I must say that when I went to Korea, I didn’t have high expectations. The organizer of the conference told me in advance not to expect a large group of people. Instead, he told me to remember that this conference would be a good start toward increasing the awareness of the importance of Children’s Ministry in the life of the Korean church. I think he was afraid I would be disappointed by the turn out and he wanted to make sure my expectations weren’t set too high.
I had my own doubtful expectations before the trip as well. I wondered if what I had to say would have any relevance to a nation on the other side of the world. I wondered if the FC Kids philosophy of ministry would have any impact on a culture so different from ours. I wondered if my sessions on volunteering would add any insight to a culture that exudes servanthood. I wondered if the trip was even worth taking.
But then the trip came, and along with it came the realization that both my expectations and the organizer’s expectations were way too low. With over one thousand people in attendance and an overwhelmingly positive response, I once again remembered that I should NEVER have low expectations about what God can and will do if I just make myself available.
When you live out the principle of Ephesians 3:20, believing that God is able to accomplish infinitely more than you might ask or think, you can have confidence that God will put you in places where He can have a huge impact through you. Your primary job is to realize that you are in those places not because of your own special ability, but solely because of your willingness to be a vessel that God can work through.
So, open yourself up to the opportunities God has placed in your life. Let Him bring to you what He has planned for you. Don’t let low expectations discourage you and keep you from the amazing experiences God has created for you. Embrace each opportunity as a chance to make a difference in the kingdom of God, and then sit back and let Him do the rest.
When I was preparing for this trip I poured over my notes, videos, and object lessons, looking at them with critical eyes. Would my Korean audience understand the context of my examples? Would humor that got big laughs in the United States fall on confused ears in South Korea? Would my ministry concepts developed at Fellowship apply in a foreign land? Secretly, I feared my insights of ministry may have no validity to an audience with a different language and culture.
But as I was teaching the material at the conferences, I saw many of the same reactions from the Korean audience as I saw from the
American audience. Through conversations with them I realized that God was moving and they were getting it! In hindsight it shouldn’t have surprised me. The concepts I was teaching came from scripture. And, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the universal principles of God’s Word do not return void.
What a joy it was to see, through Christ, how much we have in common with ministers on the other side of the world! Always know that, when done with the right heart, God will use you and speak through you to others. The Holy Spirit has the power to communicate in ways that go beyond our understanding and abilities!
When speaking to others there is always a chance for misunderstanding. I say something to you and I think you understand. You hear what I say and you think you understand. We then part ways and act on what was said/heard, only to find out that we completely misread each other. This happens all the time. So imagine what happens when you have to add a different language and cultural context on top of that.
At the C3 Kids conferences in Korea, the sessions took twice as long as normal because I was speaking through an interpreter. The interpreter would often have to stop and ask me to clarify something I said so he could find the right Korean phrase to communicate my meaning. I would often wonder if what I was saying was having any impact whatsoever.
But then I realized something: I did nothing to get to Korea. God brought this to me out of the blue. The attendance at the conferences was exponentially greater than expected by both the conference organizer and the host churches. God had something He wanted to say to the Korean people and by His grace I was the one He chose to speak through. Knowing this, I realized that not only would the interpreter make sure my words were understood, the Holy Spirit was making sure the intent was understood as well. Knowing that it is God at work through you, and not you on your own, is a very freeing feeling.
I just spent the last week in the nation of South Korea where God gave me the privilege of speaking to Children’s Ministers and Leaders. While there I spoke at two churches: Jeonhari, in the Seoul area and Hosanna Church in Busan, which is on the coast of South Korea. In my travels I learned one thing for sure, God is blessing the churches of South Korea and they have a hunger to reach the next generation for Christ. Over the course of this week, I want to share with you some of my experiences.
One of the immediate impressions I got from the Korean people is that service is very important to them. I first saw this on the flight over. The flight attendants on Korean Air were friendly, helpful, and very professional. I later found out that this “job of service” was considered very prestigious and that the people who did this job were the best of the best. But this courtesy didn’t end on the plane. No matter where I went, whether it was the people who worked in the different hotels, the couple who rented a bike to me for a quick ride in the park, the person who worked behind the counter giving me my morning coffee at Smoothie King, or just someone I would meet on the street, people were kind, compassionate, and warm.
At the churches where the conferences were held, Jeonhari in Seoul and Hosanna in Busan, servanthood was taken (as my good friend and senior pastor would say) to a “hole notha’ level.” I cannot remember a time when I wanted for less. The staff and volunteers went to great extremes, despite language barriers, to make sure my needs were met. I dined with senior pastors whom I knew were very busy. I couldn’t carry my bags anywhere, even when I tried to. (An example: when I got out of the car to enter Hosanna Church on the first day of our conference there, someone who was on staff stepped up and took my bag. This person intended to carry my bag into the church for me, but he was unable to because someone else stepped up to take it from him.) Everywhere I turned the Korean people truly tried to, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV) We all could learn from their example.
Over the past four years I have developed a relationship with Steve Kim, a man who has a strong heartbeat for churches in South Korea. As I have gotten to know him, his enthusiasm has ignited a passion within me to help Korean churches better understand the importance of children’s ministry. Well, this Thursday I will have the privilege go to South Korea for nine days of teaching (and learning).
While in Korea I will be leading two C3 Kids conferences for ministry leaders and volunteers. One conference will be in Seoul and the other in Pusan (also spelled Busan). Each conference will last two days as I speak on the core principles of FC Kids and on how to recruit and retain volunteers. At Fellowship Church we have a great gal named Hae who has translated, with subtitles, all my videos and my notes. All of my spoken material will be translated by an interpreter as I speak. I will also be making some contacts to see if we can get Elevate translated into Korean… which would be awesome!
I’m excited to see Christ moving in a culture different from the one I see every day. I hope to be inspired and encouraged in the fact that even though we come from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds and cultures, we are all united in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
As excited as I am about this trip, I’m a bit nervous about a steady diet of Korean food. Is chicken fried rice Korean? ! I will have a translator with me, so he will be my lead. Maybe he’ll know where the local McDonald’s or Pizza Hut is!