A letter from Choon Lim in South Korea (Regional Liaison for East Asia)
January 30 is my birthday and the Lunar (Chinese) New Year holiday in South Korea. When I lived in Hualien, Taiwan, the firecrackers made big noises at night and I couldn’t sleep well during the holidays. In Korea I couldn’t go anywhere during the four-day holiday because of the traffic jam. For example, normally it takes three or four hours to go from Seoul to Busan by car, but it took eight or nine hours because of the holiday. It is a Korean tradition to go to your parents’ home to perform a New Year’s bow to your parents and grandparents. I think it is the wonderful tradition for children to get New Year’s blessings from their parents at the beginning of each year.
The year of 2014 is the year of the horse in the cycle of the Oriental zodiac. The horse represents strength and speed. So the government and individuals talk about their fast growth this year. As the regional liaison for East Asia I have a meaningful plan for this year. I ask almighty God to give you and me God’s strength, and then we can move forward with speed so that more people may know the Good News. Let’s work together to glorify God’s name.
Last month I met Soongil Kim, an evangelist in Mokpo, Korea, with the PC(USA)'s Young Adult Volunteer coordinators Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger. Last year the Presbyterian Church juridical person of the Korea Mission decided to support organizations and institutions that work with marginal people and minorities in South Korea. We sent our agenda to our partner churches and organizations so that they could give us their proposals. After receiving them, we evaluated them and visited 12 churches and organizations. One of the organizations is Overseas Medical Mission (its name changed from Island Medical Mission), with which Yen Hee and I served 22 years ago (some might remember our mission work with “Salvation ship” in 1991-1997). Soongil is under the care of our partner church, the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) and lives in the mission center on Palkum Island, where we lived before. Now the mission center is a multicultural center that works with multicultural families, especially children. Their mothers are from Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, etc. There are 300 multicultural families (four big islands are connected with each other now).
The general secretary of Overseas Medical Mission, Rev. Yoon, invites two Filipinos as English teachers for the children as short-term workers every year. The teachers live in the center with the evangelist. This year in May they want to do a special program with YAVs having a four-day English camp at the center. I NEVER thought I would come back to Korea working with the Island Medical Mission as a bridge-builder. Truly the living God provides things unthinkable. God’s plan is beyond my thought and plan. Soongil speaks English very well, so he is able to communicate with the English teachers from the Philippines. Later I found out that he learned English from our former mission co-worker (MCW) Rev. Denial Adams, who served at Hanil University and Theological Seminary in Chonju, Korea. He was Adams’ assistant while studying there. With Adam’s help he could graduate from the seminary and got the present position working with the PC(USA) YAV group. He felt indebted to Presbyterian World Mission for supporting his and others' tuition. Without his financial support from World Mission, he couldn't be working as an evangelist now. It is truly a testimony to God’s providence to us!
Soongil told me the story of a multicultural family from the Philippines. A mother came to Korea to marry, but she can’t speak Korean at all. So she uses her hands and other gestures to communicate with her husband. To solve the issue, Soongil teaches her Korean, but the mother communicates with her children using her mother tongue, English. The grandmother couldn’t communicate with her grandchildren. So the grandmother participates in learning English to communicate with her grandchildren (learning simple words and sentences). Therefore Soongil teaches both English and Korea at the center.
My major role as regional liaison is to be a bridge-builder and to help our MCWs and others be equipped for their ministry in line with our three Critical Global Initiatives; poverty, evangelism, and reconciliation. Thank you for your faithful support for the ministry of our MCWs working in East Asia. We need more MCWs in East Asia now. More MCWs cannot be appointed unless you are willing to provide financial gifts over and above your regular congregational contributions. May God bless you and keep you in the Year of the Horse!
Together in Mission,
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 232
Read more about Choon and Yen Hee Lim's ministry