LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Problems such as teen pregnancy and school shootings will only be solved if Christians turn to God and pray for revival in America, Billy Kim said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary March 13.
Kim, president of the Baptist World Alliance and pastor of the 15,000-member Central Baptist Church of Suwon, Korea, was on the Louisville, Ky., campus to speak during a Southern Seminary chapel service. Ten members of his church are students at Southern.
Kim used the text in Habakkuk 3:1-3 to speak about the need of revival in the world — and specifically in the United States.
“What America needs today is a generation of God-fearing mothers and fathers willing to kneel by the bedside and pray all night their wandering sons and daughters back to the fold of God,” Kim said. “This nation needs revival. …
“There is no other nation on the face of the earth that has been blessed by God as the people of the United States of America,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, you’re the world leader militarily, politically and even religiously. Whatever you teach here, sooner or later it will influence our part of the world.”
Unless Christians begin to pray for revival, Kim said, the moral decline in America will continue.
“Ninety-six percent of all Americans say they believe in God,” he said. “Eighty percent profess to be Christians. Yet families are splitting apart in record numbers. Countless unborn babies have been killed. And there are a hundred times more burglaries in so-called Christian America than there are in so-called pagan Japan.”
Kim gave more statistics: a major crime is committed in America every 22 seconds; a murder is committed every 34 minutes; 125,000 high school girls become pregnant every year; and 100,000 high school students carry guns to school every day.
“America needs revival. American churches need revival. American Baptist churches need revival.
“Prayer is the premise to revival,” Kim said. “The only way that God will send revival across the United States is [if] Christian people begin to take prayer seriously.”
Kim told how God has sent revival to Korea, where many of the country’s larger churches dwarf what are considered “mega-churches” in the United States. Kim said that the number of churches grew from 5,000 in 1955 to 32,000 in 1985. During that time, the number of Christians increased from 1 million to 10 million. Kim said that the Christian population grows four times faster than that of the regular population.
The world’s largest Presbyterian, Methodist and Assemblies of God churches are located in Korea, with one particular church’s membership totaling approximately 700,000, Kim said.
“Somebody asked me, ‘What about Baptists?'” he said. “Well, you give us time. We’re going to get there.”
Kim, who was elected president of the BWA in 2000, said he is often asked about the spiritual health of the Korean churches.
“Why is the Korean church experiencing revival?” he asked. “Aside from the working of the Holy Spirit, I believe there [are] five criteria:”
— The Korean church has stressed the importance of prayer.
“Every morning, at 4:30 or 5 o’clock, you see most of the Korean churches praying,” Kim said. “Furthermore, the senior pastor is asked to preach every morning. If you don’t think that’s a chore, you try [it] sometime.”
Kim told of a conversation he had with a fellow pastor, whose congregation consists of several hundred thousand members. The two were talking during a church-growth seminar in Japan.
“One day I asked him, ‘Why is it that on Sunday morning you have 500,000 people rushing to hear you preach, but my church has only about 10,000 people?'” Kim said. “He said, ‘How long are you praying every day?’ I told him about 30 to 40 minutes. … He said, ‘I pray five hours a day.’ I have no question [that] when a man prays five hours a day, God will begin to use that man.”
— The Korean church preaches the Word of God.
“They’re very conservative,” Kim said. “They’re preaching the Word.”
Kim said he stressed the importance of a Bible-centered ministry during a meeting with Southern Seminary’s Korean students.
“One of the students asked me a question, ‘What’s going to happen to the Korean church in the next generation? Are they going to continue to grow?’ I told the students, ‘If you preach the Word, the Korean church will survive, but if you don’t preach the Word, the Korean church will be like the European church, with a great big church building [and] 50 to 60 people on Sunday morning.”
— The Korean church stresses moral and theological purity among its members.
“Our churches must have a high standard,” Kim said before adding that many of the churches in the United States could be confused for social clubs.
“Unless our churches will have a sanctified life and a purified life and a holy life, God will not send revival to our churches,” he said.
— The Korean church praises God in all situations.
Kim told how revival broke out in Korea in 1983 — despite the fact that the nation endured two tragedies. A Soviet fighter jet shot down a Korean Air Lines passenger plane, killing all 269 people on board. Later that year 17 South Korean delegates were killed by a bomb during a trip to Burma. It had been planted by North Koreans.
“Yet that year, Korean churches sold more hymn books than any other nation … . Even through all the sad circumstances we have faced, Korean Christians have learned to praise God in all the difficult circumstances,” Kim said.
Praise must precede revival, Kim said.
“God expects us to praise him through all the circumstances that come our way, and unless we realize that we praise God for all the blessings, God will not send a great revival,” he said.
— The Korean church has endured persecution.
Kim told the story of a church that was burned to the ground when Japan occupied Korea during World War II. At the time its members were inside, worshiping.
“While they were singing, Japanese locked the door from the outside and threw gallons of kerosene [on it] and set the church on fire,” Kim recounted. “A squad of Japanese police was standing all around the church and ready to shoot if anyone would jump out.”
Yet decades later — after Japan no longer occupied Korea — delegations from both countries met together for a time of healing. Members of the Japanese delegation were so heartbroken about the incident that they raised money to build another church at the same spot. It opened in 1971, and Kim was there for the dedication.
Kim said members made a point to sing “At the Cross” because that same hymn was being sung when the church was destroyed decades earlier.
During the church dedication — and during the singing of “At the Cross” — the Japanese delegation stood up and walked over where the Korean delegation was sitting, Kim said. The two delegations “embraced one another. They hugged another. They forgave and they forgot, because that’s the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Chapel messages can be heard on-line at http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/speakers_chapel.html.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BILLY KIM.