Is it possible to dedicate one’s life as a missionary in youth? This was the story of numerous missionaries who dedicated their lives for Korea. Would this story be relevant to this new Korean generation?
The School of Hebron, with the vision of nurturing youth into missionaries, was established 2013 in an abandoned school in Seosan, Choongnam. When students graduate from the school, they serve as interns in mission fields for 2 years. Among 15 seniors waiting to graduate this semester, specifically missionary’s kids (MK) were chosen for this interview.
It can be difficult to live away from your parents as an adolescent. What compelled you to leave your parents and enroll in this school?
Shin Hyun Ghyun: My parents are missionaries in Mongolia, and I attended the local school when I was there. School was very difficult. I had no friends because I could not speak their language and I didn’t do well with academics either. I used to blame my parents a lot for my situation… I just didn’t know the Gospel. Then I came across this bible reenacting performance by the Hebron students. It was called “the letter from Rome” and it was shocking. Afterward, I flew into Korea to be trained in the Gospel, and eventually, I applied to the school and was admitted. To be honest, I was worried whether I can go through it well or not, but in the midst of my thoughts, God made me think of Joseph. God made me believe that God called in to this school like how God called Joseph to Egypt.
Park Kyung Ryuun: It was an abrupt decision to enroll in this school. I was in the middle of preparing for SAT so that I can become a medical missionary. I was concerned at first that I would just waste my time here, so I didn’t even pray much about it. But I started to pray about it with the belief that nothing is wasted if received with thankfulness. In my prayer, God called me to this school through the scripture passage “to fight the good fight of faith.” With this clear message, I joyfully enrolled in the school.
Shin Jin Chul: Although I was a MK, I had a relatively unrestricted life. I just had to attend the church. One day, my dad asked if I wanted to attend the School of Hebron, and I absolutely rejected it. But I started to get intrigued as I heard about the life of PK who attends the school. Then, in my father’s sabbatical year, I attended the Gospel School for youth and God spoke to me through bible. At the realization that God called and chose me, I decided to attend the School of Hebron.
Admission by God’s calling
Although they are young in age, these MKs suffered much, going through many experiences that kids around their age would not even imagine. Throughout the interview, MKs poured out their pain and conflicts of being involuntarily placed in mission fields.
After all these experiences in the mission fields, what would you say was the biggest blessing received in the school?
Park Eun Jun: Adolescences is a period of time when we have capability to be educated in any field; however, we weren’t able to discover true opportunity, regardless of all the education we received in the world. But at the School of Hebron, we get the opportunity to listen and believe the Word, and to continuously battle our ego so that the Gospel may be true in our lives. That is the greatest blessing.
Ahn Da Yong: It was a great blessing to experience kingdom of heaven through our community. Hebron has variety of students and teachers who volunteered to teach at no cost. Although we have various conflicts and problems, we examine ourselves daily before the scripture and allow the Gospel to be the conclusion of our conflicts.
Is there something that you feel that you can only learn in this school?
Oh Yea In: We learn to love through absolute self-denial. I thought it wouldn’t be difficult for me to live in this school because I lived in a community setting at the mission field. But I realized how faithless I actually was in the school. Normally, I would keep harsh feelings under the surface to avoid conflict, or simply apologize to avoid bigger conflict; however, I could not do this in the school community where I was with everyone for 24 hours. I’m learning that true love is to lay down my thoughts and feeling, and to deeply listen to others’ thoughts and help out.
Jin Chul: You can definitely learn what obedience is. Prior to this school, the concept of obedience was nonexistent in my life. I thought it was rational for me to become the standard to choose what is right and beneficial. Now, I learn to obey God and the teachers.
Sounds like you guys are having good time there.
Shin Min Chul: There’s no competition to be the best here. Like what Jesus said, we learned that the lowest place is not the worst place. In fact, it may be the highest place in the kingdom of God.
Jin Chul: I was always seeking for happiness, but in this school, happiness naturally finds me. I don’t have to make decisions to be happy because Jesus himself comes to me. But just because you are in Hebron, it doesn’t mean you will automatically find happiness. You must encounter God through the Gospel. If the Gospel is not true in your life, living in Hebron community will not be easy.
