|| Round Table Talk Ⅰ: Frontier Field Workers' Appealing to Home Churches
Place : Indonesia
Rev. Sung Yong Kim (Publisher of Mission Times:
Coordinator for this Round Table Talk)
Deborah Meung (Insiders, Field Worker, 12 years)
Susan Chae (Comemission, Field Worker, 5 years)
Banaba Kim (Hap-Shin, Field Worker, 3 years)
Joy (Field Worker, 2 1/2 years)
Chung-Mo Park (ESF, Language/Culture Learning)
Joseph Lee (Insiders, Pre-field Preparation)
Stephen Jung (Insiders, General Secretary)
Dorga (GP, Field Worker, 9 years)
Sarah (Insiders, Field Worker, 3 Years)
Zainal (YWAM, Field Worker, 5 years)
Jung-Wook Park (Insiders, Candidate
John Kim (Insiders, Field Worker, 12 years)
Barnabas Bae (Insiders, Field Worker, 5 years)
Ki-Hong Kim (A Prayer Supporter from Korea)
Rev Sung Yong Kim: "Mission Times" is trying to do the best to be a journal playing a role to help missionaries. I hope this opportunity of round table talk can be helpful for missionaries on frontier fields in realistic ways and also an advocating chance for the sake of felt needs on frontier fields. You may share any difficulties that you are experiencing on the field on behalf of the frontier workers so that the home churches and prayer supporters can understand what kind of struggles you are struggling with.
Zainal: Before starting, I would say thank you first to "Mission Times" as she will certainly be aware of the security issue when our talks are published in public domain.... (All laughing)
Banaba Kim: I want to ask "Mission Times"to be a journal which is channeling the issues and situations on the frontier mission fields to the pastors in home-side so that they can send the short term trip members to right direction. Typical short term trip has been continued within existing local churches and Christian communities by performing worship dances and other Christian activities. However, frontier field workers cannot be involved in those activities. And therefore often the frontier worker's attitude is disputed and misunderstood as something bad as not considering of the request from home-side in helping the short term teams.
Joy: Recently I was doing a job of shepherding sheep and goats. It is definitely not easy for a foreign worker to go into a remote village for ministry purpose.While I was trying to find a suitable way to go into a remote village, I realized that a small and simple business could become a way through which I could get into it. I bought some goats and sheep and started a job taking care of them. I could get into some remote villages to find and buy those goats and sheep. And I had to find any contacts to which I could entrust the caring job for the animals. By doing so, it was so natural that I could get into the villages. Nobody looked at me with suspicious eyes. Besides this, there are many unemployed folks in rural areas. We can create natural contacts through small home businesses. Many vernaculars are interested in business ideas requiring small amount of initial fund. But, because of high running cost due to the expensive oil price, they are not easily initiating a new business. Local Christians as well as the home-side supporters are not interested in those small businesses creating many natural contacts. As a matter of fact, we expatriate workers can find useful contacts through those businesses. Almost all supporting from home-side is generally confined to supporting the activities in seminaries and Churches. It should be known that there are many ways to promote frontier mission work by supporting those small businesses, but they are often regarded as secular ideas. Another reason may be found in the area of communication with home churches. It is not easy for a frontier field worker to keep maintaining often contacts with home church. It would be ideal if home churches are interested in the small business type of new venture ministries on frontier fields.
Deborah Meung: I agree with Banaba and Joy when they talked about the short term field trip issue and small business initiatives for frontier mission. Besides those issues, I would say the great need for special prayer movement in Korean home churches, gearing towards frontier mission. In one sense missionaries are those who have left this worldly lives by committing themselves to the Great Commission, but they are experiencing the spiritual warfare as real in their field lives even if they are experienced senior workers. Some complex and emotional difficulties often occur in one's field life with other entangled issues like VISA problem, relationship with other colleagues, and somewhat psychological matters, etc. Even family issue and the relationship with other workers can be real in terms of the contents of the spiritual warfare. This spiritual warfare which is real can become somewhat rather severe in frontier mission areas. Thus, in order to overcome the difficulties on frontier field, it is necessary to have special prayer supporter's group who can remember the frontier field situation in their regular prayer gatherings. You may need to ask such a special prayer group for your own ministry.
Banaba Kim: For this time, I would like to share rather practical issue in line with unite for field ministry cooperation. There are a few churches (local churches and denominations) that adopted S-people in my case. However, I feel serious overlapping in the field ministry.I believe that those adopting churches should consider of the field situation first rather than their own positions. The practical advance in field ministry can only be realized when those churches can form a field oriented union. Therefore from this point of view, we may need somebody playing role as a coordinator between those adopting churches. We may expect synergistic result when those adopting churches and the field workers can form a dynamically functioning organic network in harmony.
Joseph Lee: I want to say thank you to Banaba for his sharing about various aspects of ministry. I have been sent already as a missionary but not settled down yet for long term work. I would talk about the supporting/field ministry condition of the long term workers sent by my home church. I am the 41st missionary sent by my home church. There seems to exist a big difference in the worker's situation from the points like mobilization, mission expedition, and financial support, etc. Frontier workers seem to be left behind in terms of the home-side supporting. I feel that the pastors in home-side need to understand the frontier mission field situation. Special pastoral care needs to be taken for those working on the frontier fields so that the workers can be focused on the field ministries.
