The Seed Falls on Good Soil

100 years of good news in Korea

Left to right: Rev. Simon Barnes, EVP ABS; Mr. Ho Yong Kim, executive director of KBS and Mr. Eui Hyun Kwon,
president of KBS. (Photo by Lucy Barnes.)

A war, a language barrier and an unbelieving heart: humans see all these as obstacles. But to God, they are vehicles of his message, transforming an unreached Korea into one of Asia's most Christian nations. This year, the Korean Bible Society (KBS) celebrates the 100th anniversary of its Korean Bible translation, revealing the panorama of God's work thus far — and the necessity of the task still at hand.

American Bible Society and KBS have a long and fruitful history. It began when Henry Loomis, the representative of American Bible Society in Japan, shared the Gospel with a friend in Korea named Soo-Jeong Lee. Lee ultimately surrendered his life to Christ and turned the focus of the next years of his life to a Korean translation of Mark's Gospel, published in 1885. This Korean Gospel soon made it into the hands of the first missionaries to Korea, reaching countless more lives. Within a decade of this first translation, American Bible Society and other Bible Societies were able to initiate a mass distribution of Scripture in the country.

Twenty-five years later, in 1911, the first full Korean copy of the Bible was published. But when the Korean War began in 1950, printing Bibles in Korea became impossible. ABS answered the call, printing Bibles in Japan and shipping them to Korea as military supplies through U.S. army chaplains.

The journey from then to now has been marked with the outpouring of God's power. The church in Korea has exploded, and the now-of-age Korean Bible is proof.

Today, KBS's three Bible Houses are strategically located in the beating heart that is Seoul, South Korea. Once propped up by other Bible Societies, they are now funding Bible ministry across the globe. But as ABS Executive Vice President Simon Barnes remarks, KBS's maturity is proven not by its size or strength, but its devotion to a God-given mission.

“We hold at the center of all that we stand for not a static piece of literature, but rather a living, God-breathed Word. And, this is the key to a life rooted in a knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” says Barnes.

Speaking to those serving and leading ministry in Korea, Barnes compares KBS's work to the passage in Acts 8 where God sends the apostle Philip to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch, opening the door for God to reach a new culture. KBS is on the front lines of a similar task, working inside a country that is roughly 74 percent non-Christian.

“Our work is far from over. There are many corners of this country, indeed the world, that still are desperate to receive God's living Word and the Good News of Jesus.”

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

Help us share God's Word where needed most.

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