A pastor’s ministry with teens in juvenile hall led to the birth of yet another ministry: a regular gathering of Christians to pray about various issues that affect the nation.
The meeting is called “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” and takes place on the last Tuesday of every month. September 29th was the second gathering.
“As I’ve been meeting people in juvenile hall, I was exposed to the numerous problems that are prevalent in our country,” explained Pastor Keesong Lee, who is leading the prayer gatherings and is also a staff at Korea Campus Crusade for Christ (KCCC). “There are so many broken families, so much violence in our neighborhoods and communities. It made me realize that Christians must particularly be healthy in this broken world. And it made me think, we can’t meet all of the broken people in our communities, but we can pray for these issues.”
Hence, Lee has been focusing on one specific issue at each gathering thus far. The first gathering was focused on addictions, and the second was focused on depression and mental illnesses. The third gathering will focus on stress, and will take place on October 27.
So far, the gathering is an intimate one of Korean American young adults who know Lee and share his heart to pray for the country. But anyone is invited to join, Lee says.
“However many show up, we just want to focus on being sincere in our prayers,” Lee said.
Experts on the issues have also been invited to the gatherings to speak, particularly on how faith relates to resolving or alleviating those problems. For example, Myong-Hee Lee from Korean American Counseling Center was invited during the second gathering to speak on types and symptoms of such mental illnesses as depression and schizophrenia. She also spoke in depth on how people in the church can be a safe community for those who are suffering from these illnesses, and how they can be connected to resources to receive help.
“One of the most serious myths of mental illness in the church is that it’s a sign of being spiritually weak,” Myong-Hee Lee explained. “Though sometimes depression can come as a spiritual attack, we can’t generalize to say that all mental illnesses are spiritual attacks. Most of the time, they are simply illnesses that need practical care.”
Eventually, Keesong Lee also plans to spend time during the gatherings to pray for issues that affect Korea, and for those within North Korea.
Meanwhile, Lee has been reaching out to teenagers in juvenile hall for over one year by holding weekly Bible studies and hosting worship events. Though the juvenile hall ministry first began as an individual effort, it recently became integrated as an inner-city ministry of Korea Campus Crusade.
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