God’s brilliance in South Korea
July 19, 2017 / By Rev. Vonda Fossitt, Genesee Valley District Superintendent
I am grateful that Rev. Eun Pa Hong of Bupyeong Methodist Church invited the UNY Cabinet on a mission trip to South Korea. Never in a million years would I think a city girl like I would end up traveling across the world to another land called Korea. The 14-hour plane ride in itself was impactful. This God-given opportunity has made a lasting impression on my life in ministry.
When we arrived, several young Korean men, associate pastors dressed in suits, greeted us. One was holding a sign which read "Welcome Upper New York Spiritual Pilgrimage.” It wasn’t until then I truly embraced we were on a spiritual pilgrimage, a journey with the Lord Our God. When we arrived at the church, a formal welcome line with more associate pastors, lay ministers, and women dressed in formal Korean dresses had waited for us late into the night. What a staff! They bowed as we came in as if we were royalty.
The pilgrimage had begun as we all went to our hotel styled residential facilities right there inside of the church. We stayed at the magnificent 5,000+ member Bupyeong Methodist Church.
In the morning Rev. Eun Pa Hong offered us a lecture on the History of Korean Methodism explaining how the Korean church preserves the history of the work of Methodist Missionaries and the Great Revival of Methodism.
In the following week, we went sightseeing to many different churches of the connectional Korean Methodist as well as visited historical sites like the great Tower in Seoul. Every place was a testimony to the power of honoring the past, remembering, and giving thanks. I appreciated the history review on the role of the United States in the Korean War. Because of these efforts on the part of the U.S. and other countries, the Bupyeong church has become dedicated to inviting and hosting Bishops and Cabinets from all over the world. For the Bupyeong church this sharing is a testimony to how General Douglas MacArthur led the United Nations to help the Koreans and a memorial to the thousands of lives that were lost in the Korean War.
The churches we visited were immaculate. I witnessed a team of women sacrificially reserve time to clean and polish the sanctuary, shining the pews and pouring out great pride and care in serving. This act of caring for the cleanliness of a church truly amazed me. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” became a new reality. I hope to encourage the churches in my district to dare to be as brilliant for the glory of God. And we were entertained, educated and provided for all our needs with excellence.
Is it surprising that South Korea, being the proprietor of Samsung, Hyundai, etc. is rated the 11th richest economy in the world? No! In Seoul, there are so many people that they must build up because they cannot build houses across the land, the skyscrapers order the sky. I have witnessed how God can bless and heal the economy of a nation, “if we put God first”. Their disciplined prayer life, 5 a.m. every morning shows how our Korean sisters and brothers put God first. The Church in South Korea is on the move!
Although the trip was a wonderful experience, I’m glad to be an American. The kimchee was interesting; their diet is nutritious and full of vegetables, cabbage, radishes, and sprouts. After a while, I wanted a good ol’ hamburger and a side of fries. My mother and I were stretched physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Thank you Lord for safe health and travels. It was a wonderful experience!