Chung-Mo Park: I cannot agree with the way of doing mission by churches in such a way that they just support overseas missionary projects or send the short term workers for the sake of their own church growth. Of course I am not saying that it is wrong. It would be good if both the sending church and the field work could experience real growth. Nevertheless, the mission should be done according to its intrinsic principle. We often distribute our prayer letters at least once every two months or three. The prayer request sharing could be done by individual way or through an organizational system. But, what I really want to say now is that the Korean churches must be revived with prayer movement again. Prayer can be started with a small concern. If it were not for a prayer movement in a church, the church could be experiencing spiritual imbalance. We cannot be satisfied only with the number of Korean overseas missionaries. The reality of frontier mission field should be known by Korean churches. In that there are many issues relating to seminary problem, relationship with sending church, and paradigm shift in understanding frontier mission, etc. The majority of Korean missionaries consist of the ordained pastors. Churches prefer to send the ordained pastors as qualified missionaries. In general Korean churches recognize the ordained pastors as qualified missionaries. It seems to be ironic, while many mission and church leaders continue to emphasize on the necessity of professional workers on one hand, they tend to search ordained pastors as their missionary candidates on another hand.
Deborah Meung: From that point of view, rather than just waiting until they are changed, we as field workers need to change ourselves first in the perceptions on mission as well as missionary. I can feel too the antinomy that many Korean churches possess. But, when we are going through real change in those aspects from the field-side, the Korean churches that we expect to be changed can go through real change as well.
Joseph Lee: According to the statistics shown by KWMA, the number of non-ordained missionaries is bigger than that of ordained ones. However, the number seems to include student oriented mission organizations such as CCC and UBF that send many short term workers. In reality, most of the long term Korean workers are found in pastor's group. The reality that we often observe is an attitude that many Korean churches sending their missionaries tend to expect to see the local churches planted by their missionaries end be named according to the names and values of the mother churches or the geographical areas. But, non-ordained professional worker's ministry has nothing to do with such kind of work, and thus frontier field worker's ministries are easily by-passed.
Susan Chae: But, I feel that we should see ourselves first before we deal with that structural issue of the Korean churches. Since the tsunami hit the area where I have been working, there are many requests from home-side asking short term ministry opportunities. However, I cannot accept every single request. I had to give some time first to set up the plan to accepte those requests. In fact, home-side may not easily understand the situation on a frontier field. Thus, field workers should develop their own plans according to the situation. My team has changed the ministry focus from a tribe-oriented one to Muslim. But, the sort of work through NGO is not so much welcomed as the other CP ministries. Even in that case, rather than just asking their understanding on what we are doing, we field workers need to go through paradigm shift in understanding the frontier mission work and then later on the churches in home-side can eventually be influenced by our changes. Most of the field issues must have something to do with the field workers themselves. Thus, we need to take self-examination first and then experience the change of paradigm. A momentum could be risen when the people can observe how God is working through those who are sharing the same sort of vision. We need to become the models for the works influencing our churches. The fact that God is working can testify what we are doing to be the witness to our churches. Many non-ordained field workers are sharing the difficulties they experienced, but my case is not so hard to bear. As a matter of fact, the issue seems to be related to the basic calling that qualifies the workers. When we face the moment that our bottom line is surfacing in such a difficult frontier field and feel we should check the calling, it can become a critical situation in our field lives. The true issue must lie on ourselves.
Won-Il Jung: I want to share something from a position that I see the field workers from home-side as a general secretary of an organization. I got shocked by knowing the fact that only 15% of the Korean churches is involved in mission mobilization. And I felt that it was so natural that the field workers could not but go through hardship on the fields in that condition. Indeed the field workers need to get supplement and active support from home-side. But, in reality the church members tend to only expect spiritual supplement from the workers. Therefore, the field workers often struggle to satisfy the members of the home church rather than sharing what they are really struggling with on the field. Nonetheless I feel that the field workers need to be willing to share their struggles and sufferings with the church members openly. Especially for the frontier workers, they definitely need spiritual refreshment and hence the concept of furlough is still important. For this matter, field workers and the churches need open minded talk together.
Rev Sung Yong Kim: I would express my sincere thankfulness to those members of G-KoM.Net for this round table talk. I feel sorry about not giving any opportunity to those who attended as observers. As for closing, I would ask somebody to introduce G-KoM.Net for the readers.
John Kim: G-KoM.Net is a practical network initiated by the field workers for M-ministries. All the members are voluntarily taking part in the network. But, this network has its intrinsic direction towards frontier M-ministry, and same sort of vision and value sharing is necessary. Looking back the start timing, 5 years ago some Korean M-field workers decided to initiate the network to share the same frontier M-mission vision after finishing the first Paulus training designed to equip Korean M-field workers and candidates. Now the number of the members is around 50. Not all of them are found in real M-contexts. But, since most of them are sharing common understanding about M-frontier field ministry, those who have finished one of the Paulus trainings are basically recognized as members of the network. There are some acting groups in the network; they are research, training, conference, promotion, international and women groups. And also there are a few regional coordinators and a representative coordinator. John Kim and Abas Bae have played role as the representative coordinators before, and now Banaba Kim took over it and is serving the network as the representative coordinator. From now on we plan to start the Paulus Training within the country of Korea and somewhat systematic preparation for the field Paulus Training such as case study material collection, manual composition, and other related works.* We hope that this kind of field oriented network can be formed in the other frontier areas.**