Suffering for Jesus, Sabbatical Year and “234 Prayer” for 2005

It’s been more than 10 years since I came to Seoul Baptist Church and exactly seven and a half years since we began New Life Fellowship. Times have passed by very quickly. I will be 41 years old this June and I sense that our time on this earth is short and fleeting. James 4: 14 comes to my mind often these days.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4: 14)

Since our earthly life is brief and momentary I feel more compelled to live my life in such a way that it will count before God and His Kingdom. I yearn and desire to invest my life for something that will last for eternity for the glory of God, and I want to live my life majoring in the major and minoring in the minor. I refuse to invest my life in something that is short-lived and I am resolved to live my life never confusing between the major and the minor, the eternal and the temporal. Personal comfort, convenience and security will always remain on the bottom of my priority list. And somehow I will do my best to live my life to understand what it means to suffer and die with and for Jesus in this comfort, convenience and security-drenched nation, which is not much different from “Disney World,” when it is compared to the rest of the world.

Did you know that there are verses like these in the Bible?

“Paul and Barnabas said, ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.'” (Acts 14: 22)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7: 13-14)

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me?the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20: 24)

Several years ago, Pastor Chai instituted a “sabbatical year” policy for all the pastoral staff members. According to this policy, after we serve the church for six years, he and I as the head pastors of our respective congregations could take up to one year and other pastoral staff members up to three months as their sabbatical. I thought about this policy for a while and felt that it was not right for me to take the same privilege as the senior pastor especially when all the pastoral staff members from the KSC is receiving the same salary. I also thought that taking the sabbatical year after six years of service is a little too soon. Pastor Chai has always been very gracious and understanding towards all the staff members and I as the senior staff member wanted to do or give something back to him and the church to show how much I appreciate his kindness and generosity.

So, about a month ago, I proposed to Pastor Chai and the other staff members that we don’t take our sabbatical year after six years but after ten years and I relinquish my one-year sabbatical privilege and only take three months just like all the other staff members. Everyone accepted the proposal and it was made into a policy.

The reason for the pastoral staff members’ “sabbatical year” is not for the purpose of rest but for the following three:

1. To serve on a mission field
2. To intern at another church
3. To go back to seminary for further training

This “sabbatical year” will help the pastors to go out and learn and breathe in the fresh air that will help the church not to become dull or stale but dynamic.

Many of you have heard me saying that I am praying and thinking about taking the sabbatical year this year. After thinking, praying and talking with people, I have decided to stay at church this year and take the sabbatical year next summer. I fully trust our team leaders to handle all the ministries in my absence, but I think it will be wise for me to be here while our building project will be in full swing this year.

I apologize to those of you who had approached me and asked me if I could do your wedding and were told I just couldn’t because I wasn’t sure about the sabbatical plan. Pastor Jaemo will do a great job of officiating your wedding.

For this year, please pray for me using the following for the “234 Prayer”:

“Heavenly Father, allow Pastor Eric to be physically healthy, and his family to find true rest in you. And help New Life to go through the building project with a cooperative, generous and sacrificial heart, so that you will be honored and your kingdom will be expanded.”

Your pastor,


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