With me no longer having the responsibility of a congregation on post, I was finally able to attend a local Korean Church of the Nazarene, in fact, I had the opportunity to preach. “Tree Planted by the Water” Church of the Nazarene is a bit north of Seoul and is pastored by John Eun Yup Kim. I first met Pastor Kim on Facebook before I moved to Korea when we were commenting on the same post. Since coming to Korea, he has been very helpful in connecting me to the Church of the Nazarene in Korea and has become a good friend. I was honored and excited when he invited me to preach at his church.
Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene has just been in their current location for a few month. They own the third floor and roof of a three-story building which has businesses and stores on the 1st and 2nd floors. This building configuration seems odd to someone from the United States, but is quite common here since space is at a premium.
The church uses the roof for children’s activities and picnic cook outs. When the weather is nice, it’s a great space. The third floor has the sanctuary, two rooms to the side (could be classrooms) and a small room which glass in the back of the sanctuary. There is an entry way with literature and book racks, bulletin boards and other information. There were enough things posted and on the racks that were familiar as being Nazarene, that I felt “in the right place.” The welcome that I received from the church people made me feel very much at home.
The church’s name, “Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene” is longer than usual and reflects its exciting vision, which is “to see the fullness of fine trees of righteousness in this world by planting the fine vision of Jesus Christ in the broken hearts of this nation.” Their goal as a church is displayed as “3W” representing Worship, Word and Witness: “Worship the Lord, Teach the Word and Go in His power to the world as a witness for empowering the next generation.”
The order of worship was common, though in Korean, and the movement of worship was familiar. While I couldn’t understand what was being said, I sensed God’s presence and experienced the joy of the congregation in being in God’s house to worship him. Pastor Kim did well in taking my text and sermon and tying in the music to form a theme. There was wonderful participation from the congregation throughout the service, including the special music sung by Pastor Kim’s wife and her two brothers. I was blessed by the song they sang realizing that it can be “well with my soul” wherever in the world I go because wherever I go, God is there.
Here’s a snippet of “It is Well With My Soul” sung during the worship service
I’ve only preached with a translator one other time, when I was in Argentina on a Work and Witness trip, so I had forgotten how difficult it is. Having to break after every paragraph makes it difficult to maintain momentum and keep flowing. It’s times like these when you really have to rely on the Holy Spirit to do his part. I prayed for an Acts 2 kind of experience, not that there would be a miracle of languages necessarily, but that the Holy Spirit would help the congregation hear what God wanted them to hear. Since that doesn’t rely as much on me, I can trust that God will come through every time! I decided to preach on the Temptation of Jesus found in Matthew 4:1-11. Had I felt God’s leading in a different direction, I certainly would have gone that way, but wanted to use this message for a number of reasons: 1) I believe that as we consider Jesus’ temptation, we can learn how to resist temptation when it comes our way. 2) I had preached from my outline on this passage 14 other times over the last 14 years, so it’s familiar enough that I could put my best foot forward as a guest preacher. 3) There is some excitement for me preaching this message in Korea, since I have preached it in other countries and several states in the U.S. It seemed to be received well, at least the congregation was very kind to me!
The introduction to my sermon translated by Pastor Kim. This video shows the difficulty in getting into the “groove” of using a translator
Another small portion of my sermon being translated by Pastor Kim
Another couple minutes of my sermon, talking about being safe in the center of God’s will.
After the service, the congregation always eats a meal together. Usually one of the family prepares it for everyone. Today, it was provided by the pastor’s wife’s brother who was visiting from China where he’s the Korean ambassador. It was a good meal, though I’ve found that some Korean food just doesn’t work for me and some of it was too spicy for me, though everyone else was eating it fine, with nothing to drink. Pastor Kim arranged it so that those who could speak English sat at the table with me, so we could enjoy conversation. The others sat at another table- one where they sat on the floor. so I was thankful I was at the “English” table! After the meal, we were served a few other goodies, cherry tomatoes (which they grew on their roof), a chocolate covered treat from Japan and a filled cake from Beijing; all of this along with a small cup of coffee as we talked together. Fortunately, all of the men at the table spoke English so we were able to communicate. There were several questions asked, by me about them and their culture and many from them about my experience in the Army and the United States.
A short time after eating, they have Bible study, since many of the members drive from a distance to attend, coming back for an “evening” service would be a lot of driving. I sat in on the Bible study, though other than a couple of pictures and an English word or two that Pastor Kim put on the white board, I didn’t understand any of it.
.It was a great day with family. It’s true that wherever you go in the world, you can find family in the Church of the Nazarene! I was blessed by the time I spent with the congregation of Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene and humbled & honored by their welcome.
Here are a few more random pictures of the church and service: