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Lessons from a Korean prayer team

Last month a team from Korea came to Tokyo on a prayer trip. I was asked by a senior missionary to help drive them around for the week. I had thought it would be mostly just a case of pick them up, drop them off, and let them get on with it. But I ended up spending most the week with them. And I learned some key lessons in the process.

They were serious about prayer

If you have an image of Korean Christians, this is probably it. We even have the phrase “Korean style prayer”. But if it’s a stereotype, then it’s one this team lived up to well. Everywhere we went we prayed. And these prayers were fuelled by biblical promises and deep research. What impressed me most was one evening when we worked through a 20-page prayer guide. There was section on repentance and forgiveness, including an acknowledgement that the spiritual damage caused by Korea exporting Buddhist teaching to Japan was even greater than the war crimes committed against Korea by Japan. The team didn`t pray for the sake of praying, they were serious about prayer.

They were serious about unity in Christ

The truth that in Christ we are one family is one that I haven’t seen many Christians take seriously enough. Being with this Korean team made me realise I still have lots to learn about what it means to be brothers and sisters through the gospel. Despite me speaking only a single word of Korean (kamsamnida, “thank you”), the team welcomed into their group as though I was a younger brother they`d finally met for the first time. I’ve just received an email from the pastor who led the team. It was so full of warmth and brotherly affection that I’m sure anyone who read it would assume we’re actually related.

They were serious about fun

I had so much fun with this team. It made me want to learn Korean so I could join in the banter more. The van was full of so much laughter as we drove about, that the return journey from the airport felt spookily silent. Their schedule for the week was jammed packed, but we managed to squeeze in times for onsen (hot springs) visits. They had clearly spent a long time preparing presentations about Korea and practising songs in Japanese, but the atmosphere of the team was relaxed and joyful . . . it was fun. And I think that sense of fun protected the team from taking themselves too seriously.

So, as I reflect on the experience of spending a week praying with my Korean brother and sisters, I’m struck afresh by the abundant opportunities we have in OMF to learn from those with different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. And I’m impressed by the need to focus not on the difficulties that diversity can cause, but on the growth that unity in diversity can provide.

By Levi Booth

Will you pray for OMF in Japan?

  • Pray for missionaries in Japan as we work with different nationalities. Pray we would learn lessons from each other and build friendships that will last.
  • Pray that we in OMF would be serious about prayer, serious about unity in Christ, and serious about fun.

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