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Yucatan Penisula, Mexico
THE RURAL VILLAGES
The rural villages of Yucatan were small. The generally large families lived in a one room concrete house or a one room traditional Maya hut and shared a neighborhood bathroom. Everything in those villages was done traditionally, the food was cooked fresh on wood fires and the clothes were hand washed and hung on clothing lines. Technology seemed to be completely absent from those villages, even cars were very seldom, as adults and children traveled mostly on bikes. Evidences of the economical hardship were everywhere, in the torn down clothing of the children, the absence of toys, and the lack of any institution dispensing post-elementary education in reach of the villagers. We realized immediately that the only opportunities available to the residents and their children were in the agricultural life of their villages.
The villagers were very friendly. As we spoke to them and invited them to Tae Kwon Do demonstrations and the church services following the demonstrations, they always responded with a smile and great interest. The villagers welcomed us into their houses and the women of the villages cooked traditional meals by hand for us. Those people with so little shared so much with us.
In each village we demonstrated Tae Kwon Do for the residents. Grand Master Shin spoke of Tae Kwon Do as a tool to teach love, humility, and reverence. After every demonstration the children and adults were hungry to hear more. They would gladly follow us into the local church to hear Grand Master Shin speak of God’s love and the message of Christ. Every time minds grew and hearts opened and we knew that we were witnessing God’s miracles. We were now Apostles of Christ.
THE SCHOOLS OF THE YUCATAN
The World Christian Tae Kwon Do Mission brought the word of God to the urban and rural schools of the Yucatan.
The schools were colorful and full of life. In all cases without luxury or air conditioning. The cafeteria which we saw at one of the schools consisted of two small trucks serving food outside. The library in which we waited to escape from the sun held at the most 100 books. Yet, unspoiled dreams and the promise of a brilliant future for all filled the air.
The students all in uniforms wearing green pants and white polo shirts were well groomed and generally smiling. They were courteous and they showed great interest in the Tae Kwon Do demonstrations that we performed. As over one thousand of them gathered and formed a square to watch our Martial Art, we were amazed by their maturity and their enthusiasm.
The Mexican Tae Kwon Do practitioners were spirited and energizing. They loved Christ and Tae Kwon Do, and it showed. Their enthusiasm contaminated all of us. We realized quickly that in all our privilege, learning from the best and in the best settings, we had become spoiled. Practicing in the heat, on the concrete slabs of the schools of Yucatan we became unspoiled martial artists and unspoiled christians. We experienced the freedom of spiritual life and the freedom of Martial Arts, without the boundaries of materialism.
Belize, Central America
In 2012, a new mission to Belize was established. A group of World Christian Tae Kwon Do missionaries traveled through Belize, and for the first time they took the message of Christ to elementary schools and middle schools. Through Tae Kwon Do the missionaries shared the word of God and children's minds where opened everywhere.
Instituto Nacional de Tae Kwon Do Tradicional - Monterrey, Mexico
The first time that Grand Master Shin invited me on the “Mission Trip” to Leona Vicario (July 2006) I was really happy to be able to spend time with him, since I had spent years wanting to contact him, looking for his help with Tae Kwon Do. In reality, I didn’t know what this trip was about, neither did I know how I could help on the trip. In fact, I didn’t know anything about what a “mission trip” was—I was just looking for advice on Tae Kwon Do. To my surprise, I found much more than just technical advice. One or two years before that trip, I wrote to Grand Master Shin asking for his advice on black belt exams. He told me that I shouldn’t rush to sell black belt exams; I should give them [the students] time to be how I hoped they would be and that I should remember that “THE BLACK BELT IS NOT JUST PART OF ONE’S PHYSICIAL APPEARANCE—IT’S MUCH MORE THAN THAT.” Thanks to this new experience, I understood what he really wanted to tell me. During that first mission trip, I was able to see the spiritual side of Tae Kwon Do through Grand Master Shin, Guy Ogburn, and all of Master Shin’s other students.
For many years I felt a huge emptiness inside of me. I wasn’t satisfied with my work as an instructor, or with my personal life. I tried a few things, looking for an escape or personal fulfillment, but the only thing I managed to do was lower my self-esteem and my self-confidence. This made me have serious problems in my personal relationships and problems in school and with my students. For a while, I lost my way—I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. Many things that were important to me stopped making sense, and this made me feel very confused. On more than one occasion, I cried inconsolably in the arms of my girlfriend because of all the confusion. I lost my way, and the only thing I could do afterwards was to stick to an idea, feeling like I was walking without a path, hoping to get on the right path.
The most important things that I have learned on the mission trips have not been forms or blocks or kicks that I could learn, but instead, being able to understand what Tae Kwon Do really is and how I can use it to help myself and others. I understood that I can help others be better students and better citizens by helping them, not to be good fighters, but teaching them to work hard for the people they love, to reach their own goals and develop self-confidence, and in the end, to be better people. After that first trip, things have really been changing for the better for me. Two months after the trip, I was able to marry my girlfriend, we bought a house, and we had a daughter. We’ve had some problems that we’ve known how to get over. I have changed the way I teach at my school, and the environment there is much better—students try harder than before, and they have gained a better understanding of the meaning of Tae Kwon Do. I am very grateful to Grand Master Shin for giving me the opportunity to participate in this mission that has been so important for me, and for showing me this side of Tae Kwon Do that I knew existed but that I had not been able to find until now.
