• Campus Crusade "Explosions":Conversions and Conservatism from the US Bible Belt to Cold War South Korea, 1972–1974

During the Nixon-Park era, Campus Cruade for Christ, an evangelical non-profit, hosted Explo '72 and '74, two massive revivals, or "explosions" of the Holy Spirit, that transnationally allied non-state actors from Cold War South Korea and the US Bible Belt. At Explo '72 and '74, Joon Gon Kim (1925–2009) and Bill Bright (1921–2003), the leaders of the Korean and US branches of Campus Crusade, forged an alliance on the basis of what I call a transpacific politics of soul saving—an alliance built on the conviction that individual conversions had the power to change society and win the global Cold War against communism. Kim and Bright's alliance was marked by tension and rivalry, underscoring the uneven US-South Korean patron-client relations. Yet their alliance, based on a transpacific politics of soul saving, accommodated a measure of bidirectional influence from Cold War South Korea to the US Bible Belt because the telos of Bright and Kim's alliance was ultimately conversions and conservatism. The following transpacific historical reconstruction of Explo '72 and '74 reveals that not only the activities of the state, but also that of non-state actors, including evangelists, were a key force for conservatizing politics in the Nixon-Park era of the global Cold War, foreshadowing the rise of the Protestant/Christian Right in both nations.


Evangelicalism, conversions, conservatism, Cold War, Campus Crusade for Christ, Bill Bright, Joon Gon Kim, Park Chunghee, Richard Nixon[End Page 11]


In 1972, at the apex of anti-Nixon Vietnam War protests and the nadir of South Korean democracy under Park Chunghee's Yusin system, Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical missionary non-profit, detonated a powerful "'explosion' of the Holy Spirit" from Dallas to Seoul.1 Striving to be in tune with the times, Campus Crusade employed a culturally recognizable metaphor of war in lieu of the biblical image of the Holy Spirit as a dove to advertise its massive revivals at Explo '72 in Dallas and Explo '74 in Seoul ("Explo" signified "explosion of the Holy Spirit"). But the "explosive" militaristic metaphor was more than figurative. At these "Explos," Joon Gon Kim (Kim Chun'gon; 1925–2009) and Bill Bright (1921–2003), the leaders of the Korean and US branches of the multinational Campus Crusade, were allied in what I call a transpacific politics of soul saving. Against the backdrop of the 38th parallel, Kim and Bright delineated Christians and communists, good and evil, and sought Holy Spirit "explosions" which they hoped would result in converts willing to exchange communist and leftist activities for a Christian revolution to evangelize the world.

Kim and Bright's alliance was, at times, vexed by a tension and rivalry underscored by the uneven patron-client state relations between the US and South Korea. Yet Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving at Explo '72 and Explo '74 made possible a South Korean challenge to the United States' claim as the rightful bearer of the mantle of global Christian leadership. Between 1972 and 1974, Kim consequently persuaded Bright to focus Campus Crusade's energies toward South Korea, revealing a measure of bidirectional influence across the Pacific from Cold War South Korea to the US Bible Belt.2

In the following transpacific historical reconstruction of Explo '72 and '74, I argue that Bright and Kim's alliance accommodated bidirectional influence according to the logic of their transpacific politics of soul saving. American Christian power could partially bend toward South Korean Christian power not only for the sake of the total evangelization of the world but also for the stability of the state in the Nixon-Park era of the global Cold War.3 [End Page 12] Ultimately, Explo '72 and '74, served not only as a high-water mark of conversions and evangelistic activities in the US and South Korea, but also as a transpacific means for reinforcing conservatism, thus protecting the US and South Korean states from leftist notions of "freedom" and "revolution" that threatened their stability. Explo '72 and '74 reveal that not only the activities of the state, but also the activities of non-state actors, including evangelists, were a key force for conservtising politics in the Nixon-Park era, fore-shadowing the rise of the Protestant/Christian Right in both nations.

To be sure, Kim and Bright did not primarily imagine their work for the Christian kingdom in blunt political terms, and their soul-saving activities cannot be reduced to politics or imagined as having served a merely functionalist purpose. Their sacred work had political effects, far beyond what they may have imagined or intended. This paper uncovers the political ramifications of that sacred work. To that end, this paper begins with a discussion of the internal logic of Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving. The paper then proceeds with a deep dive into Explo '72 and Explo '74, providing a transpacific interpretation of these events, with Kim and Bright at the center of the story. The following transpacific interpretation of Explo '72 and Explo '74 reveals not only the tensions between US and South Korean Christianity, but also the historical conditions that made it possible for their intimate collaboration in the Nixon-Park era of the global Cold War.

Joon Gon Kim and Bill Bright's Alliance: A Battle for Souls Not Politics

Undergirding Bright and Kim's transpacific politics of soul saving was the belief that changed lives would change society. Kim argued:

There is the internal human revolution and social revolution… [W]e believe that social revolution is possible [only] through human revolution… This one thing is clear: social action does not constitute evangelism. No matter how important it is, how urgent it is, and how pleasing it is to God, it cannot constitute evangelism; that is my viewpoint, my way of interpreting the Bible on this matter.

(Lee 2010, 99) [End Page 13]

Bright also believed in the revolution that would come from saving individual souls, as he declared at Explo '72: "Changed people in sufficient numbers make a changed world." During his "Here's Life, America" campaign, Bright argued that social reform, in terms of decreases in divorce rates, alcoholism, and racism, would take place through America's Christianization (Turner 2008, 142). The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) shared his views. Instead of advocating for the United Nations, the NAE called upon Congress to pass a resolution to "support and strengthen missionary endeavors throughout the world," which would "raise the moral responsibility of all citizens to the point where they will obey world law" (Inboden 2008, 57).

Figure 1. Joon Gon Kim and Bill Bright, at Explo '74, Seoul, Korea, 1974. Source: Campus Crusade for Christ International (2007)
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Figure 1.

Joon Gon Kim and Bill Bright, at Explo '74, Seoul, Korea, 1974. Source: Campus Crusade for Christ International (2007)

Bright and Kim's priority for saving souls was often in tension with, or in contradiction to, late-twentieth century politics that sought to bring institutions [End Page 14] to justice. Hoping to preserve Campus Crusade's non-profit status, Bright discouraged his staff's political engagement during the Civil Rights movement. When his closest associates showed him that his supposedly nonpolitical stances represented conservative politics, he was alarmed (Turner 2008, 190). Kim similarly insisted on the importance of souls over politics. While he acknowledged the murky line between religious and political action, he defined himself against "liberation Christians" in South Korea who expressed their faith through social protest, and prioritized a gospel for the oppressed under Park's authoritarian regime. Most South Korean Christians, he suggested, believed the "church should stay out of politics" (Quebedeaux 1979, 191).

