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Spiritual Life on Campus: AAA Visits Adventist Universities in Korea
June 25, 2019

 Adventist education institutions are some of the best places for evangelistic and retention efforts. Thousands of young people are studying at these institutions. Students spend 4 to 6 hours a day studying on campus. They also participate in extra-curricular activities as part of their education. For this reason, our Adventist education institutions should strengthen their spiritual strategic planning. These are some of the things noted by the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA) during its accreditation visits.

In April 2019, the AAA visited Sahmyook University (SYU) and Sahmyook Health University (SHU). They discovered many good things that these two institutions have been doing to enhance their spiritual life and mission activities.

Spiritual Life at Sahmyook University

One characteristic of spiritual life at SYU is the wide support of chaplaincy ministry. In addition to 12 theology professors and 2 pastors from other departments who also function as chaplains, there are 16 pastors sent by the local conferences to serve as chaplains on a four-year rotation basis. This group of 30 chaplains receive training in workshops every summer and winter on various aspects of chaplaincy ministry.

In addition, every Wednesday morning at 8:30, they spend one hour praying and planning together. They are divided into five different teams according to their responsibilities: the Bible/religion class team, the chapel team, the faculty and staff training team, the evangelism team, and the support team.

Under their care, there have been several major spiritual initiatives that motivate the campus community of about 5,000 students. One of them is chapel cells. Students are given the option of not attending the required chapel programs if they would undergo training to form cell groups for Bible study under the supervision of their department faculty and theology students. In 2018, 126 students participated in giving Bible studies to 412 non-Adventist students. In April 2019, 230 students were receiving Bible studies.

During summer vacations, faculty and students of each department have conducted community services in different countries. In 2019, 19 of the 22 departments are planning to participate in mission trips.

Right now, 6 different congregations hold regular Sabbath services: the main church, the SAY church, the Mongolian congregation, the Chinese congregation, the International church, and the CREW congregation. The Vietnamese congregation will also begin holding Sabbath services soon.

Theology students support the chaplaincy team. The freshmen and sophomore theology students are assigned as coordinators of spiritual activities, particularly chapel programs, for the freshmen of all departments. This is part of the academic course, “Spiritual Life and Ministry.” The junior, senior, and graduate theology students are assigned, by the local conferences of the Korean Union Conference, to serve in local churches as assistant pastors, helping to connect students to local churches. Right now, there are 35 juniors, 35 seniors, and 40 graduate students who are helping in local churches.

Spiritual Life at Sahmyook Health University

The chaplaincy department of SHU has developed a good Spiritual Master Plan (SMP). The plan includes 32 different initiatives. Adaptations are made to face challenges in meeting the spiritual needs of both the faculty and the students. The following are some of the activities that the professors participate in:

- Every morning, before starting their daily schedule, all faculty members attend morning devotionals.

- Twice a year, the faculty and staff members devote themselves to God by having prayer and attending Bible Study meetings for a week. This is called the Week of Dedication.

- Professors attend vespers programs on Friday evenings, joining the students’ Mathetes (Disciples) Club.

- Faculty and staff attend weekly chapel programs in different groups together with the students.

- All professors are encouraged to form small groups of 10 to 15 freshmen for one year (2 semesters), providing spiritual care and fellowship for the students.

In 2018, students were able to choose which chapel program they would like to join: a) the main chapel program, b) religious literature chapel, c) contemporary church music chapel, d) worship-oriented chapel with Christo-centric sermons, scripture readings, prayers and testimonies, e) the SHU Campus Church chapel program or, f) the 1-year chapel program for seniors. This year, chapel programs are being conducted by the departments. The SHU Campus Church continues to operate.

Additionally, some open/volunteer programs include mission week (Week of Prayer) twice a year. The meetings are held every day of the week following the chapel schedule. All students participate in the meetings.

Adventist students are active. About 50 Adventist students join Mathetes Club, a core group of students that provide support and leadership in spiritual programs. They are divided into three subgroups: a praise team group, a program design group, and a media group. They faithfully attend Sabbath services and vespers programs in the university church, leading out in chapel programs, mission weeks, and other activities. The club has initiated a Bible reading program for the members of the club as well as for other students. This helps students develop an appreciation for the word of God and with spiritual growth. An office space has been assigned to the club, close to the office of the head chaplain. It serves as a center where many spiritual activities are planned and implemented by the students.

Fifteen pastors from local churches are scheduled to come to the campus every Tuesday morning during the chapel program to conduct the SHU CC program. There have been 62 students participating in this program. They are divided into small groups with the local pastors as leaders. The pastors encourage these students to attend local churches, not only during their study, but also after their graduation. These pastors help the six regular chaplains of the institution.

We praise the Lord because we have seen significant results in the strong spiritual lives of students on campus. The number of baptisms has grown over the past three years: 103 students in 2016; 107 students in 2017; and 137 students in 2018. Students who are baptized receive a certificate of baptism, and their names are recorded as members of the university church. Some of them are baptized in the local churches and recorded as members of those churches.