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Platt ‘challenged everybody’ at Korean gathering

CARROLLTON, Texas (BP) — More than 900 Korean leaders and their families heard International Mission Board President David Platt’s challenge to reach the world during the annual gathering of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America.

The fellowship, known informally as the Korean Council and encompassing 850 Korean-language churches, meets for three days each year in the same city and same week as the SBC annual meeting. Tuesday afternoon is left free and bus transportation is provided so the Koreans can participate in the day’s session of the SBC annual meeting and vote for the next SBC president.

This year for the first time, greetings were given to the Koreans by SBC presidential candidates J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill, who each spoke by video on the importance and value of Korean involvement in the SBC.

Also during its June 11-13 sessions at Semihan Church in Carrollton, Texas, the Korean Council heard reports from each of its departments, added a committee, elected officers and discussed a theological/local church issue involving elders.

“Pastor Choi and the staff of Semihan Church sacrificially supported this event, and all the [Korean] churches in Fort Worth and Dallas really were a big help this year,” said James Kang, completing his first year as executive director of the Korean Council.

“I presented all the projects and issues that needed to come before the members,” Kang said. “David Platt’s message really challenged everybody.”

Platt opened with his recent trip to the Amazon. At night around a campfire, the native guides would tell stories. On the last night, they asked Platt if he had any stories, and at the end, said they had never heard these stories of Jesus.

Those men were among the 2.8 billion people who have not yet heard about Jesus, Platt said, as translated by Jin Soo “David” Lee, pastor of New Vision Church in San Jose, Calif.

“God has called us to change that,” Platt told council attendees. “God has called us to send out men and women from our churches to take the Gospel to those who haven’t heard.” He set forth two challenges:

“First, before you go to sleep tonight, pray and ask God if He wants you personally to go to people who have never heard the Gospel — as students; to quit your job and go; to leverage your job to a place where people do not go,” Platt said. “Second, pray God would send many people from your church. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers.”

Platt illustrated with the sending of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:1-4 the requirement that “all our churches need to reflect both realities,” referring to those who encourage and those who go.

“The power of God dwells in you. His Spirit wants to use your life,” Platt told his Korean listeners. “Here’s my concern with the American dream: Much is based on our power. Our greatest asset is our weaknesses, because when we are weak, He uses His power.”

The Korean Council is set up much like the SBC, with departments instead of entities for home missions, foreign missions, WMU, brotherhood, education, English ministry and more. Each made a report.

Sixty churches affiliated with the Korean Council’s Home Mission Board together support a monthly $400 stipend for three years to 15 small church pastors. Hyun Rha, pastor of Corpus Christi (Texas) Korean Baptist Church, who said he previously was a recipient and now gives, encouraged more churches to join in the effort to provide funds for more churches to grow.

And this year, 24 graduating high school seniors in pastors’ families each received a $500 college scholarship.

“We are hoping in the future to be able to provide the funds for one pastor fulltime to plant a church,” Kyung Won Song told Baptist Press. Song is pastor of Korean Baptist Church of Binghamton, N.Y., and a member of the Korean Council’s Home Mission Board, which has a $200,000 annual budget. “We cast out that vision this year.”

The Korea Baptist Overseas Mission Board, which has a $500,000 budget, has 60 missionaries serving in 16 nations, with two couples commissioned this June. Mission board trustees and their spouses visited Cuba in February and are considering the possibility of sending a missionary there. Attendees also were told that the seminary in China, where 700 students were being educated, is not functioning at present because the Bible no longer can be openly taught, and persecution is escalating.

The Korean Council raised more than $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief over the last year, Kang reported. He also has raised $10,000 so far to provide $50/month gifts for one year to set up a retirement account for 100 pastors who don’t yet have one. The Korean Council plans to help an additional 100 pastors start retirement accounts in each of the next four years.

Including these funds, churches gave $1,264,944.22 for the fellowship’s ministries this fiscal year, Kang said. Its budget was $756,000. The budget for 2019 is $1,058,600.

In addition to reports from each of the Korean Council’s other departments, a “coaching ministry” committee informally was formed over the last year to help connect small churches needing help with larger churches able to provide mentoring. Members will vote at the 2019 annual meeting if the committee is to continue.

A question arose about the site of next year’s meeting. The Korean Council voted two years ago to gather each year in the same city as the SBC annual meeting, which is to take place next year in Birmingham, Ala. But there is only one Korean Baptist church in Birmingham, and a total of 12 in Alabama, and much help is needed to provide Korean meals for guests. Nonetheless, Alabama Koreans said they will be honored to host the council’s 2019 annual meeting.

In addition to business — most of which took place Wednesday morning — the council’s 37th annual meeting started with prayer at 6 a.m. each day, worship at every session led by guest speakers and several praise teams and choirs from Semihan Church, New Song Church and Hanwori Baptist Church.

Seung Jung, pastor of Everlove Baptist Church in Daejeon, South Korea, spoke during three worship services. David Choi, pastor of Tacoma (Wash.) First Baptist Church, filled in after the cancelation by now-former seminary president Paige Patterson.

Five pastors were honored for 20 years’ ministry service; two were in attendance: Hyun Shik Son, pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Fairfax, Va., and Chun Ho Chi, pastor of Huntsville (Ala.) Baptist Church.

Council officers were elected: president, Young Yi Choi, pastor of Dover (Del.) Korean Baptist Church; first vice president, Sung Kwon Lee, pastor of Korean Power Mission Baptist Church of Cincinnati; second vice president Young C. Chang, pastor of Korean Baptist Church of Birmingham; auditor, Daniel Chon, pastor of Macon (Ga.) Korean Baptist Church; secretary, Dong Soon Moon, pastor of Virginia Korean America Baptist Church in Annandale; and treasurer, Kyung D. Kim, pastor of Flower Mound (Texas) Korean Church.

Some discussion took place about using the term “elder” in the church. After a time of discussion, the advisory council on the platform with outgoing President Raymond Y. Lee, pastor of See World Baptist Church in San Diego, moderating the day’s business, determined the discussion should be tabled until next year’s annual meeting. At 4 p.m. Wednesday, when all other business was concluded, the issue was brought up again as an “urgent motion.” After 45 minutes, that motion too was tabled until 2019.