After a meeting with the Apostles and Bishops, and an evening of showcasing India’s culture, Chief Apostle Schneider’s visit to Raipur culminated with the Divine Service at Gujarati School on Sunday, 12 November 2017. For New Apostolic Christians in India, this was the most awaited event of the year, as most from North India had never seen or heard directly from a Chief Apostle.
Message for the Congregation in Raipur
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider based his sermon on a Bible verse from Revelation 1:9 “I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Before taking on the bible text, Chief Apostle Schneider conveyed a special message out of the Holy Spirit for everyone present: “People of God, don’t fear. The will of Your Father will be done. Our Father is the almighty God. Nothing and no one can hinder Him from doing His will.”
The Kingdom of God in the Past, Present and Future
After an introduction of the background to the bible text, our Chief Apostle spoke about different aspects of the Kingdom of God: the past, present and future. He explained that the kingdom of God in past times was established on Earth by Jesus Christ, and that “today, through the Holy Spirit, we can experience the presence, the grace, and the love of God.” On the other hand, all New Apostolic Christians are waiting for the future kingdom in which there will be no more space for evil and suffering. Jesus assured that this kingdom will come soon. Paul elaborated that while we are waiting for this, we have to go through tribulations and suffering. “That is the time in which we live”, the Chief Apostle stressed.
Temptations in our Faith
The Chief Apostle pointed out various tribulations we face in our lives of faith.
- One big temptation to give up our faith is when our prayers and wishes are not answered.
- Sometimes, the church is divided and the leaders are weak which disturbs the unity of the congregations.
- “We have to struggle as well to abandon the ideas that do not please God, to renounce the old Adam, to accept the will of God” as “Jesus had to struggle to renounce his wishes and to accept the will of His Father,” the Chief Apostle explained.
On account of these tribulations it is possible that we become lukewarm in our faith. We compromise the Commandments and our faith becomes just a tradition and religion and it is no longer a living faith.
Perseverance in Tribulation
The bible text tells how the Apostle John was called to be patient, steadfast and perseverant. Jesus showed John the future and the glory of God, which is beyond any expectation. He was encouraged to be steadfast in faith, patient, courageous and to trust in Jesus. The Chief Apostle pointed out that the same message applies to us, too: “Be patient, be steadfast, do good. Do not stop, do not abandon, do not give up. Keep God’s commandments.”
Called to be God’s Witnesses
In closing, the Chief Apostle reminded the congregation that God does not want us to change the world. Instead, we were called “to be His witnesses and a living proof that one can do His will.” He requested everyone present to be active witnesses of Jesus Christ and not to give up in all the tribulations that we face today. And once again, he reminded the members that God’s will will be done.
Acts of Blessing: Retirements and Ordinations
After the celebration of Holy Communion, the Chief Apostle placed four Apostles into retirement. Apostle Egnati Jagtap from Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Apostle Mahesh Lal from Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Apostle Aruna Naik from Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and Apostle Michael Naik from Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh).
The Chief Apostle then went on to ordain three Apostles for India. They were the Bishops Devadas Basappa from Addanki (Andhra Pradesh) and Fred Marihal from Belagavi (Karnataka), and District Evangelist Prabhakar Beergi from Hyderabad (Telangana).
Technical Milestone with Webcast
This was the first Divine Service of a Chief Apostle that was transmitted via webcast in India and abroad. A live webcast was streamed and transmitted to 14 locations in India and 5 locations overseas (3 in Canada, 1 in Germany, 1 in South Africa). While the venue had an attendance of 975, another 787 members were able to connect and partake via webcast. The entire Divine Service was translated at the altar into Hindi.
Abundant Blessing for NAC India
After a long time of preparation, prayer and planning, the Divine Service left profound and long-lasting impressions on everyone present and connected. Be it the immense depth of the Chief Apostle’s message, the beautiful contribution of choir and musicians, or all other necessary arrangements – everything had come together in a way that really glorified God!