I. In the Beginning
A. Independence and Reconstruction
With the liberation of Korea, there was a need for the reconstruction of the crippled nation and Christendom. The three most urgent tasks at hand were:
To rebuild the Christ-centered hearts.
To redefine the sacred doctrines of the Bible.
To rebuild churches.
B. Basic Framework of the Reconstruction
The Pyung-Yang Theological Seminary had served as the bastion of theological education. However, it was forced to close down because of the Shinto Participation incident. After the liberation, those who bowed to the emperor and those who said that we should forget about the Shinto Participation established the Chosun Seminary, which became the home of the liberal theologies. In the meanwhile, pastors who did not give in to the pressure of bowing down to the emperor, and those who remained alive throughout the Japanese hegemony, called for a nationwide repentance, reminiscent of the post-exilic Reformation of the Jews under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.
What was particularly significant in this was that the lay people were ardent participants to such a repentance movement. Those leaders of the church who had succumbed under the pressure and bowed to the emperor claimed that they were the guardians of the churches and refused to participate in this nationwide prayer movement. In fact, they expelled or excommunicated those ministers who pressed hard for repentance.
Those pastors who were expelled established a new reformed Presbyterian seminary called Ko-shin Theological Seminary. They also formed a denomination called Koshin. It was with the support of these pastors who had "the spirit of martyrdom" that the SFC movement flourished.
Although pastors played a key role in the growth of the SFC, it was the students who propagated the movement. Students were meeting whenever and wherever possible, forming prayer groups. One of these groups continued to meet at the house of Rev. Myung Dong Hahn (the author of the SFC Principles). It was a simple prayer meeting, but it had three profound purposes:
Primary goal - Student Scholarship
This mandates students to be trained spiritually as well as academically for the glory of God. Such an emphasis on studying for God's glory resulted in Christian leaders who made great impact upon the Korean society.
Studying of the Bible - Since Bible is the standard of life, students dedicated themselves to the studying of the Scripture.
For unswerving dedication to the local church - this mandates that students be trained by their local churches, and that as essential members, they faithfully serve them. (This church-centeredness is a mark which distinguishes the SFC from other campus organizations)
III. The Establishment
A. Spreading the Flame
The prayer meetings grew rapidly. With the establishment of the Korea Theological Seminary (K.T.S. Ko-shin) in September 1946, the faculty members discussed holding a conference for students. In 1948, the first conference was held at K.T.S. During the conference, they shared the need to expand this movement. As noted before, the first conference had three basic themes: scholarship, Bible study, and dedication to the local church. With its first successful meeting, its official name was given as Student for Christ (in English), and Hak-Sang Shin-Ang Woon Dong or Student Faith Movement (in Korean).
Some of the aspects of the SFC movement that were developed are:
1. Truth Movement
From the start, the students were led by the Holy Spirit, to continuously 'reform' their lives to the standards of the Bible, which they held as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. They wanted to stand firm, and not be influenced or hindered by what they deemed as liberal or neo-orthodox faith. In doctrine, they held to the Reformed faith as the best representation of biblical truth. In their life, they stood on prayer, Reformed scholarship, evangelism and dedication to local churches.
Note: Please refer to the Doctrinal Standards and the Five Points of Calvinism which describe the theological basis of SFC
2. Student Movement
In the early phase, the church leaders were busy reconstructing the churches and restoring the crippled society. Students had to be mature and responsible for their spiritual lives on their campuses. They had to act as an extension of the church and an agent of God on campus. Even though the SFC movement may be monitored and guided by leaders, it emphasizes individual students' priesthood before God.
3. Faith Movement
The SFC movement lacked organization, finance, and any kind of political power. From the beginning, the leaders always emphasized trusting God to provide all of their needs. They emphasized that like Abraham, we need to believe and obey God's command, though we have nothing before our eyes.
By 1951, although the nation was in turmoil due to the Korean War, the student conferences continued to be held. The advancing communists from the north forced people to move to the South near the Pusan area. The pressures of the war brought the regional Ko-shin leaders to one place. At this point in history, they felt that the movement could be presented on a national level. They appointed an Organizing Committee to look into this possibility. In July of 1952, the first Organizing Committee meeting was held, presided by Mr. Won-Heung Lee. Other members were Myung-Dong Hahn in charge of the organization; Missionary Bruce Hunt with evangelism Dr. Yoon-Sun Park with theological guidance; and Mr. Young-Chang Jun serving as the General-Secretary.
