Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Korean language, there is an idiom called “ius-sachon.” It is literally translated “neighbor-cousin.” It means that if someone becomes a good neighbor, he becomes very close to you as a blood-related person.
Many Koreans in the United States do not live close to their families or relatives. We are one of those families because both our parents and brothers live in Korea. We often have opportunities to meet families like us who live in the States without families or relatives. Although we are much loved by our church friends, these Korean families who do not attend church have no place to receive such love. So, we try to be their “ius-sachon.”
Thanksgiving is a good holiday in the United States where families come together to appreciate the blessings God has given them for a year. It’s a great opportunity to be “ius-sachon” to those who spend Thanksgiving alone and away from their families. When reflecting on the Thanksgiving season that recently passed, we took advantage of the opportunity this holiday provides, by God’s grace. During the holiday season, we were invited by a family, visited a family, and invited a family to our home.
The person who invited us has long been our family in the Lord. Fellowship in the love of Jesus is always precious. In the past, there was no blood-related relationship, but the blood of our Savior makes us a family in the Lord.
The other two families we spent time with during the holiday were those who do not currently attend church. They had stopped attending church for an extended amount of time. Without the fellowship and accountability of the Church, they are no longer confident of their own salvation. Except in very special circumstances, if a believer does not belong to a local church, his faith cannot grow properly—you cannot properly grow in the Lord when you are separate from the body of Christ.
My family can be their “ius-sachon,” as we give them unconditional love. Then, those families appreciate our love and want them to be our ‘“ius-sachon” as well. But if they do not repent and walk with Jesus Christ, we cannot be a family in the Lord. Only sinners have the right to become sons and daughters of God by believing in Christ. Their genuine faith is testified by living with Jesus Christ as their master and king of their lives. Without such fruit in their lives, their salvation cannot be certain.
We have family members in Korea who are not yet saved. With them, we are blood-related family, but sadly we are not yet a family in God. But still, they are our beloved family that God has given to us until death. Our sacrifices, efforts, and prayers for their salvation are unceasing. By God’s abundant grace, He has answered our prayers—some of our unsaved family members have started to attend church regularly. There are families whom God has led to us in this mission field. As long as we love and consider them as “ius-sachon,” our sacrifices, efforts, and prayers for their salvation and sanctification must not stop.
The last two months of the year in the United States are a great time to look around at our neighbors because of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I hope Thanksgiving helped us to properly remember the purpose of God’s various blessings during the year to us. Christmas came and we sought to celebrate fully the birth of Christ on earth for our eternal life. With a new life, our lives to live in this world is a gift. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
May the love of God and the grace of Christ be with you by the Holy Spirit.
Myungjoong Andy Yong