Sarah Barry’s secret mission reports prior to UBF’s split from the church– part 16
Ice on the Han River has melted and cherry trees will soon be bursting into bloom – for Spring has come. The new school year has also begun and thousands of new, green freshmen are beginning new lives as university students. For those very selected freshmen who wear the badge of Seoul National University, the thought of beginning anew is anti-climactic. The goal of a life-time of grinding study is to wear the badge of SNU. They are the privileged ones who have succeeded. But with the golden feeling of success is also something very empty.
Many of these freshmen are coming to study English Bible in our daily classes. This morning we studied John 9. After class Sung Duk Ahn, a junior in the Law College of SNU, gathered a few of these freshmen from his college and studied the same chapter with them in Korean. Last week he taught these new little brothers to pray. They are his “sheep.” As he studies the Bible and prays with and for them, he, himself is learning the heart of the Great Shepherd. His own Christian life was dormant and fruitless, but he is tasting the joy of participating with God in the giving of new life – and his own life has been renewed.
A year has passed since I moved to Seoul to this excellent location near Seoul National University. God has been faithful to answer prayer and a small group of students, converted through the study of the Bible, are meeting regularly to pray for their University and for themselves.
In February, the University Bible Fellowship national conference met in Seoul. Over 100 students from Kwangju rode all night on a cold train to come and take part. Others came from Taejon, Chunju, Taegu, and from the far island of Cheju. 220 students met for five days of study aimed at developing Christian historical perspective, looking forward to the building of a Christian culture in Korea. The studies were chiefly concerned with God’s mighty acts as revealed in the Old Testament. Each student not only paid his own way but also was required to write two papers – one, an interpretative study of one of the designated Old Testament passages; the other, a study from a Christian point of view of some particular Korean problem. (Some of the topics to choose from were: Shamanism in Society and in the Church; Why we lack objectivity; How to Overcome Spiritual and Intellectual Adolescence; The Importance of a Missionary Outlook in the Church, etc.)
Perhaps the most significant contribution of this conference was in the fact that the lectures were giving by students and young staff. In an education system in which a teacher is recognized by his age and degrees and is considered authoritative only if he is obscure and hard to understand; and students are excepted to sit passively and receive – without thinking, knowledge that is poured in – it is a major achievement to have a conference whose main speakers are students and to have creative participation on the part of lecturers and students. This was possible, of course, because of the careful study preparation before the conference. Rev. Chi II Pang, chairman of the local Department of Cooperative Work of the Presbyterian Church, was on hand to speak to the students on his experiences as a missionary of the Korean Church in China.
After the first day of this conference Jung Ho Ko, an SNU Junior and a vowed Hater of God, packed his bag to go home. He heard the evening lecture and decided to stay. The second evening he told me he was doing “Anti-Christian evangelistic work” and that he had made one “convert!” The third evening he came and asked to pray with me and with tears flowing from his eyes he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord. He comes daily to the center to pray and study with his new brothers and sisters. On Friday he is to report to the group on the recent Time article on Martin Luther.
Evidence of the work of the Spirit in our midst and the evidences of the coming of the beautiful Korean Spring are causes for thanksgiving. It is good to share these things with you.
Each student not only paid his own way but also was required to write two papers – one, an interpretative study of one of the designated Old Testament passages; the other, a study from a Christian point of view of some particular Korean problem.
This would be a prototype for testimony writing
After the first day of this conference Jung Ho Ko, an SNU Junior and a vowed Hater of God, packed his bag to go home. He heard the evening lecture and decided to stay. The second evening he told me he was doing “Anti-Christian evangelistic work” and that he had made one “convert!” The third evening he came and asked to pray with me and with tears flowing from his eyes he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
There is more to this story then Barry is letting on