Strategic Mission and Education

Missionary Paul Choi (Director of InterCP International)


Around 150 years ago, the missionaries who came to Korea had a missions strategy focused on education. The American missionaries’ strategy to evangelize Korea through education could not have been more perfect. It resulted in an unprecedented rapid revival of the Korean Church.


Through these missionaries, small Christian mission schools were established across Korea. Since Korea was not fond of western education in those days, missionaries were naturally drawn to impoverished children who had no alternative method of education. However, it was this education that birthed the future leaders of the nation of Korea. Through Mission and Education (MnE), Korea began to rapidly transition out of the chaotic darkness of Buddhism, Confucianism, and folk religions. As a result, the first congressional meeting of Korea in 1948 opened with prayer, and Christians carried out central roles in the newly established government.


This education-based missions approach for Korea was sharply different from the missions approach for Thailand. Early missionaries to Thailand focused heavily on traditional methods of evangelism and church planting. Although these microscopic methods were not wrong in any way, the common critique was that they forsook the macroscopic approach to transform the entire nation as a whole. In the past century of Thailand’s history, there has rarely been an occasion where the church exerted leadership or influence on society in terms of social transformation. Even now, the church remains as an unfamiliar entity to the majority of the people in Thailand.


Missions is not simply implementing a new concept into a nation. It must be understood as a spiritual war that aims to eliminate cultural and religious ideologies currently ruling in that land. It must result in the transformation of the nation by bringing it under the truth: the Word of God. With this as the core task of missions, the most effective method to newly construct or revolutionize a nation is through education.


The importance of MnE is clear in the bible. God works through his Word. Through the proclamation and teaching of his Word, people are born again. Regarding this, Jesus’ words are clear:


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)


And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)


Jesus said to make disciples; in other words, make newly transformed people. He commands us to do this by “teaching them to observe”, which asserts that the core of discipleship is education.  MnE, which is teaching them to observe and to live out what they have been taught, is the missions method revealed to us through the Great Commission in the name of the triune God. Missions through charity, volunteer work, cultural events etc., are important as well, but in the broader picture, missions through education is the most effective and penetrative method.


In modern Christian missions, education has been the most widely applied method due to the condition of American Christianity in the 19th century. During that time, the East Coast of America especially placed heavy emphasis on education. The majority of Christians believed that learning was important, and many prominent Christians led the field of education in America. American missionaries who came from such a social climate naturally established educational institutions.


However, after World War II, especially after the 1960s, missions through education began to decline rapidly due to two major reasons.


First, countries began to systemize and institutionalize education within the boundaries of the state and dictate the content of the curriculum under the rationale of public education. State-led public education was highlighted to be an essential component in developing a nation. Due to this reason, the leading nations and the rest of the world began to strengthen and expand state-led education. In reality, however, the state began to monopolize education, which continues to today. Even the educational content of private schools is not free from government control due to state-level funding. As a result of this government control, missions through Christian education eventually became more and more difficult to execute. Schools established for missions quickly compromised their values and became secularized.


Second, the education subcommittee of the United Nations Educational Policy at UNESCO was taken over by Julian Huxley, a leading figure of anti-Christian intellect in the early 1960s. He was the grandson of Thomas Huxley, a British supporter of Darwin, thus making him a strong proponent of evolution. His family had also been at the forefront of intellectual activities to attack Christianity for generations. Julian Huxley assisted President John F. Kennedy in making policies to ban Christian education in public schools in the United States. He was also deeply involved with creating educational policies of newly emerging, underdeveloped countries like Korea by providing financial support and thereby universalizing policies to strictly separate education and religion.


The goal of this wicked strategy was to exclude Christianity from education, which was accomplished everywhere and brought devastating results. In the time of Julian Huxley, naive Christian educators did not see these hidden agendas of UNESCO, which politically influenced the government from behind the scenes, and became entangled in its schemes.


This state-led public education that excluded religious values was enforced from elementary to college levels. Teaching evolution with anti-Christian ideas was universalized and Christian values were completely excluded. As a result, children reared by Christian parents and church Sunday schools have been robbed of their faith in public schools and reconditioned with secular values.


Education that excludes specific values and norms is detrimental to character development. Because there has been a strong emphasis on skill, efficiency, productivity, excellence and success while excluding values of right and wrong, school education is producing robotic humans. Though they have skill and power, they are cold-hearted, civilized monsters like the vision that king Nebuchadnezzar saw in the book of Daniel. Likewise, through state-led modern education, people are being conformed into an army of civilization. Uniformly produced in factories, they are lost of their humanity and are unable to be happy.


Amidst these global changes in education, Christian schools have also been taken over and secularized by the state. Even strong-willed Christians have given up on missions through education to the point where they cannot recognize its importance. In addition, education has become a very difficult method to utilize in missions.


However, MnE is the most important biblical missions method. We should never give up on missions through education.


