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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
Lessons Learned from My Trip to Korea
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Lessons Learned from My Trip to Korea

Alice Jung—El Monte, California, USA

On the plane home after four extremely uplifting weeks in Korea, my heart stirs with all kinds of emotions. Exhausted, I close my eyes in an attempt to get some rest, but my mind continues to replay all of the memorable scenes from our time in this part of Asia.

Not only did this trip expand my appreciation for another culture, but most importantly, as I slowly put all that we encountered into perspective, it helped me gain new insights and gave me moving reminders as a child of God.

Ever since we got married more than fourteen years ago, my husband, TJ, and I talked about visiting Korea one day. TJ, or Pastor Tae-Hoon Jung, often talked about his homeland with much affection. Most of all, he missed the churches where he grew up.

The chance finally came when the Korea General Assembly invited TJ and his father, Elder Jung, to help with the 2007 Spring spiritual convocations at four different churches in the cities of Seoul and Busan. Some of TJ’s relatives in Korea asked that he bring his entire family during the trip so that they could meet us.

We were thrilled, especially our children Anna and Jesse, as we prepared for the long journey to the other side of the globe. It would be our children’s and my first trip to Asia, and about sixteen years since the last time TJ was in Korea.


            [L]ove one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. (Rom 12:10, RSV)

I doubt there was actually a competition among the members in showing honor to us, but we could see how the loving brothers and sisters did try to “outdo one another” in the way they received us. Wherever we went, we knew right away that we were the special guests and treated with the best that they had. Of course, it was overwhelming to all of us.

At first, I thought that it was kind of wasteful to pamper us with so much good food and gifts. I reasoned that it was probably because of Elder Jung. Before relocating to the US, Elder Jung had been the resident minister at one of the churches we visited and a long-time servant in our churches in Korea.

But someone told me that the churches treated all visiting guests with special honor. I soon learned from TJ that it is an insult to refuse your host’s kindness. Slowly, our family learned to receive everyone’s generosity with grace and thankfulness.

As I pondered upon the love we received so bountifully from all the members, I came to this conclusion: The extravagant treatment that our Korean brethren showered upon us reminded me of the alabaster jar of oil that Mary so willingly poured upon the body of Jesus.

In a similar manner, wanting to take their chance in showing their love to the body of Christ, our brothers and sisters poured out their best. The fragrance of their sacrifice warms my heart every time I remember them. They inspire and encourage me to also “outdo one another in showing honor” the next time God gives me a chance.


            Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! (Ps 98:4-6, RSV)

I have learned that Koreans are much more musical than other Asians. Not only do they love to listen, sing, and play instruments, most of them are very gifted at it, too. Just from my own observation of the two cultures that I know best, Korean and Chinese, the former are more free in expressing themselves while the latter are more reserved.

As a result, I witnessed and experienced the uplifting effects of such joyful hymnal worship in all of the Korean churches we visited. The members were so exuberant and uninhibited in their praises of the Lord. Their bodies swayed to the slower rhythms and their hands clapped to the faster beats. They sang as if there was no one else there, and they were simply soaking in the joy of the Lord through the music.

Watching the joyful faces of these Korean members as they sang, I saw how they all appeared to be like little children. During that moment of praise and worship, they seemed to have no worries, no troubles, no stress, and no concerns of the world. It was a pure expression of enjoying the presence of our Lord.

I think that is exactly what Jesus seeks in His children: to find the simple pleasure of being with the Lord in songs that glorify His name, praise all of His wonderful deeds, and give thanks for His saving grace. Music is such a powerful tool to open the window to the soul so that we can connect with the Maker of music.

From now on, I told myself, I want to use every hymnal worship time as the best way to give my Lord all of my adoration, praise, honor, and thanksgiving. I know that Jesus does not care when I sing out of tune. But I know that I can please Him when I sing to Him with my most sincere heart.


            Do not rebuke an older man but exhort him as you would a father; treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.(1 Tim 5:1, 2, RSV)

Having lived among Koreans for the last fourteen years prepared me and my children for a very old and important tradition that is still practiced in Korea: showing respect to those who are older than oneself. The younger person shows respect by bowing when greeting elders and by using honorifics.

