Dear fellow Sojourners and colleagues,
Every Sunday, in every corner of the world, people gather to hear a story, story of life, love, hope and faith. For almost 2,000 years that story has been told and retold. That story, of a man called Jesus of Nazareth, a man who became Christ, was originally told by his first followers and then retold by a missionary to Korea who was sent by the United Methodist Women from USA. Along the way, a young man, my father Yoon-Kee Hong, had found in its telling, its own meaning and interpretation from a Methodist missionary in Korea and became a Christian.
He married a young lady, who is my mother, Kyung-Ah Lee, a Buddhist who later converted to Christianity. I am a second generation Christian in my family. I grew up in an environment where two cultures clashed between my mother and my father. My mother worried much about living with poor condition; my father had a strong faith that God would provide what we needed. Every Sunday, and especially on Thanksgiving Day, I saw the struggle between my mother and my father. My father practiced tithing in everything that made my mother worry and uncomfortable. My father advised me to give a tithe even from my small amount of allowance.
My father learned from his missionary, and mentor, that giving was no pious act designed to increase contributions to the church budget but a means of expressing generosity rooted in gratitude for God’s generosity and of fulfilling the great commandment to love. My mother had been gradually convinced by this belief and had seen enough to know that our generous God blessed all of us with more than enough things.
My son Jonathan complained about taking out a tithe from all his gifts and I explained to him what I had learned from my father and he is painfully practicing to express generosity as well. Someday he will know how much it is a privilege to share the blessings of God.
Dear friends! I have traveled to 65 churches and had joyful fellowship with brothers and sisters. I feel we need to reclaim a precious Wesleyan tradition that “the Methodist would give all we have and then all would have enough.”
We, the RISEM District, are going to have a chance to experience “Developing a Culture of Generosity” in both March and October this year. I hope that you and many lay leaders of your congregation take this valuable opportunity to develop a culture of generosity, to create a climate ripe for giving, to learn a biblical alternative to materialism, and teach the offering as a worship experience. Encourage and plan to be in this workshop together on March 29, 2014 with Melvin Amerson and October 4, 2014 with Cliff Christopher.
We are called Methodist because Wesley learned how to be a Christian by methodically practicing every day the means of grace. Everything becomes easier once we have started; it is getting started that is the hardest part. Let us come together and learn how to be good Christians.
Your brother, Seok Hwan