FORT WORTH—When Pastor Jongsu Heo indicated his intentions to start a Korean Baptist Church in South Fort Worth, it seemed incredibly difficult to build up a strong and healthy missional church due to the small Korean population in that area.
From the inception of the church, Pastor Heo had a vision to reach out not only to Koreans, but to other ethnic people in his community. For that purpose, he named his church Hanmaum International Baptist Church instead of Hanmaum Korean Baptist Church. With the support of Willow Creek Baptist Church in Fort Worth, and of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and Tarrant Baptist Association, the first worship service was given at the education building of Willow Creek Baptist Church on Feb. 22, 2004.
After three to four years, the church reached around 150 members and the congregation began to pray and seek its own facilities. In 2010, God responded to their prayer through Willow Creek Baptist Church, which provided Hanmaum an education building and land.
The following year, Hanmaum was able to start Ethnic Groups Academy – an afterschool program that aims to reach out to the refugee children in Fort Worth. Every year, about 1,000 to 1,500 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and other nations settle in the Fort Worth area. In partnership with World Relief, more than 120 refugee children come to EGA on Saturdays to learn musical instruments, arts, sports, and English. Every week, prior to their classes, they hear the Gospel message.
The result? Almost every semester, around 14 children accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Some Muslim parents who were initially reluctant to send their children to the school began to open their hearts as time passed due to the genuine love of the EGA teachers.
The primary purpose of EGA is the salvation of the precious refugee children. Additionally, EGA wants to see those children discover their God-given talents and develop their potential abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose in life. Harsh environments and circumstances may hinder the children to pursue their dreams, but EGA teachers encourage them to pursue them. The Hanmaum congregation, as well as EGA staff and volunteers, have a vision to see those refugee children, after 12 years of an intimate relationship with the Lord and the EGA teachers, become leaders among their people to impact their community with the Gospel and the love of Jesus.
It is praiseworthy that Hanmaum International Baptist Church has set an example and proved that a church does not have to be large to lead refugee ministries, but it can be done by any church that has a heart can do so. Pastor Jongsu Heo testifies that from the beginning of EGA, it was God who started, guided, provided, and accomplished the vision of making disciples of all nations in his community through the faithful people of God.