As I was reading the words to an old familiar hymn in church this morning-from the overhead - I began thinking about what we will tell the North Koreans when they ask us why we don't use songbooks any longer. The Koreans as a rule use many of the traditional songs of the church, a great deal of which have been around since the Reformation. The songbook to a Korean is a precious thing.I imagine that songbooks as well as Bibles have been smuggled in to the North Korean churches by now. But overhead projectors may have not. Here, besides giving up the content of those old hymns on which we were raised, we've stopped bothering with the containers, the books, too. So what should we tell them?
And Bibles, that will be an even greater challenge of explanation. In America not as many people carry their Bibles to church these days. Many pastors have given up trying to get their people to buy one standard version, like the new King James or some such solid translation. So they put Scriptures on the same overheads as the songs. People can leave their Bibles at home, so they do. How do we tell North Koreans they won't need to bring these precious Books into the House of God any longer when "freedom" comes? How will we break it to them that those who risked their lives to get them the Bible did it only for their home reading, that the church is taking another step away from its rich tradition? What will we tell them?
I know. The first Christians had neither Bible nor songbook. But between their age and ours has come the Roman usurpation of the Church and the Word. The Reformers tried to restore the Message to all the people. They wrote it, translated it, published it, distributed it. Because of that heritage, from a child, most of us have learned to cherish it, knowing it was given to us at the price of much blood.
But the times they are changin'.
Britain and America led the way for the longest time in getting the Word to the world. But Britain's influence waned long ago. America now follows, and seems to be leading the charge into apostasy, spreading its doctrines and strange ways into the universal church.
One thing American workers in Korea, whether they be of the South Korean variety or the standard European stock, need to remember if they are to be effective servants to the emerging (and it will emerge!) North Korean population: we do not sell the new Americanism to the Korean church. We don't go to Westernize but to Christianize. Liberty has its limits and the North Koreans must be carefully taught what those limits are. It is easy to imagine a starving population eating everything in sight once they're free, of physical food as well as all the other thingsthat can be ingested in a man's mind and soul.
Oh for the gift of discernment for North Koreans! Oh that Americans had it too. Who will stand up and ask for the hymnals and Bibles to be restored to the American church? Not for show, but for use. To get people turning pages and finding chapters and listening and reading as the preacher preaches, and growing thereby. To reverse the trend of the electronic age lest we all get swept away into something we will regret as much as did true believers in the Medieval church: the loss of God's Word.
It is coming, you know. One big happy religion with no Bibles, no songbooks, no preached Word, no real praise. No strong message. One huge political power that will speak for moral correctness but will not know what sin is about. 'Cause they left their Bible at home.
http://chosunhouse.com is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.Hope In Religion