An Experience of Asian Evangelism | Reflections in Research
In October 2017, Rev Dr Ian Robinson visited South Korea with Rev Gyoung Gyun Han from New Zealand Presbyterian Church on the invitation of Myung Hwa Pak, our Uniting Church NSW /ACT Moderator following the 2017 Gospel Yarning event held in May.
During the Gospel Yarning event, we affirmed that there was strength for our church in our ability to share gospel across cultures. While there were several Korean Ministers present at the Gospel Yarning workshops, who worked in English, there were none who delivered the gospel in Korean. Rev Han’s invitation to Korea, would help to close this gap in our shared experiences and we grasped the opportunity with both hands.
The research tour provided a wonderful opportunity to experience Asian Evangelism at partner churches and seminaries of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK).
In Australia, with the traditions of long-established European and American churches and the remnants of the culture of Christendom, the anglo-ethnic churches generally have long lost the capacity for speaking the good news. This aspect of the church accounts for nearly all the recent decline. Asian evangelism is quite different, and very vital, even within a strong culture of Confucianism. What can we learn together?
PCK has a long history of being a people’s movement, from the first seminarians in 1907, through the independence and democracy movements, in rural and urban mission. They also have a strong, widespread sense of their history and appreciation of the missionaries who brought the gospel.
Rev Robinson gave the benediction at a mega-church service, spoke at a book launch about Korean-Australian mission history, spoke at a seminar of Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary about the Uniting Church, and met with academics and students, all in the six days on the ground.
The visit highlights how blessed we are to develop deep and lifelong friendships with others of our faith, across nations and cultures. The PCK does amazing work to lead and manage 63 presbyteries (each of which is as large as the NSW/ACT synod), comprising two million members. Their seminary is attended by 2,000 students, of whom 25 percent are seeking ordination.
There is an opportunity to learn from each other; how to train and honour our lay ministry, how to address our public perception and how to address education and declining membership in today’s world – challenges we all share.
And in learning from each other, we can help to overcome these challenges.