This is a shot from the website of the church where we went for Sunday morning worship on Keum-oh Island. It is a new building and it looks like the congregation has two other buildings next to it which are new. They have a lovely paved parking lot, too. On the inside it is a typical Korean church with the pulpit raised at the front and all the pews facing the preacher. Also, very typically for a Korean church, it has a large sound system that gets used to its maximum volume for the entire service. We were ready to leave before the service even started because it was so loud!
So anyway, to make a long story short, during the worship service the offering was taken forward and the minister began to pray. Before I knew he was praying he was already well into the prayer. But then what did I see? His eyes were wide open and he was moving the mouse on his computer - as he was praying in the way that so many ministers who have been trained in a way of speaking that sounds religious. I felt a strong anger rise up inside of me. As it took over I stood up and shouted to the front, asking him what he was doing. The Spirit of the Lord acted through me to rebuke this man. I asked him why he couldn't concentrate on the prayer. His eyes met mine and I saw great fear in his eyes, for he knew it was the Spirit that was rebuking him, but he could not let go of the path he had started on and proceeded to look at the congregation who had begun to open their eyes and try to understand what the noise was. He very quickly took his hand off the computer mouse, closed his eyes and proceeded to pray, continuing the prayer he had started, without any acknowledgement of his error. I was disgusted at his behaviour and lack of fear for the Lord - and this a man who was supposed to be a servant of the Lord. Fear may be the beginning of wisdom, but it is also a feeling that must be maintained at all times in our relationship with our God who also calls us friend and his own children. It might be a paradox, but it is a necessity. Even if a believer rejects that paradox and wholly embraces the friend concept, at the very least there must be an inkling of respect. All four of us stood up and left the church as I told the people that the Spirit was not with them that day and I cried out to God with such pain in my heart that I was weak in my knees and my steps were like that of a cripple.
I have never seen anything like this before in a church. That church uses a computer and an overhead projector to display their song lyrics, photos, and other things. They even have one of the young people running the computer at the back of the church, so I cannot understand even a possible need for the preacher to even have a computer up at the pulpit - but as you can see from the photo, there it sits, on its own special table up at the front of the church. Their projection screen is larger than any cross or any other thing in the church. It seems the minister was praying to some god of technology, for surely my God will not hear such a prayer.
A week after this event I wrote a letter to the minister outlining Biblical reasoning for why I confronted him, exhorting him to confess his sin to the congregation and God, so that he might again be able to pray. But for professional clergy, it is difficult to understand such things. I don't mean paid clergy (don't misunderstand), but rather those for whom being a leader of a church is just a job.
Here's the ferry that took us back to the mainland.
We left earlier in the day than we had planned becuase of the events of the morning. Although we did enjoy a few minutes in the police station where they gave us orange juice and some packaged chestnuts which had fallen off a container ship. It certainly was an eventful trip and one that will stay in my memory forever.
Let us all pray that technology will be used as the tool it is and not be allowed to interfere in any of our relationships, be they with family, friends or our Creator.