Bright and Kim were, nevertheless, active participants in the political machinery of their respective nations. In the 1960s, Campus Crusade's funding came from "right-wing Republican financial sources," who supported Bright's vision of "less government, more money, more ministry." Though Bright was committed to political neutrality, he was "equally serious about channeling youthful devotion into a conservative, Christian, Republican politics" (Dochuk 2011, 208). Kim was similarly entrenched in the conservative politics of his nation. He evangelized South Korean military dictator Park Chunghee and curried favor with him to secure land for Campus Crusade. He also organized the Presidential Prayer Breakfast series in 1968, which became a religious foothold for the Protestant Right, as Nami Kim reiterates: "Since its establishment, the National Prayer Breakfast in South Korea has justified and even praised US-backed military dictatorships, and the majority of Protestant pastors who have participated in the National Prayer Breakfast for decades are the leading figures of the Protestant Right" (Kim 2016, 8). Much like that of Bright, Kim's work had high political stakes and he engaged some of his nation's most prominent political figures. Yet it should be noted that both understood their work primarily as a battle for souls, not politics.4

Kim and Bright's shared vision to change the world, one soul at a time, began in the aftermath of the Korean War (1950–1953). In 1957, Kim moved to Pasadena, California to study at Fuller Theological Seminary (Becker 2007, 59). A contemporary of Billy Graham, Bright was a middle-class white man from Oklahoma who dropped out of Fuller to found Campus Crusade at UCLA in 1951. Kim admitted that he "had never expected to acquire spiritual [End Page 15] power" in the US because of the "great trouble" brought upon Korean churches, "chiefly through students who studied at liberal seminaries in the United States." His expectations, however, were reversed when he met Bright and "discovered something which [he] had not realized before": he had failed to proclaim the "basic message" as Campus Crusade had done with its twenty-minute evangelistic tool, "God's Plan for Your Life," a precursor to its Four Spiritual Laws.5 It was a revelation to him. Kim recalled the moment: "I said to myself, 'Here it is, this is the only key to winning the lost souls to Christ."'6 As Bright had done a few years before him, Kim dropped out of Fuller, and devoted his career to Campus Crusade. In 1958, Kim was Campus Crusade's first non-white partner, and he established the organization's first international chapter, in South Korea. Moreover, Fuller, an institution born out of the fundamentalist strain of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, was the institutional hub that first fused Kim and Bright's transpacific alliance, revealing the school's import in establishing networks beyond the nation-state.

From the 1950s, Kim and Bright's alliance prospered because their transpacific politics of soul saving relied upon a shared anticommunist commitment to world evangelization, which Kim expressed in his Korean War conversion narrative. Kim had been in his hometown of Jido Island in Jeollanam-do province when North Korean communists occupied the region for three months, and he recalled witnessing his father's brutal death: "Just a stone's throw away from me, my father was struck on the head several times and fell dead." He then witnessed his wife's death: "Then my wife, trying to keep back her tears, said goodbye to me and said she would see me in heaven. Before my eyes, she was brutally killed." Kim likewise constantly expected to be killed, and during the three-month massacre he "overcame twenty-one instances where I almost died." From his family, only he and his baby daughter survived. Even though Kim had become a Christian at nineteen, he recalled that the "starting point of my Christian life began when I faced persecution and death under the Communist occupation" (Marks 1981, 21). The choice between life and death structured his theological commitments as he could not hold theological middle ground when faced what seemed like the only theological options: Christianity versus communism. [End Page 16]

For mid-twentieth-century American evangelicals like Graham and Harold Ockenga, communism served as an ominous but distant symbol of satanic and secular influence. But for Kim, communism was a matter of life and death. Thus, he concretized American evangelicals' abstract fears and strengthened their conviction to use evangelization as a tool to combat communism.7 Bright believed that the "evangelization of Japan and South Korea would inoculate other Asian countries against the contagion of communism" (Turner 2008, 98). Kim similarly believed that Korea was the key to saving Asia from communism: "As Chiang Kai-shek remarked, 'The one who conquers Korea will conquer Asia.' Her position is important not only from the political standpoint, but the spiritual standpoint also."8 Kim likened his spiritual strategy to Chiang's political strategy. Henrietta Mears, one of Bright's mentors, also shared this sentiment when she warned her parishioners at Forest Home in 1947: "There must be a Christian answer to the growing menace of communism." Mears resolved, "God is looking for women and men of total commitment," and her solution was an uncompromising proclamation of the gospel (Turner 2008, 26). If Fuller was the institutional hub that initially made Bright and Kim's alliance possible, then their shared anticommunism was the political bedrock that solidified it. Finally, paired with their theological commitment to the Great Commission—that is, the total evangelization of the world—Kim and Bright had, at mid-twentieth century, developed a transpacific politics of soul saving.

"The New Emerging Christian Kingdom": Holy Spirit "Explosion," Dallas, 1972

Kim and Bright's transpacific alliance, established in the 1950s, served as the foundation for the Holy Spirit "explosions" they organized in 1972 and 1974. As one biographer noted, Kim and Bright were like "two prongs of a tuning fork"—that is, "when one was struck with a strategy he believed was of God, it motivated the other, right on pitch" (Richardson 2000, 158). Yet in the heat of the evangelistic revival of Explo '72, Kim and Bright's synchronous pitch had "explosive" effects that revealed tensions in their alliance. When Bright [End Page 17] and Kim first met in 1957, Bright had provided Kim with Campus Crusade's resources to evangelize South Korea, but by the 1970s, Kim was showing Bright the grand scale at which such evangelistic tools could be used. As Korea Campus Crusade staff worker Jin Tak Oh recalled, Bright and Kim were "spiritual sojourners" as well as "rivals" who "encouraged and challenged each other."9 By announcing that Seoul would host Explo '74 and gather an audience that vastly surpassed Bright's, Kim argued for a shift in Christian empire from the West to the East. As a result of Kim's audacious announcement, between 1972 and 1974, Kim's influence reached across the Pacific to critique US Christian exceptionalism and shift Campus Crusade's focus toward South Korea. Influence moved across the Pacific in both directions, however unevenly.

