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Bring me a fiancé

   
 


KAC staffers Jae Young and Hee Joung long for Christian husbands. Photo by Hee Joung.

   

January 6, 2012
-Erwin Wiens

Chun Cheon, SOUTH KOREA — As we said farewell to Korea Anabaptist Center (KAC) staff before leaving for brief vacation in Canada last June, I asked Hee Joung what we could bring her from Canada when we returned in August.

 “Bring me a fiancé,” she responded. “He doesn’t have to be rich or handsome as long as he is a Christian and is kind and generous!”

We have endless requests from young adults longing to find marriage partners. We even met a mother on the subway who found out we were volunteers in a church-related organization. “You are holy people!” she exclaimed. “Please, please pray that my two daughters will find Christian husbands.”

Both daughters are highly successful professionals but they do not have husbands so the mother agonizes while the daughters wait.

An aging pastor, on introducing his 39 year old daughter, invited prayers that she would find a husband.

Seung Seo Kim (pseudonym) has been "in love" with a young woman for some time. He's already 35 and the woman he loves is 30. He desperately wants to marry her and she is willing but her mother will not allow the wedding because he works at Korea Anabaptist Press and as a part time youth pastor on weekends. According to the mother, he will never earn enough money nor have enough status for her daughter. And in Korea "decent" young people honour their parents’ wishes even if it means giving up their own.

Education, traditional culture, housing, and divorce rates all play into the equation.

A Bachelor of Arts is no longer adequate for meaningful employment, so more and more young people are delaying marriage to pursue MA or PhD degrees.

Traditional Korean culture relies on introductions by a trusted relative or senior. However with increasing mobility, reliable “introducers” are no longer close to young adults.

Housing in Korea is extremely expensive – especially in Seoul – and even rental fees are out of reach for most young couples. Unless parents are able to help financially, young people simply cannot afford housing.

The divorce rate in Korea has soared phenomenally over the past decade and is supposedly the highest in the world. Young people are increasingly cautious about the value of marriage.

Our daily ministry now includes prayers for marriage partners for the young adults we love.

Erwin and Marian Wiens are Mennonite Church Canada Resource Workers in South Korea, where they train church leaders and strengthen ties between the Korea Anabaptist Center and churches in the Anabaptist network.