June 30, 2010

The Most Challenging Field

By Jairyong LeecapOne quarter of the earth’s population lives within the territories of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD). Christians make up only 3 percent of the roughly 1.6 billion people who call this area home. We face mission challenges on every front: secularism, materialism, and liberalism on the one hand; and communities untouched by civilization on the other.

2010 1522 page20The past five years have been challenging, but exciting. Popular news showed the world some of the difficulties our people have faced: earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and losses at every turn. While angels hold back the winds of strife, we see our Savior’s loving touch: lives changed, lost sheep returning to the fold, and young people mobilized to serve.

The NSD combined the General Conference quinquennial mission theme “Tell the World” with our own motto “Mission First!” The results were profound.

Spiritual Growth
“Follow the Bible” brought tremendous spiritual blessings. As the special Bible traveled our territories between May and June 2009, we saw people greatly motivated to read and study the Bible. One local elder manufactured beautiful folding screens containing the words of the Bible he transcribed. A deaconess memorized 3,000 Bible verses. Thousands of church members recommitted themselves to daily Scripture reading. At home, at Bible camp, in school, at work, on the bus or train, people spent time in the Word. Jan Paulsen’s visit to China in May 2009 was made more memorable by the presentation of a copy of the multilanguage traveling Bible to Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council/ThreeGC link divreports-Self Patriotic Movement.

Along with Bible study, people made time for private and public prayer. For example, thousands visited the Adventist Training Center in Wonju, Korea. With 150 individual rooms for Bible study and private prayer, guests enjoy uninterrupted time, away from distractions, to commune with God. The center has only one rule: silence. Speaking to the Lord is the only communication encouraged. As church members realize the nearness of the Lord’s return, they are mobilized to do their best to be ready for it.

Outreach Activities—Mission First
Mission is our top priority at the NSD. Throughout China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macao, Mongolia, and Taiwan, the mission spirit is emphasized. Church members actively participate in mission outreach activities at home or abroad. As a result, by the grace of God 86,458 people were baptized in the past five years. The Japan Union Conference, Korean Union Conference, Chinese Union Mission, and Mongolia Mission Field worked with the NSD to address some of our mission challenges. Together we launched a few unique mission projects with remarkable results.

GOD’S WORD: NSD president Jairyong Lee (left) displays a special Bible in Shenyang, China, that went around the world during the “Follow the Bible” program.

Last GC session we introduced the Pioneer Mission Movement (PMM), NSD’s Global Mission church planting project. In 2002 the first group of five pastors’ families was sent to Japan. Since then 59 PMM missionary families joined them in 10 different countries. The missionaries use the language skills acquired in their first year to reach, preach, and teach in Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian, or Korean for five years. Sixteen PMM pastors have returned home after serving successful six-year terms. Now 43 PMM missionaries are planting churches, some as far away as the Congo and Kazakhstan.

To assist the PMM pastors with evangelism, the Golden Angels, eight talented young people who make up the NSD’s singing missionaries, volunteer for one year. Besides singing at concerts, they visit people door to door, distribute brochures, and give Bible studies. Since 2004 tens of thousands of people have been inspired through their ministry, and numerous people have been brought to the church through the dedicated service of the 40 young people who have served.

The 1000 Missionary Movement (1000MM) trains and sends young people from across the world into mission fields. It has three aims: (1) to protect Adventist young people from the influences of the world; (2) to finish the gospel work in the world; and (3) to strengthen church members with mission spirit. After intensive training, the missionaries are assigned to a field for one year. After their “One Year for the Lord!” they return home and continue serving as missionaries to their communities. Since 1993, 5,302 young people from 57 countries have joined the 1000MM. The fruits of their labor: 51,119 baptisms, 688 church buildings constructed, and 1,238 churches and companies established in 39 countries.

