A Resolution to Pray (Pastor Justin Kim)


At the beginning of the year, I made a personal resolution to shepherd and to lead my congregation not out of skill and competence, but out of prayer and repentance. In other words, I want to pray more. This desire to pray more is not out of some legalistic tendency or the idea that somehow if I pray more, then God will love me more as well. No, I want to pray more so that I learn to love God more. I want to pray so that I will learn to fully submit and surrender myself and my ways and my will to God.

E.M. Bounds said, “Talking to me for God is a great thing. But talking to God for men is greater still.” I am learning that a prayer-less pastor is a powerless pastor. I think it is the same for anyone. A prayer-less father is a powerless pastor. A prayer-less mother is a powerless mother. A prayer-less Christian is a powerless Christian. A prayer-less Church is a power-less Church.

In the Old Testament, one of the more popular character is Daniel. He is well known for his ordeal in the lion’s den. But for me, what sticks out more was Daniel’s prayer life. There’s three characteristics that we see about how Daniel prayed.

First, Daniel prayed when life was hard.

In reading Daniel 6:1-12, it’s easy to see that Daniel knew that if he were to be caught praying, he would be thrown into the lion’s den. But that didn’t keep him from communing with God. We don’t have to fear being thrown into a lion’s den today, but still, sometimes it’s hard to pray. Maybe it’s hard to pray because you are tired and you don’t want to pray. Maybe it’s hard to pray because you are too busy and you feel like it will take up too much of your time. Maybe you have a problem on your hand and you just feel like you need to handle it on your own. For Daniel, even when it was difficult to pray, he made a point to still do so. It is at times when you least want to pray… is when you probably most need to pray.

For some of us, sometimes it is easiest to pray when we have problems. But a lot of times once the problem is resolved, we stop praying. The only time we pray is when we’re in a jam. As soon as things improve, we forget God. If you only pray when you are in trouble, then you really are in trouble. But Daniel teaches us to press in and to pray even when life is hard and difficult. He didn’t just pray when times are hard, he prayed consistently, daily, three times a day.

Secondly, Daniel prayed as a habit.

In reading verses 10 and 13, Daniel prayed as he had previously. So not only on days when life was hard, but every day Daniel prayed. It was natural for him to do so because he made it a habit to pray daily. In other words, for Daniel, prayer was just like brushing his teeth. He didn’t need someone to tell him to brush his teeth… no, he just knew to do it. Prayer was a natural habit for him. He had disciplined himself to do so. He could pray even when it was hard because he had disciplined himself to do it, even if he didn’t feel like praying.

Prayer is not always like a jolt of adrenaline each time you pray. Although the “jolt” may hit us periodically, the benefits of praying are more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the pills, they feel new strength surging through their bodies. At times, praying will have a sudden and intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects that long-term exposure to prayer will bring to our lives.

Lastly, Daniel prayed with humility.

Daniel got down on his knees and prayed. Of course, we don’t need to pray on our knees. We can pray standing up, sitting down and some even pray with their face on the ground. The posture of the heart is more important than the physical posture. But for Daniel and there are times… when the outward expressions show inner condition. Often times, outward expressions help us to not only express what’s in our hearts, but it helps us to understand spiritual realities. Prayer humbles us and helps us to realize that we come before a holy King. Prayer is the ultimate expression of dependence. In prayer, we’re saying, “God, you know so much more than I do. Your ways are so much better than mine. Turn my will towards yours.”

Jesus the Ultimate Prayer Warrior.

Daniel prayed when it was hard and he made prayer a habit. Prayer made Daniel become a humble servant. Daniel was saved by God in the den of lions because he prayed to the Lion of Judah. Daniel indeed is a great example for us to follow and to emulate, especially in his prayer life. But in the end, we need more than example. We need a Savior. Daniel was someone who points ultimately to the ultimate Prayer Warrior, Jesus. Jesus’ whole life was a life of prayer. If prayer connects us to God and serves as a bridge for us to commune with God, then Jesus Himself is the Prayer of God. He became the ultimate bridge and connection to God for us.  

Appreciating Brother's Appreciation (Adam Cook)


Brother’s Appreciation was definitely a night that will be remembered for a long time. I honestly had no idea what to expect and totally forgot about it due to the business of homework assignments, midterms, projects, and whatever curveballs that were thrown by life at the time. Standing outside the door, I was brimming with curiosity how this event was going to go. The doors open and it was quite a beautiful moment walking through. The ladies of the college ministry put so much effort into this event. A small tunnel of the college ladies forming with cheers made us feel welcome and surprise! It was a Super Mario Bros themed party waiting for us with games, food, and a nice mustache to live out an old dream of becoming an Italian plumber with a knack of saving princesses. Shout-out to the college ministry ladies who made all this happen! It was amazing and appreciated!

