Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Week of Goodbyes: Sunday

Sunday I said goodbye to much church in Geoje.  When I first arrived in Geoje, I was in a bit of a spiritual funk.  I think it was heightened by the fact that I spent the first few months cut off from any foreigners on the island.  I was me with all Koreans all the time.

I did some searching on the internet and the only thing I could come up with was a church in Busan.  It met in the morning, which would have meant I would have had to go the night before.  But I reached a point that I was willing to do it.

Then, a co-teacher of mine talked to one of her co-workers who knew a Korean lady who helped organized a foreign church.  So the lady came and picked me up and took me to her church and I had my first contact with foreigners and my first contact with other Christians and it was great.

I wrote an e-mail to family back home that said, “It was as if I had been in the desert for a long time and I just had a cold drink of water.”

That same Sunday, one of their long-time members, who shared the preaching duties, was leaving.  This Korean woman who had picked me up, and hardly knew me, asked if I could give the sermon one day.  I was taken aback.  I had never given a sermon before, didn’t have any real formal Christian education, and felt sorely unqualified.

But a month later, the other guy who had been preaching went home for the winter and it fell to me and an amazing Nigerian guy to step up.  He was working in the shipyards and similarly had no experience preach;pl,’,hying.  We tag-teamed it during the winter for six weeks.  It was an amazingly humbling experience, and I stuck with it.

About two years and thirty sermons since I joined the church, I said my goodbye and gave my last message.  These people had become my family.  That Korean woman had become like a mother to me, and the lady who did the song service like an older sister.

In just two years I saw dozens of people come and go (that’s the way it is in the ship industry), but the church has remained strong and I’m confident that it will continue to.

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