Explo '72 was a massive revival that departed from Campus Crusade's original missionary work primarily on college campuses targeting star football players and members of Greek life. Campus Crusade hosted approximately 80,000 youth and young adults in the Cotton Bowl at Dallas, Texas from June 12–17, 1972 for revival and evangelistic trainings. The national fame of Graham, the executive director of Explo '72, helped publicize the event, and he called it the "Christian Woodstock" because Johnny Cash and musicians, enthralled by the Jesus Movement culture, entertained attendees in between teachings about the Holy Spirit and evangelism (Turner 2008, 140).10 Speakers at Explo '72 ranged from those spiritually nurtured in the heart of the US Bible Belt like Graham to those theologically formed by the context of Cold War South Korea like Kim. On the last day of the revival, Kim mounted the stage to make his aforementioend suprise announcement (Becker 2007, 131). Bailey Marks, Kim's immediate superior, recalled Bright asking him: "Why didn't you forewarn me about the announcement?" Marks responded, "I would have been very happy to have forewarned you if I had known about it myself" (Marks 2010). Kim had circumvented the chain of command at Campus Crusade to make his announcement, attributing it to the movement of the Spirit rather than any deliberate strategy on his part to blindside or outdo Bright.

Senior staff were not the only ones surprised by Kim's audacious declaration. Ed Neibling, who became a missionary to Asia as result of Explo '72, recalls, "That was nice but quite a big challenge given that night."13 Gertrude [End Page 18] Phillips, a new Campus Crusade worker, recalled, "I was amazed… I hadn't heard about that. It was just the spirit of God that moved him."14 Another commented on the surprise announcement: "In simple terms, they were befuddled." Oh recalled that Kim most likely had been developing a vision for a massive gathering like Explo '74 since 1961. Kim had gathered with Campus Crusade workers for prayer at Samgak Mountain in South Korea when he envisioned an opportunity for all Koreans to come to know Christ. He desired to facilitate Korea's birth as a Christian nation from common folk to the political elite. Oh suggests that Campus Crusade "supported him, ultimately, because it wasn't just crazy talk. It wasn't just a random or spontaneous thought that he expressed because he got emotional in the moment."15 Kim had since the 1960s desired to facilitate Korea's birth as a Christian nation from common folk to the political elite, not unlike Bright's hope for America.

Kim's announcement was additionally surprising because he called for the re-centering of Christian power from the West to the East. Kim declared that the spirit of God was "moving fast, deep and big in Korea" and announced the Korean Peninsula to be the "new emerging Christian kingdom." He invited the American crowd at Explo '72 to "join with us for that historic Jesus march" in South Korea. "Pray that Korea will be won for Christ 100 percent" he implored, and that Korea would be "a symbolic sample Christian nation" and "uniquely used of God for Christ." In expecting that Korea would become the next "city on a hill" Kim's understanding of Korean exceptionalism rivaled Bright's of America. Ready for the urgent mission at hand, he stated: "Our goal is to fulfill the Great Commission in Korea by 1975."16 The date is far from random; Bright had a vision of fulfilling the Great Commission by 1976 in the U.S. and by 1980 in the world (Turner 2008, 139). Kim intended to trump him (Kim "Set Stage"). Kim's declaration challenged American exceptionalism in imagining South Korea as the next center of the Christian empire.

Kim's suggestion that South Korea would exceed the attendance of Explo '72 and replace America as the center of Christian empire echoed the tense but shifting US-South Korean relationship during the Nixon-Park era of the global Cold War. Indeed, Explo '72 was a revival hosted from June 12–17, 1972, sandwiched between Nixon's visit to China and Park Chunghee's declaration of Yusin, two events that fundamentally reshaped US-South Korean [End Page 19] relations in the 1970s. Recall that the Nixon Doctrine, declared on July 29, 1969, resulted in the reduction of US troops in South Korea, which generated fears that South Korea would face the Soviet, North Korean, and Chinese communist bloc in isolation. Nixon's visit to China from February 21–28, 1972 exacerbated those fears. Eight months later, on October 21, 1972, Park Chunghee decreed the Yusin Constitution to reinforce his military regime, which launched South Korea into what some characterize as a "dark age" for democracy (Chang 2015, 2). As Tae Gyun Park notes, two myths, that of ally and empire, have functioned to shape US-South Korean relations, such that "US-South Korea relations cannot be easily explained by a single theory or model." In the 1970s in particular, Park concluded that US-South Korean relations "acquired greater complexity…[and] the South Korean government… began to display a greater ability to maintain internal control and implement its own policies in the face of American pressure" (Park 2012, 348). US-South Korean relations were also increasingly characterized as "brotherly," but in June 1972, just two months before Explo '72, the US showed its Cold War might over South Korea by reducing US troops there all the while maintaining operational control over the South Korean military.

Kim employed militaristic language to articulate his vision of Explo '74, reflecting an increasingly real, and at times perceived, sense of South Korean authority in US-South Korean relations, especially under Park's militaristic Yusin regime. Kim declared, "3,500 soldiers received baptism in one day in one division." Soldiers had been literally converted and were ready now to become also soldiers for Christ to fulfill the Great Commission. Kim had built up a group of "42,000 hardcore revolutionized Christian students" who were influencing Korea spiritually and politically. He conceived of this population of Christian students as a "nucleus of manpower" deployed to train others in evangelism and discipleship.17

Moreover, Kim's imagining of a Christian battle to save souls led to language of a literal war. Indeed, the Houston Chronicle attributed South Korea's growth in Christian "power" to the "evangelistic activities within the South Korean army."18 General Han Shin, commanding general of South Korea's First Army and a North Korean native, believed that "Christianity offered the best defense against communism." Though a Buddhist, he believed that if [End Page 20] the South Korean army had more Christians it would boost "morale," and transform it into "a bulwark against communism."19 The Houston Chronicle continued to report: "Chief of Chaplains of the First Army was instrumental and used God to bring General Han to this conclusion." Kim is mentioned as the person who told General Han that "50 percent of his men [were] to be 'religionized"' because Christians were the "most exemplary and the most anti-Communist of all his soldiers."20 Han even created a "Jesus Regiment," which he ordered to attend Christian services three times a week to hear Korea Campus Crusade staff workers' sermons (Quebedeaux 1979, 191).

When Kim used militant imagery to declare that Korean soldiers had been converted, he not only alluded to the biblical idea of Christian soldiers, but also signified that their conversions would build up a literal military force against communism. Extending the anticommunist Christian ideas that had solidified Bright and Kim's alliance since the mid-twentieth century, Kim argued that converting communists into Christians was no different than converting the South Korean army into a Cold War bulwark against communism. Yet, at this point in the early 1970s, Kim also suggested that the Christian power of South Korea was a force with which even the US, its closest ally, would need to contend.

