Wednesday, April 30, 2014

16 performances later

16 performances later and we are spiritually, musically and relationally richer and stronger than we could have ever imagined. We are marveling at the way God is choosing to make His name known in Korea. And we are marveling at how much we are growing. We have learned so much about hospitality and respect from our hosts. We are learning about God's magnificence and lavish love from the way we are being cared for here. We are learning and seeing first hand that music really does comfort and heal; that music is the universal language; that music can bridge gaps otherwise untouchable. We are learning that God's grace is enough. Miraculously, our bodies are tired, and a number of us sick...but the music and experiences keep getting richer.

We thank God for using us. I thank Him for not only bringing us here to help Korea heal and know Him, but also to change lives amongst ourselves. Students are often telling me that they are experiencing major "ah ha" moments on this trip. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we have fallen in love with the Korean people and their country. They have 37 new prayer warriors! We are excited for the next four days, although already a little sad to think about leaving on Sunday. Please pray specifically for God to continue to sustain our bodies.

Arirang - Korea Today Report

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Amazing Grace - Biola Chorale's Final Performances in Korea

We have been truly overwhelmed by the response in Korea.  There are many more events and concerts to come before everyone returns to the United States. For those of you who have found this blog for the first time looking for information about the concerts, we thank you for your interest and hope very much to see you at one of these remaining performances.

Wednesday, April 30
Honam Theological University
Supia Girl’s High School
Bethel Community Church

Thursday, May 1
Gwangshin University
Sungil High School
Gwangju Culture & Art Center

Friday, May 2
Korea International Christian School
Soongeui Church

Saturday, May 3
Far East Art Hall at FEBC - Korea

Sunday, May 4
Antioch Church
Heaorum Presbyterian Church

For more information from Far East Broadcasting about these dates, they have given us a link to their Facebook page.

Weep with those who weep

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."     

Romans 12:9-15

Please continue to pray for our students, Dr. Shawna Stewart, Dr. Barry Corey, Dr. Billy Kim and the staff of Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) as the week continues. Many more concerts, school visits and activities to come before they return home on Sunday, May 4th. Thank you for your friendship and faith and for journeying with us. 

"It's hard to put into words our experience last night at Jindo. We are humbled to have been invited into their grief. It sounds like much good has come from it even in the smallest of things like the expression of our emotion through tears. We concluded by singing Amazing Grace with the families, us in English, the families in Korean. Soli Deo gloria." Shawna Stewart

You may need to copy and paste this link in your browser to see the report.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A message of hope

We are staying in Mokpo and just visited Paengmok Dock (near Jindo). This is where the relief effort of the ferry recovery and search and rescue is based. Yesterday, Sunday, Dr. Billy Kim announced that President Corey accompanied by the Chorale will would go visit this place. This announcement was met with opposition, since it is such a tender situation. To have foreigners go into this intense area of grieving family members could be viewed as extremely offensive.

We rode in a bus for three hours with President Corey and were able to have devotion, prayer time, and preparation for the severity of the environment we were about to visit. We went and visited the Christians who were there, either because they are there to support, pray for their loved ones to be found, or mourn their loved one's death. Paul Chang got to translate a prayer from Dr. Barry Corey for those in attendance. The Chorale sang Psalm 23 in Korean, and The King's Men sang a tender arrangement of I'll Fly Away. We then heard a sermon from a local pastor to the family members, and we were able to sing Amazing Grace and the Doxology alongside these dear people. The Holy Spirit was so present in this tent while the rain was falling down. After the Doxology many people came up to us and thanked us for "giving them hope." God is moving in powerful ways!

Traveling to the dock

Dear family and friends,

We are a little over two hours away from arriving at the dock at Jindo to sing for the families.
This is a service, but it is right on the dock where the grieving families have been staying.
Chorale will sing Psalm 23 in Korean, King's Men will sing I'll Fly Away (with great solemnity both in tempo and spirit), and Dr. Corey will pray for the people.

Please pray for the ways in which God might use us.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Singing for the families of the ferry tragedy

Chorale has just been asked by Dr. Billy Kim to sing in Jindo (city the ferry departed from) at a church service for the families of those that drowned on the ferry. We will be singing at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night, which will be 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, California time. We would covet your prayers for our ministry and on a practical level, that we will be wise and not cause any offense. We will have to wear black, cannot take photos, cannot talk, cannot laugh/smile and cannot pray directly for people. Please pray that it would glorify God in all ways....and pray we can keep ourselves together enough to actually sing.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

As we head to Mokpo

I just read this article on CNN. The ferry sank near to Mokpo, our next stop.

If you have not yet read this particular article, I encourage you to do so. I think the cultural insight it provides is important context for the significance of this tragedy to the country.

