?

Log in

No account? Create an account
RSQUBF LiveJournal Community
Missions Incredible South Korea sends more missionaries than… 
11th-Mar-2006 06:19 am


Missions Incredible
South Korea sends more missionaries than any country but the U.S. And it won't be long before it's number one.

Has anyone seen this article in the current issue of ChristianityToday? I saw the cover of the magazine but I haven't read the article yet. Here is the link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/003/16.28.html

If you read it before I get around to it let me know what think. If other Koreans have a tendency to be like UBFers this could be a scary prospect. What does this say about the state of Christianity in America? Why are Koreans so anxious to go out as missionaries? Conversely, why are Americans so reluctant? Look forward to seeing what the article actually says and hearing your comments. Wonder if it mentions UBF?
Comments 
11th-Mar-2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
I'm not so enthusiastic about the Korean spirit of "mission" (see also this recent posting). Why don't they evangelize their own country first? I think it is because they always have the illusion that they don't need to grow and change, they are already superior to others from the beginning, so they have to go out and teach them. I noticed that all the UBF Koreans immediately stopped learning (except their own UBF material) when they were in UBF, and only concentrated on teaching and changing and training *others*. That's a very insane attitude. I think it simply makes them excited that they (as a small country) can go out and teach others and be like saviors of the world.
19th-Mar-2006 08:30 am (UTC)
I'm a 2nd gen, new to this site. Brief background about me -- used to be a people-pleasing, all-accepting child/teen growing up in puritanical, black-and-white UBF. Today, I'm a liberal, left-wing, feminist, who sees more questions than answers, and who is not affiliated with any organized religion (much to the consternation of my parents).

I discovered this website as I was browsing the web out of boredom. I've found many of the postings interesting, but there is one theme I've noticed that bothers me -- there appears to be an anti-Korean tone to many of these postings.

I've seen repeated postings about all the things that are apparently wrong with Korean Christians (and perhaps Koreans in general). I admit that I don't personally know much about Korean churches, but I do know about Korean American churches. In my post-UBF years, I experienced numerous types of churches of various denominations, including white-American and Korean-American. Doctrinally, as well as in other ways, they've all been pretty similar. Some better than others, but none cultish. This is probably not your intent, but this constant singling out of Korean-Christians/Koreans appears to be grounded on a critical view of Koreans as a group. Let's be careful not to generalize an entire nation.

You also state, "Why don't they evangelize their own country first?" I believe people decide where to evangelize based on where they feel God is calling them, not based on statistics. The U.S. is full of non-believers; does this mean the U.S. shouldn't send missionaries out anywhere else?? Or that any other country with a statistically significant number of non-believers should not send missionaries out?

There are all sorts of Christian groups out there of all denominations and cultures, and there are a countless number of schools of thought when it comes to Bibilcal doctrine in general. As long as the group or individual is not a cult or otherwise hurting others, let them be. I've been through enough churches, talked to enough people, and lived long enough to know that we're never going to all agree. Of course, I'm not saying we shouldn't express disagreement. I'm only saying that when we disagree, we should be careful to phrase it as disagreement, and not as a right-wrong thing.

I'm new to this site, and am aware that I may be taking your comments out of context. If this is the case, I apolgize.
19th-Mar-2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Hello and welcome to the forum. Nice of you to join and write.

I’ll take this as an opportunity to put some things straight about our criticism of Korean Christianity. First, I learned that seeing things critically is often helpful. I learned I should always question my own motivations, but also my own culture. However, in my time of UBF I learned never to question the motivation and culture of others. That is wrong. One should not criticize from a judgmental point of view and a stance of “I am much better.” But one should be also careful and not accept every teaching and spirit as genuine or great just because somebody is making a lot of buzz of it. Jesus said “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” I think when we blindly accepted everything that came from UBF Koreans, we were not really shrewd as snakes, but stupid sheep whose wool could be easily pulled over their eyes.

We learned to be more careful. If you want to understand the Bible, study the context. And if you want to understand the problems of UBF, study the context of Korean Christianity.

What we are criticizing (or rather just observing) is that UBF Korean theology is sort of tainted with Confucianism, Shamanism and Nationalism. Later we understood that this is a general problem of Korean Christianity as well.

