Spiritual Pilgrimage in Korea (4): Generosity of Time

. 3 min read

From our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:

One of the similarities of the South Korean
culture and the American culture is how busy people are.  Talking with
pastors we heard similar stories like we here in the US about how over-extended
people are.  Education is so highly valued in South Korea that there is
great competition for tutors for the best classes.  The graduation rate
for High School in South Korea is about 90%.
In addition to the demand for study, most
children and youth take music lessons of some kind, sports, physical fitness,
martial arts.  Over and over we heard and saw examples of how busy people
are.  We were told that often students with the amount of time they put
into studying,  extra-curricular activities, and church they often get
only 6 hours sleep.
I am not lifting this up as healthy—but setting
the stage for what we in the US churches hear all the time—“my kids and I are
so busy we don’t have time to do anything at church.”
Not so in the churches we visited. 
Bupyeong Church where we stayed told us about how they train lay people as
small group leaders and volunteers.  The church does most of its ministry
with volunteers.   
In our culture where it becomes very difficult
to find a volunteer to sit in the nursery, or serve on a committee, or spend 3
hours a week caring for the outside of the church, we saw a completely
different understanding of church involvement.
In Bupyeong Church EVERY Saturday 40-50 come to
clean the church.  All during the week we marveled at how clean this large
building was.  It is these 50 people’s commitment to clean so that church
money can go for mission and ministry.
Every week 8 people buy the flowers and come
together to arrange them and put them throughout the church.  The
arrangements while we were there were unique and lovingly done not by a florist
someone paid—but by church members.

The guest house we stayed in (which was motel
accommodations) were cleaned every day, sheets changed, clean towels put in the
bathrooms and new snacks everyday on the table in each room.  This is
accomplished by 20 people whose ministry it is to come in and clean.

Because many people come for the entire day on
Sunday, there are 20-30 volunteers who work in the dining room, providing
dinner, snacks and refreshments for choir members, teachers, and others who
spend the entire day at the church.
There are 20 people whose ministry it is every
week to serve as traffic control for people to find and get parking places.
I noticed both on Sunday and during the early
morning prayer services that the ushers did not stand around and talk with each
other.  They personally greeted worshippers and in most instances escorted
them to their seats.
The pastor told us that those involved in
children’s ministry are so committed to getting children to church on Sunday
that their family will often buy a van to be able to transport kids who have no
transportation to church.
Pastor Hong told us that most all of the
volunteers use their own money for the ministry so that their tithes go for
mission and ministry beyond what they do.
It was incredible to hear and witness the
incredible generosity of money—but also time and energy these Christians, on
fire for Christ, give to their church—and to the Kingdom of God.
It’s been 1 month since we landed in Seoul and
met the people of the Bupyeong Church.  I continue to marvel at their
commitment and the movement of God’s spirit in the lives of the church people,
and especially in the lives of the unchurched people in South Korea.

My prayer is that that fervor, that dedication,
and that commitment would take hold in the Lewisburg District and in the lives
of people who call themselves United Methodist Christians.