Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Sexual Assault…Buying Sex…Is There No Way To Prevent Missionaries’ Deviant Acts?

2016-12-02 15:22

Deviant acts by some missionaries are driving down the credibility of the Korean church as a whole. Clearly, there is an urgent need for structural reforms to stop such acts and prevent their recurrence.

It was recently reported by Youth With a Mission that a Mr. Choi (62, mosaic in photo), dispatched by YWAM, engaged in inappropriate relations with a young woman in the area where he served as a short-term volunteer. Missionary Choi returned to Korea last week and apologized publicly before the leaders of the mission organization. However, the woman victim insists she was assaulted one-sidedly, so criticism is spreading.

On November 29, YWAM held a disciplinary committee meeting at which it canceled Choi’s dispatch as a missionary, suspended all his duties and activities at the mission site, banned his mission and fundraising activities in Korea, and recommended that he undergo therapeutic counseling with a specialist. Reportedly, Choi accepted all these decisions. Prior to the disciplinary committee meeting, YWAM apologized to the young woman victim: “This organization bears great responsibility for failing to properly guide our missionary. We will do our best to prevent such a thing from happening again.”

Missionary Choi has been operating the “New Vision School,” which educates kindergarteners and elementary school children in the mission area. Considering his extensive experience through more than 30 years of activity, mission circles were shocked by the news about his conduct. YWAM representative Park Seok-geon said, “When a missionary is dispatched and enters the local area, he is under the supervision of a leader…Apparently it was difficult to supervise missionary Choi, due to his long experience and influence.”

A missionary Park (62), who was arrested by police in Cambodia on October 20 on suspicion of buying sex, had established a church and carried out other mission work in that country since 2005. According to the local police, Park provided church support to poor young girls and their families, and on a number of occasions during those years, he had engaged in sexual relations with the girls. Park was an “independent” missionary, having no sending organization or denominational affiliation, and not belonging to the local Korean missionary association.

Church circles consider it impossible to regulate missionaries who belong to neither a sending organization nor a missionary association. Some ask reproachfully how it is possible for the church to supervise missionaries overseas, when it cannot even block the wayward behavior of clergy in Korea.

Kim Jin-dae, secretary general of the Korea Crisis Management Service, commented, “One who is dispatched goes into the field with high self-awareness, but as he becomes familiar with the language and culture and comes to enjoy a certain level of accomplishment, he relaxes and finds leisure time.” He advised, “Rather than trying to cover up such a problem, the sending organization should deal with it through the disciplinary committee or other structure and have the person get treatment.”

Missionary Sohn Chang-nam, in charge of mobilization for the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, said, “If the leader of the area had provided proper supervision in matters related to family, finance and ministry, through close relations with his fellow missionaries, this could have been prevented…“Unless we change over to a mission association structure that offers supervision, direction and care, deviant acts may continue.”

Reporter Sangmok Shin (smshin@kmib.co.kr), with Marion Kim (marionkkim@icloud.com)

Original Article in Korean:
성폭행… 성매수… 선교사 일탈행위 철저한 예방책 없나

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