Now you are argumenting: Well, hasn’t American Christianity problems as well? Right, it has many problems as well, but they may be different problems. A problem does not get better if you realize that other problems exist as well.

Actually, I think the Western world has faced the same problems as Korean Christianity, only much earlier, and much more extreme. The European Christianity in the medieval times was full of superstitiousness. The church has to make many compromises with paganism. They tried to “reinterpret” their pagan beliefs, but until today we have ancient customs which are from our pagan heritage, sometimes intermingled with Christian festivities. Particularly the Catholic church has not overcome superstitiousness. However, in the time of Reformation and Enlightenment, these things have been dealt with and they are not much of a problem any more in the various Protestant Churches in the western world. Similarly, the problem of Authoritarism has been dealt with thoroughly when Luther said we need to obey the Bible more than any authority, even the pope. A good example is the Presbyterian Church which is based on a plurality of elders and mutual accountability, not on one-man/top-down hierarchies.

The ironical thing is that Authoritarism and Superstitiousness is now rising from the dead again particularly in the Evangelical churches in Korea who claim to be based on “sola scriptura”. I think it is highly ironical that an authoritarian cult as UBF emerged from a Presbyterian background in Korea. I think that’s what most of all irritating us. Other countries have their pagan and non-Biblical elements as well, but there is no country that is so vehemently claiming that it is strictly “Bible believing” as Korea.

Concerning the Korean “mission spirit” – yes, the western world made the same mistakes in the last centuries, when they were “evangelizing” foreign countries “by force” – after having made them their “colonies.” It seems Korean Christians are making the same mistakes today, believing their “Korean” Christianity and culture is the best and needs to be exported to others.

Anyway, let me reassure you that we are not anti-Korean at all. If I criticize somebody, this does not mean that I am “anti” somebody. The Bible says if you love your neighbor, you need to rebuke him. And actually, we are not even rebuking, but just trying to understand. Our emphasis is on Korea, simply because UBF is coming from Korea. You cannot understand UBF without understanding Korean culture and the background of Korean Christianity. We just all happen to be ex members of a Korean based cult, therefore we are talking about the origins of the cult based in Korean culture, and are not discussing the problems of German or Arabian or whatever culture, which certainly exist as well.
19th-Mar-2006 11:52 am (UTC)

You wrote “This is probably not your intent, but this constant singling out of Korean-Christians/Koreans appears to be grounded on a critical view of Koreans as a group. Let's be careful not to generalize an entire nation.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am not critical about Koreans as a group, or as individuals. But Koreans have a certain history and culture which has certain influences. You cannot generalize that *all* Koreans are like this and that, but you can certainly say that a huge percentage of Koreans are certainly influenced or tainted by certain elements stemming from that history and culture. I am vehemently denying the “politically” correct stance that all people are equal, men and women, Muslims and Christians etc. just because “you may not generalize.” All people are equal in the sense that they are all sinners on the one hand, and that they are all loved by God on the other hand, that they all have the same rights and dignity. But people are always embedded in their culture and one needs to understand that culture in order to understand the people.

You wrote: You also state, "Why don't they evangelize their own country first?" I believe people decide where to evangelize based on where they feel God is calling them, not based on statistics. The U.S. is full of non-believers; does this mean the U.S. shouldn't send missionaries out anywhere else?? Or that any other country with a statistically significant number of non-believers should not send missionaries out?

No, I don’t think sending out missionaries is wrong. But the relations should be right. There should be a sound balance between “inner mission” and “outer mission”. Korea is making a big fuzz about trying to evangelize other countries, totally denying that their own country is still a large mission field, as well what concerns the huge non-Christian part of the population as well as the restoration of the correct theology of the “Christian” population. That’s what I have seen in UBF so much: They are so eager to teach and train and correct others, but there is a complete unwillingness to restore and correct the wrongs in their *own* organization.

You wrote I'm only saying that when we disagree, we should be careful to phrase it as disagreement, and not as a right-wrong thing.

That depends. Sometimes, there are things which are just plain wrong, in an absolute sense. Or there are things which are just inconsistent and thus wrong no matter from which point of view, such as a Christian who claims to be Bible-based but orders divorces or abortions.

