Gap Between the Nations

May 31, 2003 02:25 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES –More than 1,000 people attended the Korean Southern Baptist overseas missions service, May 10-11. Nearly half of the attendants committed their lives to missions at the celebration held at the Berendo Street Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the oldest Korean Baptist church in the country. The service was one of four being held by the International Mission Board for the Korean-speaking Southern Baptists across the nation.

Sung Park, senior pastor at the Berendo Street Church, noted several unique qualities possessed by Korean Americans that are beneficial to missions.

"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 with little opportunity to hear the gospel.

Also, said Park, 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.

Bob McEachern, a missionary in the Republic of Korea for 14 years, and Dan Moon, coordinator of Asian-American church planting with the North American Mission Board, noted the value of deploying non-Anglo missionaries:

"Because they are Asians, they fit in where white Americans don't," said McEachern.

"A Western missionary presence in the socialist Asian countries is forbidden or closely monitored," said Moon. "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."

Man-Poong Dennis Kim, senior pastor of Global Mission Church of Greater Washington said Korean-American missionaries could be safer in certain areas where Caucasian missionaries would not.

"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.

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 next Korean mission conference will be held at Global Mission Church, Sept. 12-14. 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.

The goal of these conferences is "that the Korean American churches would help the IMB to mobilize, recruit and deploy 1,000 new missionaries," said Moon.

Park agreed, saying, "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."

By Pauline J.