Exploring Pohang: Handong University and The Joyful Church

“You have reached your destination!” I heard our navigator announce, and it was like music to my ears -We rented a Hyundai and driven four hours from Seoul to get to the city of Pohang. My husband has already proven to me that he can drive even in the desert if given the opportunity-like a boss!  For most of the pleasant trip, I was busy taking tons of terrible pictures no one will ever see (ugh). Sangyee Nam, our missionary friend from the Czec Republic  (who is a native Korean) had made arrangements for us to meet friends of his from a local university in Pohang, which also happened to be his home-town.

 

Pohang is a city in the province of North Gyeongsang, South Korea, and a main seaport in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk region. The built-up area of Pohang is located on the alluvium of the mouth of the Hyeongsan River. Wikipedia

 

Our hosts gave us directions to meet them at The Joyful Church in the heart of the city. When we pulled up to the driveway, we were shock to see such a massive and beautiful building.  Some of the staff members met us in the parking lot, and ushered us to the pastor’s office.  After some introductions, we drove to a traditional Korean restaurant.  We left our shoes at the entrance and wore “house slippers,” but we sat at a regular table, instead of the traditional short ones.  The Meal consisted on seafood and vegetable tempura, jellyfish salad, fish, rice, noodles, soup, and other side dishes I did not recognize but enjoyed very much.

 

Pastor Park is a dignified man, who speaks with much wisdom, and him and his lovely wife seemed caring and genuine. We spent spoke of who we were, what we do, and why we were in Korea.  Even during this conversation, my heart fluttered with questions as to why God had connected us to this wonderful people. I knew we made the connection through our missionary friend, but I could not shake the feeling that our vacation to South Korea had purpose other than fulfilling a bucket list item for myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Park invited us to share at their upcoming prayer meeting, and we decided to tag-them and share my testimony during Brian’s message.  I wish I had a video to show you all.  The prayer meeting was at 5:25am, and when we walked in the sanctuary, there must have been more than four hundred people already praying and meditating.  I was touched by the attendance and faithfulness of the people.  When the prayer service began, Pastor Park shared a short sermon and then he called the congregation to a time of corporate prayer.  Suddenly, the entire room erupted in heartfelt cries and prayers to God.  I’m not gonna lie, I cried like a baby!  I was so touched and moved by the passion of the congregation as they call upon the name of Lord; there was a contagious anointing in those prayers.  We shared what we felt God had us share for this congregation, and we felt a sweet sense of community and fellowship.  I believe God knows what each congregation needs to hear, and this was no exception.

 

HGU is a non-denominational university committed to following Jesus Christ and to be educated to change the world. We support the integration of faith and learning, and the academic excellence, whole person education based on the Christian faith to train global leaders who will change the world. -handong.edu

During our time in Pohang, we also visited the Handong Global University. This international school was established on 1995 and has a fitting motto; “Why not change the world?” We found that their vision is close to the vision of our organization, and felt an immediate camaraderie. At the University, we met several professors, students, and staffers that were instrumental in making the experience unique and pleasant. We were honored to be invited to participate in the professor’s chapel.  At the service, Brian spoke about what it means to be a real disciple of Christ, and I sang and testified. It felt like in the past when Brian and I would minster together. I loved the feeling of being partners in ministry once again, and I was grateful for the opportunity.  It was a good service and we enjoyed getting to know the Hangdon University Family during the time we spent there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some reason I kept asking myself, why are we at Handong University? Is there a purpose to our visit here?  I guess I was looking for more than simply networking as a reason for our visit.  That purpose became clear later in  the day…all morning and afternoon, we experienced our first typhoon ever.  Personally, I felt like I was back in Puerto Rico during Hurricane season!  They must frequent typhoons because neither classes nor work got cancelled.

 

While we were relaxing in a classroom, a young man came in to thank us for sharing in chapel.  We invited him to sit and chat a while, and for the next hour, we simply engaged and answered questions. The young man shared some struggles he was facing regarding direction for his life as he was about to make a significant decision. The more he spoke, the more Brian poured into his life with encouragement, and affirmation of his calling.  It was a God ordained moment and in a way it helped me understand why we came to the University. Indeed, there are no accidents with God.  He orders our steps according to the pressing needs around us. In the afternoon, I rested while Brian visited the students’ chapel service. He said it was enjoyable, and he could tell the students are very dedicated and talented.

 

Later than evening, we joined a group of professors and wives for dinner at an Italian bistro.  Again, I found myself amazed at the connection I felt with the group.  I shared testimonies, and we exchanged stories and encouraged each other.  It was a beautiful discipleship evening where we poured God’s love over each other. I felt God’s presence in our midst, even though we were there just for dinner. I believe every encounter is an opportunity from God, who in his all-knowing purpose, prepares events, and people ahead of our arrival, in order to work on our behalf, be it through encouragement, leading, spiritual renewal, or simple rest. This was a day filled with beautiful encounters!

 

There’s more, so stay tuned for my next blogpost, Exploring Pohang: Homigott & The Japanese Fishermen Village

 

 

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