Love Neighbors Mission is an extraordinary church and justice ministry founded and led by Pastor Sun Choi in South Korea. They strive to love our neighbors as God wishes for us to do so. Their mission is to convey the love of Jesus Christ to souls who have been neglected and ignored by society–particularly those who work in the red light districts in Seoul, Daegu, and Busan. Pastor Choi started this ministry in March of 2010 in Cheongryangri Yunrakga, one of the most infamous and frequented red light districts in Asia.
God had spoken to Pastor Choi and revealed His undying love for the prostituting sisters who worked in this area. Thus Pastor Choi obeyed the calling from God and started going on-site to Cheongryangri Yunrakga to conduct on-site snack and gift delivery. He and his wife wrapped each snack and gift carefully with letters of scripture–all to give these precious girls messages of hope and love. Rain, snow, sleet, or shine–Pastor Choi went to the red light districts weekly, and these relationships that seemed so impossible to build in the beginning, began to form.
On August 22, 2011, Pastor Choi was blessed with an office space adjacent to the red light district, and he opened it to the working girls as a shelter and haven from the dark sex industry. In 2013, Love Neighbors Mission expanded their ministry to the some of the darkest red light districts to exist in Korea–in an area of Daegu. With wrapped gifts and scriptures in hand, Pastor Choi has never missed a day of outreach or spreading the gospel to the sisters of these alleys. Take a look at this sign on the left. It states that children are restricted from this red light district alley–in the Korean language. How ironic is it that there is an official, governmental warning sign when prostitution is illegal in the first place?
These sisters have expressed that it is like being in hell because there is no escape out of the red light district. Although some of these women may physically leave, they are imprisoned from doing so because of their emotional, spiritual, and mental bondage. There are grandmothers who live in the red light districts as well. These senior citizens say they pray for a way to leave, a change, new hope, a life outside of this world, but they feel there is no way after decades of being in this industry. Many of these women express that they would like a church to go to where they will feel no shame and only acceptance. Pastor Choi goes behind these glass windows and gives them a time of worship where they are selling their bodies. Why does he do this? He is most concerned for their salvation. Without salvation, they will not be able to return to a normal life or function in society with the rest of the world after enduring what they have. It took a very long time and a lot of immense effort for Pastor Choi to open up these girls’ hearts to what he was trying to convey. Some of them were even able to leave thanks to his tireless and tremendous efforts. There is a special sister who works with him now to get other girls out.
At first, the pimps were very suspicious and distrustful of Pastor Choi, but as time went by, God’s love broke barriers through Pastor Choi’s dedication. The pimps started to make coffee for him when he came by on his weekly gift offerings. He would accept the coffee so that he may have the chance to pray for them. He realized that the pimps and traffickers were undeniably victims as well, victims of evil and corruption.
“It takes a very long time and lots of patience to build relationships and trust with the sisters,” Pastor Choi said. However he is grateful and thankful that he is able to do God’s work and help even one sister get out of the industry after an entire year of outreach and efforts. This is how devoted he is to these sisters, how devoted he is to serving the Lord, and how much he desperately seeks for them to know that God views them as His precious daughters. Many people view these girls as despicable and undeserving. However we must all remember that the people God loves the most are the ones who are neglected the most–the victimized, the abused, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the injured, the trafficked, the widowed, and the orphaned.
“learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17
written by gkim
Pastor Eddie Byun, the leading pastor at Onnuri English Ministry and founder of Hope Be Restored (a justice ministry and an anti-sex trafficking organization) in Seoul, Korea, has really paved the way and broken down barriers to publicize and fight against sex trafficking in Korea. When God first unveiled this injustice to him, he was incredibly moved and hyped to rectify this enormous problem in the nation. The number of human slaves including children were staggeringly high. As he sought out different avenues and numerous people who might be of great help with this issue, many opportunities opened up to him fairly quickly, and this solidified even more for him that this was something that was conquerable and fixable. Initially, one of the largest opportunities he was given was a meeting with the president’s top aide. He felt as if this would be a divine meeting and that naturally, the aide would come to view this as vehemently as he did. So, as anyone in this position would, he carefully prepared his speech as if he were directly speaking to the president.
Once the meeting began, Pastor Eddie presented the issues at hand with all ineradicable facts, stats, and evidence of not only sex trafficking including child trafficking but labor trafficking in South Korea as well. Once he was done, he expected the aide to be as fired up and revived as he was, perhaps being stirred with a new awakening and outlook on life in Korea and feel an escalating desire and determination for justice in the country. However, the reaction and response that Pastor Eddie received was exactly the opposite from what he had expected, and this left him absolutely speechless and dumbfounded.
“Why are you doing this Eddie?” asked the president’s top aide when the presentation and speech were over.
Naturally, Pastor Eddie was flabbergasted at this question. Wasn’t it blatantly clear that there was a huge problem in Korea, and wasn’t the evidence he had laid out sufficient enough to strike a nerve within anybody? Wouldn’t anyone want to seek justice for the oppressed in this nation after finding out that it is a proven fact that Korean men seek child prostitutes in Asia more than any other ethnic group? Didn’t he care for the women and children of this nation, especially as a person in a position of power?
“Eddie, everyone does it. Every guy at least,” said the aide. “I’m sure you did before you were married, too.”
“No,” responded Pastor Eddie incredulously. The aide walked out of the room, and the meeting was concluded.
Thus, this is how the fight against human slavery began for Pastor Eddie many, many years ago, and it has been a very long and difficult journey thus far. But miracles do happen every single day, through the blessings of the Lord, and I’m so proud to speak of Pastor Eddie because through him, a lot of work has been done in Guro and Yongsan, two of the most populous places for sex trafficking and child sex slavery as well as around Asia. Presently, Korean government officials have actually begun to open up publicly and admit to and address the problems of trafficking in and out of Korea thanks to Pastor Eddie’s diligence and immense efforts. There is still a long road ahead for complete abolition to occur as there are over a million women and child slaves in Korea alone and more than 27 million human slaves around the world today. God has really used Pastor Eddie to initiate the fight in South Korea and all around Asia.
Recently, Pastor Eddie’s first book titled Justice Awakening was published and released for sale in Korean. The English version will be out in 2014.
Since the fight has been initiated in South Korea, and the road has been paved for those who wish to join or continue to seek freedom and justice to those whose lives have been affected by human trafficking in Korea, spreading this awareness is imperative for growth and justice. And although there is still a long way to go, Pastor Eddie has not wavered or faltered once in leading others to rise up and initiate action for the people of this country. He has been and is the go-to person in Korea for all advice and spiritual enlightenment on this subject. Many who come to this country seek him out first before heading to any governmental agencies as he is one of the only pastors in Korea who adamantly prays about and speaks on this subject in his sermons and through his anti-sex trafficking organization, Hope Be Restored, which I am so proud to be a part of. God is making great things happen through Pastor Eddie as he continues to strive for God’s will to be done on Earth. I am so humbled and feel so fortunate to have met such an amazing pastor and a true fellow abolitionist in the fight against modern slavery. Thank you so much Pastor Eddie and may God’s glory and strength continue to shine upon you! Praise the Lord!