First, I am sure you are asking, “What is BCC?” BCC stands for Bible Correspondence Course. If you go to Bangwha junction in the northern part of Seoul close to Gimpo Airport, down the road from Shin Bangwha subway station, you can look up to a window, and see the big letters “BCC.” The BCC offices are located on the 7th floor of that building. Back in the 1950’s, when the church of Christ first sent missionaries to S. Korea, all of the missionaries on the team had different jobs. Some taught at the university they began. Some worked at the benevolence center they began. Some worked in the medical clinic they began. One man was responsible for the Bible correspondence courses. His name was Bill Ramsey. He began something good that has survived to this day, but he is no longer in charge of it, but a Korean is named Sang Yang is, and he has been there for many years. Sang Yang sends Bible correspondence courses all over Korea and then travels around the country doing follow up. There is much more than BCC in the office where the Bible correspondence courses are sent out.
Another thing located in the BCC offices is the Sunset School. The Sunset school is an English Bible school. It is taught by elders and Bible professors from America. They come for six weeks at a time, teach, and then go home. They teach Bible classes equivalent to anything you could take in a university in America. They teach books of the Bible and Christian evidences classes. The theology students from KCU like to go there on their vacations. There are students from all over Korea who come to Seoul to take these classes as well as many Filipinos. At times, I visit and sit in on one of their classes, and they are always good.
The other things that happens in the BCC offices is church services. Before I came to Korea, someone at church handed me a telephone number saying, “If you want to go to church in Korea, call this number.” When I came, I called the number, and Sang Yang answered. The first Sunday I went to church in Korea, I attended a church that was meeting at the BCC offices at the time. All those people are gone either to America or to a Korean speaking church, and another church is meeting there now, but Sang Yang is still there. The church at BCC is always bilingual, done in both English and Korean, and Sang Yang is the translator. I was thrilled when I went there the first Sunday because I ran into Phillip Slate. He was the head of the Missions department when I was at Abilene Christian University, and he was there teaching for the Sunset school, but like all the others, he stayed and taught, and then he went home.
My daughter and I decided to go visit the church at BCC this morning. We go up the elevator to the 6th floor. When you get in the elevator, you will see the button for the fourth floor is not a 4, but an F. The word for 4 in Korean is just too close to the word for death, and many people refuse to put a 4 in their elevators here, so they use the letter F for 4 in English instead. When you get to the sixth floor, you come out of the elevator and have to climb the stairs up to the 7th floor because the elevator doesn’t go all the way up.
When we approach the offices, the door is already open and people’s shoes have been taken off and left at the door. Things are quiet. It has been a while since we visited here on a Sunday, and we are hoping we have come at the right time. As we walk in, the large rice cooker is cooking rice getting ready for lunch. We hear a low murmur of a voice in the room where church services are usually held, so we go in. Sang Yang is teaching a Bible class in Korean. When he is finished, he says it is time for worship services in English, and worship services begin.
We learn during the announcements that the schedule of services is a little different than it used to be. They have services at 8:00 in the morning for people who have to work because in Korea, many people have to work on Sundays. After that, Bible classes are at 10:00, and there are worship services again at 11:00. After the 11:00 worship services, lunch is always served. Sang Yang’s daughter is in the kitchen making lunch during worship. When we attended here, often, his wife was in the kitchen making lunch during services, but I didn’t see her today.
After Sang Yang gets done with the announcements, a Korean man stands up to lead singing. He announces the numbers of the songs in both Korean and English. When he begins the song, he begins in Korean, but not everyone there speaks Korean, so some of them are singing in English while others are singing in Korean at the same time. This is truly bi-lingual worship. It needs to be because among the congregation, there are Koreans, Americans, Filipinos, and several people from Ghana, West Africa. If you are a church goer, they sing old songs sung in churches all over the world that everyone is familiar with. At times, when I attended chapel at Korea Christian University, they would sing old songs in Korea that were so old that only the Koreans knew them even though they were originally written in English, but the songs these guys are singing are songs everyone knows.
I didn’t get a picture of any of the men when they were leading prayers for two reasons. First, they would just stand up in the seat where they were to pray, and the second reason was because I was praying too. I didn’t think about pictures for you. With other things they did, since they were done in both Korean and English, it gave me time to think about pictures and take them. It is slower to do things in both languages, but when there are so many foreigners, it is expedient.
After we sing for a bit, one of the Americans who is there gets up to preach. He has an excellent lesson about the Old Testament temple and how the curtain closed off the most holy place. It symbolized that the Jews couldn’t go to God directly, but needed the priest to do it for them, but that is all changed under Christianity. When Christ died, the
Bible says the curtain that hung in front of the most holy place was torn in two, and now we can all go to God directly. He uses lots of pictures and scriptures from Hebrews to explain and back up what he was talking about. It is good lesson.
After the sermon, a Korean man and a Ghanaian man go to the front to do the communion. The Korean man reads the scripture in both English and Korean. The Ghanaian man offers the prayers in English. They pass around the communion.
After that, we sing again, and then Sang Yang gets up again. He explains that since the BCC offices were opened, they have baptized 7,000 people. He talks about how the BCC offices are going to be moving in a couple of months. He also tells us that someone’s wife had a baby this past week. Then, he invites everyone to stay for lunch.
We go into the outer room where the rice was cooking, and they have a row of plates full of food for a buffet set up. People are milling around talking to each other. They insist that my daughter and I get in line and eat with them, and we do. The two Americans who are there to teach the Sunset School classes come to sit by us and want to get to know us. When we were attending this church several years ago, that is something I always enjoyed about going there, the very serious American Christians I had a chance to meet who came to teach for the Sunset School like Phillip Slate, the head of the Mission’s Department at ACU. One of these men is the head of a Bible chair at at state university in Texas. The people we have a chance to meet from American when we attend here are always quality people that you want to meet. The head of the Bible chair, besides teaching Bible classes at the Bible chair, also teaches World Religions at the university, and we had a nice long discussion about World Religions. I have also spent 8 years in Romania, and he had visited Romania.
When we are done eating, Sang Yang begins talking about the place BCC will be moving to again. He shows us pictures of the remodeling that is being done inside the building. Instead of only having a set off rooms like where they are now, they will have a whole building. Sang Yang wants to be there in two weeks, but the guys from America say it will take at least 2 months. When I ask him where it will be, he jokingly says, “In North Korea.” I heard he was telling everyone it will be in North Korea, but it will actually be close to Koro Dehakyo, Korea University, on the other side of Seoul from where BCC is now.
After we eat and visit, it is time to go home. As always, I enjoyed my time at BCC. I like bilingual services better than just in English like at Hyochang Park or just in Korean like at the Kong Hang church. My daughter and I are discussing going back because of the bilingual services.