By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
LUTHERVILLE, Md.—The Chos are a humble, middle-aged, unassuming, soft-spoken Korean couple. They live in an upscale middle class neighborhood in Lutherville. They speak Korean as their first language, English as their second language and work through interpreters to minister where God leads them and He is leading them to places they never dreamed they’d be. God is using the couple to bring hundreds, if not thousands, of people to Christ in America, Nepal, Bhutan and India.
Samuel Cho and his wife, Young, began Nepal Church of Baltimore, the first Nepalese church in the United States, after meeting a young Nepalese waitress and sharing with her and her family. That church, which now averages about 40 people weekly, meets at Boundary United Methodist Church on York Road.
This spring, the Chos started a Bhutani church and they’re averaging 20 worshipers at a house church in Baltimore.
The Chos took their first missionary trip to Nepal last year, visiting church family members and ministering in refugee camps. The couple started Antioch Church in Jamsa, a mountainous region of the country, after one family invited extended family members and friends to hear Samuel preach. Many were saved. Over 200 people accepted Christ during that visit.
They returned to Nepal in April, ministering once again to the refugees, starting two more churches and even expanding their ministry to India. Over 500 people accepted Christ—200 Nepalese, 300 Bhutanese and 35 Indians.
Samuel and Young arrived in Kathmandu, and then traveled to the Morang region of Jhapa in Southeast Nepal, on the outskirts of a Jhapa refugee camp. They brought with them letters and gifts from Baltimore Nepal Church members to deliver to relatives still in Nepal. The Nepal families cried as they looked at the pictures of their families in Baltimore.
One of the family members in Nepal made a confession of faith.
The couple then visited the refugee camps. Samuel preached under the trees, as he felt led.
“It was very exciting. They would hear me on the street and they would come, one-by-one,” Samuel said.
That one-by-one sometimes turned into hundreds. Samuel started Morang Baptist Church, in Jhapa and ordained a young man named Dev, who had been leading Bible studies, as minister of the new church. They invited friends and neighbors to come to a local elementary school and they served pork and other foods at the first service of the new church. One hundred twenty people attended the inaugural service and over 50 people accepted Christ that day. The Chos distributed Bibles and prayed for the sick. The new church hosted a food distribution and celebration and 200 people came to eat and rejoice with the new church.
Samuel spoke 12 times, two in churches and 10 times on the streets under the trees and the Holy Spirit kept drawing people to him.
Samuel and Young visited a total of seven camps, home to 100,000 refugees. Many recognized the Chos from their last visit and were overjoyed to see them once more. The camps are where many Nepalis live as a result of the Bhutanese government’s exportation of Nepali people and stripping them of their citizenship in the early 90’s. The United Nations set up controlled refugee camps to help those who were displaced. A huge resettlement program is underway and at least 60,000 refugees are in the process of being resettled in the United States. Many are afraid of the transition.
“They heard that it is a slow process of employment, and they had heard of people committing suicide and they say they don’t want to go to the United States,” Samuel Cho explained.
The Chos, this year and last, attempted to soothe the refugee’s fears and answer questions about American culture.
Three hundred people accepted Christ. Young Cho told of a young girl who sent a follow-up email. The girl wrote, “I wish to express my sincere gratitude to you. This is because your visit to my place became the turning point of my personal as well as my family life. Although I do not know what can be seen and experienced in the real light of truth, I have started to go to church. In spite of the fear, social hatred and persecution, I have decided to accept Christ.”
The next step of the journey was to Butwal, in Nepal, near the Indian border. They had intended to visit Antioch Church, but due to a strike they were unable to travel to the area. They did, however, visit a poor area where many “untouchables,” the outcasts in the Hindu caste system, live under and near a bridge. The Chos, working with the International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, Sanford Phowmik, planted a church and called it “Holy Spirit Church.” Seventy people made decisions of faith.
Finally, the Chos went to Varanasi in India with Phowmik for a leadership conference. While there, Cho was able to minister to a remote area and 35 people made confessions of faith.
A young man named Kamal now pastors Holy Spirit Church, Antioch Church and three others. In fact, Nepal Church, Baltimore, collected funds to buy a motorcycle for Kamal to help him with the travel between churches.
Young said that though the days were hot, sleeping space limited and mosquitoes plentiful, the people were very appreciative and receptive. “This was not done by me,” Cho stressed. “This is the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit led us…it’s been kind of a miracle…and such a blessing,” Samuel said quietly.
“It’s like Dr. Hunt said, God tells us where to go,” Cho said, referring to a sermon given by Johnny Hunt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention at Colonial Church in Reisterstown, where Hunt said, “He gives the orders and I need to serve exactly where He sends me.” The Chos are simply being obedient.