Friends in Far Places

Last night I was able to sleep comfortably with the windows open in my house, because the evening air was cool. Hearing the insects sing, breathing air that had not been artificially cooled by a machine, and thinking of God's blessings to me that day made for a restful sleep. One of God's blessings that gave me peace was having made contact with a friend I met in Korea last month.

Did I forget to mention that I spent my summer vacation days in South Korea visiting my friend and former GGCA teaching colleague, Tain Palanun? Sorry.

Let's back up a little. Let me tell you how I went to Korea.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Korean television shows through Netflix. Since then, I have watched many of these programs and reading subtitles while watching television has become normal for me. I became fascinated with the Korean culture I saw through television shows. I found a Korean restaurant in Aberdeen so that I could try Korean food. I read fiction and non-fiction books set in North and South Korea, and I followed news from Korea. When my friend Tain invited me to visit him in Korea, I decided I wanted to go, and I did.

I'm glad I did. Korea is a lovely country to visit. Like most places, once you get outside the city, there is much natural splendor to be appreciated, because God makes beautiful things. The people of Korea are no exception. The ones I met in the Greater Grace church there were sweethearts, awesome brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. I was happy to meet them and sad to leave them in the end. 

One Korean man I met was named Minmok. Pray for him. I got to spend a day with him on the island of Jeju, and he really needs to become part of the family of God, because there's a God-shaped hole in his heart that needs to be filled. I have been trying to contact him via email, but have gotten no reply yet. I did not expect for God to put this lonely soul in my path on vacation, but I am glad he did, and I think about him and pray for him daily.

Another Korean man I met is the one I mentioned above, my friend Seongho. We also met on Jeju island, and we re-met in his hometown of Pusan, and again in Seoul when he came to stay with Tain and I at Tain's house and attend the East Asia conference. He has a smile that lights up a room, and has a kind, tender heart that serves people. I don't think he was a believer when we met him, but now he may be. I don't know, but I am praying for him and doing my best to keep in touch with him, because he was - and is - a blessing to me. The last time I saw him, I embraced him with tears in my eyes and thanked him.

Of all the places I have been in this world outside America, Korea was the first one that I was reluctant to leave. 

At the East Asia conference, I was invited to have a workshop on Christian education. Many Korean and Chinese believers attended and asked questions. I realized that schools like ours are rare and that people all over the world are looking for what we have at GGCA - Christian education with an emphasis on grace and the Finished Work. One woman was ready to move with her son to Baltimore if it meant he could attend GGCA. Public schools in China and Korea have the same problems that public schools in America have - godless, secular humanistic foundations - so Christian parents want an alternative. It would be cool to have a GGCA in Korea.

I am very thankful for what we have here at GGCA in Baltimore. I don't want to become familiar with what God has given to us. I am also very thankful for the time God allowed me to be in Korea and for the friends I made there, and I hope that He will make a way for me to go there again. Seongho has promised to take me to the jimjibang next time for a sauna. Lord, I miss him! Pray for him too. I would love for him to be able to visit us here in Baltimore. Pray for Pastor DeVries and the church in Korea. They are touching their part of the world in a major way for Christ.

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