(SOUTH AFRICA/Update/Farewell Address) M. Daniel and M*isoRhee Returned back to Korea Permanently after 8 Years of Serving
After serving Africa (South Africa) for 8 years since 2012, M. Daniel and M*isoRhee left for Korea on October 9th permanently.
May God use their life-long dedication as staff shepherds to raise disciples and send them to many nations. God may bless their 8 years of missionary lives in Africa to connect/cooperate with Korea (sending chapters) and mission fields to keep pioneering all 54 African countries and all 233 nations for World Campus Mission.
By M. Danie Lee
To dearest mission coworkers in Africa
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)
I will go back to Korea tomorrow. I think I am growing to be a burden rather than a blessing as I age, and I cannot deny that I feel physically limited. My wife and I considered it our life mission to visit college campuses to bring students to Bible study. However, with the recent pandemic and campus closure, we could only meet students online and it became difficult for us to connect with students. Not being able to travel to South Korea at regular intervals also meant I could not get my heart checkups and medications that became mandatory after having heart surgery a few years ago. All these factors lead us to the decision to return to South Korea permanently.
I first visited Africa twenty-six years ago. I had made regular visits after that and then moved and lived in Africa for the last eight years. I intended to help our mission coworkers, but after all these years, I feel embarrassed that I am unable to name anything I did to help. I only hope you understand my intentions.
Spending time in the African mission field has had significant meaning in my life. When UBF missionaries started pioneer African countries in the ’90s, we used to gather once a year for our annual meeting. When we gathered, we would study the Bible, go out to play foot volleyball, study the Bible some more, and play foot volleyball again. Playing in Lagos University in Nigeria and Harare University in Zimbabwe late into the night, soaking in sweat under with the ground light, are amongst my treasured memories. It was amazing when we were playing in Johannesburg, South Africa and the firecrackers went off during our game to celebrate the New Year.
We also talked a lot during our meals and breaks together about what we can do to better help the African students. All missionaries had been agonizing alone about their students all year long and wanted to hear other coworker’s opinions about it. Probably everyone expected to hear a clear answer, but there were no clear answers for specific situations.
Together we shared similar concerns. If we help our Bible students who are in financial difficulties, would it make it harder for them to grow spiritually? How can we overcome the cultural difference to preach the gospel of the truth? What is the message we are to give them in our missionary lives? We did not have any other answers but to love and to help them have faith in God. However, how hard is it to love and have faith in God? We had no choice but to pray as if we were just sighing or complaining. And our loving God accepted even such weak prayer. The answer was to raise African leaders and have them lead the ministry and help African students.
Africa has been having economic difficulty for a long time. It is a hard environment for missionaries to be self-supporting. Especially at the start of the African ministry, many missionaries agonized with the burden of supporting their Bible students and worried about the result after helping them financially. They were also emotionally spent as they dealt with the African students who always showed a bright smile and were agreeable regardless of what they are thinking. Africans despise people who show their anger, so missionaries had to swallow their frustration and laugh together with them. Some of the missionaries who served at that time are now in Korea. My respect is the same toward all the people who participated in African pioneering work regardless of where they are now. It was my privilege to share fellowship with these great servants for the last 26 years and it was the most precious time of my life.
I was blessed to have lived in South Africa and get to know many smart and able students these last 8 years. When we invited them to have Bible study, they did not frown upon us as if looking at something ugly the way Korean students do. They did not laugh at us for being old and senseless. Even the security guards recognized us as Bible teachers. They allowed us to park in the parking lot and even opened the lecture rooms for us to have Bible study. My wife used to study on a bench by the Engineering building or at the side of the Great Hall and became somewhat famous. We were encouraged by these nice people and visited the campus and had most Bible studies each week more than any other period time in our shepherd lives. The sunset was always so beautiful as we left the campus in the evening after having Bible studies with students. Even as I felt hungry and tired by the evening, I also felt so proud and accomplished. Even though I had accepted Jesus’ words, “Feed my lambs” as my life mission, the words were rather a burden in my heart. But in South Africa, I found the command to be a joy, not a burden.
However, I soon found that it was not easy to raise disciples among African students, among whom were so many old Christians. After many hours wasted waiting for them and going through frustrations as they did not keep their words, I was losing my faith. Even as they shouted, 'Amen,' sang beautiful hymns, and shared gracious testimonies, I became skeptical of their sincerity. More than anything, I felt sorry for their poor environment. They are brilliant and I wish the circumstances were just a little better. As the African students were so friendly toward Bible study, I was sad to see we could not raise enough leaders among them. This makes me feel torn to leave our coworkers and go back.
In addition, some of the African shepherds have pioneered the chapter or succeeded in the ministry from missionaries, but self-support is hard. We really need to pray for their material independence.
There are so many means of communication these days. It may not make any difference whether I am in Korea or Africa. Still, I will miss waking up in Africa every morning to pray. I will miss everything about Africa; from dry Juba to green Cape Town, the sunshine and vast fields, trees, and flowers, the loud and lively market places, such friendly people who sing and dance most joyfully and always wave and smile at us. I will also miss my Bible students; the ones to whom I failed to give enough love, and sometimes I was mad at out of my impatience. Mostly, I will miss the missionaries and coworkers who were so good to us even though we must have inconvenienced them in many ways. I may want to come to visit you again and please come see me when you come to Korea. Now, goodbye. Immanuel!