1) The First WEC Missionary to Korea, Kays Glass
The shock that came after seeing the true state of the Korean church ate into Norman Grubb’s heart. Even though his time in Korea was short, he could never forget it. He could not forget the image of the Korean Christians who were unable to break free from the power of sin and death, even though they earnestly called out to God.
But one day, Norman Grubb was invited as a speaker to a church in London. And as usual, he brought missionary students who were in training (WEC International accepts students from various countries and trains them for 2 years before dispatching them to various places around the world) and had them give testimonies before giving the sermon).That evening, one missionary student came out and gave his salvation testimony.
“I was born to an elder in the Dutch Reformed Church. Ever since I was young, I went to church and lived earnestly. But I was agonized because of the sins I had committed as I grew up. But I thank God for allowing me to meet someone who was born again. He was the director of the mission school and after he shared the gospel with me, all of my sins were settled and I too was able to be born again. Afterwards, a heart to live for the gospel arose in me, so I applied to be a WEC missionary and am now waiting for my visa to Nepal.”
His name was Kays Glass. (Brother Andrew, his friend at the time, who would later write “God’s Smuggler,” begin his missionary work in communized Eastern Europe in 1955 and become known as “God’s Smuggler,” was also training with Kays Glass at WEC.)
Kays Glass’s testimony moved Norman Grubb, who sincerely wanted to “gospelize” Korea. After hearing how Glass had lived a painful spiritual life within a church without the gospel and then received salvation, Grubb believed that God had prepared him for the sake of the zealously religious Korean church. So after Glass had finished giving his testimony, as soon as he stood behind the altar, Norman Grubb stated that, “The student who just gave his testimony will not go to Nepal, but to Korea instead,” and everyone, especially Kays Glass, was surprised. Afterwards, because of the Nepalese government’s adoption of communism, his visa was rejected, so he received the heart that Grubb had for Korea and in 1956, Kays Glass became the first WEC missionary to Korea.
2) How Missionary Kays Glass and Young Ock-soo Park Met
“How can you witness to others, when you have not received salvation?” (Kays Glass)
WEC began its mission in Korea through Kays Glass (Korean mission 1956 to 1975), but one significant aspect must be mentioned. Normally, WEC begins its missionary work in that country’s capital city, but God led Kays Glass to a small church in the small city of Seon-san, Kyung-book. That church was Seon-san Presbyterian Church, where Pastor Ock-soo Park had been living his spiritual life since he was a child. Pastor Ock-soo Park was born in Seon-san, Kyung-book in 1944 and had gone to that church since he was a child due to his mother’s influence, who herself had gone to that church as a young girl. But like most Korean Christians, he just diligently went to church, vaguely seeking after God. Ock-soo Park (a middle school student at the time) had lived a perfunctory spiritual life for a long time. Kays Glass had been dispatched to Korea by Norman Grubb, the man who had prayed for Korea. It was God who allowed these two men to meet.
As he ministered at
Seon-san Presbyterian Church and taught English at the school, Kays Glass and Ock-soo Park easily became friends. But then came a day when he shocked Ock-soo Park. That day Kays Glass was preparing to go out witnessing, when the following conversation took place.
“Missionary, may I come with you when you go to witness at the market tomorrow?”
“Have you received salvation?”
“Excuse me? Salvation?”
“How can you witness to others, when you have not received salvation?”
As it is today, at the time, salvation was rarely asked about or talked about on such a personal and specific manner in the Korean church. It was because most Christians thought that if you went to church and said that you believed in God, that you were a child of God and had received salvation.
When Kays Glass asked whether or not he had received salvation, the question was so challenging and so unfamiliar that it deeply pierced Ock-soo Park’s heart. It was a decisive moment for him, an opportunity to seriously reflect on his problem with his salvation. During his youth, Pastor Ock-soo Park struggled with and agonized over his sins and salvation even more until October 7th, 1962 (19 years old at the time) when, by the grace of God and through the gospel of Jesus Christ, all of his sins were washed away and he was born again.
