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Adventist Mission

The Pancake Church

It all started one Sabbath morning, with a teen crying behind a locked bedroom door. Gently knocking on her daughter’s door, Mrs. Shin asked what was wrong.

It all started one Sabbath morning, with a teen crying behind a locked bedroom door. Gently knocking on her daughter’s door, Mrs. Shin asked what was wrong.

“I’m so sad,” came the muffled response. “Sabbath is so sad. I don’t want to go to church! There’s no one my age.”

Mrs. Shin had noticed for some time that her 15-year-old daughter, Bo Hwa (BO-wah), wasn’t happy. During the week, Bo Hwa was away at school with many friends, but at home she was the only teen in church.

The Pancake Plan

Mother and daughter prayed together about the situation, and before long Mrs. Shin had a plan. Every weekday morning, she arose very early and made 2,000 hotteoks (HOE-tocks)—a popular sweet-filled Korean pancake. Mrs. Shin then took her hotteoks and set up shop directly across from the local high school.

All day Mrs. Shin sold hotteoks to the hungry students. But she did much more than that—she befriended them.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

For many of her young customers, this was the first time someone had shown a genuine interest in them. Sensing her trustworthiness, the students began opening up to Mrs. Shin. Many were having a difficult time at school and home. Several came from broken homes or abusive situations. Some were living on their own.

The Next Level

As trust deepened, Mrs. Shin decided to take their friendship to the next level. “What are you doing on Saturday afternoon?” she asked her daily customers.

“Nothing,” was the usual response.

“Would you like to come with me to visit some old people and cheer them up?” she asked.

Earlier, Mrs. Shin had visited the local government office, asking for the names and addresses of elderly people who had no family caring for them. Every Sabbath afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Shin, Bo Hwa, and numerous high school students visited the elderly. The activity was an instant success! Following the visits, Mrs. Shin invited the students to her home for a feast. The students loved the food and felt at home, sensing the warmth and caring of the Shin family. Bo Hwa was excited to have many new friends.

In addition to providing physical food, the Shins taught the students how to pray, sing Christian songs, and study the Bible. During the week, besides selling hotteoks, Mrs. Shin visited the homes of the students, bringing food to those who were living on their own. When situations were especially challenging, the Shins often brought the young people into their home, caring for them as their own.

The Sabbath afternoon meetings continued growing until the Shin’s small 700-square foot (65 sq. meters) apartment could hold no more. The group then met temporarily in Mr. Shin’s nearby electrical shop, until neighboring shopkeepers complained.

The Shins continued praying, and soon God provided an opportunity for the family to move into a larger home, allowing them to “adopt” more young people, and provide a larger place to meet on Sabbath afternoons.

Pancake Church Plant

After a while, it became clear that their “home church” had grown into a church plant. Realizing that it would be best for them to officially organize as a Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Shins prayed earnestly to find an affordable building that could serve as their church.

One day, Mr. Shin noticed an old, dilapidated home for sale on the same street where he lived. Placing his hand on the building’s wall, he prayed, “Lord, please give us this house and we will turn it into a home for Your honor and glory.”

The Lord answered that prayer and US$5,000 was raised to purchase the property. The group then worked together repairing and renovating the building into an acceptable place for worship. However, they needed a pastor for their new church.

Wanting to encourage the young people to have a better life by continuing their education, Mr. Shin set an example. Although 45 years old, he told them he was willing to go back to school if they were. Mr. Shin was accepted at Sahmyook University, a large Adventist University near Seoul, where he studied theology. He, the Shin’s daughter, Bo Hwa, and three of the “adopted” children completed university studies—all funded from the proceeds of Mrs. Shin’s hotteok business!

Since this church plant began in 1998, more than 400 people have been baptized. Members of the church, which consists nearly entirely of young people, have presented 39 evangelistic programs. They have gone on mission trips to Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan, transforming thousands of lives in these Asian countries.

Your offerings will help to build the Saebyeoksei Mission Institute for Youth in Naju, S. Korea, where these young members can receive additional training and continue church planting.