Original Research

A missiological exploration of Australian missionary James Noble Mackenzie’s ministry to lepers in South Korea

Sang Pil Son
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1759 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1759 | © 2017 Sang Pil Son | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 April 2017 | Published: 14 November 2017

About the author(s)

Sang Pil Son, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The history of Australian Presbyterian Mission in Korea (APM) is not comprehensive, nor the study of missiology that addresses the marginalised. This study of the ministry of APM missionary, J.N. Mackenzie, to lepers in Japanese-occupied Korea, adds significantly to both these areas. An understanding of the role and methods of Mackenzie’s missionary activities among the marginalised in Korea can encourage today’s Church to effectively restore the marginalised in society, moving from Church doctrine to practical reproduction of the example of Jesus recorded in Mark’s gospel. Using original and published sources, the study examines the social conditions in which Mackenzie found Korean lepers, their historic treatment and government policies and the growth of his holistic mission, with its methods and fruits. Mackenzie’s work is documented with recorded data included to demonstrate its Christ-like effectiveness both spiritually and physically. By tracing Mackenzie’s work with lepers, it is clear that holistic mission can helpfully impact the situation of the most marginalised. Mackenzie’s work expanded dramatically, churches were formed and it even created cured evangelists, making it a useful model for mission work among the marginalised. Mackenzie’s work played a significant part in the Church and National history of Korea and presented a new path in the mission work of APM. It has the potential to influence modern mission in being ‘as Christ’ to the marginalised and thus to impact the society. This study has given a unique perspective on the history and theology of mission to the poor and traditionally powerless in society.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Traditional views of history, theology and missiology have focussed on the ruling classes and urban societies. A perspective of the marginalised encourages a shift in these as it can be seen that the rural poor responded to holistic ministry and affected history and society. Such insights can give direction now.


J. N. Mackenzie; Australian missionary; Lepers; South Korea; Busan; The South Kyeongsang province


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