More on South Korea from Dan Britton

FCA Korean Sports Camp
By Dan Britton

 

FCA partnered with Korean Central Presbyterian Church and Global Christian School in Seoul to host a first-ever sports camp in South Korea. The sports camp was held at Prayer Mountain in the city of Pocheon, about three hours northwest from Seoul. Jacob Hong, who served as our host, is a pastor at the partnering church and the principal at the school. I first met Jacob in the early 1990’s when I was on FCA staff in Northern Virginia and he was a youth pastor. We had no idea that God would unite us 15 years later! He was born in Korea, came to the states 30 years ago, and returned to Korea with his family two years ago to become the principal of the school. He has always wanted to see FCA in Korea, so we have been talking, praying and planning for nine months to see this dream come true!

FCA took a team of 21 people to serve 175 campers fourth to 12th-grade campers. Most of them were ages 11-14. We did three sports: soccer, basketball and swimming. It started on Monday, July 30, and ended Thursday, August 2. As far as we know, there are no overnight sports camps in South Korea (at least according to the people there). We were establishing new ground.

Our team of 21 consisted of mostly FCA staff members, a few summer interns, and a couple of FCA Huddle Coaches. It was a very skilled team with many talents. On Sunday before camp, the team broke into two teams and went to Seoul to do ministry in churches. It was a powerful experience as our team shared testimonies and had an opportunity to worship with PASSIONATE Korean believers who take their faith very seriously!

As we prepared for camp, we sensed that God was going to do a great work. We prepared through planning, praying and fasting. Once camp started, we had an opening team meeting, and we broke the kids into 13 Huddles. We had an hour of icebreakers with them. The nine middle school students in my Huddle enjoyed connecting through several fun icebreakers and team-builders. Just to play and sweat with them allowed a real bond. After dinner (I loved the spicy food—kimshi, squid and other delicious dishes), we had our opening three and a half-hour worship service. In America, we complain if our hour and 15-minute service goes long! We worshipped and prayed. Worshipped and prayed. And then worshipped and prayed some more. And this was with youth! THEN the speaker spoke for an hour. He is the youth pastor of the church that sent the 22 missionaries to Afghanistan who were captured by the Taliban, and they killed two of them. He spoke with power and conviction as he shared his own testimony through the prodigal son passage, and then shared about making our lives count for Christ.

During the challenge, almost all the kids responded to the Gospel. The FCA team was encouraged to pray over the campers. As we prayed, the Lord poured out His Spirit, and we interceded for these kids. God revealed himself as campers and staff wept openly. It was awesome to see and experience. God worked in a huge way!

Most of the kids in Korea go to school for 10 hours a day, some over 14 hours. There is much pressure to succeed, and the kids do not get many breaks to get away. The kids were so drawn to our FCA Team. God gave us special favor. God brought us to Korea for a specific purpose: to glorify Christ!

On Tuesday, we had an awesome day of ministry. The kids were divided into three big groups, and we spent the morning teaching English to them. We covered many of the sports terms we would be teaching later. It was very fun and interactive! In the afternoon we had a three-hour session of sports. The campers loved playing games and competition instead of doing drills. Kids in Korea are just like American kids. They prefer fun and games to fundamentals! We had another great worship service that went almost four hours. At the end of the meeting, the Lord moved and the FCA staff and Korean pastors prayed over the campers, laying hands on the students. I remember reading that the Puritans prayed for the gift of tears. Well, the Koreans have it. It was awesome to see kids weeping before the Lord for over an hour. Young people calling on the name of the Lord!

God’s presence was felt and experienced again. Kids are hungry for God, and they were calling on His name. The last night of camp was a powerful service and many responded to the challenge. It was over four hours long. We sat and kneeled the entire time (no chairs) on the wooden gym floor. We were always in a posture of worship!

