Rev. Abraham Lee: “Confirm our vision for the new beginning”
By Rev. Abraham Lee, Europe UBF Honorary Director
First of all, I give glory and thanks to God for accomplishing UBF world mission starting with Germany UBF. Up to this point, 1,500 missionaries have been sent out to approximately 90 countries through UBF and the beginning of this was the three nurse missionaries who were sent out to Germany. I would like to thank late Dr. Samuel Lee, Mother Sarah Barry, and Dr. John Jun for his support, Dr. Samuel H. Lee, and staff shepherds in Korea. In lieu of the European International Summer Bible conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of European campus mission, I am extremely pleased about the publication of the 40-Year history book. As we record the 40-Year History of German Mission in God’s point of view, there are special historical characteristics and significance.
First, German mission was the beginning of the self-supporting missionaries’ ministry. In 1969, In-Kyung Suh, Hwa Ja Lee, and Dong Ran Sul, the three nurse missionaries were sent out to West Germany as the first UBF missionaries. Afterward, in 1972, Sook Chul Kim, Ki Hyang Lee, Moon Haeng Park, Wol Shin Lee, Young Suh Kim, and Sook Hee Kim were sent out successively as nurse missionaries. Considering the conditions in Korea those days, sending out missionaries, especially lay missionaries was not easy. In this way, their missionary lives became the new model for Korean Christian mission history. It was the beginning of self-supporting mission.
Second, this early German mission was a ministry based on one-to-one Bible study. Missionaries who were sent out had one-to-one Bible studies with their nurse colleagues at work. This was the only thing they could do and from the outside, it seemed insignificant. However, this is a history of the proverbial mustard seed. Their one-to-one Bible study ministry grew fast in only 2-3 years. As a proof of this, 150 participated in the Seewies Bible Conference in Switzerland in 1974 and 250 including 50 European natives participated in the Frankfurt Summer Bible Conference in 1975. Through Bible study, they learned of God who values one soul and Jesus’ shepherd heart and when they put their knowledge into practice, the work of the Holy Spirit prevailed.
Third, it was a disciple-making ministry of German intellectuals on campus. From 1978, student missionaries who established house churches with the nurse missionaries started coming to Germany to for German campus pioneering mission and world mission. They could have enjoyed a comfortable life getting a job in Korea after graduating. However, they came to Germany instead, obeying Jesus’ world mission command with simple faith. Although they were from different Bible centers in Korea and had different characters, they denied themselves and built a holy vessel of spirit.
Moreover, they lived a pioneer’s life enduring triple and quadruple crosses. Therefore, they gave themselves to mission as Bible teachers for German campus intellectuals. Some of them offered their Ph.D. degrees to God and remained on the front lines of the mission field to serve the campus pioneering and disciple-making ministry. God received their sacrifice and dedication and accomplished amazing history. German intellectuals with strong egos were
drawn to our meeting and studied the Bible with the missionaries. Furthermore, they were trained by the missionaries and made decisions to live as Jesus’ disciples. In a missionological sense, gospel has been sent from the east to the west.
Fourth, European natives are now being raised as successors and responsible leaders for the church. Natives were changed and their faith grew through steady Bible study until they became coworkers in God’s ministry. Therefore, in following the Nevius strategy, we are succeeding our leadership to the natives. Currently native leaders in Germany, Cologne, Bonn, Heidelberg, the UK, and London UBF are serving Sunday messages and hold many meetings with spiritual leaders. Like Ezra in the Old Testament and Nehemiah, Israel’s shepherd, just a few spiritual leaders were important. They accomplished spiritual revival through rebuilding the wall and teaching the Bible to the despairing Israelites to obey the word of God.
Fifth, God has used Germany as the base of the European mission. From the 1980s, missionaries started coming to Germany through the embassy, companies or as students. They were precious to us and we prayed for them to become campus pioneers. We especially encouraged them to live a life as pioneers by overcoming many difficulties by faith and shared our know-how with them. God helped us pioneer over 20 European countries in the last 20 years.
Through their sacrificial co-working, God has raised ancestors of faith and carried out campus pioneering ministries.
Lastly, in consideration of the direction ahead of us, native leaders and second generation missionaries carry in their hands the mission to succeed and to improve the ministry as able disciple makers. Furthermore, they must pray for spiritual revival of Europe so that Europe may be used as a missionary-sending continent once again. What is more important is to go back to the Bible in this postmodernist period and become independent Bible teachers and prayer
servants endowed with the Holy Spirit. In the present, the whole of Europe including Germany is greatly affected and challenged by Muslim expansion. Many churches in Europe are closing or being renovated as restaurants or exhibition spaces. Construction of Muslim mosques continues in many European nations. In Cologne, where I am, they are building a mosque comparable to the size of Cologne Dome. In the midst of such spiritual challenges, Europe
UBF must be spiritually awakened and revived to form a spiritual unity and face the Muslimization of Europe. As Jesus raised twelve disciples in the times of darkness and used them as the successors and gospel workers in the history of God, I pray earnestly that God may accomplish his ministry of hope through the European native disciple-making ministry.