Let me just say that Seoul is a huge city. Mile after mile of well kept highways pass by mile after mile of high rise apartments. Everywhere you look there seems to be construction cranes and heavy traffic alerting you to the fact that you are in the 18th largest city in the world. Much of which was built after the Korean conflict. After being here for less than 48 hours I can tell you that the only thing more eye-opening than the size of this modern world city is the kindness of the people. We have found smiling and generous people at every turn.
The day itself featured a tour of Kwanglim United Methodist Church which I believe is one of, if not the, largest Methodist congregation’ in the world. They have 97,000 members with 30,000 particpating in worship every week. While that in itself is staggering, the fact that it feels like a small place blows my mind. Some of this comes from the hospitality but most of it comes from the way they are connected to one another. To be a part of Kwanglim means you are active in a small group and a place of service. In addition, you make daily prayer (which by the way is a 5am service!) a priority and seasons of prayer something you plan your life around. It means you show up on Tuesday at 11:00 for 12 weeks each fall and spring for something called Trinity Bible Study which is 1 and 1/2 intense study of the bible. I could go on, but you get the point. It feels small because of the level of commitment puts them in connection with each other and their comunity. It also raises serious questions about the positive relationship between high commitment and discipleship. Have you ever had the feeling that you were really committed to something only to find out you may not have known what commitment is all about? That describes my experience today.
The afternoon was spent touring a church plant out of the Kwanglim church on the West side of town and expereincing first hand street evangelism. Three of us followed a woman around for an hour as she passed out towelettes, collected names and numbers, and prayed for complete strangers she walked up to on the street. It was quite the experience. My first take-away is that someone would have called the police in Lexington on her as she cornered young kids (no sign of stranger danger here!) as well as contruction workers, moms with strollers and business owners. She was bold and compassionate all at the same time. Oh to have known what she was saying…
Some of the conversations were quite uncomfortabe looking as people attempted to walk away and ignore her. Other conversations were comical as she did not assume that just because you were on the phone meant you didn’t want to multi-task and talk to her as well. In the end, we witnessed the gospel being spread next door. Seeds were planted and who knows what may come up it. But I was with a faithful soul who won’t be worried tonight if she is doing her part in God’s kingdom.
On a side note, I found a 7/11 on my walk today! They didn’t have coke icees nor 3 Musketeers however (inside joke for my Downtown Community family).