Yesterday there was a missionary visiting my church. He shared about the work God has been doing through his ministry in another country, taking care of abandoned babies and rescuing children from living in sewers.
It's not an uncommon thing to hear Christians share about the good that different ministries are doing around the city, around the country, and around the world. It maybe providing meals to those in need, helping victims of natural disasters, donating money for good causes....
There are a few good reasons for spreading the news about these things. It encourages people to see the good that's being done. It inspires them to get involved themselves and do something to make a difference in the world. It draws attention to the needs in this world and let's us know ways we can help that we may have been unaware of before. It brings attention to God and displays His goodness.
On the other hand, there is a danger of going too far in spreading the news about good works. When the emphasis turns from being encouraging, inspiring, and God-honoring to being prideful, attention-getting, and building up one's own reputation... there is a problem.
It's the difference between
Matthew 5:14-16, "...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
and Matthew 6:1-6
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly....We are not to flaunt our good works to receive praise from people.
Have you ever visited the World Mission Society Church of God website and seen their list of awards? Here it is on their English website.
Now, I know God is the judge of men's hearts, not I. But to me, such a list of "Awards Received" has the appearance of seeking "glory from men," especially considering how the list is made.
When I analyzed the list, there were a total of 113 awards listed. Of those 113, one is from 1995, one is from 2001, and the rest are from 2002-2011.
Now consider this... many of those awards are actually multiple awards for the same event or 'good deed' listed separately. For example, the Mayor of Daegu gave a plaque to the WMSCOG and a letter of appreciation to its volunteers in thanks for their help regarding the "Daegu Subway Arson Tragedy" in 2003--that is listed as two awards. Or likewise, the WMSCOG received plaques of appreciation in 2003 from both the Mayor of Kimcheon and the Head of Yeongdong County for helping the flood victims of typhoon "Lusa"--also listed as two awards. (Incidentally, there was no typhoon "Lusa" in 2003, but there was a typhoon "Rusa" in 2002, which the WMSCOG lists 2 additional awards for.)
Here are a few other examples:
- 5 awards are regarding Typhoon Maemi in 2003.
- 6 awards are regarding heavy rain and flooding in August 2002.
- 5 awards are regarding the 46th North Gyeongsang Province Sport Festival (2008)--all 5 of those are from the governor of the province and dated July 22, 2008.
- At least 8 awards (possibly 2 more) are regarding the 8th Busan FESPIC Games held in 2002--and 6 of those are from the "Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Busan" dated Nov. 1, 2002.
- And 22 awards (!) are regarding the 2003 (22nd) Daegu Summer Universiade--many of those sharing the same source and date, such as the 6 awards from the "Minister of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism" dated June 25, 2004.
It's also interesting to note the delay in the award date compared to the event date. For example, that Summer Universiade in Daegu was held in August of 2003, yet 10 of the awards for it were given in June and August of 2004. Then there's the award from the Mayor of Busan regarding the 14th Busan Asian Games dated Sept. 5, 2003, yet those games were held in Sept-Oct of 2002. And don't forget those awards for typhoon "Lusa" received in 2003, which probably refer to typhoon "Rusa" which occurred in 2002.
Yes, it's interesting, isn't it? It made me wonder if the World Mission Society Church of God is trying to inflate their award count, and perhaps requesting awards and recognition for services performed.
President's Volunteer Service Award
If you are wondering the same thing, you might want to check out one of their latest awards--from "The White House Washington," the President's Volunteer Service Award. It's right at the top of the list on that page of awards, and on the church's Korean website it's displayed quite prominently.
There is an informative article about it here. And here is information about the award itself.
It turns out this award from the President is available to anyone for the asking. You basically just have to perform the required number of service hours (you are on the honor system here!), request your award package, pay a small fee, and there you have it!
I don't want to minimize the award too much. When used properly, it's a nice token of appreciation for someone who is involved in community service. I know my children would feel quite special to earn one, and I would congratulate them for it.
However, when all it really takes to get one is to sign up as a "Certifying Organization," tally up the hours of your volunteers (verifying them yourself--or not), and submit an order, you can see how the process might be misused by someone trying to increase their own prestige.
The English website only shows only one Presidential award, for the WMSCOG, but the Korean website shows two. The award missing from the list on the English site is the one that has Kim Joo-cheol's name on it. (I find it hard to believe that Mr. Kim is a U.S. Citizen.) Plus, the award for "World Mission Society Church of God" displays a "Lifetime" level award (the "Call to Service" award), which is not available to groups. It's enough to give this award a suspicious appearance.
Update September 1, 2012 -- I just noticed that the English website now shows both awards, but the problem still remains. A group is not eligible for a "Lifetime" level award ("Call to Service"), and even the most basic award is only available to United States citizens.
Update November 1, 2012 -- I'm adding screen shots of the awards as displayed on the WMSCOG's English awards page, just for the record.
Update November 17, 2012 -- The WMSCOG has put out a new video called "Come to Heavenly Mother," which shows the President's Call to Service Award featuring the name "Zahng Gil-jah." Remember, only United States citizens are eligible for this award. Are we to believe that Zahng Gil-jah and Kim Joo-cheol are both United States citizens? Here's a screen shot of the award.