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Billy (Jang Hwan) Kim (Hangul: 김장환) (born 1934) is a prominent Christian evangelist and humanitarian. He was the president of the Baptist World Alliance from 2000 until 2005 when he was succeeded by David Coffey.
Billy Kim was born in 1934 into a poor farming family with three older brothers and an older sister. His arrival was near the end of the Japanese occupation and life was very difficult. He aspired to become a politician in order to help poor people live a better life. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, the Kim family could not escape thus enduring the hardships of war in Suwon. Billy worked as a houseboy for the U. S. military under Sgt. Carl Powers, who helped him go to America to get an education. He left Korea on November 12, 1951 filled with fear and excitement. Carl Powers enrolled Billy at Bob Jones Academy in Greenville, South Carolina where Billy received Jesus Christ as his Savior. He excelled in many areas, but early in his education, won a South Carolina speech contest with a speech entitled “I Speak for Democracy”. On weekends, he preached at small country churches impressing the congregation along with his classmates. He earned top grades in college and in August 1958, Billy married Trudy whom he met at Bob Jones University.
In February 1959, Billy was ordained at Dante Baptist Church, and in November of that year received his master's degree. The fearful 17-year-old boy who left Korea in 1951 returned to his country with an education, a wife, and a passion and vision for ministry.
Billy Kim first began to work with Suwon Central Baptist Church on January 1, 1960, when it had only 12 members. Since then the congregation has grown to over 12,000, including 100 members in an English speaking congregation founded by Billy and his wife Trudy and currently led by Pastor Jonathon Futch. He retired from the post of senior pastor on December 19, 2004 and was succeeded by Rev. Myung Jin Koh, formerly senior pastor of Osan Baptist Church, on January 2, 2005.
Billy is the Chairman of the Far East Broadcasting Company in Korea.
The Days of Ministry
When Billy returned to Korea in 1959, he and Trudy began their ministry in Suwon. Evangelism, pastoral work and youth ministry highlighted Billy’s first year. There were only a dozen members when they began serving at Suwon Central Baptist Church in 1959 and now there are over 15,000. In 1966, Billy Kim began a Youth for Christ ministry in Suwon, Korea following the lead of other Christian leaders and missionaries who had already founded Youth for Christ in Seoul in 1960, and trained many leaders. He raised $200,000 through an international tour to build a Christian Center for YFC where young people could study and have fellowship. He established a Job Training School, Central Kindergarten, Christian Night School and Capital Baptist Seminary. In 1994, Central Christian Academy was built and in the years that followed, hundreds of children and their parents have become Christians because of the church’s concern for early education in Suwon. As a result of his assistance to the underprivileged, he was the recipient of the Lions Clubs International Humanitarian Award in July 2004.
Billy Kim translated for Rev. Billy Graham during the 1973 Crusade. His interpretive skill was marked by speed, accuracy, and enthusiasm. Each night the crowd grew to a maximum attendance of 1.1 million. Thousands of people gave their lives to Christ through the crusade, which greatly contributed to church growth in Korea.
In 2000, Kim became the first Asian to be elected as President of the Baptist World Alliance. As BWA President, he has had the privilege of meeting many world leaders. Continuing an active and broad international ministry he has been invited to many large Christian rallies all over the world and has become a famous speaker. His preaching opportunities include the Billy Graham Evangelists’ Conference in Amsterdam, a crusade in Nagaland, India; Promise Keeper’s Rallies in Anaheim, California and Atlanta, Georgia; a YFC rally in Moscow and many more.
Dr. Kim’s schedule is always packed with preaching and meetings. He is willing to go wherever the gospel is needed and meet with whoever needs his help. More than 400 international delegates joined 500 Cuban pastors and Christian leaders in Havana, Cuba for the Baptist World Alliance General Council meeting where Dr. Kim was installed as the President. It was his privilege, along with selected conference delegates, to visit with Fidel Castro who was very grateful to receive the Spanish Bible, which Dr. Kim presented to him.
Dr. Kim likes to tell the story of how he came to America when he was 17 and, so, was supposed to fly full fare. He had only $130, not enough for a plane fare across the country. A ticket agent suggested that because he was so small, he could pass as an 11-year-old and get half fare which was normal for travelers under 12 in 1951. His passport was in Chinese/Korean and as he didn't speak English, he was able to make the trip without incident. Years later, he returned to the airline and offered the remainder of the fare, but the airline forgave the debt. Dr. Kim jokes that that's why the airline he rode eventually went bankrupt.
Billy Kim and his wife Trudy have three children: Joseph Carl, Mary Kay, and John William. They have ten grandchildren.
- "Baptist Centenary Congress 2005 Ends Successfully with Hallelujah Praise". www.christiantoday.com. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- Tammi Mallory, Billy Kim: from 'lowly houseboy' to Baptist World Alliance president Archived December 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Baptist Press Feb 5, 2002
- Bethany Bridges, Dr. Billy Kim Jackson Free Press Tuesday, April 23, 2013
- Wendy Ryan, Korean Billy Kim nominated to lead Baptist World Alliance Archived December 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Baptist Press Jul 26, 1999
- (Korean) Official Website