The beginning of mission in Africa
Early November in 1994, Pastor Jong Duk Kim’s family, along with my wife and I were dispatched to Kenya, East Africa, as missionaries. God introduced our Korean churches to Africa the previous year through the ’93 Daejon EXPO, where we met a few Kenyans along with Kenyan air force generals who were visiting at that time.
The following year, Pastor Park was invited to an open MOVE ON, a worldwide Christian revival, which was held at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi. This was officially the first time Pastor Park’s first official visit to Africa.
Clad in rags and tatters, they cried out to God all day long under the burning sun but there was none among the lecturers from all over the world who could preach unto them the true word of the forgiveness of sin. Rather, they were stealing monetary offerings from the poor, and enjoying their lives dining at the best hotels and living in luxury. As Pastor Park saw these pastors, he cried relentlessly within his heart and yearned to remain in Africa for the remainder of his life to preach the gospel and serve the Lord. But he was unable to and so we went to Kenya to mission on behalf of Pastor Park.
Restrictions on Missionary Activity
Although Kenya is a Christian nation, there were strict restrictions on those who didn’t possess a missionary visa. There were already so many foreign missionaries inside of Kenya that the President delivered a New Year’s address saying that ‘Kenya no longer needed foreign missionaries,’ which made things even harder.
In the midst of that, through Dorothy, a Kenyan sister who visited Korea during the EXPO, we met Pastor Arther Kitonga from the Redeemed Gospel Church. He treated us with extreme kindness and delightfully vouched that we were missionaries from his church which allowed us to receive two year missionary visas. We were tremendously grateful.
Then one day, Pastor Kitonga asked us why we never received his permission before holding conferences, and that we should inform them of all activities in advance. He also told us to inform him of all the financial and materialistic support from the mission centers in Korea, and that we had to share with him whatever we received. If these terms were not met, they threatened to tell the Immigration Office that they had nothing to do with us and that we’d be deported from the country within a few days.
Anger clouded my vision, and my body trembled with fury. I wondered, ‘how could this pastor, who supposedly represents Christianity in Kenya do this?’ However, we lacked the strength and wisdom to escape their firm grip. And at the end of August, Pastor Park and a few others who were accompanying him came to attend a conference in Nairobi. We told Pastor Park about everything and attended the conference.
The conferences were held in a total of three places, but all of those churches belonged to Pastor Kitonga. He owned hundreds of churches within Africa. The first conference was held at a theater where approximately 1000 people attended. Pastor was given about 15 to 20 minutes to preach, but because there were three different interpretations going on, the actual time he had to preach was about five to seven minutes.
‘We don’t do mission work for money.’
After we ended the first conference, Pastor Kitonga sent word that he wanted to meet the very next morning at his office. That day we fell asleep after having fellowship all throughout the night. At around two or three in the morning, somebody woke up in the darkness, knelt down on his knees and started to pray. It was Pastor Park. His prayer continued on for a long time in a low, earnest tone. There were many other missionaries lying down in that same room, but I don’t think any of them were asleep.
Before long, Pastor turned around and sat facing us and asked, “Are you asleep?” We all answered, “No.” And just as if it was something we planned to do, we all got up at once. “Today I’ll be meeting Pastor Kitonga, but I believe this person will be requesting money from us without a doubt. But what do you think will happen if I reject his request?” At that time, I answered right away. “Pastor, Pastor Kitonga is the President’s Advisory Chairman in religion and is close friends with the President. The Chief of the immigration office attends his church, and if he doesn’t sign, then none of the churches can be registered. If you deny their wishes then they’ll report us to the police and we’ll be forcefully deported within a few days.”
Then Pastor spoke.
“I don’t think that’ll happen. If it’s bye the will of God you are here, then nobody can chase you out. If you do get deported, that’ll be through the will of God, not because somebody forced you out of this country. I wish to resolve this problem with faith. If we don’t resolve this with faith, then we’ll forever be people who wait on Pastor Kitonga. What do you think?”
That was when I saw the faith within Pastor’s heart, and that faith flowed into all of our hearts, chasing away all of our worries and concerns.
“Yes, that’s a great idea. We are pleased.”
“Thank you everyone.”
He said. The following morning, we went to their head office with Pastor Park. There were about 20 representative pastors from their religious body who were awaiting us and the atmosphere was as if we were in a summit conference. Then Pastor Kitonga began to speak with flamboyant words.
”Pastor Park, we’re in the middle of constructing a chapel, but there are many expenses. We still need about $350,000, and we’re witnessing to the people living in the slums of Nairobi. We are trying to help them out but we also need about $150,000 in cash. We’d be more than grateful for your assistance and prayer.”
It was an intense moment. Then Pastor Park spoke.
”Why do African pastors look upon foreign missionaries instead of God? In my opinion, I think American Missionaries have ruined African pastors with money. However, we do not do mission work with money. We have come to show you God’s existence. Whether you help us or not, we will do the work of God in Kenya.”
Furthermore he testified about how he lived his life in faith. As the Holy Spirit guided the atmosphere, I could see the majority of them listening to Pastor’s words.
Applying for Religious Registration
Everyone accompanying Pastor Park left for Ghana after the conferences in Kenya ended. We also left for a mission trip to Migori. Policeman in plain clothes invaded our church due to Pastor Kitonga’s complaint. They could not arrest our missionaries, so they arrested David, one of our missionary students, and started an inquisition.
Then one of Brother David’s relatives, who’s like his grandfather, started to prepare documents for our church’s registration. He quickly registered all the documents and Brother David was released.
We registered our documents in September of ‘95, but were rejected in November of the same year. Supposedly, the religious body of Pastor Kitonga, the United Korean Missionary’s Council, and one African citizen sent an anonymous note telling the Registration Office not to give us registration rights because the Good News Mission Church was a false church. We were discouraged. No matter where we turned to, it seemed impossible. The only thing remaining was the word of Pastor Park.
“We will independently obtain registration rights in Kenya. Regardless of who may protest, you will see you that God is alive.”
We sent another letter of appeal to the Minister of Justice for reconsideration.
A few uneventful months passed by, and we no longer had any hope. Then one March morning, we received a letter from the Minister of Justice telling us to pick up our Religious Organization Registration. He saw our letter of appeal and reviewed our documents, and it was verified that our Good News Mission Church was a good Mission.
The Cornerstone of Africa’s Mission – Religious Registration License
Currently our mission is flourishing in about 30 countries in Africa. Among those countries, many of them have applied for religious through with faith and are boldly and legally working in their mission fields.
Pastor Park obtained the church’s license with faith 11 years ago. That became the cornerstone of our mission in Africa. If I look back now, all I have is grateful for that incident. God has not only given us our church’s registration license, but there’s no doubt that God has also given us the entire continent of Africa.