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Mission Reports by Sarah Barry 1956-1974

Sarah Barry, co-founder and current director of UBF (“University Bible Fellowship”), meanwhile called “Reverend Mother Barry” by its members (and obviously enjoying it), was an American missionary of the Southern Presbyterian Church in the 1950s. Being such she was obliged to send regular reports to her mother organization. She did this for about 20 years, though it can be observed, how she dissociated more and more from her own church and built up her own organization together with Samuel Lee, until she finally completely detached from the church. Here is the complete list of her “MCD letters,” which were archived by the Presbyterian Church, but so far unknown to UBF members:

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Similar to the subsequent self representations of the UBF, Sarah Barry’s reports are also very one-sided, self glorifying, glossed over, lacking any self-criticism, and characterized by concealment or falsification of essential backgrounds, events and developments in the history of the …

Mission Report by Sarah Barry February 1956

Mission Report by Sarah Barry February 1956Presbyterian Mission
Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo
Kwangju, Korea
February 5, 1956
Dear Friends: With an ocean of new experiences crammed into the last four months, it is certainly hard to pick and choose among them for the contents of one’s first MCD [Missionary Correspondence Department] letter. This country is so exactly opposite from America, that I wonder if the time will ever come when there will cease to be new sights at which to marvel. These folk sorta cooperate with nature – they live close to the soil and blend their houses into the landscape (no tall sky-scrapers). They sit on the floor; and mothers carry babies on their backs and everything else on their heads. I could ramble a long time like this, but let me illustrate by telling you what I did this morning. At 9:20 I bundled into a jeep with Miss Root and we bumped our way out to a country village. It was my first “close-up” of a village and I was along just to look. The village ch…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry May 1956

(Address: Presbyterian Mission
 Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo, Kwangju, Korea)Seoul, Korea
May 28, 1956(See address across
 page of letter)
Dear Friends: Have you ever tried seaweed soup for breakfast? Except for the fact it looks and tastes like seaweed, it’s really very good. I’ve been with the Lees, a Korean Family, for nearly two months now, and it has been a worth wile experience in every way (the seaweed soup, even, probably has vitamins in it). Sitting here on the floor, I can hear all kinds of interesting sounds drifting in from the out- side. From the house next door, I can hear the rythmic, drum-like beat of ironing sticks as some one does the family ironing in the old, old Korean way. In the street outside, I can hear the click-clack sound of the candy man as he advertizes his wares by opening and shutting the big shears with which he cuts the candy. Being able to “hear” Korea helps one understand her people a little better. Being a part of the Lee Family has been a fine experie…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry November 1956

Presbyterian Mission
Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo
Kwangju, Korea
November 1, 1956
Dear Friends: The other day, Marjorie Linton (Mrs. Dwight) and I got on our bicycles, picked a road, and headed for the outskirts of Kwangju City. We had our pockets full of tracts, and when we stopped at every hill to push the bicycles up, we found opportunities to talk to all kind of people and to give the tracts to those who promised to read them. Our road ended at one of the many orphanages in the city, so we decided to go in and “sight-see”. As we stopped outside, and the children crowded around, I was surprised to hear one speak very politely and call my name. There, wearing a bright smile, was a little girl whom I had gotten to know during the months she spent in the Graham Memorial T.B. Hospital. Although she’ll have to be careful for a long time, she looked as happy and healthy as any of the other children. A lot of children come into the T.B. hospital from the orphanage of the city. Many have T.B. …

Mission Report by Sarah Barry December 1957

Presbyterian Mission
Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo
Kwangju, Korea
December 9, 1957
Dear Friends: This morning, I got on my bicycle and rode out to visit two churches. I’d like to tell you about the churches because one represents the fruits of the Gospel as it has been preached here in Korea during these 70 years, and the other church represents the vast, unreached multitude of church-less villages still hidden in the crevices of the mountains. After crossing town and heading into the country, I rode along a narrow wagon road, trying to hit lightly the furrows that drained the road. Although I’ve traveled the road to Too Am Dong many times, I could still hear the familiar “Meguk Salam po ah” (Look at the American person!) floating along behind me. Five months ago, when I first started going to Too Am, we met in an open-air bamboo floored public house. The old men of the village sat around in one end of the “building” talking and smoking their long-stemmed pipes while the evangelist taught …

