October 13th, 2019 Sermon by Barbara Loomis
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Imagine Early Morning Prayer every day , even on Sunday at 5am. I am not a Morning person, added to arriving the day before after a thirteen and a half hour flight.
The first 15 minutes are hymns. When I say the first 15 minutes are hymns, I really mean 20 minutes. The actual singing starts about 5 minutes to 5, with vigorous singing and praising the Lord. Definitely wakes you up. People are arriving 10 minutes to 5. They quietly enter the sanctuary. Should they greet someone it is with a little bow. There are people acting as ushers trying to quietly direct you to fill up the church from the front.
Our group wandered in 1 or 2 at a time and was directed to an area with headsets that would translate the service. It was only really needed for the sermon, because everything was on overhead screens in both Korean and English.
There were no bulletins, No Bibles, and no Hymnals in the pews. In Fact Everyone that we say attending carried a book that had both the Hymnal and the Bible. I did ask our Bishop, if the church gifted this to their members or if they bought their own books. Bishop Jung said he would look into that for me. I’ll have to remind him. When I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I was given a prayer book signed by the Bishop. So the possibility of such a gift is within my realm of understanding.
The book is not needed, yet they bring it and use it. Everything they need is on the screens. The first Early Morning Prayer that our group attended was around 700 people, after that there was easily over 1,000. On Sunday there was about 500 people, There were three other morning Services, and an Evening Service. All were well attended. The other services did not have the vigorous hymn singing or group praying that I will explain.
After the Sermon , there is one last hymn followed by everyone raising their hands saying “Lord, Lord, Lord”
Then the Praying begins; All at one time. Some individuals sing, some seem to rock and moan. I was told that some are speaking in tongues. The Worship leader also prays aloud with the microphone on. He goes through papers of prayer request. And more.
The Early Morning Prayer Service brought Pastor Ran to mind. She had shared this form of prayer at one of our studies. Telling of it and being a part of it are two different things. Pastor Ran , said that everyone prays at once because , God hears all of our prayers. God can sort it out. Some people pray for only 5 or 10 minutes, some pray for half an hour or more. You leave as you need to or you feel that you have prayed enough.
Now for a little history of Christianity in Korea (Pg 11)
The Story of the Bupyeong Methodist Church
From 1940 to 1950 the church had four Senior Ministers. In 1951 Rev Hong, Chan-Joon came to the church. The church was similar in size to ours. It was in one of the poorest parts of the community. Average Membership 38 with 20 to 25 people attending on Sunday.
Then God spoke to him and told him to have Early Morning Prayer. 8 people came
Slowly more came, and people in the surrounding community came.
By the 60’s church attendance was 170 adults, and 180 Sunday School.
They needed a bigger church.. God spoke to Rev Hong, Chang-Jong and members dreamed. A bigger church became a reality. Throughout the Bible, God has spoken to people, or sent the Holy Spirit or angels to them in dreams. Joseph in Genesis dreamed dreams and interpreted dreams. Not everyone believed him. Moses was spoken to through a burning bush. In Exodus
Jonah heard God’s voice but did not do as he was told. He had to be swallowed by a great fish before he did what God asked of him. God spoke through dreams and visions to John,Peter and Paul.in Acts. God spoke in a whisper to Elijah. In 1 Kings
The Word of God is living and active in our Bibles and our day to day lives. Are we listening for God’s voice?
I am listening. That is why I went on this trip. The e-mail from the conference had a place to find out more about the Laity Pilgrimage. I read it and moved on. For the next month , this Flyer was always the first thing to open when I checked my emails. The day before the deadline I saw this flyer posted by Pastor Jenny’s office door. I truly felt called to go on this trip. Thank you for all the prayers. Physically, it was a challenge. One week after I booked the tickets I fell and broke a rib, but I was still able to go to South Korea. And I would go again if called.
The story continues.
Now Rev Hong, Chang-Jong was spiritually strong and listened to God’s call. His son also is spiritually strong, the Rev. Hong, Eun-Pa and followed in his father’s footsteps. He now serves as the Senior Pastor to the Bupyeong Methodist Church.
God called the young Rev Hong to build a center where people from around the world would stay. He asked “Why would people come here!” “To see the Spirit in action.” became the answer to the “Why”. But in order to do this, the church needed more land. God told him to walk around the property of the land they needed, every day. He did as God instructed.
He did not have an army or trumpets like Joshua. He was ready to give up, Than his wife and family joined him. Next members of the congregation joined him. The people that owned the land Sold it to them for less than the fair market value.
Now people from the US, Turkey. Australia, Brazil and many other countries have come to Bupyeong Methodist Church. The list is long.
All the churches of South Korea have not thrived as the Bupyeong Church. It isn’t a recipe for great success. It all depends on what is the success God expects. After our week in Incheon, we went to other Churches. One of the host church members that I met, admitted that only the pastor’s children attend their church. The Pastor said when the children are older maybe their friends and family will join us. The success comes from listening to God. And never giving up Hope.
In our Scripture today verse 15 says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by Him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. “
You know what you are called to do. Is it to teach? Is it to provide music to inspire us during worship? Worship Leader. Lead a Bible Study. Is it to invite others to church and share Jesus Love? Greet visitors to our church. This list could go On and on.
Find your calling. “Do your best to present yourself to God
I remember when some members at Atlas Church brought their grandchildren to church. From that more children came. St. Croix has been active in Mission and support towards the Butterfly House. Grantsburg is active in mission, UMW and UMM. Our Sunday school has potential for growth. Each church has its strengths. What I mentioned here is only a piece of a larger picture. And you are in that picture.
The main factors of the growth of Bupyeong Methodist Church, are many. Top of the list is “The strong presence and works of the Holy Spirit”.
How do you see the Holy Spirit working in your life and in your church?
May it continue to strengthen and grow.
Thanks be to God, Amen!