I spent this evening reflecting with mission colleagues on the significance of the Korean mission movement. A Pentecostal Korean missiologist, Julie Ma, had raised a few challenging questions in her opening lecture at the Asian Mission Consultation at Redcliffe College and that got us going. With Korea now sending more cross-cultural missionaries than any other country outside the US (so Julie claimed) their missiology and methodology must be significant. I was struck by how many times Julie spoke of the Korean mindset as 'crusading' - ouch!! - but she's right in many respects. Another colleague later talked of Korean missionaries as being 'modern' (rational, linear, success oriented, goal setting) and therefore finding it difficult to address pre- and post-modern mission contexts.
My question was what distinctive contributions Koreans bring to global mission. The 'birth ground' of their faith is in many ways unique - suffering, struggle, Shamanism overlaid by Buddhism, and rapid church growth. That must give them something unique. The answers we began to get were in terms of an acute awareness of spiritual realities, a deeply prayerful ministry, dogged determination, and generosity. But Korean missions need to relate to the rest of us and we need them - if only we can overcome substantial language and cultural barriers. The future looks good.