Mission Report by Sarah Barry May 1958

Presbyterian Mission, Yang Nim Dong
Kwangju, Chulla Namdo, Korea
May 30, 1958
Dear Friends, Last week I visited a little village called Ko San for the second time. Some months ago we went and rented a room in a heathen home and spent five days visiting non-Christian homes. A visit might go something like this: “Silliae hopsida” (Pardon me for disturbing you). “We are Jesus-believing people who have found that Jesus brings real joy and peace in this troubled world. We would like to share this good news with you.” The rest of the visit depends on the response. If they are genuinely interested, we might be invited to come sit on the porch and talk in more detail – or they might usher us out as politely (and sometimes, the rarely, as impolitely) as possible. We always include and invitation to come to church to learn more and leave a tract. At that time a handful of grandmothers were meeting in one small room to sing and pray. Ee An Soonie, the Bible Woman, commuted from a nearby village (3…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry November 1960

Presbyterian Mission
Yang Nim Dong, Chulla Namdo
Kwangju, Korea
November 9, 1960
Dear Friends: If you have been wondering during the past couple of years if somehow your name had been dropped (or not added) to my missionary letter list, let me assure you, it hasn’t been dropped and it has been added. I hate to admit it, but this is the first letter I’ve written since 1958 (MCD letter, that is). Last year, while on furlough, it was good to see many of you again and meet many of you for the first time. Some of you who will be receiving this letter I was not able to see on this furlough. I’m really sorry about that. A year sounds long, but really it is awfully short. For that matter, four years is short too, so perhaps before very long I’ll be able to see you all. I arrived back in Korea on August 17, but it was the 27th before I actually got down to Kwangju. I waited in Seoul for my baggage to arrive and visited those days with Mrs. O’Lee and her family. (Some of you know here as Mrs. Oh, …

Mission Report by Sarah Barry April 1961

176-1 Tai In Dong
Kwangju, Chulla Namdo
Korea
April 23, 1961
Dear Friends, As I sit here in my upstairs apartment in the heart of Kwangju City, I hear the noises of the city swirling around me – the clack, clack of the candy vendor, the drum beat of the cosmetic salesman, the sound of children’s voices playing in the street, the jingle of bells on the small horse carts as they go by and occasionally the sound of an automobile or bus. From the house next door comes the sound of bare feet pounding a wooden floor as a group of young men meet there at dawn and dusk each day to learn the art of Japanese boxing. Our family, Mrs. Koh (my Korean assistant), her young sister, Young Ja, and Choon gil, the orphan boy who lives with us, have adjusted quite well in a week’s time to city life. Why and how we got here is what I want to share with you in this letter. For some time we here in Kwangju have felt a tremendous burden for the thousands of students here in our city. This last year, particularl…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry September 1961

Christian Student Center
176-1 Tai In Dong
Kwangju, Chulla Namdo, Korea
September 20, 1961
Dear Friends: Greetings from the heart of Kwangju City! – It has been five months since I moved here from our quiet hill in Yang Nim Dong and opened the Christian Student Center. Although we are eagerly awaiting the time when the Dave Rosses will finish language study in Seoul and come to Kwangju to work with students, we felt that we could wait no longer to move into the tremendous field of opportunity that lay before us among the students of the two Universities, the Teachers college, and the some 15 high schools in Kwangju. The opportunity is proving even larger than we had anticipated. Many significant things have happened recently which indicated that the Lord is at work in this place. Last June, our co-worker, Mr. Chun, was called into the Army. It was with real regret that we saw him leave, because, as a college and seminary graduate, he was particularly qualified to do this work. After our …

Mission Report by Sarah Barry April 1962

Christian Student Center
176-1 Tae In Dong
Kwangju, Korea
April 6, 1962
Dear Friends, A rainy Tuesday afternoon would be a good time to write a letter if there were not other things to do – but other things to do or not, I want to share with you some of the things that are beginning to happen on the campuses here in Kwangju. In February, Melicent Huneycutt brought 16 students from the Chunju area down for a three-day leadership training conference in Kwangju. Mr. C.O. Lee, my Co-worker here in Kwangju, directed the conference and John Folta, Melicent and I taught classes. A pastor from Seoul came down to be our inspirational speaker – about 20 students from here attended. I could spend a letter describing this conference in detail. It was much prayed for beforehand and as a result of it, many students have realized the responsibility and opportunity that is theirs to be Christ’s men and women on campus. Several students also came to know the Lord for the first time during this brief thre…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry November 1962

Christian Student Center
176-1 Tae In Dong
Kwangju, Korea
November 25, 1962
Dear Friends, During the past few months Student Work here in Kwangju has been moving ahead so rapidly that we haven’t had time to turn around and look back long enough to get a letter written. There have been transformations in the Student Center. In October the Center became Mission property, purchased with money from the Kwangju land sale. Also, I moved from the upstairs of the Center to a rented Korean house nearby. The upstairs has now been converted into a reading room and lounge, a small library room, offices for Mr. Lee and me and a work room for printing the news sheet. We are now trying to build up the library with books that are useful to college students. Books in English which offer help in Bible study or deal with basic and practical aspects of the Christian faith in a way that is relevant to college students, books in the fields of English and American Literature, Science, Law, Economics, Engineeri…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry October 1963

