January 4, 2014

I have attended church throughout my entire life in America. Living abroad has made maintaining church attendance difficult due to the language barrier, despite the fact that South Korea is packed with churches. I live in Geumsan, which is considered to be a very small city, and there are about ten churches here. So far, I have attended two of them.

The first church I attended is across from my apartment building. I felt very welcomed at my first visit. There was one woman there who spoke English, which made me feel comfortable. The second service I attended was at night, and she made me not want to return. She told me I had to pray out loud for hours so God could hear me. I tried to tell her that I’m only comfortable praying silently, but she was very insistent. In a room full of Koreans praying in tongues, it was so loud, I couldn’t think. I felt so uncomfortable, I made up an excuse why I had to leave.

The second church I attended was more welcoming and made me feel much more comfortable. One man there, the worship leader, was fluent in English. There were also two teenage girls who knew some English. The church didn’t teach anything I disagreed with, but I eventually stopped attending because listening to an hour-long sermon in a language you don’t understand feels like a waste of time. While it is an enriching cultural experience, I’d rather listen to a sermon in English at home.