It all started one Sabbath morning with a teenager crying behind a locked bedroom door. Gently knocking on her daughter’s door, Mrs. Shin asked what was wrong.
“I’m so sad,” came the muffled response. “I don’t want to go to church! There’s no one my age.”
Mrs. Shin had noticed for some time that her 15-year-old daughter, Bo Hwa (BO-wah), wasn’t happy. During the week Bo Hwa was away at school with many friends, but at home, she was the only teen in church.
Mother and daughter prayed together about the situation, and before long Mrs. Shin had a plan. Each weekday morning she arose very early and made 2,000 hotteoks (HOE-tocks)—a popular sweet-filled Korean pancake. Mrs. Shin then took her pancakes and set up shop directly across from the local high school.
Before school, through lunchtime, and after school Mrs. Shin sold pancakes to the hungry students. But she did more than that—she befriended them.
“How’s it going?” she asked.
This was the first time someone had shown a genuine interest in many of her young customers. Sensing her trustworthiness, students began opening up to Mrs. Shin. Many were having a difficult time at school and at home.
As trust deepened, Mrs. Shin decided to take their friendship to the next level. “What are you doing Saturday afternoon?” she asked them.
“Nothing,” was the usual response.
“Would you like to come with me to visit some old people and cheer them up?” she asked.
Earlier Mrs. Shin had visited the local government office, asking for names and addresses of elderly people who had no family to care for them. Every Sabbath afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Shin, Bo Hwa, and several high school students visited the senior citizens. The activity was an instant success! Following the visits Mrs. Shin invited the students to her home for a meal. The students loved the food and felt at home, sensing the warmth and caring of the Shin family. Bo Hwa was excited to have many new friends.
The Sabbath afternoon meetings continued to grow until the Shins’ small 700-square-foot apartment could hold no more. Soon God provided an opportunity to move into a larger home, which allowed them to invite more teenagers to join them on Sabbath afternoons.
Eventually these gatherings became known as “home church.” The group continued to grow until it officially became a church plant.
Since this church plant began in 1998, more than 400 young people have been baptized. Members of the church have presented evangelistic programs in Korea, Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan, transforming thousands of lives in these Asian countries.
No one could have guessed that a church would be planted because of one lonely girl, a caring mother, and Korean pancakes.
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