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Soldiers for God – Evangelising a Nation through the Military
The Association of Military Christian Fellowships now has only its fifth president in its 72-year history, and he is a remarkable man. General Pil Sup Lee, formerly chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, not only believes that Christians can make a difference in the military. He is showing how it can be done. And more - he believes that through the military the entire nation can be evangelised.
General Lee, the youngest of eight children of a farmer, had a traditional Buddhist upbringing, and became a Christian while a young military cadet. On his retirement he turned down lucrative offers of jobs in the private sector in order to devote himself to Christian ministry.
Earlier this year at Warsaw he spoke (no longer online) of what it means to be a Christian in the military.
What is the main principle? It is love. It is to look on your soldiers as your own beloved sons. God is love. We learn love from Him….
Whenever I attended the church, after praying to God, I usually asked and checked myself if I loved the brothers and sisters sitting around me as I love my own children. It was the same when I met newcomers to my unit. I tried to feel warm love burning in my heart toward them. The main cause that my officers and men could successfully accomplish their missions is attributable to the fact that they’re united in love.
He has also spoken of how a campaign to introduce biblical values to the South Korean military led to dramatic reductions in the numbers of safety accidents, of absent-without-leave cases and of the incidence of suicide among enlisted soldiers.
In South Korea today all young men are obliged to do a tour of duty in the military, with some 350,000 being called up each year. These conscripts have become the object of an intense evangelism initiative known as Vision 2020.
Every year around 30,000 of the conscripts are already Christians, and the aim is that 220,000 more of them should be baptised and discipled. On their discharge, these men will return to their homes, join local churches and spread the word among their families. The target is that by 2020 some 75% of the population will be believers, up from around 30% at present.
Evangelising the country through the military? Only in Korea, you might think.
Yet if you know the Koreans at all well, then you will also know something else. That if any country can do it, then it is Korea.