A church plant turned missionary training center
If I hang out only with Adventists, without sharing my faith, my spirit dies,” my friend Jaehwa said to me. “But if I teach just one non-Adventist kid,” he continued, “I feel so inspired. There were two students who had never been to church before. They had no interest in God until they met us. Yet they told me, ‘Sharing the Bible is so much fun. It helps me live a better life.’ ”
Jaehwa is a young Adventist involved in a church planting project happening close to my house. Every Sabbath a retired pastor, a theology student, an elder, and young adult Adventists meet to study the Bible with families who are interested in learning more about Adventist beliefs.
The project began in 2020. An Adventist bookstore owner, Elder Namkeun Kim, talked to parents and private academies about sending students to Adventist schools. He talked with parents for hours, building relationships with them and winning their confidence as he talked about family happiness, character building, and other practical benefits of studying the Bible. Junghyun Do, a theology student, brought many children to Jesus.
In the beginning of 2021 Jaehwa felt called to start a church plant. He noticed that some of his friends stopped attending church during COVID and didn’t come back even after services became legal again. He wanted to create a space that they would feel comfortable to join. And Elder Kim knew some academy owners who had been letting them use the academy rooms rent-free for Bible studies!
“We have a unique way of doing church,” Jaehwa explained to me. “Traditionally, kids are expected to sit and listen during church, but here they’re encouraged to share, and they get so much fun out of it. During the Sabbath School lesson time we train them to dig deep into the Bible and articulate what they’ve learned—even first-timers, non-Adventists. Kids preach occasionally, too. There’s a lot of enthusiasm; they share the Bible with each other with such passion and joy.”
Jaehwa didn’t want to fight over attracting existing church members; instead, he and his friends wanted to reach people that nobody else had reached. “I believe the Bible has everything we need if we can package it right. That’s where we come in.”
The project is collaborative, as baptized students and their families have joined several local Adventist churches after they studied with us. “Church work isn’t supposed to be a competition,” says Jaehwa. “I saw so much hope and power in coming together to reach someone who’s not in our religious circle.”
More than 60 people have been baptized between 2020 and 2022. The new members are then welcomed into different local churches who can serve them best.
The ministry is taking a different form than Jaehwa originally envisioned, becoming more of a missionary training center than a traditional church plant. But he is excited to see how God will work.
He says, “I’m really confident that when we set our hearts on God and say, ‘I want to share this message of eternal hope,’ heaven is so ready to help us when we step out in faith. Our job is to do what we are capable of doing, faithfully.” Please continue to pray for Jaehwa and other Adventists in Korea who are seeking to share the gospel with a younger generation.