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Welch encourages chaplains in Korea

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bobby Welch recently traveled to South Korea as the SBC’s strategist for Global Evangelical Relations. The following article is part of a series sharing a glimpse of his visit with Southern Baptist military chaplains and dialogue with Korean evangelical leaders.

SEOUL, South Korea (BP)–“Stick to the stuff” was Bobby Welch’s focus in addressing 10 Southern Baptist military chaplains stationed in South Korea.

Welch voiced his message at a dinner in honor of the chaplains, held at the Yongsan Army Post’s Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul.

All ten of the Southern Baptist military chaplains stationed on the Korean peninsula and most of their spouses attended the dinner hosted by Keith Travis, leader of the chaplain evangelism team of the North American Mission Board, the organization responsible for endorsing Southern Baptist chaplains. Representatives from the International Mission Board and Seoul International Baptist Church also attended the Sept. 8 gathering.

Welch reminded the chaplains of the importance of their mission, even if it meant being assigned simply to guard the supplies. Preaching from 1 Samuel 25:13, he encouraged them to be faithful to their calling, whether in the heat of battle in Iraq or Afghanistan or by providing stability and support in northeast Asia.

Welch’s message touched a chord with CH (Capt) Brian Oh, who was deployed to Afghanistan with the Combat Engineer Group last summer. Shortly after his arrival, he began experiencing pain in his side, and tests revealed a tumor in his pelvis. After only three months in the field, Oh was medically evacuated and underwent seven surgeries to remove a benign tumor.

Oh was despondent that he had to leave his battalion in the heat of battle. He felt that he was leaving his sheep and was worried for their safety and spiritual strength.

During this same time, Oh’s mother died. Because of his medical condition, he was unable to attend her funeral.

Oh recalled a simple prayer he prayed, “Lord, I am hurting emotionally and physically. Why is this happening?”

Oh sensed God saying, “Do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Do you love me more than you love your mother?”

“I could not answer,” Oh said. “I had to rethink everything.”

It was a time, he said, of spiritual drifting, of trying to determine what he did and didn’t believe about God.

However, as Oh’s body healed, God slowly began to rebuild his faith as well. And through the process, Oh gained a better understanding of the needs of his soldiers.

Still, Oh struggles with leaving his troops behind in Afghanistan. But Welch’s message encouraged him to be faithful, even when life’s twists and turns are difficult to understand.

“Dr. Welch’s message,” Oh said, “reminded me that God is in control.”
Ann Lovell is a media worker based in Seoul, South Korea, with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

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