Drew, an American and Eunhae, Korean, are beautiful couple who have been serving as missionaries for the past 8 & 11 years respectively. They met while they were both doing missions in South Africa. They have been married and serving as Emerge missionaries in Asia for the past four years. We talked with them about their experience.
1. Tell me what your roles are as Emerge missionaries in SE Asia?
We started out as staff at the MediaLight school training Media Missionaries. Right now, we are starting a new media ministry in Bangkok focused on reaching Thai people.
2. How long have you been missionaries, and how did it all start?
Drew’s first experience in mission work was with YWAM in 2006. Eunhae also started working in missions with YWAM. She started in 2004.
3. What do you think is the role of media in missions?
Media is such a broad thing and comes in so many forms. Some media informs some media entertains, some media starts a discussion, and some media isn’t meant to have a purpose but is created as an act of worship. I think when people hear “Media Missions”, they think of a book or a video or a song that fully shares the gospel in place of a person. That can be true in some instances, but some media formats don’t usually work that way. Songs don’t usually give you all the answers to life, but they are one voice, one part of an overall discussion that’s happening in culture. Films often ask questions without giving answers but work great for starting a discussion within a culture.
4.How about your role as media missionaries?
We think that the biggest impact we can have as Media Missionaries is through our personal relationships. We can put out an amazing film that has a lot of truth in it, and a lot of people could watch it. God uses something like this on its own, but we don’t see this as a replacement for face to face with people. Medical missionaries use scalpels and bandages, children’s ministries use crayons and paper, and media missionaries use camera and computers. In all of these cases, we use tools to put us in a position to share our faith. We connect with people so that they can meet Christ in us. It’s really the same as any Christian living in their own country working any job and sharing Christ with their colleagues or classmates. Creating media content gives us the opportunity to share our faith with those who help us produce it while at the same time planting seeds in the hearts of the people who consume the media content. We hope that Thai Christians will be able to use what we create to start conversations about Christ with their friends, families, and neighbors.
5. How do you explain your experience in MediaLight?
It’s Hard to give a short answer. We’ve seen God work in and through this ministry in miraculous ways. Not only did we learn more about missions, but also about being a family. Pastor Chuck and Sherry’s leadership is a big blessing, and we’ve been able to learn so much from serving with them.
6. Tell me about your language learning experience?
We’ve just finished studying full time after one year of classes five days a week, three hours a day. Thai is an extremely difficult language but by the grace of God we can both speak, read, and write. We don’t see ourselves as done learning yet though. We plan to continue studying parttime to keep improving. Even with studying so much already, it will most likely take many more years until we are comfortable with the language fully.
7. How far do you think language can be a barrier to doing missions in a foreign land?
I think it’s nearly impossible to connect with someone on a deep and meaningful level without speaking to them in their mother tongue. Of course, there are exceptions, but just the fact that you would take the effort to learn their language goes a long way in connecting with people.
8. Tell me about story tree?
Story Tree is the name of the ministry we are starting in Bangkok. The goal is to influence Thai culture in a couple different ways. One way is to influence the influencers in arts and entertainment. We hope to work with top creative talent here in Thailand. These are the people that are already influencing Thai culture on a daily basis as millions of eyes tune in to see them. By working with these people, we hope to build close relationships with them and be in a position to share the hope that there is in Jesus.
Another way we plan to influence Thailand is through the media content that we produce. We plan to work with Thai churches and Christians and give them the information needed to start discussions about the gospel with their friends. Going back to what we said earlier, we don’t see it stopping with the media. We hope the media is the beginning that starts the conversation and plants the seed.
9. Why Thailand? Why Bangkok?
For the type of ministry we are doing, Bangkok is the best place in Thailand. It is the center of the entertainment industries in Thailand and an influential city in all of SE Asia.
Thailand has had missionaries here for nearly 100 years, and still only about 1% of Thai people claim to know Christ. As a Thai Christian told us recently, “something’s not working”. Not to say that many great Christians haven’t been trying, and not to say that we can come here and single-handedly change that statistic, but we do believe that Thailand is in need of more people working for this mission. God loves Thailand, and He has so many lost children here that He wants to be returned to him. We have to help however we can.
10. What are your dreams next?
Apart from getting Story Tree off the ground, we hope to have kids soon and start a family here in Bangkok.
11. What are the challenges you face as missionaries in Thailand?
The challenges we face here seem to change from day to day. The language is an obvious daily struggle. Another thing is dealing with visas and immigration. This country is going through a lot politically, and the changes in government can mean daily changes in what it takes for a foreigner to live here. Financial struggles are something we face as well. Bangkok is much more expensive to live in than Chiang Rai was. On top of that, we really want to strive to make the highest quality media content, and that costs money to do.
We feel blessed that even though we have challenges, they are small compared to what God is capable of. While we have lived here, God has always come through for us and provided what we need when we need it. Every time.