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The Day I Accidentally Caused Trouble in Korea; A Lesson About People From the American Deep South

My whole adult life, I have been teaching Bible classes and singing. I began teaching children’s Bible classes when I was in high school. I was the helper in a children’s Bible class, and the teacher went on vacation and left it with me telling everyone I could handle it alone, and I did. I went on from there to teaching lots and lots of children’s Bible classes, women’s adult Bible classes, and classes on how to teach Bible classes. I have taught Bible classes all over the world. The second year I came to Korea, the Koreans had me teaching an adult Bible class in Seosan that had both men and women. They asked me to become their preacher too, but I turned them down because I am not a preacher, and I know that many people don’t approve of women doing those things. The third year I was in Korea, I was back in Seoul teaching a woman’s Bible class.

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As for the singing, I love to sing! When I was in high school, the churches in Oklahoma used to have what they called “sings” They were special times when several churches got together to sing, and I always went and enjoyed myself. When I was a student at the Christian university, I went to all the devotionals and chapels and sang my heart out. I learned a lot of new songs because I was in an acting troupe that put on plays with Christian messages, and we were always invited to Youth Rallies, and they were singing all the newest songs at the Youth Rallies. At times, I was asked to lead the singing in the girl’s devotionals in the dorms. I have already told you about how much I loved singing with the Americans blacks in Oklahoma and Texas. They had a special rhythm that I learned from them and completely enjoyed. In Ohio, the preacher was asked to teach the church new songs, but felt not so confident, so he asked me to sit up front and sing loud to help him. When we went to Romania, I was a bit humbled by the response some of the people there gave me about my singing. There was an older woman at church who used to be in a choir. She would call me over and teach songs to me because she wanted to sing them at church and wanted help in singing them. She told me I had the most melodious voice she ever heard. The other older Romanian ladies were extremely bold. The church would be singing a song, and they could hear they weren’t singing it right, so they would stop them and say, “Ronda, we want you to sing it for us now so we can know how it is supposed to sound.” I had always loved singing, but they were treating me like an expert. It was very strange to be singing by myself where everyone could hear. When I came to Korea, they asked me to teach the ladies some children’s songs so they could use them in teaching children’s Bible classes, so I was teaching a class for them the third year I came to Korea.

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You see, I had some background in both teaching Bible classes and singing when I came to Korea, and the Koreans wanted to use my abilities. When I was teaching the singing classes, some of the men came and listened at the door. They were completely enjoying themselves. they wanted to join in, so they came in and sat in the back of the class. Before long, they were giving me song suggestions of songs they wanted to sing, so I cooperated and just kept teaching whatever songs everyone wanted to sing and learn. They weren’t children’s songs anymore, but just spiritual songs, and there were not just women in there anymore. Several men had joined the class, both Korean and American.

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The same thing happened to my ladies’ Bible class. There were men standing at the door listening, both Korean and American. They liked what they heard. One of the Korean men got bold. He came in and stood in the back of the class to listen while I was teaching, but the other men just stayed at the door listening. Before you know it, the man who was standing at the back got himself a chair, and the next thing you know, he pulled his chair up and joined the ladies. He was completely enjoying the Bible class as were the ladies and the men who were standing at the door. I was just teaching the way I always teach. This wasn’t during worship. It was in the afternoon after lunch and so was the song class.

The men had a men’s meeting to make decisions for the church. One of the American men in the church was from the deep south. He brought up my classes. He told the other men they didn’t need to be joining in or listening to my classes because I am a woman, and he disapproved of women having such a high profile in a church. The other men disagreed with him. They knew many people disapproved of women preachers as I also knew, but I wasn’t a woman preacher. The things I was doing were outside of worship. There was a big fight in the men’s meeting over me.

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After the meeting, one of the Korean men thought he should pull me aside and tell me what happened. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. My teaching or singing either one had never caused trouble before. I was in complete shock! I didn’t know what to do. Should I do anything? I didn’t mean to cause them all to fight. I didn’t want to cause any trouble. I felt weak and helpless. I didn’t know what to do. I decided just to back off from the classes. When I did that, the Korean man got mad at me. He began yelling at me and told me to leave the building. I talked to some of my friends, some of the men who were in the meeting. I thought they would give me good advice. Their advice was to let the Korean man who yelled cool off. They told me to go to another church for a while, and then come back, but I didn’t know where another church was.

The deep south are states like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.// Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The ironic thing was that the man from the deep south who had caused the trouble in the men’s meeting also went out and found another church. He knew his way around much better than I did because he had been in Korea longer and had a car, but I didn’t know where another church was and didn’t have a car. I couldn’t even speak Korean then. I told the man from the deep south my problem because we were teaching at the same school, and he said he would take me with him to church, and I went. We all remained friends, and I eventually went back. I no longer taught Bible classes at a church building, but in my office at school, in the English center at school, in coffee shops, and in people’s homes because no one could criticize me for teaching in those places. Eventually, a group of Korean men and women who were school administrators and professors invited me to come and teach a Bible class at their church one afternoon through the week. There was no one from the American deep south involved and it wasn’t during worship time, so I taught the class for them. They appreciated it, and no one got mad because I was a woman. Eventually, another man from America’s deep south showed up, and he kept listening every time someone asked me to teach a class and tried to shut it down every time. However, he couldn’t shut me down from teaching in a coffee shop or in my office. I no longer teach at the university, and my apartment is extremely tiny, so I now teach my Bible classes now only in coffee shops.

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