Note: You may need to copy and paste the link into your browser in order to view the article.

Ferry disaster's toll on national psyche

More than we ever hoped or imagined

We have just finished two days in Daegu and are on our way to Mokpo via Daejeon. The night we left home, Dr. Corey sent me a text saying, "I pray that this will be more than we ever hoped or imagined."

In just 3 days and 5 out of 24 performances down, it has already been more than any of us could have imagined. We have been showered with gifts and an abundance of great food ALL of the time; we have a new standard for welcoming guests in the USA. But even more memorable has been the reception by the people. We have sung with two children's choruses and have been mobbed by the friendliest kids we've ever met. Their enthusiasm and openness has really blessed us and left its mark.

The audiences have also been warm, receiving and incredibly enthusiastic.  FEBC and the local pastors have expressed that they hope our music will bring revival to a people very much in need of refreshment in light of the ferry tragedy; we hear that they have been very moved by our singing. In fact, I think we would all agree that we have never experienced such an amazing reception of choral music....EVER. Our hearts and minds....and camera cards are already full and it is only performance day 3. God bless you.

Leaving for Daejeon

Photo of Daegu from the top of our hotel.

Jordan Weaver: "We are now leaving Daegu for Daejeon. The last two full days have been spent performing in Daegu and The Lord has blessed us with such rich times of worship with many churches and schools. We have seen God work through us and our music to impact the people of Daegu, and the people of Daegu have definitely impacted us!"

A proposal in Korea!

14 years ago Tom McClelland proposed to Rachel Pennoyer on choir tour.  Last night Junior MUED major, Ramon Cardenas proposed to Senior Emily Ballard, a relationship that started on our Germany tour in 2011.  I guess these international tours have even more benefits than we knew! I will try to post the video shortly. Congratulations Emily and Ramon!


Everything is going really well. Reports are trickling in from Daegu. The students are having a great time and have received a wonderful reception at every performance. I'm sure there will be more stories for the blog when everyone has a chance to catch their breath and check in with more detail. For now, I'll just share some of the pictures that are being e-mailed along the way!

6a.m. CrossFit workout to start the day! What guys, no tuxes?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Starting soon!

Everyone slept well!

Paul Chang has checked in: "Everyone slept very well! We had an amazing breakfast at the hotel which has given us the energy for a very full day of performances. We are currently driving to our first performance and are listening to a devotion from our Chorale President Brianna. We are nervous and excited. Our rehearsal last night went very well! We know we can definitely still improve, but we are excited to share the music that we are able to create."

Daegu: Concerts 1-3

Good morning from Daegu!

It was nothing short of a miracle that after 25+ hours of travel, we had a fantastic rehearsal before bedtime. The singers are amazing; God's grace and mercy is so evident. I am incredibly proud of them.

Bedtime was around 10:00 pm. and we were back up at 6:30 for an 8:15 call time.
Shortly we will be singing for students at Daeshin University. I had the privilege of joining many pastors, University presidents (including Daeshin University) and diginitaries last night (dinner) and this morning (breakfast) to talk about Biola and celebrate God's work here in Korea and around the world. Dr. Corey (Biola president) also joined us this morning here in Daegu.

We are all continually moved by the generosity of our hosts, Dr. Billy Kim and FEBC (Far East Broadcasting Company), and by how enthuisiastically they support Biola and the Chorale's ministry through music. Their fervor for God and His work is powerful. As one of the pastors this morning said, FEBC and pastors are looking to our music to refresh and revive the people amidst this time of national mourning. We are honored.

This afternoon we sing at Keisung High School and this evening at Dongshin Church where we will be joined by the FEBC Daegu Children's choir. Every FEBC site has their own Children's choir.
One of their choirs sang at Biola in the fall. I believe Chorale is going to burst with delight when they hear them!

Wishing you a joyful day.

Update on Joshua

Joshua is stable and doing well. He was released from the hospital. He and Ken Stewart will sleep at the FEBC guest house tonight, rest up and will go to Daegu to join the Chorale tomorrow.

Our thanks to the FEBC staff who coordinated care and treatment for Joshua in Seoul. Dr. Billy Kim's personal physician Dr. Lee made preparations for Joshua's care even before the connecting flight landed in Seoul.  Dr. Lee arranged for immediate care from a specialist at Severance Hospital who is in support of Joshua resuming participation with the tour now that he has his needed medication. We are so grateful!! The Lord is near!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On our way to Daegu

We arrived safely in Seoul at 11:30 and were soon greeted by the most gracious FEBC staff. I personally have been overwhelmed by their warm greeting and abundant generosity. On each bus seat was a box with filled with our CD, a t-shirt, a beautiful program, a welcome message and below it all candy, crackers, water and more. We are being spoiled!