Similar to Japanese, there are at least three different ways to say the same thing in Korean. One way is used when speaking to someone who is older, another when speaking to peers, and a third way when speaking to someone younger. Obviously, it can be extremely confusing to a foreigner who is not used to the culture. Needless to say, I have made several mistakes over the years.

At first, I thought this old tradition quite bothersome and unnecessary. Slowly, I found it quite nice to have kids bow to me as they greeted me. When we were in Korea, I also observed how young people would always yield to those who were senior to them. It was quite a pleasant departure from the “me-generation” in western culture where children and young people often think of no one but themselves.

I find that most children in the US show little respect even to their own grandparents. I now realize that showing respect and honor to your elders in this way is good training for Christians. Korean culture teaches children from a young age to give regard to others, to show respect, and, directly and indirectly, to learn humility.

The more I think about how Jesus would view this age-old tradition, the more I come to appreciate the idea of showing respect. If we don’t even know how to show respect to those close to us, how are we to show respect to our Creator, our Lord, the King of kings who deserves all our honor, praise, and respect?

I am quite pleased to say that after four weeks of practice, my kids have grown to be rather comfortable in showing the proper respect to all those who are older than them. I intend for them to continue this good habit. Of course, this means I will need to set a good example first and remind them constantly until it becomes automatic. May the Lord help me.


            Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. (2 Tim 4:2)

One of the privileges of our visit to many of the Korean True Jesus Church locations was to be able to learn about some of their holy work. As most people know, Christianity is very saturated in most parts of the country. It has been very challenging to spread the truth, especially because True Jesus Church is listed as a cult in Korea.

Nevertheless, each local church has to come up with creative ways to reach out to their community and to bring people to church. Three of the churches we visited told us about their community outreach programs:

Pastry-making Classes

At Teban Church there is a brother who is a chef at a large hotel restaurant. This brother uses his talent and skills to teach anyone from the neighborhood who comes to church how to make different pastries.

We happened to visit when the class was in session, and we saw how easily the church members and the neighbors made friends while kneading and shaping the dough together. At the end, when everyone got to taste the delicious final product that they had put so much effort into, it created a special bond that only good food and friends can bring.

The pastor of Teban Church told us that this was their first time trying the pastry-making class. They plan on having this class once a month so that they can get to know their neighbors. After six months, the church will invite these friends to come for an evangelical event where they will be taught more of the truth and encouraged to pray for the Holy Spirit.

Free Drinks at the Park

There is a large and beautiful park near Incheon Church where the resident pastor likes to jog, often with some church members. They discovered during their runs that the park is flooded with people on weekends, and they thought that it would be a good opportunity for community outreach.

They decided to set up a small table in the park where visitors could get free drinks. Each of the small paper cups that they hand out has imprints of our church information. They hope that this will increase people’s awareness of True Jesus Church in that area.

After School Homework Club

Pusan Church is right next to a large elementary school. Two years ago, the pastor and his wife set up an after-school homework club for students. They got to know the students and their parents very quickly. The members helped in every way possible to make these students and their families feel welcome during the club sessions.

Soon after the club started, some of the students began to join Sabbath services and their parents slowly followed. After one year, twenty-seven students and their parents received baptism in that church. Praise and thank God.

I felt encouraged by the efforts of our Korean brothers and sisters in reaching out to the souls in their community, and I thank God that I was able to witness the fruit of their labor. I pray that God will also work among the churches in America so that we may be able to reach out to the lost souls around us.


I truly thank God for this wonderful opportunity to visit Korea and, especially, our churches there. By the end of the fourth week, I felt burdened with a heavy debt—a debt of love from all the brothers and sisters in Korea.

Their generosity and hospitality inspires me to be a good hostess the next time the Lord sends someone my way. Their love of singing praises to the Lord encourages me to devote my totality every time I come before my Lord during hymnal worship.

Their tradition of showing respect teaches me the importance of training children while they are young so that they may learn to be more humble. Their creative ways of reaching out to the community shows me that God can work through us when we are willing to use what He has given us and invest our time and effort in the people around us.

I cannot thank God enough for this fruitful experience in Korea.  I pray that these important lessons will continue to stir in me and remind me to practice what I have learned from this trip. If God is willing, I am sure that He will bring us back to Korea.

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