BALTIMORE– Dr. Samuel and Young Cho, who started the first Nepalese and Bhutanese Baptist churches in the United States, were honored in a retirement celebration service on March 18, 2018, at White Marsh Baptist Church. The heartfelt service was conducted in four languages — Korean, Nepalese, Bhutanese and English — and featured testimonies and greetings from various groups who have supported the couple’s efforts this past decade in Baltimore, Md.
In addition to songs and dances performed by members of both the Nepal Baptist Church of Baltimore and the Bhutan Baptist Church of Baltimore, several leaders praised the Chos for their efforts to reach the Nepalese and Bhutanese in Baltimore and in those native lands.
After an opening prayer from Kwang Lim, pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md., Pabitra Magar and Arjun Hamal shared about the impact the Chos’ ministry has had on their lives.
After not finding work opportunities in Florida, in 2009, Magar moved into Maryland, where she met Pastor Cho. “This was the grand design of God that we should fellowship this way. They helped us so much to lead us to the Lord,” she said, noting also how the “beautiful couple would go to each and every door of the Bhutanese peoples” and share the Good News of Jesus.
“Those who found the Lord through their ministry were literally brought up by Pastor Cho and Maam Cho,” she said, pointing to how they helped the Bhutanese find jobs and homes. “We didn’t know the language, we were helpless, and we felt like orphans at the time.”
Hamal, a Nepali, said Cho opened the Bible and shared the Gospel with him and his friend. “And from that day forward, he has continued to serve us until this day.”
In addition to all the work they have done in Baltimore, Hamal noted how the Chos also took time to visit Nepal — twice.
“Many times we have difficulty, we have sadness, we are in need of job—so many things and circumstances! Pastor Cho and Maam Cho have helped us find jobs. They have helped us in so many ways,” said Hamal. “Even though I don’t have my parents, they feel like my parents.”
In his congratulatory remarks, Tally Wilgis, executive director of the Baltimore Baptist Association, recalled how he felt, as a younger church planter who thought he knew it all, when he met Cho. “I realized then that Samuel Cho was the one who knew it all,” he said, expressing gratitude also for his leadership and participation in the association.
Jaehak Kim, president of the Maryland/Delaware Korean Baptist Association (MDKBA), expressed appreciation for Cho’s “desire for reaching the people of Nepal and Bhutan with the love of the Lord” and for being ever-present at the MDKBA meetings. “I believe the Lord is saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’” for the many ways he has served,” Kim said.
Dave Tierney, pastor of White Marsh Baptist Church, where the Nepal and Bhutan churches share space, said, “As I was thinking about Pastor Cho, I was thinking about the resoluteness of Jesus Christ.” He pointed to John 4, where Jesus had to go through Samaria, and in Matthew 16, where He taught His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and must be killed on the third day.
“Sometimes in ministry, we talk about vocational ministry, but what you have demonstrated is that your vocation is Christ-follower,” he told Cho. “And Mrs. Cho, not only have you been a companion in life, you have been his partner in ministry. Not only have you labored with him, you have prayed for him, you have encouraged him, … We honor both of you.”
Before presenting a plague of recognition from the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) to Cho, Executive Director Kevin Smith praised Cho, saying, “When I think about your ministry, I see different generations. I see different skin colors. I see different languages. I see different clothing. I see difference, I see difference, and then I see everybody at the same time giving glory to Jesus Christ.”
Smith also praised God that Cho has been a true pastor who has really cared for his church members.
In a sermon, Robert Kim, former BCM/D church-planting missionary, pointed to 2 Timothy 4:7, saying Cho, like the Apostle Paul, has been “keeping the faith and finishing the race and fighting the good fight with the ministry.”
While working at the North American Mission Board, Robert Kim had overheard about a church planter on the East Coast who was going to start a church in a language different from his own.
“It was a very rare and difficult project for a planter to start a church with people from a different cultural background than him,” Kim explained. “But later, I heard that the church in the Baltimore area was said to be very successfully established.”
In fact, Kim said the Nepal Baptist Church was “legendary in church-planting history in North America because this church was started by a church planter from a different people group.”
The Chos also started another church from a different cultural background when they started the Bhutan Baptist Church, Kim said, adding, “How beautiful the ministry he has done like this.”
Cho, himself, gave remarks, sharing his testimony of coming to faith in Jesus and to following Him in planting the two churches. Though he initially wanted to plant a Korean church, in 2004, he met a Nepali couple in a restaurant in Baltimore and invited them to learn about Jesus. Later, a weekly house fellowship was started in the couple’s house, and soon the fellowship took a form of a church, Nepal Baptist Church of Baltimore, in 2005.
In 2009, Cho started the Bhutan Baptist Church of Baltimore with a few Bhutanese refugee-resettled families he met in their apartments. That fellowship took form as a church in 2010.
As the churches grew, they moved to different locations. At present, they meet on the campus of White Marsh Baptist Church in Perry Hall, Md. But the church’s influence has spread throughout Baltimore and Maryland, to the neighboring states and even in Nepal and Bhutan, where the Chos have recorded over 1,000 decisions for salvation.
Throughout the program, in demonstration of their shared leadership, Razu Budhathoki, who served under Cho as pastor of the Bhutanese church, and Manoj Shrestha who served under Cho as pastor of the Nepalese church, translated the messages into Bhutanese and Nepalese.
Shrestha presented the Chos a plaque of appreciation, and Budhathoki presented them a framed pencil drawing of their portraits, among others who gave gifts. At the conclusion of the service, Cho symbolically transferred his senior leadership to the two pastors through the joint cutting of the celebratory cake.
Then, preceding a traditional Nepalese meal, former BCM/D missionary, Tae Hwan Park, gave the benediction.
View more photos of the retirement service on Flickr.