My husband and I (and some brethren from our church) went on ‘a trip of a lifetime’, as they say. We went to South Korea and Japan. These are countries in the far east with different cultures and attitudes to life than what we were used to. These are very beautiful and clean countries. They both suffered a lot in the past from terrible wars. Many people died! But after much pain they decided to rise again ‘from the ashes’ of sufferings. Most of their development is recent. Together as a people, they decided to leave the ugly past behind and to move on! This is a good story for any person, family or country!
(Just a note: I live in Nigeria. I love Nigeria! My husband and I are pastors in Nigeria. I am not saying that these countries are better than Nigeria. They are just different. As I do not compare people, I also do not compare countries. Each place on earth, each tribe, family and people are uniquely created by the same God. The political, religious and cultural systems may be different but people are people everywhere. Some are good and some are bad. That is the truth!)
After a long flight, we arrived in Seoul on a Saturday. The next day we attended the third service at the famous Yoido Full Gospel Church. (Each Sunday they have seven services.) This is a Pentecostal church affiliated with the Assemblies of God in Seoul, South Korea. With about 800,000 active members it is the largest Pentecostal Christian congregation in South Korea and one of the biggest in the world. Founded by David Yonggi Cho in 1958, the church is presently led by Young Hoon Lee. The building is large enough to seat 12,000 people, with overflow sent to the nearby buildings, where congregants watch events in the main church on telescreens.
We sat at the special place given to foreigners. The sermon was in Korean. They gave us earphones and we listened to the sermon translated in English. They were more old people in the congregation than young. Of course, this is very different than in Nigeria where I am a pastor. The praise session was good. There was a big choir who sang hymns in Korean. The worshippers sang with all their hearts. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident. The sermon was also good. It was preached by Pastor Y. H. Lee with boldness and anointing. He has a very good tenor voice. From time to time he stopped the preaching to praise God with songs. I especially loved a chorus about our Salvation in Christ. “For I dream that at last I shall look on His face! Oh, this wonderful dream is a secret of grace!” Well said!
The sermon was inspired from the Book of Jeremiah 29. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:11-13). Pastor Lee encouraged all people to seek God until He is found. He led the congregation in prayers for the peace and the prosperity of their country. We observed that the people in Seoul have quite a high level of anxiety concerning their future. Many are on antidepressants, the pastor said. This stress is mostly because of the threat coming from their neighbor, North Korea. Technically, the two Koreas are still at war. The pastor directed their attention to God who alone can protect them. At the end of the service we went with other ‘first timers’ to be greeted by their protocol staff. It was a good Sunday service!
Each time we travel we miss the church services at home. But we know that it is good to visit other assemblies in other parts of the world. The language, the way of dressing and the style of service may be different, but The Spirit and the Body of Christ is One! Praise the Lord!
May God bless the people of North and South Korea! May they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ! May there be peace and prosperity in that region of the world! May God bless the true brethren in these countries! In Jesus’ name! Amen!
(I took some pictures of the church and of the congregation during the service. One of the brethren took a picture of my husband and I as we listened to the sermon. These are memories we shall treasure for a lifetime)