History of a Special Christmas Carol

December 19 2017

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This popular Christmas carol is based on the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men." The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men. Many regard Longfellow as America's greatest poet. The first Longfellow came to the U.S. from Yorkshire, England, in 1676. Henry was born to a prominent New England Lawyer in 1807. He became a respected scholar and was a college professor at the age of 19.

Wadsworth had many tragedies in his life. His first wife Mary had a miscarriage six months into her pregnancy and died a few weeks later while they were en route to Europe.

It was seven years before he recovered from his loss to remarry. Together they had five children, but again tragedy happened.

On July 11, 1861, his wife Fanny had clipped some long curls from the head of her 7-year-old daughter, Edith. Wanting to save them in an envelope, she placed the curls inside, then melted a bar of sealing wax with a candle to seal the envelope.

Somehow, the thin fabric of her clothing caught fire, and Fanny quickly ran to Longfellow’s nearby study for help. He immediately tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug, and when that failed, he threw his arms around Fanny to smother the flames, sustaining serious burns on his own face, arms, and hands. Tragically, his heroic act did not suffice to save his wife. Fanny died the next morning from injuries. Longfellow himself was injured to the point where he was unable to attend the funeral.

Photographs of Longfellow taken or made after the fire usually show him with a full beard, since he was no longer able to shave properly due to the burns and scarring.

The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of grieving for his wife while trying to provide a happy time for the children left at home. It was during Christmas 1862 that he wrote in his journal, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

He had also suffered another disappointment when his oldest son, Charles Appleton “Charley” Longfellow, 17 at the time, quietly left their Cambridge, Mass., home and enlisted in the Union Army much against the wishes of his father. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in his journal.

Later, Charlie was injured. He was hit in the shoulder, and the ricocheting bullet took out portions of several vertebrae. It was reported that he missed being paralyzed by less than one inch. Longfellow traveled to where his injured son was hospitalized and brought him home to Cambridge to recover.

But then, on December 25, 1864, he wrote the words of this poem. Perhaps it was the re-election of Abraham Lincoln, the possible end of the terrible war, or a deep, renewed hope that stirred in his soul which brought us this timeless message.

I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!” His original words spoke of “each black accursed mouth the cannon thundered in the South” and it was “as if an earthquake rent the hearth-stones of a continent, and made forlorn the households born of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

The music to this American poem were written by an Englishman named John Baptiste Calkin.

When published, this combination of British music and American lyrics quickly made “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day one of the most popular carols in both Europe and the United States.”

Tags: christmas carol, bells of christmas, longfellow,

100+ Years of Ministry in Korea Continues

December 13 2017

More than 100 years ago, One Mission Society missionaries discipled, trained, and sent out two young Korean students, Kim Sang-jun and Jung Bin, from the OMS-established Tokyo Bible Institute in Japan back to Korea to share the Gospel with the Korean people.

From the beginning, OMS has been intentional about training the sons and daughters of a nation to reach their own people. This dedication has helped in the phenomenal growth of the OMS-founded Korea Evangelical Holiness Church (KEHC), which today has more than 3,000 churches and nearly 1 million members!

Before the division of North and South Korea, there were also about 3,000 churches in the north, with 132 of them being OMS related. And then the Korean War came, and those churches were laid waste while most Christians fled south to safety. Those that didn’t were most likely martyred.

Today, evangelism in North Korea (NK) is impossible. For the last 16 years, Open Door’s World Watch List has ranked it number one for persecuted Christians. Over 70,000 Christians live in prison camps as a result of their faith, suffering forced labor, starvation, and sexual abuse.

More than 20 million North Koreans live in darkness, having NEVER heard the Gospel.

North Korea is indeed a dark place, but OMS, along with our South Korea partners, is piercing the darkness of NK with the light of Christ. Here’s how:

1. We are equipping North Korean defectors.

Koreans have been a divided people for decades, but a gradual reunification process is taking place through the arrival of North Korean defectors in

South Korea. These refugees face numerous obstacles to integration into South Korean society, but they also provide valuable insight into the issues Koreans will face after reunification.

Our ministry partner, Sarangnaru, reaches out to North Korean refugees and helps them integrate into South Korean society by providing group homes for teens and young adults and after-school tutoring for elementary children and their parents, among other ministries. In this way, North Korean defectors and their families are evangelized, discipled, and prepared to make a valuable contribution to reunification.

2.We are equipping North Korean transients.

Risking their lives for a better future, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 have crossed the border into neighboring nations. With discretion and care, we are evangelizing, discipling, and training North Koreans who travel to nearby nations to return to share the Gospel within their family groups and, when feasible, help plant underground house churches.

This holiday season, we are taking the light of Jesus into the darkest place in the world, North Korea. Will you join us in this initiative?

A small gift of $34 will evangelize, train, and disciple one North Korean to reach his or her nation for Christ.

Please help us give light to North Korea by giving online here.

Tags: north korea, south korea, ministry to defectors, give light, legacy,

English Opens Doors for North Koreans

December 7 2017

Most of us have never had to flee starvation and oppression in our homeland. Currently, South Korea hosts about 30,000 defectors who have escaped North Korea in the last 20 years or so since the famine of the 1990s. Most of them had never heard of Christ while in North Korea, but during the process of passing through China and other countries, many have now heard the Gospel. Some have become Christians and even have been trained as pastors to reach out to their own people, as well as to those around the world.

Adventures in English for a United Korea (AIE4UK) started with a vision to help pastors and young people who came from North Korea to be able to communicate with the church around the world. It also helps prepare people domestically and internationally for unification, raises up workers who can fill the basic need for English education, and helps Christians from North Korea share their testimonies and the Gospel in English to bring spiritual awakening and revival to the Western, English-speaking church.

From July 17 - 19, 2017, we held our fourth year of camp at Seoul Theological University with the theme “A New Thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Susan Truitt, OMS missionary and English professor at Seoul Theological University, directed the camp, and a team of eight native English speakers sent out from OMS served as teachers.

This year, 10 North Korean defectors participated in AIE4UK, so they were matched one on one with the native English speakers from the United States. About half of them were pastors serving in ministry in South Korea, and the other half were young people preparing for their future. One activity they did together was going to the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery to learn about some of the early missionaries who came to Korea over 100 years ago and be challenged by their lives of obedience and service. In the evenings we heard the testimonies of some of those who had come from North Korea. It was a tearful time to hear of how God has been faithful through all of the terrible suffering they had gone through.


We believe that God has sent North Korean defectors to South Korea not only for the unification of the Korean people but also so that through their living testimonies of how God has guided and preserved their lives in the midst of danger, they can be used as instruments to awaken Western, English-speaking churches. We believe that if Christian North Korean defectors can share their testimonies and the power of the Gospel in English without having to depend on interpretation, God will use them in valuable ways.

For over 20 years, One Mission Society (OMS) in Korea has held Adventures in English camps every summer with volunteer native English speakers. These volunteers, devoted to God’s kingdom, raise their own money to participate. Through AIE4UK, jointly sponsored by OMS Korea, the Prayer Network for North Korea and the Nations (PN4N), and Sarangnaru, we hope that North Korean defectors may be raised up in a wonderful way to serve as missionaries in cooperation with OMS. The next AIE4UK is being planned for August 8-10, 2018.

By Susan Truitt, OMS Korea field director

Tags: north korean defectors, english ministry, unification of korea, english camp, south korea, oms,