Some of you may be thinking that all I have done up until now is hang out around town and get used to the culture, which is partly true because my first days in Korea were intended to be easy and restful. However, in the past week, I have had the unique privilege of visiting an amazing church here in Korea and starting classes with the SYME students.
To begin, church was a very interesting experience as we participated in a special English service. The building was pretty big, and it sat on a beautiful cross between a creek and a main highway. When I went in, there was a beautiful lobby of chairs and tables, but the actual auditorium for the Korean church was big, seating over 1,000 people. The place where we had our English service, though, was a small room, that seated 50 people, but there were only about 30 of us.
This number may seem small, but God has used that small church to reach out to some very needy people, who come because they can understand the message. I met a family from Ethiopia who have been at the church for a couple of years and moved to another city this week. Since they were moving, the dad shared a testimony about how the church has embraced their family over the years with some hardships that they have faced. I also met a muslim (Jason was his name) who has been searching for answers. For the past four weeks, he has come and met with Jacob Morse who is the missionary heading that ministry up. Needless to say, that tight-knit group of believers has had its share of opportunities, and it continues to do an amazing work. I look forward to coming back, meeting more people, and perhaps getting involved with their children’s ministry over the next few weeks.
Two days after I witnessed this amazing community of Christians, I got to officially meet all the students at SYME. I believe that we have a total of 26 students, and every one of them adds a little bit more fun, and adventure to this amazing school. During class, the students are spread out among 4 teachers. We have the English classes as well as a discipleship class, and a class that is going through the book of James. Some of the classes are naturally more dynamic than others, but all of them have gone really well.
The best part about being at SYME is getting to know the students’ testimonies, and hearing their dreams. Many of them want to go to the Word of Life Bible Institute when they finish their English classes, to later go on and finish a university degree. Some want to be teachers, some want to go to the ministry, some want to be engineers, and yet others are still figuring out their life purpose. One girl here has a great desire to be a counselor, and have a children’s ministry of her own but her parents at this point will not allow her to pursue such a career when they prefer that she become an engineer. The only reason that she comes to SYME is that they want her to learn English, and they have made her pay for her studies here.
Another girl is in a similar situation, except that her parents are Buddhists and hate Christianity. They have verbally abused her, and even hit her many times for her beliefs and decisions. Nevertheless, she comes to SYME not knowing how or when the money she needs for her education will come in. She just knows that God has called her to ministry to reach out to people like her parents, and her homosexual brother.
At the end of the day, this student body authentically embraces each person for who they are. They step up to the leadership plate with the most humble, serving attitudes. Every day, the students run the worship time in the morning, and the chapel. They are responsible for figuring out who will sing, do a skit, share a testimony, pray, and present the verse of the week, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them is involved. All of them help with daily cleaning also. Whether it is at meal time, or clean up at the end of the day or week, not one person is left out. When the weekends come, many of them travel back home to serve their church on weekends.
It has been so refreshing to see such a beautiful community come together in a way that truly represents our unity with Christ. Perhaps one of the neatest things about witnessing this servanthood is that it comes about not in an attempt to DO something, but to simply BE who God has redeemed us to be – joyful and free in all things! Their example has challenged me this week to really find ways to share my faith in Christ – not just by speaking, but by picking up trash, leading a skit, and teaching class. May this life-changing love of Christ be evident in all of our lives, and grow more and more each day. The One we live for is forever worthy!