"Believers must show more concern for the society and pray sincerely for it. We must stand up, gather our strength and to change the fallen world," Kwan said, advising youngsters to read the Bible from the perspective of the society rather than from their personal point of view.
Rev Dr Li Ping Kwong, former president of the Methodist Church, said "As You Go, Preach this Message" is an attitude that a Christian must have. Since the life of Jesus Christ is the revelation of the word of God, Christians must follow His footsteps very closely and always ask the question "What will Jesus do?" in all circumstances, Li explained during his lecture on "Compassion".
Christians must not try to avoid the problem of this world, but to enter the world, to reach out to the people and to share the message of the Gospel, as Jesus has done for all mankind. Not only should the Gospel fulfill the spiritual need of people, but also the physical need should be taken care well, Li said. He cited the scene when Jesus fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fishes in the pasture after proclaiming the word of God to them. Lastly, he challenged Christians to always keep pursuing the passion to preach the word of God, as they remain in God’s love, their lives can be filled with love and compassion.
At the closing ceremony of "As You Go, Preach this Message" conference, president Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church of Singapore led the young participants to pledge their commitment to the holy calling of the Lord, to carry the cross and to reveal glory of God.
The next World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches Young Leaders’ Conference is announced to be held in East Malaysia in 2008.
[Editor’s note: Joanna Wong reported from Hong Kong for this article.]