Miss Sara Barry
Presbyterian Mission
Yang Nim Dong
Chulla Namdo, Kwangju, Korea
October 2, 1963
Dear Friends, Since my last letter to you many significant things have happened in our work with University Students. In our Kwangju work, Mr. Lee and the Council and I found much occasion for rejoicing last semester. During the first part of the spring term, Mr. Lee and I had some serious disagreements about the way in which we should work. By the middle of the term, however, through earnestly seeking the Lord’s will together in prayer we found new strength and unity. By the end of the term the number of campus Bible study groups increased from 15 to 30. Two of our council members made top grades in their respective colleges and one other made top grades in the whole Chosun University. Our daily 5:30 a.m. English Bible class-prayer meeting increased from 5 or 6 to nearly 40. A professor was converted through the witness of one of the students and began witnessing to another professor. The stud…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry June 1964

Miss Sara Barry
Benoit, Mississippi
June 25, 1964
Dear Friends, Today is the 14th Anniversary of the invasion of South Korea by the Communists. When I left Kwangju 3 weeks ago, demonstrations and riots against the government were just getting underway. Korea is a little country with big problems – humanly speaking, overwhelmingly impossible problems. But when men and women of courage and faith look boldly for God’s solutions, he can act to do great and unexpected things for and with a nation. This is a lean time. The rice is almost gone, the summer barely harvest hasn’t begun. Money is worth 5 times less than it was 2 years ago. The government is losing the confidence of many people. Japan with its growing power, its insatiable lust for land, and its history of imperialistic aggression, lies to the south and east. Communist China, Russia and Communist North Korea, dedicated to the principle of world conquest by any means lie to the west and north. Sporatic clashes continue on the 38th p…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry October 1964

Miss Sara Barry
Box 745
Peabody College
Nashville, Tennessee
October 26, 1964
My dear friends, How can I even begin to express my gratitude to you for the many ways you have expressed to me your love and concern. With such a tremendous wealth of intercessory prayer, who could fail to find the road to recovery quickly. Your letters and cards assuring me of your love and prayers have meant very much to me and to my parents. The flowers you sent brightened the whole corner of the hospital and the many gifts you have sent have brought joy and gratitude to God to my heart. It was indeed a deeply shocking experience to encounter such unreasonable violence and hatred. I have never come so close to death before. As I lay in the hospital two things became very clear and real. First, the overwhelming and undeserved love of a God, who would go even to the extent of allowing His only Son to suffer and die for me at the hands of violent and sinful men, became more real than ever before. Second, the co…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry April 1965

Miss Sarah Barry
Peabody College
Box 745
Nashville, Tenn.
April 27, 1965
Dear Friends, As I look forward to returning to Korea in July it is with mixed feelings of gratitude and uncertainty. I’m grateful to God for answered prayer concerning my health. I am grateful, too, for the way in which God has blessed the University Bible Fellowship during this year of absence. Regular letters from Mr. Lee and the students show growth in stewardship, and deeper commitment to the task of reaching the universities of the nation for Christ in this crucial time of Korea’s history. God has blessed the work in Kwangju. U.B.F. is continuing to penetrate more deeply into the universities. God has also blessed the pioneer outreach to other campuses. Cheju students have organized a small prayer council and students there are assuming more financial responsibility for their own work. Small witnessing communities of Christian students have been planted on campuses in at least three other cities and they ar…

Mission Report by Sarah Barry November 1965

Miss Sarah Barry
c/o Dr. D. J. Cunning
Southern Presbyterian Mission
136 Yun Chi Dong, Congno Ku
Seoul, Korea
November 25, 1965
Dear Friends, There is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. A Thanksgiving dinner of rice, seaweed, octopus tentacles, Kemchi, etc., might even be included! And on this cold, cloudy day (typical football weather) it’s very nice to be sitting on the warm floor of my room here in the Mok Chuk Inn. I’m thankful for life and health and the privilege of being back in Korea. Although it’s been just four months since I arrived, still I haven’t been able to settle down and unpack at a permanent address. Missionary mobility has its price! Right after my arrival I spent a little over two months in Kwangju. How good it was to have fellowship again in prayer and Bible study with our students and staff there. I spent much time getting to know the new Christians, born into the kingdom during my year of absence – and knocking rust off of my Korean. I’m very gratef…