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Im, Yong-Hwa: Changing Lives in South Korea

Im, Yong-Hwa: Changing Lives in South Korea

Im, Yong-Hwa is pastor of Sungmoon ('Holy Gate') Church of the Nazarene in Chonan City, South Korea, where he serves with his wife, Yoon, Byung Ae. One of 11 children, he was born and raised in Yicheon. A former member of the Church of the Nazarene's General Board, he has also served on the board of Korea Nazarene University (KNU). He and his wife have two adult children.
 
How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
My parents were not believers. When I was a child, maybe age 13, I started attending Sunday School at the Methodist Church.
 
When I was in the army, I served as a volunteer chaplain at a church in the camp. Near there were several Nazarene churches that helped the camp church. I was introduced to the Nazarene district superintendent and he arranged for me to attend Korea Nazarene University, known then as Korean Nazarene Theological College.
 
And your parents?
My parents were close to the Buddhist traditions. When I was a teen, my pastor worked to reach out to my parents. First, my 10 siblings went to church. Then, naturally, my parents followed their children.
 
Two of my brothers are pastors. The others are very faithful and involved in churches.
 
What would we be surprised to know about you?
I'm a good golfer. I played with Jesse Middendorf and beat him (but Verne Ward III was a worse player).
 
Favorite food?
Salmon.
 
Favorite Bible verse?
Mark 9:23: 'If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'
 
Greatest fear?
My wife (laughs).
 
Greatest joy?
My wife.
 
How do you like to spend a free day?
Golfing, or hiking with my wife.
 
If not a pastor, what might you have chosen for as a career?
Stage actor.
 
Preferred sermon topic when you preach?
Christian faith expressed in daily lives.
 
Why are you a Nazarene?
I believe holiness is the right message for this generation and era.
 
How is your church is involved in missions?
We sent out two missionaries, one to Jordan (who formerly went to Gabon) and one to the Philippines. Last year, our church invited 14 Jordanian pastors to visit South Korea for fellowship and for us to learn from one another.
 
How did your church come to be so outward-focused?
From the beginning when we founded the church, that was our goal, to reach out locally and globally.
 
Now, we are sponsoring three students, including one from Africa and one from Bangladesh to study at KNU. Our prayer is when they complete their MDivs from KNU, we can send them back to their home countries as missionaries.
 
Where did you serve as district superintendent?
On the Korea National District. In South Korea, district superintendents serve for a three-year period.
 
What is your dream destination?
I had longed to visit Turkey and was able to do so last year with my wife.
 
Life dream?
I have visited and preached in many countries, but there are still other areas where I would like to preach.
 
Holiness Today
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