Sarah Barry’s secret mission reports prior to UBF’s split from the church– part 6
If you have been wondering during the past couple of years if somehow your name had been dropped (or not added) to my missionary letter list, let me assure you, it hasn’t been dropped and it has been added. I hate to admit it, but this is the first letter I’ve written since 1958 (MCD letter, that is).
Last year, while on furlough, it was good to see many of you again and meet many of you for the first time. Some of you who will be receiving this letter I was not able to see on this furlough. I’m really sorry about that. A year sounds long, but really it is awfully short. For that matter, four years is short too, so perhaps before very long I’ll be able to see you all.
I arrived back in Korea on August 17, but it was the 27th before I actually got down to Kwangju. I waited in Seoul for my baggage to arrive and visited those days with Mrs. O’Lee and her family. (Some of you know here as Mrs. Oh, and others as Mrs. Lee). She and I returned to Korea together on a freighter that took us on a grand tour of the Orient. It was good to have those days in Korea before getting back into the work. There have been tremendous changes in the nation and in the Church during this past year. One almost needs to get adjusted all over again.
I’m grateful for the fact that in spite of the dismal failures of Christians in high places in the government, Christians still have an opportunity to exert influence in the new government. The new President and many of his cabinet are active Christians. There is still an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability among the people. Demonstrations have become a fad – with children demonstrating against their parents for candy, pocket money and more freedom. There have been several demonstrations in Seoul against policies of the new government; a tremendous upheaval in Yun-sei University (the largest and oldest Christian University); here in our Mission area there have been demonstrations in factories for higher wages and shorter hours (that has a familiar ring!) and demonstrations by Bible School students against missionaries for being “liberal” and “friendly toward communists”! (Knowing our Mission, these charges would really be funny if the whole matter of the Church split were not so serious).
This matter of the division in the Church affects the work of the Mission most directly. One can’t help but say that divisions in the Church have hurt the cause of Christ in Korea. When Christian brothers, commanded by Christ to love one another, tell lies about one another and bitterly revile one another, the faith of many weak and new Christians is bound to suffer, and the task of proclaiming the Gospel to non-Christians becomes more difficult. We can avoid discouragement and disillusionment only when we remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan and his forces – and our Lord Jesus Christ has already won the victory. God is still in control of things and He will somehow work out all these events that are beyond our comprehension to glory of His name and the good of His people.
Since my return I have been in three different country churches for five-day Bible classes and evangelistic visiting and meetings. These country churches are like islands of light in a sea of dark heathen superstition and practice. They are in one sense, the front line offensive forces of the Church as she does battle against heathenism. They need tremendously to be strengthened and encouraged and built up in the Word of God. Even more than growth in numbers, they need growth in grasp of spiritual things and growth in the Christian life. I’ll be visiting country churches in December and during most of January and would appreciate your prayers particularly during that time.
In between country trips I have been teaching Bible in Neel Bible School. Right now, I am acting as principal of the school. Most of our students are widows and they are being trained to do country Bible Women work. They are so eager to learn and grow that it is a real joy to teach them. I have also been teaching some in the night seminary here in Kwangju.
By the time you receive this letter, we will be in the midst of the Christmas Season. I would like to write each one of you personally to send Christmas greetings, but I guess that won’t be possible, so I send with this letter my Christmas greetings to you all. May the Lord use this Christmas season to remind all of us again of the wonderful thing that God had done for each one of us personally at Bethlehem and Calvary and in Joseph’s tomb.
P.S. I will still be glad to receive and can use limited quantities of used Christmas cards and warm used clothing for distribution in the country villages. S.B.
Received at Nashville, Tennessee, November 16, 1960 Address: Miss Sara Barry, Presbyterian Mission, Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo, Kwangju, Korea Air mail folders may be purchased at the Post Office for 10¢
Commentary: Barry never states that shepherding college students is God's calling. In fact the phrase God's calling is not used in these mission reports. The obsession with numbers has really gotten to Barry's head