Untitled Document

 Evangelizing to Military Cadets and Junior officers(MCJOs) in Republic of Korea(ROK)


 2009-08-13 2:24:00  3518
- File 1 : Evangelizing_the_(MCJOs).rtf  (74 KB), Download : 871


Evangelizing the military cadets and junior officers (MCJOs)
in Republic of Korea (ROK)

In this study, a brief overview of Christian military ministries is introduced. Then several routes to becoming an officer of ROK military are explained to help the people get familiar with ROK military commissioning system.

Finally, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) model is applied to current evangelic circumstances and activities for military cadets and junior officers (MCJOs) to indentify useful missionary schemes for them.

Since their inception of 1950s, not only military ministries in ROK have been making considerable contributions to promoting the soldiers morale and valor in the field units, but have been proved to be effective for evangelizing the military personnel of ROK.

Major components of military ministries in ROK can be recognized as follows.

First, military chaplain system for all armed services were established in the early 1950s. As of 2009 year, there are 1,004 military church buildings around the nation over which about 260 protestant chaplains and 350 volunteering civilian pastors minister both the military men and women and their families.

Second, military ministry organizations such as KMCF (Korea military Christian fellowship), KVMCF (Korea Veterans of MCF), MEAK (Military evangelical association of Korea), and MSO (Mission support organization) have been performing their unique roles for spreading the gospel through the military systems in the ROK or around the globe.

Now since the military ministries were briefly elaborated, as above, for evangelizing the military men and women of ROK, lets zero in on different routes for commissioning the officers and evangelic circumstances for different routes.

Service academies for Army, Navy, and Air force have been operating to educate and train hundreds of military cadets annually since 1940s. ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) has been commissioning thousands of officers since 1963; in average about 1,500 officers have been being commissioned through OCS (Officer Candidate School) program since 1981.

Korea Army Academy has also been producing about one thousand officers a year since 1969. Now lets turn to evangelic circumstances for each route of becoming an officer in ROK. First of all, service academies have been furnished with chaplains, chapels, and well organized supports from their MCFs.

Korea Army Academy and OCS has been equipped with chaplains, chapels, and all sorts of supports from evangelic organizations. However, while ROTC has been producing the largest number of officers annually, evangelic attention and support to them have been little available. Fortunately, right after military cadets are commissioned, they are going to be taken care of by military chaplains for about a couple of months in the military branch school.

Now to better understand where we have been, where we are, and where we should go in the future in terms of evangelizing MCJOs in ROK, SWOT model is applied on the current evangelic circumstances of military training schools and how evangelism to MCJOs is performed. Through this SWOT model, several useful schemes for evangelizing MCJOs in ROK should be identified.

First of all, strengths are as follows. Service academies, Army academy, and OCS have been provided with chaplain, chapel, and other supports. So if a military cadet wants to join chapel service or getting baptized, he or she has access to those services inside the service academy.

Second, evangelic activities to MCJOs, in some way, are encouraged and promoted by the military authority to uphold cadets and junior officers morale under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways.

Third, the cooperation between chaplain and laymen ministry in the military has been well organized and performed through the chapel and MCF (Military Christian Fellowship) activities. Basically, MCF activities are oriented with helping the chaplain evangelize the MCJOs although MCF members have some ministries for themselves.

Weaknesses are as follows. First, any systemic movements or official measures for evangelizing ROTC cadets have not been initiated so far although majority of military officers have been generated from ROTC route.

As such, little resources and attention have been invested to reach out both ROTC and OCS cadets while they go through tough beginning trainings.

Second, lack of military ministry targeting MCJOs is a fact in ROK. Vision 2020 Christian movement by MEAK (Military Evangelical Association of Korea) has been focused on baptizing more enlisted men to accomplish an annual objective of getting 220K soldiers baptized.

Ministries of MSO are focused on helping AMCF ministries that have a goal of establishing a MCF in every country. And KMCF ministries have been centered upon domestic military ministries associated with military chapels around the nation. In a word, any Christian ministry that is committed for military cadets and junior officers of ROK military has not existed even though they are the future of our military.

Third, 10% of full number of service academies freshmen has been female. The importance of female officers is expected grow as are the female leaders in society. Thus a new strategy should be adopted for evangelizing these female cadets and junior officers soon.

Opportunities are as follows.

First, most of civilian churches of ROK have been very supportive of military ministries since the universal conscription system has been being applied to recruiting enlisted men for the military. In other words, members of civilian churches simply consider the ROK military as a place where their sons and daughters serve the nation. In addition, let us take a look at how those civilian churches have grown rapidly. It is well known that there are many colossal churches in ROK that have experienced rapid growth.

