Celebrating Retirement

A Letter from Choon and Yen Hee Lim, with Choon serving as regional liaison for East Asia, based in South Korea

March 2020

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Dear Friends in Mission,

As we face the beginning of the new decade, 2020, we see good news and bad news. While there is much to celebrate, there is much to be concerned about in our world, especially in East Asia. While we are rejoicing and celebrating our retirement we are concerned about the outbreak of the world-wide Coronavirus epidemic.

Yen Hee and I attended the World Mission Asia-Pacific Regional Gathering in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on January 13-23. It was a wonderful time to rest and renew our minds, bodies, and spirits through the morning devotions and worship services and to learn new information, and get updated resources from the World Mission staff. At the beginning of the Gathering, Mienda Uriarte, the Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Office, announced the new Regional Liaison teams for East Asia. We are very pleased that they will join us. Their names are Jieun Kim Han, Myung Sung Han, and Unzu Lee. We wish them God’s blessing in their new roles and their ministry. We will continue to work with them as they prepare to arrive in East Asia in July.

There were two important events during the Gathering. Before the closing worship service, there was a service of recognition for retiring and retired mission co-workers. We saw our names on the list with our pictures. We are celebrating 30 years of mission work. We have served with the Island Medical Mission in South Korea (7 years), Hualien Aboriginal College Ministry in Taiwan (15 years), and as Regional Liaisons for East Asia (8 years). Wow, Praise the Lord! It seems to us that all of our mission activities happened yesterday, not so many years ago.

We thank God for protecting us, equipping us, and connecting us to do all those 30 years of mission work. Mienda Uriarte called our names, and Sara Lisherness, Interim Director of World Mission, gave us a framed picture that all the participants signed. We thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts, whether you have sustained us as supporting churches or as individuals. Without your prayers, we couldn’t join this celebration.

During lunch one day, Choon shared with Sara Lisherness the story of how he had been blessed by 30 years of mission work. Sara strongly suggested that he publish a book about his experiences before his retirement. Several of his friends had encouraged him to write a book in the past, but he felt that this would be challenging. One of his major concerns was who was going to buy and read such a book. With Sara’s encouragement, and with his fellow mission co-workers’ enthusiastic response to this project, he has now decided to try to publish his memoirs before July this year. Please pray that the project can move forward.

One of our primary concerns at this time is the Coronavirus epidemic. While we were in Chiang Mai, there was a lot of dust, so the PC(USA) Louisville staff provided face masks for us to wear and told us to take some home. We took several masks home to Seoul, South Korea, and then heard about the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan, China. It was not easy for us to buy face masks in Seoul. When we could buy them here, they cost four or five times more than the regular price.

The Coronavirus outbreak has impacted thousands of individuals, mainly in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, where it was initially reported at the end of last year. In South Korea, as of February 26, there were 1,261 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus with 12 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the first case of the Coronavirus was confirmed in January, many Koreans have put their social lives on hold, choosing to stay home most of the time. When they have to step outside, many people cover their faces with masks, hoping to guard against the possibility of contracting the Coronavirus from strangers. Masks and hand sanitizers are everywhere, from train stations to office buildings. Movie theaters are empty, graduation ceremonies are canceled, and meals are being delivered to people’s doorsteps. This sense of disconnection, isolation, and anxiety creeps into the churches during Sunday worship service. Some Christians don’t go to their churches and instead worship online.

On Thursday, February 20, new infections in the southeastern city of Daegu were traced back to church services. The 2.5 million inhabitants of Daegu have been asked to stay indoors because 86 of the 104 new cases have been identified in Daegu, several hours’ drive from Seoul. These new cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a non-mainstream Christian sect. This religious organization has branches in China and in other nations. The investigation is seeking to discover whether any church members had visited China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus.

Due to this outbreak all schools in the infected areas are closed as are colleges and universities. The Peace and Reconciliation Forum sponsored by our office was canceled this February.

We don’t know how long this epidemic will last, but the good news is that so far, a total of 24 patients in South Korea have been discharged. The World Health Organization has said that despite the spike in infections in South Korea, the situation is manageable. I pray that South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at its early stages.

We’re deeply grateful for your prayers and support, which have allowed us to serve the people in East Asia for 30 years. Please pray for those infected with the virus, and pray for the doctors and nurses who are risking their lives to treat their patients!

In God’s service,

Yen Hee and Choon Lim

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