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Camcorder Missions? Ouch…


Time.com article on the Korean missionary hostages in Afghanistan with interesting commentary toward the end.  Some phrases that pop out at me are in bold…

An unfortunate side to the evangelical movement in Korea is increased competition. Churches number in the tens of thousands here, and are competing so intensely for members that pastors feel pressured to engage in a kind of one-upmanship: sending congregants on as many overseas missions as possible. New markets and riskier missions tend to garner more publicity, which until now has translated into more kudos and ultimately more money for the pastor and the church.

Will the hostage crisis put a damper on Korea’s missionary zeal? Some say the crisis will certainly reduce the desire of would-be missionaries to go abroad, particularly since Seoul has been unable to secure the release of the hostages thus far. The widespread public criticism also may force Korea’s spirited Christians to recalibrate their strategies. “It will definitely lead to a purge at churches” on the peninsula, says Douglas Shin, a pastor involved in missionary activities with North Koreans. “People will wonder if it is worth the risk now, and donors will probably withhold more funds because they fear they could be causing someone harm.” Though Shin believes the Afghanistan mission was sincere, he expects that what he calls “camcorder missions” – assignments that are more or less photo ops for groups looking money for supporters – to wane in the near future.

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About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

5 responses to “Camcorder Missions? Ouch…

  1. Rob

    I can’t speak for ALL Korean missionaries, but the ones I’ve met have all been very sincere and devoted to obeying the Great Commission. I would never characterize them as being motivated to do missions for the superficial reasons stated in the article. Just my 2 cents.

  2. djchuang

    I think, perhaps naively, that most missionaries and pastors are sincere in their intentions and motives to do the work of Gospel ministry. What mainstream media is particularly gifted at is raising awareness and exposure to the minority who have a divergent opinion or less-than-noble motives. It’s as if the media has its own mission to get contrarian opinions and perspectives about any and every issue, which unfairly puts every perspective on equal footing and equal weight.

    What is more problematic is the lack of shrewdness and strategy among Christian leaders, as if good intentions and sincerity counts for everything, when in fact, that’s only a small part of the equation.

  3. eugene

    as a pastor at one of the largest korean churches for couple years [and a church known for their passion for missions and community dev], i can tell you how nonsensical that quote is.

  4. Pingback: South Korean Hostages? Who? Wha? « SALT & LIGHT FELLOWSHIP

  5. CGross

    Without the heart-rending drama of captivity and torture, America had its 5 martyrs in Ecuador some 40 years ago. Their testimony was still inspiring new workers to dare all for the love of Christ when I was in Bible College in the ’90’s. Hundreds, if not thousands of missionaries and Christian workers can trace their call and their obedience to that horrible event.

    I pray for the release of these 21 brothers and sisters. I pray for the salvation of their captors. I pray for the wonder and dumfoundedness of the media when God intervenes yet again.

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