Eun Jun: Yea, you don’t have to struggle to gain everything. You just have to enjoy this new life with God as your father who provides what is best for you.
Okay. What does it mean to study at Hebron?
Hyun Gyun: You learn basic subjects through the Gospel. We call it “studying by faith.” We find Jesus through studying.
Min Chul: This concept of “finding Jesus through studying” is not nonsense. Sometimes I find it difficult to get an answer to a math question. Instead of giving up, I pray to God for wisdom and an answer. Even if I don’t get to answer the question, if I relied on God, it was all worth it.
Eun Jun: When I do homework, I experience it more so. Jesus always comes find me, even when I have to concentrate to get the work done. It’s like Jesus is asking me out on a date through the scripture and prayer, and it is really hard to obey in the busy situation. Then, I get to learn that the whole point of this is not to efficiently get the work done, but to enjoy a loving relationship with God.
The School of Hebron has policy to send students back to home in the weekends so they can be nurtured by parents. In order to accommodate for students with parents in other mission fields, the School adopted the “Mission Mom” policy. Many parents who already have their children at the school, or other intercessors serve as mission mom to nurture these students.
Mission mom for MKs, roles as weekend parents
I heard many MKs receive services from the mission moms. What are some blessings received with mission moms?
Da Young: I had difficulty with relationships with people, so whenever there was a problem, I hastily found conclusions with the word to finish the conflict. But the mission mom advised me that my approach is not the way to make the truth the conclusion. She advised me to wait and listen to what God is telling the peers and me, then obey. Mission mom helped me break out of my polite, formal, and acceptable state into a genuine and honest state, so that I can genuinely confront the Gospel. I am so thankful!
Jin Chul: Mission mom was a great help when I had to confront the Gospel. She was able to firmly carry out actions that my mother could not have done. When she demanded me to dedicate to God little excessively, it was a bit difficult; however, I’m thankful because I know that she genuinely wants me to confront the Gospel. Recently, I screwed up and was rude to the mission mom who approached me with concerns. Then, the mission mom called herself a failure… Seeing her reproaching herself made me realize that she truly saw me as her son. I was both thankful and sorry.
Yea In: I live with a mission mom who already has three children in Hebron. But she treats me like I am her daughter by providing finance, time and any other needs. I’m thankful for this equal love for me. I get to realize that this is God’s heart. At first, it was difficult to let down my guard and open up, so it was difficult to treat her like a family. But through the fellowship in the truth, I begin to realize that she always think about me and prayed for me. It was only a matter of time before our relationship became great.
Have you ever though about doing ministry with your parents?
Yea In: Yes, I’m still proud that my parents are missionaries. I begin to seriously consider nomadic life as missionaries as I experienced war and deportation in various countries. If it is for the Muslim souls, I will go anywhere.
Eun Jun: The country I lived in had 90% Muslim population, so if no foreigner tells them the Gospel, they will never hear the Gospel. Also, they may look friendly on the surface, but they don’t easily open up their heart. Unless you are a good friend, it is very difficult to tell them the Gospel. It is difficult to develop and maintain good friendship as adults, but MKs can easily become friends. With this as advantage, I want to do ministry with my parents.
Many MKs dislike the idea of becoming missionaries. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Jin Chul: Like many, I used to think of MK life as a curse. I had to live in a foreign country with many restrictions, and I had to listen to Gospel non-stop. But once I truly knew what the Gospel meant, I got to realize this life I considered curse is actually a blessing. I wish they understand this.
Da Young: I want to assure them that God is our father and he never gives up on us.
Yea In: The reason my community in Middle East was able to break through many fears and risk of death was because we dearly held onto the Scripture and prayer. I want to tell them that the scripture and prayer is our cure, and that our MK life is a blessing.
Kyung Ryuun: Many MKs want to become missionaries. I used to think that becoming a missionary was an obvious thing. Listening to stories of other MKs who have different opinion than me allowed me to think about their feelings. They must be afraid because of the reality they saw and experienced in the mission field. I want to tell them that in any situation, following God is the best. I also would like to tell them that learning about God is a joyous experience.
