Throughout the world, Wesley Doctor of Ministry students and graduates from the Global Asia program serve as missionaries in some 21 countries. Never an easy call, the missionary path is particularly difficult in the midst of a global pandemic.
The Rev. Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee (see photo above, Wesley’s Vice President for International Relations, has taught most of these D.Min. students and graduates, and she remains a touchstone for them while in the mission fields. She recently had the opportunity to hold a Zoom check-in with some of those students and graduates, and sends an update on the reality of continuing to minister in the global context with the coronavirus pandemic.
WTS – Many of Wesley’s Global Asia Doctor of Ministry students and graduates are Korean Methodist missionaries in ministry around the world. You are able to be in touch with them, in spite of the global COVID-19 crisis?
Dr. Shin Lee – Yes, I just finished a Zoom conference with 11 Korean missionaries in ten different countries. In total, Wesley has educated 21 Korean missionaries for the world. Fifteen of them are still in the mission field, while 6 have either retired or returned to Korea. The program also educated 21 denominational leaders and professors for their home countries of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia, India, Indonesia, Russia, Togo, Mongol, Kazakhstan, China and Kenya, not counting Korea, US, and Canada.
WTS – It must be very supportive to speak with you and each other, especially in this troubling time of global pandemic.
Dr. Shin Lee – Everyone on the call really appreciated this time of connecting and sharing. It was a time of comforting and supporting one another. There was real surprise to learn that others have similar fears and frustrations.
WTS – What are some of those fears and frustrations? Are the missionaries able to continue their ministries at this time in spite of COVID-19 ?
Dr. Shin Lee - Regarding COVID-19 and the pandemic, one of the common struggles is feeling helpless, not being able to provide ministry for months due to quarantine, while the communities are in greater need and danger than ever. Sometimes, they even wonder why they are there. At the same time, they cannot return to Korea, either. A very challenging time for all. My heart aches for them.
WTS – Where do they find hope in the midst of all this?
Their hope comes from feeling closer to God spiritually, by spending much time reflecting on their past works. They derive their strength in focusing on the essential call of their mission, knowing that call goes beyond the projects they have been forced to stop due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, it is very hard, not knowing when it will end, and when they will be able to return to their missionary work.
WTS – Is there anything we can do to support our Wesley missionaries?
Dr. Shin Lee – Please pray for ALL missionaries in the world. We even can’t imagine what they are going through. When we ourselves are living in such a difficult time, it is hard think of missionaries half a world away from us.
While I am, of course, mindful of all our Wesley Global DMin missionaries in this moment, there are so many missionaries that need our prayers and support. I remain forever grateful to Wesley’s faculty, staff and our donors for the teaching and support of these wonderful seeds of Wesley that have borne much fruit, now and for generations to come.