The last morning of camp, our FCA team provided a two hour service (not quite the extended one like we experienced the night before). It included skits, testimonies, songs, dancing, a lacrosse demonstration (that was me), and one of our staff members, David Delk, even did a strength demonstration (tearing and bending things)! 

I have served at over 50 FCA Camps in the past 17 years, and I have never experienced anything like this camp. It was a breakthrough for our entire team. Everyone was profoundly touched by God’s power. The Holy Spirit ministered to us and revealed so much.


Listed below are several personal insights that the Lord revealed to me during the trip:

• Pressing In. Extended time before God softens the heart and prepares us to hear from Him. God wants us to get into His presence and be aligned with Him. There is so much that battles against us not to get us into a posture of worship: the flesh, the world and the Devil. Our flesh thinks minutes not hours. The world tells us that we do not have that kind of time. The Devil tells us we do not need to do it at all. The Korean people (young and old) position themselves to hear from the Lord. To see a 10-year-old boy cry out to God on his knees and lay prostrate for over an hour is powerful. It is also convicting. To see a 61-year-old grandmother pray over and lay hands on youth for over an hour is inspiring. To posture ourselves in such a way to see God, to hear God and to experience God takes extended time of worship and prayer. My life needs to change. My understanding of how to worship needs to change. My own commitment to prayer and worship has been renewed. This change must come into my devotion time and family. The layers are pulled back, and truth is manifested through the Spirit.

• Early Prayer. All the Korean churches have early prayer and worship at 5:30 a.m. every day, seven days a week—even Sunday before regular service. There is breakthrough in their church because of the commitment to prayer! Where is our commitment to prayer? Where is my commitment to prayer? We expect to get the blessing without the commitment and sacrifice. There always needs to be a sacrifice when it comes to spiritual success. The spiritual discipline of corporate prayer has become part of the fabric of every church. It is the way they do ministry. Prayer has become a part of the DNA of the Korean Church.

• Revival. This comes through three things: confession of sin, unity of the body and powerful prayer. We were in Korea during the 100-year anniversary of the Pyongyang Great Revival. In 1907, God stirred in the hearts of men and women to be authentic, to come clean before others. It started with the leaders coming before their congregation and laying down their pride and admitting their transgressions. Revival pushes back the gates of Hell and Heaven crashes to earth. Sin management in America is a reason why there is not revival. We control our sin and keep it in order so others can’t see how messed up we are. When we control sin, people think we are better than we actually are. Revival is about transparency and realness. Our hearts need to be opened before God and others. Jesus Christ is glorified at that moment of total authenticity. The Holy Spirit is unleashed to do His work. No control, just complete surrender. Many early missionaries to Korea were beheaded, speared and burned. Their blood was the catalyst to bring revival. We visited a cemetery in Seoul that honors the first Christian martyrs. It is located on the exact hill where an executor (during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s) would behead the missionaries. They believed if a foreigner stepped foot onto their ground with a foreign religion that the only way to purify their land was by the bloodshed of the transgressor. To see all the graves who were beheaded was a spiritual gut check. To walk through the gravesites and see the quotes and Scriptures on the graves was gripping.

Two quotes on tombstone that gripped me were:

“If I had a thousand lives to give, Korea should have them all.” 
- Ruby Kendrick (1883 – 1908)

“I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey.”
- Homer Hubert (1863 – 1949)

There was total surrender to the Lord’s work. Almost half of the sites were children. Sacrifice came to the whole family. If I had 1,000 lives, who or what deserves them all? That is something I cannot shake. What am I so sold out to that life after life would have my commitment? The desire to serve Jesus with reckless abandonment is where it lies! When people get to a point that they are willing to lay down their life, God takes that surrender and uses it to break down strongholds, and revival breaks out.