Note that Campus Crusade staff workers characterized Kim and Bright's relationship primarily in terms of the categories of faith and Christian brotherhood rather than that of rivalry or relations of power. Oh and Marks have suggested that Kim and Bright motivated each other to exercise their "muscles of faith." Kim and Bright "relied on each other's faith to do big things for God," including mass revivals.21 Marks recalled that after the announcement Bright had remarked, "'Well,' … 'our brother has made this announcement. Let's get behind him and do everything we can to see how we can make it [happen] from our point…from our side"' (Marks 2010). On one hand, Kim's declaration was a competitive assertion, suggesting that he could top Campus Crusade's US revival. On the other hand, Kim was a Christian "brother." This was an idealized notion of Christian fraternity which contributed to Oh and Marks' interpretation of Kim and Bright's relationship in terms of a framework of equality rather than that of unequal relations or empire. [End Page 21]

Explaining Kim and Bright's relationship in terms of eastern versus western cultural differences, rather than racial or national hierarchies, also cohered with their Christian imagination of brotherhood and equality. Nils Becker, the US representative of Campus Crusade in Korea, recalled that Kim's surprise announcement was a matter of cultural differences: "In the West, we would not announce a number before the event" (Becker 2007, 131). Oh also saw their relationship as a balance between east and west that could achieve harmony:

In some ways you can say that, as Bright and Kim's relationship became deeper, their worlds of faith achieved more balance. Bright probably was challenged by the eastern way of thinking and…Kim was also challenged by the way Bright worked with his staff. … they began to use an approach that transcended the differences between east and west and became God's method of making history.22

Oh thus suggests that Kim and Bright could transcend fraught US-South Korean relations, but overlooks the multiple tiers of power at work in those relations. He commented, "I think, perhaps, that the greatest influence that Rev. Kim Joon Gon gave to Bill Bright was this: 'Faith cannot be calculated."'23 Yet Kim employed competitive and militaristic language in his announcement, a strategic public decision that "surprised" executive leadership such that it could not be ignored. Kim's announcement forced Campus Crusade's executive leadership to focus on South Korea.

Campus Crusade staff attest to the extent to which the US restructured its priorities in support of Explo '74. Judy Douglass, who was part of the publications department at the time, recalled, "Explo '74 was a crazy thing to try and do because the staff in Korea was small."24 Campus Crusade in the US provided support in terms of money and personnel, and Douglass recalled the financial cuts and organizational shifts that Campus Crusade headquarters made for Explo '74:

[A]nybody who was in a non-essential area was possibly going to be sent or if they didn't get sent [to Korea], they would take the place of hired staff. We were running a hotel, a conference center, so there was a lot of housekeeping, grounds keeping, kitchen responsibilities. They let go of a lot of [End Page 22] the lower-level workers and put headquarter staff into those positions for six months and said for the next six months your job is to change the sheets and towels in the hotel room … and your job is to do landscaping.25

Douglass' department was considered "non-essential" so most of her team went to "fill in where they had let hourlies go, and a number of them went on to Korea to help with administrative duties there." Douglass remembered these transitions as "challenging."26

If Douglass' daily duties were altered as a result of Explo '74, Gertrude Phillips' entire life was transformed. Phillips, who did administrative work at Campus Crusade headquarters, was one of those workers who went to Korea for six months for Explo '74: "I had to have incredible faith to go. It was out of my character to say yes immediately but I just knew." Phillips could go because of her experience at the Cotton Bowl in 1972 where she had heard Kim's surprise announcement. "As I look back, that's when the most amazing things happened," she said with tears in her eyes. She continued: "God already knew, before the foundation of the world, that I was going to also be in Korea for Explo '74—that just still amazes me."27 After six months in South Korea, Phillips devoted nearly twenty years of her life to missionary work in Asia. Kim's audacious declaration set off a series of events that redoubled the energies of Campus Crusade and its workers toward the Pacific. Bright declared, "The purpose of Explo '74 is to turn the eyes of Korea, Asia and the world on Jesus Christ."28 With this explicit purpose, Campus Crusade not only shifted its organizational aims but individual US staff members like Phillips also altered their very life plans as a result of the transpacific "explosions" at Explo '72 and '74.

The terms of Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving allowed some fluidity of power in that Kim could challenge Campus Crusade as a US Christian authority. Indeed, Kim critiqued US Christian imperialism in declaring that Koreans could lead the Christianization of the world. His audacious assertion led to Explo '74 in South Korea from August 14–18, 1974, attracting 320,000 Korean delegates and 2,887 delegates from 78 other countries. Peak attendance at the mass rallies was on opening night (August 14), with an [End Page 23] estimated 1.3 million people, exceeding Graham's largest crusade hosted in South Korea in 1973 (Timothy Lee 2010, 97).29 As will be discussed in the next section, Kim and Bright's alliance could accommodate a modicum of fluidity in unequal US-South Korean relations because it not only propelled conversions but also conservatism during an unstable period in the Nixon-Park era.

Holy Spirit "Explosion," Seoul 1974: Christian Revolution

Figure 2. Christian Life published an article on Kim's concept of "revolution." The caption reads: "Why is Dr. Kim so devoted to this concept of revolution? Experiencing the terror and fear of the communist revolution would seem adequate for one lifetime." Source: Christian Life (date unkown)
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Figure 2.

Christian Life published an article on Kim's concept of "revolution." The caption reads: "Why is Dr. Kim so devoted to this concept of revolution? Experiencing the terror and fear of the communist revolution would seem adequate for one lifetime."

Source: Christian Life (date unkown)

Kim and Bright's shared goal of the total evangelization of the world was underscored by not only their longstanding anticommunist beliefs but also a transpacific movement to quell leftist movements in favor of a Christian revolution. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, against a transpacific context of leftist [End Page 24] public protest, especially anti-Vietnam War and anti-Yusin movements, Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving bore fruit at Explo '72 and '74 as they served as alternative sites for conversions and conservative activism. At these "explosions," US and South Korean students were discouraged from agitation against the state. Instead, they were encouraged to ascribe to Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving, which argued that saving souls one by one, not social protest, would yield social change. American Christian power could yield, in part, to Korean Christian power at Explo '72 and Explo '74 because it ultimately empowered such conversions alongside of conservatism.

