Planting Seeds of Faith In South Korea
By: Sherri Gragg
St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Since 2014, First Korean UMC Houston has faithfully empowered Christian youth from South Korea to begin the next chapter of their lives.
Each summer, First Korean UMC Houston has partnered with Singseng Korean Methodist church in Incheon to bring 15 young Christians between the ages of 9 – 15 from South Korea to spend time in Houston. During their time in Texas, the children attend VBS at several Texas Annual Conference churches where they have the opportunity to both learn from their American brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as share their own culture and faith. The South Korean students also learn more about America as they visit various historical sites, universities and NASA.
Insook Choi, First Korean UMC Lay Leader says the trips are a tremendous blessing to the students. “The trip helps the students see that the world is wide open for them, and that with good faith in God, there is help to go wherever they want to go.”
Praying for the Impossible
The seeds of a ministry that were planted with the fervent prayers of First Korean UMC pastor, the Rev. Joseph Jung have yielded a harvest of generosity and hospitality in his church. The average attendance for First Korean UMC is between 12 – 13 people each Sunday. Yet somehow, the church has managed to bring 15 South Korean students and the four teachers who accompany them to Texas to experience American language and culture for the past four summers.
Church members open their homes to host the young people, feed them, and provide miles and miles of transportation. The thousands of dollars required to bring the students to the United States and fund their field trips are provided through the sacrificial giving of First Korean UMC members. “Most of their expenses were paid by generous offerings and donations from church members of First Korean UMC and their families,” Choi said, “Everything was provided by God without any worries at all.”
As Choi looks back on the years of sacrifice it has taken to host the South Korean students, one young girl stands out among all of the rest. “She came the first year and she was a trouble maker, but then she hugged me so tightly when she left for the airport to fly home,” Choi said, “I met her again in the summer of 2017 when she returned as a teacher. She helped me realize that we just need to do our job of seeding God’s word because Jesus is the one who makes it work in his own time.”