• Personal Revelation. When stretched, true character is revealed. When precious metals are burned to bring out the dross, the imperfections come to the top. On this trip, my character was revealed. I realized that I need to purge my soul of pride and control. The Lord showed me that I cannot control situations. There is a difference between providing leadership and trying to control things. It’s a hard line to walk. Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting You. When I control, I do not trust. I need to release to the Lord immediately, not later. Complete trust without strings attached. Getting to a point that if God does not step in, then I am ruined. Trust God to do what He promises. Obey God when He speaks. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way! Pride always comes when there is success. Pride puts us in charge, not relying on God. Our fingerprints need to be removed from the blessings that God provides.

• Spiritual Slumber. It seems that comfort and ease is the way of the American church. God is neatly placed in a well-defined box. Worship is contained within time limits. To worship 3-4 hours every night at camp with youth was staggering. They did not care how long the service went; they were face-first before their Lord and Savior, crying out to Jesus, hungry and thirsty for more of God, confessing their sins. They were in total surrender before their great God, pressing in and seeking hard after His face. Faith like a child. I want to have faith like that. Faith that is not polluted, that is pure and innocent. Faith that has no limits or boundaries. Faith that is not complicated with all the things of the world. Faith that is out on the edge. America is in a deep spiritual slumber. The worst part is that we are asleep, and we do not know it. We have become comfortably numb. Materialism has crippled us. The program-driven churches have pushed out consuming prayer and sincere worship. Our neat, clean worship fits into our nice, scheduled life. No fuss. No mess. No layers pulled back. No issues of the heart revealed. Just keep our spiritual life predefined and neatly placed in the box with clear boundaries. I sometimes think if the Holy Spirit left the American church, nothing would change! Help us, Lord, to worship in Spirit and truth.


• Undying, Unwavering Commitment. Consistency in ministry is something that always catches my attention. The Lord used one person in Korea to touch my heart in a special way: Su-Ja Parks. I call her Grandma Parks. She is 61 years old. She has been a youth pastor for 37 years. She stands at no more than 4’9”. She caught my eye the way she was “jumping” in to the icebreakers and sports. All the while, she loved on the girls in her group. At soccer, she played and participated in every drill. She said that she had never played soccer, but she added with a smile beaming across her face, “I am younger today for playing.” Each night she worshiped God with incredible passion. She prayed over the kids nonstop, laying hands on the kids and interceding on their behalf. One night she was on her knees for over an hour, and she had to be helped up by two people. It took her several minutes before she could stand on her own. God used her in my life. She marked my life. She changed my life. What gripped me was her faithfulness. Year after year, she served the youth. I thought she was just an old lady who volunteered for the camp. Little did I know that she was a spiritual giant, standing at 4’9”. She was anointed by the Holy Spirit to bring life-change!

When I think about her, I am:

Amazed by her faithfulness.
Humbled by her impact.
Humiliated for judging her as just a grandma.
Honored to meet her.
Blessed when she prayed over me.
Changed because I met her.
Motivated by her service.
Challenged by her commitment.
Convicted by her passion.

I want to be found faithful like Grandma Parks. I am sure that the Lord says to her at the end of each day, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” She is my new hero. Lord, thank You for bring her into my life. She taught me what undying, unwavering commitment is all about. The love of Jesus beamed from her. I want to be like Grandma Parks.

Also, two of other adult leaders, Deacon Cho and Tom, wept over the kids when they prayed for them. I’ve never seen anything like it. For over an hour, they laid hands on the kids and wept for these kids. My burden for these children was great.  It was an honor and privilege to pray over them. I need to pray over my own children like that. I need to pray over our athletes and coaches in that way. Lord, forgive me for not praying with power, for not interceding, for not praying with intensity. I learned quickly that prayer was not simply an opening and closing to the meeting. Instead, prayer was an essential part of worship. 

Five Personal Take-aways from the Trip:
1. The soul needs and desires extended times of worship and prayer.
2. Sacrifice is a key to spiritual breakthrough.
3. Revival comes when there is open confession of sin, unity of the body and intense prayer.
4. Sports is the international language.
5. Significant ministry happens in decades, not years.