Reflecting on such a good time gave me a reminder about how important community itself is within the church. As we are called to God, our main priority is to cultivate a relationship with him and be based around him. All things in this world must come second. However, due to our weakness from sin, it’s difficult for us to stand up by ourselves and try to pursue God. Brother’s Appreciation reminded me about how important it is to have a solid community around you.


Personally, finding a community that works has always been difficult. From middle school to high school, finding a solid community was hard and took time and investment. Church was no exception. Coming into college I lost my home church community due to inactivity and decided to find a new church with a goal to rekindle my faith. That didn’t work out either. I couldn’t find community at Bethel so I faded out believing I could rekindle it through my own means and no community.

Boy was I wrong.

Being out of touch with church, I became out of touch with God. Believing in my own powers, I thought I could rekindle my faith. Unfortunately, it became so much weaker. It wasn’t until later that I realized my error and started to invest more time and effort into the Bethel community that I was able to create the support needed for my walk with God. The friends that I made here are a blessing and I can feel comfortable sharing my sorrows, my joys, and of course, worship God with them.

Events like these are a reminder that I am not alone. God tells us that we should form churches and communities to keep each other accountable. Community has broken me and kept me away from God but it has also brought me back and kept me more deeply rooted within him. Events like these are just a reminder that God has blessed me with such a loving and amazing community. It’s something I should always be thankful for and that I should never rely on myself alone, but to put everything in him and there will be a church to support me.

Knowing God Bible Study (Jeni Kim)


Many people would be surprised to hear that I am an introvert. Don’t get me wrong—I know how to “turn it on” when I need to and I also ironically use being loud and obnoxious as a defense mechanism to avoid deeper topics. But growing up an only child, I’m much more accustomed to being by myself. Not to mention, socializing takes a lot of effort. Social interactions can be so fragile: the potential to offend someone or to be offended, the potential to be socially awkward, the potential for misunderstanding and disagreement, the list goes on. It’s so much easier for me to just avoid it, altogether!

However, I know that this is not from God. He created us to be and grow in community. God, Himself, exists in community with the Trinity. We were not meant to go it alone. Adam needed a suitable helpmate. Even animals couldn’t make the cut—he needed someone like him. So I challenge myself to socialize. I definitely embarrass myself more often than not, but practice makes perfect... right?

My husband and I serve in the high school ministry at church, so it’s often hard to get out to English Church events, but we were so excited to hear about the Knowing God Bible Study class. Of course, I was excited to learn more about our Father, but I surprised even myself when I expressed that I was excited to be able to do this with others. After all, I can’t deny that God has planted that seed of longing for a community within my heart.

The Knowing God Bible Study is a short and sweet six weeks, but it has become a cherished part of my week. It’s nice to cut through the small talk and get down to the deep things of God, to try to tackle the hard questions of faith, even if we don’t have all the answers. It’s so refreshing to hear how different each of our journeys with Christ is, how each of us came to know Christ, our day-to-day struggles with living out the faith, and even our different perspectives on how God is moving. It would be easy to disagree and argue or shut down, but it’s a safe environment where we can toss around ideas and together come to a deeper understanding of our faith.

Even as an introvert, I am thankful to have a place to be able to hear and share thoughts without judgment. These Wednesday meetings have become so special to me as a time of refreshing and real conversation and learning. I think it’s so important for us as God’s children to do the hard work of struggling through topics that are far beyond our understanding, even if we don’t come to a definitive answer. We need each other and we need to continuously go deeper in our faith and knowledge of God. I didn’t want this to be propaganda for the Knowing God Bible Study, but next time it is offered, I really encourage you to check it out!


