Chief Apostle (CA): I’m supposed to be honest as a Chief Apostle. Actually, it’s really a blessing to be able to visit so many different places and so many congregations, and very honest I must say really wonderful to experienced fellowship with our brothers and sisters worldwide, to see how they live their faith in different manner and to see how they are joyful and faithful. That’s really a wonderful experience. I thank God that He gave me the grace to experience that. On the other hands, it’s true that I’m aware I can be just be a traveling preacher. And the true life of faith is in the congregation. And this aspect I must say, I missed it. Being part of a congregation, living together going through what a congregation can experience, having meetings with the members, and just living the faith together as a group, I missed it.
And then when it comes to my congregation, I miss it definitely because it has been closed for few months ago because we had a problem with the building because it no longer conforms with the security rules and after 60 years of existence, we have to close the congregation and join a bigger congregation in downtown. So I still a bit sad about that.
Technology adoption is become cheaper and more accessible for lot of people. The way people using technology actually affect their behavior, the way they are thinking, eventually until some level affect how they believe in something. Especially for the youth and the millennials. Do you see this as a concern? Do you see this as a threat? How do you suggest the youth to be aware with this? How they should work this things out with their family, parents to anticipate this?
You are right, I have many concerns about the way people use IT, the computer, social media. First, I think the biggest danger is when we use the social media and give too much information to the ego, when I become so important. That everybody has to know now what I’m thinking, what I’m doing, etc. It’s very funny. What about being humble? What about being humility? And for sure, the more you talk about yourself, the more you interested with yourself, the less you interested with other people. There is no more social life. Social media is the biggest danger for social life. And then, we have a problem as a Christian. Because definitely that’s not the teaching of our Lord Jesus. The Christian life is based on exchange – on helping each other, on doing good. You’ll never do good seating in front of your computer. To do good you need fellowship, you need to go to the others, understand them and listen to them. That’s the base of Christian life. The second thing, I use to say that IT or internet is a loudspeaker for silly person. Because the silliest guy has as much influenced as the wisest and the most intelligent man on earth. On the other side, people are no longer trained to make a difference, so they put all the things at the same level. And they cannot recognize what’s a lie – what’s a truth, what’s important – what’s not important. Another aspect: People can be extremely violent, and you can attack somebody and says awful things. Mostly lies. So, internet can be a wonderful one but be careful the way you use it and the way you do it.
As we know, our children only spent about 45 minutes a week with their Sunday school or religion instruction teachers. So how should parents work with the teachers to ensure that they would able to foster the gospel teaching or church teaching on a daily basis? Not to wait until Sunday
First, I must make an important statement. The religious education is not the task of the teachers. It’s the task of the parents. The parents must integrate God, Jesus and their faith in their daily life. Cannot be that parents live just like other parents for the whole week and they just question about God and Jesus on Sunday and in the midweek service or in Sunday school.
The children must become aware very soon, that faith in Jesus – is part of the daily life of their parents. They must realize that. My father was a deacon, my mother was a normal sister in my congregation, but I remember once we had a difficult time. My father was often sick and close to die, and my mother pray with us. And as a young guy, I must age 5 or 6 years old at that time, and my mother pray with us. We are praying together. And as she finished the prayer, our heart is in peace. I never forget that. We had some troubles, we went to the service. When we came back, everything was different. They were not high educated people, they are just faithful. That’s still remains with me today, that’s the task of the parents. When they pray with their children, and the child must remark “oh! Now something happens, this prayer moves something”. They went to the service, and they speak differently. And that’s the most important thing. And when the parents speak about their faith in their daily life: look at the newspaper and they talk about “see, Jesus wouldn’t agree with that” or maybe when they see something nice when they talk about the members of the congregation “look, you see, what they have done? Jesus will done exactly the same”. When parents do this, then the faith comes deeply into the hearts and then the tasks become easier for the teacher. Again, responsibility is on the parents. I would like to add something: The task of the parents is to do their best and to make a lot of efforts. They have obligation to do their best. They don’t have the obligation of the result. If at the end of the story, never forget that God has creating man with the freedom of choice. But even they have done their best, they can come to a moment when they see my child doesn’t want to go to church, they cannot force them. They have to accept it. Their responsibility is to do their best, but when the child grows up and use their freedom of choice and the parents is not guilty. My recommendation is love them without difference. Don’t talk too much to them. Just love them, pray for them, and let them experience that there is no change in your love for them. That’s the best way. If God wants them to come back, He will manage. Don’t force them.
Interesting concept on competition, during your last service in Manila. How shall we endure and gain the energy to become an overcomer every day during the ongoing competition?
That is a nice question. Basically, we have to be aware that each and everyone children of God can win the competition. Is able to do it. That’s nobody who can say “I’m not able to win this competition”. It’s not a question of gift, it’s not a question of ability, if you are elected you can do it. Basically. It’s just a question of motivation. And where does the motivation come from, it’s only one answer: Jesus Christ. I’m not a dreamer, but it’s my deep conviction. The more we know Jesus Christ, the closer we come to Him, the more we love Him, the more we have the longing to be with Him, the more we have the longing to acts as He acts, to reacts as He reacts, to be a blessing as He is a blessing, and to support Him in His deeds and His work. So, there is only one motivation, the rest forget it. Jesus Chris. The more you know Him, the more you love him. And the more you love Him, the more you are motivating to follow Him, to be with Him, and to use a lot of energy to be with Him. That is the only motivation. Now, I can tell you also what doesn’t work: fright and fear. “If you do that you will escape, if you do it you will be punished”. That doesn’t works. A false motivation. “If you do that you will be blessed on your daily life, and they look to the congregation for the one who are faithful, but they never got money”. If your motivation not for Jesus Christ, it doesn’t work. The only motivation is love for Jesus Christ.
May we know your major concerns for the next three years?
The main concern is I want to be a part of the apostolate, to be able to prepare the bride of Christ. That’s our main reason, our main motivation. We have to make sure that everywhere in every congregation that Jesus Christ is and remains the focus. And that’s not easy. Make sure that Jesus Christ is the focus, He is the number one that the first concern. And that’s not easy because the longer a church exist, the bigger is the danger that something else is become more important in congregational life than Jesus Christ. So, we as the Apostles we have to make sure that Jesus Christ and His gospel and His return is the most important thing. That’s one aspect. Then from the practical point of view, we are now working hard on the new children teaching materials (Sunday school, religion instruction, confirmation instruction) that’s the big issue, we have to spread it out worldwide. Another task that is more for me as a Chief Apostle is we have a very good and well defined doctrine. This doctrine is known by the Apostles, the doctrine is known by the members, we has to spread it out in whole congregation and make sure that what preach in every congregation is conformed to the today’s doctrine. That’s not a criticism, it’s just fact. That’s not yet the case, and that’s a big issue for the church, big church as we are, worldwide church, to make sure what’s preached and what’s told in the congregation is conformed with the actual today’s doctrine. That’s the challenge, and that’s what we try to do.