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Korean United Methodist Church supports Mongolia mission
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A UMNS photo by the Rev. Keihwan Ryoo

The Rev. Jung Rye Jung (right) prays for Helen Sheperd, a missionary to Mongolia.

Dec. 6, 2005

By the Rev. Keihwan Ryoo*

ATLANTA (UMNS) — In a place sometimes referred to “as the end of the world,” Korean-American United Methodists and the Board of Global Ministries are working together to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That place is the Central Asian country of Mongolia. The board sent its first missionary to Ulaanbaatar, the capital, in 2003. That same year, the Korean United Methodist Church donated $100,000 for work in the country. In 2004, the United Methodist Korean community raised another $80,000 to help send a second missionary. Future plans include building a second church site and a medical facility.

Ed Tomlinson, a North Georgia Conference staff member, gave a personal perspective on the church’s work in Asia during remarks at the second Mongolia Mission Initiative meeting.

“We have our daughter in Mongolia,” he told members of the Board of Global Ministries and Korean United Methodist leaders. “We thank you for your support and prayers for our daughter, the Rev. Millie Kim, who is from the North Georgia Conference.” The initiative meeting was held Nov. 7 in Atlanta.

In 2003, the Korean United Methodist community sent its first mission teams to Mongolia, and the Korean National Caucus decided to support the Mongolia initiative as a part of the centennial celebration of its mission and ministry in the United States.

“Korean people have special chemistry with the Mongolia mission,” said the Rev. James Chongho Kim, chair of the Korean United Methodist Mongolia Mission Support Group. Several Korean American United Methodist churches took short-term mission trips to Mongolia in 2004 and 2005.

The Mongolia mission was initiated by the Board of Global Ministries in 2003 as part of a vision to reach out in Central Asia with the gospel of Christ. In November 2003, Helen Sheperd was sent as the first missionary. She is working in hospice ministry in the Gher District of Ulaanbaatar, caring for about 30 terminally ill patients. Her dream is to expand the medical mission facility.

“They do not have well-educated medical personnel in Mongolia. The government also neglected the people in rural areas. There are so many needs,” said Dr. Sang Chun Lee, a member of the Detroit Korean United Methodist Church. Lee has been to Mongolia twice with his church mission team. His church is exploring the possibility of supporting a full-time local physician in Ulaanbaatar.

Sam Dixon, executive with the Board of Global Ministries, said the purpose of the second initiative meeting was to set out the scope and goals for the Mongolia mission. “We are so grateful for the support the Board of Global Ministries gets from the Korean United Methodist community and the North Georgia Conference,” he said.

David Wu shared that the Korean Community Church of Leonia, N.J., has already sent Sun Lae Kim, a lay missionary, and raised $130,000 for the Mongolia mission. The board will work closely with the church on the possibility of buying a building for a second church site and medical mission center.

Projects for the mission include building a mission center, expanding the medical/hospice ministry and hiring a local doctor full time. Rev. Millie Kim will work with other Korean missionaries to build local congregations. The possibility of starting a book café for young people in the downtown area was also discussed.

The goal for the Korean United Methodist Church’s Mongolia Mission Support Group is to continue raising $60,000 annually to support the initiative. The funds will go through the board for strategic planning. The Korean support group and the board will also plan regional trainings for the Volunteers in Mission program. The board wants to start covenant relationship programs in the Korean United Methodist community.

Mongolia, a nation of 2.4 million people, has about 22,000 Christians today, according to a publication by the Association of Christian Missionaries in Mongolia. In the last four years, the number of Christians has nearly doubled, but they represent less than 1 percent of the total population. Since 1990, Mongolia has been undergoing rapid transformations. Areas for improvement include the economy, education and health care. 

*Ryoo is director of Korean Resources and editor of United Methodists in Service.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or

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