During the Nixon-Park era, 1972 was the height of student protests against the Vietnam War in the US. In the 1971–1972 academic year alone, there were 350 university protests nationwide in response to new US attacks on North Vietnam and Cambodia.30 In the spring of 1972, at some campuses, "antiwar activism exploded" (Hall 2009, 199). Nixon came under heavy critique as 200,000 protesters gathered at his second inauguration. Meanwhile, in South Korea, things had taken a dark turn. While American students were protesting the Vietnam War en masse, South Korean students protested Park's military regime. Continuing a longer tradition of student protests, students were reignited in 1971 with the sensational suicide of Chon Tae'il, a poor garment worker in the textile factories who self-immolated on November 13, 1970 as his final protest against a regime that sacrificed workers' right for national economic progress. In the summer of 1971, students protested labor rights, compulsory military training, and the most recent presidential election as a general critique of Park's regime (Chang 2015, 55). In 1972, however, Park instituted Yusin rule and passed a series of emergency decrees, which systematically repressed antigovernment activity, further agitating student protest. Emergency Decree No. 4, declared in 1974, repressed student activism after the "Minch'ong Incident," in which the government accused students of engaging in a communist revolution associated with the People's Revolutionary Party (Inmin hyongmyŏngdang or abbreviated Inhyoktang; PRP) (Chang 2015, 76).31

If these leftist movements against the state reached their peak in the early 1970s, Explo '72 was a transpacific space where conservative activism could thrive. Indeed, Campus Crusade "grew alongside New Left movements" as [End Page 25] it "responded vigorously to the New Left, antiwar protests, and the counter culture" (Turner 2008, 186). Already in January 1967, Campus Crusade aggressively engaged the left-wing activism of college campuses at an event called the Berkeley Blitz where Campus Crusade students occupied Berkeley University's Sproul Hall. They sought to evangelize leftist students, staging their own protest "against the secular age," which intended to mitigate leftist radicalism. As a result, they "disrupted protest rallies by seizing free speech platforms and carrying signs and chanting slots of their own proclaiming Christ as the greatest revolutionary: 'Prince of Peace,' "Students Denouncing Sin,' 'Boycott Hell! Accept Jesus"' (Dochuk 2011, 349–350). By extension, Explo '72, in particular, exemplified the "conservative evangelical activism" typically overlooked in historical accounts of the 1960s and early 1970s (Turner 2008, 123). Explo '72 attendees favored Nixon over McGovern for president by a margin of more than five to one. While Bright ultimately decided against Nixon campaigning at Explo '72 for re-election, attendees listened to Nixon's telegram, which "echoed the Explo '72 theme reminding delegates that 'the way to change the world for the better is to change ourselves for the better"' (Ibid., 144). Bright declared, "'Explo '72 can do more to bring peace to the world than all of the antiwar activity combined"' (Ibid., 142). Students at Explo '72 could voice their pro-Vietnam War attitudes, and in a procession of international flags the "banner of South Vietnam produced a 'sustained ovation' from the crowd" (Ibid., 144). Explo '72 did not yet call for electoral votes or the formation of the Moral Majority, as evangelical conservatives in the US would in 1979. However, their conservatism held personal and ultimate stakes that looked like grassroots activism and Explo '72 served as a foil to leftist protests.

Furthermore, Kim's presence at Explo '72, and his extension of this movement into South Korea at Explo '74, rendered these Holy Spirit "explosions" transpacific sites for conversions and grassroots conservatism. Explo '74 was organized around the theme, "Jesus Revolution, the Holy Spirit's Third Explosion," and the primary purpose was to train people to evangelize others.32 Newspaper headlines announced: "World Christian Leaders Lay a Fuse for Evangelism Explosion."33 The purpose of Explo '74 was to provide [End Page 26] "'a great spiritual fusion whose chain reaction will spread Christ's message."34 It would be a mistake would be a mistake to understand Explo '74 outside of this context of student activism. Indeed, Kim himself actively addressed clergy and students' political agitation from the left. In this political context of repression, Explo '74 was made possible because it served the Park regime to support a Christian group that could render null the critiques from dissident Christians.

At Explo '74, Kim offered an alternative understanding of "revolution" and "freedom" that actively countered leftist or liberal notions of freedom that threatened the stability of the United States and the South Korean state. Kim declared: "There have been industrial revolutions, cultural revolutions, political revolutions. Let us enter the Holy Spirit revolution to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us."35 Bright reminded South Koreans that "atheism was only one step away from communism," and the "only nation strong against communism is a nation with a vital faith in Jesus Christ."36 Campus Crusade became a transpacific movement that actively used revival and missionary activity not only to convert souls, but also to oppose leftist and liberal notions of freedom—at the heart of Kim's opposition was the transpacific politics of soul saving, which formed the bedrock of his alliance with Bright. When the media asked Kim about the political climate in Korea and whether he would "make any effort to help the clergy that was recently imprisoned for 15 years,"37 he declared that he had the "authority to teach Jesus Christ," and that "as long as churches preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have no problem."38 Alluding to the imprisoned pastors, he argued that "in the name of freedom some suffer" but that there was a "difference between suffering in the name of freedom and in the name of Jesus Christ."39 Thus, in the early 1970s, a period in which the US and South Korea actively repressed leftist student activism, Explo '74 itself became a transpacific site for conversions and grassroots conservatism.

Echoing the Korean War conversion narrative that helped Kim and Bright forge their transpacific politics of soul saving at mid-twentieth century, the media recounted Kim's encounter with communists. Though they had killed his wife and father, he had learned to love as a result of the "freedom" he experienced through Christ, the media reported.40 Indeed, when Kim actually met [End Page 27] the very leader responsible for his family's death, he "explained to him that [he] had come in the name of Jesus to express God's love for him." He recalls,

One night I called on a Communist leader, at the risk of my life. Strange to say, he accepted me with welcome…We prayed together, though enemies. My Lord created a mind in me to love my enemy. [The Communist leader] became a new man that night. He has been a faithful witness for Christ among the Communists and is taking care of 30 converts from Communism, having prayer meetings in his house. This was the turning point in my soul-winning ministry.

This was the "turning point" in Kim's "soul-winning ministry," a moment that exemplified his alliance with Bright, and their transpacific politics of soul saving, based on the conviction that individual conversions could help win the global Cold War. Kim believed in a distinction between the power of "freedom" found in Christ and liberal notions of political "freedom," because the former granted him the power to not only forgive, but more crucially, win communists over to Christianity—a strategy for toppling the ideological basis of the North Korean state. Thus, Kim could declare that, through Explo '74, an "'explosion' of brotherly love, prayer, and other teachings of Jesus is expected to do more than any other single event to spread peace, joy and unity among the nations of this decade."41 Evangelistic activities at Explo '74 not only had powerful spiritual but also potent political aims—that is, the end of global communism.