Again, let me reassure you that I am not anti-Korean at all. Quite to the contrary, I still have some extra sympathy for Koreans. But I am not so blind and naïve any more as I had been in UBF where we believed just because they have so many illuminated crosses in Seoul and UBF is so eagerly operating on the Campuses, they must be particularly spiritual people.
19th-Mar-2006 12:05 pm (UTC)
Just another comment on this: I believe people decide where to evangelize based on where they feel God is calling them, not based on statistics.

I believe in UBF, people think they go where they "feel God is calling them", but in reality they simply do if leaders are telling them to go and pressuring them enough. I know a missionary who wanted to go to Russia, but the leader told him to go to Germany, so he went to Germany. And if the leaders would not tell them to go, most wouldn't go anyway.

Samuel Lee made a big fuzz of it and said they should go to other countries (because he was eager to build up something "great"). If Samuel Lee had preached that UBF should focus on Korea, and on proper and healthy Biblical teaching, maybe all UBF members would have studied the Bible better, and it would be a sound and influential Christian organization today, and not a cult? Maybe then, as a sound and healthy Christian organization, individual members who are particularly gifted and willing for foreign mission would have felt compelled to go themselves?
19th-Mar-2006 06:42 pm (UTC) - not single out Koreans
Hi grace_x,

Thanks for visiting this forum, and welcome. I would like to assure you that our intention has never been to denigrate Korean people as a whole, tho we probably are guilty of this on ocassion. So we apologize to you and yours.

I have met a number or Korean people who are not affiliated with ubf, and they appear to me to be very different from Korean members of ubf. The non-ubf Koreans seem to be very hardworking and ambitious, totally committed to their families, and realistic in their thinking. I found ubf Koreans to be the opposite in these categories. The most glaring attribute I saw in the ubfKoreans is that they are dishonest in their words and actions. I do not see this in non-ubf Korean people. I think this is because they do not feel pressured to lie about their church or their intentions in inviting someone to their church. So I conclude that the dishonesty of ubf Koreans is solely derived from being in ubf, not from being Korean. The Americans in ubf, and all the so-called leaders, are dishonest people. I could name names and tell you some awful stories, but will not post them here. But in the obvious case, I was married to a dishonest ubfAmerican. Her American recruiter was also one of the most dishonest people I have ever met in my life. Follow the dishonesty up the ladder, and it ends with Samuel EE and Sara Bury. Dshonesty and decpetion are the real heritage at ubf.

I hope you may vist us often and share your unique perspectives with us.
God bless.
12th-Mar-2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
South Korea today sends out more missionaries than any other country except the United States. In terms of missionaries per congregation, Korea sends one missionary for every 4.2 congregations, which places it 11th in the world. (The U.S. does not rank in the top 10.)

This rocketing rate of growth is historic. When Kang returned to his home in 1991, South Korea had sent more than 1,200 missionaries, up from 80 just 11 years before. Today, almost 13,000 South Koreans are serving as longterm missionaries in countries around the world.


Here the author assumes that the numbers and the statistics he has accurately reflect the reality of Korean mission work. The author does not say where he got all the numbers and the statistics for Korean mission work. I can tell something about the numbers and the statistics that come out from UBF. First recall that Samuel Lee doctored the picture appeared in UBF News by faith(?) to exaggerate the number of the people who attended the MSU world mission conference a few years ago. Next UBF's weekly report on 1 to 1 Bible study and Sunday worship service. When many UBF Korean missionaries report their weekly one-to-one bible study, they consider it a one-to-one bible study by faith(?) even to talk to a person on a street or on a campus or on the phone. When they have a group bible study with 3 people in the group, they count it as three one-to-one bible studies by faith(?). They don't seem to have a guidline for what to be considered one-to-one bible study that could be included in their official report. It is the same story with their Sunday worship service report. They include an infant who cannot understand the message in their official count by faith(?). So the numbers and the statistics from UBF do not accurately reflect the real activity of many Korean missionaries. Literally everything is possible by faith(?) in UBF. I suspect that this kind of mindset was originated from Samuel Lee. It is a possibility that any Korean church postored by someone from Samuel Lee's generation could have had the same mindset as Samuel Lee's. That generation needed this kind of mindset to survive the difficult national situation induced by Korean war.

