Lincoln and The Koreans

A few nights ago, Karen and I stood on the portico of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital. It was this Lincoln who once observed, “It is good policy to never plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you can not.” The adage may be true for politics, but not for evangelism—that divine calling that compels the community of faith to both plead what it must and prove what it can on behalf of Christ’s evangel. Which is why on the next night the Korean Adventist community gathered across this continent as the KNET 2012 satellite series, “A Future and a Friendship You Can Count On,” was beamed from outside the nation’s capital to North America. Two and half million Koreans live in the United States and Canada—15,000 of them Seventh-day Adventists, who are passionate about reaching their compatriots far from their homeland. Thus it was my privilege to stand beside Pastor Don Kim and preach nightly—in English and Korean—to the fifty to sixty downlink sites across the continent. The truth is we were flying on the updraft of ten thousand prayers! The Korean Christian community is known the world over for its deep commitment to collective praying. Korean houses of worship on any continent open early in the morning and close late at night for prayer meetings. As we were preparing to leave our hotel this Sunday for the drive home, a Korean family stopped by to say good-bye. I apologized to them for having to awaken early to meet us before we left. Iris, a young board certified pediatrician at nearby Johns Hopkins, said not to worry, “We were at prayer meeting this morning at 6.” On a Sunday morning? At 6? Korean Adventists believe in the power of collective prayer! And it was clear to me that God honored both their intercessions and their evangelism. Anchorage, Toronto, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, New York City, Chicago, and yes, Berrien Springs—as the nightly reports came in from the multiple sites, our team of pastors and church members at the host site in the Baltimore First church rejoiced. This is the first time the Korean Adventist community has undertaken a project like this in North America. (Previous events were uplinked from Seoul and relayed to America.) And so you can sense the enthusiasm in the air at our site with the large white HOPE-TV satellite truck outside—LA reported 40 guests in attendance and Napa called in with news that nine individuals will be baptized this Sabbath (two reports in English I could understand), and our own attendance in Baltimore grew nightly until Sabbath morning’s full house of worship. The Korean women’s choir, Bistori (“The Sound of Light”)—replete with colorful garb and heavenly music, flew in from LA Friday for the final two sessions. It was a God-blessed event—because you prayed. And so I end this brief report with a personal word of thanksgiving to my home congregation. Your own passion to share the everlasting gospel and your commitment to partner in prayer are two very special gifts for which I continually thank God. And I dream of the day when team after team of young and not-so-young evangelists-to-be are sent out from this campus and congregation to a world that desperately needs to know Jesus. After all, who better to obey His command, “Go into all the world,” than this university named after a missionary, whose bronze arm outside our front door keeps pointing to the lost world that is our mission, too?