July 2023July 28, 2023
September 2023November 7, 2023
As we landed in this country, which none of us had ever firmly set foot on before, we were excited to see why God had led us to come here now, in July 2023.
We had met Pastor Stephen aka Pastor Biodun several times during our annual visits to the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Congress in Nigeria. He is Nigerian by birth, but moved to South Korea over 20 years ago to help plant the RCCG church there. Every time we saw him, he enthusiastically invited us to visit his country. Long story short, when we saw him in December 2022, he said, “Now is the time for you to come to South Korea!” We prayed for God to confirm this and He did! It was not until we were in South Korea that we realised just how significant and timely this tour was. Read on to find out why!
At Seoul airport, after 30 hours of travel, we were met by Pastor Biodun and a delegation from Daejeon Fullness Church, a church that he had arranged for us to minister at. Arriving at the church in Daejeon, where we would be staying for our first few days in Korea, we had a joyful meeting with Matthew, our organiser and all-round go-to person, who we had been working with for months before our arrival. An American-born Korean, he was not only going to be our guide, translator and support for our first week in South Korea, it was he, who translated our songs into Korean and taught us how to sing in the language! He gave us the perfect introduction to a culture we knew next to nothing about. He told us about some typical customs (did you know that Koreans bow with their head down and their hips slightly bent when they meet someone for the first time?), taught us a few words in Korean (hello in Korean is an-nyeong-ha-se-yo) and took us out to try some traditional Korean food.
Our first ministry was in Daejeon the night after we arrived. We worshipped the Lord in Korean and it was such a blessing to see and hear the congregation join in with us! Worshipping with people from different nations in their own language is something that brings a particular joy and never gets old no matter how many nations or languages we minister in. At the end of the service, Charlene felt led to invite forward anyone who felt called to the mission field. People came forward to be prayed for and empowered by the Holy Spirit, as well as many others who came with various needs. Words of knowledge were given by the Holy Spirit through our team members as a tool of encouragement to those being prayed for. They were so blessed by what the Lord did in their church, by the encouragement they received and the accurate confirmation of God’s Word for them individually and corporately. Pastors Joshua and his wife Rahn thanked us personally for the ministry and we were able to spend some time in fellowship with them before we left for ministry in Seoul.
As you may know, when we're on tour in a particular country, we don't usually do things that tourists would do. For one thing, it's not always easy to find the time, and for another, we try to concentrate on the ministry, which is the main reason for us being there. However, as this was our first visit to not only a new country, but a new continent for this team, we felt it was important to immerse ourselves in the culture so that we could better understand the people we met and be relevant. Together with Matthew and our dedicated driver, Pastor Min Soo, we were invited out to have lunch with one of the church elders in the nearby city of Sejong. It has been built in very recent years (a major redevelopment has taken place in less than 10 years) to become the new capital city of South Korea to take the pressure off Seoul. After a Korean meal called bulgogi, we went to a coffee shop on the 47th floor of a building with a stunning view of the whole city. It was almost unbelievable to see the scale and excellence of the development that has accelerated in the last 7 years or so.
We said goodbye to Daejeon and all the lovely people there and headed to Seoul for the weekend. There we ministered at Eunpyeong First Church in a Saturday evening worship service and a Sunday afternoon service. At both services we were thrilled to see people joining us in worship and singing along in both Korean and English! We believe that many people were very blessed, which was confirmed when all the CDs and USBs that we had brought with us were sold out (despite being told that Koreans belong to the digital age of streaming only) and we didn’t even have enough!
We were also reunited with Pastor Sarah Lee, whom we had met some time ago in Nigeria and who was the reason why we had been invited to minister in both the Daejeon and Seoul churches. We found out that on that particular Sunday it was announced to the congregation for the first time that the Senior Pastor was handing over his pastoral responsibilities to Pastor Sarah Lee. What's more, it happened to be the 42nd anniversary of the church that day.
