Work Camps, Asia
The Work camps in Asia were an outgrowth of the Christian Youth Peace Seminars sponsored in Japan by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Peace Section. In the 1964 seminar, Japanese youth learned of the earlier Japanese atrocities perpetrated against Koreans. Several Mennonite youth sought a way to show repentance and effect reconciliation. August of 1959 saw 39 Japanese and Korean youth working on a farm-improvement program near Taegu, Korea, at a time, 20 years after wartime hostilities ceased, when Japanese and Korean Christians were not yet talking with each other and Korean students were rioting in Seoul’s streets against a proposed Japan-Korea peace treaty. One rough evening, after long pent-up feelings broke out, reconciliation on a deep level occurred. A 12-year series of MCC-sponsored Reconciliation Seminars conducted by Japanese and Korean church leaders also resulted from the 1965 work camp. Korean youth asked for another camp, which was held at Obirin University near Tokyo, Japan in 1966.
Taiwan Mennonite Church sent representatives who participated
in the third camp at a hospital in Taegu. Mennonite youth from India and Indonesia joined
the fourth camp, held at a mountain-farm project near Taipei. Hong Kong Mennonite
youth were represented at a fifth camp held in Sapporo, Japan, bringing together
for the first time in history representatives from all Asian Mennonite churches.
Church leaders as well as youth from seven Asian Mennonite churches joined the sixth work camp at Faith-Love Children’s home, Fanling, Hong Kong, expressly to prepare for the first Asia Mennonite Conference (AMC) at Dhamtari, India, in 1971.
Subsequent camps were held under AMC sponsorship in India, (1971); Vietnam (1972); Bangladesh (1974); Philippines (1977); Hong Kong (1982); and Korea, (1985). All-India Mennonite camps took place near Calcutta and Jadcherla in 1980 and 1987. All of these camps followed much the same format as other European and North American Work camps, with work projects during the day and Anabaptist-related seminars in the evening. -- CCB
III Asia Mennonite Conference Report Book (14-18 May 1986): 26.
Beck, Carl C. "God Reconciles." A Kingdom of Priests: The Church in the New Nations, ed. Wilbert R Shenk. Newton and Scottdale, 1967: 96-109.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 935-936. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Beck, Carl C. "Work Camps, Asia." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W6742.html.
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