Enlarge Your Tent, Shine Forth the Light
Reflections on the World Delegates Conference 2013.
Jonathan Chou—Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA
Abridged from Holy Spirit Monthly—Issue 429
"Enlarge the place of your
tent, [a]nd let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords, [a]nd strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the
right and to the left, [a]nd your descendants will inherit the nations, [a]nd
make the desolate cities inhabited.” (Isa 54:2–3)
On May 14, 1948, the land of Palestine
hoisted the flag with the Star of David and the nation of Israel, which had
been non-existent for almost two thousand years, was officially re-established.
However, on a spiritual level, the above prophecy applies to the revival of the
true church, the spiritual Israel.
At the end of the apostolic era,
God withdrew the Holy Spirit because the truth had been changed. However, in
line with biblical prophecy concerning the revival of the true church, the Holy
Spirit re-established the true church of the end times under the name of True
Jesus Churchin Beijing, China, in 1917.
Since then, the church has been growing and through the Lord’s guidance, she is
now found all over the world, fulfilling the biblical prophecy that “this
gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the
nations, and then the end will come” (Mt 24:14).
Entrusted with God’s commission to
preach the complete gospel of salvation, and guided by the power of the Holy
Spirit, our early workers expeditiously spread the gospel. They prayed and
worked together, and with one accord, held meetings to discuss, plan, and
promote the work of evangelism.
During a delegates’ conference in
Nanjing, China, in 1926, the delegates passed resolutions to establish a system
of general assemblies, to start theological training courses, and to have
church publications. These decisions had a far-reaching impact on church development,
with the gospel spreading rapidly throughout China and to other parts of Asia.
However, from 1950 onwards, due to internal political turmoil, the church in
China lost contact with the churches in other parts of Asia.
In 1967, the General Assembly in
Taiwan hosted the first World Delegates Conference (WDC), attended by church
delegates from countries where the True Jesus Church existed. Shortly after, the
International Assembly (IA) was established to co-ordinate the church’s overall
human and material resources. Subsequently, the mission of evangelism was
actively advanced, and the gospel reached all five continents. When China
re-opened its doors to the world in the 1980s, the church in China was revived,
many China brethren emigrated to other countries, and the church as a whole
continued to expand. God guided and blessed each of these developments. We
believe that the complete gospel will continue to be preached to the ends of
Last year, the WDC was held from
March 26 to April 7, 2013, at Irvine Church, Los Angeles, California, in the
United States. This was the second WDC held in the US, and local brethren
invested much time and effort in preparing for the meeting.
Currently, the WDC is held every
two years; with each session lasting for approximately two weeks. The program
includes the IA Standing Committee Meeting, IA Executive Council Meeting, IA
Truth Research Committee Meeting, the IA Evangelical and Pastoral Work
Symposium (also called IA Holy Work Symposium), the WDC, the International
Youth Ministry Committee Meeting, the Internet Ministry Program Advisory
Committee Meeting, and many other activities, including visiting local churches
in the vicinity.
The theme of the WDC 2013, “Increase
the Nation, Expand all the Borders of the Land” (Isa 26:15), followed the
previous theme, “Succession.” Discussions focused on advancing God’s kingdom by
rapidly spreading the complete gospel to all parts of the world and by
preparing to welcome the Lord’s second coming. While the church is approaching
her centenary, she faces a fast-changing society, which greatly impacts
individual believers’ faith. It takes foresight in the pastoral and
evangelistic work to strengthen the believers’ faith and to promote church
To address this, the IA has
designed a series of sub-themes under the broader topic “Global Development of
the True Jesus Church” that are to be discussed during Holy Work Symposia. At
the WDC 2013, the discussion focused on the “Review and Outlook of the True
Church on Her Centenary,” and the conference participants contributed their ideas,
knowledge, and experiences, which will subsequently be organized into a special
REFLECTIONS ON THE WDC 2013
A Sound Church Organization
The church is a spiritual body
and must be organized in accordance with the Bible. The Truth Research
Committee (TRC) has previously passed a resolution that church organization
must not go beyond biblical principles. We must care for the household of God
as servants entrusted with a commission, with the truth as our guiding
principle. In addition, the church’s organizational principles should follow
the spirit of Jesus in managing His household (Mt 20:25–28; Mk 10:42–45):
willingly, and not to lord over those entrusted to us but to be examples to the
flock (1 Pet 5:1–4; Acts 20:28–30).
The early apostolic church was
established on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. As the gospel
spread, churches were established in more places. Locally, ministers were
ordained and workers were also sent to guide the local churches to become
independent. As the number of churches gradually increased, Jerusalem and
Antioch became coordination centers for the holy work.
