Kukmin Daily Newsletter (Issue 27)


Kukmin Daily Newsletter (Issue 27)

입력 2020-05-17 15:08
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Kukmin Daily Newsletter
Issue 27
May 17, 2020
Seoul, Korea

Again in this issue of our newsletter, we report on the changed situation caused by COVID-19. The Korean churches, with much caution and many restrictions, began holding offline worship services again on the last Sunday of April. Some local churches actually have not suspended regular services during the pandemic. Last month’s change, however, was due to the government’s lightening of the social distancing requirement, and accordingly many large churches opened their doors to a limited number of members. This newsletter also introduces a local church’s guidelines helping families cope when one of their members has joined a heretical religious group. With the pandemic still spreading in many countries, may God's grace continue to strengthen and guide us all.

Church worship resumes with inspiring messages, continued caution

On April 26, the first Sunday after the government partially lifted “social distancing,” most Korean churches reopened to their congregations. Worshippers were limited in number, but their faces expressed their joy at being together again. “Offline” worship services were conducted according to current social distancing and epidemic-control guidelines, and were simultaneously broadcast online.

On this day, Yoido Full Gospel Church (Rev. Lee Young-hoon) held an Easter commemorative service of thanks. The church had received applications in advance from those wishing to participate, and worship took place with one tenth the usual attendance. The members entered in a line, staying one meter apart. At the entrance, a fever-detecting camera checked them one by one, and inside the sanctuary they all wore masks.

The title of the sermon by Rev. Lee Young-hoon at the 11:00 (third) worship service was “Peace be with you” (John 20:19~23). Mid-sermon, he asked the congregation to repeat “Peace be with you,” and the powerful unison prayer resonated throughout the hall.

Global Mission Church (Rev. Choi Seong-eun) in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do also held its Easter worship service both online and offline. The congregation displayed bright countenances. During the singing of the final hymn, “Because He Lives,” all eyes were riveted on a video showing the church’s member families, along with images from China, Japan, USA, Thailand and other countries.

Following the third service at Shinchon Evangelical Holiness Church (Rev. Park No-hun) in Mapo-gu, Seoul, the churchyard was a busy scene of members intently filling boxes with goods. During the previous two weeks, local members’ groups had made masks and portable containers of hand-cleaning liquid, which they packed in the boxes along with 12 kinds of food items. Their voluntary service was part of the “Sharing Together” project of the international relief and development agency World Vision, expressing love by supporting local businesses and residents who are undergoing difficulties due to COVID-19.

Of the total 300 boxes prepared by the church, 150 were to be sent to the World Vision branch in northern Seoul for vulnerable groups in Eunpyeong-gu, and the remaining 150 were to be distributed to residents in the church’s neighborhood. The church also selected more than 10 restaurants in the area for support, by providing “love your neighbors” coupons to be used by 500 some church members.

“True Faith” guidelines: Help for families with Shincheonji members

Families who discover that one of their members has fallen into a heretical cult or pseudo religion generally react in one of two ways; fear or denial. They either despair that their loved one’s life is doomed, or they refuse to accept reality, saying, “It’s just not possible.” If they lose their composure and show anger, or deal with the problem ineptly, the relationship will only worsen and a change of heart will become more difficult to achieve.

The “True Faith” heresy committee of Wooridle Church (Rev. Kim Yang-jae) said it is using action guidelines that explain to families how to act and deal with the situation when they find that a loved one has fallen prey to a cult.

The action guidelines advise, “Do not provoke the affected person, but request help from the community.” It is characteristic of cults and pseudo religions that the more they are attacked from outside, the more they justify themselves, claiming “persecution.” Like those who have been lured into Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (Shincheonji), the family member may decide to leave home, further harming the relationship. “True Faith” urged families to maintain good relations until they receive specific advice through the mission worker in charge of heresy issues.

Further, the guidelines suggest two different approaches, depending on whether the person has told the family about their belief in the cult or pseudo religion, or is hiding the fact. If the family has been informed, the guidelines recommend trying to acquire accurate information on when, where and how the person got involved with the cult. In the opposite case, rather than getting upset and interrogating the related person, it is best to first inform the pastor and then ask the mission worker on heresy issues for help.

Rev. Yu Won-seon, the “True Faith” mission worker in charge of heresy issues, has worked on this issue for more than 15 years. He advised, “When other people in the family try to act on their own, they may show anger, insist on their own way, or deal ineptly with the situation due to personality differences… If they wait till they have shared the details with the heresy expert, and follow the method and guidelines the expert suggests for their particular case, they will be able to avoid confusion and to cope calmly with the situation.”

박여라 영문에디터 yap@kmib.co.kr