In the face of such devastation, Christianity having largely preserved the Korean language, took shape through faith and worship, into prayer and intense missional action. There was to a great extent a deep integration of care for the poor, social justice, political action and economic development that took place around Christian identity.
The churches and organisations we have heard from have the most amazing histories over such a short period of time, with an enormous mobilisation of people and mission.
It reminds me of David Martin’s thesis on Christianity providing ‘islands of social care’ with immigrant populations and refugees. He talks of how within the ravages of large economic changes and flows, Christianity has provide people with with care, education, training, food etc that is interwoven within worship and Christian formation.
Yet David Martin notices how once people have successfully accessed the societies they find themselves in, they often discard their Christian practices. They are no longer required to access the globalised context they are in.
We have heard stories of how within a short period of time (40 years) Korean’s have turned a devastated country from one the poorest in the world to one of the richest. And now there is a rising tide of Korean’s who are exiting the church, finding it irrelevant to their life and context.
I wonder if we see the same thing as in the West, that David Martin alerts us to? A generation for whom faith and christian practice is not a matter of life and death, or of moving from survival to thriving in western society. Faith is a matter of preference, choice, and convenience, relevance and authenticity.
As a group we heard the same thing in Nairobi last year, of middle class africans, disaffected with Church, over similar issues.
What might it mean for a generation who have no such threats to life and liberty, or access to society. But they and we face the pathologies of advanced capitlism and globalisation.
The anomic lives we retreat into; isolated and fragmented from community and each other. Record levels of divorce, mental health issues, substance abuse and those at the end of life, often on their own. And now the credit crunch with all that continues to presage.
What does mission and missional mean to provide ‘islands of social care’ to these emerging generations? What does a worshipping Christian community with mission into those issues look like?