The ‘Korean Jesus’ who loved Mongolian nomads

Father Stephen Kim Seonghyeon’s life was a testament to selfless dedication and unwavering faith.

Jun 07, 2024

Fr Stephen Kim Seong-hyeon is seen with a girl in front of his ‘ger’ (traditional Mongolian tent) in this file image. (UCA News Photo/Daejeon Diocese)

By Min Kyung-hwa
Father Stephen Kim Seonghyeon’s life was a testament to selfless dedication and unwavering faith. The South Korean missionary priest spent 22 years in Mongolia before his untimely death on May 26 at the age of 55.

Kim worked in various parishes and mission stations near Ulaanbaatar for about 16 years.

He spent the rest of his years in Erdensant in Tov province, one of the country's 21 provinces. Through his actions, he embodied the teachings of Jesus, bringing comfort, support, and love to the people of Erdensant.

His commitment to living among the villagers, sharing their struggles and joys, resonated deeply with those he served. Kim’s decision to eschew a comfortable life for the challenges of missionary work in Mongolia exemplifies his profound sense of calling and his readiness to respond to the needs of the time.

By choosing to live in poverty alongside the people he ministered to, he demonstrated a powerful commitment to his faith and mission. His influence extended beyond spiritual guidance; he also recognised the importance of education and empowerment for the community’s future. By teaching Korean and encouraging education, he sought to uplift the villagers and contribute to the nation’s development.

The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, shaped like a Mongolian ger, stands not only as a symbol of Kim’s dedication but also as a beacon of hope and refuge for the weary and downtrodden. His generosity and compassion knew no bounds, as evidenced by his care for orphaned children and the destitute who sought solace at the church’s door.

Fr Kim’s passing left a void in the hearts of many, yet his legacy endures through the lives he touched and the values he imparted. His vision of a compassionate and inclusive society, grounded in faith and service, continues to inspire and guide those who follow in his footsteps.

As Erdensant awakens to another spring, may the memory of Fr Kim Seong-hyeon serve as a reminder of the enduring power of love, faith, and selflessness in transforming lives and communities. --

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