A Letter from Unzu Lee, serving as Regional Liaison for East Asia
Write to Unzu Lee
Individuals: Give online to E200491 for Unzu Lee’s sending and support
Congregations: Give to D507600 for Unzu Lee’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)
Every morning I take bus 273 to go to PC(USA)’s Korea Mission Office at the Korean Christian Ecumenical Building. About three stops before I get off, I hear the recorded female voice announcing “Jongro 2-ka, Top-gol Park.” Sometimes, the announcement triggers my memory of what my grandmother told me. She said, after my grandfather moved his family to Seoul from Sineuiju so that my mother could attend medical school in Seoul, he operated a bookstore. Around noon, my grandmother had to take over the bookstore so that he could go to Topgol Park to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through my mind’s imaginary eyes, sometimes I even see my late grandfather talking with some people visiting the park. According to my grandmother, Elder Noh, Jaehon, my grandfather, was very effective because he could carry on long and productive conversations with almost everybody due to his profound knowledge of Buddhist sutras and Confucian classical writings. This was in the 1940s when there were very few Christians in Seoul, Korea.
Some 80 years later, I, his granddaughter, came to Korea from the U.S.A. to work as a mission co-worker. In the meantime, the Korea that used to be one nation for thousands of years, was divided into two and remains so. No citizen of either country is allowed to cross the line of division, and the UN Command, led by the U.S. military, still has wartime command control in South Korea, meaning the two countries are still in a state of war. Pyeong Yang, where Christianity flourished and was once called Jerusalem of the East, now only has two church buildings and is known to have dozens of house churches, while Seoul has too many Christian churches to count. So, one might wonder: What is Unzu doing in Seoul, Korea? What Christian mission is there to do?
I walk to the area where my home church, Young Nak Presbyterian Church, is still standing. The church no longer looks the way I remember it because it has added many more structures. I look for the cornerstone of the original church building because the brush writing engraved on the cornerstone belongs to my grandfather. His writing can also be found in two other places. After connecting with all three, I walked over to the Myeongdong Cathedral, which served as a sanctuary for the Korean democracy movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Although I have often visited Korea over time since I emigrated in 1965, this time, my presence in this land feels very different because I am not here for a short visit. Who would have known that I would be back to live here after all these years? Indeed, this is the land where my ancestors are buried, a few known and many unknown. I have come back in a full circle!
As a person of hyphenated identity, Korean-American, I have lived most of my life with a double consciousness. This means bridge-building between the two worlds is second nature to me. I am here to live and work as a liaison between the PC(USA) and partner entities, including the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) in South Korea, the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea, the Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC) and the Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK). In our intricately interconnected world, mission can no longer be one-directional. I am very happy to be the bridge and am committed to building bridges.
Most of the things I have done since coming to Korea have been in response to requests that have come to me from the NCCK. At their request, I wrote three short pieces on anti-Asian violence to educate Christians in Asia. I participated and provided leadership in the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) Consultation on Korea Peace, which took place on June 25, 2021, the day when the Korean War broke out 71 years ago in 1950. Following the consultation, I started serving as a member of the joint working group on behalf of the NCCCUSA. At this time, the prospect of achieving Korea peace seems precarious. The ban that President Trump’s government imposed on U.S. citizens who want to travel to North Korea is still in effect; the North-South Korea relations are at an impasse; the U.S. and Republic of Korea (US-ROK) forces are currently engaged in joint military exercises despite North Korea’s grave displeasure, and North Korea is currently experiencing severe food insecurity. Currently, the hottest issue in Korea is the anti-discrimination law that is before Congress, and the loudest voice against this law is coming from the Protestant Christian sector. At the invitation of the NCCK Human Rights Center, I have shared stories of PC(USA)’s faithful struggle with LGBTQ+ issues and will continue to serve as a resource. I yearn for the day when I will be able to visit with partners in Hong Kong in person. In the meantime, I remain committed to being a bridge for God’s peace in any way I can. My heart is full of thanksgiving for this call.
Please pray for Hong Kong and participate in the Korea Peace Appeal campaign to end the Korean War: 한반도 종전 평화 캠페인 Peace Campaign to End the Korean War
Thank you for accompanying and supporting me financially and through prayer as together we build bridges for God’s peace.
Please read the following letter from Sara P. Lisherness, the interim director of World Mission:
Dear partners in God’s mission,
I don’t know about you, but daily my heart grows heavier. News about the pandemic, wars, wildfires, gun violence, racism, earthquakes and hurricanes cloud my vision. It’s hard to see hope; our world is in a fog. Yet we trust that God’s light and love transcend the brokenness of this time.
God is at work transforming the world, and you, through your prayers, partnership and encouragement, are helping us share this good news. Thank you for your faithful and gracious support of our mission personnel.
How can we see through the fog? What will the church be after the pandemic? Could it be that God is doing “a new thing” and is inviting us to perceive it? Through all the uncertainty we know that God’s steadfast love and care for all creation will prevail and that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us.
We all have an integral part to play in fulfilling God’s mission. As we seek to grow together in faithfulness there are three important steps I invite you to take in supporting our shared commitments to God’s mission:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel. Your support helps mission personnel accompany global partners as together they share the light of God’s love and justice around the world. Invite your session to include support for mission personnel in its annual budget planning.
Act – Visit The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study to delve deeper into the work God is doing through the PC(USA) and its partners in ministry around the globe: pcusa.org/missionyearbook.
Pray – Include our mission personnel, our global partners, and our common commitments to share God’s grace, love, mercy and justice in your daily prayers.
Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church. It is my prayer that you will continue to support this work with your prayers, partnership, and financial gifts in the coming year. We hope you will join us and our partners in shining a beacon of hope throughout the world.
In the light of hope,
Sara P. Lisherness, Interim Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give please visit https://bit.ly/PCUSAmission
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.
Tags: Consultation on Korea Peace, Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK), hong kong, Korea Peace, Korean democracy movement, LGBTQ issues, Myeongdong Cathedral, National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) in South Korea, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA), NCCK Human Rights Center, the Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC), the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea, U.S. and Republic of Korea (US-ROK) forces, Young Nak Presbyterian Church
Tags: Unzu Lee
Tags: campaign to end the korean, churches in korea ncck, council of churches in korea, end the korean war, god's mission, hong kong, korea, lee's sending and support, mission, mission personnel, national council, national council of churches, north korea, presbyterian church, sending and support, support of our mission, support of our mission personnel, unzu lee's sending, unzu lee's sending and support, world mission