While Stuart Robinson, an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary in Seoul, South Korea, was walking in his neighborhood one day, something new caught his eye. In the window of a café there was a small sign, “Closed on the Lord’s day.”
Robinson was immediately curious. Though South Korea has had a great harvest of believers in recent decades, it isn’t common to see such a clear expression of faith from a business owner. He ducked inside.
After only a few minutes of talking with the Mins*, a Christian couple who owned the café, he realized God might be answering a prayer his church plant had been praying for a year.
In South Korea, new churches face the challenge of growth before they have their own space. Cults are common, and many Koreans assume a religious group that meets in someone’s apartment is another cult that should be avoided.
Also, meeting in an apartment is only feasible with a small group that can be quiet. Most Koreans don’t live in houses, but in tightly packed high-rise apartments. A bigger, noisy group might disturb neighbors, which is culturally offensive in South Korea.
After that first conversation, Robinson returned to the café a few weeks later with other church members to ask about renting the space. The Mins answered so fast – “Yes” – that IMB missionary Kesiah Morris, a member of the church, thought they hadn’t heard the question.
IMB photos For IMB missionaries Andrew and Kesiah Morris and Stuart and Ashley Robinson, finding a place to meet can be a challenge. This South Korean church found a Christian cafe.
“We meant every Sunday for the church plant, not a one-time thing,” Morris clarified.
“Yes, we know,” the Mins replied.
They told the church they had felt God calling them to use the space for a church when they first opened the café in October 2019. Though they didn’t know when God would provide that opportunity, they continued to pray and seek His will. They even turned down lucrative opportunities to rent the space on Sundays because they wanted to make sure they were using the space for God’s purposes and not their own.
“We’re so amazed at how God works,” the couple told the church members.
Morris said the church was amazed as well to see God’s provision so clearly. The café gives them a place not only to hold services, but also to plan community outreaches to college students and families. The simple choice of one couple to faithfully and generously steward their resources is helping God’s church in South Korea blossom and bear fruit.
Finding a place to meet has been just one challenge of many that the church plant has faced in its first year, but missionaries said each challenge has given God a chance to show He will always provide.
“We have been amazed that, for every difficulty and challenge mentioned above, God has proved Himself greater than each one already,” Morris said. “He continues to prove Himself faithful to the call He has placed upon our lives for this time.”
*Names changed for security
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Stella McMillian* is a missionary and contributing writer for IMB.)