Now that Grand Master Shin personally organizes these new missions, I feel a greater commitment to continue improving in my personal life and to be a better instructor at my school, since I believe that that would be the best way that I could help others. Now that I see how this mission has helped me grow as a person, I also want to help others so that they can improve their own lives.
I am very grateful, not only that you have allowed me to participate in this mission, but also that you brought it into my life.
Master Chin Sonu’s vision extended far beyond his Tae Kwon Do Center in Mountain View, California. So, trusting in God’s calling and using his Word as a powerful manual, he sought to build a Tae Kwon Do christian mission. Shortly, God provided the ways and the means when Master Sonu was contacted by a Korean christian minister based in Hebron, Palestine. Recognizing the needs of the Palestinian people and the opportunity to bring hope through Tae Kwon Do, Master Sonu with the support of others established a Tae Kwon Do school in Hebron and started to train martial artists to offer community leadership. Following in the footsteps of the apostles, he became a light for others. His example of Christ’s love quickly convinced many to follow. In California as in Hebron, Master Sonu’s school has been growing beyond expectations creating an immediate need for a second location. When asked what he attributed to the success of his school, he replied: “Following God’s Word with a strong faith benefit someone concretely.” Asked if he ever doubted as he faced the challenges of opening a school and building a christian mission. He answered convincingly: “No. Never." He explained that even when others doubted the possibilities, all he needed to do was rely on God’s Word, that if someone was honest and willing to follow God’s Word, it was there for them.
San Francisco, CA
TaeKwon Kids - Mountain View, CA
Master Chin Sonu joined the World Christian Tae Kwon Do Mission in 2013. For 10 years he attended evening Tae Kwon Do classes. Through practice, he grew in knowledge and physical abilities. As most martial artists chase recognition or medals, Master Sonu’s mental and spiritual development led him to aspire to build something greater and beyond himself. So following his vision, four years ago, Master Sonu opened TaeKwon Kids, a Tae Kwon Do center located in California’s Bay area. Not just a school, from its beginning TaeKwon Kids has also sponsored children in need, around the world, and has actively helped San Francisco’s community through various programs benefiting low income families. Through his example Master Sonu has helped spread the christian faith in Northern California.
Shin's Martial Arts - Waco, TX
My story is one of the ways that God can truly act in your life if you ask Him to. For many years of my life, I was lonely and empty, not really sure of what would fill up the void in my life. I drive the roads of Texas every day in my job, so I have a lot of time to reflect on my life. I was filling my life with activities, but still felt emptiness. I wanted to find someone that I would want to share my life with. I found myself on the Internet, looking for a woman that could meet the standards that might help me find fulfillment. That is how I met my fiancée Linda. She turned out to be exactly what God had in mind for me and has become my spiritual partner, the one who has helped my life achieve new direction. One day, I was driving and thinking. My focus was on telling God how thankful I felt for finding her and asking Him what it was that He wanted me to do next. I was amazed that evening when the answer came. I received a phone call from Grand Master Shin asking me if I would like to go on a mission trip to Mexico. It was a great opportunity to respond to God’s calling in my life. But, it was also on Linda’s birthday. Once again, God came through for me. When I told her of the mission trip she said, “Go.” As a woman of faith, Linda knew that God’s work must come before our own needs, and she totally understood what I needed to do. As a school teacher, Linda already knew of my love for children and she also knew that, by going on this mission, I would be able to share God’s love to many needy children. This mission would be good for our spiritual lives together, as well.
I thank God for all the blessings He bestows on us and feel compelled to pass this blessing on to others.
Many people questioned my decision to go to Mexico, with all the gang and drug wars, swine flu, and using my vacation days for the mission trip. They also put me down about going on my fiancée Linda’s birthday, not realizing that she understood. But, I knew what I had to do. I arrived in Mexico with Gary ahead of Master Shin, in a strange airport, and not knowing where we were staying for the next six days. I put my faith in God for guidance. Master Shin arrived and then Pastor Kim, the driver, arrived. On our way to the mission house we saw areas of poverty that I haven’t seen before. This was a sign to me that God had sent me for a very good reason. These people had needs far beyond my previous understanding.
Pastor Kim, his wife, and Pastor Park were vigilant about making our trip safe and keeping us healthy. Listening to the stories Pastor Kim and Pastor Park shared about their lives for Christ in the Yucatan was deeply moved me and helped me understand how God had worked in their lives.
Visiting the people in the small towns and seeing how happy they were, even though they were poor, made me realize the unimportance of material things. The kids were all smiles, having a good time without Game Boys, video games, cell phones, or text messaging. It made me think of my younger years and simpler times.
Now, with my wedding to Linda only a few weeks away on October 24, I can see how this mission trip changed the way I look at the world. Marrying late in my life, I guess I have more appreciation for the true blessings that God has given me. I thank God for all the blessings He bestows on us and feel compelled to pass this blessing on to others. This mission to Mexico has increased my faith and the faith of those around me, and I am sure that when you get a chance to do this type of mission work, your life will be enriched beyond expectations.
Williamson County, TN
In 2012, the World Christian Tae Kwon Do Mission joined a local non-profit organization to distribute food, blankets, shoes, and Christmas presents to those in need. In Williamson County, Tennessee, our missionaries witnessed the hopelessness and poverty of those with the least as they spread joy and the word of God.