Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

The Soul of Seoul

Photo (18) It was a remarkable experience staring across the Han River into North Korea today. Looks are deceiving, for it appears so tranquil. One looks through the magnified lens and sees scattered homes and rolling farmland. But a closer look and you realize the apparent people are not moving, the houses are actually a facade, and out of sight are a number of military personnel trained to shoot anyone seeking to climb the barbed wire and attempt a river crossing. It's all part of the propaganda along the 38th parallel. What you also sense is evil. You realize it is not the way it is supposed to be.

Even more remarkable is the attitude of many Koreans I have met who genuinely hope for reconciliation. Last night I spent some time in a worship service dedicated to meeting every Thursday night for this one purpose—to pray for reconciliation with the north. What began with a small core of believers some ten years ago has grown into 400-500 who meet every week, the majority in their 20's, who petition God to restore peace, and do it for His glory. Pretty amazing!

Korea I'm impressed with believers over here, devoted to reaching a lost world. What many do not realize is that, outside of one other nation, Korea sends the most missionaries abroad. I sat down for an interview with a publisher yesterday, and it was astounding to hear what they are doing in these days. Major books from the States are translated within days after release. Across the street we met with a Christian broadcasting group, led by a former NBC correspondent, who are bringing the gospel in almost every major city in the world. Christianity seems to have made a profound affect on culture here, but the emerging prosperity is leading a growing number to find less need for God. There is a sense the growth of the church has peaked, but hopefully God will bring a fresh wind.

A lot of what I have experienced so far was incorporated in the life of an 80 year old woman I was privilged to meet and have lunch with today. Dining on the 57th floor of Seoul's tallest building (eating an assortment of raw squid, eel, shark, and abalone), she shared her story of survival, from the intimidation of being a young girl during the Japanese occupation, to living in hiding when North Korea occupied Seoul in 1950, to becoming a successful business woman. Through it all, and coming out of a Buddhist background, she met Christ, and she too joins the hope that one day this nation will be one.

A pretty cool start of the trip–not to mention the War Museum, the Missionary Cemetary, the flea market, a late night hike down from the Seoul Tower, and visiting the shops in the famous Insadong. It's a pretty amazing peninsula.


  • pjohnson
    8:06 AM, 19 August 2011

    Sounds like you are seeing complete different way of life and beautiful country. Wish I could be there to see it. Love, Mom

  • Debbie Hays
    5:20 PM, 19 August 2011

    Wow… how I wish I were with you! I pray for you each day and am confident you will come home filled even more with an awe of God. Please give my deep regard to the precious people that you meet.Debbie

  • Youra
    10:19 PM, 21 August 2011

    i hope you thoroughly enjoy everything Korea has to offer! …especially the food 🙂 i hope you get the opportunity to try the dessert “pappingsoo.” it’s shaved ice with sweet red beans, sometimes fruit, and rice cakes. Make sure to give it a try!have a safe trip, we’re praying for you.

  • Cynthia
    6:32 PM, 18 March 2012

    here’s what it’s causing me to think about.In what ways do I staerpae the mission from everything else.My initial response was, everything is and must be missional. To staerpae mission from any other part of the church is to do an injustice to the gospel. (imo)Everything is missional to me means, that everything we do is for people outside of us. It is for their benefit, not ours. In other words, I’m personally having trouble thinking about seperating being missional, from staff, building and advertising. I think to compartmentalize it might teach something to people I might not want them to learn.Also, I’ve never been a fan of hiring a missions pastor, because every pastor is a missions pastor, or at least in my mind they ought to be.All this is nice in theory and it causing me to think through the process in which people are brought into staffing relationships and motives for buying buildings etc.