Even though Bright and Kim would have wanted to separate their spiritual revolution from hard politics, Explo '72 and Explo '74, were interlaced with scandalous political events, indicating the inescapable tumultuous context for which their soul-saving activities had immediate political relevance. The Watergate break-in occurred on the night of Explo 72's Jesus Music Festival and an assassination attempt on the South Korean military dictator Park Chunghee resulted in the death of South Korea's first lady on the second day of Explo '74. Jerry Sharpless, a Campus Crusade staff worker who had been stationed in South Korea for six months for Explo '74, recalled: [End Page 28]

There were significant political challenges that week with the president's wife being assassinated…[W]e're not sure the stability of the country but we're here to help change this country and lead people to Christ. That intensified the sense of purpose and focus. You don't know how much longer you're going to have in a country to work … this country may go into anarchy. That overlaid the intensity of the feeling of the people who were there, including me.42

The Christian revolution that Campus Crusade sought had immediate relevance for the unstable political situation in South Korea. And, in this tumultuous climate, Campus Crusade bent toward conservatism, defending and preserving the Park regime. Indeed, Neibling affirmed the order and economic progress under authoritarian regimes like that of Park and Marcos in South Korea and the Phillipinnes:

I personally believe that those years, as we look back on them, actually being there during it and in the Philippines under Marcos, one thing they did was bring a lot of order out of a lot of potential chaos and to bring peace. Now the rule was a bit strong, no question. Certain rights may be violated but it brought relatively a lot of peace and it enabled it to lay the foundation for economic progress, which later became very impressive in Korea.43

In his reflections on serving with Campus Crusade under Park's regime, Neibling celebrated the order that Park brought and ignored his regime's gross human rights violations. Note that this was in contrast with a counter-transpacific Christian movement to which figures like Hwa Soon Cho and George Ogle belonged. In 1974, Cho, a Korean Methodist minister, and George Ogle, an American Methodist missionary, were imprisoned and deported from South Korea for their work with the Urban Industrial Mission (UIM). Cho was accused and imprisoned for being a communist when she preached a sermon titled, "Search for the Kingdom and for Righteousness," which critiqued Park's regime for suppressing freedom of speech (Cho 1988, 89; Ogle 2008, 99). [End Page 29] Ogle was deported for publicly praying for the aforementioned eight Korean men who were unjustly accused as communists. Those Korean Christians who explicitly critiqued the Park regime were part of a "contentious civil society" that responded in dialectical tension with a "strong state" (Chang 2015, 6). Yet, while a small anti-authoritarian group of Korean and US Christians were imprisoned for their religious activity, Park's regime gave Campus Crusade permission to organize its "explosions" en masse. Campus Crusade workers like Neibling defended Park's regime, working to fuel both conversions and conservatism.

Note that one year after the declaration of Emergency Decree No. 4 and Explo '74, a military court convicted 23 people considered to be members of the aforementioned People's Revolutionary Party (PRP). Most received fifteen-year sentences, and eight of the accused were executed for defying Park's military regime. Neibling justified the Park regime through spiritual as well as economic reasoning:

The economic transformation is almost as amazing as the spiritual transformation. I think they go hand in hand. I personally would not say that that was such an evil thing.

Neibling believed that Explo '74 benefited the state politically and economically:

They [Explo '74 revivals] were for the country and for the benefit of the country. We were not against the rulers of the country and the politicians and all that they want. … Why else would the ROK army want … all of the millions of men to hear the gospel as they were serving their time in the military?… That was not done in secret. It had to be endorsed as something that would be done to benefit the country. … I believe that at that time they were not in opposition to one another but complementary in terms of what they wanted for the country to become … economically.44

As Neibling suggests, Explo '74 served to consolidate Park's regime. The telos of the transpacific politics of soul saving was one that propelled conversions [End Page 30] alongside of a conservatism that not only defended Nixon but also preserved Park's regime.

Americans and Koreans critiqued Kim and Bright's vision for social change and the evangelistic activities at Explo '74. Liberal Korean Protestants, for instance, criticized the strategy of evangelism that Explo '74 endorsed, especially at a time when Park's autocratic regime was gravely violating human rights (Timothy Lee 2010, 97–98).45 Korean theologian Chongnyol Kim provided the following critique:

I do not wish to think of evangelization and humanization separately. … Christ came to the world (i.e. he became humanized, a true human) in order to enable each individual and all of humanity to live in a manner worthy of human beings.

For a liberal like Chongnyol Kim, "to evangelize was to change society, to eliminate the structures that created and perpetuated social and economic justice" (Timothy Lee 2010, 97–98). Much like Korean liberals, Americans also criticized Bright for declaring so boldly that there was so much religious freedom in Seoul. At a time when Koreans were under the rule of a military dictatorship, Bright reported to the Chicago Tribune, "[T]here is more religious freedom in South Korea than in the United States."46 Rather than evaluating Explo '74 through the political conditions of South Korea itself, he saw the evangelical revival through the lens of the debates for religious freedom in public schools in the US: "Dr. Bright [then] admitted that he had not discussed political activity by religious leaders in South Korea with Christian leaders. But he contended that the openness of discussions on Christianity in South Korea's public school campuses exceeds that permitted in American public schools."47 ("Explo 74").

Park Chunghee ultimately thanked Bright for hosting Explo '74 in South Korea. In Park's view, Bright helped to prove that the state had not engaged in religious repression, essentially quelling leftist arguments against Park that came from dissident Christians: [End Page 31]

I would like to share your satisfaction that Explo '74 had been a great success and marked a great milestone in the propagation of Christianity in Korea. It is gratifying to note that this event has proved to the world that "Christians had more religious freedom in South Korea than in any other country…" despite some Christian activists who have created a false impression as if there were religious repression in Korea.48

Explo '74 was celebrated as a success, and as demonstrating to other South Koreans and the world that dissident Christians were not being repressed for unnecessary reasons. As Paul Chang notes, Joon Gon Kim claimed, "[W]hen church and government are harmonious through assistance and cooperation, the church will be holy and the state will prosper" (Chang 2015, 106). Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving functioned to not only quell leftist and liberal agitation in the US under Nixon, but also in South Korea under Park's regime, actively powering conversions as well as conservatism to preserve harmony between the church and state. Not only agents of the state, but also non-state actors like Kim and Bright, were mediators of politics in the Nixon-Park era of the global Cold War.