A typical example of the incredible church growth is that of Pastor Yonggi Chos Yoido Full Gospel Church. With more than 625,000 members and 22,000 cell groups, Pastor Chos church grows at a rate of 140 new members per day.

Pastor Cho attributes his churchs rapid growth to the cell group ministry. And also, it must be remembered that there are nine other churches in Korea which have more than 30,000 members. All of them, without exception, have experienced rapid growth by structuring their church around the cell group ministry.

Second, some of alumni for all routes to become a commissioned officer have been operating their younger generation. A Christian ministry center called Hwa-rang mission center was completed in 1995 to help evangelize military cadets and junior officers from Korea Military Academy.

Navy Academy also has been operating a Christian mission center called upper room and Air force academy a missionary center near to their locations, respectively. Likewise, ROTC Christian Officer Union was established to mainly focus on evangelizing officers and cadets from ROTC route.

Third, some outreach programs from several international military ministry organizations have been available to MCJOs. Thus they can join to both expand their global experiences and increase their understanding of foreign Christian ministries. Those international organizations are AMCF, ACCTS, ACCTS MMI, and CCC etc.

Threats are as follows.

First, there is an intense competition between different religions to expand its share of military souls. Other religions and heresies also step up their efforts to permeate their faiths into the military.

As a result, numbers of Buddhism and Won-Buddhism chaplains are increasing even though total numbers of chaplains are fixed. In other words, the number of protestant and catholic chaplains is decreasing in commensurate with increasing numbers of Buddhism and Won-Buddhism chaplains.

Some countermeasures to keep this phenomenon under control need to be sought and implemented rigorously.

Second, an unfavorable trend that there is a freedom for soldiers not to attend any religious activities in the military has seemed to erupt. If this trend continues in the military, this may lead to impeding the propagation of all religions.

Until now, some useful information on evangelizing to MCJOs is identified by SWOT model to enable good schemes to promoting evangelism to MCJOs of ROK. Recommended schemes are as follows:

First, a creative evangelic scheme to evangelizing ROTC cadets dispersed in ROK needs to be adopted and implemented since majority of junior officers are commissioned through ROTC route. This evangelic purpose may be accomplished by connecting a ROTC department with a Christian mission organization. Specifically, a ROTC department of a Korean University can be linked with either a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) in the university or a local civilian church. As an example of the United States, Valor ministry has been operated through the cooperation and collaboration between CCC and ROTC departments in universities of the United States.

Second, establishment of a new ministry committed to evangelizing MCJOs should be considered. This specific ministry can be installed as a part of evangelic activities of currently existing military ministry organizations such as KMCF, KVMCF, MSO, and MEAK.

On the other hand, cell ministry concept from civilian church may be brought in to military cadet ministry since it has been proved to be a good growth strategy for civilian churches in ROK and many other nations. And it is reasonable thinking that cell ministry of civilian church is similar to MCF ministry of the military.

So if Cadet MCFs are established in military cadet training organizations including ROTC departments, these military cadet MCFs will be root source of huge military ministry growth in the future.

As a matter of fact, naval academy chapel succeeded in inducing majority of its freshmen cadets of 2009 year to come to Christianity chapel by providing enough snacks and independent rooms especially set aside for freshmen cadets.

Another factor for naval academys evangelic success was to get the cadets current bible study group split and assign more bible study leaders.

Third, several particular missionary tactics should be taken into account for MCJOs. They are described in the followings.

1) Young recruits have their own strong and unique desires that can lead to excellent evangelic opportunities if they are met properly. Those desires are snacks and short relaxation. Fulfill there need can be excellent motives that induce young recruits to Christian chapel. It is true because young recruits are under great pressure physically and emotionally.

2) Some female professional ministry workers are needed to lead female cadets to Christianity in the military. Probably, it would really help for dedicated deaconesses to be involved in this special ministry area. Fourth, more opportunities of attending international programs such as USA interaction and AMCF conferences may be provided to MCJOs.

Lastly, some urgent measures to maintain and increase the number of Christian chaplains are examined and then implemented. Basically, the annual number of newly commissioned chaplains for a particular religion is proportion to the number of military personnel who are counted as believers for that religion.

To capture as much number of Christians as possible in the military is required by stepping up all-out efforts among chaplains, MCF members, and military ministry organizations. Higher number of military Christians should be reflected upon the decision-making process for allocating chaplains quota among the religions.




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