They were also in the middle of 21-days of prayer and fasting for the reunification of Korea, meeting together every evening to pray for this cause. There we found out that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement. This was effectively a ceasefire in the Korean War and also the creation of North and South Korea as two separate countries. It happened on the 27th of July 1953, so unbeknownst to us, we came in the exact month that marked 70 years since the armistice and the creation of South Korea. It was such a confirmation to us that it was God who had orchestrated the timing of this tour and that it had a much greater and higher purpose than we could have imagined.
Our next ministry was in a Presbyterian church in Uijeongbu. We received a warm welcome and the response to the worship service was amazing. Again, many people had the courage to come forward for prayer. The pastor was so encouraged and told us at the end that in 20 years he had never seen his congregation respond to a ministry in this way. He felt that God had taken them to a new place as a church.
Pastor Biodun, who had organised the tour and connected us with all the churches where we ministered, also invited us to take part in an annual praise event at the RCCG Jesus Sanctuary in Dongducheon. People from other churches came and joined the worship services on Friday and Saturday evenings and the Sunday afternoon service. We give God the glory for the encouragement this brought to the churches and the individuals who attended.
Some of you may have heard of Yonggi Cho, the late South Korean pastor whose church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, grew from 5 members to a membership of over 830,000 (as of 2007), making it the largest church in the world at the time. He bought some land which became known as Prayer Mountain and the place where he went to pray. It remains a place of prayer and we took time to visit and to pray in the prayer cubicles they provide. It is a large complex with various accommodation facilities, meeting rooms, chapels and auditoriums. It is used as a conference centre for various Christian organisations and denominations with very modern facilities.
While in South Korea, our US administrator and a long-time friend of the ministry, Kelly, received a prophetic mandate for Vinesong. She felt strongly to encourage us to pray against the evils of North Korea while we still had our feet on the ground in Korea. She suggested that we should pray when we were at the most northernmost point we would visit on the tour and stretch out our hands to the north. She wrote all this in a message, not knowing that Pastor Biodun was actually planning to take us very close to the border of North Korea the day before we flew home.
As mentioned before, we wouldn’t normally visit a place just to see it from a tourist perspective, but this seemed like a great opportunity to pray from a strategic location. We went to the DMZ - the Demilitarised Zone that has been created on both sides of the border as a buffer zone between the two countries that are still officially at war. It was an interesting experience, because the particular place we went to was built almost as a fun park - with roller coasters and a festival site. We took a cable car to the other side of a river, where we visited a small museum dedicated to those who died in the Korean War.
From there we walked to a viewing point that we thought would be looking towards North Korea, but to our surprise it was facing back to the place where we had come from. Nevertheless, we stood there with our hands outstretched towards North Korea, praying for an end to the tyrannical regime there and for God to save the people and end the persecution of Christians. We also quickly learned to sing the Vinesong song ‘Releasing Your Power’ in Korean and proclaimed it from there. We then recited Revelation 4:8,11 and 5:9-10, 12, 13.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and glory and honor and praise!”
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever!”
We were greatly encouraged by our tour of South Korea, seeing first-hand how God is moving among a people hungry for more of His presence. Looking at it strategically, we see it as a gateway to ministry for the whole of Asia and are grateful for the willingness of the churches to embrace ministry and a fresh move of God's Spirit among them. Our prayer is that when we return we will see a Korea surrendered to Jesus, the current tyranny in the North broken and destroyed. We see a people not worshipping prosperity, as South Korea has become a very prosperous nation, but a people worshipping the true source of their prosperity. As they look to Jesus, people will stop relying on their own strength and excellence, which fuels the suicide rate (South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world), but will allow God's strength to sustain them. Please join us in continuing to pray for Korea and lift up the hands of Christians who are earnestly praying for their counterparts in the North and for the reunification of their country.
On behalf of the Vinesong team,
Kate & Rachael