By Reubin Turner
Assistant City Editor
Gratitude and sense of community filled Waco Hall as members of the Korean Children’s Choir walked off stage into the audience, gave hugs and softly whispered “God bless you.”
The group performed Wednesday during all three Chapel sessions.
Following selections from the choir dressed in pastel-colored Korean hanboks, a traditional Korean dress, Dr. Billy Kim, former president of the Baptist World Alliance, said South Korea was eternally grateful to America for military support in helping spread the gospel throughout South Korea.
“We came all the way from South Korea to tell you all one thing – thank you,” Kim said.
Kim’s gratitude was in reference to America’s 1950 intervention in the Korean War between North and South Korea. Kim said America helped stop the spread of communism into South Korea through military action and evangelical Christians like Billy Graham.
He said some of the country’s dignitaries, including a chief executive officer of a top chemical plant and a retired chief of police for South Korea, came to support the children and also offer their gratitude.
The choir consisted of children ranging from third to seventh graders, who Kim said learned over 40 songs in English. The song selection consisted of a variety of hymns and spirituals including “Go Light Your World,” “Happy Day” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
During one performance, the choir did a rendition of “Yankee Doodle” and the “Yellow Rose of Texas.” Kim said the choir performed this act dressed in boots and cowboy hats when former President George W. Bush spoke at a conference for the World Baptist Alliance.
“We try to select songs that we know will go well with the American audience,” Kim said. One of the songs selected, “Oh How He Loves You and Me,” was written and composed by Dr. Kurt Kaiser, a Waco resident whose children all attended Baylor.
Kim said the choir makes three trips to America per year and he is grateful for the opportunity to show his gratitude to the country.
Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain, said Kim is one of the world’s biggest influences in South Korea in regards to the Christian church and that he was a counselor to many of South Korea’s former presidents.
Kim was a translator for Billy Graham when he began his crusades in South Korea and now serves as the chairman for the Far East Broadcasting Company-Korea, an international radio network that airs Christian-based content.
“This guy is basically the Billy Graham of South Korea,” Burleson said.
According to an article published in August by the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of South Koreans identify themselves as Christians.
Kim closed by saying many residents of South Korea are familiar with historical events such as the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy, Jr., but still don’t know about Jesus Christ.
“We must work to change that,” Kim said. “But thanks to many Americans, it already has in a number of ways.”