In Korea, Adventists Start “Love Church” for Homeless
When two homeless people walked into the Minlak Seventh-day Adventist Church in Uijeongbu, Korea, about 13 miles north of Seoul, it was the beginning of a ministry that created a special congregation for homeless people in the city of 417,000.
FAITHFUL CONGREGATION: Every Sabbath more than 50 people attend the “Love Church” worship services at the the Minlak Seventh-day Adventist Church in Uijeongbu, Korea. Most of them are homeless people, with the balance comprised of volunteers.The homeless people first visited four years ago. They apparently hadn’t bathed in a long while. They reeked of alcohol and other unpleasant aromas. Congregants initially shied away from these guests, despite the Bible’s injunction to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
But now the situation has totally changed. Minlak church members understand, love, and care for each other. There have been 17 baptisms through the “Love Church” in 2012, 20 baptisms in 2011, and 22 baptisms the year before that. Church members say, “The cause for this great [result] is God’s message, and the love of the church members.”
The Adventists in Minlak, which now has 170 members in its main congregation, became friends to the homeless, as they listened to the people’s stories and helped them in practical ways.
The church members also recommended the visitors for jobs, and studied Faith for Today Bible lessons with them. Little by little their lives have changed. The more they study the Bible with the pastor, the more they want to be baptized and become Christians. They bring their friends to the church, which causes the joyful news to travel from mouth to mouth. Now the number of people attending the Love Church weekly is approximately 54. Among them, many have decided to put the past behind them and start anew.
The purpose of the Love Church is more than giving out food and clothes, however. Faith and education is its true purpose, helping them to be new people in Korean society.
Young Hwa Lee, 58, the Seventh-day Adventist local elder who is in charge of the Love Church, manages operations. He writes down visitors’ names and keeps track of their church attendance. He takes pictures of them and records the details of their presence at all events, their contributions, their educational backgrounds, and so on. His concern and love is one of the chief elements of success in evangelizing the homeless. That’s why people respect Lee.
Lee was once a success in marketing before losing his job. His own experiences helped him better understand and help people in their failure and despair. He confesses that, “When I was in despair, I just read The Desire of Ages, and finally I left that terrible condition.”
Now he tells people in the Love Church, “We will help you, without any reward for ourselves, through love and prayer. Stand up by God’s grace and feel the love of Jesus Christ. Our existence is precious to Jesus!”
—reported by Northern Asia-Pacific Division News