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My last month

My 7 months in Central Asia is slowly coming to an end.  When I boarded the plane from HNL, I did not know what to expect.  It was what many teenage hooligans call a “yolo” moment.  I was leaving my home, my family, and my comfort.  I did not shed any tears on the day I left.   It probably due to the cage of butterflies unleashed in my stomach.  I was so nervous but eager to see what God had in store for me.  Words like Kazakhstan, Kygreszstan, and even the word Missions were never in my vocabulary a couple years back.  But here I am with a little over a month left, the butterflies now fully transformed into crows (I picked a GOT reference) and the tears being prepared as I ready myself to leave.  

Above all of the emotions I stated above, one emotion stands out above the rest.  

Fear.

Its funny how the fear was not present when I was about to embark on this journey with Christ.  One would think that heading into an unknown mission field would be the appropriate time to feel fear, not the moment before returning home.  But as a reflect on my journey and the stretch that God pulled into my life, I cannot help but fear.  I fear my return into my home, my family, my comfort.  I fear that the things I have learned here in CA will all be undone by the 12th time I give my testimony about it.  I fear that the sacrifice needed to follow Jesus here will be forgotten.  

One thing that cannot be duplicated in the comfort of your home is the discomfort that comes with serving Christ in an uncomfortable place.  That very essence you feel creates a special bond that makes your soul truly rely on God’s power and wisdom.  When following God truly means sacrifice, you uncover something about God that people who embrace comfort cannot understand.  

When Ruth left her home decided to follow her husband her mother in law, it took a lot of courage.  When she lost her husband and son to death and decided to stay with her mother in law, that took sacrifice.  

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”  

She plunged her life into the depths of discomfort and self-sacrifice.  Going back home with her sister Orpah would have been the choice most of us would have taken.  She could have started a new life, gotten remarried, had more kids, but she chose to stay.  She made the hard decisions and in result displayed a showing of love that we still read about today.  

Sacrifice is Love.  There is no other way around it.  Jesus sacrificed everything.  Paul gave up his life to follow.  John the Baptist doesn’t even know what the word comfort means.  All of these noble men knew the price of following God and the love that followed it.  

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

 

That is why I am afraid.  I am afraid that the sacrifice that was needed to serve here will be gone when I return home.  In a way, I had no choice but to sacrifice important things in my life to come here.  But I want that same mindset as I return to the states.  No longer do I want to long after the comfort of my flesh.  I want to go after the love of Chris.  I reach that point, I need to let go of a lot of things, as do we all.  

 

Sacrifice is Love

 

So say we all,

 

Dae

 

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The Church is my Mother

291_519891276622_1344_n 31208_430526530271_7795588_n 166827_1623988193773_7810165_n 171260_497988199820_7028189_o 241322_130702440340398_1934206_o 385774_3026826948959_864595745_n 600358_648619248516761_223802053_n 665166_10151128787619821_1001838712_o 1274559_10152145679434338_357438630_o 1398336_204214506425143_67320906_o 1477600_10151945028793143_1782250674_n 1545612_10200276763160822_2099565226_n              My Christian background consists of very unusual circumstances.  I started off my walk with Christ being the only believer in my family.   I accepted Jesus in the 10th grade and have never looked back.  The church that I call home is a middle sized Korean United Methodist Church.  Being a 2nd generation Korean, I attended the English ministry and connected with the other 2nd and 3rd generation Korean youth members of my church.  I have been going to AKUMC for my whole Christian life and consider that church my family.  However, my parents, along with the rest of my blood family, did not have the same revelation I have had at that time.  In fact, my parents were pretty adamant of me not going to church and for the first couple of years restricted me from attending any services.  I like to call this first chapter of my walk the “lonliness period”.

A couple of years later my parents accepted Jesus Christ through the power of prayer and the will and goodness of God.  I thank God everyday for creating a home surrounded by the love of Christ.  My family was now attending church regularly, but not in the way you would expect.   My first initial assumption was that my parents would attend the same Korean Methodist church I was attending.  That was not the case.  My Mother started and still attends a Korean Baptist church and my Father is still a member of his Korean Presbrytarian church.  After being saved, my father fell in love with the word and different theologins including John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon.  He fell so much in love that he ended up getting a degree from a Presbytarian Seminary last summer.  I continue to thank God everyday for my parents and what He has done in their lives, but there Is no question that our conversations during dinner has become very interesting to say the least.  I call this chapter of my life; theology overload

The next chapters of my life is the part of the tale that I am going through now.  Finding out who Jesus is and what His goals were on earth is something I am tackling with God as we speak.  Those who know me well know that I have fair share of problems with the church.  Especially the Korean American church.  There were points where I wanted to throw away the idea of church altogether.  Years ago I even went as far as trying to start a movement that ended all denominations.  Though I do not think that the problems are technically getting solved, I do feel a new perspective has been born into my mind.