Eun Jun: I wish they are able to enjoy all the blessings they have already received through Jesus. Through Jesus, I was able to breakaway from visions and dreams that are confined to “me,” and dream of something greater: the revival of God’s kingdom and completion of the mission. One of the most difficult things about MK life is that nowhere feels like home. I wish that we all could see heaven as our true home and live accordingly.
I heard that Hebron’s slogan is ‘the Gospel is enough.’ What does this mean to you?
Hyun Gyun: I never knew what the word “enough” meant. There is temporary happiness, but it vanishes quickly. But through Jesus, I understood what the word “enough” means. Because we believe that God knows and provide our needs, we can confess that the Gospel is enough.
Da Young: Repeating the slogan made me think that I had to prove it by doing something with my passion. But the Gospel can never be lived out by my passionate efforts. Once I knew that God will not give up on me, I realized how safe the Gospel is. The Gospel is our unbreakable bond with God.
Min Chul: It hasn’t been a while since this slogan became true to me. This slogan has the connotation that the Gospel can transform me, and I can live according to the Gospel. Through a recent incident, I confronted the Gospel once again. God hammered my heart with Romans 8. The reason why the Gospel was not enough to me was because I was not wholehearted. When God gave us the Gospel, he gave his everything, Jesus Christ, yet my attitude was not wholehearted. I experienced that once my wholeheartedness meets God’s wholeheartedness, the Gospel becomes extremely powerful. I believe that there is no one who cannot be transformed by the Gospel.
What have you experienced with the fight of faith?
Jin Chul: Because I go to Hebron, I used to think that I knew all there is to the Gospel… I was deceiving myself. For the first 6 months, we only learned about the Gospel, which was good. But after hearing that I will continue to learn about the Gospel alongside with the basic subjects, I just had no expectation. The fight was ferocious when I was trying to snap away from complacency of just having the knowledge of the Gospel.
Eun Jun: Answering the basic question, whether I trust God or not, was very ferocious. I learned that at the root of all sin is our doubt in God. God designed humans to have desires, and they are good. The sin of lust came from my doubt that God is not enough for me. I was looking for other things to fill me up. If God did not allow me the proper means to satisfy my physical desires, God is proclaiming that he will transform me so that I will be satisfied with God alone. This fight of faith to believe that God allows every situation is still ongoing.
After graduation, you guys will be going to mission fields as ‘elites.’ Do you guys have any ideal model of missionaries?
Yea In: I used to want to become a great missionary, but listening to other missionary confessing, “it is most convenient for God to use the weakest and the most under qualified missionaries,” I just want to become a missionary who serve in the lowest position.
Kyung Ryuun: When my father was first called to become a missionary, he challenged me by stating that “we can never pay back God’s love, but we can share it.” I want to become a missionary who cannot stand not sharing the good news.
Hyun Gyun: I want to become an obedient missionary. I don’t have many talents. When I saw that the servant with 10 and 5 talents gave back double of whatever they had and were equally praised, I learned that I just have to obey whatever was assigned to me. I will not pity my 1 talent and bury it in the ground.
Min Chul: I wanted to become an influential person, but now, I just want to become a family, living in the mission field. Nowadays, I get a lot of desires to serve the physically uncomfortable and weak people. I only had pity before, but now I am able to see them as God intended them to be.
Do you have anything to say to the underclassmen?
Jin Chul: Don’t look up to the upperclassmen. Don’t try to do well, but focus on Jesus.
Hyun Gyun: I wish they are all happy.
Da Young: If you confront the Gospel, all nations will return to God.
Eun Jun: We, who are held by God’s grace, are not shaken by other problems. Jesus is coming back soon, so let’s pull through!
Min Chul: I never listened to what my upperclassmen had to say. I just thought they are just saying these things because they are leaving. I personally feel sorry to the underclassmen. We will be together in Jesus.
Kyung Ryuun: Just don’t give up!
Yea In: Remember we’re all really blessed!