Letting Go of the World By Embracing God’s Love (Michelle Kim)


The majority of my close friends growing up having been atheists, and I had always felt alone in my walk as a Christian amongst friends with such opposite values. These friends celebrated the freedom to live for their own happiness by embracing the world, and I found myself being brainwashed into believing that I should be living for myself. Though this is often confused as self-love, I knew it is just another concept that Satan utilizes to distract us from the true purpose and joy that God has in store for us. I was surrounding myself with sin and a community that embraces/encourages sin, and I saw that my once unbreakable values had corroded down and taken form of the values of the people I was around. For the first time in years, I felt the urge to go to a retreat and find a community I could identify with, and it was the genuine care and love I felt from the congregation members that opened me up to the idea of going. I was left astounded by the fact that God was not only willing to sacrifice His son for me, but additionally was willing to go out of His way to empathize with me in my sin and continuously show me grace. When I take a moment to remember these truths, they leave me dumbfounded and in awe of the patience and grace He grants me with, and this in turn sets apart His all-encompassing, multifaceted love from the conditional love that the world can offer me.

Our guest speaker, Pastor James Han from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, spoke about Lot and his struggle with Sodom and Gommorah. I related to Lot in that I could not let go of the world and have faith in God’s promises, saw a lukewarmness in him that I saw in myself (he found justification for living within Sodom and Gommorah in the fact that he was going to be the salt/light of the city). The story of Sodom and Gommorah had always been so unsettling to me, being that it seems to most accurately depict the world we live in today. A sense of fear always came along with any mention of the story of the sin-infested city because it illustrated to me God’s ultimate judgement against sin. I was so consumed by the idea of God’s judgement that Satan was able to use that fear to distract me from the true message behind that story, which is one of His incessant grace for me. Lot repeatedly doubts God, but God understood the hold that sin had on Lot’s heart and continued to protect him.

There were so many things I was reminded of through this retreat, one being the importance and impact of my environment. I was so encouraged by the love and care I felt from the church members, and I could only attribute that to knowing that they saw me through His eyes as God’s child and poured out their love to me in such a demonstrative way. And after seeing the impact that people with God-centered values and goals have had on me after just one short weekend, it has made me so much more hopeful that I can be influenced by them to bring that genuine love to the people I am surrounded in in my own life.

My takeaway from the retreat was a powerful reminder of God’s empathy towards me, and that the least that I can do is to try to see the world and my own sin from His point of view. I pray that I will be able to feel the spiritual agony that sin brings to God, and that He will allow me to feel brokenness in areas where He sees brokenness and feel genuine love for His children in the same way He loves me. I am coming to learn to embrace the place that God has placed me in, and I so look forward to being molded and influenced by the people that have reminded me of the depth of God’s love for me.

Romans 8:15 (NIV)

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Who Is Your King? (Paul Lee)


During the last week of 2017, I had the privilege of serving at Bethel’s youth retreat. The theme of the retreat was, “Reign: Who Is Your King?” It was a great reminder that our hearts can only follow one master. Although I had no experience serving in BYM, I knew that they were always looking for teachers. So in faith, I wanted to serve. I would like to share with you how I was blessed.

On one of the nights, our guest speaker Pastor Jacob, shared with us how the one thing (the only thing in the Bible) the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray. This simple lesson blessed me in two ways. First, I need more prayer before any action. As a man, I convince myself that I am more capable than I really am. But when I see the life that Jesus lived, I see him doing great things in our Father’s name only after a great amount of prayer. When I lean on my own understanding and try to figure things out, I am not trusting in God and I hinder my own growth. Prayer helps me to step back and put God back as the head of my heart.

Second, I realized that I needed to see God more as my Abba Father, an intimate God who knows me and loves me personally. The theme, “Who Is Your King?” states that our King is a “who” and not a “what”. By praying we can talk to an almighty God that cares for us. Through grace we are able to talk to God in the most personal way, yet even in my own quiet times I find myself trying to puff myself in front of God as if he cares more about the words I say than the condition of my heart. 

Throughout the retreat I had opportunities to talk to my fellow teachers and to the students. Seeing how God is moving in the lives of my brothers and sisters at Bethel filled me with so much joy and excitement! At times I get tunnel vision and I lose track of anything not related to work or what’s right in front of me. But looking out and watching God move encourages me to deepen my relationship and to share more of my life with my church family. Somehow even at church I forget that we are called to be one body that encourages one another and points each other to Christ. Too often I find myself both in life and in church trying to live out my own plans, concerned only about myself. This retreat was a gentle rebuke for me to thank God for allowing me to be part of this family of believers 

Though this retreat was meant for the students, I am taking so much back. God alone frees us from the conforming patterns of this world. At this retreat, through the message of prayer and the people I met, I felt God helping me to break free and remind my heart that it is my Abba Father who reigns in my heart.