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I believe with all my heart that the church is the bride of Christ.  While the church has many problems, I am against what many of my fellow generation believes to be the solution to it.  While most want to abandon it as a whole, I believe that church is a home for many.  I will serve faithfully in restoring the beauty and the foundation the church was meant to portray.   In my own walk with Christ, I got hurt numerous times and continue to get hurt in different ways.  But the church is my mother, and it gave birth to me.  God is the head of everything and the church helped birth my new life with Jesus.  The church still continues to do that every day and that is exactly who Jesus is coming back for.  His bride and the body of Christ.

More specifically, my heart is leaning towards two areas in the kingdom of God.  Inner city missions and the 2nd generation Asian Americans.  I believe Christ loves the broken and oppressed.  I want to get away from that comfort zone of only helping the saved and reach out to the ones who are in desperate need of our Father’s love and truth.  The passion is zeal is here in my life but Asbury will help me build a stronger foundation and knowledge with what God is about.  We need to start loving His people in a greater multitude and I am committed to doing that,   I also have a special connection with 2nd generation Asian Americans because that is what I am.  We as a community struggle with an identity crisis and search for who we really are every day of our lives.  I know that these special people need special care and aid, and if we don’t do anything to tend to their felt needs, we can lose them forever.

I am currently serving a 7 month mission in Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) and am really learning what it means to serve the body of Christ.  I was forced to escape the way I “worshipped” Jesus and served His church.  I had to learn to do things differently here and adapt to their culture, while bringing in the culture that can only come from Christ.  I feel that the valuable lessons I have learned here will benefit me and be very fruitful in my future ministry.

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As Tony Campolo once put it, “The church is a whore, but she is still my mother”.  Let us make it clear that I did not say it…and my first reaction to that was your expected :O !!!!!!!

But he is so right.  The church has been unfaithful to Jesus and has slept around with many other thing that are not of Him.  Been in relationships with greed, pride, gossip, and many other things that are no way related to the kingdom of God.  The church was made to be the bride of Christ and to love Him always.  But no matter how unfaithful and hurtful the church has been, she has been a mother to us all.  Including me, without the church , I would not be here today (or at least a Christian).  The church gave birth to me in my born-again decision and without her, I would be another lost soul.

So if we want more Christians being born and salvation being accepted, we must help the church.  Bring back the faithfulness to what it once was.  We must love and help our mother if it is the last thing we do.  Jesus loves His bride and so should we.  That does not mean accepted all the problems and being passive about the decisions it is making.  But putting that crazy lady into rehab and weeding out all the gunk it has gotten.

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Those were all snip bits of different seminary entrance essays I have been writing these past couple of weeks.  I feel that I am allowed to copy and paste these for a blog entry post because any more writing and I will explode.

Lets love a little more shall we?  Maybe a lot more.

So say we all,

Dae

Soft Christians

It has been a long time….and I apologize to my loyal three friends who keep up with my posts.  It looks like winter here is at its peak and I will have to get used to this -11ish weather for the next month.  Things have gotten pretty uncomfortable and I am not sure if I like it or not.  One thing I am sure of is that this trip thus far has been anything but comfortable.  But I have been thinking lately, has this generation, more than any generation, valued comfort at an all-time high?

 

“Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a problem to be solved, and not a providence from God.”-Matt Chandler

 

We are very anti-suffering.  When we have any sort of problem, we want it solved right away.  Whatever beliefs you may have, no body now-a-days enjoy being in any sort of discomfort.  We need the fastest medicine, the fastest internet, the most comfortable bed, or the biggest leg room on an airplane.  The thought of any sort of suffering makes cringe.  On top of that, Christians take it to another level.  Whenever we feel discomfort, we must pray for the pain and suffering to go away ASAP!  And if your suffering still lingers around, you must not be praying hard enough.  Let’s face it America, we have become soft Christians.  Christianity today is transforming the same way the NFL is transforming.  No one knows how to take a hit and play smash mouth.  When something gets thrown our way, we overreact and demand that not to happen.  

