"The core of youth mission revival lies in cross-centered faith education," Korean mission leaders emphasize

By CDI Staff |
KWMF group photo
Group photo of the KWMF mission conference. | Noh Hyeong-gu/Christian Daily Korea

The Korean World Missionary Fellowship (KWMF) hosted the mission conference on the theme of “Next Generation Mission Leadership” at the Korea Theological Seminary based in Cheonan from the 24th to the 27th of April. About 400 missionaries attended the conference where leadership transition and raising the next generation of missionaries were key topics.

Pastors Seong-jun Go from Suwon Hana Church and Ju-bong Yeo from Vine Church were among the keynote speakers.

Pastor Go shared his own testimony as he spoke on 'Era and Mission' (Esther 4:13-16), saying, “I first encountered Jesus through the Navigator organization. When I met Jesus Christ in college, living a life of preaching, prayer, and fellowship with brothers brought me great happiness. And the prayer I made to live such a life eventually came true.”

“At first I decided to dedicate myself to campus ministry as a professor and earned a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. However, during my study abroad, I met my current teacher missionary Yi Jae-wan and decided to dedicate myself to missions. After arriving in Korea for mission preparation, I briefly attended a church where an acquaintance from Berkeley was serving as a pastor. However, he had to leave for the United States and asked me to take care of the church. That became the starting point of my pastoral ministry. At that time, a church elder conveyed God's voice to me, saying, 'Your calling is not to be a missionary but to serve the next generation.' So, I eventually obeyed and decided to serve as the senior pastor of that church.”

“I served the church not as the senior pastor but as the senior deacon. At the same time, I supported a seminary affiliated with the Baptist Church and received pastoral training.”

“God's work is done through co-working with people. God works through us. As long as our actions do not hinder God's work, we just need to do what we do. We have our own customs in thinking and acting. However, sometimes, these customs may hinder God's work.”

“In 2005, I started a youth church mainly for college students. As I learned from the Navigators and UBF, I preached to college students and trained disciples according to their methods. However, God gave me discomfort about this method. I decided to spend a month in prayer, and during that time, God said to me, 'I am with you, but your ministry target is Muslims.'”

“On another day, after having a meal with an acquaintance, and as they had prayed for me, they interceded the same message from God that I heard in my prayer before. It was, 'I am with you, but your ministry target is Muslims.' In response to this, in 2006, I was sent as a missionary to the Middle East. Then, I gathered local coworkers and people who would participate in missions from Korea and devised plans for successful missions.”

“From 2008, I went to Syria with a team of college students. We decided to prepare for missions through prayer for three hours each day instead of rushing to evangelize. The first month in the mission field is usually enjoyable, but after five months, it becomes monotonous. Young missionaries sometimes become isolated, leading them to indulge in watching inappropriate content or dramas at home.”

“The conclusion we reached was that college students should learn the local language, enjoy friendships with local youth, and expand missionary opportunities through these relationships. Focusing on this, our missionary team handed over the abundant missionary fruits we bore over a year to a local church established by locals.”

“Mission can be approached from horizontal and vertical perspectives. The horizontal perspective is preaching the gospel to all nations. The vertical perspective is devolving missionary tasks to the next generation.”

“This is also mission work. The amazing missionary legacy given to the Korean church by God is to transfer it to the next generation. Korea is the only nation in the world that has achieved missionary revival in 100 years after the gospel entered the land. We must pass on this proud legacy to the next generation.”

“The Bible can be divided into ‘ministries that continue through generations’ and ‘those that only last for a generation’. Samuel and David were great biblical figures, but they did not pass on missionary tasks to their descendants. However, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, passed on missionary tasks to the next generation. The commonality of each of Elisha and Joshua's names is that it contains the meaning ‘my God has (is my) saved (salvation/deliverance).’ Unprecedented history occurs when generations are connected. That's victory, conquest, breakthrough. The gospel is empowered when generations are connected.”

“But the devil divides generations because he knows this power. Younger generations curse the older generations. However, the younger generation should respect the older generation. Conversely, the older generation should not try to restrict the missionary methods of the younger generation with their own methods. When generations are connected, the next generation accomplishes even greater things.”

Nurturing a God-centered value system and the gospel of the cross

In the subsequent keynote lecture, Pastor Yeo Ju-bong talked about 'The Next Generation's Recovery Project through the 2+2 Intern Missionary Platform (Short-term missions tailored to the younger generation)' and shared the strategies of the Youth Missionary Inc. of the church he pastors.