In 1954 the Organizing Committee suggested to the General Assembly of Ko-shin the need to form an organization and the GA approved unanimously to support the SFC movement. It moved to create a sub-department exclusively to care for SFC and to set aside partial financial support for it. Furthermore, this committee would also function to advise and set certain guidelines for SFC. This was significant in that SFC was now answerable to the General Assembly and thus more church-centered.
It is also significant to note that while SFC was under the jurisdiction of a denomination, in so far as it had the characteristics of missions, it had the flexibility of keeping its movement open to other denomination members.
Since then, the conferences continued to meet, and as we look back, the conferences had the following points of interest:
They emphasized new birth and spiritual experiences to make Christ real in each of the students' lives.
They tried to awaken the students to new visions for the future of the country.
They saw the need for closer fellowship among the students.
They gave the students a sense of unity.
They gave the students fresh dedication for service to their local churches.
They burned the hearts of the students for the souls of their fellow classmates and inflamed campus evangelism.
They played a significant role in the growth and the reformation of local churches (at least for the student groups).
To create stronger unity and to encourage growth, they made logo badges, published a national SFC report, made efforts to expand the movement from the national arena to the international arena, included in-conference evangelism activity and established a SFC training center.
IV. SFC- Korea in the 1970's
The 70's saw a continued development of the movement, especially with the specialization of high school campus ministry and college campus ministry. There are currently SFC chapters in some 80 universities in Korea.
With such rapid growth, there was a need for full-time directors (gansa). Currently there are some 80 full-time directors in Korea.
Some of the earliest National Directors were:
Rev. Manwoo Kim, Rev. Eui Nam Byun, Rev. Hak Ryang Choi, Rev. Hee Chang Chang, Rev. Young Soon Kam
V. SFC- USA in the 1980's
At the College - SFC Conference in 1986, some 7,000 students gathered. What a surprise it is to see how quietly and quickly a student movement grew within the Reformed circle! SFC members came to the United States to study sporadically from the late 50's. Then, in the early 70's, Rev. Chai Young Park introduced the SFC movement in America, which developed significantly by Rev. Manwoo Kim in 1979. Since then, SFC has held annual summer conferences in the East Region. In 1989, SFC formed in the West and blossomed under the leadership of many SFC alumni who immigrated to the U.S.
VI. SFC- USA in the 1990's
In the 1990's, SFC saw much of the harvesting of the seed that had been planted by the forerunners of SFC. In 1992, the Youth Group National SFC Conference in Korea had 15,000 students from all over the country. In the USA, SFC also flourished, both in the West Region and in the East Region. In the West Region, College campus SFC began with Heerak Kim JDSN. It also supported the first full-time staff, Rev. Won Hwan Yoon. In the East Region, campus ministry and summer conferences were strengthened. From both Regions, many SFC alumni went on to study theology in preparation to be pastors and missionaries, as well as their wives. SFC Northwest Region was formed in 1991 under the leadership of Rev. Paul Hong. SFC Mid-South was formed in 1994 with Rev. Byung Ho Kim as its first Director.
By now, new leaders were being trained to carry on the SFC movement both in the USA and in the world stage. For several decades, SFC in Korea had been praying for the spreading of the Reformed Faith throughout the world through SFC. This dream and prayer were being fulfilled in the 1990's. SFC chapters formed in the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Argentina, and Indonesia. In June of 1997, the first SFC in America, East Alumni Conference was held. In July of 1998, the 1st National SFC in America Conference took place at the Arrowhead Springs Conference Center in San Bernardino, CA. In June of 2000, the 1st National SFC conference for College and Young Professionals was held.
At this time, America is facing the greatest moral and spiritual crisis in its history. More than ever before, a Reformed church-centered campus movement like SFC is in demand! May the Lord use the SFC movement to further His Kingdom for His glory! Soli Deo Gloria!