 

Spending time here made me view my life in different perspectives.  I have never thought of myself as a big complainer.  But after living here I realized that some of the things I complained about were so minuscule.  I wanted my life to be as comfortable as possible.  To live in a comfortable house, comfortable car, comfortable friends, and comfortable church.  When things got a little hard, I demanded change.  And when change didn’t happen, I left.  I’ve wanted to leave my church probably since the moment I got saved.  Like many 2nd generation Koreans, I wanted to get out of the Korean church and start over.  I am not going to lie and say I still don’t want to leave, but I know that if God is calling me to stay, I am done complaining.  

Here is a really good article by Relevant Magazine that actually talks about this issue- 

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/5-really-bad-reasons-leave-your-church

 

The reason for me leaving will not be because of my situation at the church anymore.  It will be because God has called me to another place.  That is one of the main lessons I have learned here in Central Asia.  I don’t want to be those missionaries that boast and go on about their incredible eye opening experiences.  But something you find serving in a 2nd or 3rd world country is that Religious Oppression is real and it’s not going away anytime soon.  There are only a handful of churches that remain pretty much in secret and you have to go there or don’t go at all.  No such thing as side walk evangelism, and to say the name of Jesus in public is enough means of arrest.  Add that to the fact of not understanding 95 percent of the local worship and sermons going on during the 2 hours of service and clinging on to your translator as if they were Jesus himself.  You can say that things get pretty uncomfortable.  

 

This is the most alive I have ever felt with Christ in my life.  

 

 

The reason?  The fight. 

I have to fight to keep my relationship with my God intact.  I have to fight every day to make sure that God stays in my life.  It gets messy, it gets difficult, but the worth is so much greater.  I’ve heard that nothing taste better than the food you have prepared yourself.  When you put in the time and tears into something you really want in your life, the outcome is that much greater.  How much do we really have to “fight” to keep God in our lives?  If your relationship is luke-warm with God, who really cares except God?  That is the problem with American Christians and I don’t see it changing.  The lack of unaccountability is scary.  

 

Some of the greatest biblical men and women of old were also called way outside of their comfort zones. Abraham was called to leave his country, family, everything familiar and to go to a place he did not even know about; yet God blessed him greatly. Abraham became the father of many nations because he was faithful to God’s call and stepped outside his comfort zone. See Genesis 12

 

I came to Central Asia not knowing what I was going to do, how I was going to survive financially, my next steps in life, and if I was even going to make an impact.  Getting onto that 16 hour flight was probably one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever done in my life.  But the leap of faith I took and continue to take every day here has been the reason why God has opened and shown me so many doors here.  That is the kind of lifestyle I want to carry back with me after this mission trip.  

 

 

God calls us to be bold and courageous!  He calls us to play smash mouth football!  Jesus wants us to walk by faith, not by sight.  We need to stop worshiping comfort if we really want to live like Jesus did.  Our savior was pretty uncomfortable.  He asked his disciples to do some pretty intense things.  But the fruit of His ministry showed for it.  

 

 

Love is War- Hillsong United

 

 

So say we all,

 

Dae

 

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No offense to Adele, but there are no songs more sad than Hers. The reason why I am even talking about the British sensation is because I had a revelation today, God is not a sad God. This may sound crazy obvious to you but really think about it, God is not as emo as we think He is.

Growing up, I listened to a lot of sad rock songs. The Simple Plan and My Chemical Romance lyrics were engraved in my head and pretty much my anthem in my early teenage years. But no matter how sad I got listening to music, I always hungered for more. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves Is that we want to feel better when we are sad. When our hearts are broken or we are upset, our desire is not to feel better, but to keep the feeling of sadness as long as we can. When we are mad, we listen to the most hardcore music we can find. When we are sad, we watch the saddest movie we can find on netflix. These emotions are things keeping us from true joy and for some reason we tie these feelings with our creator.

A trend here and something I am praying about is that especially with the younger kids, the dreams and hopes are lacking. I was tutoring this girl in English and she was convinced that she could not pass the test coming up next year. She was one of my brightest kids and had an exceptional learning curve, but she lacked confidence. She often would stare at me refusing to answer because she had the notion she would always be wrong.