Then, how will we conduct MnE under these circumstances? Alternative education is a promising solution. Alternative education institutions are free from government policies. Through this, we are able to provide a holistic Christian education that builds up each student’s character, teaches Christian worldviews, and educates in Scripture. Moreover, we can provide tailored programs for each gifted student that focus on developing their spiritual gifts. In this way, we can raise up the next generation of spiritual leaders for world mission in this global era. Furthermore, businessmen who dream of business for God’s kingdom; Christians in education; professionals with character, spirituality and intellect; entertainers; pastors and missionaries will rise.


The goal of education should be focused on what type of person is being raised rather than what type of skill a person can perform. In these end times, when market rationale has made the world into a jungle of fierce competition, it is important to have power to overcome the world. Without such faith and spiritual intellect like Daniel and his friends, no matter how well you study or excel in your expertise, you cannot help but kneel before the world and be enslaved. Regardless of what future profession or specialty you may obtain, the more important matter is to raise up a person of God who, like Daniel, possesses faith, wisdom and spirituality. Kingdom School International is an alternative education institution founded upon this dream and vision.


In addition, there are many ethnic minorities who are suffering in the world today. Particularly in Eurasia, the 10/40 window, there are ethnic groups who have been living in pain and suffering for hundreds and thousands of years. Our missionaries go to these ethnic groups to learn their language and serve them with the Word of God. MnE, which will raise up the next generation of leaders among these suffering ethnic groups, must go hand and hand with these ministries.


The problem of ethnic minorities is that they have no representative leader who will go to the international community to appeal for their own people and to pave a way for them. The dominant ethnic majorities will never raise up the children of the ethnic minorities as leaders, while the minorities themselves lack the power and awareness of this matter. Because of this, it is not difficult to receive permission from the parents of Syrian refugees for their children to be under our care. For now, they have no dream or hope for the future. But when we share with them our commitment to raise up their children as the next global leaders through Christian alternative education, all will rejoice and agree.


However, ethnic minority issues are politically sensitive from the standpoint of the ruling ethnic majority. Let us suppose that Western missionaries, such as from the United States, approach the Kurds of Turkey or the Chechens of Russia and conduct MnE. Turkish or Russian authorities will never tolerate it. They know very well how Western empires in the past have used Christian missionaries to politically exploit ethnic minorities to develop an independent separatist movement and have caused difficulties for their countries. In other words, they are well aware of Western imperialistic mission methods from experience.


However, their perception of non-western ethnicities is not so. Similar to the 10/40 nations, most non-western ethnicities have experienced difficulties under the dominance of Western nations. This is why it is strategic to create a multi-ethnic mission team. Such a team not only removes the anti-Western sentiment, but also completely destroys Muslims’ stereotypical understanding that Christianity is a Western religion. This is why English-speaking, multi-ethnic mission teams are the most strategic group to engage in MnE ministry.


In many Western nations today, such as in North America, the social demographic is undeniably multi-ethnic. It is composed of people from all over the world. Christians within immigrant multi-ethnic churches have raised up the next generation of people who are able to teach in the mission field in English with a global perspective. When MnE is combined with this type of missions team in the 10/40 window, we will witness amazing things that God will do through them in this end time mission.


MnE through alternative education institutions are not successful just because they have good English speakers. What is far more important than a good facility or a good academic system is having good teachers. The success and failure of education comes largely from who the educators are. Therefore the task is then to prepare and equip these English-speaking missionaries for the frontier nations. In order to be an MnE missionary, you must be trained under strict conditions for at least 1 year. This is the very reason why we have established Kingdom School International (KSI) at the BTJ Center for All Nations in Korea. KSI at the BTJ Center is an international headquarter to raise up professional educators who can serve to raise up the next generation of ethnic minorities and refugees in the frontier nations of Eurasia who, in turn, will lead their own people. It is also an institution where our missionary kids (MK) can come to receive education. This is where we train our missionary educators and develop education content.


In order to establish this, faithful Christian businessmen must create a cooperative network for MnE. We pray that these committed businessmen, along with KSI teachers, will serve the suffering children of ethnic minorities and refugees to complete rapid world evangelization in these end times.


Two years ago, the Korea World Mission Association stated that missions through education must become much more active to pioneer the gospel frontier mission fields. For this, they appealed the need for 300 Christian education institutions to be established on the mission field, of which InterCP International was requested to establish a minimum of 30. We believe that the integration of MnE with Mission and Business (MnB) is an effective strategy to pioneer the frontiers for the gospel.


If these Christian education institutions on the mission field are large in size, there are many foreseen extrinsic hindrances that will occur. Eventually, these extrinsic factors will end up destroying the essentials and stir an internal conflict that may result in the corruption and secularization of the school. Therefore, school size will be limited to hosting 50-100 students in the dormitories. This is the only way for school teachers and missionaries to focus solely on the students that they care for and pour out whole-hearted commitment. When the size of the school becomes too big and the focus shifts to managing the school, greed begins to sprout. At some point, this will turn the teachers, who were originally sent to serve, into rulers who seek their own gain. This is why we must strengthen a strict and transparent team ministry structure within these small-sized, low-cost, alternative education schools and continually adhere to only having faithful and devoted teachers. We pray that more committed people of God will rise to serve the next generation of ethnic minorities who have been suffering throughout history. Let us continue to fulfill his Great Commission in these end times through this great strategy of MnE that God has made known to us.