Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:3).
To most Americans it has been forgotten, but to those Korean War veterans it will forever be remembered. It is known as the “Land of the Morning Calm.” However, at 4:00 a.m. on June 25, 1950, that calm was shattered by artillery shells exploding on the Korean peninsula. I’m glad I wasn’t part of the military that had to serve 50 years before my arrival to Korea. Mountains cover 70% of Korea’s land area, making it one of the most mountainous regions in the world. I never expected to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War when returning to Frankenmuth, Michigan. Yet approximately 85 war veterans had been gathered by Harry Boesnecker to hear me as the guest speaker on June 28, 2000, for the Korean War Anniversary Celebration. It was a humbling experience to share and provide a link from our Korean American students attending Seoul Foreign School (SFS) to these ex-G.I’s. SFS students sent postcards with handwritten messages of thanks for the freedom. I saw tears in a few of the men’s eyes that night, and there were some in mine, too, as the cards were read.
It was just before our VLHS mission trip to Hong Kong in 1996 that Alice and I were asked to serve at SFS as a teacher and chaplain. During the years in Seoul, my prayer life leaped forward to a new level. It was primarily due to a number of experiences. The list begins with the SFS prayer chapel and continues with Jesus Abbey, Moms in Touch, reading many prayer books, a Promise Keepers accountability group, Habitat for Humanity, Missionaries of Charity/ India trips, and a few more that only God knows. I learned to spend time in prayer like never before.
It was the Jesus Abbey Discovery Week trip that challenged me to get my prayer life in order. I was to lead a group of students each year on a five-day prayer retreat to Jesus Abbey, a prayer and meditation center in the Taebeak Mountains of Korea. Father Archer Torrey, an Anglican priest, started this retreat center in 1965. He became a good friend and mentor to me as we visited each year. I knew, if I would be teaching others about prayer, that I had better learn all I could about the topic. Also, “the best way to learn to pray was to pray.” Even though the students and I were together from Monday to Friday, the time did not allow me to communicate all I wanted to share. Approximately twenty students joined the group each year. A few months prior to each trip I asked the participating students to write down at least five personal questions regarding the topic of prayer. The questions in Part II of this book are some of those questions. Somehow I underestimated how the power of the Holy Spirit would influence those students during only one week. The testimonies of the students who attended were powerful. Below, I include bits and pieces from the evaluations of their experiences.
The Holy Spirit worked not only in the SFS students but also in me, the chaplain, during the four discovery week trips which I led. The Korean people are known for being very hard workers, but also many Korean Christians are known for their strong prayer lives. Their enthusiasm for prayer was contagious.
Personal Reflection Time