Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
Dave Hearn, President of the C&MA Canada
It was completely unexpected. During our revival tour of Wales we visited a small church in the community of Hanover, South Wales. The congregation totaled roughly 20 regular attendees and the majority of them were born and raised in Wales. However, in the midst of this community of faith was one family from Korea. It was the pastor, his wife and their two children. Reverend Daniel Yoo had been leading the church for just over five years. The question that was immediately on my mind was, why? Why was this very traditional Welsh church being led by a Korean minister?
The year was 1864 and a young school teacher, who was raised in the Hanover church, felt the call of God to bring the Gospel to China. Robert Jermain Thomas went to China to be a missionary with his wife. After a five-month boat trip to get to China, he lost his young wife and baby who both died shortly after arrival. He stayed in China, but resigned from his missionary post. He was devastated and defeated. About a year later, he met two Korean men who would change his destiny. They shared with him how the church in Korea was under heavy persecution and most believers were meeting in small house churches but had no Bibles and no access to the scriptures. The Korean authorities were very hostile to Christianity and massacred almost 10,000 believers at one point around the same time Robert was in China.
As Robert listened to the plight of the Korean believers he was deeply moved to make a difference. He began making secret trips on trading ships to distribute Bibles under heavy disguise and serious threat of death if caught. His last trip was in 1866 on an American merchant trading ship as a translator. Upon entering Pyongyang, the current capital of North Korea, the ship was attacked by Korean soldiers. During the battle, the ship got stuck on a sand bar and the soldiers set the ship on fire. Those who escaped and swam to shore were quickly killed on the banks.
On the deck of the burning ship, Robert flung open his cases of Bibles and began throwing them to the villagers on the shore and to the soldiers themselves, as he shouted out the name “Jesus!” Finally, Robert himself caught on fire and jumped into the river. He swam to shore and was still handing out Bibles until he was captured by the Governor who gave the order for him to be killed. He humbly knelt before the soldier waiting for him, begging him to accept his last Bible and shut his eyes to pray. The soldier hesitated to execute him, but at last he had to do his duty and kill Thomas. Thomas gave his life for the Gospel on September 3rd, 1866 on Korean soil. He was only 27 years old.
The image of this passionate young man giving up his life to hand out Bibles touched those on the shores who witnessed it. Some felt bad about destroying the Bibles he had so passionately tried to give away and took them home, using them as wallpaper. Eventually, out of curiosity, they started reading the pages. About fifty years later a huge revival broke out in Pyongyang in 1904 and 10,000 Koreans became Christians. In 1906 another 30,000 Koreans gave their lives to Jesus and in 1907, 50,000 more surrendered to Christ. Finally, in 1931 a memorial church was built on the spot to honor Robert Jermain Thomas, who had died so zealously trying to give away Bibles with his last breath. The soldier who killed Robert, did end up taking the Bible. Choon Kwon Park later played an important role in establishment of the Pyongany Church in Korea.
Pastor Daniel was sent by his church community in Korea to pastor the church that had sent out Thomas and he is now praying for revival to come once again to Wales. Today, many Koreans still visit the home of Robert Jermain Thomas in Wales to pay their respects and to remember the young man who gave his life to bring them God’s Word.
A young man who was only a missionary for under two years and died without reaching a single person for Jesus was used by God to reach an entire nation. A seeming failure became the platform for the revival of a nation. And now that very nation is sending missionaries to Wales to reach the people who had reached them. The prophet Isaiah writes, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). God is the master strategist. He is working in ways that we do not understand and creating opportunities that seem strange and often defy logic. You may be drowning in what feels like failure and loss. The odds are against you and your efforts to advance God’s kingdom seem useless and ineffective. Please don’t give up. Don’t resign. Don’t move into the shadows. God is not mocked, He will build His church and nothing will stop Him. Failure can become the door to revival. Just ask Daniel Yoo!
Global Advance Fund Update
The Global Advance Fund (GAF) covers the costs of sending and supporting international workers (IWs) overseas—salaries, benefits, and the costs associated with ministry in various countries. Some is also designated to training IWs.
Through the GAF, IWs take the Gospel to least-reached people groups, people who may never have heard the name Jesus.
Year to date (as of Oct 26, 2018)
Total 2018 Faith Goal YTD Income Excess/Shortfall
2018 Faith Goal $15,366,000
Year to date $10,687,641*
* 69.55% of Faith Goal
Please find the original version in C&MA website