Post by Pastor Tim – Last week was my “crash course” in Christian visitation, as I visited the homes of 8 North Korean defectors in a span of 8 days. This is not an exhaustive list on the importance of Christian visitation, but rather a few things that the Lord sealed in my heart over that time.
- A visit from a pastor is still a huge deal . . . at least to a North Korean Christian that is. They highly value the position of a pastor (sometimes too much maybe) that it was no small matter that I was coming to their home. One single man literally waited all day for my 7pm appointment to visit his home. Apparently, he called our office several times throughout the day to make sure I was still coming! The point isn’t that I’m any great shakes, but rather that my visitation enabled these Christians to host me as if they were hosting Christ! The most important part of any Christian visitation may not necessarily be what you have to offer, but what they are offering to you by opening up their home.
- Sometimes a visit may mean nothing more than care, concern and fellowship . . . and if so then it’s still a big deal! Many of the NK defectors deal with loneliness, because they live in South Korean culture where they are not really valued as contributing members of society. One NK man asked me if I knew what it felt like to go to church week after week and not have one person talk to you. Each night that I visited I had a South Korean translator accompany me, and for many of the North Koreans it was a first to have had either a pastor, a South Korean or an American visit their home and show interest in their lives. By visiting, we were reminding them of Christ’s continued presence in their lives. At the very least a Christian visit is a reminder that the greatest riches that a person can have is the promise that God will never leave them nor forsake them.
- John the Baptist’s ministry was not about himself, it was all about pointing to Christ. When we visit, this is our main job as well. I was reminded about this with one particular visit. I had a South Korean translator who had been praying to God about meeting and forming a friendship with a North Korean. Unbeknownst to me, this North Korean that we met had been praying for a South Korean friend. I was simply the vehicle that God used to bring these two together and beyond that I’m not sure I was all that important to the visit! My job was to point to Christ and God took care of the rest. Coincidentally, this story also shows the truth that Christian visitation is important for any Christian to participate in, not just the pastor.
- Finally, visiting isn’t an end in and of itself, but rather it’s another opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples. One particular NK woman who loved praying for sick people was told by someone in the church to stop praying! When I asked her to pray for my wife, she not only started to beam, but prayed with such a wonderful passion for the Lord that I don’t often see. If I had simply prayed and not asked her to take the lead in prayer she might have continued to be haunted by these words and stunted in her growth in Christ.