ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Members of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America celebrated their gifts of nearly $109,000 for Haiti relief during the group’s June 14-17 meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The 600 attendees at the Korean Council’s sessions at the Marriott Airport Conference Center also heard reports from SBC entity leaders and council departments and made plans for their 30th annual meeting next summer in Dallas.
“I’m kind of proud we have this team spirit and are united together to shine our main light to the world,” said Edward Shin, pastor of First Korean Baptist Church in Fullerton, Calif., who was attending his first Korean Council meeting in several years because it was in Orlando. “I’m not interested in politics, but I came for the fellowship and to see the sights.”
From the opening message to the closing one, advancing the Kingdom of God was the thrust of the meeting.
The International Mission Board now has 400 Korean missionaries, IMB President Jerry Rankin reported in his final presentation to the Korean gathering before retirement. Up to 200 more prospective missionaries are at various points in the appointment process, Rankin added.
The Korean Council honored Rankin by presenting him with a plaque for his years of service and commitment to global missions.
John S. Kim, pastor of the Korean Fellowship at First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ga., and Brotherhood director for the council, reported on the $108,993 given earlier this year for disaster relief and recovery in Haiti. Kim said Korean Council President Shin Ki Paik asked him to call on churches to donate to the relief effort.
“I just prayed a couple of days, and God told me to help your brothers and sisters; they have a suffering,” Kim said. “One Saturday morning sitting at my desk, I start typing a letter to all 850 Korean Baptist churches in America. I thought a maximum of $20,000 in two weeks [would come in], but I was surprised. Over $50,000 in two weeks, so we extended.”
On March 24, Korean leaders presented a check for $82,788.53 to leaders at the International Mission Board, but the money kept coming in, so on May 9, they presented a second check, this time to the North American Mission Board, for $24,567.51. More money has since come in and been directed to NAMB.
“I was so shocked,” Kim said. “I praise my Lord He is using our Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America as an equipment [tool] to make His Kingdom grow.”
With but two exceptions, the money did not come in large amounts, nor did it come from large churches, Kim said. Eighty percent of Korean churches have fewer than 100 people in church on Sunday, he explained. Most of the checks were in the hundreds rather than thousands of dollars, though two checks together totaled nearly $20,000. The checks came from 104 churches.
Special note was made during the gathering of the upcoming Korean Pastors Conference, Aug. 9-11 at the Atlanta Methodist Retreat Center in Georgia. Dong Won “Daniel” Lee, pastor of Global Mission Church in Bundang, South Korea, will be the guest speaker. Lee was pastor of Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md., where Manpoong Kim has now been pastor 18 years. Lee left Maryland to start a church in South Korea. Today he is known across Asia as “Golden Throat” for his skill as a pulpiteer, and the church he pastors is said to have in excess of 30,000 regular attenders.
In its June 16 business session, members of the Korean Council voted to once again provide financial support to Baptist News, an independent Korean-language publication printed six times a year, a practice the Korean Council discontinued a few years ago. The Korean Council’s $263,000 budget for 2010-11 remains unchanged from last year, however. Its $326,812.72 income for the 2009-10 budget year was unnaturally inflated by the Haiti relief donations. Contributions for the year were under expectations, in great measure because of the struggling economy, leaders explained.
Breakout sessions included presentations on the “second generation”; adolescents; pastors’ wives; and retirement. The discussion on “second generation” Koreans — keeping them in church and developing them as leaders – drew significant interest.
“We’re losing the second generation,” said presenter Loren Chung, pastor of Concord Korean Baptist Church in Martinez, Calif. “Second generation ministry is so important because in all churches in the United States, we’re losing them for many reasons.” He cited language and culture barriers, even within the same family, and churches strapped with financial and time constraints.
Among solutions discussed: asking Anglo churches to send teachers for children’s ministries.
“Churches are going to Africa and Asia for missions,” Chung said. “Why not bring them to a Korean church for a mission trip to the Korean culture?”
The youth program, led for the past 25 years by licensed psychologist and pastor Jey Kim of Virginia, is one way the Korean Council is reaching out to the second generation. The high-energy program is designed to affirm the youth and help them understand the pressures of their parents.
“Being with your family, experiencing God and spending time with friends — it was awesome,” said Justin Kim, 12. He said he learned “God is always with us. If you have any problems, God’s always with us to take care of it.”
Karen An, 12, brought her Anglo friend, Josie Jerge, 12, both from Virginia. “You should care for people who are going through hard times, and not worry about yourself,” An said. Jerge said she learned “you should do good things and pray for people” from what she described as “a really strong message” that she had heard.
Nathan Kim, 18, said he had attended the youth program for several years and this year was in a leadership role that helped him see his strengths. “It was a good learning experience,” Kim said. “God told me I can handle kids. I guess I can do it now. I’m equipped to.”
A highlight of the Korean Council was the Wednesday evening service, which opened with a 90-minute program that, in one way or another, featured all the 300 or more preschoolers, children and youth who had been involved in various age-appropriate activities. The children then gathered with their parents, with the family groups instructed to pray for each other: “Help me understand the pressures you are facing.”
Wednesday’s business, in addition to election of officers, included presentation of 16 scholarships by the council’s Domestic Missions Board to pastors’ children enrolling in college for the fall semester. The mission board, chaired the past four years by Chang Moon, pastor of Tacoma (Wash.) First Baptist Church, also supported the work of 15 church plants or others that need financial support to survive.
Moon proposed that each church in the Korean Council send $10 a month for domestic missions, which would be used to provide more scholarships and more assistance for struggling churches.
During the meeting, Oregon pastor James Kang was named by its trustees to a five-year term as executive director of the council’s Overseas Missions Department. Kang, pastor of Global Community Church in Portland, Ore., replaced Joseph Nak Cho, pastor of Tidewater Korean Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Va., who had served two terms.
“It is so hard sometimes to lead my church and Overseas Missions, but it is a very meaningful time,” Cho said. “My job with Overseas Missions has helped me a lot spiritually.”
The Korean Council works closely with the Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board, Cho explained, sending most of its missionary candidates through that process. Because of circumstances unique to an individual or a missions assignment, however, as many as 20 missionaries — 16 at present — are sent out supported totally or in part by the contributions of churches to the Korean Council.
“We are a small body, so we must maximize our effectiveness,” Cho said. “We focus on training local church leaders and let them plant their own churches.” A Korean seminary started in recent years in Venezuela already has graduated 20 students and expects seven more in July, Cho added, while a Caribbean seminary has graduated a similar number of Korean workers.
“I’m really committed to missions, and if I can be used to fulfill this role to support missions, it will be great,” said Kang, elected June 16 by trustees of the Overseas Missions Department. “It will be a great way to use my studies.”
Bok Hyun Leu, pastor of Korean Memorial Baptist Church in Killeen, Texas, was elected council president for the next year. The runner-up, Joseph C. Choi of Ebenezer Mission Church of Hollis Hills, N.J., was then elected first vice president. Sung Ho Kim, pastor of Living Stone Baptist Church in Dallas, was elected second vice president. Hyeok Kim, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Anaheim, Calif., was re-elected secretary. In Gyun Oh, pastor of Hanuri Korean Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, was elected treasurer; Jongha Park of Korean Open Door Baptist Church in Oveido, Fla., auditor. The council’s only paid employee is its executive director, Chongoh Aum.
While the Korean Council prefers to meet in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, it goes to an alternate location when there are not enough Korean churches in that city to provide the number of meals needed.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Translation and additional reporting provided by Kyung Won “Daniel” Song, pastor of Korean Baptist Church in Binghamton, N.Y.