Edited: Jun 11, 2018
날짜: 2018년 6월 3일
제목: 밀알과 생명
"Fallen Grain Produces Life"
Rev. Woongmin Kim
Methodist Church has played an important role in the Korean American Immigrant
community. From the very first day of immigration from Korea to Hawaii, Methodist
Church has been with the community in good times and/or in bad times.
I had a privilege of serving the Christ UMC, the first Korean church outside of Korea, for
13 years as the pastor. During my tenure I witnessed how an immigrant church, in this
case Methodist church, could serve the community in a vital role. Church was their
home, refuge, school and spiritual energy station for the people living as immigrants.
That is where the people met not only God, but life-long friends.
In the Hawaii islands, there were 32 churches or missions at one time, which means
almost every farm or plantation in Hawaii, where Korean immigrants worked, had a faith
community. When I just arrived in Hawaii to serve Christ UMC in 1988, I sat in the
sanctuary and tried to reflect on the meaning and history of the place. I felt I could hear
the outcry of prayer of the foregone people and feel the warmth of the tears shed on the
floor of the sanctuary. It was truly a holy place where God met the people who came as
strangers to a foreign land and responded to their prayers. Olive UMC must have a
similar history. This church has a special place in God’s plan and in the history of
Not only in Hawaii, but in the Mainland America also, Methodist Church played a
critically important role. Until 1960, there were 13-14 Korean churches in America,
including Hawaii, and 7 of them were Methodist. Of course, through 1970’s and 80’s, the
number of churches had increased and many other denominations joined the God’s
mission field. Now we have so many partners in mission, for which we are grateful and
As we enter the new millennium, 2000’s, the immigrant churches in the U.S.A encounter
new challenges and church growth has stopped or even reversed. Church growth is not
something can be taken for granted like before.
Some of the challenges are;
a). No more immigration from Korea in large scale.
b). Aging congregationh
c). Thee roles of churches became limited as the immigrant community gets mature and
d). 2nd and 3rd generation leaders are not raised and those generations do not feel
Korean churches fill their needs.
Of course, these are not unique challenges for Korean Churches. But the cultural and
political situation of Korean community are unique and churches feel vulnerable. I heard
some leaders of Korean churches question if the Korean Churches will still exist in 20 or
30 years later, as the churches as we now know.
As the coordinator of Korean Ministries in Western Jurisdiction, I feel the dire reality. I
see churches being closed. How do we sustain the life of the church? How can we
continue our mission and ministry in this challenging situation?
God gave me an answer one morning as I struggled with these question.
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only
a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
“The hour has come to be glorified.” Jesus said. What did Jesus mean by saying this?
When is the time to be glorified? It is the time when Jesus was crucified. By dying on
the cross, he was glorified, and as a fallen grain, he produced the life for many. And he
continued saying to his disciples that they should follow his act. “The man who loves his
life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Wow, this is hard to follow. Then I tried to look if there is any one who lived as a fallen
grain so that his or her life became God’s tool in saving many people’s life. In history or
in my ministry. Oh, yes, I could find many. The martyrs in early Church. The
missionaries. I am now involved in a project to commemorate the lives of early
missionaries to Korea. One of them is Alice Sharp. She is a Methodist missionary sent
by Methodist Women in Methodist Episcopal Church in U.S.A. in the year of 1900. She
got married to a fellow missionary, Robert Sharp, in 1903, and sent to Gongju, to
establish a mission station for the Central Korea. They tried to spread the Gospel of
Jesus, starting churches and schools. In 1906, her husband died after contracted fatal
disease, Typhoid Fever, as he was traveling remote rural area. Out of sadness and
disappointment, she went back to America. But two years later, she came back to Korea
responding to God’s call. And until 1939, for 39 years, she dedicated her life, to give life
to Korean people, especially to women, founding churches and schools. One of her
adopted daughter, also her student, is Yoo Kwan Soon, the famous warrior for
independence movement. Her life, as well as other missionaries’ life dedicated for the
Gospel and Kingdom of God in Christianity in Korea, are so inspiring that there is a
movement to commemorate the life and spirit of those fallen missionaries.
The church has continued its life-giving mission through fallen grains like Alice Sharp.
And God is calling us to do the same, maybe not as in such a heroic scale, but in our
everyday life here and now.
How can we be life producing grains? How can we live a life -giving life? Not only for
ourselves but others also, including our neighbors and future generations? One clue
comes from the scene of crucifixion when Jesus died.
If you look around cross from a far or close, who do you see? Who did stay with Jesus
until the last moment? You can’t find the disciples. They all ran away according to
thGospel of Mark. Only handful of women who followed Jesus from Galilee, stayed and
kept the company for Jesus in the last moment of his life. Who are they? They are the
ones who were cured and freed from disease, demonic seizure, shameful life… all
experienced Jesus’ love abundantly. They all believed Jesus saved them from misery
and led them to hope and joyous life. They stayed with Jesus.
The disciples? No matter what they had promised, what determination and hopes they
had to follow Jesus, they could not bear the cross with Jesus and stay with him. Only
after they realized how amazing love they received from Jesus, then, only then, they
could be true followers. They all could give their life and became life-giving grains
I retired 5 years ago from active ministry. When I retired people complimented me with
words like; “ you are free to live for yourselves. You lived for the church all your life. Now
you deserve to live for your own.” Well… that sounded good. Travel, hobbies, sports.. all
kinds of activities I couldn’t do freely began to loom in my mind. Until I realized how
much I owe to the church and my Lord Jesus, instead the church owe me. Honestly I
can’t deny all good things in my life came through the church. And to my Lord? I owe my
life!! Only then I felt I can live a life like a fallen grain as Jesus described.
Through this pulpit, Jesus is calling you to live a life producing life. It can sound hard.
But once you realized how much love and grace have been poured upon you by God,
through Jesus, then you can love God in Jesus in true sense. And once you love Jesus,
it is not that hard to give your life for him and his church. Because, in love, we can do
anything for someone we love.
Blessings to you all!!