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Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.

“Jesus Christ is the Only Hope.”

Last Monday, I had special guests in my home, a pastor’s couple and a missionary couple.
I first met them in 2007. The pastor served at a church in which I attended Sunday service as a
visitor when I came to the United States, and the missionary couple attended the same church as
visitors as well. They were just ordinary people at that time. Later on, they received God’s
calling and became missionaries.

At that service in 2007, I felt God’s calling when the pastor announced a mission project
of a new church planting in Chicago. As soon as I heard his announcement, I felt strangely warm
throughout my whole body and had an “Aha moment.” “Aha, that’s why God sent me to the
United States. I came here to study, but God sent me here to plant a new church.” However, I
didn’t talk about it to anyone. After that, I went back to a seminary in Chicago, and the
missionary couple went back to Korea. Six months later, the pastor called me and invited me to
join the mission project of the new church planting in Chicago as the project leader. I started the
project with five young adults while still studying at the seminary. We met weekly and prayed.
Sometimes we met at a restaurant, sometimes at someone’s house, and sometimes at a cafeteria
on campus. We didn’t have a proper place to gather together and we didn’t have enough
resources to plant a new church yet.

However, we had full compassion for the young Korean generation wandering in the
United States without knowing Jesus, and enthusiasm for planting a new church for them. Finally,
we found a place which would become Central United Methodist Church in Skokie, Illinois. We
began Sunday services there in August of 2008. One year later, the pastor was appointed at the
new church as the lead pastor, and the missionary couple joined the church and became the first
missionaries that the church supported. The church sent them to Ethiopia in Africa in 2010, and
they were back in the United States in 2013. They currently serve Native Americans in
Washington State. The pastor was reappointed to a church in Washington in 2013 and now
serves a Korean church in Minnesota. I continually served at the same church until I was
appointed to the Upper St. Croix Parish in August 2019. I served at the church for eleven years.
With five young adults, I started a new church in 2008, now that church still grows day by day.
We know many churches membership numbers have decreased, and many churches are now
closed. We might say it is because of the pandemic, because of a lack of the younger generation,
or because towns are becoming smaller, etc. Yes, those all may be valid reasons. All situations
have changed our ability to reach out to new people. It is a new kind of a crisis for churches.
However, a few churches are still growing. Why do some churches still grow?

In today’s scripture, we will see people who seek hope during a crisis in their lives. Mark
6:30 begins, “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.”
This verse follows Mark 6:6-13 (a story of sending the disciples two by two), which means that
Mark 6:14-29 (a story of John the Baptist’s death) is an inserted comment to help us
[audiences/readers] understand what was going on with the people. That situation was like this:
People waited for the Messiah, whom God promised to send to save them. However, God didn’t

send them any prophets for a long time. One day they saw John the Baptist. They thought he
must be the Messiah, who God had promised. However, John the Baptist was killed by King
Herod. People remembered that John used to say, “I baptize with water but, the one who comes
after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” They thought that Jesus must be the Messiah,
who would save them from all suffering from illness, oppression, poverty, injustice, and they
even expected that Jesus would release them from the colony of the Roman Empire. Jesus was
the only hope for the people.

Mark uses the word “apostle” in today’s scripture. “apostle” means “person who is sent.”
In Mark 6:6-13, Jesus sent his disciples two by two to teach and heal people. Mark uses the word
“apostle” because Jesus sent the disciples. After they performed their mission, the disciples
[apostles] returned to Jesus and reported what they had done. Jesus said to them, “Come away to
a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile,” because they were too busy to eat. For the
disciples and people, Jesus was the only hope. It was most important for them to follow Jesus. So
it was not only the disciples, but the people who couldn’t rest and eat. Whenever people saw
Jesus and his disciples, “they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them”
(Mark 6:33). Jesus saw them and had compassion for them because they were like sheep without
a shepherd (v.34). Jesus stayed with them and taught them many things. Whenever people heard
about where ‘Jesus was,’ they rushed to follow him and carried the sick. They all were healed.
They believe that Jesus was the only hope. They believe that if they touched his cloak, they
might heal, and they were healed.

We also face a crisis of church. Perhaps, some of you are facing a life crisis. Some of you
are under distress due to a variety of reasons; you’re dealing with addiction, have depression
caused by family issues, have received bad medical reports, have broken relationships, are
experiencing conflict with others, of have financial difficulties. You might feel like you cannot
find a solution. Why don’t you return to Jesus? Why don’t you hurry to follow Jesus? Have you
ever hurried to follow Jesus without eating and resting? I experienced this when I was planting a
new church as the Projector Leader and working for the young adult conference as an Executive
Coordinator. Whenever I faced difficulty, I used to read the scripture passage, Exodus 35:30-35.
It is about people who built the first temple by God’s calling. God called two people, Bezalel and
Oholiab. “[God] has chosen them, filled their divine spirit, with skill, intelligence, and
knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs. And God has inspired them to teach.
God has filled them with the skill to do every kind of work done.” I believe that God chose me
not because I was smart enough, or I was ready to do God’s work, but because God just chose
me and made me do God’s work, whatever God wanted. God chooses us and will guide us to do
God’s work.

You might think, “Well, I am too old,” I may say, “yes, you are old enough to lead
younger people with the skill God filled you.” You might think, “Well, I did it once upon a time,”
I may say, “That might be, but why don’t you do it again?” Remember, Moses got called from
God when he was 80, and Abraham was 75. You might think, “Well, that’s a Biblical story.” Yes,
you are right. But, God is still living with us, and we are God’s people. The missionary who
visited me got called from God at age 65, and went to Ethiopia at age 68, and he is now 73. He
still serves Native Americans as a missionary. I want you all to have a missionary mind at our
church and work on the project of revitalizing. Let us try to revitalize our church in a hurry
following Jesus. Who knows if it is the last chance God will give for the church or you? Don’t
follow “the division story” or “a rumor” of the United Methodist Church.” Just follow Jesus.
Only Jesus is our hope. Jesus will make things happen. Thanks be to God. Amen!