Frequently Asked Questions
“Ezemiah” is the combination of the names of Old Testament prophets, Ezra and Nehemiah. They were Jews that were born and raised in Persia during the exile period. However, they were able to lead the return of their people to the “homeland” of Jerusalem, to which they had never been! They were instrumental in the rebuilding of the once-destroyed city walls, Jerusalem temple, and the teaching of God’s word among the people. Together they helped to restore the spiritual, political, and social institutions of their homeland.
In the same spirit of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Ezemiah Movement seeks to bring together various people of Korean heritage scattered across some 180 countries to come back and offer their service where it’s most needed in South Korea. Just as Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt social infrastructure and taught the word to future generations, Ezemiah wants to especially serve the marginalized children in rural Korea. We want not only to teach them English, but to also see the next generation revived through the teaching of God’s Word!
The program is intended for those who’ve completed their first two years of high school (summer after sophomore year), college students, and graduate school students. In other words, the age limit is 16 years to 30 years. Those who don’t fit this range but wish to participate in the program should make specific inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our past participants have included Korean MKs, adoptees of Korean heritage, biracial people with a parent of Korean origins, and friends of 2nd generation Koreans with no ethnic link to Korea at all. We welcome all participants interested in connecting the global Diaspora to serve the marginalized in Korea to join us.
Ezemiahs are encouraged to speak English throughout the program to the Korean children, and as such no Korean is required to participate in the program. You will have at least one teammate fluent in Korean who will be able to communicate with our Korean church partners or translate if necessary.
First, you will join participants from all around the world to attend a 5-day training conference in order to receive practical training in teaching the Vacation Bible School curriculum as well as to prepare your hearts for ministry. The conference will not only train individuals to be children’s Bible teachers, but also to partner with others in a culturally diverse team – composed of MKs who grew up in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Latin American; immigrants to the US and Canada; and students attending international schools in China, Korea, and southeast Asia!
On the last day of the conference, you will be sent off in teams of 5-7 to your first site. (The last day of the conference means we have church vans from all over Korea parked in the lot, waiting to pick up their teams, who are also from all over the world! The send-off is quite a sight.) There, you will meet the church leaders and staff who are hosting you and working with you to put on a Vacation Bible School for the local children. After the initial flurry of introductions and prep work (Which room will we be using for the snack station? Who can I talk to about managing the sound and playlist for our opening and Bible Story skits? Oh hello, host family!), you will find yourself bracing for the next day, when the real work begins! When the 3-4 day VBS program begins the next morning, you will find yourself a teacher, hand-holder, mouth-wiper, dispute-settler, dance-leader, and actor.
After the whirlwind of the first site, you and your teammates will have a day to travel between your first site and your second site and to settle into your second site. After adjusting to the new site, the program begins again starting from VBS Day 1 the next day!
Finally at the end of ministry at both sites, all the teams come back together for a one-night, two-day debrief to tell stories of what God has done in you and through you!
Please refer to the “About” page -> “What We Do” for more details.
Korean summers are typically hot and humid (range: 25 – 40 ℃; 77-104 ℉)
Between June and mid-July, there is a monsoon season known as 장마 (jang-ma).
There are mosquitoes.
Rural Korean churches tend to be more conservative. We ask that all participants be mindful that your host families and church partners may have different cultural attitudes than what you are used to. While we will remind you of some of these differences at the conference, some key ones include:
dress or appearance: Flip-flops on Sundays, sleeveless tops, spaghetti straps, body piercings, and visible tattoos are usually not a good idea. Please consider taking out your non-earring piercing or covering up your tattoo during your stay in the rural areas.
pop culture or music: Blasting pop music on the church speakers or visiting a “PC bang,” (Internet cafes that conjure up images of computer game addicts for Koreans) “noraebang,” (karaoke) or “dang-goo-jang” (pool hall) during your stay with the rural churches is probably not a good idea. We may enjoy some of these activities with you back in Seoul after the program is over, but during the rural visits, please refrain from them.
gender dynamics: Sometimes the more conservative male pastors will not address you directly as the leader, even if you are actually the team leader, because you are a younger woman. Instead, he may address an older guy on your team as “the leader.” Some of these dynamics are understandably incredibly frustrating, but it’s important to recognize that they do not point to your incompetence, but to cultural differences that have nothing to do with you! Also, hugging between people of the opposite sex – and perhaps hugging in general – is quite rare in the rural areas. So don’t be offended if your host family doesn’t hug you back when you give them a big for their wonderful hospitality!
age dynamics/ways of addressing elders: Receiving things handed to you with two hands, using the respectul “jondaemal” when speaking, and bowing to village elders and church members to greet them, even if you don’t know them, are helpful behaviours!
