1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
This is Younhee Deborah Kim from Seoul, South Korea. I'm a staff of A.C.T. International, a director of Arts in Mission Korea, a member of GEN, one of East Asia representatives of Lausanne arts, and now STP manager of Inspiro.
I've been interested in all kinds of arts since I was a kid. I am always drawn to music, movies, and all different art forms. My major in university was history education, but I studied fashion and graphic design after graduation. And I love photography.
My passion for arts and missions grew in the late 1990s, and I was also interested in African arts at the time. One day I thought, "What would it be like if different art forms were intentionally used on mission fields?” And I wondered, “What if Christians would do missions with arts in Africa where arts are so beautiful?” That was the start of my journey being an arts missionary.
It has taken a long time since then, but by God's grace, now I work as a director of Arts in Mission Korea, which is a mission organization that mobilizes and trains Korean Christian artists to use their artistic talents for God’s kingdom and cross-cultural missions. The majority of the work of AiM KR so far has been giving “Arts in Mission seminars” that emphasize why arts are important and introduces what Arts in Mission is.
Africa is the main field where I do missions. I've visited 9 African countries since 2009 including Ethiopia, Zambia, Benin, and Morocco. In the early days (2009-2012), art camps or short-term mission trips using art were conducted in the form of a "Bring it -Teach it" approach. After that, I attended the ABF (Arts for a Better Future) training two times, read books/articles related to Ethnodoxology, and learned how to lead seminars and songwriting workshops in the field. Since then, I have worked as an arts in mission practitioner & ethnodoxologist and try to utilize the "Find it - Encourage it" approach by encouraging local people to find and use their artistic talents to worship God.
2. How did you come to Inspiro?
After I committed myself as a full-time missionary, I was working alone because the concept of Arts in Mission and Ethnodoxology was totally new to Korean Christians, so there was no one to cooperate or collaborate with. I had joined a number of HSI (Heart Sounds International) projects, which happened in Tanzania, Egypt, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and France since 2014. Naturally, I got to know OM Arts and HSI (now Inspiro Arts Alliance) and agreed with their direction and way of working.
Last year (2020) was a year of earnestly praying to find a cooperative partner. At that time I joined an "East Asian artists prayer" meeting, which was initiated by an Inspiro staff member, and I have participated in the meeting once a month. One day I shared my prayer requests, and the staff member asked me to talk with him. After a long and great conversation, we found out that Inspiro and I could be good partners. This spring, several months after that, the process of the partnership began. And I officially became a staff of Inspiro Arts Alliance in July. I believe it's definitely God's answer to my prayer.
3. What is your new role, and what will it involve?
My role is Short Term Project (STP) Manager. The goal of this job is to ensure Inspiro’s Short-Term Projects encourage beautiful worship and witness among the least reached by implementing STPs within our network of partner ministries from vetting through follow-up and by equipping STP artists throughout all stages of the project.
4. What are you most excited about in your new role?
First, teamwork. I can do arts ministry with a team! As I mentioned earlier, I participated in and planned a lot of short-term missions, but usually I worked alone. I had no choice. But now I am grateful to be able to work with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences.
Second, learning and more experiences. South Korea and some of the European countries are the regions I've worked in, but the main field is Africa. I am familiar with African culture and history but not with other countries. Because of my role, I can now learn more about projects that have taken place in many countries and regions around the world. Learning and experiencing new things is always exciting, and I'm looking forward to it! This is important to me because I've thought of and prayed about moving my mission base to Europe (Spain).
5. If you could offer one piece of advice to an artist considering missions, what would it be?
I always emphasize the importance of intimacy with God and Bible study. Many people who want to do missions, even those who already do mission work, think that they need to prepare great skills to be a good missionary. Of course, it's a good thing. The pursuit of excellence is essential as an artist. However, that's not the core. It's all about the relationship between God and us. And the primary goal of God's calling is to let us know who HE is.
Isaiah 43:10-12 says, “'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord."
Studying the Bible is the key to know, believe, and understand the Lord our God. Not just reading but also studing deeply and meditating on the meaning seriously. We can know more about God whenever we study God's word and can get more inspiration from it. I believe this inspiration matters to artists.