Now we are traveling by bus to Deagu. I feel blessed to have these long bus rides as it is a great way to see the countryside When we arrive,  we will get cleaned up (yea!), eat dinner and hold a 2 hour rehearsal....yes, we need the work, but the rehearsal will also keep us awake until the "proper" sleeping hour :) I think most of us have slept about 4-5 hours since we left, although a few good sleepers seemed to sack out for a solid 7-8 hours on the flight to Beijing.

As an update to contact information, I can be reached via text at 626.806.9450. Ken Stewart can be reached via text or phone at 626.465.3258.

We leave the hotel at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow for a day full of concertizing (3 concerts!). Please pray for our mental acuity, vocal health, spiritual sensitivity and relational openness and wisdom and we have many opportunities to engage with the Korean people...and of course, each other.

Soli Deo gloria. God bless you.


The unexpected

Dear friends,

This is Shawna Stewart. Thank you for reading our blog and thank you for you prayers.
I wanted to let you now about an unexpected turn of events for our  Chorale.

First, several days ago, one of our beloved first tenors had to withdraw from the tour due to an infection in his body. Kerry Paxton, we miss you!

The following is posted with permission from Joshua Murdaugh:

About eight hours into our flight to Beijing, our beloved second tenor, Joshua Murdaugh, had a very large seizure and one smaller one. He was standing in the aisle talking with friends when he seizured. Our merciful God had aboard 2 nurses for us. Vincent works in the VA hospital in Long Beach (?) and Marita is a nurse at Hohe hospital in Newport Beach. Both, but especially Marita took great care of Joshua seeing that his vitals were stable and keeping him safe and comfortable as he seizured. He was unconscious for over 30 minutes. You can imagine, we were pretty worried, but are so grateful to the many people that helped out. At one point, though we couldn't understand him, one of the passengers came and apparently spoke some sort of a blessing or good will to him. It was very special.

Joshua, myself and my husband got to fly in business class for the rest of the flight. We of course all joked with Joshua telling him that it was quite a grand way for him to get a seat upgrade. 

We intitially thought Joshua would need to be admitted into a hospital in Beijing, but after consultation with his parents, his neurologist and several others, Joshua was given permission to fly to Seoul, where he is presently admitted to an international hospital. At this point, Joshua will stay overnight for observation, and return to us tomorrow. My husband Ken is with him. 

We covet your prayers and will keep you updated!

Thank you again for journeying with us. 


Joshua resting in Beijing, China before the flight to Seoul.

Safe in Seoul!

Layover in Beijing!

Everyone arrived safely in Beijing, China and enjoyed Starbucks, electricity, and legroom after a 760 minutes flight before making their connecting flight to Seoul. They should be on the ground in Korea soon! 

"Be praying for continued protection for the Chorale and wisdom as we are making decisions. There have been many amazing conversations with so many people. So amazing to see doors already opening up for us to minister without even singing :)" reports Jordan Weaver.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On our way!

Everyone loaded the charter bus at Biola University and is on the way to LAX to check in for the flight to Beijing; then on to Seoul.

Dynamic Duo

Paul Chang and Jordan Weaver are out getting fresh hair cuts for tour! Lookin' good, guys!!

Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) - Tour Poster

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cook Out at the Stewarts!!

After a great rehearsal, the Chorale is enjoying some food and fellowship at Casa Stewart.


Final rehearsal before departure is underway. The students have been working hard to memorize the repertoire including two pieces that will be sung in Korean while they are on tour: Psalm 23 and Saeya Saeya Parang Saeya.

Follow the Biola Chorale as they travel to South Korea!

The Biola University Chorale is making final preparations for their South Korea tour. Stay tuned here for frequent updates and pictures.

Hosted by Dr. Billy Kim and Far East Broadcast Company, the Biola University Chorale will be in South Korea with President Corey from April 23-May 4 visiting schools, churches and concert halls performing their repertoire for audiences of all ages.

Friday, April 25
Daeshin University
Keisung High School
Dongshin Church

Saturday, April 26
Daegu Central Church

Sunday, April 27
Together Church
Saeronam Church
Nonsan Yeonmudae Church - cancelled due to ferry tragedy

Monday, April 28
Maesan High School
Beolgyo High School

Tuesday, April 29
Jeongmyung Girl’s Middle School
Mokpo Culture Art Center

Wednesday, April 30
Honam Theological University
Supia Girl’s High School
Bethel Community Church

Thursday, May 1
Gwangshin University
Sungil High School
Gwangju Culture & Art Center

Friday, May 2
Korea International Christian School

Saturday, May 3
Far East Art Hall at FEBC - Korea

Sunday, May 4
Antioch Church
Heaorum Presbyterian Church