February 20, 2024

In Korea, 75 Percent of a Local Church Completes Bible Reading Plan

Challenge becomes a driving spiritual force at Geumcheon Haneulsaem congregation.

Northern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Local church deaconess Yoo HaeYeon, 92, smiles as she points to her Bible reading chart. Daily Bible reading is one of her secrets to staying healthy, she said. [Photo: Northern Asia-Pacific Division]

In a church community of approximately 80 members in South Korea, 58 have successfully completed reading the entire Bible in 2023, local church leaders recently reported. The initiative mobilized the Geumcheon Haneulsaem Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the West-Central Korean Conference, under the leadership of local church pastor Park WooByoung.

The practice of reading the Bible has transformed into a significant driving force within the church, instilling a sense of pride and gratitude among its members, participants said. Notably, among the readers is a 92-year-old woman, leaders reported.

On December 23, the church held a Bible Reading Completion Ceremony, something that underscores the importance of leading a gospel-centered life, organizers said.

Genesis of an Initiative

In 2021, upon Park’s arrival at the church, he identified the need to strengthen the internal foundations of the congregation. Hence, he adopted the slogan, “By the Power of the Word! Through the Grace of Prayer!” and strongly emphasized Bible reading. As a result, nearly 75 percent of the church members completed the Bible reading challenge.

Hwang JooYeon, a church elder and mission committee director for four years, said, “Everyone takes on challenges, but back then, I honestly doubted how many would succeed when the pastor first suggested Bible reading.” He continued, “I thought that a few more people might succeed besides those who were already reading the Bible every year. However, most members completed the challenge, except for newcomers and young children.” Hwang credited Park’s constant encouragement and support as the key to their success.

How It Was Implemented

Park set a daily reading goal of about 30 minutes, posting the progress chart on the church bulletin board. During worship services, he acknowledged and encouraged individuals who read the Bible. For those who hadn’t started, he urged them to take on the Bible Reading Challenge, which naturally led to an atmosphere of checking progress together, fostering communal engagement with the Word. Even those who initially hesitated found encouragement and successfully completed the challenge, local church leaders said.

Local church senior elder Bae DeokHwan expressed his joy and shared his intention to cherish the Bible Reading Completion Certificate as a family treasure. “It brings me even greater happiness because I did it with my wife,” Bae said. “We would wake up at 4:30 a.m. daily and read the Bible for 30 minutes. Experiencing the Word afresh each time made me realize I missed out on this wonderful thing in the past,” Bae said. This year, he has pledged to add the diligent reading of prophetic books.

The oldest among the readers was deaconess Yoo HaeYeon, born in 1932. She had already completed reading the Bible two or three times. Yoo, who got a large-print Bible before her eyesight worsened, brightened as she said that reading the Bible allowed her to discern right from wrong. “I particularly love Proverbs. By regularly consuming the Word, like meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I can stay healthy and attend church,” Yoo said.

Mission committee chairman Lee ByungGuk candidly acknowledged with a laugh that in the beginning, the Bible was his “sleeping pill.” “However, as my mind gradually brightened, I felt the blessing of understanding difficult parts by reading commentaries and experiencing the joy of discovering truth,” Lee said.

“When I read the Bible, I feel like I am walking with God,” Lee added. “So, even in the rough journey of life, I have no worries. Thinking about God’s love brings tears to my eyes, and I constantly ponder how I should respond and live in this love.”

Local church deaconess Kim KyungSook is busier than most, but her passion surpasses that of others. Despite usually starting her day at 3:30 a.m. and finishing work at 10 p.m., she said she managed to read the Bible by always carrying it with her. “I read it on the subway, during meals, and breaks,” Kim said. “I heard from a deacon at a Protestant church that he reads the Bible seven times a year. Then I thought, ‘What am I [as a Seventh-day Adventist] doing?’ So, I am reading the Bible whenever I have time.”

Deaconess Kim MiHwa, who had been away from God for 32 years, shared that a severe injury helped her to repent and reconnect. “I found a church and got closer to the Word due to this Bible reading initiative,” Kim said. She displayed her notebook, filled to the brim with notes from studying the New Testament, and said, “I realized that the Jesus found in the Gospels is patient and the embodiment of true love.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Northern Asia-Pacific Division news site.