The coronavirus has changed much in our world—many things that seemed unlikely to change have already given up their seats to the so-called new normal. Our message content may be the same, but formats and platforms that convey the message are not the same anymore. If we also need to change the format of conveying the unchanging gospel message from God in this COVID-19 era, how should we go about doing that? How can we discern between what to change and what to keep?
Since the pandemic started, the importance of communication and leadership has increased. But what is the leadership style that this ever-changing world requires? I believe that it is communicative leadership. But how can a leader keep up with so many changes? It is not possible for one person to have enough knowledge or experience to cope with the various transitions. Leaders in this era need proper communication skills to find a way through this ocean of “uncertainty.” The Communication and Leadership Advancement Program (CLAP) of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) is an excellent and timely program that helps young leaders to become equipped as communicative church leaders.
The second session of CLAP’s sixth cohort was held at the NSD Leadership Training Center in Jeju from July 11 to 23rd, 2021. Out of 23 members, 14 members from Korea were able to attend at Jeju, while those from Taiwan, Japan, and Mongolia continued to participate via Zoom because of COVID-19 country restrictions. Since the first session last November 2020 was in the same format, the participants – including trainees, group-class teachers, conversation tutors, and staff – have gotten used to this unusual system. The reason why I call it “unusual” is because CLAP has been an “in-camp meeting” in several overseas sites for the last 12 years. As soon as COVID-19 hit the world, we needed to decide whether to stop this program or continue it in a different format. We chose the latter, and this was the second session with the new mixed format of online and on-site.
The daily schedule started with a morning worship service at 8:30 a.m. and finished with closing worship at 5:30 p.m. All members took turns presiding, leading in prayer and preaching. The worship service was not only a time to develop their English-speaking skills, but also a time to share their own stories. Online attendees used Zoom to share God’s message and their testimonies. Everyone experienced being united with our Father in heaven. Thanks to brother Im HyunWook, NSD Media Center Technician, the on-site and online groups were able to smoothly connect and participate in the full program.
English teachers and tutors were excellent. One teacher, Kellie Tompkins, joined on-site while the other teacher, Monica Gonzalez, taught from Texas, U.S., all by Zoom. Even though there was a 14-hour difference in time for Monica, her last class finished at 1:20 a.m., she said it worked out since her children were asleep at that time. There were 12 Filipino teachers who worked in one-on-one conversation classes and debate classes every day. Even though the tutors and the students have never met in person, they became close friends. The leadership classes were led by several lecturers: Jeon JaeSong, Director of 1000 Missionary Movement; Jung HyoSoo, President of West Asia Field of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; Byun SeongJun, NSD Communication Director; Kim SiYoung, NSD President. We met two of them online and the other two attended on-site. All the leadership classes focused on CLAP’S sixth cohort mission statement, “I Will Go: A Willing Response to God’s Calling.”
As I close, I want to express my special thanks to two individuals: Chelou Completado, CLAP Assistant; and Moon DaYeon, who was willing to come to Jeju to assist on-site for this session. Their dedicated and unwavering support in online and on-site settings made this session of CLAP 6B successful. I hope and believe that, by God’s grace, we will be able to have the finale of CLAP 6 with a face-to-face gathering. Thank you for your support in prayer.