Puchon, South Korea
Mission Korea Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary with 5000 Students--and a Prayer for a Korean Student Volunteer Movement.
Amidst an economic crisis that has been working to quench the missionary passion and turn the focus of the future generation inward, 5000 students filled Puchon stadium August 3-7 just outside Seoul. Their prayer: That God would raise up a new, Korean Student Volunteer Movement. Their vision: "Students from England and North America came to us 100 years ago. Now it is our turn to go."
The sixth of the biennial Mission Korea meetings, this event marked the tenth anniversary of 1988's Seoul kickoff where 700 students attended, inquiring into the theme "The role of youth and students in world evangelism." Since then, over 10,000 students have made some formal commitments to cross-cultural mission service through the Mission Korea events.
With the theme "Last Frontiers of the 21st Century," this years students were served a healthy offering of over 200 seminars given by a host of speakers, including missionaries, professors and agency representatives. Plenary speakers included Dr. Hyun-mo Lee, a professor of missiology at the Korean Baptist Theological Seminary and Min-Young Jung from Global Bible Translators who challenged the youth on the commitments they'll need to make to truly advance God's agenda in the next millennium. Addressing essential issues for advancing God's mission in a new millennium was American futurologist Dr. Tom Sine.
In a effort to demonstrate Christ-like service and ease the housing costs for the conferees, most students stayed in local elementary schools. Each morning's first session was a small group meeting held at the school which focused on key principles for reaching the unreached people groups. According to one attendee, "It was like a miniature version of the Perspectives course."
Thursday morning's session focused on the plight of an isolated people quite close to these South Koreans: The deep poverty, oppression and starvation of their North Korean neighbors. After a sobering video depicting the plight of their Korean brethren, many fasted through lunch and, according to participant Ryan Lee, "hard and strong prayer for the North followed."
Bangladesh Awash with Trouble Even as Waters Recede
Hindsight has only revealed the tragic severity of the recent flooding in Bangladesh: The two months of flooding were the most severe and longest on Bangladesh's record. Roughly two-thirds of the country was covered in water.
While difficult to number, at least 22 million in this nation of 120 million have been left homeless, cattle have drowned and countless homes are destroyed.
Lost in the flooding were over two million tons of rice. According to the report of one Christian worker "crops everywhere are wiped out, and the waters remained late into the Spring so that new seedlings are also lost."
At last, waters have begun to recede. But, in a number of ways, the more treacherous problems have just begun. In many areas, water is now too shallow for boat access, but much too deep for wheeled vehicles.
To date, the death toll is reportedly around 1000, mostly, according to the New York Times, "from diarrhea, cobra bites and drowning." The still water, mud and sludge that remain provide a welcome environment for more deadly foes: malaria, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera. They quickly ravage the poor who are already weak from malnutrition. Perhaps these, too, are the bite of an evil serpent, so to speak, and ought to be treated as such (see Winter, page 34).
Bangladesh has reputedly been a tough field for the Gospel. Christians number less than one percent and evangelicals less than one tenth of one percent. But a growing number of household followers of Jesus who have remained culturally Muslim has given some hope that the fabric of faith in Bangladesh may have a brighter future.
Substantial relief efforts have begun, both by the United Nations and a host of NGOs, though the destruction of an estimated 10,000 miles of roads will make things tough, especially for rural areas, where people need help the most.
One NGO has begun an effort of distributing seed packets large enough to produce a vegetable garden for three families. One worker captures the grim sense of the future: "Most will survive; few will truly recover; fewer still will prosper."
EFMA and IFMA
U.S. Center Takes "New Horizons" Directly to Missions Executives
The Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies (EFMA) held its annual executive retreat outside Atlanta in Norcross, Georgia on September 14-17. The U.S. Center presented "New Horizons in Mission" which is now expanded and presented here in Mission Frontiers. Additional themes included an emphasis on children: The 4-14 (year) window, where 85 percent of all who come to Christ make commitments.
Greg Parsons, Executive Director of the U.S. Center was elected to EFMA's Board of Directors. Parsons now serves on both the EFMA and IFMA boards.
The Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA) held their annual meeting September 17-19 in Kansas City, with the theme "Missions in a Post-Modern World." Keynote speaker Alan Roxburgh's four messages probed scripture for the Church's response to a markedly different world.
Together, the two fellowships represent nearly 20,000 North American career missionaries.
U.S. Center Area Rep Dies of Sudden Heart Attack
Ralph McFarland, Tucson Area Representative for the U.S. Center for World Mission died of a heart attack on October 9, 1998. Ironically, when he collapsed, he was packing a truck in preparation for a move to Pasadena where he hoped to serve with his wife as full-time volunteers for the Center.
Ralph was a great friend of the USCWM--and the Great Commission. He spent much of his time spreading the vision for unreached peoples and informing others of the resources and ministries of the USCWM. He was also a radical financial giver to missions.
Among those who will miss him most are his wife, Faye, and his granddaugther, Jamie, whom he raised like his own daughter until she was 16 years old.
The U.S. Center Community Retreat at Forest Home Focuses on the Family
The mountain retreat center at Forest Home in the San Bernadino mountains served as a pleasant venue for rest, community-building and a bit of intellectual rigor as the U.S. Center for World Mission and its affiliated university retreated for this biennial event.
With over 120 adults and 50 children present, the theme of the retreat, "Community Under Construction" was an effort to incorporate the best elements of the extended-family structure into the U.S. Center community--something of a surrogate extended-family.
While an appreciation of such a structure serves the purposes of community in Pasadena well, it also helps mobilizers and aspiring field missionaries gain a more profound appreciation for the familial structure of the greater part of the world (and of scripture). Namely, this structure is characterized not by a single, nuclear family but several generations, siblings and their families.
To a significant degree, though, the lessons for family resonated with each individual family in the community. According to Greg Parsons, Executive Director of the U.S. Center, "the retreat, as well as our regular activities and fellowship are efforts to help us move forward"--in the missionary task but also to move "deeper in our walk with the Lord and each other."