The pandemic called for a change in the annual Summer Conference normally held at the Stephanopark Conference Centre in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. For the past 20 years the Summer Conference has been a much anticipated event, not only for Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) members in South Africa, but also for international visitors; 60% of whom were from BCC fellowships in Africa, as well as several from Europe. Year on year the conference has grown and 2019 saw the registration of over 500 participants.
However, 2020 was the year of change! Change brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. In spite of unimaginable hardship and the tragic loss of life worldwide, the virus has been the catalyst for finding alternative ways of communicating, working and staging events. As a result of this, the BCCSA Summer Conference was transformed into an online conference with a record 783 registrations – this indicates how many more BCC members were able to participate and receive God’s Word, due to this transition. In the past, only those who had the means to travel to South Africa could attend the conference.
This development is of great significance to all the BCC fellowships in Africa, as members from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda could participate. Constant improvements and advancements in technology and the tremendous amount of work done by the media and live production teams, made it possible to have live interactive video links with fellowships in Yaoundé and Bafoussam in Cameroon, Kisumu in Kenya, Pretoria and Vanderbijlpark in South Africa and Lubumbashi in the DRC. This meant that participants were able to testify in real time during the church services, and in places where there were no video links, cell phone videos could be submitted and played out at the church services. This was facilitated by a team of 20 volunteers in South Africa, as well as volunteers in the more remote locations.
The online conference took place from the 16th to the 20th of December, and for those who in the past actually attended the conference at Stephanopark Conference Centre, it was different… but no less spiritually nourishing and edifying! The pre-recorded sermons and testimonies of several guest speakers from England and Norway, including Kåre J. Smith, the leader of BCC, as well as the live video sermons and testimonies from fellowships throughout Africa, contributed richly to the content of the conference. Accepting exhortations, encouraging humility, faithfulness and dependence on God’s Word in daily life for spiritual growth, were the messages that came through powerfully in the sermons and testimonies.
There was a real sense of unity and inclusivity throughout the conference, and many expressed how good it was to hear from fellow members throughout Africa. Each fellowship organized their own activities and opportunities for fellowship between services, as well as having fellowship through various online platforms.
Feedback from several of the fellowships gave insight into just how important and meaningful it is to receive God’s Word through conferences such as this and to keep in contact and have fellowship with other members of BCC internationally.
Miryam Kue Kamdem (Bafoussam, Cameroon):
I praise God for the possibilities of having online conferences despite the current circumstances due to the pandemic. I want to seek this life of discipleship and understand that God’s correction in my life is for my spiritual growth. Thank you for all the sacrifices made to continue to encourage and edify us.
Pascal Tchouya (Bafoussam, Cameroon):
I am especially grateful for this time of grace that God has granted us and for all the work put into conferences like this so that we can be edified by God’s Word. It was a blessing to hear Kåre Smith and I want to live the life of a disciple of Christ. I praise God for the Church and His prophets.
Monique Deffo (Douala, Cameroon):
I am very grateful for this Summer Conference and I am thankful for all the work that has been done on the technical side so that we can hear the words of faith. I want to be more and more willing to serve God with all my heart without any reservations and I want to work on my salvation in this time of grace. Thank you for all the encouragement I received during this conference and for the living words of faith that we heard.
Rostand Dountio (Douala, Cameroon):
I want to thank God for the opportunities we have to come together around His Word. Thank you also for all the efforts made so that we can follow the conferences online. I realized from what I heard in the conference that it is difficult to see our own faults and it is my desire to have the eyes of my heart opened so that I can see the truth about myself and work on my salvation.
Carelle Mabe (Douala, Cameroon):
In December 2020, I had the opportunity to participate in the Online Summer Conference together with all the BCC fellowships in Africa and it was very uplifting. During the youth service, Tielman Slabbert encouraged the young people to be constantly nourished by the Word of God, to follow the “Fra Kåre” messages and other Church literature, and that made an impression on me. I am grateful for all the opportunities we get and I want to use these resources and put into practice in my daily life what I receive through God’s Word.
Collins Mauluka (Malawi):
I am so thankful for the Online Summer Conference and more especially that I am able to write this testimony a month after the conference to testify about the impact it has had on my life. I have been praying seriously about it and I have now experienced God’s transforming power, so that I have new peace which I have never experienced before with any lasting effect. We have heard much about rest in God over the years, but now I can feel it. It is now my prayer that God should help me to abide in Him.
Febbie Chidziwe (Malawi):
The Summer Conference has really helped me. I have been thinking about my life and have taken heed to the verse Kåre Smith quoted from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, chapter 12 verse 1, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid”. I see I get easily offended by what others say about me; but now I understand that getting instruction from God means that He loves me and wants me to change. My prayer is that God should help me so that when I get correction I should be happy and take it as an opportunity to grow.
Dan Bope (DRC):
I thank God for leading me to the Church and for being able to participate in the Summer Conference and hear the messages. It is a blessing for me to have started the year with the message of godly fear, devotion and obedience to His laws, as it is written in the Book of Ecclesiastes. This will guide my life and I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and live only for Him.
Amandine Kabeya (DRC):
I am grateful for the Summer Conference, I want to be zealous when it comes to giving and humbling myself as much as is necessary, so that God can complete the work He started in me. May God help me to be a blessing to my neighbour.
Moses Kepha (Tanzania):
The Online Summer Conference was an important and very special conference and was the first conference in Tanzania that over 35 members participated in. We gathered in Mwanza, where everyone was accommodated, so we were able to watch all the church services, even the ones at night, and we had the opportunity to give testimonies. The powerful messages really had an effect on the members, particularly the young people. We came to understand how to live for others and not for oneself, to be humble and walk through the ‘narrow gate’. During the conference we had activities planned to make it special for the youth and we had opportunities to have fellowship and get to know each other better. We look forward to conferences in the future.
Charles Paul Charles (Tanzania):
I thank God for the conference, it was really a great moment for me to meet with other members of BCC.
Michael Kepha Ezekiel (Tanzania):
I thank God for the Summer Conference, it really changed my heart and I learnt a lot of things which are helping me to live a spiritual life.