All airfare costs to and from Korea are paid by the participants. Some participants have fundraised in the past to raise this cost, and others have participated in mission fundraisers at their local church. All other transportation, room, and board costs are covered by the Ezemiah Foundation and their church partners. We fundraise throughout the year in order to do so, so if you’d like to give to the program, please check out our Donations page.
Participants must also pay the registration fee of $300 to complete their application process. All returning participants pay $200, and all Missionary Kids pay $100. In the event that you pay the registration fee and that we determine that you are not a good fit for the program upon reviewing your application, we will return the amount to you.
The precise dates per year can be found on the homepage, but generally the program runs for about 16 day starting the last week of July and ending the first week of August, which coincides with the children’s’ summer break:
- 5 days of training conference
- 4 days of Site One
- 1 travel/resting day
- 4 days of Site Two
- 2 days of Debrief
While we encourage all Ezemiahs to participate in both sites of the program, in the past some participants were only able to attend the conference and first site, and forced to forgo the second site due to prior scheduling conflicts. In rare cases participants had to miss the first site, but were able to attend the second site. We can accommodate these schedules if informed in advance. However, missing the training conference for more than a day is non-negotiable, because in order to teach you must first learn.
Ezemiahs will spend most of the first week at the training conference, and the rest of the programs time between two appointed rural churches anywhere in Korea. They will be travel and be housed in local church people’s homes or in the church’s guest rooms with their 5-7 teammates. Each location is different, and each team is different, often a wide range of ages, personalities, cultures and backgrounds. Locations and teams will be made and announced during the conference.
You may make a request to return to a site you went to previously if you are a returning Ezemiah, and we will do our best to honor that request as we value long-term relationships between you and the children in these rural areas. However, you may make a request to be put on the same team with a friend and we may not be able to do so since we prioritize building teams based on experience, diversity, maturity, and unity rather than on individual friendships. We have found that many returning participants are able up with past team members at the training conference at the beginning of the program.
Ezemiahs are sent to the most rural regions because often English education is the single most difficult subject for children in these regions. As Korea is increasingly becoming more international, all children are basically required to study the English language. But most children outside of Seoul have scant resources to do so.
Therefore the English Vacation Bible School camps are often great opportunities for both Christian and non-Christian families in rural areas to send their children to a quality English camp with native speakers. We partner with local Korean churches to provide rural families not only an opportunity to learn English, but an opportunity to learn the Bible!
- Bible (Please be sure you have a hard copy that is not your phone. Notebook and writing utensils are also helpful but not necessary.)
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, towel, etc. (Your host families will provide you with basic toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo, but please bring a small amount for the conference.)
- 2 sets of practical clothes that wash and dry easily (Dryers are rare in Korea.)
- One set of conservative Sunday clothes. (close-toed shoes and a non-shorts, non-sleeveless option)
- Swimwear/Clothes you can get wet in (Water events are common during the conference and in the rural areas. As you can imagine, bikinis and speedos may not be the best idea in the rural areas.)
Other Packing Tips:
- You will receive 2 Ezemiah shirts and 2 Ezemiah towels (thin and small, not bath-sized) at the conference.
- Pack light, there is limited space available for luggage during transit and at homestays.
(e.g. one medium sized carrier and a light backpack)
- You will be provided with basic toiletry (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste during the conference/training period), and most host families will also provide you with some. But as situations can vary for each new site/church, we recommend that you bring small amounts or purchase little travel toiletry packs that are available for sale in convenience stores in Korea.
Yes, Ezemiah is a 501(c) non-profit, tax-exempt organization in the United States.