From May 27 to June 6 this summer, 180 summer missionaries from all over the world gathered in Korea to celebrate the 30th Anniversary Summer Mission Trip (SMT) of Antioch Baptist Church (formerly Berkland Baptist Church), which originally began with 29 college students back in 1987, led by Rebekah Kim, a college minister who is currently serving as a Southern Baptist Chaplain of Harvard University, and wife of Pastor Paul Kim, Pastor Emeritus of Antioch. 

30 years ago, when Chaplain Rebekah led the very first summer mission team to Japan and Korea, little did they know that history was being made—and that God would use that first foray to plant the seed for world missions in the hearts of many. It all began when Pastor Paul and Chaplain Rebekah founded Berkland Baptist Church in 1981, near the UC Berkeley campus with a vision to win college students to Christ. In 1987, through the challenge of veteran Japan missionary Yoonsoon Cha, Chaplain Rebekah answered God’s call to start world missions by leading the first summer team of college students to Japan and Korea—even despite the fact that she had just given birth to a baby boy less than three months before. God honored her sacrifice and obedience, and for the next 30 years, He led Antioch Baptist Church and its many sister churches to hold Summer Mission Trips every year, expanding to the “ends of the earth”, including China, Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, East Timor, Myanmar, the Republic of Georgia, Turkey, Alaska, and most recently, Armenia.

To mark the 30th Anniversary SMT, the 180 summer missionaries from Antioch Baptist Church (based in Cambridge, Massachusetts) and its 12 sister churches worldwide gathered in Korea for 11 days. Remarkably, by the providence of God, May 27, the day when all the SMT members arrived at Incheon International Airport, turned out to be the very day that Pastor Paul had left Kimpo Airport 50 years before, to immigrate to the U.S. as a 19 year-old, non-Christian young man. Looking back on the past 50 years of God’s leading in Pastor Paul’s life, all the missionaries could only be amazed by the sovereignty and faithfulness of God.   

Another meaningful aspect of this year’s historic SMT was the presence of 3 remnant members from the very first, 1987 team. All 3 of them remained dedicated to following in the footsteps of their leaders, and are now serving as pastoral staff of Antioch’s sister churches: Soomi Suh, Pastor Sam Kang and his wife Christine. A special reminder of the historic roots of this year’s 30th Anniversary SMT was the presence of Philip, the baby boy that Chaplain Rebekah had to leave behind in his grandmother’s care less than 3 months after he was born, in order to lead the first group of summer missionaries. That baby boy is now 30 years-old!

This year’s Anniversary SMT was composed of a number of key events and unforgettable memory-making moments. The first few days were spent doing evangelism and outreach on college campuses throughout Seoul and Daegu. Teaming up with ABSK (Asian Baptist Student Koinonia), a Christian campus group that was started at Harvard University in 1991 by Chaplain Rebekah, the SMT members launched 12 ABSK Forums on 7 university campuses with the theme, “What Do You Value Most?” Conducting prayer walks throughout the campuses of Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei, Sogang, Foreign Language University, Soongsil, and Kyungpook University, the SMT members invited students to come to the special event “ABSK Forum”, featuring special music, entertaining skits, and guest speakers such as Chaplain Rebekah Kim from Harvard, and her disciples who are also serving as Southern Baptist Chaplains: MIT Chaplain David Um and Chaplain Dan Cho, also at Harvard. To draw a broader crowd of students, the line-up of speakers also included John Kim, the primary designer of the Amazon Kindle, and Christopher Liu, inventor of Google’s PhotoScan app.

All the speakers joined forces to powerfully share their testimonies of how God redeemed their lives from the empty and meaningless things of the world, no matter how successful they were. They spoke of the vanity of pride, and the wrong values of “L.E.A.F.”: Lust, Education, Appearance, Finance, to measure the worth of a person. The three chaplains powerfully made the point that since we were created in God’s image, we can discover the true meaning of life only when we meet God personally, repent of our sinfulness, and follow Him in obedience. At the end of each Forum, the SMT members had a chance to get to know the new students in smaller breakout sessions. A total of 222 Korean college students attended the 12 ABSK Forums, and many expressed interest in future ABSK events – an amazing work of God given the difficulties that campus ministries are currently facing in Korea.

The mission team also had a chance to visit Pastor John An and the New Light Blind Church in Yongin, a church that has a special place in the 30-year history of Antioch’s SMT. Without missing a single year, the SMT has been visiting New Light for the past 30 years, supporting the church and the precious brothers and sisters there. “They are true soldiers of faith,” Chaplain Rebekah declared. “Because they are blind, they can see the invisible God better. We who are ‘blessed’ with sight can only repent because we live such sinful lives, dazzled by the world.” In tears, Pastor An expressed gratitude for the 30-year relationship shared between New Light and Antioch. To mark the 30th Anniversary SMT visit, a special love offering of $30,000 was presented to the New Light Church, by Antioch and her sister churches.

Many consider the highlight of this year’s 30th Anniversary SMT to be the Dedication Service of the Katie Prayer and Mission House (KPM House) and the Inaugural Worship of Providence Baptist Church in Goesan, Korea. Inspired by the life and death of Katie Kim, a pastor’s wife and long-time disciple of Chaplain Rebekah, KPM House is a building dedicated solely to prayer and missions. It testifies of sister Katie’s courageous 6-month battle with cancer, her miraculous testimony of unwavering faith, her determination to become a missionary, and her call for God’s people “to fight”. Although the Lord took her home on January 2, 2016, her legacy lives on through KPM House and Providence Baptist Church. Many tears were shed by SMT members overwhelmed by God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, as the congregation was reminded of John 12:24, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” In memory of sister Katie’s last wish to be a missionary, the SMT members rededicated to live a life on mission for God, and to unceasing prayer.

30 years of Antioch’s Summer Missions truly testifies to God’s faithfulness, mercy, and sovereignty. While God has done many great things through the SMT’s of the past 30 years, perhaps the most valuable fruit that resulted is the vision for missions that was kindled in young people’s hearts, producing many pastors, long-term missionaries, and new mission churches throughout the world. Currently, more than 100 long-term missionaries and their families from Antioch and her sister churches, are actively serving the Lord overseas.

One of the themes of this year’s Anniversary SMT was, “History makes you humble.” Indeed, 30 years of SMT history compels one to consider all those who went before us, whose sacrificial lives became the foundation stones upon which our lives were added and forged together with, to become His Church. All glory be to God! Soli Deo Gloria!

This article was written by Dr. Andy Pak, pastor and missionary at Galilee Baptist Church in Seoul, Korea; translated by Rev. Peter Lee, pastor of Worthy Life in Baltimore, MD; and edited by Angela Um, of Antioch Baptist Church.