Reaching for the Stars to Reach Hearts in the City
Kyungsang Son dreamed of sharing Jesus with every student and teacher in the public schools of Seoul, Republic of Korea. A businessman and church deacon, he, like Jesus, had a heart for the cities, and he wanted to do something that would help meet the people’s needs.
The Republic of Korea places a strong emphasis on STEM education: learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Elder Son wanted to provide the students and teachers with a hands-on learning experience that would take their education beyond the classroom. He also wanted to give them an opportunity to learn about the Creator God and develop a relationship with Him.
In 1999, Elder Son purchased land outside the city to build an observatory so community members could learn about creation. He called it the Nature Discovery Museum (NDM) and equipped it with telescopes and a nature center. Facilities were even provided for visitors to stay overnight in order to view the stars. All of the museum’s educational values come from the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, which demonstrate God’s love for humanity.
The Nature Discovery Museum in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
The largest telescope in the Republic of Korea, 48 inches across, is located at NDM.
Principals from the Republic of Korea’s public schools receiving Creation-centric training.
Students exploring the forest at NDM.
A student views God’s creation up close using one of the museum’s telescopes.
In recent years, NDM has partnered with the government to offer Creation-centric training for public school teachers as part of an official government educational program. The training focuses on various topics such as astronomy, ecology, brain science, and nanoscience. In the past two years, 80 school principals have participated in this training supervised by the provincial educational office. The museum has also cooperated with the government office of education to provide public school students with scientific resources that point to a Creator.
NDM is conscientious about offering continuing Creation science education to its staff. In 2015, they invited Dr. Ben Clausen, a professor at Loma Linda University in the United States, to provide further training. A subsidy from the government made this training possible.
Although the primary purpose of NDM is to share the Creator God with the population of Seoul, Seventh-day Adventists also benefit from its ministry. The museum is open to laypeople and institutional workers, such as those from Sahmyook Medical Center, and its resources help to bolster their personal faith and understanding of God’s creation.
The museum also supports Creation science and the seventh-day Sabbath in Adventist schools by training the teachers and providing them with classroom resources. Students from Adventist schools visit NDM, and as they observe the stars and planets, their belief in the Creator is strengthened. In 2017, NDM published Creation science textbooks in collaboration with the Korean Union Conference education and youth departments and with local Adventist teachers. The museum strengthens foundational beliefs for Adventists of all ages and professions.
The purpose of the Nature Discovery Museum is more than just providing Creation education; its purpose is to touch people’s lives. Visitors who express an interest in learning more about the love of God are invited to visit a local Adventist church. Church planters bring members of the community to explore the observatory. The museum staff follow Christ’s method of outreach: mingling, sympathizing, meeting needs, winning confidence, and bidding people to follow God.
NDM is an Urban Center of Influence (UCI) and part of a comprehensive, city-wide approach to sharing the gospel, planting churches, and making disciples for Christ. Seoul also has a senior center, an immigration center, and restaurants.
“We are proud to have this Urban Center of Influence,” says Pastor Si Young Kim, president of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division. “We want to encourage more students, teachers, and church members to participate in the program to have a greater understanding of Creation and the loving Creator who brought the universe into existence.”
Please pray for this UCI as it seeks to reach for the stars in an effort to reach people’s hearts for Jesus.