In a community of approximately 80 members, 58 have successfully completed the entire Bible in a year. Notably, a 93-year-old senior is counted among them. The practice of reading the Bible has transformed into a significant driving force within the church, instilling a sense of pride and gratitude among its members.
All eyes are on Geumcheon Haneulsaem Church, part of the West-central Korean Conference, under the leadership of Pastor Park WooByoung. On December 23, 2023, the church held a ‘Bible Reading Completion Ceremony,’ underscoring the importance of leading a Gospel-centered life.
Three years ago, upon Pastor Park WooByoung’s arrival at the church, he identified the need to strengthen the internal foundation of the church. Hence, he adopted the slogan ‘By the Power of the Word! Through the Grace of Prayer!’ and strongly emphasized Bible reading. As a result, nearly 80% of the congregation completed the Bible.
Elder Hwang JooYeon, the mission committee director for four years, shared, “Everyone takes on challenges, but back then, I honestly doubted how many would succeed when the pastor first suggested the Bible reading.”
He continued, “I thought, ‘Well, a few more people might succeed besides those who do it yearly.’ However, almost every member succeeded in the end, except for newcomers and young children.” He credited Pastor Park’s constant encouragement and support as the key to their success.
In practice, Pastor Park WooByoung set a daily reading goal of about 30 minutes, posting the progress chart on the church bulletin board. During the worship, he acknowledged and encouraged individuals who read the Bible. For those who hadn’t started, he urged them to take on the ‘Bible Reading Challenge,’ which naturally led to an atmosphere of checking progress together, fostering communal engagement with the Word. Even those who initially hesitated found encouragement and successfully completed the challenge.
Senior Elder Bae DeokHwan expressed his joy and shared his intention to cherish the ‘Bible Reading Completion Certificate’ as a family treasure, stating, “This brings me even greater happiness because I did it with my wife. We woke up at 4:30 AM daily and read the Bible for 30 minutes. Experiencing the Word afresh each time made me realize I missed out on this wonderful thing in the past.” He pledged to read the prophetic books this year diligently.
The oldest among the completers is Deaconess Yoo HaeYeon, who was born in 1932. She had already completed reading the Bible two or three times a year before. Deaconess Yoo, who prepared a large-printed Bible before her eyesight worsened, brightened as she said, “Reading the Bible allows us to discern right from wrong. I particularly love Proverbs. By regularly consuming the Word, like meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I can stay healthy and attend church.”
Elder Lee ByungGuk, the mission committee chairman, says, “Honestly, in the beginning, the Bible was my ‘sleeping pill.'” However, he laughed and said that as his eyes gradually brightened, he felt the blessing of understanding difficult parts by reading commentaries and experiencing the joy of discovering the truth.
As Elder Lee highlighted his favorite verse, John 3:16, he said, “When I read the Bible, I feel like I am walking with God. So, even in the rough journey of life, I have no worries. Thinking about God’s love brings tears to my eyes, and I constantly ponder how I should respond and live in this love. Every time, the determination I wrote in the corner of the Bible comes to mind, providing significant help.”
Deaconess Kim KyungSook is busier than most, but her passion surpasses that of others, even with three stickers attached in the same section. Despite starting her day at 3:30 AM and finishing work at 10 PM, she said, “I always carry the Bible. I read it on the subway, during meals, and breaks. I heard from a deacon at a Protestant church that he reads the Bible seven times a year. Then I thought, ‘What am I doing who attends the True church?’ So, I am reading the Bible whenever I have time.” Her words resonated with those listening.
Deaconess Kim MiHwa, who had been away from God’s embrace for 32 years, confessed, “At first, I didn’t have the courage, but after a severe injury, I thought, ‘If I die like this, Jesus won’t forgive for my sins, so I should repent.’ I found a church and got closer to the Word due to the Bible reading trend.” She unfolded her notebook, filled to the brim with notes from studying the New Testament, and said, “I deeply realized that Jesus found in the The Four Gospels is patient and the embodiment of true love.”
As we enter a new year, many Christians traditionally set a goal to complete reading the Bible as an accomplishment for the year. However, often these goals fade after a few days or are abandoned midway. This year, let us hope that, when faced with busyness, tiredness, illness, or distractions, we can draw inspiration from the testimonies of Geumcheon Haneulsaem Church members and renew our commitment to the Word.