A Letter from Unzu Lee, serving as Regional Liaison for East Asia
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Dear partners in God’s mission,
It has been a while since I wrote my last Mission Connections letter. I hope that you have been well sustained in the meantime despite the ongoing COVID crisis that has not yet completely abated. I draw strength from knowing that you are my companions on my journey in God’s mission. Thank you for your accompaniment.
As for me, I had a very busy summer. Let me just share a few things I did so that you can have a glimpse of my work.
The issue of gender equity is a very serious concern in the Korean church context. In early June, I made a presentation on gender equity at the invitation of the Gender Equity Committee of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK). In the middle of June, PC(USA)’s Korea Mission Office held a dialogue session with last year’s awardees of our grant program. We did it because we want to forge a partnership with the grantees that goes much beyond the monetary transaction. Towards the end of June, I participated in the ninth Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia sponsored jointly by the Mennonite Central Committee and the Center for Reconciliation of Duke University. The stories that I heard about the role that some Christian communities played in the work of reconciliation in Colombia were very inspiring and instructive. I also learned that, though Colombia and Korea do not share much in common in terms of their location, culture and history, there was an amazing parallel between them in the nature of their entrenched conflict. What this meant for me was that we can really learn from each other and that we can all work together. The months of July and August were spent mostly in preparing for carrying out my first Interpretation Assignment (IA) in the States. I promise to share some of the experiences of my IA in my next quarterly letter.
Before I did my IA, however, I had something else to do. I traveled abroad for the first time since coming to Korea. On September 4, I flew to Frankfurt, Germany to attend the last few days of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) being held in Karlsruhe, an hour train ride from Frankfurt. I went primarily to network with fellow Christians from our partner entities, Hong Kong in particular, and then to participate in the informal meeting of the Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK) on the day after the adjournment of the WCC assembly.
I am a well-traveled person, but I was stumped at Frankfurt because I had come without having made international roaming arrangements for my phone. With the help of a number of strangers who came to my aid, I was able to check into my hotel at Karlsruhe six hours after I arrived at the Frankfurt airport. Feeling exhausted, I meant to sleep in the next day, but that was not meant to be. I had a message from the Youngdeungpo Urban Industrial Mission Center asking me to come and serve as their interpreter the next morning when a reporter from a Swiss radio station was scheduled to interview them. I obliged. So, the next day started early for me. To my delight, the breakfast at my moderate hotel was superb, and after breakfast. I ventured out to walk to the assembly site with my iPhone in my hand, completely dependent on its navigation app.
About 4,000 Christians of all hues met under the theme of “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity.” The joy of encounter was palpable. Worship was grand, multi-sensory, challenging and uplifting. Much learning went on in workshops. We were each other’s teachers and learners. Then there were business sessions that were serious and even contentious at times. After all, we had come from a very broken world. Most specifically, we were meeting in Europe at a time when the nation-state of the Russian Orthodox Church and that of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were at war. We could not but draw on our faith that Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.
On September 5, Hery Ramambasoa, area coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, and I had the joy of meeting with the Hong Kong delegation over dinner. The delegation was made up of people representing the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) and the Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC). They included: Rev. Ray Wong, general secretary of the HKCCCC; Prof. Christina Wong of the Divinity School of Chung Chi College; Rev. Grace Lam of HKCCCC; Rev. Jennifer Leung of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; and Ms. Siew-mei Cheung-Ang of Christian Action. Although the dinner meeting did not allow us to have a serious dialogue, it felt really good to finally meet with Hong Kong partners in person, more than two and a half years into my work as regional liaison for East Asia.
The WCC’s 11th assembly ended on September 8; and the next day, I participated in an informal gathering of the Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK), informal because members of the Korea Christian Federation of DPRK were not able to come. We were from Germany, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Kenya, the U.S. and others. Although KCF was not present, we heard that they sent a message to the WCC 11th assembly in which they said, “We are convinced that WCC will, just as before, continue to extend wholehearted support and firm solidarity to the righteous struggle of the Korean people to bring earlier the independent peaceful reunification of Korea.” We bemoaned the present context on the Korean peninsula where peace talks have stalled and military tensions have increased, shared updates from our respective activities, and strengthened our resolve not to lose heart and pursue peace.
Personally, I found it quite strange to learn that this was the first time that the word “love” was made part of a WCC assembly theme when we are the believers who profess that God is love. I want to invite all of us to hear the call of WCC that went out in the following words, “What might it mean for the ecumenical movement to be shaped by the heart as also by the head, to live in imitation of God’s foremost attitude toward the world—love itself?”
God’s mission—isn’t it all about practicing love where love is needed? May we learn every day from Jesus, our teacher, who practiced love to bring the world into reconciliation and unity. May we be one.
With Love, Unzu
Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:
Dear Partners in God’s Mission,
What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.
We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.
Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).
Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact email@example.com to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.
Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
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