The Journey to Haenam: Teaching English

The Journey to Haenam: Teaching English


Thomas Smith is serving in Korea which is categorized as a Level 3 country dealing with the COVID 19 virus. Global Ministries has been in regular contact with both Thomas and the partner and received this note about his well-being:

As you must be already following the news, the COVID 19-situation in Korea is getting serious. There are numerous actions taken and many international gatherings cancelled or postponed in Korea.

Thomas, who is doing his volunteer work in Haenam (Haenam Yanmuri Church), in the field of English Ministry, is adapting and enjoying his work! Haenam, is noted as one of the ‘clean zones’ of South Korea without any positive diagnosis on COVID 19. Last weekend, our whole department went to Haenam in order to show our support to the congregation and especially to Thomas. We all shared the impression that he was ‘in his element’!


As 2019 came to a close, an opportunity arose when Yangmuri Presbyterian Church was looking for aid in their English language education program.

At the close of November, things in the PROK (Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea) Office in Seoul were quiet.  I had concluded my first round of Hangul language classes after having made little progress and was beginning to wonder how I could honestly contribute in any way.  Soon, however, my department head proposed that I could move to Haenam on the southern coast, part time, and help launch an English language curriculum designed to enhance the economic prospects of the local community.  The educational system was not well developed in the region, so the church stepped up and took on the role of teaching English to the children.

I arrived a few days after the New Year and was quickly situated.  The city sits near fishing villages where the Yellow Sea meets the East China Sea.  While Seoul is an international and westernized metropolis, Haenam is more traditionally Korean, but American influences and the Latin alphabet are still found everywhere in town.  The hospitality that I have encountered at the church is unparalleled.  While my assignment is only supposed be temporary, the good news is that I feel as if I am making more of an impact here than I have anywhere else.

The children I teach are elementary school aged and have already learned quite a bit and I do not encounter much difficulty communicating with them so far.  We read two basic English story books together every day and then play spelling games.  I am already planning what will come next once we advance to the next level.  Perhaps we can read Dr. Seuss, Stan and Jan Berenstein, Richard Scarry or Mercer Mayer. 

I am looking forward to telling you more as it unfolds.

Yours in Christ.

Thomas Smith IV serves with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK). His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, and your special gifts.