My name is Brent Chrishon. My family and I are currently serving as missionaries for our worldwide Seventh-day Adventist church in South Korea. We live at an SDA church in Gang-neung, which a popular city in Korea because it borders the east sea and has a nice beach front!
My family, who is here with me, consists of my wife Anika, and our three sons: Samuel (8), Daniel (2) and Anthony-Joseph (7 months). We have served in South Korea before, about five years ago, working with the same Pastor we are working with now. Of course, our family was smaller five years ago when we were here.
I want to share and combine two main points that we have learned that I feel could be blessing to someone who is considering full-time missionary work.
The first point is that the sheer difficulty of having a family with small children in a foreign country—along with the challenges of living on the first floor of a busy church—are also the source of greater blessings in our missionary experience! You know, my wife and I have learned that the jump from two boys to three boys is not the same as when going from one to two! Having the three of these guys has been hard! And my wife and I are going through it in the midst of serving, and trying by God’s grace to be the best missionaries we can be. We feel that we are constantly busy. Obviously we have the boys to take of, but we are also preparing for programs, teaching, facilitating programs, and cleaning the first floor of a busy church (the kitchen, fellowship hall, bathrooms, classrooms and our two rooms are on the first floor). There are times when we wonder how we made it through the week! But I am seeing the truth of those inspired thoughts that those who have great labors for the Master also experience great rest and joy in Him!
But also, and maybe more importantly, those things which we bring to the table, which make us unique and bring a certain burden, God can and will use to reach some other ones in the field of our labor. In our case, our boys, which might cause most people to think that overseas mission work is not for them (taking small children overseas and the difficulty inherent in doing so) are actually often our greatest bridge connecting us to people in our missionary field. We meet so many people simply because we are out walking with our children! Just this weekend we had two different young women come to worship with us and spend most all of Sabbath until evening, because we have become friends and got to know each other first through my children! Both of these young women (whose English names are Yelly and Clair) are not Christians but have come to a place to feel comfortable coming to the church and staying for extended periods because God is drawing them through us, and using our uniqueness as an entering wedge to reach their hearts.
I am convinced that the things which make us unique, which often may seem like a burden, God can use to reach some special person if we give ourselves to Him to use as He sees fit. We may not win multitudes of people; but I think God sends us to mission fields to win those special ones who He can reach through us. Our God is a God who is concerned about the special one, two, or three individuals you can reach for Him.
This brings me to the second point I would like to share. When I was in Korea five years ago, there was a pretty rough fellow who would come around the church to see me, named Jong-ub. He was quite a sight; big and tall, mischievous-looking, and he had a large growth (cyst?) rising upon his left shoulder, which would protrude even under his shirt. Jong-ub would often come at night when I would go down to the kitchen to eat delicious noodles after the work of the day was done. Being human, when he’d first show up, I’d initially be bothered as I was looking forward to some quiet time. But every time I’d invite Jong-ub in, and share my food with him. He couldn’t speak much English, but he would always give me a deep, heart felt “thank you.”
After awhile, I settled it in my heart that if God sent me to Korea only to reach Jong-ub, it was well enough with me and I got in the habit of saying that Jong-ub was my one soul God had given me to win for His kingdom! We had sponsors from the States, and for a while Jong-ub was the only person I told them about in mission reports. I determined not to be embarrassed by Jong-ub and I wasn’t.
Before we left Korea five years ago though, three of my English students were baptized into the church including to two brothers who were Methodist when I first met them. I have learned that in the five years since, their mother has also joined the church!
I share this anecdote to encourage others to realize that a soul, even one soul, is precious and worth the sacrifice of full-time missionary work, and God will be sure to bless you if you maintain that important focus.
To be continued in PART II…
Brent Chrishon is serving as a volunteer in South Korea as a Bible teacher and church activities leader, along with his wife and three boys. They are serving through NAD Office of Volunteer Ministries and Adventist Volunteer Service.