  • Caique
    10:48 PM, 20 March 2012

    In the spirit of Acts 1:8 But you will vrceiee power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I would divide that amount evenly among: an organization/ministry that is local; one that is in the U.S.; and, one that is overseas (likely in India or central Africa).Hope everyone is remembering to check-out flowerdust.net, ragamuffinsoul.com and other blogs of folks in Uganda now with Compassion. 🙂

  • Priti
    3:38 PM, 19 June 2012

    It should be legal for me to punch you. So, am I the only youth paotsr who’s ever really wanted to hit a kid? I think not. Then I want to turn around and hug and hold that same kid because I know why he does the things that make me want to whack him upside the head.

  • Myra
    8:15 PM, 21 June 2012

    Jul27 I have found the talk about entrepreneurialism rtaher refreshing. For most of the past 20-odd years of my ministry, I’ve operated in an anti-entrepreneurial culture, where suspicion haunted any development that could not be plotted out in full beforehand or which smacked of any kind of risk. The entrepreneur, for me, is the servant in the Parable of the Talents who invested what he had been given in ways that made it grow. In the days before National Savings, this would inevitably have meant risking the capital itself. Meanwhile, the Church I’ve worked for for most of my ministry operated like the the servant who buried his deposit in the ground only in our case, it was the same as burying paper money in the ground. It just decayed.For me, the figure of the Entrepreneur is the person who has an idea which is marked by novelty. Because of the novelty, it potentially marks the breaking of new ground, a breaking of the mould, and potentially large benefits. Key to this is the entrepreneur’s willingness to take risk and expose him/herself to vulnerability, should the vision be incorrect. On this basis, the entrepreneur moves forward, working hard to persuade others of the viability of the scheme. Sometimes they will fail, and suffer the consequences. But other times, they will succeed, to the benefit of all. Lastly, it’s often in the nature of entrepreneurs that they move on, once the project is running, to something which exists only in their imagination.In other words, to be Apostolic, the Church has to be fundamentally entrepreneurial.It normally needs the kind of person who is a bit autocratic to get this thing going: a single source of a driving vision. However, given the boredom factor for most true entrepreneurs, this means that the community eventually has to move away from this model, if only because the entrepreneur has his/her eyes on the next project. Autocratic models in the Church seldom work for very long they’re just unsustainable if the community is going to continue to grow numerically or spiritually. But they often have to happen at the very beginning because the distance between vision and reality has to be crossed by a lot of pushing and shoving. To return to my reflection across the years of my ministry, I’ve seen many brilliant, fertile ideas and visions die, before seeing the light of day, in a committee. It’s also worth saying that there is a difference between autocracy (ie. key decisions devolving to a single person) and authoritarianism (power being manipulated by one or a few to control others). We see quite a few autocracies in the New Testament communities, but authoritarianism is expressly forbidden by Jesus.

  • Imran
    10:28 PM, 7 September 2012

    Good stuff, Natasha.Last week I taught mnsisois to about thirty 3 and 4 year olds each morning at VBS. We talked about Graffiti 2 Community Ministries’ Andrew Mann and his missionary dog Proof in NYC, Chris and Melody Julian and the ZOE Church in Sao Paulo Brazil, and the IMB’s Fusion group. The thing that most struck the preschoolers (aside from the ZOE Church baptizing new followers in a blow-up pool in a backyard) was that a dog might be a missionary. The key was obedience. Simply put to the preschoolers: if we do what God asks us to do, He can use us as missionaries. . . anywhere, everywhere. We have to be willing to love others and boldly tell others about Jesus. Perhaps that’s simplifying it, but I believe it’s pretty clear and eliminates any disputes about politics, etc. It’s what were supposed to do, and each person’s mission field will be uniquely situated by our God.(I think some of the disputes come when we start trying to frame some mission fields as more worthy or important than others.)I’d love to hear more from other moms on what cultural pressures/influences they find that are perhaps robbing them of blessings they might otherwise experience! The cultural pressures/influences can be tricky since some of them are so ingrained in our society.

  • Sandy
    3:33 AM, 27 February 2013

    The awnser of an expert. Good to hear from you.

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