Not everyone is called to serve abroad, so the His Hands Mission Movement mobilizes young men and women for homeland mission. Since April 2008,this modified General Conference project has seen 1,709 individuals volunteer. Members commit to 10 hours a month of mission service for three years. Two by two they knock on doors, hand out literature, build relationships, share God’s love, and give Bible studies. With the help and support of our union conferences and missions, we hope to reach our goal of 3,000 His Hands missionaries by December 2010.

Countries such as North Korea and China still present challenges. We pray that current efforts to provide equipment for a prominent hospital in North Korea will bear fruit in the future. To reach the global Chinese community with the three angels’ messages, the Chinese Union Mission began providing programming for the Chinese Hope Channel. To date, the team has produced more than 1,000 half-hour programs. Around-the-clock broadcasting commenced on May 15, 2010. Chinese people around the world now have access to quality gospel programming in Chinese.

GOSPEL PIONEERS: A Pioneer Mission Movement pastor from Korea (left) studies with a convert in Saga, Japan.

Internet evangelism has been successful in China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of the division. China has a widespread network of Internet evangelists. In Japan church members have taken things one step further and use their cell phones as witnessing tools. The Korean Union Conference uses live satellite streaming to train church members.

Our churches try to reach out to their neighbors through creative community services. With increased visibility in the community, the image of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has improved in areas where people had formerly been prejudiced against it.

One example is the Ansan Migrant Mission Center in Korea, which provides free services to migrant workers. A free dental service, computer classes, and language classes are available. The center provides a home away from home to migrant workers, with Sabbath services and Bible studies for those who have never heard the good news.

Friends of the church, and those searching for compassion and care, can visit more than 70 welfare centers spread across our territories. Centers offer a range of activities from language classes to thrift stores and restaurants. This gives church members an opportunity to witness for Christ and brings many into a relationship with the Lord.

Institutional Growth
Our 114 educational, industrial, and medical/health-care institutions in our division have grown remarkably this quinquennium. A total of 1,173 workers and 21,336 students serve and study at our educational institutions: two universities, three colleges, 25 junior and senior high schools, and 22 elementary schools. These centers of academia have become bastions of spirituality through campus evangelism. Since 2005, 12,432 students have been baptized.

Our food industries produce health foods and soy milk products. Sahm-yook Foods in Korea produces 1 million packs of soy milk each day, which is exported to 22 countries and occupies about 25 percent of the local market share. Saniku Foods in Japan enjoyed increased success and consumer confidence this quinquennium. In Hong Kong the health food company is taking root, and we hope to see further expansion in the future.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Sahmyook University in South Korea is one of two universities, three colleges, 25 junior and senior high schools, and 22 elementary schools in the NSD.

Eleven hospitals and 26 clinics and nursing homes make up our medical and health-care institutions. Thirteen Shalom nursing homes in Japan provide exceptional health services to the elderly. Our hospitals in Hong Kong serve local patients and those who travel from mainland China. Taiwan Adventist Hospital, Tokyo Adventist Hospital, and Seoul Adventist Hospital invested millions of dollars to remodel and modernize facilities to serve more effectively.

Our SDA Language Schools offer primarily English classes, with some Japanese and Chinese classes. Our 835 teachers serve 266,946 students at 47 schools in Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. Most students are non-Adventists. The Language Institutes, especially in Korea, present golden opportunities for soul winning, with 37,071 students attending every day. Through various mission projects 4,947 people have been baptized in the past five years.

Our humble efforts reaped magnificent rewards through the mercy and blessings of our Lord. The Lord used our people in the Chinese Union Mission, Japan Union Conference, Korean Union Conference, and Mongolia Mission Field in a mighty way to spread the three angels’ messages to millions. We thank and praise God for the wonderful things He accomplished for the salvation of His children.

However, huge obstacles remain. We remain one of the most challenging territories in the world, with unstable economic and political climates threatening the advance of the gospel. Yet we believe the Lord is leading His work. As we continue in a united spirit, the Lord will continue to open doors. As we move forward together, trusting the Lord, we will accomplish the gospel commission. God will surely finish His work using His humble, dedicated men and women. Praise the Lord!