It is well known among other nations that the Korean government is notoriously inaccurate with its annual and quarterly report on many economic indicators. Many Korean corporations do not follow general guidelines when they report quarterly or annual earnings.

It is important to consider the general environment and the culture of a church or a country or a corporation or any other organization when the numbers and the statistics are presented for consideration because the numbers and the statistics don't tell the whole story. Even if the numbers and the statistics from Korean churches are accurate, we do not necessarily know if the numbers are the result of the atmosphere of Korean churches and their congregation in general or if the statistics is the result of the work of only a few authoritarian church leaders as is the case with UBF.
12th-Mar-2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
You're right, one should always question how accurate claimed numbers are. Also, how comparable are such numbers? Who is counted as a missionary? How good must one be educated to be called a missionary? How many hours a week must one spend on the mission field to be called a missionary? How good are the missionaries supported spiritually and financially by their home organizations? Does somebody with no Biblical education who does more harm than good, and practices mission in his spare time (as UBFers do) count as "1" just as a fully educated, fully supported, full-time missionary? I fear that even UBF "missionaries" are counted as missionaries in that statistic.
12th-Mar-2006 09:11 pm (UTC) - CT and research
Just recently, I have seen in another example how poorly CT tends to do their research.
It seems like someone gives them a handful of makeshift "facts", proposes an article (maybe pre-formulated already), they brush it over and put it into print.

So, I would agree with human12 that the numbers that CT mentions in that article are just what some ambitious Korean pastor handed them, not what reality reflects. In the same line, I would also suspiciously eye the situation with Chris' point of view, that Korea seems to be very proud to send out people who have neither the qualifications, nor the spirit of mission. All they have is an elitist "We are the best and we can change the world" mindset. I don't believe all Korean missionaries are like that, no never. But after the UBF experience, I'd rather "test the spirits if they are of God" before I embrace any missionaries.
12th-Mar-2006 09:29 pm (UTC) - Re: CT and research
Mike, is that Vitalia? :-)
13th-Mar-2006 06:09 am (UTC) - Re: CT and research
OT: Yes, it's her.
I think she makes a very funny face on that picture.
13th-Mar-2006 06:18 am (UTC)
Here is some good analysis on Korean mission work from the same article. Korean missionaries have lone-ranger complex. All the problems underlined below can be directly applied to UBF ministry. When UBF sends out its missionaries, the missionaries work in order to expand UBF churches in other parts of the world instead of working hard to help indigenous people to establish their own churches with their own local leaders as other American and British missionaries did in Korean long time ago. All indigenous members of UBF are not only under the direct control of UBF but they are also stigmatized as ingrates or rebels whey they move to other churches. Samuel Lee effectively used this kind of expansion work to promote himself as a great servant of God with a great mission when in fact he was serving his own organizaion by making many students devote their lives to work for his UBF organization. We are not sure if he really worked hard to serve God and indigenous people or if he worked hard to protect his private organization and to expand the work of his private organization. Did he use UBF for God or for himself?

Lone-Ranger Complex
But that entrepreneurial spirit has its downsides. "We have many lone rangers," Moon says. "Many Korean missionaries are on their own. They will start their own ministry instead of joining a team."

Koreans often lack crosscultural competency as well, Moon says. Americans not only have missionary experience, but they also have crosscultural opportunities in their own country. Koreans come from a monocultural, monolingual country.

Korean congregations often send missionaries directly, without an outside or denominational agency. While this process makes local churches more mission conscious and helps them identify better with the outreach, it also creates problems. Mission scholars say some churches tend to view missionary church plants as extensions of the home church. In some congregations, serving on the mission field has even become a step on the ladder of pastoral promotions.

Korean competitiveness also has a double edge. Koreans' aspiration to outdo America may result in huge numbers of Korean missionaries, but as one missionary to Japan told CT, competitiveness among missionaries there has made it harder to raise up national church leaders in an already difficult environment.