Not until the 1980s and 1990s did the Protestant/Christian Right solidify in both the US and South Korea, but Explo '72 and Explo '74 foreshadow the emergence of non-state actors as powerful arbiters of both conversions and conservatism. Moreover, Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving revealed a fluidity of power dynamics, even bidirectional influence, however uneven it may have been, given US hierarchy over South Korea. The transpacific historical interpretation of these two massive revivals shows that such accommodation of South Korean Christian power could be made because the telos of Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving was ultimately one of both conversions and conservatism. Kim and Bright's alliance was propelled by the ongoing global Cold War, and their ultimate shared goal of the total [End Page 32] evangelization of the world was fueled not only by activities at the level of the nation, but also through networks forged beyond it. South Korea has been an important engine that has fueled US-rooted global evangelical institutions like Campus Crusade. Campus Crusade's core mission to fulfill the Great Commission has immediate political consequences at the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea, the last frontier of the unending global Cold War. The Christian desire to "win over" North Korea, viewed as a non- or anti-Christian nation, powerfully animates the transpacific networks embedded in institutions like Campus Crusade, which fan the flame of a vision to Christianize the world, a primarily religious vision that has inevitable political consequences. Kim, a survivor of the Korean War, with a personal investment in this holy and literal war, was like a Christian warrior who led, if temporarily, Bright into a spiritual battleground that may not have otherwise interested him.

The ongoing Cold War on the Korean peninsula, or the "other Cold War," as Heonik Kwon calls it (Kwon 2010), continues to propel transpacific conversions and conservatism. In the twenty-first century, with a Twitter war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, evangelicals provide militant Christian blessings for a war against North Korea. After Trump declared that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the US with nuclear war, Rev. Robert Jeffress, one of Trump's most avid supporters and on his evangelical advisory board, declared: "When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary—including war—to stop evil." Jeffress continued, "In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un."49

Such anti-North Korean sentiment, however, is not new. Even the history of Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving reveals deeper roots dating back to the onset of the Korean War in the mid-twentieth century that has fueled a theologically based narrative of a binary world of good versus evil along the 38th parallel. Kim and Bright's alliance reveals that the 38th parallel has not only served as a fault line dividing North and South Korea, but also as a transpacific fault line solidifying conversions and conservatism in the US and South Korea. Moreover, Jeffress' use of divine and biblical language to [End Page 33] sanction the authority of the state is one that dates back to Kim and Bright's roles as non-state actors in endorsing the Nixon and Park governments, in spite of leftist and liberal critiques against them for their respective war mongering and use of brute force against the marginalized. Kim and Bright's transpacific politics of soul saving, which prioritized souls over politics, may be a thread of logic that continues today, justifying the ongoing Cold War in Korea as a "holy war." Yet, with talks about potential peace and reunification in Korea, including the denuclearization of the peninsula, we may also see, and hope for, the disarmament of militant evangelical expressions of US and South Korean Christianity.

Last, this history of Explo '72 and Explo '74 shows that religion is not an epiphenomenal or second-order variable, but a central and independent category in the historical reconstruction of the global Cold War and US-South Korean relations. It is precisely, though not solely, because of the stronghold of conservative religious ideas that this story is possible. Some scholars have often taken for granted a secular epistemological framework, especially when it comes to the category of religion, and even more specifically, with evangelicalism, which at times can be ideologically and politically at odds with the values of the western liberal academy. As a result, scholars may have underestimated the far reach of religion as a motivation for action. Seemingly anti-modern expressions, such as evangelicalism, however, have influenced and continue to influence the modern world.

Helen Jin Kim

Helen Jin Kim is assitant professor of American Religious History at Emory University.

Correspondence: helenjkim@emory.edu


1. From here I will shorten Campus Crusade for Christ to "Campus Crusade." This paper is based on archival research and oral histories conducted in the US and South Korea and in the English and Korean languages.

2. Nami Kim resists the binary of framing modern Korean Christianity as an "indigenous response free from global power structures" versus a "western export" (Nami Kim 2010, 60). Similarly, in this paper, I argue against scholars who may take either extreme position, as I show that there is a much more fluid plane on which Bright and Kim negotiate power dynamics. Like Mae Ngai, I suggest that transnational histories need to take into account "contact, translation, exchange, negotiation, conflict" (Ngai 2005, 60).

3. Historians have primarily narrated Explo '72 and '74 through a nation-based lens. See Timothy Lee (2010). John Turner and Darren Dochuk both write about Explo '72. See chapter 6 in Turner (2008) and chapter 11 ("Jesus People") in Dochuk (2011).

4. This is an evangelistic strategy that has appeared in other nations. Freston writes: "[M]uch evangelical politics has shown a calculated caution based on the desire to maximize benefits. We have called this 'corporatism,' because its raison d'être is to strengthen the churches as corporations, to equip them better for their activities, to reward some of their members individually (in terms of employment, financing or prestige) and to strengthen their position vis-à-vis other faiths in the country's 'civil religion.' This basic concern produces a tendency to time-serving and opportunism (since one has to be on the right side of the powers-that-be if concrete results are to ensue), and sometimes even to corruption. … It leads to a concern with … religious freedom in particular rather than with democracy and human rights in general" (Freston 2001, 294).

5. The Four Spiritual Laws was solidified in 1959 by Bright: 1) God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life; 2) Man is sinful and separated from God, thus he cannot know and explain God's plan for his life; 3) Jesus Christ is God's provision for man's sin through whom man can know God's love and plan for his life; and 4) We must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by personal invitation. The Four Spiritual Laws is considered one of the most widely distributed religious pamphlets, with approximately 2.5 billion printed to date. "History," Campus Crusade for Christ Online, accessed November 1, 2011, http://campuscrusadeforchrist.com/about-us/history.

6. "Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc: Joon Gon Kim," p. 2. Unpublished manuscript, Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, FL. The date of this writing is unknown, but I estimate that it was written shortly after Kim decided to partner with Bright to start the Korean Campus Crusade since it is clearly after they met at Fuller but before the 1972 and 1974 revivals.

7. In the post-WWII era, anticommunist sentiment was common among Americans, and to be sure, among Christians who had a vested interest in resisting the atheism of communism. Catholics were among some of the staunchest anticommunists, as the Pope had historically critiqued communism. However, the meaning of communism and the degree to which it was feared differed among religious traditions (Allitt 2003, 22).

8. "Explo '74 Story." unpublished manuscript, Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, FL. Chiang Kai-Shek was a Nationalist Party leader in China—and a Protestant—who had fought against the Communist Party in China, only to retreat to Taiwan with communism's victory on the mainland.

9. Oh Jin Tak, interview by author, Korea Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters, Seoul, Korea, August 4, 2016.

10. There were about 85,000 attendees, far more high school students than the desired college students, and it attracted a more diverse crowd than many evangelical gatherings.

11. See footnote 3.

12. Joon Gon Kim, "EXPLO '72 Speech," Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, Florida.

13. Ed Neibling, interview by author, Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2015.

14. Gertrude Phillips (pseudonym), interview by author, Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2015.

15. Oh Jin Tak, interview by author, Korea Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters, Seoul, Korea, August 4, 2016.

