Former Missionaries Reunite During Olympics Ministry

Tom Daniel and Clarke Skelton, along with their families, spent a combined 40 years as Southern Baptist missionaries serving in South Korea.

The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang gave them a chance for a reunion in the country they both love immensely.

Daniel, who is now retired and lives in Colorado, and Skelton, who is pastor of Valley Grande Baptist Church in Valley Grande, Ala., both returned to South Korea during the Olympics to work with a group of students from the Korean Baptist Student Union. There the former International Mission Board missionaries trained them to do evangelism and ministry in a large event setting.

“The most long-lasting benefit is the fact that the Korean Christians get trained in personal evangelism, and they’re emboldened by the fact that they have foreigners there to introduce them and be able to get the gospel presentation started,” Daniel said.

Skelton has a close emotional connection with Olympic ministry because he saw so many professions of faith during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

“We had an amazing amount of seeds that were planted, especially in closed countries,” Skelton said. “And our Korean brothers and sisters got behind it and saw what you could do. It was a bonding experience, not only for us as missionaries but for our Korean brothers and sisters. It was the beginning, really, I believe, of Koreans catching a vision for mission work around the world.”

Daniel and his wife Becky came to South Korea initially in 1979 and spent 25 years there as a missionaries. When Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics, Daniel served as the original chairman of the Korean Baptist Mission Olympic Preparation Committee.

For both Daniel and Skelton, the people of South Korea hold a special place in their hearts. Daniel said the most accurate Korean word to describe them would be translated “hot-hearted.”

“They can’t do anything halfway, which makes it very great when you’re doing evangelism,” Daniel said.

Skelton said, “The people are some of the most wonderful people that I’ve ever met in the world.”

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Source: Baptist Press