Another girl here has a passion to dance. She teaches all the other kids new dances and even choreographs dances to display to the congregation. I tell you in all honesty, she has talent. All I want to do is introduce her to JYP. But when I bring it up and let her know she can really be something, she denies it quickly and tells me it’s impossible.

For them and many others alike the Father they believe in is sad, lonely, doubtful, and dream-less. Whatever we learned about the abba being all powerful and mighty, invincible and all knowing, doesn’t apply to us. But surely that can’t be the God we serve.

As I get to know these kids more and more I come to find that they all are believers. But even as believers they are struck with the thought that God has no way out for them. That maybe God does not like them enough for his promise to happen. That they serve a God that doubts anything can amount in their lives. Or their lives are undeserving of anything greater.

Such a sad lie….

John Piper wrote in his book Desiring God about what would happen if ruled an unhappy God? He asked if we could join King David in asking God to quench his thirst and be the source of life.

He writes,

I don’t think so. We would all relate to God like little children who have a frustrated, gloomy, dismal, disconnected father. They can’t enjoy him. They can only try not to bother him, or maybe try to work for him to earn some little favor.

Children can’t enjoy the fellowship of their father if He is unhappy.

If we are not positive and full of joy, how can we possible be the light to a sad, hopeless world. Or simply, how can we be hope to the hopeless without any hope.

A friend of mine is currently living in Germany and working with former sex slave victims. She shared with a bunch of us about how broken these girls are and how difficult it was for them to love anyone ever again, let alone God. As she shared gut wrenching testimony after testimony, tears began to swell in everyone’s eyes. One of our friends asked her if she ever cried with them because it was so sad. Her answer opened my eyes,

“Never. We can’t. We have to be strong for them. They feel bad enough and they don’t need me making them feel worse in comfort. My natural emotions wants to shed and share tears with them because it’s so heartbreaking. But we are there to be positive. We are there to be the hope and let them know there is a way out. And that can’t come with sadness.”

That’s exactly it. Now I am not saying we can never be sad, I am no robot. Tragedy happens and emotions do come. But I am saying we need to stop dwelling in the sadness, the hopelessness. We need to grab on to what God really is. Grab onto his saving grace, his hope, his way out. The truth and light not the lies and the darkness. God is not sitting in a room by himself crying because the world is messed up. He is continually letting His master plan unfold and there is no power that can stop it.

“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (Isaiah 46:9, 10 NASB)

I am not going to go as far as Piper and say God never gets sad. But His presence does not dwell in sadness. We are so used to gatherings being all about crying and guilt that we forgot how much joy God brings. Hope should bring nothing but joy.

So no more Kdramas only for me. I will learn true joy and happiness that is unconditional and teach it in the name of the Father.

As for the kids here, pray for them please. That their understanding of who God is gets wrecked so bad that their dreams become limitless.

Things will get better for all of us.

A famous pastor once said, Fridays are here, but Sundays are coming.

Be blessed and let’s keep fighting the good fight,

Dae

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I know, I know, the title is really corny..but can you blame my horrible sense of humor with the internet the speed of a poor man’s dial up and being in the middle of no where? The past two weeks have been interesting and very aggravating. The English classes that I have been teaching got recently shut down due to lack of documents (so they say). That basically freed up my whole afternoon. The very next day our internet went haywire and now I don’t even think I have enough connection to post this blog. No internet surfing capabilities is an Americans worst nightmare. If you know me at all you know that I am very Leo esq. I love going out, busying myself, and socializing. These two weeks haven’t failed to be anything but easy for me.

In the midst of my confusion and even questioning God about why all of this is happening. Why I am even here if I can’t do anything but sit in this room on my chair until my butt gets numb. Concluding that there must be a bigger picture I am missing out on, I contacted my old Pastor, Joe. I joked around and told him I want to leave early and fly to Cali where he lives. I can tell people I’m still here and I can secretly eat all the chipotle I want. (Of course I was only joking..) He laughed it off and said sure and I thought that was the end of my make believe fairy tale. The next day I get an email from him that took me by surprise. Apparently my joke caused him to have a sleepless night while he gathered up his thoughts to encourage me…how sweet.

Bits of his email that won’t get him fired,

Word of advice.

Enjoy this down time.
When’s the next time you’ll get to have that much time on your hands?
Use it to think. To read. To study. To write. To rest. To learn.
Think of it as a blessing.
Think about how stupidly busy you were over the years.
Now that you’re stupidly unbusy — take advantage of that.

