Missionary transition highlighted as key issue at Korean mission conference

By CDI Staff |
Missionaries are praying at the KWMF mission conference.
Missionaries are praying at 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 last week, from the 24th to the 27th of April.

The in-depth discussions focused on how to lead young people in churches, who are experiencing a decrease in numbers, to become leaders in overseas missions.

The organizing committee of the conference emphasized that due to the lack of readiness, systematization, and professional data in missionary work at various mission sites around the world, ensuring the continuity of missions has become challenging. They planned the program of this mission conference with a focus on deriving alternatives through discussions at the conference.

In a keynote speech, KWMF Chairman Do-ho Bang stated, “In fact, despite the need for readiness, systematization, professional data, and concentrated work in each country's missionary field to be connected to the next generation of missions, there are red lights flashing in terms of the continuity of missionary work in the field.”

“There is a request from missionary workers in the field to systematize the transfer of the field to the next generation as soon as possible. In response to the strong request to prepare young university students and seminary students as valuable missionaries and to transfer them to locals, we organized this mission conference in collaboration with leaders of the Korean domestic church and mission organizations for the next generation of missions,” he continued.

He also expressed hope that through the conference, the Korean church and related organizations would recognize the need to prepare and evaluate potential next-generation missionaries and understand the need for mutual understanding regarding the transfer of each mission field.

Furthermore, he expressed his hope that the conference would inspire the next generation to dream of becoming global missionaries, invigorate senior missionaries' expectations for effective mission transfer, and encourage leaders of missionary sending agencies to reconsider their perspectives on this responsibility.

KWMF Secretary General Geun-hee Lee stated in his address that “KWMF, founded in 1977, is celebrating its 47th anniversary this year. Currently, 23,000 missionaries from 169 countries around the world are dedicating themselves to church planting, theological education, and various social and cultural activities.”

“Despite the remarkable missionary work that Korean missionaries have been doing since the early 1970s, efforts to establish the next generation have been lacking,” he said.

He then mentioned the decline in the number of people willing to go out and dedicate themselves to missions, expressing his hope that the mission conference could be a creative platform for finding solutions for the Korean Church and sending organizations.

Secretary General Dae-heung Kang of the Korea World Missionary Association (KWMA) stated, “The dedication of the young people, referred to as the next generation in this era, is very precious. The conference, which opens for the mobilization of young people, is more valuable considering the need recognized by missionary workers for mobilizing young people.”

He noted that global missions began with young people, citing examples such as the Cambridge Seven prayer movement in Britain and the Haystack Prayer Meeting at William College in the United States. He further noted that “the fruits appeared in the student volunteer movement supported by ignorance. The mission began with the willingness of the students to volunteer what the adults of the church did not do at the time.”

He also highlighted the current challenge where campus Christian clubs struggle to recruit enough members, urging student organizations, churches, and ministry workers to renew their commitment to mobilizing young people.

Kang expressed his hope that the messages from the valuable speakers at this conference and the testimonies from the field would ignite the hearts of young people, and he anticipated that the history of the 2024 Asbury Revival, where the Holy Spirit would work powerfully, would be evident at this Cheonan conference.

Later, President Choi Seung-rak delivered a sermon titled ‘We Are God's Precious Acquisition - God's Gains’ taken from Ephesians 1:13-19, stating, “The world may regard us as people doing insignificant work, and there are times when we feel that way about ourselves.” However, he emphasized that “God sees us differently and that our work is precious and blessed, not only changing individuals but also nations and cultures.”

He expressed his belief that “God's mighty power would be with us as we undertake the task entrusted to us in missions and gospel work, and he encouraged everyone to live for the glory of God, relying on His mighty power and believing that the Holy Spirit would strengthen our spirits.”

The conference continued with prayer meetings and further speeches and lectures. “The unique aspect of this conference is that through three optional lectures, missionaries and mission candidates working in the field will have time to contemplate together,” KWMF commented, and added that, “the mission conference will be the starting point for the next generation of missionaries to embrace the challenges and pride of being missionaries.”

“Although the environment may not be favorable, there have always been and will always be those who respond to God's calling. We hope that this mission conference will inspire a new generation of mission leadership with passion for the gospel and wisdom of the Word,” they said.

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