In addition, Timothy Park, a professor at Fuller and director of its Korean-studies program, says recent Korean missionaries have not always followed the indigenous church principle that made the first missionaries to Korea so successful.

"They enjoy financial support and lose the sense of depending on God and doing their best to help their churches grow. They depend on [Korean missionaries] for support, and they are eventually controlled by the missionaries."

Missionaries start new churches by using Korean mission funds to lure members from other congregations. This way the missionaries can report successful church plants to their home churches.

But Korean mission leaders recognize these problems and are working to address them. To begin with, they are encouraging churches to send missionaries through agencies, which ensures quality training and also eliminates undue influence from the sending churches.
13th-Mar-2006 06:53 am (UTC)
The Kangs dedicated Samuel to God, and they told him, "You will become a pastor."

Kang rebelled. "I did not want to accept my parents' dedication of me to God without my consent," he says. For years, he resisted God's call. But by the time he was 20, Samuel's heart softened, and he felt compelled to give himself to God. "No one can escape from his sovereign call," Kang says.


Sounds to me like he may have resisted his parents' will for him rather than God's calling for him. Is this how some UBF members sound when giving testimonies about marrying by faith?
13th-Mar-2006 07:16 am (UTC)
These following quotes seem to show that many Korean missionaries are very prideful about their identity as Koreans. They put the focus on what they are doing rather than boasting about their identity in Christ and what He is doing through them. As one Korean pastor was quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as Korean missions," there is only Christian missions.

Lone-Ranger Complex
Steve Moon, director of the Korea Research Institute for Missions, says Korean missionaries love the romance and adventure of pioneering mission work. Their role model is Horace G. Underwood, the first Presbyterian missionary to Korea.

"When Korean missionaries go out to the field, they want to be the first missionary, especially as a Korean," says Moon. "We are strong in starting new projects."

But that entrepreneurial spirit has its downsides. "We have many lone rangers," Moon says. "Many Korean missionaries are on their own. They will start their own ministry instead of joining a team."

Koreans often lack crosscultural competency as well, Moon says. Americans not only have missionary experience, but they also have crosscultural opportunities in their own country. Koreans come from a monocultural, monolingual country.

This tension is not unusual in the history of missions. "Wherever there is a renewal or revival anywhere in the world, it results in missions," says C. Douglas McConnell, dean of Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies. Each emerging church has tried to export its characteristics to other places, says McConnell, who recently co-authored The Changing Face of World Missions.

South Korea's rapid church growth in the '70s and '80s led to a remarkable missionary consciousness, but it will take some maturing before it becomes as effective as it could be.


Some Koreans are starting to host forums to discuss what Korean missions should look like in the future. "In terms of theology and missiology, in terms of methods, we may not be unique," says David Lee, director of Global Missionary Training Center, which trains about 7 percent of Korean missionaries. "But it's uniquely Koreans doing this with Korean structure, with Korean church support, with Korean zeal and Korean spirituality, which is willing to suffer and willing to shout to God with perseverance."

However, others believe missions are missions. "There is no such thing as Korean missions," says one well-respected Korean pastor.
13th-Mar-2006 07:48 am (UTC)
Next Pentecost

Kang and the association plan to send 100,000 full-time Korean missionaries by 2030. They hope to mobilize 50 percent of Korean churches to be involved in missions, recruit 1 of every 300 Korean Christians to become missionaries, adopt 200 unreached people groups every five years, and send 1 million tentmakers into difficult-access countries by 2020.

Sound familiar? UBF is currently praying to send out 100,000 missionaries by 2041, establish a house church for every North American college campus, and make America a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
It's an ambitious plan, and not everyone believes it is practical. Steve Moon says the project is "unrealistic." The mission infrastructure is already overwhelmed, he says. Currently the infrastructure in Korea can only support about 5,000 missionaries. The only way to send 100,000 missionaries would be to include tentmakers in the definition of a missionary. One pastor on the board of KWMA says that although he didn't vote against the project, it is too ambitious. Koreans' ambition can be a problem, he says, and this is a good example.

