UNDERSTANDING BURNOUT RECOVERY AMONG NATIVE-BORN KOREAN MISSIONARIES

* This paper is a summary of the author’s PhD dissertation, which was also presented at the Evangelical Missiological Society in May 2014.

현대선교 17 (Current Mission Trends): “선교사 멤버케어”. 발행 : 2014년 11월 1일, 서울:GMF Press. 수록면 : 105-125.

Kyong Jin “Hannah” Cho
Kyong Jin “Hannah” Cho has served in Latin America and Tonga with Youth With a Mission Korea. She received an MA in Christian Education and a PhD in Intercultural Education from Biola University. She currently serves as Global Missionary Member-Care Specialist and Director of Public Relations with the Christian Marriage and Family Ministries (CMFM, www.cmfm.org).

INTRODUCTION

Many mission professionals and mission psychologists in the West, within the scope of their member-care efforts, have developed coping strategies to help Western missionaries in cross-cultural ministry better understand their target culture in order to reduce attrition resulting from burnout. Furthermore, burnout recovery among Western missionaries has been explored.

However, it is unknown whether the Western approaches are helpful to Korean missionaries. In the shame-based society of Korea, with its tendency to conceal failure and focus on success, it may be difficult to enable missionaries to be open to constructive ways of dealing with burnout. While common causes of burnout among Korean missionaries have been identified, no qualitative studies have been conducted on how burned out Korean missionaries recover from burnout.

This article first reviews the causes of burnout among native-born Korean missionaries, then discusses the symptoms of burnout, and finally reveals their approaches to burnout recovery.

Data Collection and Analysis

In order to discover the values and attitudes of a certain people group, in this case Native-born Korean Missionaries (NBKMs), and their strategies (or efforts) for recovery from burnout I collected data through participant-observation and interviews.

The sample was purposely selected from first generation Korean missionaries. These thirty-nine participants, individuals who were born and educated up to high school in Korea and were both ethnically and culturally “Korean,” had experienced the same phenomenon of burnout due to worldview, cultural values, and differences.

I began by questioning, not by suggesting a hypothesis. I then collected data and, through comparative analysis and theoretical sampling, constructed a theory. The grounded theory approach required constant comparative analysis, interviews, and theoretical sampling. Subsequently, I conducted oral interviews and observations to reach the theoretical saturation point of this study.

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