By Joe Dupree
Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE/PONCHATOULA – Coming from South Korea to the United States of America, more specifically Louisiana, can be quite the culture shock for most people. But not for 50 Korean children, who say it is something they look forward to every year.
The children are part of a cooperative area between churches in South Korea and Louisiana.
“It is a large cooperative effort here,” said Susan Duke, Camp USA coordinator. “It brings our local churches together, working towards the same thing. It’s foreign missions taking place right here at home.”
Having around 50 Korean children was a chance for local churches, such as Gateway Baptist, Kingsville Baptist, Faith Baptist, The Gathering Place, and Cross-Branded Cowboy Church to experience their culture and to also share the American culture with the children as the gospel is displayed each day through Vacation Bible School and other activities put on by the different churches.
“Most of the children go to church and believe in Jesus,” said BongJun Ko, one of the Korean adult sponsors. “After they spend time here they can take what they have learned and bring it back home to their families and churches.”
One local family, who happened to be Korean, got an extra blessing of having Camp USA bring in these children for two weeks. Seoyoung Kang and her family are members of the Korean Baptist Church in Alexandria and her youngest son Todd has been able to participate in the camp activities.
“This area has such a small amount of Asians with very few Asian children,” said Kang. “My children don’t many chances to interact so this camp was a great experience for them.”
After spending a week in Central Louisiana, the Korean children traveled south to Ponchatoula for the second week of camp where they participated in a music camp and learning a musical called ‘Back to the Cross,’ which they will perform on Aug. 2.
“Both the Korean and American children have been doing great,” said Josh Dickson, minister of discipleship at First Baptist Ponchatoula. “In the afternoons, the kids have enjoyed outings to the New Orleans Aquarium, Camp Living Waters, Global Wild Life, and many other wonderful spots around the area.”
First Baptist Ponchatoula hosted a Korean Night where the congregation was able to fellowship and learn about the Korean culture on July 29.
“Our congregation really showed up well for Korea night and thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Dickson. “FBC loves hosting our Korean guests. Camp USA would not be possible without the numerous volunteers that serve and help to make this week happen.”
And it is obvious 50 special guests have been enjoying themselves.
“My favorite part of camp has been the swimming and other fun games we have been able to play,” said camper Eom Tae Won.
Aside from learning and enjoying the American culture, the children have also enjoyed learning about the love of Jesus and trusting in him.
“I have learned so much while we have been singing the songs (for the Sunday musical),” said camper Kim Min Jong. “I’ve learned that trusting in the cross and Jesus can be fun.”
FBC Ponchatoula in partnership with Reach Missions looks forward to traveling to South Korea this October 21- November 3. For more information one can visit reachmissions.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org