A Letter from Choon and Yen Hee Lim, serving in Korea
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Dear Friends in Mission,
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all of our lives are so very different than they were in February when we sent you our first Mission Connections letter. Now we are all feeling anxious and isolated from family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and partner churches. We want to share our situation, provide information to stay connected, and pray together.
We, as well as most of our mission co-workers and General Assembly office staff, are now working from home. One staff member in Korea Mission Office continues to work responding to any communication with partner churches and institutions in Korea and beyond. During this time, we completed a year-long project. This project had been in Choon’s thoughts since the beginning of his mission work in 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. Now it has become real. On March 27, 2020, we published a historical book entitled Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Missionary Dictionary from 1884 to 2020. In Korean, the title is 미국장로교 내한 선교사 총람 1884-2020. This book will reconnect the past to present and future mission work jointly undertaken by the PC(USA) and our partner churches in Korea.
This book highlights about 1,000 Presbyterian missionaries beginning in 1884-1905. Horace Newton and Frances Ann Allen top the list. The final category contains the names of Mission Workers who served from 2013-2020 and includes Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee. The major problem we confronted in completing this project was deciding who to include in this book. Many Presbyterians came to Korea as missionaries. They came for different reasons and were sent by local churches or institutions, etc. We decided to include only those who were sent by the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly. Another issue was the merger in 1983 between the northern “Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.” and southern “Presbyterian Church in the U.S.” In 1983 the two churches merged and became the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It wasn’t easy to find out who belonged to which denomination. We asked Professor Young-gun Choi of Hannam University to travel to the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) to do the necessary research. He spent a week gathering information but was unable to complete the task in that amount of time. Finally, Yen Hee and Choon went there for a week in August 2019 to complete the research. Despite all our great efforts, we still couldn’t find detailed information on some missionaries.
Those who came to Korea in the early years sacrificed their lives to spread the Gospel’s Good News to the Korean people because the living conditions in Korea at that time were very poor. They had to face all kinds of diseases and had to learn the difficult Korean language. While we were preparing for the book in the PHS, Choon couldn’t stop crying many times while gathering information about the former missionaries. He is one of the fruits of their great endeavor. He founded the Korean Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, IN, that began in his house. He first became a deacon, then an elder, pastor, and finally a mission co-worker of PC(USA) to Korea and Taiwan. After serving the World Mission of PC(USA) for 30 years, he will be retired at the end of 2020. Hallelujah! Thanks for your unceasing support and prayers.
The reason we are telling you about this book during this Coronavirus Pandemic is that we feel staying connected is very important. Remembering how you became a Christian is essential in Christian faith and life. Often finding your Christian roots can give you a strong faith. As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” We always emphasize our World Mission’s three catchwords, “Inspire, Equip, Connect” in our mission work. We have tried to equip ourselves and partner churches with the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ and then connect each other to work together to bring God’s Peace and Reconciliation to South and North Korea and East Asia.
Finally, due to the dangerous pandemic, we need each other more than at any other time. We pray for you and your churches every morning, especially after watching the news on CNN and hearing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s crying out for medical help for the people of New York City. As former health care professionals, we find this situation especially painful. Yen Hee was a surgical nurse in many hospitals in the U.S., and Choon was a respiratory therapist at Indiana University Hospital for seven years before becoming a minister. We wish that we could go there to serve the people. But we heard the story of a 68-year-old nurse from New York City. They couldn’t employ her as a nurse because of her age. Instead, she was asked to serve by answering phones. Since we are both over 70, we fervently pray to God, our healer and comforter, for the patients and medical workers in New York City. That is the best we can do here except staying connected with this Mission Connections letter.
Lord! Show mercy to those who have lost their families and are ill due to the pandemic in the U.S. and the World! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Yen Hee and Choon Lim
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