Private school event highlights historical role of Christian education in raising South Korea 'from ashes of war' to prosperity

By CDI Staff |
Rev. Jang-hwan Kim
Rev. Jang-hwan Kim. | Christian Daily Korea / Hyeong-gu Noh

The Private School Mission Network, led by its Chairman Rev. Jae-hoon Lee, held the '2024 Private School Mission Forum - The Path Christian Schools Should Take in a Rapidly Changing Era' on June 27 at the Novotel Ambassador Seoul Yongsan Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

The event featured a number of speakers from churches and Christian ministries as well as representatives from the National Assembly who highlighted the historical role Christian education played in raising the country from poverty to prosperity as well as their relevance in addressing today's societal issues.

In his address to attendants, Far East Broadcasting Company Chairman Rev. Jang-hwan Kim said, "I pray for a day when Christian private schools can freely provide Christian education," and emphasized, "The majority of National Assembly members are elders or deacons of churches. The president himself attended Daekwang Elementary School, a mission school, where he heard sermons from the late Pastor Han Kyung-jik every Wednesday, fostering his Christian faith."

Pastor Jae-hoon Lee, Chairman of the Private School Mission and Senior Pastor of Onnuri Church, remarked that "education is the only way to build people. God changes the world through education. The history of Korea's prosperity from the ashes of war to today was possible because of education."

"At the center of this were Christian schools. Christian schools established around churches have drawn a significant line in modern history.

"Conversely, the current crisis in Korea stems from Christian schools. Today, it is difficult to maintain the identity of Christian schools due to the legal and institutional environments," he argued and urged participants, "Rather than expecting someone else to bring change, we who cry out about the importance of education should first become people of God, and then God will open the way."

Rev. Jaehoon Lee and Rev. Seong Choi
Rev. Jaehoon Lee (left) and Rev. Seong Choi (right). | Christian Daily Korea / Hyeong-gu Noh

Rev. Sung-eun Choi, Senior Pastor of Jigucheon Church, reflected on Korea's history saying, "Western missionaries established schools and hospitals with the ideology of Christianity to testify the gospel. In the 1880s, four significant Western missionaries came."

"Allen and Underwood of the Northern Presbyterian Mission established Jejungwon and Yonsei University. Henry Appenzeller of the Northern Methodist Mission established Paichai School. Mary Scranton of the Northern Methodist Mission established Ewha Academy, the predecessor of Ewha Girls' High School and Ewha Womans University.

"These missionaries sought to spread the gospel through Christian education. If we also propagate the gospel through Christian education, God will raise the next generation as leaders in the last days," he said.

Assemblyman Jung-hoon Cho vowed to do his best to amend the laws that affect Christian education, saying, "My children are also receiving education in a Christian alternative school, and I am aware of the difficulties related to this."

"I believe that being assigned to the Education Committee in this National Assembly is God's guidance. I will work diligently to amend relevant laws and systems rationally," he said.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Min-seok Kim acknowledged, "I feel there are many barriers to resolving several issues raised by the Private School Mission. Let’s gradually build up wisdom to solve these problems. I hope the Private School Mission will leave a good precedent in solving the issues of our society and community."

Originally published by Christian Daily Korea. Translated and edited by Christian Daily International staff.