Pastor Yeo said, ''Do Dream Two-gether' is a significant ministry of the Youth Missionary Inc. It is a youth-tailored mission movement that aims to turn the youth of our country back to God and send them to the nations as a youth-oriented mission movement. Two youths are dispatched as a team for a year, with four youths continuously dispatched to the same place every six months, forming a team of four youths to receive training and serve in the mission field.”

“The ultimate goal of this movement is not simply to send youth on overseas missions but to focus on 'youth talent development and training.' They experience the life of a complete missionary and learn in-depth. They learn language and culture, relationships and leadership, grow in their faith, and discover their talents. They look to God's vision and gain the strength to live a missionary life.”

“In this way, four youths armed with a God-centered value system and the gospel of the cross receive training and live together for a year, experiencing natural mission work.”

“'Do Dream Two-gether' supports a maximum of 600,000 won (USD440 or GBP350) per month for living expenses. It focuses on cultivating consideration and cooperation among youths in teams. It also pursues faith training through life experiences with local missionaries. Through this, they learn missionary life and experience practical companionship with God, discovering the vision God gives.”

Pastor Yeojubong said, ''I want young people to live a missionary life here and now rather than living as local missionaries. Above all, we educate them to have a Jesus Christ-centered mindset and heart over having them focus on the fruits in ministry work. We teach young people how to love God sincerely and trust Him. When they do, they can experience God's work that goes beyond our imagination.”

“The youths who have experienced the ‘2+2 Intern Missionary Program’ will return to their respective positions, living out God's vision and mission in local churches, campuses, workplaces, and homes. They will become the generation that restores the Korean church and prepares for the revival of the next generation.”“The testimonies of the young adults who return from the ‘2+2 Intern Missionary Program’ reveal instances where in a country in the Middle East, children's ministries and youth missions flourished: a Sunday school that began with one child saw a revival, growing to over 100 attendees. Additionally, there were instances where young adults formed study groups and worship teams.”

“Young adults who participated in the program testified, 'Idols within me were shattered,' 'Ministry is not what I do, but what God does through me,' 'I learned who I am, what worship is, and how precious each soul is.'"

“Young people who have experienced the ‘2+2 Intern Missionary Program’ are dreaming of God's kingdom in various fields such as NGO professionals, mission organization staff, local church workers, and alternative school teachers, rather than living as local missionaries. Our goal is to send 1,000 intern missionaries annually to 250 countries or regions worldwide.”

Following the lectures, Missionary Sung-chun No, General Affairs Manager of the KWMA Cooperative, affirmed the centrality of the cross in mission work, saying, “Pastor Yeo emphasizes the most important point in this ministry as the faith of the cross. He said that the Korean Church in this era is similar to the religion of the Kingdom  Judah. The Kingdom of Judah strictly adhered to the law and religious forms but failed to live out such lives.”

“Faith lived without faith in the cross is like putting fake gasoline in a car. Such a car may move, but it will eventually break down. Perhaps the success of the youth missionary revival at the Vine Church lies in educating faith in the cross. That is, living life through the gospel,” Missionary No added.

Communicating with the next generation

During the afternoon sessions, two missionaries, Jang-saeng Kim and Sung-gyu Jo, introduced the characteristics of generations in the field and emphasized that the ultimate way to communicate with them is to show life examples with the heart, not nagging. They also mentioned how the legacy of senior missionaries should be passed on.

The missionaries said, ''The problem in the mission field is not the lack of prospective missionaries from the next generation but that there will be no future missionaries if they do not directly visit the field where the next generation lies. Recognizing this, Korean churches and field missionaries must prepare for the nurturing of the next generation of missionaries.''

KWMF emphasized, ''There is a solution to overcome the crisis by directly communicating with the next generation, understanding their orientation, and helping them reflect missionary life in their lives through collaboration, rather than simply waiting for churches to give bread to the next generations as in the past.''

Leading President Missionary Do-ho Bang and Secretary-General Geun-hee Lee said, ''This conference has become a starting point for changing Korean missions in the future,'' emphasizing that the conference has become a success as it opened the way for the next generation and pledged to collaborate to inherit the legacy of the previous generation.''

Original reporting by Christian Daily Korea, translated and edited by CDI staff.