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Evangelizing White Americans: Sacrifice, Race, and a Korean Mission Movement in America

Rebecca Kim
Published Online: 2016-07-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0052


This paper examines the phenomena of non-western missionaries evangelizing in the West through a case study of a Korean mission movement in the United States. It discusses how Korean missionaries of color were able to evangelize white Americans in the late 1970s and have had some success in crossracial evangelism. It argues that Korean missionaries practiced a theology of sacrifice to evangelize white Americans. They practically embraced suffering, self-denial, and service and specialized in sacrifice to evangelize Americans. An important part of this theology, however, included uplifting and privileging white converts. Given their long history with white-American missionaries and American imperialism, Korean evangelicals were privy to a white-dominant racial hierarchy in American society. This affected those whom the missionaries in my study viewed to be the “real Americans” and the “ideal native” converts in America. It also shaped how they sought to evangelize and draw the white population into their congregations.

Keywords: Korean missionaries; South Korea; Global Christianity; World Christianity; reverse missions


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About the article

Received: 2016-01-20

Accepted: 2016-03-14

Published Online: 2016-07-11

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0052.

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©2016 Rebecca Kim. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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