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Korean Missionaries Active in Arab Countries: Repo

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Korean Missionaries Active in Arab Countries: Report

 

 

Evangelists rehearse before a service in Amman (Courtesy of NY Times)

 

CAIRO, November 1 (IslamOnline(contact admin if its a beneficial link)) – South Korean missionaries are now taking the lead in aggressively evangelizing Muslims in Arab countries, focusing on Iraqi refugees in Jordan, applying discreet methods and making use of a seemingly endless financial support, reported a US daily Monday, November 1.

 

Calling Muslims "the most difficult group to convert", The New York Times said South Korean missionaries are concentrating their work in Arab countries, especially Jordan and Iraq.

 

"South Korea has rapidly become the world's second largest source of Christian missionaries, only a couple of decades after it started deploying them. With more than 12,000 abroad, it is second only to the United States and ahead of Britain," said the daily.

 

South Koreans proselytize, not in their own language, but in the language of the country they operate in or in English.

 

"There is a saying that when Koreans arrive in a new place, they establish a church; the Chinese establish a restaurant; the Japanese, a factory," the daily quoted as saying a South Korean missionary in his 40's.

 

He has worked in the Jordanian capital Amman for several years and, like many others, asked not to be identified because of the dangers of proselytizing in Muslim countries.

 

Method of “Working�

 

 

A Korean evangelist leads Arab and African students in song and prayer in Amman (Courtesy of NY Times)

 

A Korean missionary, also working in Amman several years, spoke to the US daily of evangelizing in a "low voice and with wisdom."

 

He added that over "intimate meals with three or four Muslims he would let the conversation drift to Jesus."

 

Words like "missionary" or "evangelize" are never mentioned of course.

 

"Muslims who have converted to Christianity are never identified as such - a necessary precaution in a society where some families engage in so-called honor killings of relatives who have left Islam," said the Korean missionary.

 

"Many missionaries also focus on bringing Arab Catholics or Chaldeans into the evangelical fold."

 

Iraqi Refugees

 

For an Arab or a Muslim country to give a visa to a missionary is a very difficult issue. But that does not stop evangelists who usually resort to other ways.

 

According to the NY Times "…many come (to Middle East countries) on student visas or set up computer or other businesses, and evangelize discreetly."

 

It quoted unnamed South Korean and American missionaries who elaborated on the methods applied, the targeted sects and the ideal circumstances for proselytizing to be fruitful.

 

"There are so many ways to do our work," said one missionary, who works in a local church in Amman and delivers English sermons that are translated into Arabic.

 

"Just as American missionaries did in Korea by building schools and hospitals, there are many ways here.

 

"One important group is Iraqi refugees. They come here. They are tired physically and spiritually. They are so lonely. We help them. They realize they are being helped by Christians. Then they ask about Jesus."

 

The missionary in Amman in his 40's told the NY Times that, in his previous posting in the Philippines, he was awed when he saw American missionaries fly to remote islands and, wherever they spotted signs of life in the jungle below, drop food packets as the first contact with what missionaries call "unreached people."

 

"So even here, it is very difficult, but not impossible," he said, referring to Jordan and Iraq. "We are planting one church at a time."

 

According to the NY Times, about 30 missionary families have settled in Amman.

 

Others wait to return to Iraq, which they left in June under intense pressure from the South Korean government.

 

John Jung has been working with an Iraqi pastor, Estawri Haritounian, 40, to open a seminary at the National Protestant Evangelical Church in Baghdad.

 

According to Jung, Saddam Hussein’s regime was more helpful to the missionary work than the present under occupation, chaotic Iraq.

 

"Saddam Hussein's regime allowed Christians to gather in private houses, so it was difficult, though possible, for us to evangelize," Jung, who has been traveling in and out of Iraq for several years, told the NY Times.

 

"But now it has become even more difficult for Christians in Iraq. Christians are afraid of Muslims for the first time. We are frustrated we can't be in Iraq at this important time. But as soon as the security allows, we will go back to Baghdad."

 

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was further complicated by the conviction among some Arabs and Muslims that the US-led war is part of a new "crusade" campaign.

 

Only days into the invasion in March 2003, the Beliefnet(contact admin if its a beneficial link) and Newhouse(contact admin if its a beneficial link) websites reported that two leading evangelical Christian missionary organizations were readying teams to enter Iraq to address “the spiritual needs� of the population.

 

Last March, four US missionaries have been killed in a drive-by shooting in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

 

Blacklisted

 

Some South Korean missionaries working in the Middle East, however, end up in the blacklist.

 

"Kim Dong Moon, a missionary who works in the Middle East and also writes about the missionary movement, said some South Korean missionaries had been deported from the Middle East and ended up on blacklists," the NY Times said.

 

"There are some pushy Korean missionaries whose approach is: ‘Come to the Kingdom of God now! Or, go to hell,’ " Kim was quoted as recently saying in Seoul.

 

But blacklisting could be the least missionaries are concerned about in carrying out their missions in an Arab or a Muslim country.

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