Preaching in a much-changed place
Not many foreigners living in Korea can claim Pastor Bill Majors’s perspective on Korea’s modern metamorphosis. Fresh out of Tennessee Temple University in the United States, where he studied missions, Majors arrived on the peninsula in 1982. “I came on a tourist visa and three months became 11 years,” he said.
He started working with Youth for Christ, a missionary group in Gwangju, which was the seat of the democratic uprising that resulted in a government massacre of protesters just two years before Majors arrived. Most Caucasians around then were American G.I.s.
“Gwangju people were suspicious of someone with such a desire to learn the Korean language,” he said. “I was suspected of being CIA.”
But Majors remained empathetic about the local ire he faced, given the limited press freedom under then-President Chun Doo Hwan.
“The truth about the Gwangju uprising hadn’t come out yet,” he said.
Today Majors is married to a Korean and has two high-school age daughters. After a stint in the States with his family, he became a full-time pastor at Youngnak Church in Seoul, which claims a membership of 50,000.
“I think everybody is excited about how Korea has changed in its democracy and is giving people a voice,” he said.
“If I was going to make a prophecy [about Korea’s future] I’d say it’ll be something closer to Singapore ... as far as the ability to have two languages. Give them 20 more years and see what that English ability and openness can do.”
Pastor Majors’s Youngnak Church is holding a Joint English Worship on Christmas Day at 3 p.m.
By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]