ICRC Report #3 – The Independent Reformed Churches of South Korea.
Between 1907 and 1977, something remarkable happened in Korea. From a country that did not know the gospel at that time, the church grew in that period by 2.5 million believers, and 1300 churches. This is why I love history! There are things that have happened, and that God has done, that we would simply have no idea about if we did not read! The Banner of Truth Trust has actually published an account of these events titled “The Korean Pentecost.” It really is worth a read, and is quite short as well!
The reason I begin this way is to introduce this week’s church for focused prayer. As you may recall, I had the privilege some weeks ago of attending a conference hosted by the International Conference of Reformed Churches. At that conference, 14 reformed churches from the Asia-Pacific region were represented, and shared in fellowship together. One of those denominations was the Independent Reformed Churches of South Korea.
As our South Korean brother stood up to introduce this denomination at the conference, it was both striking and incredibly humbling to hear him earnestly confess to recent sin in the church. Generally, as folk introduced their churches at the conference, they talked about membership statistics and the current priorities or difficulties. Now that was good, of course, but as our brother from South Korea stood, and frankly confessed that there had been envy amongst their church leaders and inner conflict, it was quite moving. It really was heart breaking to hear about how so many young people had left the churches, and how discouraged the people felt.
It was quite confronting as well, because it’s not often you see such frank humility in a public setting. It’s rare enough on a personal level isn’t it? And yet, as our brother stood up and shared his heart, that’s what we saw. It was an encouragement to me, because I think we are often much more inclined to gloss over sin and pretend things are fine when they aren’t. Things aren’t fine in that denomination, and yet there was a note of hope as well.
As our brother shared of the church’s burdens and struggles, he also shared encouragement. One thing that sticks out to me is the way that this dear Pastor pointed out that they needed to see their problems in light of the gospel. And isn’t that so true? We don’t just believe in the gospel, we need to live and practice it in the midst of difficulties and relational breakdowns. This will mean having the humility to confess our sins to one another, and it will mean paying the price of forgiveness as well. But, in Christ, it will bring freedom as well.
Even though the IRC is a comparatively micro-denomination in South Korea, it has also punched well above its weight in some respects. Having published some 600 000 books and catechisms, it has been a servant of the church in South Korea more generally. It also sustains a Reformed Theological Academy where men are trained for ministry.
Having briefly considered these things, let’s go to prayer in the coming week and uphold the body of Christ in South Korea. Let’s pray…
Giving thanks to God for His mighty work in South Korea;
Giving thanks to God for His faithfulness to the IRC, and particularly for using its publication ministry;
Pray that God would continually and mightily further the gospel work in South Korea;
Pray that God would greatly use the current struggles in the IRC to drive the leaders and members to sincere repentance and restoration in Christ;
Pray that God would help the leaders and members to grow in love for one another, and deal with disagreements graciously; and
Pray that God would greatly strengthen the IRC and, in turn, the reformed witness in South Korea.