In 1971, one family left all of their comfort, all of their family, all of their “normal” to serve as missionaries.
Dr. Mary Chung – who now serves as a professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas – was impacted by this one family who left everything to serve as missionaries. This American missionary family – the Carver’s – went to serve in South Korea from 1971-1987. “They left everything and came to serve and share the Good News,” Chung said.
“While Mr. Carver was in South Korea, he shared the Gospel with my mom and dad, and they received that Good News. Each of them shared that Good News with everyone in their family. My mom and dad ended up getting married, and my dad became a pastor. He had a really loving church and the Carver’s were very present in our lives. My dad worked with Mr. Carver a lot, and he was like a spiritual father figure for him. The Carvers left Korea in 1987,” Chung shared. The Carvers had such an influence on their lives, that Dr. Mary Chung was even named after Mrs. Mary Carver.
The time that the Carver family spent in Korea was extremely impactful. Not only did Chung’s father become a very faithful pastor, he also wanted to become a missionary. Unfortunately, that never happened as Chung’s father passed away when she was a child, but later her mother became a missionary to the Dominican Republic.
“She took us three little girls and moved to the Dominican Republic to begin her ministry… In over twenty years, she planted four different churches in the Dominican Republic, and assisted with one in Haiti. Her work begins by getting to know local women and their children from underprivileged communities. She fundraises, builds a church, recruits a pastor and sponsors him through seminary and pastoral training. She then moves somewhere else and does this all again,” Chung shared about her mother.
Last week, Chung was sent a picture of the people her mom has served. They were preparing Christmas bags to distribute to various people who are struggling. Chung said, “Donations not only have helped to maintain these churches and provide food to those in need throughout the year, but were used to pay for the education of several young students. My mom has been self-sustained from the beginning, but God’s faithfulness has provided. It’s amazing to see how many people have been impacted by her ministry.”
However, according to Chung, the most important story is that Mr. Carver not only impacted the lives of Koreans in his circle, but that little seed that his family planted grew. One seed led to even more, and it didn’t stop with Chung’s mom. “Two of my mom’s older sisters became missionaries as well. They have served in Kenya and Guam. Because of this missionary family that left everything and went to a distant, foreign country, because of their willingness to serve, because of their passion for Christ, because of them choosing to help people in need, many people in Korea, Guam, Kenya, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have come to know Christ,” Chung shared.
Although Chung is not serving as a vocational missionary, she is passionate about helping people and shaping the future of young lives. One of her former students, Sean Carney, is currently studying at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri to prepare for pastoral ministry. She shared that she has been honored to be a part of Carney’s life and to watch God grow him during his time at Ouachita. “I might not be a missionary, but I am a fruit of the seed that Mr. Carver planted in 1971. His family had such a broader impact than we can even imagine. A lot of times we think of the impact of foreign missions in the one area where the missionary goes, but God’s work sees no barriers,” Chung said.
Each year, especially during this time, Chung is invited to share her powerful story at local churches. With the IMB’s Lottie Moon offering taking place right now, she commented that, “People often think that the only way we can support our missionaries is through financial gifts. While the contributions are important, even if small, our prayer can be impactful and reach beyond what we can comprehend. I want people to know that missionaries need not only financial support, but a lot of prayer and encouragement. Being away from family is not an easy thing to do. We all have experienced how difficult being away/socially distancing from family is, but missionaries have been doing this for decades, in addition to overcoming cultural and language barriers.”
Because of this one family that was willing to go, many people heard the Good News of Christ. This year, please consider giving and praying for missionary families and for those impacted by the seemingly small seeds that they plant. Although we don’t always see the fruit of these seeds, God is actively moving and using missionary families to further His Kingdom.