True Rest in God Alone (Elaine Kim)

Elaine Kim.jpg

Our young adult’s retreat was a time where I found myself being refreshed by His Word and encouraged by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When I first heard that we were having a retreat, I was a bit hesitant in going. I would define myself as an extrovert but over the years, I began to close doors for people to come into my life due to various reasons. I became complacent with maintaining my relationships with the few selective friends that I have. As the retreat date grew closer, I felt a tugging in my heart to attend. I prayed about retreat. God revealed to me that being closed off towards others was all due to my selfishness. I asked God for forgiveness and a change of heart. I am grateful that I went because I got to know precious people in our ministry on a deeper level. These are people I would see in passing on Sundays and at various church functions, but never had the opportunity to go past exchanging greetings. I was blessed by the brothers’ and sisters’ openness to share their life stories with me.


Our guest speaker, Pastor James Han from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, gave a message about going to the Lord and finding rest (Matthew 11:28-30). It’s a passage I have read many times before, but did not truly understand what it meant to find rest and take God’s yoke upon me. Pastor James shared that one day, we won’t be able to suffer for Christ. Those words struck me. At times, when I am struggling in life, I would semi jokingly tell my friends that I wished Jesus would come and take me home. I would say that because I wanted to avoid going through my suffering and take the easy way out. After Pastor James said that, I realized that I had the wrong mindset. I was being self-centered. Going through trials and tribulation is a tool for me to use to share the Gospel. As I reflect on my past, my lows always came with a high. God’s provision over me was constantly present. I know I will be resting in Heaven so do everything I can now for the Kingdom with joy.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. – Psalm 62:5-7

As I reflect on our getaway, I have found true rest in God and God alone.

A Needed Reminder & A Gentle Rebuke (Judy Jung)


It seems like it’s been forever since I sat down in the main sanctuary, counting down for the New Year together with my family and thanking God for all that He has done in 2017. Thanking God in spite of all the challenges and the struggles we faced along the way, while anticipating things to come in 2018. Sadly, these rededications were short-lived as I was bombarded with a busy end of the year closing at work. Exhausted from the long hours of work and the tense, stress-filled environment, I waited for Gospel Revolution 2018 because deep inside, in the midst of this chaos, I was longing to pray and desperately desired to lay my burdens down before Him, not because I was necessarily on fire for God, but because I felt physically and emotionally drained.

As Pastor James shared about brokenness in our lives and how God desires to change these ashes into beauty, I began to feel anguish in my heart. God began to resurface the things that were tugging deep inside my heart. Relationships with few people continued to be rough, not to mention the financial burdens in my family that never seemed to get better. I was constantly so busy with my to-do lists and want-to-do lists that I caught myself once again trying to find things that I lacked and trying to resolve it with my own strength -- as if that would fill me up.

Gospel Revolution 2018 was an opportunity for me to realign myself with God -- trusting in His timing and His leadership. It personally challenged me to go beyond what was sitting on my plate and to reach out to those broken both within the Church and the world… not because I have the ability to do so, but because the Holy Spirit that’s living in me is constantly equipping me and empowering me for the sake of His mission. Pastor James said, “Holy Spirit has the necessary power that we cannot create. We do not need to rely on the traditions, the talents or skill sets, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.” This was a needed reminder and a gentle rebuke as I found myself relying on my own skill sets and work ethics to complete the tasks that were sitting in front of me. And because that was using up my time and energy, I didn’t think to consider the brokenness outside of my life. 


As I held onto the list of “My Ashes” of an anonymous member in the Church, He revealed a glimpse of this holy burden, but also placed a heart of peace and delight in me, knowing that He has, is, and will continue to transform these ashes into beauty in ways beyond our expectations.

I believe 2018 will be an exciting year, not because I have a long list of things I want to do or accomplish, but because it will be another year of His goodness and His faithfulness. And as God uncovers my brokenness, not to instill pain in me, but to reveal His plans, I believe He will shape me and turn my brokenness into beauty.

May this year be the year in which the Gospel shines through our lives and to the people God has specifically placed in our lives! May we continue to strive to show Christ’ love even in the midst of absolute brokenness. 

God’s Approval Matters Most (Johnny Hyun)


My name is Johnny Hyun, I am 21 years old and have been going to Bethel my entire life. I grew up in the youth ministry and learned and grew so much every year. One of the things that has stuck with me from my time in the youth ministry is something that Teacher Kenny, my sophomore year Sunday school teacher, told our class. He told our class, “You can’t just date Jesus; you need to be married to Him”. His explanation was that you can’t just spend time with Jesus here and there and talk to Him here and there, but rather when you wake up, Jesus would be the first thing that you think about. And he would also be the first thing that you see in the morning. Hearing that made me really think about my own relationship with Him and that quote keeps me accountable for my life today.

