субота, 24. децембар 2016.

The end of the world - Trip to Korea

The boat in which we sailed
Okdo-ri, a small island in Yodo archipelago, somewhere between Yellow and East-China sea, Korea. Not a tourist destination, no ferry’s going there. There are no asphalt roads, no stores, no schools. Just a small fishermen village of 40 residents. Making their living out of fishing and growing algae. Yes, growing algae for crops. I didn’t even know that algae are being grown, but around the island, in the sea are huge plantations of many different kinds of algae. 
  Looking from Europe, this is the end of the world. No further. Straight ahead are just few islands, Japan to the north, Taiwan to the south, but straight ahead just wide ocean. The end of the world. Our host is making jokes that my companion and I are the first people from Serbia ever to lay a foot to this island. He is probably right. How come I ended on Okdo-ri? I was invited to visit Korean churches by Hannah, Korean missionary, to visit several Korean churches (South Korea, of course), to speak of Serbia, invite Koreans to pray for us, and to pray with them. Hopefully we have been successful in that.

Pastor
 Back to the Okdo-ri island. That morning we were just told to get ready, we were about to visit an island church. I thought it must be a nearby island, some tourist location probably. We were driving by car for almost four hours. From central part of Korea, Degun, straight down. Left our car on port, our guide Jun Sok Hi told us there will be a pastor with a car waiting for us on the other side. Large island, a center of archipelago, a pastor dressed in suit with a tie waiting for us, grabbing our suitcases, shaking our hands, repeating Muksane, Muksane (Pastor, Pastor). Our guide Jun tells us this is the first time he sees this man wearing a tie. Getting into a van, which creaks, buzzes, fuming on narrow island roads. And finally surprise – arriving to a small port, with only small boats. We will continue our journey on boat, says Pastor Pa Chun Su, it is a church’s boat. I see Hannah is bit shocked too, she didn’t know either, they are not taking guests here usually, or ever before.  
 God knows well who prefers what. Some prefers hotels, but this is my kind of thing. A ride in a fishing boat on Yellow Sea. As a child I used to read of these islands as of hiding places of notorious Chinese Pirates. God’s first gift – an adventure for his Ranger (Maybe you do not know - a big part of my life is Scouting).
I don’t even have time to gather all impressions – the boat, the ride, all what’s around me, it is already getting dark, are we going to spend night in this boat? And another surprise followed. Approaching a port, there are few house lights visible, and above them, as a lighthouse, a huge, shining white cross. This lighthouse, a cross on a church guiding us to safe port. It filled my eyes with tears of joy. How come this sweet sign on this place, so clear, so standing out?      
 Late night, two Pastors from Serbia, our guide Jun and Hannah, Pastor Pa and his wife, sitting around the table, on floor, feasting on strange fruit I never saw and rice cakes, sitting and talking on same passion – Jesus Christ and His calling in our lives, on salvation. Nine thousand kilometers away from home, at the end of the world. I never even dreamed of this. To be like home, in my spiritual family, here? I have experienced this many times before, this feeling of closeness meeting Christians all over the world; but here, at the end of the world?
But that was not the only thing that moved me. Our Lord Jesus Christ, leaving to heavenly glory, left us a command. Acts 1:8 “… and you shall be my witness, in Jerusalem, Samaria and all to the end of the world”. It travelled a long time, this message, for 1900 years, but here it is, at the end of the world. So, here sit I, form Serbia, where the Gospel was preached perhaps in the time of Apostles, but for sure in second generation. Looking at our Christianity. Sometimes it gives me joy, but often makes me sad. I started this trip sad, and somewhat discouraged. But now I sit here, where the Gospel is juicy, still fresh, just arrived, full of energy and power, and my heart is swelling. We are talking with them of Serbia, praying for Serbia, on how to bring salvation to people in my country. Here, at the end of the world. My God knows what I need, to lift me up. He has brought me here, to light up my hope. Hope for Serbia.      

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