3) The Born Again Missionaries’ Missionary School, First Formed in 1962
“God, Korea truly needs born again native ministers. Please help this missionary school.”
In late 1962, in Samduk-dong, Joong-gu, Daegu in a room on the second floor of an Nae In Hospital, Kays Glass, Derek Earl, Dick York, Marlin Baker, Harry Wyman and other born again missionaries held a prayer meeting while fasting for one week. It was the home of Derek Earl, the second WEC missionary dispatched to Korea by Norman Grubb, and they had gathered due to a new calling from God for the gospelization of Korea. Although all the missionaries were from different missions, with the exception of Derek Earl and Kays Glass (both from WEC), they were all born again missionaries with the same heart to teach the true gospel in Korea. At first they tried to share the gospel from within the Korean church, but as they came to realize the limitations set on sharing the gospel due to the Korean church’s focus on sectarianism and dogma, they sympathized with the need for a born again church led by a Korean minister. In the end, as they held a prayer meeting while fasting, they realized that starting a missionary school to train Korean ministers was the will of God.
So Missionary Dick York was made director and assumed responsibility for their missionary school, the Shield of Faith Mission. Dick York was born in Seattle in the US in 1928. When he was 4, after his father had passed away, he moved with his mother, older brother and sister to Vancouver B.C., where he attended school. After turning 16 in 1944, since joining the US Merchant Marine, he suffered from the unending sins he committed. But by the grace of God, in 1950 in Vancouver he heard the gospel and was born again. 2 years later, feeling pity for the transient laborers who were living the way he had in the past, in December 1953 he founded the Shield of Faith Mission and started sharing the gospel.
When Dick York founded the Shield of Faith Mission in 1953, the Korean War ended the same year. The Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950 and ended with an armistice on July 17, 1953, left Korea as one of the poorest countries in the world. Following the war, there were countless beggars and war orphans. The Korean church received aid from foreign missions and concentrated their efforts in providing them with aid. At the center of all this was the Saemoonan Church. Started in 1887 by Missionaries Allen and Underwood (American Presbyterian Northern branch) and located in Jung-dong, Seoul, it was the first organized church in Korea. And the chapel there was constantly filled with people seeking aid. Although the Korean church was focused on providing education, medical attention and social services from the very beginning, it was very lacking in ministries that actually resolved sin and death and other spiritual problems through the gospel. (There are many reasons for this and we will go over them in detail based on the Korean church’s history later.) Because of this, in the minds of the people, the idea that “the church is a group that provides social services and provides material assistance,” naturally arose. And because the war had left the people in absolute poverty, this idea in turn would cause an explosive growth in the number of people looking for a church. At least on the outside, this looked like a great revival and was widely seen as the Holy Spirit working powerfully in Korea. But in the eyes of Norman Grubb and other born again missionaries, it was heartbreaking.
But in 1956, when Dick York was given an opportunity to give a sermon at the Saemoonan church by an American missionary he knew, he was shocked when he saw the true situation of the Korean church. As time passed, Dick York, Kays Glass, Derek Earl, Marlin Baker (America, Christians in Action Mission) and other born again missionaries could feel the seriousness of the problem with the Korean church and keenly felt the need to train Korean ministers. It was then that Ock-soo Park, who had recently been born again, was told by Elder Moon, who was from the same neighborhood, about Dick York’s missionary school and met Dick for the first time to gain entrance to the school. At the time, Ock-soo Park thought that he did not have the necessary qualifications, so he had doubts about his ability to enter the missionary school. But after Dick York heard his testimony about how he was born again, Dick was pleased to grant him entrance. This was because, at the time, Dick York and the all other missionaries were looking for someone who was truly born again.
And so 1962 was the most dramatic period in Pastor Ock-soo Park life, bringing him the greatest suffering and the greatest blessing. This is because, to someone who had considered committing suicide because of the suffering caused by his excessive sins and prayed for forgiveness every morning, having Jesus find him and grant him forgiveness of sin and new life through the gospel and lead him to a missionary school established by born again missionaries, a missionary school that was different from the existing seminaries, where he could be trained not in the Korean church’s ideology but in faith, was the special grace of God.