Havng that quote stick with me six years later is the impact I would want to have on kids today. In my sophomore year, I decided to serve in upper elementary with the sixth graders. I now teach those same kids who are now in eighth grade. Serving these kids, I have learned so much about God’s patience and love that He has for us. Even though my eighth-grade boys frustrate me so much sometimes, I know that I need to keep loving them unconditionally because God first loved us.

Every week, God teaches me so much about myself through these kids. They taught me about the plan that God has set out for me. My entire college career at UC-Irvine, I always had questions on why I chose UC-Irvine. I have lived my first two years thinking, “What would my life be like if I went to this other college?” And it wasn’t till the end of my sophomore year that I really found the reason as to why I went to UC-Irvine. I was serving at a summer retreat that year when I got a note from a student that said, “Thank you for showing me love and serving us. You have shown me a glimpse of what God’s love is like. You have truly touched my life.” Reading that note from my student was God telling me that I wasn’t at UC-Irvine to play golf, but instead I was at UC-Irvine to serve and love on the kids at Bethel. 


Serving these kids, they never fail to encourage me. This past winter break, I served at the BYM Winter Retreat where it was combined with both high school and junior high students. The theme of the retreat was “Reign”. The entire retreat, the guest speaker spoke on what is Reigning in their life. A common theme within my students was that they were so worried of what other people think of them. When they told me this, I had time to reflect on their previous actions and it made complete sense. Many of them would act differently with their team and when their friends would be around, their behavior changed because they wanted to be the “cool” person. However, by the end of the week, many of those who wanted to be the “cool” person for their friends, stopped caring of what their friends thought of them realizing that the only approval they need is God’s.

It’s small situations such as those that I mentioned… that gets me excited every Sunday and Friday to serve the junior high kids. Not only am I excited every Sunday and Friday, but I am excited to do life with these kids when they go onto college and more. 

To Teach Is to Learn (Justin Chou)


This past December, I had the privilege of serving at Bethel Youth Ministry’s winter retreat as a team leader. At first I was hesitant to commit, unsure if I could still relate to junior high and high schoolers. Fortunately, God has a way of moving us in the right direction. While debating whether to go or not, I remembered attending past youth retreats and how God used those retreats to still shape my walk with Christ today.

The four days in Big Bear was a blessed time of worship, listening to our guest speaker, and fellowshipping with one another. Pastor Jacob Cho from New Vision Life Church reminded us of the transformational message of the gospel. The theme for the retreat was “Reign”, to let the Lord reign supreme in our lives. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness of life and forget His sovereignty over us. As Christians we are to find satisfaction through Christ and live our life as a joyful response to the gospel message. The retreat was a heavy hitting reminder that my life belongs to Him.


For me the last night of prayer was the most memorable and emotional part of the retreat. It was the culmination of our time together. My heart was touched seeing broken relationships restored and an outpouring of Christ’s love. As everyone worshipped together in one voice, I could feel the Spirit moving in everyone. It reinforced the importance of youth ministry and how it is an incredible honor to be a small part of their lives.

In leading a small group, I found myself sharing more than I ever intended to. At first I thought it would be better to not share some of the messier details of my past. The first few discussions in the group were awkward and quiet. I realized if I wanted the boys to speak and share, then I would need to lead by example. In being vulnerable with my small group, they in turn opened up about their grievances about their spiritual and personal lives. 


My sixth-grade teacher once said, “I learn more from you kids than I could ever teach you.” Fifteen years later, his words still resonate with me as I serve at BYM.  It’s been a blessing to walk alongside the students I encounter. Oftentimes students speak insight and wisdom far more impactful than I could ever hope to impart on them. Through teaching, you truly end up learning more about yourself and God.

Sometimes there are days when I wonder why I serve, why God has put it on my heart to be a Sunday school teacher or a counselor at a retreat. However when I look at the faces of our younger brothers and sisters and see God’s light shining through them, I feel an inexplicable joy. My hope and prayer for the ministry is that the students take ownership of this body of Christ and continue to pursue Him with reckless abandonment. 