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Cont.

So — as bored as you are. As frustrated as you may be (and I’m not saying that you’re frustrated at all, but just in case you are) — revel in it. Accept it. Think of it as a pruning process.

You get to know who you really are because you have time to think about yourself now.
And — listen to this part — make the best of all the time that you have.
Write. Write. Write.
And read. read. read.
Study. Study. Study.
Teach yourself the disciplines to be on task and to study and to read and to think so that those things are engrained in you and that you still do them when you come back and are confronted with stress and pressure.

And in this process — you’ll become a better all around person and you’ll be better equipped to serve the people around you.

And 3 years from now — you’ll wish you had the pace of life you did at Kazakstan. :)

You haven’t updated your blog for a while. You can start with that.

Think of this time as a blessing.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself through your time there — I know it. And as you’re learning about yourself — you’ll also be a great blessing to the people of kazakstan. I also know that.

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He also shared about the time he was placed somewhere for a couple of years and really felt he had too much time on his hands and wondered when he could leave. Truthfully, there are times that I also wonder when I can leave. But like he later shared in the email, I know this is my wilderness time with God. I know especially after that email that I am going to get pruned to the core. Everything I know will get wrecked so that when I get back I can bear more fruit. I was so confused because I didn’t know how to be not busy. I didn’t know how to just sit and wait.

The Lord moves in crazy ways and sometimes we are so busy we miss it. We often associate crazy with busy. But sometimes crazy means just a whisper.

So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:11-14 NASB)

Elijah felt it in the whisper. Not in the craziness that happened all around it. I’ve been a fire chaser throughout my whole walk and in this season it’s time to listen for the whispers. The whispers that will change my life.

Hopefully the English classes come back because I loved reaching out to those kids and I know my spoiled soul will get the internet back as well. But in the end this stay will make me a better person. I knew that coming in, but now I believe it going forward.

Also the way it looks back home, I know I’m going to need it.

Thank you always for your support and let the molding continue

So say we all,

Shik

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Every since I could remember I had a top 3 list of what I wanted to be when I was grown up.  The first choice of course was to be a Pastor.  (for some reason the choice of author always fell under that choice)  The second option was to be a professional baseball coach.  And the last choice was something that not many people knew about, it is to be a movie director.  There is something about creating a story out of your imagination that just intrigues me.  I recently found this app called Cameo that helps my hidden passion come alive.  Although it is the poorest mans version of video editing, its easy enough to play around with and have fun.  I made a clip that I will post a link to below that shows what I made in about 30 seconds.  I will try to play around with the app some more and try to make some better quality materials.  This app is like Vine on steroids.  This post is proof that I was one of the first ones to get this app :)

This post is also an excuse for me to prolong by blog post about the recent young adult retreat that I just went on.  It was a 3 days retreat in Kyrg with about 50 medical students from India.  This description itself should let you know how amazing it was.  Blog post on that shall come later this week.

For now, enjoy the 2 minute video of a bunch of random clips of central asia haha

The flu from nowhere

The past week was pretty dreadful due to the fact that I had a cold, aka the Kazak flu.  I am only half joking when I ask if it’s possible to contract a cold via webcam?  Anyway, my fever was up there and my body was either really cold or really hot.  The weirdest part of it was that the skin around my eyes were dark and red.  I felt like I was a zombie, only prettier.  If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

 

It is just a couple of hours until we get onto a train heading for Kyrg.  The train into the city near us takes about 7 hours and the taxi to kyrg takes about 4.  I hope sleeping on a train feels better than sleeping on a plane….  Either way I’m excited to finally interact with fellow english speaking young adults at this revival.  To be able to sing and talk freely in your language is something not to take for granted.  I do have my partner here with me but that is only one person every day.  This weekend will be something special for both of us as we prepare to encounter the Man in a new way.  

 

I wonder sometimes how it must have felt to have only one source of scripture to read from.  Only one person had access to the book and probably only one person knew how to read.  As they waited and finally had a chance to all meet and read aloud together, the time spent there must have been very special.  

 

I think I am getting a glimpse of that as I get ready to head to this meeting.  To not only wait for the special time to get to share the same tongue together, but also innovate new ways to experience his presence in a foreign place.  

 

Keep us in your hearts as we board the Hogwarts express!  Pictures to come soon!

 

So say we all

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