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Worship & preaching stir annual Korean gathering

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Stirring worship and preaching pointed more than 700 Koreans toward God during the June 20-22 sessions of the Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America.

Nearly every seat was full for worship times -– including extra chairs at the sides and back of the 800-seat worship center at Nashville’s Forest Hills Baptist Church, which had scrambled to make its facilities available for the annual Korean gathering when two previous locations were deemed too small.

“We are leading this conference by the power of the Holy Spirit,” proclaimed Elijah Hwang, president of the Tennessee Korean Baptist Association, as he welcomed the national group to the Monday evening worship. “We want to glorify God’s name through this conference.”

Friendships were made or renewed during extended meal breaks. Hardly any private conversations were taking place outside the worship center during worship times and business sessions.

“These are good words to hear,” said David Sung Eun Choi, pastor of Bridge Community Church in Nashville. “We have need to hear these things.”

The 70-voice choir of Concord Korean Baptist Church in Martinez, Calif., performed a chant of Alleluia on Monday night, highlighted by a soloist’s crystal-clear tones. The choir had performed the same selection twice on Sunday at Brentwood Baptist Church to standing ovations.

David Gill, outgoing second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Concord Korean, was the evening’s featured speaker.

“You guys are all tired, serving in a difficult culture as part of the Korean diaspora,” Gill preached, as translated by Choi. “That’s why we’re like Joseph. He had many sufferings, but lots of blessings too…. How did Joseph become a man of God in difficult situation?”

Joseph had solid theology, high-quality morality and big dreams, Gill said. His home, life, country and ethnic group were all blessed because he was a man of God.

Young Sik Kim, president of the Korean Baptist Pastor’s Association in South Korea who brought 10 pastors with him, extended greetings to Korean pastors in the United States.

“You guys are having a hard time culturally but you are doing a wonderful job,” Kim encouraged them. “The Korean church in America is increasing, but the Korean church in Korea is decreasing. I think the reason is you guys have more difficulty. Our hope is only Jesus Christ…. Let’s go to North Korea and the end of the world.”

Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, also spoke Monday night.

“No one [else] worships with such fervor and passion,” Rankin said. “We are so thankful for your passion and heart in reaching people for Jesus Christ…. It is your prayers that will break down the strongholds of Satan.”

Carolyn Jones, multiethnic consultant with Woman’s Missionary Union, spoke next. “We want to write missions on the hearts of all the generations to come,” she said.

A Tuesday morning preaching seminar intertwined spiritual truths with a range of preaching styles.

Kil Hung Park, M.D., pastor of Korean Baptist Church in Seattle, described testimony preaching and its limitations.

“As a preacher, our purpose is to reveal Jesus Christ and not ourselves,” Park preached. “Successful testimony preaching leads people to say, ‘So, what should I do?’”

Ho Jung Cho, minister of administration at Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md., delivered a missions sermon.

“Spiritual warfare is like a soccer game,” Cho preached. “As a team, if we don’t have one mind -– Jesus Christ -– we already lose the game.” Christians should be like a baseball team, he continued. Each person has their unique gifts, but they all do one thing: They all bat the ball.

Hun Sul, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Redwood City, Calif., used John 3:16 to explain the benefit of a preaching series.

“When I planted my church these three words –- God, love, world -– were my priority,” Sul said. “We need right knowledge: God’s heart. When we understand God’s mind, we know His heart. It’s for the lost…. Motivation is like a seed. With the right seed you have ripe fruit.”

Daniel Park, pastor of Korean First Baptist Church of Dallas, preached from 1 Kings 9:1-5 as he showed how to use media effectively. Using Power Point software, he listed 10 symptoms of depression and showed where burnout occurs on a human function curve, and ended by showing a film clip of the movie Seabiscuit to bring home his point that everyone from Elijah to you can have a comeback.

Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, recounted his report to the Southern Baptist Convention but also announced the formation of an Asian task force to study issues related to second-generation Asians.

“Thank you for letting us partner with you,” Reccord said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart and hand to hand with you.”

Hyun Mo Lee, professor of missions at Korean Baptist Theological Seminary in South Korea, preached from Genesis 12:1-3.

“The purpose of church is to save souls,” Lee preached. “If a church does not do missions work, it is not a church; it is a religious social club.”

Tuesday afternoon was unscheduled so the Korean pastors could join with others at the SBC’s annual meeting, but because of the language barrier –- the large majority of Korean pastors are first-generation immigrants, Choi said; perhaps half do not feel comfortable with English -– only a portion of the Korean council participants made their presence known at the SBC.

Among the highlights of a Tuesday evening worship service were a unity choir of all Tennessee Korean churches and a string quartet. The congregation rejoiced in singing hymns and joined in “vocalizing” prayer in which everyone bowed his or her head and prayed aloud at the same time.

Lee, the missions professor from Korea, preached from Joel 2:28 about world evangelization and sprinkled his sermon with several missiological tidbits.

“Christians should be like the wick in a candle that the Holy Spirit can light,” Lee preached. “No retreat. Someone [in places where Christians are persecuted] bled and died for those who are left to have the blessing…. No regret. Missions is not about suffering. From ‘something to live for’ I change to ‘something to die for.’”

Lee also spoke during the Wednesday closing service –- which took place at the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s building.

“Who is your master?” Lee asked in a message from Luke 9.

“Many people are halfway Christians,” Lee said. “They accept Jesus Christ but when we see their lives, they are a halfway Christian. If Jesus Christ is really our master, we should ask Him each day, ‘What should I do?’”

Translator Choi explained the significance of Lee’s message.

“It was a simple message, but powerful,” Choi said. “It was a necessary message for pastors in a complicated society. He challenged us to have a humble mind. Many pastors’ wives, I saw their tears; he influenced a lot through our heart. I think it was a good ending.”
For more stories about Koreans in the SBC, please visit www.bpnews.net/bpcollectionnews.asp?ID=62.