A letter from Rich Hansen in Ethiopia
Marilyn and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Myungsung Christian Medical Center (MCM), locally known as “Korean Hospital,” through the invitation of Pastor Jong Lee, a PC(USA) mission colleague. Pastor Lee is the chaplain of the brand-new medical school the hospital just opened in early October.
With Pastor Lee as our guide, we toured the hospital’s extensive 20-acre campus, which includes a huge hospital complex, the glistening just-opened medical school, another just-completed large worship center seating 600, and several modern apartment buildings for the Korean staff. Incredibly, it is all supported by only one congregation—the 100,000-member Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Seoul, South Korea, which has invested $27 million in this medical center in the heart of Ethiopia.
It made me proud to be Presbyterian! The many Korean Presbyterians I have known over the years—including several Korean pastors—are among the most dedicated and visionary Christians I have ever met. I have always especially admired their passionate commitment to prayer. Pastor Lee told us that days of prayer at the Myungsung Presbyterian Church bring out 50,000 people to 5:00 am prayer meetings. The early 19th-century Presbyterian missionaries who almost singlehandedly planted the Christian church in Korea is one of our denomination’s finest hours—their legacy today is a Korean church that is a powerhouse of worldwide mission and evangelism.
The purpose of our visit was Pastor Lee’s invitation to speak to the medical students at their daily chapel service. All were engaged, attentive, smiling young people only 18-19 years old. Here medical school replaces a traditional university degree and lasts only about five years. Ethiopia has to turn out doctors quickly. Only about 4,000 doctors serve this entire nation of 85 million. Sad is the often-quoted statistic that there are more Ethiopian doctors living in the Washington, D.C., area than in all of Ethiopia itself! The new MCM medical school and the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST), where I teach, share a common mission of resisting this unrelenting “brain drain” of professionals to Western nations through offering graduate education within Ethiopia.
Thus it was a real honor to speak to these eager future doctors at the beginning of their medical education. I talked about the pervasive dualism in churches here that divides life into “spiritual” and “secular” compartments. For many this acidic worldview erodes Christian engagement with issues of life outside the church. “Full-time Christian service” means only pastors or evangelists; by definition, a medical career cannot be a holy or Godly calling.
I reminded the students of the many passages of Scripture where God claims “all things”:
• “And he has put all things under his (Jesus’) feet and has made him the head over all things for the church” (Eph. 1:22).
• “…all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).
• “…in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things…” (Heb. 1:2).
Because Jesus is Lord of “all things,” I offered the novel thought that they are pursuers and proclaimers of God’s Truth just as surely as any pastor or evangelist! God has planted His Truth in anatomy and physiology, DNA and red blood cells, endocrine and nervous systems—it is waiting there for them to discover and use to empower God’s Kingdom work in Ethiopia. “All things” are spiritual; “all things” acknowledge Jesus as Lord; “all things” matter to God. All truth is God’s Truth.
Thank you for your partnership with us as we seek to shape future leaders for Ethiopia who will boldly go forth and claim “all things” for Jesus.
• Rejoice in this initial class of students at the MCM Medical School and Pastor Jong Lee’s ministry to them.
• Pray that our EGST students will become articulate change agents for an “all things” biblical worldview to counteract the dualism common in their churches.
• Pray for us as we decide whether to extend our time in Ethiopia for an additional year beyond our commitment that ends this coming summer.
Rich and Marilyn Hansen
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 95
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 107
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