"On earth as it is in Heaven!"

Well, here we go. This is Austin writing this blog entry and to be honest I am a bit nervous. Lauren is definitely the blogger in our family, and I am sure that much editing will be done by my wife before this is posted.

A couple of months ago Lauren blogged about a dinner we had with the Shin family. The father is a pastor of a church in our city, and they have 4 kids. They are an amazing family that we truly enjoyed being around. Seeing the way that they were in love with Jesus and how they have raised their kids was a great encouragement. A few weeks back we ran into them at E-Mart (the korean version of Wal-Mart). Mr. Shin (Paul) was kind enough to ask Lauren and me to come to his church one Sunday and give our testimonies, so this past weekend we got the opportunity.

When we arrived we were seated on stage behind Paul as he was introducing us. Lauren was the first to give her testimony and Paul's wife Esther translated for the congregation. I followed Lauren with my testimony as another woman named Rejoice translated for me. Throughout our testimonies we were hearing "Hallelujah" and "Amen." The string of events that followed left us with tears in our eyes. Paul had us stand in front of the whole congregation as they sang a blessing song over us... with arms outstretched toward us and voices lifted to the Lord. When they had finished Paul asked them to come down to the front to say hello. Little did we know that everybody in the church would line up and come to greet us.....from 10 year old kids to 80 year old men and women. They embraced us and would say things such as "God bless you" or "sarang hamnida" which means "I love you." We were overwhelmed by the love of Christ being displayed in these people. We had only seen/met a handful of them and they treated us as if they had known us their whole lives. Christians for hundreds and thousands of years have called each other brothers and sisters, but as long as I have been a Christian I don't believe I have felt that connection as much as I did in this moment. These were people that could not speak the same language as us but showed us a love that was undoubtably from our Lord. After we had embraced the WHOLE congregation Pastor Paul asked them to pray out loud for us for 30 seconds. As we bowed our heads they prayed for us. Speaking in Korean, we could not understand them at all, but we felt the Holy Spirit moving in that room like we have never felt before. I felt the Holy Spirit envelop us! When they had finished we sat down to listen to Pastor Paul give a quick sermon. At the end of the sermon Paul approached us with a envelope full of money. We were both shocked and did not know what to do. For a group of people who didn't know us and had heard us speak for only 10 minutes, to give us money was unthinkable. The generosity shown by these people blew us away. They did not consider their money theirs but the Lords...a lesson that I believe we all need to learn. As I thought about it, I don't think I would have given money to a couple that I had only met once and heard talk for 10 minutes. I could not believe their generous hearts. We could not accept the money and felt led to give it back to the church to use for missionaries. We have more than enough and sadly probably wouldn't have spent it in a way that would help further the Kingdom. We left that afternoon speechless about what we experienced.

As we stood in front of the congregation and they prayed for us, blessed us and embraced us my mind could only think about Heaven. What we experienced was a glimpse of what I believe Heaven is going to look like.....a love that runs that deep and a faith that is that genuine. As we thought some more about it we realized that there is a freshness in the Korean church that is lacking in the American church. Don't get me wrong, Lauren and I both have a deep love for the church, but we just got a feeling that this is how it is supposed to be. These people have a deep faith and trust in the Lord. They believe in His mighty power and what He can do. Their love for our Lord and their brothers and sisters was incredible. These are followers of Christ, not just so-called Christians. They walk the walk and it is evident. They have a passion that can't go unnoticed. They believe in God's promises and take Him at His word. They believe any and every thing is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I think that the big difference between the Korean church and the American church is that they take God and what He says much more serious then we do. As it says in the book of James, "don't be merely hearers of the word but doers of the word." This is what lacks in the American church.....a true commitment. I say this with a convicted heart, because I feel that all too often I fall into the "hearer of the word" category. Living a committed life to our Lord is not easy, as we see all throughout the Bible, but to these people Jesus is worth it.....and He should be for us too!

We truly believe that on Sunday we saw a glimpse of what church is intended to look like. Yeah, I am sure they have their faults and struggle with things that all churches do, but what I saw was a group of people that were truly after the heart of God! These were Spirit filled, Heavenly minded, Gospel lovin' people!