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Korean Baptists expanding global vision

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (BP)–One hundred years ago, American missionaries took the Gospel to South Korea. Today, there are more than 17,000 Korean missionaries taking the Gospel throughout the world.

Southern Baptist Koreans want to do their part. Hence the Acts 1:8 Missions Celebration at New Community Baptist Church in Mountain View, Calif., jointly sponsored with the Northern California Korean Baptist Fellowship, the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.

The aim: to help Korean Baptist leaders from the area learn more about opportunities for missionary service locally and around the world.

Korean Southern Baptists already are active in mission work in their communities, in the nation and internationally. The first Korean international missionary was appointed by the IMB in 1987; 300 more have been appointed, mostly to non-Korean people groups.

“The Korean missionaries are very effective wherever they go,” said Gihwang Shin, Korean-American mobilization consultant with the IMB. “That is because of prayer and because Koreans are familiar with being immigrants, having to adapt to another culture.”

The weekend conference included a youth rally and mission celebration Friday night, general and seminar sessions Saturday, and a mission celebration Saturday evening with IMB President Jerry Rankin as the main speaker.

“This is a chance to get people together and excited about church planting and to learn about missions with the IMB and NAMB,” said Songsik Kim, a language church planting strategist who is NAMB-appointed and works at the California Southern Baptist Convention. “Pastor (Joong) Lee (of Korean First Baptist Church in San Francisco) challenged us Friday night that we have to give up everything and must get out of our comfort zone.”

“Many young people have a calling from God but don’t know how to do it,” added Do S. Park, pastor of New Millennium Baptist Church in Belmont, Calif. “Many don’t know how to do missions with these agencies, so this is a good conference to have.”

Shin said that the IMB has a goal of appointing 1,000 Korean missionaries by the year 2010.

“Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, missiology experts started noticing that God was really using Koreans on the mission field, very effectively, and so the IMB started to intentionally put resources into mobilizing Koreans for the international mission field,” Shin explained. “So now we have these mission celebrations at key Korean churches, and every time we do another conference, we see a harvest of new workers.”

A similar conference was held last year in Southern California. Such gatherings, Shin added, may encourage other ethnic Southern Baptists to make similar plans and goals.

Seminar topics during the March 30-31 sessions included opportunities with the IMB and with NAMB, theological education opportunities with Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, Korean missions mobilization and WMU and the local church on mission.

The conference was held almost exclusively in Korean, including traditional Korean meals.

Paul Reed of the IMB led a seminar on adopting unreached people groups. He told the story of a church of about 30 people in Arizona –- half Caucasian, half Navajo Indian -– that adopted a Mongolian people group in China because of the similarities they shared.

“The Mongols and the Navajos are both horse-people,” Reed said. “They are both traditionally nomadic. Their native dwellings look almost exactly the same. In fact, the two people groups even look alike! See who God gives you an affinity for, and adopt people like that.”

Reed voiced a challenge that captured the conference’s vision: “At the end of time, on that day of judgment when every tribe and tongue and nation is gathered, will your joy be, ‘Whew, I made it’ or will it be, ‘I was part of that group’? May you be part of God’s gathering of every tribe and tongue.”

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  • Amanda Phifer