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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beeson Pastors Visit Seoul, South Korea

The picture above shows the little prayer room where I prayed for the nearly 70 requests I received from my Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church family. It was a joy for me to pray for you. I shed many tears in that room and believe that God is going to respond to those prayers by the power of His Spirit and for His glory. Please continue to keep me posted on those prayer requests.

Words cannot adequately describe or capture the incredible experience I enjoyed during my 8-day visit to Seoul, Korea. We were hosted by the pastors of the Kwanglim United Methodist Church, the largest United Methodist Church in the world with a membership of 85,000. We also visited a youth service at the Yoidi Full Gospel Church which has a membership of approximately 1, ooo, ooo members and is the largest church in the world. While these two churches were certainly stunning in their scope of ministry, I was more enthralled with the dedication of Korean Christians than the sizes of their churches. Korean Christians take their faith in Christ very seriously, in a manner that costs them something. Here is what I learned from my Korean brothers and sisters in Christ:

-PRAYER: They pray as if they really believe God hears and answers prayer. Most Korean Christians, even teenagers and busy parents, arise at 5:00 or 6:00 am every single morning to pray for an hour before their day begins. Some of these early morning prayer meetings at churches we visited had attendance in the thousands. Their lives are just as busy as our lives, and yet they made prayer a daily priority. The fruit of their prayers is evidenced by the growth and vitality of Christianity in South Korea. I have never encountered churches more committed to prayer.
-EVANGELISM/MISSION: Korean Christians intentionally pray for their friends and family members to come to faith in Christ. Even the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School class members at the Kwanglim United Methodist Church prayed for a whole month for one of their unchurched friends to come to Christ before they invited that friend to church with them. These South Korean Christians give lots of money and people resources to minister underground in communist North Korea. The two churches we visited have planted churches not only in North or South Korea, but all over the world.
-HOSPITALITY: Everywhere we went, our South Korean friends provided gifts, food and the warmest of greetings. Hours upon hours of planning went into preparation for our arrival. Our hosts made us feel as if we were not only important to them but extremely important to God as well. We can learn much from them about welcoming all people into our fellowship with not merely a bulletin and a smile but with gracious hospitality.
-SCRIPTURE: We attended a bible study on Tuesday morning from 11:00-12:30 that had about 4000 people in attendance. People travelled from all over Seoul to get there and many skipped their lunch break to attend this study. They believe in the power of Scripture applied to daily life and then they back up this belief with intentional commitments.
-GENEROSITY: Korean Christians, at least in the two churches we visited, are committed to tithing at least 10% of their income to the mission of their local church. This is why those churches are able to engage in effective mission all around the world. It is a joy for them to give generously. The collection of the tithes and offerings in the Korean Church is among the most exciting and meaningful parts of the service.

Basically, I'm challenged by how much the Korean Christians are willing to invest their time, energy, and financial resources in the building of the Kingdom of God around the world. While I know many faithful American Christians, most of us have a lot to learn about faithful commitment from our Korean brothers and sisters. Our mouths often speak louder than our actions, so that our profession of Jesus as Lord is not backed up by the practices of prayer, Bible study or tithing. Korean Christians, on the other hand, don't say much with their mouths, but their actions spoke to us quite loudly. If American Christians would actually commit ourselves to daily prayer, mission, hospitality, Bible study, and generosity we just might see the same vibrancy and growth that the Church in South Korea is experiencing.

That's enough preaching for now. Here are some video clips and pictures for you to enjoy. Simly click on the short cuts below to view the videos. The first video is from the youth service at Yoido Full Gospel Church and the second clip is the farewell we received from the girl's school.

Me, Bishop Kim, and Alfred Kalembo. Bishop Kim is the founder of the Kwanglim United Methodist Church and Alfred is a Wesleyan friend I've known for years who is presently one of our international Beeson Pastors who serves Christ in his homeland of Zambia.
During our visit to the girls business school we learned some Korean calligraphy.

Here is the Kwanglim choir of about 100 people.

Here is shot of all the Beeson Pastors, International and North American, at the Kwanglim Church.

Here is the demilitarization zone, the boarder between communist North Korea and South Korea. All day long soldiers on both sides stare at each other and protect the boarder. Please pray for the unification of Korea.

Here I am in the Kwanglim Church pulpit, one of the biggest and most elaborate pulpits I have ever seen.

We enjoyed a lesson in Korean etiquette and culture at the girls business school.

Here is the entrance to the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has 850,000 people who attend one of their many services.