16. Joon Gon Kim, "EXPLO '72 Speech," Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, Florida.

17. Joon Gon Kim, "EXPLO '72 Speech," Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, Florida.

18. Louise Moore, "Evangelical Christians Focus on South Korea," Houston Chronicle (August 3, 1973). This article also named the "indigenous Christian church" whose "lifeblood" was fervent prayer. South Korean Christianity has been noted for its fervent evangelistic piety, but scholars have, to a lesser extent, explored this second reason: evangelistic activity within the military.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Bailey Marks, interview by author, Campus Crusade Headquarters, Orlando, Florida, July 2013.

22. Oh Jin Tak, interview by author, Korea Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters, Seoul, Korea, August 4, 2016.

23. Ibid.

24. Judy Douglass, interview by author, Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2015.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Gertrude Phillips (pseudonym), interview by author, Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2015.

28. Louise Moore, "Evangelical Christians Focus on South Korea," Houston Chronicle (August 3, 1973).

29. "Explo '74 Spurs Koreans to Evangelize their Country," Texas Methodist (September 19, 1974). In all, 3,400 people from eighty-four countries and 320,000 Koreans attended the training sessions. The daily attendance for training sessions and evening services averaged 1,090,000 people and the total attendance for the entire event was 6,550,000. An estimated 200,000 participants took their evangelistic training to the streets of Seoul and garnered 272,000 new believers. These numbers are reported by historian Timothy Lee, who raises a sharp critique against the evangelical revivals that ignored the grave humanitarian concerns during Park Chunghee's military dictatorship in the 1970s. Thus, it is likely that Lee does not have an incentive to exaggerate these statistics (Timothy Lee 2010, 97).

30. The peak of the antiwar student movement came in 1970 and 1972. Between 1965–1967, the Students for Democratic Society (SDS) turned its focus to ending the Vietnam War, and in 1965 alone, 120 teach-ins took place at university campuses, spurring other anti-war student groups to sprout, including the National Student Association (NSA). At the same time, coming on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement at San Francisco State University, the Third World Liberation Front's (TWLF) protests resulted in the nation's first School of Ethnic Studies in 1968. These activists aligned themselves with national liberation movements in Third World countries and protested US involvement in the Vietnam War. The student movement began to dwindle as US troops in Vietnam were reduced and communists triumphed in Saigon in 1975.

31. The People's Revolution Party (PRP) started in 1964 when thirteen individuals were accused of being communists. The Minch'ong incident resulted in 1024 students being taken into custody, with 253 sent to the Emergency Martial Court to be prosecuted, and 180 convicted and sentenced (Chang 2015, 74–75). By 1975, especially after the Minch'ong Incident and the PRP case, student activism was quelled by the state. The number of public protests stalled in 1974 and dropped off significantly after 1975 (Ibid., 76).

32. Joon Gon Kim, "Stage Set for Awakening," Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., Campus Crusade for Christ International Archive, Orlando, Florida. In preparation for the main activities, a series of preparatory activities were organized. There were weeklong regional events outside of Seoul and Yonggi Cho, the pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, preached. The night before the main event, 100,000 women from 15,500 churches stayed up until 4 a.m. to pray for the event. On the day of the main event (August 13), people gathered under tents to attend classes, and during the evening services Bright, Kyung Chik Han, Kim and other conservative religious leaders preached.

33. "World Christian Leaders Lay a Fuse for Evangelism Explosion," Sentinel (June 15, 1974).

34. George W. Cornell, "Fuse for Explosion in Evangelism Laid," Morning Advocate (June 15, 1974).

35. Nell L. Kennedy, "Soul Searching in Seoul: Spiritual Explosion," Mainichi Daily News (August 24, 1974).

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.

42. Jerry Sharpless, interview by author, Orlando, Florida. October 29, 2015.

43. Ed Neibling, interview by author, Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2015.

44. Ibid.

45. Campus Crusade was a relatively unfamiliar organization to many church leaders, who were deeply affiliated with their denominations, namely Presbyterian and Methodist congregations. The most fundamentalist Christians deplored the way that the revival would indiscriminately bring together conservatives and liberals who they feared endorsed communism.

46. Ronald Yates, "For Explo 74: 800,000 Korean Christians Gather," Chicago Tribune (August 19, 1974).

47. "Explo '74 Spurs Koreans to Evangelize their Country," Texas Methodist (September 19, 1974).

48. "Bill Bright Correspondence with Park Chunghee, President of the Republic of Korea," September 16, 1974, Korea Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters. Seoul, Korea.

49. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "'God Has Given Trump Authority to Take Out Kim Jong Un,' Evangelical Advisor Says." Washington Post (August 9, 1974), online at. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/08/god-has-given-trump-authority-to-take-out-kim-jong-un-evangelical-adviser-says/?utm_term=.0ae6ce90d505, accessed January 5, 2018. Jeffress' megachurch in Dallas is a prominent Southern Baptist church, one where evangelist Billy Graham had membership for many years. In 2016, the church reported an average weekly attendance of about 3,700.


Archival collections

Campus Crusade for Christ International, Orlando, Florida.
Korean Campus Crusade Headquarters, Seoul, Korea.


Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL)
Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX)
Mainichi Daily News (Tokyo)
Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Sentinel (Waterville, ME)
Texas Methodist (Dallas, TX)
Washington Post (Washington, DC)

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Becker, Nils. 2007. Fireseeds from Korea to the World: Tribute to Dr. Kim, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Campus Crusade for Christ International.
Campus Crusade for Christ International. 2007. Until Everyone Has Heard Campus Crusade for Christ International Helping Fulfill the Great Commission: The First Fifty Years 1951–2001. 2007. Orlando, FL: Campus Crusade for Christ International.
Chang, Paul. 2015. Protest Dialectics: State Repression and South Korea's Democracy Movement, 1970–79. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Cho, Hwa Soon. 1988. Let the Weak Be Strong: A Woman's Struggle for Justice. Oak Park, IL: Meyer Stone & Co.
Dochuk, Darren. 2011. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plan-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics and the Rise of Evangelical Conservativism. New York: W.W. Norton.
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Hall, Mitchell K., ed. 2009. Vietnam War Era: People and Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Inboden, William. 2008. Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960: The Soul of Containment. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kim, Nami. 2010. "A Mission to the 'Graveyard of Empires'? Neocolonialism and the Contemporary Evangelical Missions of the Global South." Mission Studies: Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies 27: 3–23.
——. 2016. The Gendered Politics of the Korean Protestant Right: Hegemonic Masculinity, Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan.
Kwon, Heonik. 2010. The Other Cold War. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lee, Myungsik. 2010. The History of the Democratization Movement in Korea. Seoul: Korea Democracy Foundation.
Lee, Timothy. 2010. Born Again: Evangelicalism in Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
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