Rick Warren Seeks 3rd Revival Movement in Korea

|PIC1|SEOUL, South Korea – Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” suggested Wednesday the strong possibility of a 3rd revival of the churches in Korea.

At a press conference held shortly after arriving in South Korea, Warren expressed his hopes for another movement similar to the 1907 Pyongyang Revival, what many say established the base of Korean Christianity.

The megachurch pastor is in South Korea to attend leadership seminars Thursday and Friday in Seoul and Pusan, respectively, before heading off to North Korea, where he was invited to meet with church and business leaders in preparation for a speaking engagement next year.

“The churches in Korea have already experienced twice a time of great revival – in 1907 through a great revival movement and 1970s when there was a sudden growth,” Warren said Wednesday. “Today’s churches in Korea will have a 3rd movement with the upcoming 100th anniversary of Pyongyang Revival.”

In 1907, North Korea was reportedly a centre for revival and, up until the Korean War, Pyongyang was the centre of Christian activity in Korea.

Today only two state-sanctioned churches exist in the North, which religious freedom advocates allege are mere show-cases for foreigners. Many of the megachurches in South Korea today that are looked to as examples of church growth around the world were planted by those fleeing from North Korea.

|PIC2|Warren noted this fact Wednesday, saying, “Churches in Korea are already a model for the world churches. I wish to relearn the pastoral teachings shown by the churches in Korea, which grew rapidly just over one generation.”

Regarding his itinerary in North Korea, Warren said, “After the gathering [in South Korea], I will visit the Geumgang Mountains [in the North] and will talk personally with the religious leaders and discuss about the event next year in March.”

In March 2007, Warren plans to preach in North Korea to some 15,000 people in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Pyongyang Revival.

Although Warren said in an earlier interview that "I know they're (North Korea) going to use me,” the megachurch pastor added, “So I'm going to use them."

And despite the current standoff over recent missile firings by North Korea, Warren had stated, "Regardless of politics, I will go anywhere I am invited to preach the Gospel" – a statement that Warren re-emphasised during Wednesday’s press conference.

During his visit to South Korea, Warren is also expected to have a personal meeting with President Moo-Hyun Roh at the Presidential Residence of the Republic of Korea. He will afterwards visit the North’s Geumgang Mountains.

[Editor's Note: Christian Today correspondent Dae-won Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.]

Joseph Alvarez
Christian Today Correspondent