It was another amazing day in South Korea!
We began the day with the Early Morning Service. Congregational singing begins at 4:45 a.m. At 5:00 a.m. there is an opening prayer, a hymn, scripture reading, and a sermon. Today’s text was Ezekiel 37:10 and the sermon preached by the Senior Pastor, Rev. Eun Pa Hong was titled “From Dry Bones to Large Army. We listened to the message through an interpreter who spoke to use through personal listening devices like the ones used in many churches for those who have difficulty hearing.
After the message concluded, the lights in the sanctuary were dimmed and the congregation entered into a time of prayer. In Korea, these morning prayers are offered out loud by each person. Imagine the sound of more than 1,000 people prayer aloud together! It is quite incredible to experience.
A melody line from a familiar hymn plays as all pray together. After about thirty minutes, the music fades out, the lights are turned up, and the people start to leave. The service lasts about an hour total but many stay in their seats and remain in prayer for as long as they wish.
After a short time of rest followed by another excellent breakfast prepared by the women of the church, we attended a lecture by Pastor Hong on Korea’s history and the revival and growth of the Korean Church. Protestant Christians account for about 25% of the total population. The Korean Church grew rapidly from 1960 through 1985. Bupyeong Church places high demands on it members and most members attend the daily early morning prayer service. This week the church is celebrating a special week of evangelism where church members are asked to invite their friends and family to church. Sunday, October 20 is the culmination on the week and special evening services are planned for the celebration.
Next, we boarded a bus and drove to the capital city of Seoul which is about an hour away. Our first stop was to Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. The school was founded in 1903 by Mary F. Scranton who was a Methodist missionary to Korea. Mrs. Scranton began the school in her home. It was the first women’s only school established in Korea. Over the years it grew from a middle school to one of the largest women’s universities in the world.
Today there are more than 22,000 students who attend Ewha Women’s University. The United Methodist Women provided much financial support and prayer to the University over the years.
After lunch we made a short trip to Yonsei University in Seoul.
Dr. H. N. Allen was an American Presbyterian missionary who served as the Royal Family doctor. At the king’s request, Dr. Allen established a hospital. In 1886, 16 students were selected and the school was opened to train Koreans in modern medicine and Jejungwon Medical School was established. In 1905 the school was renamed Severance Hospital Medical School.
In 1915 another Presbyterian minister, Horace Underwood, established Chosen Christian College which was later renamed Yonhi College. In 1957 the two schools merged and took the name Yonsei University.
Today Yonsei University has over 37,000 students enrolled in one of more than 30 undergraduate and graduate schools that make up the university. It is one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. The school still maintains its identity as a Christian college although non-Christians are admitted to the school. Students are required to earn one credit for chapel attendance before they can graduate.
We left Yonsei and returned to Bupyeong Church where dinner awaited us. After two long days of travel, the group was glad to get an early night’s rest.