Annual Summer Conference 2023

The annual summer conference hosted by the Brunstad Christian Church in South Africa (BCCSA), was held at the Stephanopark Conference Centre in Vanderbijlpark , from the 15th to the 18th December. Considering all the organising and administrative tasks that had to be undertaken, preparations for this international conference were well underway early in the year. There were 455 BCC members in attendance at the conference composed of participants from Cameroon (46), Canada (2), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (8), England (4), Kenya (11), Malawi (9), Netherlands (3), Nigeria (3), Norway (24), Poland (1), South Africa (332), Tanzania (4), Uganda (3), United Arab Emirates (2), Zimbabwe (3). The conference was also live streamed to all the BCC fellowships throughout Africa.

Spiritual edification and fellowship are the focus of all BCC conferences and gatherings and the 2023 Summer Conference was no exception.  The four-day program included three church services; a youth service; a Sunday School service for the children; informal campfire chats with Kåre J Smith, the spiritual leader of BCC and other guests from BCC in Norway; as well as the 70th birthday celebration honouring Tielman Slabbert, the spiritual leader of BCCSA, (see link to article) and an open-air African Christmas Concert.

The conference was formally opened at the first church service by the main guest speaker, Kåre J Smith. Smith said how extremely good it was to see all the members from the African fellowships again. He then spoke of the incredible promises God gave to mankind through the gospel and raised the crucial question of whether people believe these promises or not. Quoting from the New Testament book of Romans (Romans 5:10), he explained that the gospel is far more comprehensive than just the forgiveness of sins which John the Baptist spoke of. There is a salvation to attain after the forgiveness of sins and that is what Jesus Christ came with – He walked in the light which God gave Him during His life on earth and in doing so attained the fullness of God, which is godly nature. Smith said that it is completely possible to attain the virtues of Christ, ie godly nature, by believing wholeheartedly in the gospel and through the obedience of faith, walking in the light of Jesus Christ.

Fellowship flourished at the conference with opportunities for participants to relax and spend time together establishing new bonds and strengthening old ones. Informal gatherings in the courtyard and around the campfires in the evenings with visiting guests, proved to be very popular with young and old alike, especially when Kåre Smith shared humorous stories about his youth.  The recreational activities provided catered for all ages. There was a toddlers’ corner for young children; sporting activities and swimming pool games for older children; soccer, volleyball and netball tournaments for the youth; a park walk and bingo for all ages.

The conference was brought to a close on the Monday evening, with a festive open-air African Christmas Concert. Traditional Christmas carols and Christmas songs sung by the Children’s Choir, young people singing solo items, as well as various duos and trios and the BCC African Choir,  filled the cool night air with a joyful Christmas spirit.  The musical items were interspersed with edifying messages from Harald Kronstad, Tielman Slabbert and Mark Floor. The evening ended with a moving rendition of the popular Christmas song “Drummer Boy” by the BCC Africa choir.

Testimonies:

Talumba Mkundika (Malawi):

“The message from the Summer Conference that gave me courage to face trials with boldness, knowing God will help me, was when Tielman Slabbert spoke about the verse in Romans (Romans 16:20) – that Satan will be crushed under our feet. Fellowship with Kåre Smith at the informal chats made me realise how much he loves the young people and how he longs for them to do the will of God. The sports and games where such fun and it was also so special to see BCC members from all over Africa enjoying the Africa Christmas Concert together.”

Bernard Otiso (Kenya):

“I am very thankful that I could attend the Summer Conference this year. Listening to the spiritual messages meant a lot to me. Kåre Smith takes a clear stand against sin in daily life and said it is completely possible for me to do away with conscious sin in my life and become a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Medard Nzuko (Bafoussam, Cameroon):

“The Summer Conference was very special for me. The first fellowship evening with Tielman Slabbert was a revelation to me – judging and accusing others means I am in Satan’s power, and I am lost.  At the conference Kåre Smith said that faith without a life of total obedience to God is only religiosity and I never want to forget this.”

Alexis Touoyim (Douala, Cameroon):

“The Summer Conference was powerful, rich in God’s Word, edifying and unforgettable. Kåre Smith’s exhortation to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2) helped me to understand that the circumstances where I am tested or tempted are opportunities to gain more godly nature. Hearing Kåre’s many amusing and edifying stories at the fellowship evening was very special. I praise God for the blessings I received at this conference.”

Vanelle Kamgang (Cameroon):

“I am so thankful that I could be at the Summer Conference, it was a great experience for me. The spiritual messages were just what I needed to hear, and I have made resolutions and will work with them for the rest of my life. The fellowship and informal discussions were so good. I want to thank everyone who was involved in organising the conference.”

Timothy Anditi (Kenya):

“The conference was very special and what was meaningful to me, which I took home to work on, is whether I know my fellow Christians according to their human nature or according to their spiritual longing. The informal fellowship evenings were also of help to me, and Kåre Smith’s stories were edifying and amusing.”

Emmanuel Louis (Tanzania):

“The conference was life changing for me.  The messages from Kåre Smith and others opened my eyes to how to live a life according to the Word of God, as that is the only way that is pleasing to Jesus Christ.”