During a recent interview Chief Apostle Jean Luc Schneider remarked, “Our actions are distinguished by several objectives. Our primary goal is to preach the gospel truthfully and conscientiously throughout the world. For us as Apostles, this means the following.
– We need to be careful that Jesus Christ takes first place, and not the institution or a particular person.
– We want to define the New Apostolic doctrine on the basis of the Bible. This is the purpose of our Catechism. It describes the current globally valid doctrine of the New Apostolic Church in a clear and structured manner.
– We want to make sure that the sermons correspond to the biblical message and the doctrine.
– We want to give priority to that which is decisive for the salvation of the believers. While Church traditions certainly deserve respect, they must never become as important as the message of the gospel itself. We want to clearly distinguish between the message of the gospel, the rules of the Church, and local traditions.
– We need to make sure that all New Apostolic children across the globe receive quality religious education that is adapted to their needs and local conditions.
All of our Church-related activity must be defined by this focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Source: nac.today)
It is not so easy for us as young New Apostolic Christians, who are living in China, to practice our faith normally because religion is regulated by the Chinese government. The simple act of attending a divine service is complicated and contact with New Apostolic Church activities, outside of China, is difficult to maintain. It is for this reason that we, as young members of the New Apostolic Church, living in China, decided to utilize social media as a means of staying united with our fellow New Apostolic brothers and sisters around the globe. We decided to create a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Instagram account and Website and were very excited to see it taking off and, on 10 October 2015, we launched our Facebook Page and other social media accounts.
Shortly thereafter, during January 2016, we were informed by our Priest that our District Apostle has instructed that we remove our publications from the internet and that we are committing illegal acts and could face action from the church against us. He further told us that the District Apostle has indicated that we are not allowed to use the church emblem or the name of the church in our internet publications.
You can well imagine what went through our minds. We did not take this threat (of legal or other action) from our District Apostle lightly and it laid heavy on our hearts. We thought that, as young people in the New Apostolic Church, trying to remain in fellowship with our brothers and sisters around the world is the correct thing to do. This is what our parents and ministers in our home countries have taught us over all the years as we grew up in the Church. It now seems that our parents and ministers taught us wrong and we were expected to remain isolated from the rest of the New Apostolic world. We were therefore quite confused with the approach of our District Apostle, who we were obliged to obey as a servant of God.
We live in China where religious practices are severely restricted. We do not have normal church services or even youth activities like our fellow young New Apostolic brothers and sisters in other countries and, for this reason, we decided to use social media as a way of staying connected and “in the loop” with our fellow New Apostolic members outside of China. This instruction from our Priest (acting on behalf of our District Apostle), therefore, caused great inner turmoil and spiritual conflict.
We discussed the situation among our youth group and we decided to approach our Priest to ask for clarification on this matter. When we approached our Priest, he was very supportive and listened to us and our concerns. After we spoke to him, he acknowledged our situation and concerns and like a true servant of God, gave us some valuable spiritual advice. He told us that, being in China, has taught him many things. It is not always easy to align yourself to the wishes of those outside of China, because the situation in China is quite unique and not like any normal Western country. Many people outside of China do not realize this and make decisions without being fully informed.
He told us that when he finds himself in this type of situation, there are two questions that he always ask himself, “What would Jesus have done?” and “What does the Holy Spirit prompt you to do?”. His experience has always been that it is easy to align your spiritual behavior when these questions are answered honestly. He told us to always follow the example of Christ. After he prayed with us, he told us to wrestle with these questions and he would also remember us in prayer.
We left the meeting with our Priest feeling comforted and motivated. When we applied the questions: “What would Jesus have done?” and “What does the Holy Spirit prompt you to do?”, to our problem, the answer became absolutely clear. We also prayed that the Holy Spirit may guide us further. After contemplation and prayer, we decided that we would follow the example of Jesus and continue with our pursuit of seeking fellowship and share the truth of our situation in China. We felt strongly that this was the correct route to pursue and thought our Priest will be very unhappy with our decision.
Surprisingly, when we informed our Priest, he smiled and said that he thought we would decide in that direction and that he will pray for the success of our initiative. He also told us that his confirmation text was from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” Our Priest told us that this confirmation text has been a staff in his hand when assessing situations that requires discernment between what is godly and what is not godly. He expressed his admiration for us as young people who are prepared to face serious consequences in our pursuit of being faithful to Christ and seeking the fellowship of God’s children, even in China where it is not easy to serve the Lord. He wished us well and that God’s blessing be with us into the future.
This happened two years ago and today we have over 17,000 followers on our Facebook Page. We receive almost daily inbox messages of encouragement. New Apostolic Church members, who have left the church, thank us for the hymns that we post as this has helped to guide them back to the church. Members who have left the choir have found renewed desires to join the choir again. When an ex NAC member returns to the church or another decides to join our faith, because of our Facebook Page, we realize the impact that we have. We do not know if other NAC related Facebook Pages have the same impact. We treasure and appreciate every like, comment or inbox message and try to respond within one hour (where possible).
The active engagement with our followers and the inbox messages serves as confirmation that our decision to continue was the right decision. Being “Faithful to Christ” requires of us to continuously ask the question, “What would Jesus have done?”
In a divine service conducted in Chicago, Illinois (USA) on 11 June 2017, Chief Apostle Schneider said: “It is very important that our relationship to Jesus is not dependent on the quality of our relationship with His servants. Even if there is something wrong in our relationship to our Priest, our Apostle, or our Bishop, our relationship to Jesus must be preserved.” (Source: nac.today)
The District Apostle who issued the instruction for us to remove our internet publications will be retiring this year (2018). We bear no malice or hard feelings towards him and wish him well in his retirement, even though he has since transferred us out of his District Apostle area into another District Apostle area, without having the courtesy of informing us of the reason for this decision. We can only but assume that he did this because we did not follow his instructions. As young New Apostolic Christians in China, we will remain faithful to Christ, keep our faith alive and continue to love our neighbor.
Being FAITHFUL TO CHRIST means just THAT!!! There is no need to leave the church or stop going to divine services, because of disagreements with ministers (irrespective of level or seniority of ministry) or members. Nobody has ever left this Church because of what God has done for or to them. It is always a person or situation that gives someone a reason to leave our Faith. Chief Apostle Schneider has made it clear that our relationship with Jesus is most important and should be preserved at all cost.
Young New Apostolic Christians must be very watchful that we do not become faithful to a man or church institution and not to Christ (as our Chief Apostle Schneider has indicated). We must remember that Jesus died for our salvation, not any other human being. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”. As Young New Apostolic Christians in China, we are very much aware of this in our daily lives and this is how we apply “FAITHFUL TO CHRIST” practically here in Communist China! We love being Young New Apostolic Christians and want to express this in the way we live and in our love for our neighbor, be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino or anybody else.
We hope to share more of our experiences of faith in future articles and to ensure that you stay informed and entertained, we encourage you to like or follow our Facebook Page, visit our website and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
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