Korean/Scottish Church Partnership Seeks to Transform Famous Missionary from Historical Figure to Contemporary Missiologist
Korean Christian pilgrims visiting Missionary John Ross sites in Scotland will receive free copies of a modern language translation of Ross’ book, Mission Methods in Manchuria, thanks to a partnership between Scottish churches and Voice of the Martyrs Korea. Ross, a 19th Century Scottish missionary to China, is regarded as a father of the Korean church and the leader of the first translation of books of the Bible into the Korean language.
“Each year hundreds of Korean Christians travel to Scotland to pay their respects to Missionary Ross,”
says Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley.
The Foleys visit the grave of Missionary John Ross in Edinburg, Scotland.
Pastor Foley takes a photo of Dr. Foley in front of the John Ross memorial plaque at Balintore, Scotland, the place of John Ross’ birth.
“Various Korean churches and Christians associations have set up special monuments and markers where he was born, where he pastored, and where he died.”
Ross was born in the small north Scotland town of Nigg. He was the minister of a church on Skye before being called to Northeast China in 1872 by the Scottish Union Presbyterian Mission. While serving as a pioneering missionary there, Ross was intrigued by the “hermit kingdom” of Korea, completely closed to foreigners but accessible to trade through the so-called “Corean Gate”. In the midst of vigorous daily engagement with skeptical, interested, and sometimes hostile Chinese residents, Ross also learned Korean from unsuccessful Korean traders. He evangelized these traders by enlisting their help in the creation of the first ever Korean translation of the New Testament, in 1887.
Pastor Foley preaches at Balintore Church, in the town of John Ross’ birth.
Pastor Foley’s reflection is shown in the plaque honoring Missionary John Ross at Mayfield Salisbury Church in Endinburgh, Scotland, where Ross served as an elder after his return from China mission.
Representative Foley says that despite the continued veneration of John Ross by the Korean church, very few Korean Christians actually know what Ross taught about missions and evangelism. “Missionary Ross is, unfortunately, only known by Korean Christians as an important and beloved figure of the past,” says Representative Foley.
Pastor Foley shares with Mayfield Salisbury Church Pastor Scott McKenna about how Missionary John Ross’ method is the only strategy still producing results inside of North Korea today. Ross served as an elder at Mayfield Salisbury Church in Edinburgh, Scotland following his return from China mission.
“But though he was a 19th Century Scotsman, he remains today’s most effective missionary to North Korea. He built no hospitals or schools. He set up no churches. His method was simply to present Christ clothed in the vernacular language of the people. It is a much more sophisticated and intentional method than Korean Christians realize, and it is just as powerful today as it was when Ross first began it. It was for this reason that we went to Scotland and established this new partnership, to rescue John Ross from the past by putting his mission strategy book in the hands of today’s Korean Christians.”
Representative Foley and her husband, Voice of the Martyrs Korea CEO Pastor Eric Foley, traveled to Scotland to meet with the pastors of Balintore Church (in the town where Ross was born), Portree Church (the place where Ross pastored and from which he was sent to China), and Mayfield Church (were Ross served as an elder after he returned). Each pastor expressed a strong interest in distributing the new translation of Ross’ book for free to visiting Korean pilgrims. The distribution will begin in 2020.
“These John Ross-related churches filled up to hear Pastor Foley preach,” said Representative Foley.
“They only knew of John Ross as an historical figure. They were amazed to hear about his continuing relevance to missions today, especially inside North Korea. Once they learned about this, they wanted to be involved in helping Korean Christians to learn about it as well. They wanted to greet Korean Christian pilgrims by saying, ‘Yes, Missionary John Ross was your church father and a great man, but have you actually read what he wrote? Here is a free copy of his book, in your own language and vernacular. Perhaps you can carry on his method in Korea today.’”
Pastor Foley preaches about the relevance of John Ross’ missionary strategy for North Korean today at Portree Parish on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. This was the church at which Ross preached and was commissioned as a missionary and sent to China.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s new contemporary Korean language translation of John Ross’ book, Missionary Methods in Manchuria.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea recently published the first Korean modern language edition of Missionary Ross’ Mission Methods in Manchuria. It can be purchased for 10,000 KRW through VOM Korea’s online bookstore at https://vomkorea.com/shop, or by calling VOM Korea at 02-2065-0703.