Koreans Leading the Way

Posted on December 30, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

I have just returned from the Global Korean Young Adult Mission Festival (GKYM) held this year in Rochester, New York. I was not able to accept invitations to speak at this conference previously, so this was my first time to gather with more than 3,000 second-generation Koreans, primarily from the U.S. and Canada for this end-of-the-year event. Seldom had I been at a conference that reflected such intense passion and commitment for evangelizing a lost world.

It reminded me of one of my earlier experiences of seeing how God is moving among Korean youth. The first GCOWE (Global Consultation on World Evangelization) was held in Seoul, Korea in 1995. It was a gathering of evangelical denominations and mission agencies from all over the world, convened to meet the challenge of engaging unreached people groups with the gospel. One night the delegates gathered at a public arena for the purpose of commissioning young people from churches in Korea who were committed to going as missionaries. The 4,000 GCOWE delegates were seated on the floor of the arena while the 10,000 young people being commissioned filled the stadium seats!

In Rochester, participants were challenged to be the ones to take the gospel to the remaining 639 unengaged people groups with a population of more than 50,000 who have yet to be touched with a Christian witness. As speaker after speaker reminded the audience that leadership transitions in North Korea were a precursor to providential events that would eventually open that country to the gospel, the entire crowd of more than 3,000 lifted their hands in commitment to say they were willing to be the ones to go when that time came.

We have found a remarkable response of Korean Baptist churches to missions involvement over the years. About eight years ago pastors from the Korean-American Baptist churches in the U.S. asked the IMB to conduct four area mission rallies in their largest churches. They expressed a vision for 100 missionaries to be called to missionary service. In the first rally more than 200 made commitments to go as missionaries, so the pastors reconvened and announced they had changed their vision to a thousand missionaries being called out of their churches. More rallies were scheduled in subsequent years and over 800 have responded to the call with at least 300 already appointed to overseas service.

Partnership with the CKSBC (Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches) has led to expanded opportunities for partnership and training in churches in South Korea. A few years ago I led a mission conference with the 3,000 students at the Baptist Seminary in Pusan, many who were headed to the mission field. Later I was keynote speaker at a conference of inter-denominational and para-church mission agencies in Korea who altogether send out more than 15,000 foreign missionaries.

I have discerned a deeper than normal devotion of Koreans who respond to a call to missions. Most Americans will respond in consideration of the possibility of missionary service but continue to rationalize and explore whether or not that’s what God wants them to do. When Koreans come to the altar they are forsaking all, expecting someone to put a passport and airline ticket in their hand and send them to the ends of the earth the next day!

What is the difference in a day when the number of missionaries from the West are in decline and most American churches are reducing financial support for missions. Why does God seem to have His hand on Koreans and is allowing them to lead the way in fulfilling the Great Commission? An uninhibited, authentic worship style in which Koreans seem to capture a passion for God’s glory may have something to with it. A devotion for early morning prayer meetings, a willingness to pray and intercede for the nations all night and in days of prayer and fasting is probably a factor. And they seem to have an indiscrete zeal for witnessing and sharing Christ that makes a difference.

May God continue to bless and sustain this mission vision of Koreans around the world and may others follow the example of their passion and commitment to the Great Commission.

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