"We Koreans need to have a vision and goal for the future,"

Here we go again. We Koreans? How about we Christians? Or better yet, why don't we ask God what His will is for us rather than telling Him what our will is for Him?
So what happens if, despite immense hurdles, South Korea manages to reach the world's estimated 6,000 unreached people groups? What if it leads 21st-century missions into Asia, the final frontier of missions, and shepherds the majority world as it takes up its role in fulfilling the Great Commission? What happens if Korea's missions miracle continues?

Interesting question. What Koreans are we talking about? UBF missionaries? I am all for Christians reaching out to the unreached people groups. However, I think we should be sure that the Gospel being preached is Biblical and that the missionaries are there to expand God's kingdom and not their own. If that happens, I could care less if it happens to be Korean missionaries who accomplish the task. Although, in the end it is not any human agent that reaches the lost, it is a result of the Holy Spirit's leading.
13th-Mar-2006 08:05 am (UTC)
Korean congregations often send missionaries directly, without an outside or denominational agency. While this process makes local churches more mission conscious and helps them identify better with the outreach, it also creates problems. Mission scholars say some churches tend to view missionary church plants as extensions of the home church. In some congregations, serving on the mission field has even become a step on the ladder of pastoral promotions.

Korean competitiveness also has a double edge. Koreans' aspiration to outdo America may result in huge numbers of Korean missionaries, but as one missionary to Japan told CT, competitiveness among missionaries there has made it harder to raise up national church leaders in an already difficult environment. Missionaries, he says, focus on their church rather than working together with other missionaries to build seminaries and schools that can help the church at large.

UBF's focus on performance and on numbers, as well as, the lack of cooperation with other Christians or denominations always troubled me.
14th-Mar-2006 08:33 am (UTC) - churches and cults
I think there's a danger of zeal without knowledge when it comes to Christian missions. This applies to Christianity in Korea but also elsewhere. One danger is of ethics and morality taking a back seat to missionism, a mentality of the ends-justify-the-means, a mentality that accepts a few broken eggs (broken lives) to make an omelet. There's also the danger of discernment taking a back seat to missionism, a mentality that those who speak "mission-ese" can't possibly be that bad, so that even a group's cult reputation is dismissed or minimized because "they seem so zealous for mission." I think UBF has taken advantage of this tendency in Korean Christianity and has also pulled the wool over some non-Korean Christians' eyes with their fluent mission-ese.

The sad fact is that a group's or person's zeal for missions is not a guarantee against cultic beliefs or incredibly abusive practices. A couple of examples among many are the International Church of Christ and Feroze Golwalla. Among the many "mission-centered" individuals, churches and groups in Korea, it's guaranteed that there are going to be those that have crossed the line into cult or abusive church territory, EVEN IF the current missions movement as a whole was every bit a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. UBF would be just one of those cults or abusive churches that has crossed a line.

The Korean nationalism evident in the article bothers me, but you can be nationalistic and not cross the line into false nonsense as UBF has done with its misinterpretation of 1 Pe 2:9. The numeric goals in the article also bother me, but numeric goals can serve a purpose (such as resolving to lose 20 pounds through a diet) without crossing the line into obsession as UBF has done, making numbers goals into daily-weekly-yearly burdens that can hardly be borne, multiplying shame and guilt, strangling the grace out of Christianity. The desire to "pioneer" evident in the article also bothers me, but you can actually claim to be a "pioneer" if you go somewhere that was previously unreached by missionaries, and you won't have crossed the line into exclusivism as UBF has done, claiming to have "pioneered" a campus in which there might literally be a dozen Christian groups operating already.

Yes, this article and others reveal problems with Korean Christianity. But a church that has problems should be distinguished from the church that's crossed the line into the realm of being an abusive, controlling and deceptive group. I see UBF as having crossed that line more than 30 years ago.

In the future UBF might cite this CT article and claim that they are just part of this thriving missions movement from Korea. Of course, this would undercut their previous claims of being THE pioneers of this missions movement, claims which implied that they were "the biggest (and maybe the only) mission movement in Korea," claims that it was THEIR vision which lifted Korean students "out of post-war despair and into the mission field," that Sam Lee did for Korea what Bill Bright did for the U.S. (quote from a 2ndgen's web page).
This page was loaded Nov 18th 2017, 7:34 pm GMT.