In my 10-day immersion into South Korean culture, I learned that not only are the flavors of Kimchie varied, but, on a heavier note, I was exposed to the deep pain the country has experienced.
Similar to the suffering of the children of Israel as Egyptian slaves, the South Koreans endured brutal treatment from the Japanese. However, in the 1900’s, missionaries moved to this land to help the people regain their sense of dignity. They arrived in Korea seeking to build a holistic community in which they would create educational opportunities for the natives, train them to cultivate agriculture, and, most importantly, share the Gospel message with their needy souls.
Moving past the dark days of Japanese colonialism and embracing the change of the national reformation, today South Korea is flourishing in technology and industrialization and serves as headquarters to conglomerates like LG, Samsung, Hyundai, and Kia. However, though the country’s economy may be thriving, I was reminded through several class lectures that the people’s spirituality is at an all-time low. Sadly, in most cases, as spirituality plummets, so goes the culture and economics.
I left South Korea thankful for this eye-opening cultural experience, my newly-established lifelong friends, and my first good taste of sushi. Perhaps what gripped me the most about this trip stemmed from what the Korean pastors, professors, and community leaders shared about the lack of spiritual vitality. This decline is obviously a worldwide epidemic. In response, how can we as the Church posture ourselves for another spiritual awakening? As the legendary singer Sam Cooke sang, “A change is gonna come.” Oh Lord, let it be a life-giving spiritual change.