LOS ANGELES (BP)–Nearly 450 Korean Southern Baptists made commitments to overseas missions service at a May 10-11 missions celebration at Berendo Street Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the oldest Korean Baptist church in the country.
Sponsored by the International Mission Board, the celebration was one of four being held among the 750 Korean-speaking Southern Baptist churches across the nation.
Well over 1,000 people attended the Los Angeles conference, said Sung Park, senior pastor at Berendo Street church.
“I wanted to give [the attendees] an opportunity to learn more about foreign missions and to encourage them to get more involved with the Southern Baptist mission work,” Park said.
After IMB staff conducted nine separate mission seminars, IMB President Jerry Rankin brought a closing message, challenging local churches to get involved with mission work through partnership.
Korean Americans possess qualities uniquely useful for mission efforts in strategic areas, Park noted. “In the 21st century, Asian Christians have some of the best access to the 10/40 Window,” the part of the world that stretches from northwest Africa to Southeast Asia where people have little or no access to the good news of God’s love.
In places like China or Japan, a similar culture and skin color, combined with a better ability to learn Asian languages, seems to contribute to helping Korean Americans identify well, adjust more easily and serve effectively, the pastor said.
Bob McEachern, a missionary in the Republic of Korea for 14 years, also noted the value of deploying non-Anglo missionaries: “Because they are Asians, they fit in where white Americans don’t.”
Dan Moon, coordinator of Asian-American church planting with the North American Mission Board, agreed.
“A Western missionary presence in the socialist Asian countries is forbidden or closely monitored,” said Moon, who was the catalyst behind the Korean-oriented missions conferences. “Using Asian-Americans in front-line ministries for these particular regions will be more effective.
“Koreans also are very, very low maintenance,” Moon added. “They are committed, and they want to go whatever the cost.”
Korean-American missionaries also could be safer in certain areas than a caucasian missionary might be, said Man-Poong Dennis Kim, senior pastor of Global Mission Church of Greater Washington, SBC, in Silver Spring, Md., where the next Korean mission conference will be held Sept. 12-14.
“My sincere prayer is that God will use this conference to spread our message among the neighboring Southern Baptist Korean-American churches so that they get more involved with the IMB,” Kim said.
A GAP TO BRIDGE
There is a great need to bridge the gap that exists between some Korean SBC churches and the IMB, Kim said. Many Korean mission efforts are independent from IMB assistance, and “I do not think [this] is effective,” he said.
Korean-American Baptists also should nurture a vision for missionary outreach to the whole world, Kim pointed out. “We would like to celebrate our mission work and recruit some people who are interested in cross-cultural mission work.”
The two missions celebrations prior to the Los Angeles conference were held in northern California and Dallas, Texas. More than 300 Korean-Americans have committed themselves to overseas mission service as a result of those conferences, Moon said.
A GOAL OF 1,000
The goal of these conferences is “that the Korean American churches would help the IMB to mobilize, recruit and deploy 1,000 new missionaries,” Moon said.
The number of ethnic Asians appointed through the IMB is increasing. Ten years ago, only 24 Asian-Americans were serving overseas through the board, but five years ago the number had grown to 115. There are now 212 ethnic Asians among the 5,470 workers under appointment by the IMB.
Except for caucasians, Koreans are the largest single ethnic group sent out by the IMB.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GETTING READY, TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH and COMMON GROUND.
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