By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
Byongju Lee looked with puzzlement at the poem that someone had texted him. He didn’t recognize the phone number. Many people might have deleted the message as a wrong number, but not Lee. He texted back, “Who is this?”
His cell phone rang. “Who is this?” a woman’s voice asked. “You texted me first,” Lee replied. It turned out that the caller had wanted to text the poem to a friend but had misdialed the number by a single digit.
Many people might have hung up at that point, but not Lee. He asked one more question, “Are you a poet?”
“No, I’m an elementary school teacher. I write poems as a hobby.”
“Oh really?” Lee said. He thought he recognized her accent and asked one more question. “Do you live in Busan?” he said, referring to South Korea’s second-largest city.
“No, I live in Jinju,” the woman said.
“I actually graduated from high school in Jinju,” Lee said.
The woman asked which one and eagerly shared that she had studied up the street from his school. Then the woman asked, “What do you do?”
“I’m a church pastor,” Lee said.
The question made Lee think that the woman wasn’t a Buddhist, the second-largest faith group, comprising 15 percent of the population. Christians account for 27 percent of the population of 51 million.
“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist pastor,” Lee said.
“I see,” the woman said. “Do you know Noah’s Ark?”
Lee was surprised. Noah’s Ark is a local Adventist offshoot.
The woman explained that she had worshiped briefly with a Noah’s Ark group two decades earlier. She had left the group convinced of one thing—that the biblical Sabbath is not on Sunday.
That evening, Lee sent the woman a follow-up text message. “It was great to meet you today!” he wrote. A year later, she was baptized.
Evangelism is easy, Lee said. “If I had ignored the text message, maybe she wouldn’t have become a church member,” he explained. “But I tried to form a relationship by asking just one more question.”