Some 900 gathered in Irvine, CA on Friday afternoon for the start of the Global Medical Missions Alliance (GMMA) Conference, which aims to encourage Christians to live missionally wherever they may be.
This is the sixth such biannual conference that has taken place, but the first that has taken place under the name of GMMA. GMMA was birthed out of a first generation Korean organization called Korean American Missions Health Council (KAMHC), and though KAMHC has hosted numerous conferences for Korean-speaking missionaries and professionals, this is the first that they have hosted primarily targeting English-speaking Korean American students and professionals. Organizers say that this year's conference is also not only geared towards those interested or involved in the medical field, but for anyone of any profession.
"My hope is that whoever comes here, they would ask, 'What does God want? What is God's heart for this world?' And that they would change their behaviors, their daily lives, and truly be transformed to live a missional life," shared Peter Chung, the president of GMMA.
"The medical profession is just the bellweather to bring others, and together, to form a village to transport the gospel all over the world," Chung further explained.
The conference was kicked off with a session featuring Michael Oh, the executive director of the Lausanne Movement. Oh encouraged the audience to remember that every Christian can live missionally and radically for Christ.
"You don't have to be a pastor and go to seminary to be a missionary -- there is no profession you can do here that you can't do somewhere else," Oh said. "Missions is simply doing what God has gifted you to do, in the place where the gospel is not yet well known."
The opening session also featured a testimony from Dr. Alex Philips, of New India Evangelical Association, and a time of prayer for the Southern Asian nations led by Michael Lee, the senior pastor of Young Nak Celebration Church.
The conference, themed "Arise and Shine" based on Isaiah 60:1, concludes on Saturday evening, and features five main plenary sessions and seven workshop sessions. Attendees can choose from over 50 different workshops on various topics highlighting specific regions, including Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as specific professions or skills, such as eye care, dental, nursing, video editing, and acupuncture, among others.