Tuesday, June 9, 2009

South Korea 12

June 7

I slept well on Ok-Jin's bed. I would be lying if I said that I wnated to sleep on the floor like I argued the night before. Her mother made me breakfast and apologized for it being so simple. Her apologies were not necessary and i did my best to tell her that. Let me just say that bathrooms in homes are very different. There was not a shower, but there were so many buttons on the toilet that I didn't know what to do with them all!

Upon returning to church we got a tour of the Sunday School classes/parking garage/choirs/orchestra spaces.

Starting with parking... only one thing... the older tower of the church can hold 34 cars. It is like a dry cleaning rail! You drive your car in, get out, and a button gets pushed and the cars go around almost as though they are on a ferris wheel. When you are through with church, you just push the button and the device brings your car down to you. NUTS!

Music... there are so many musicians in this church! There is an organ in the choir practice room and the conductor (yes, I said conductor) wears tails in the service!! All of the hymns are accompanied by a full orchestra. In the evening service the Angelos kids choir sang.

Now for Sunday school... Their program makes me reflect again on vision. An elder told us a story while we were walking to the Sunday school building. This story is about the landscape of the church. The pastor had a vision of a tree in a place that the contractor did not recommend. The pastor did not know why, but he fought for this tree so much that the contractor eventually quit. The tree went in, and when a worker fell from the scaffolding, he landed on the tree instead of the concrete. He broke four ribs, but had the tree not been there he probably would have died. The tree is still there and is called "the Tree of Life."

I guess I was going to write about Sunday school and haven't yet. We knew that the program was huge, but we did not know how intentional it was. The main office monitors attendance but not just for record's sake. If a student does not come, the call, email, and visit until they have understood (and hopefully solved) the problem. They also are prayer centered. They have many bulletin boards that remind people to pray for and evangelize to certain places (schools, etc.) and people. This ministry takes evangelism seriously. They are not scared to do it! I feel as though churches in the U.S. focus on outreach that they hope will turn into evangelism, where this church intentionally evangelizes. I must admit that I am a bit frightened of blatant evangelism. I think that is because I have only seen empty evangelism. Empty evangelism is evangelism that ends at salvation. Not Bupyeong Church! They evangelize and then support those who come to church. And if you stop coming? They will email, call, and visit. My mega-church reservations are slowly dissolving in this church. The numbers here are a testament to the faithfulness to a God who calls us to make disciples.

We attended the late morning service and I am still completely in awe of the scale. A full orchestra is mind blowing. The church is a fine tuned machine! In spite of it all, one strange thing happened after the service. Our entire group stood at the back of the narthex so that the congregation could welcome us. I had two male classmates on either side of me. A gentleman greeting the guy to my right, shaking his hand and exchanging pleasantries, and when I extended my hand to greet him, he passed right by me without acknowledging my presence. he then greeted the guy on my left in the same cordial manner in which he greeted the first male classmate. I have spent a lot of time wondering if this is a cultural thing, as it was an isolated incident or if it was indeed a matter of choice by that man. The guys seem to think it is cultural. I am not so sure...

After the service and a fabulous lunch, we heard the testament of one of the church's elders. Through his amazing testimony, one thing was abundantly clear. He (along with all the members of Bupyeong Church) believes in the faithfulness of God and the power of prayer. Some classmates and I had a long conversation after this testimony. Here are the cliffnotes...

- Why are American churches (in general) so scared of evangelism? Because we are so afraid of offending or putting people off. The people here, despite their quiet and polite nature are not afraid to boast of Jesus.

- Why were we taught in school not to pray for miracles? These people pray for miracles and they happen. Ask and you shall receive.
- No matter how great the shepherd, only sheep can produce sheep. This church has empowered the lay people to make disciples and it has obviously worked.

The evening was relaxed, with another service. The children's chorus sang, which was the highlight for me. The message was about the keys to happiness. During the message, ment were encouraged to step up and be the heads of their households, and this made me revisit the incident from earlier in the day . I cannot figure out the gender dynamics of this church (and this culture).

Later in the evening most of the group went to play basketball with pastor James, but I stayed back. My limits were being tested socially and I needed to just exist in solitude for a bit. After writing and washing some clothes in the sink I hit the sack before my roommate got home. I didn't want to speak to people, so I enjoyed letting the music (via my ipod) speak to me until I drifted off.

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