Today, the church’s development
is the same. When a new church is established, we need to first cultivate the
pillars of that church, and help her to be self-governing, self-financing and
self-propagating. As the number of churches increase, coordination boards and
general assemblies are established, serving as coordination and communication
hubs. The IA is similarly established. At present, the IA comprises seven
general assemblies, six coordination boards, and a number of IA directed
The bi-annual WDC serves as a
platform to discuss the truth, coordinate the holy work, and provide mutual
support. During the WDC, workers are elected to plan and execute the holy work.
Currently, IA has six departments and two offices. One office is located in
Taiwan (Eastern hemisphere) while the other is based in the United States (Western
As “the harvest is plentiful, but
the laborers few,” the IA has responded to the need for more workers by
providing different types of training, including the active recruitment and training
of full-time preachers and volunteers for the pastoral and evangelistic work. During
the WDC 2013, the IA has increased manpower in each IA department by also
electing deputy directors to each IA department to ensure smooth progression of
the holy work and provide additional channels of service. Working groups were
also established to facilitate training and preparation of future workers.
Hold Fast to the Truth, Keep the Unity of the
The church is the pillar and
ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15); in order to grow, she must also come to the
unity of the faith and to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ
(Eph 4:13). God’s servants must speak the oracles of God, rightly dividing the
word of truth, so that man may return to learn righteousness, do good deeds,
and be saved (1 Pet 4:11; 2 Tim 2:15). The church must guard against heresies
and false teachings—altered truth that seems to be right on the surface—for
these will corrupt our faith, hinder the unity of the church, and cause the
church to lose the presence of God (1 Tim 1:3,19; 4:1,6; 2 Jn 9).
Our church’s basic beliefs were
given to our early workers through the revelation of Christ (Gal 1:12). Every
revelation must be thoroughly examined to determine whether it is from God and
in accordance with the Bible. If it has an adequate biblical basis, we should
earnestly preach and keep this teaching. In everything, we need to carefully
consider and discern, for we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the
truth (2 Cor 13:8).
Hence, the IA Truth Research
Committee (TRC) was established to defend the truth of the Bible and to prevent
wrong teachings from creating confusion in the church. Thank God, under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit and through careful study and preservation of the
truth, the TRC members have been able to clarify differing views on the truth
in recent years, and, in most cases, to achieve consensus and validate the
common faith of our church.
Succession and Youth Ministry
Our youths are the church’s
future workforce. Hence, the church has been cultivating them in various ways.
In 1981, the IA established the International Youth Fellowship (IYF) to promote
communication among youths globally. Subsequently, IYF conducted youth
theological training courses as well as fellowship activities.
During the WDC in 2011, the IYF
was replaced with the International Youth Ministry Committee (IYMC). The IYMC
aims to train youths and to encourage them to participate in the holy work of
their respective local churches as well as pioneering regions. Moreover, in
2011, the first IYMC meeting and the Holy Work Symposium were held
simultaneously. The IYMC members could also attend the Holy Work Symposium to
understand the development of global church work and how they could assist in
this work. We hope that more trained youths will join the pastoral and
evangelistic workforce to further the church’s holy work.
At the same time, the church
needs to continue to show concern for the faith and life of our youths. We need
to counsel them with regard to marriage, family, and social interactions so
that they are equipped with a sound biblical attitude towards life, can build
Christian families, and become a stable support force for the holy work.
Holy Work—Long-term Plan and Development
During the Holy Work Symposium, delegates
shared the development of the true church in their respective countries and the
church’s future plans and outlook. The content was rich and the information
precious. The organizing committee also presented a proposal on the vision of
global church development.
Participants of the symposium
proposed to establish a “Holy Work Research and Development Center” for spiritual
cultivation, discussion, training, deployment, and research. The IA’s Executive
Council decided to establish a “Holy Work Development Committee” to research
and plan the future development of the holy work.
Facing the Age of Internet Ministry
The Internet has become a
powerful pastoral and evangelistic tool (cf. Mt 13:47; Rev 14:6–7). Apart from
presenting our doctrines in written form, the church should consider using
multi-media to introduce our faith. In most countries, information is easily
accessible and available through the Internet. With careful planning and
systematic execution, the Internet can contribute to the evangelism work.
Although it can not serve as a replacement, the Internet can complement the
printed media and the in-depth study of the truth. Written materials on our
doctrines and basic beliefs in the languages of our target pioneering regions remain
In conclusion, there are many
challenges facing the church as she approaches her centenary. Therefore, it is
vital that we continue to labor for the complete gospel with one heart and one