Our Readers Write

Korean-American Christians
Esther Cho and Walter Chung’s article on outreach to North Korea and 1.5 generation Korean-American Christians (April 2007) was excellent. Cho and Chung did an excellent job in linking a very needy area of the world with a group of young people in the United States who can respond to that need.

Korean-American Christians
Esther Cho and Walter Chung’s article on outreach to North Korea and 1.5 generation Korean-American Christians (April 2007) was excellent. Cho and Chung did an excellent job in linking a very needy area of the world with a group of young people in the United States who can respond to that need. In Table 3, they delineated several areas that KAs were interested in learning more about. So am I! I would like to know more about many of those areas, including the education system, North Koreans’ perspective on their country/world, the social culture, the social welfare system and the healthcare system. If they or others know more about those areas, please send information to northkoreanews@omf.net.

Cho and Chung said one way of learning more about North Korea is through Christian mission conferences. I know of one such annual conference for people seriously interested in outreach to North Korea. Next year, it will be held in Seoul, Korea. If anyone wants to learn more about that conference, send an email to the above address. The authors said another way to learn about North Korea is through newsletters from mission organizations. OMF International puts out a bi-monthly prayer bulletin designed to help people pray regularly and intelligently for North Korea. It includes prayer points based on current news and articles on various topics related to North Korea. If anyone would like to receive the bulletin, send an email to the above address. We need to be praying for North Korea. Many Christians do not know much about the country; however, there are ways to learn. OMF International has also put out two prayer guides on North Korea. As one of my seminary professors said, “The advance of the gospel is always in answer to prayer.” Let us pray.
—Carol, North Korea prayer materials, OMF International

Going the Distance
I appreciated Victor Kuligin’s description of how he worked through the various issues involving distance education (“Going the Distance: Adapting Full-time Residential Curricula into Distance Format,” July 2007). Here in Far East Russia, we deal with even greater geographical distances. Thus far, we have opted for having non-residential students travel to the college three or four times a year for two-week sessions rather than sending course material to them. Besides the negatives Victor listed at the end, I would add that the distance education format loses out on the opportunity to develop close relationships with other students from different parts of the country. This hinders both the establishment of support networks for future ministry and the unification of the Russian Church (a real issue with a sparse population spread over a vast region). With the proliferation of cell phones, grads are able to keep in contact with one another, even though they likely will never meet face to face.
—Ken Guenther, Russia

The Missionary Call
The missionary call defined as “guidance by which God directs our lives” (“The Missionary Call: A Biblical and Practical Appraisal,” Walter McConnell, April 2007) seems to be a balanced approach to what has troubled Christians for decades. However, I want to take the discussion two steps further.

First, people who have a specific geographic call to, say, China, the Syempire people of Mali or the Tunisian Arabs of North Africa also have interests that lead them to do evangelism and church planting. People who do not have a specific geographic call have interests that lead them to discipleship, teaching and leadership training. Although I have not done a scientific study, as a WorldVenture mobilizer and as WorldVenture Africa director, I have talked with thousands of young adults. Except for two, everyone who had a call to a specific geographic area was interested in evangelism and those without the specific geographic interest were more interested in training.

As leadership trainers spend time in a location and learn the language and culture, their focus, by familiarity and experience, gets defined geographically. However, for leadership trainers, my conversations show that geographic definition comes much later during the call than it does to church planters. Because this pattern is so consistent, I use it as a diagnostic tool. Someone whose call seems to be geographic specific will also be interested in church planting. The person without a geographic specific call at the stage when he or she is talking to mission mobilizers will invariably be on the training, teaching and mentoring side of ministry.

This leads us to the point that is even more important for us in mission mobilization and leadership. Inevitably, the person interested in leadership training who also does not have geographic specific guidance by which God is directing his or her life (to use McConnell’s terms) will also believe that something is faulty with his or her mission call. The prospective missionary knows so many other prospective missionaries with geographic calls that he or she tends to question the genuineness of his or her call. When I explain that about half of the people I listen to do not have a geographic specific call and that inevitably those are the people gifted/interested in training, I always see relief spread over their faces. For them, then, the lack of a geographic specific call is no longer a deficit in thinking and call but rather it becomes a confirmation of God’s guidance and their interests and gifting.

I write so that we mission leaders will unburden the many people focused on future leadership training and let them know that their non-geographic specific call is just as legitimate and authentic as their friends heading into church planting with a specific location or people burdening their hearts.
—Glenn Kendall, Africa director, WorldVenture

Reproducing Christians
I was intrigued by David Feddes’ article on reproducing Christians through fertility (April 2007). The missing link, however, is that not all children of believers go on to be believers themselves. I’m sure studies have been done on the percentage of children raised in Christian families who continue in the faith. However, has a study been done measuring this percentage against family size? In other words, would children raised in larger Christian families have a higher, lower or the same probability of considering themselves Christians (and actually living a Christ-like life) as compared to children raised in smaller Christian families? I’d be interested to see the results of such a study.
—Brian Lawrence

God’s Rivals
I am grateful that my book God’s Rivals was reviewed in your excellent journal (October 2007). But I was dismayed to find that it was misrepresented egregiously. In fact, I wonder if the author of the review did more than a cursory reading. One has to wonder since he claims that I deny God’s giving salvific truth to adherents of other religions while at the same time holding to post-mortem preaching of the gospel—the combination of which would be odd to any reader and neither of which is true in any meaningful sense. His criticisms are three-fold. First, that I fail to carefully examine scriptural texts that relate to my subjects, among which is the relation of demons to the “spiritual powers” of Ephesians 6. Yet two major chapters of God’s Rivals are devoted to OT and NT developments of these themes and I argue that scripture presents these two classes of dark forces as related (contra the claim of the reviewer) but on different levels of a dark hierarchy.

Second, the reviewer says I make God “cruel” because I say God makes himself known to those outside covenant peoples without also providing “truths leading to salvation.” Yet the chapters on the early Greek theologians discuss at length what the unevangelized would need for salvation, and therefore raise that possibility but without simplistic answers that some might demand. Furthermore, the book is not about salvation primarily; rather, it is about why God permits other religions in the first place. The review’s readers never learn this. The reviewer criticizes my statement that “we don’t know if these other people would be saved through this knowledge,” suggesting to the reader that the book’s final position on all the unevangelized is uncaring dismissal to damnation. But the context of this particular quote is God’s demonstration of his holiness to nations such as Egypt, Ammon and Moab during Israel’s exodus and conquests. The point is that knowledge of God’s holiness alone is not saving.

Finally, the reviewer accuses me of “openness to the concept of post-mortem preaching.” Again the reviewer takes a quote out of context, pointing to the book’s one and only mention of the phrase, which is Irenaeus’ speculation that some who didn’t hear the gospel the first time around may be given an opportunity during the millennium. This is hardly the sort of general “second-chance” theology which the review suggests. To focus on this one sentence in a book devoted to a theme barely hinted at is disproportionate at best.
—Gerald McDermott, professor of religion and philosophy, Roanoke College


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