God Works in Mysterious Ways: Gospel Revolution Reflection (Hong Yang)


I looked out the window of the bus on the way from the Vision Parking lot to Bethel English Church for early Sunday Service.  The bright winter morning sun was shining onto attractive and inviting green fairways of the golf course right across the street from Church.  It had drizzled lightly on Friday night and made the course look perhaps more invitingly green than I recalled when I played this course many years ago.  Then I thought back to the testimony that Pastor James Myong shared on Friday night. It was one of those testimonies that, being an avid sports fan, I loved to hear but with a twist. 

Pastor James Myong, when he was just 10 years old, was introduced to the sport of golf when he tagged along with his Dad to the golf practice range – more because he wanted to spend time and hang out with his Dad than for the love of the game.  A modest start.  But only a couple of years later, he won his first tournament.  Only it was not just any tournament, but a tournament which had an open age classification ranging from 12 to 18.  And at the age of 12, he won this tournament over some competitors much older, as old as 18 years.  He went on to win many more tournaments afterwards.  Another golf prodigy from SoCal to match Tiger?  A genuine Korean-American Tiger?  All the coaches and colleges, no doubt, were salivating.  PGA was waiting.  He was soon ranked as high as top 20.  The future was bright - needed to wear some shades.

Until it wasn’t.  At least not according to the worldly standards of how things are supposed to turn out. While playing in a tournament in Florida, young James had experienced such pain in his left leg that he had to withdraw from the tournament and come back home to California to get a diagnosis – a tumor in his knee.  After going through chemo, he and his family had to make the painful decision of amputating his leg below the knee.  It was not supposed to play out like this.  A bright future as a golf prodigy was no more. 


As I was listening to his testimony, I kept thinking - Why God?  Why couldn’t he have been successful in golf reaching his full potential and still be able to minister to so many more people?  So much talent wasted, I thought.   As I was driving home, my wife was googling LA Times January 1, 2000 article on James Myung.  She read an excerpt where young James played in a match play against Matt Kuchar and how the outcome of that tight match could have potentially changed the trajectories of the two golfers.  Matt Kuchar, the PGA pro and champion, and competitor in many Ryder Cups, etc.  Why God?  I just kept thinking – couldn’t James have had more impact if he had been successful in golf and then gone into ministry?   

But God works in mysterious ways.  Pastor James gave the sermon on Friday from Psalm 23.  Psalm 23 - which I had memorized and recited to myself countless times.  But he brought a fresh and new perspective to my beloved Psalm 23.  It was that God “guides me down the path of righteousness for His namesake.”  Not for my sake.  Not for the sake of the worldly success or fame.  Not for what I would consider to be way things are supposed to turn out.  But for His namesake and for His perfect will. 


As I reflect on the weekend of Gospel Revolution with Pastor James preaching on the theme of “Beauty from Ashes,” I realize how short my perspective and thinking was.  Who is to say that God would have been more pleased if James would have been more successful as a golfer?  God does not need James’ or anyone else’s worldly fame or successes.  God is more pleased with one small act of faithfulness than with countless or vast sacrifices not given in genuine faith.  I do not know for certain, but I suspect that our God was far more pleased that James, after the amputation of his leg, was able to minister and encourage another young amputee who had not spoken a word for at least a couple of days – not to his family or to the doctors or to anyone.  But James used the fact that he himself was an amputee to draw out the timid young amputee into a conversation and encourage the young boy.  Who is to say that God is not more pleased with saving of one lost lamb over the 99 that are in the clear? 

God works in mysterious ways.  He meets us where we are.  He utilizes us in our weakness and imperfections.  He performs mighty works through people not because they are capable, but because they are obedient and faithful.  So it was that God prefers to work with a young amputated, once-promising golfer because James was obedient and faithful.  His testimony is powerful and still going.  The future is, indeed, bright. 

What did I take away from the Gospel Revolution weekend?  Having had an overseas year-end vacation with the family, I felt the Gospel Revolution gave me an opportunity for a peaceful and reflective start to the year.  The reflection that stuck with me most is that I want to be more obedient and faithful to God and worry less about doing things.  Praise God!

My Testimony (Stephanie S. Kim)


Before I met Jesus

My parents divorced when I was two years old, and they soon after remarried. My mom lived in Japan with my stepdad; my dad lived in Burbank with my stepmom, expanding their business in downtown L.A. Until I was seven, I was raised by a nanny, whom I considered as my dear grandma. Growing up, longing was like a childhood friend of mine, and I looked forward to the day I could live with my mom.

When I was eight, my aunt became my guardian. She had a feisty temper and often yelled at me. As a sensitive, shy child, living with her made me yearn even more for the day I could live with my mom and escape moments of walking on eggshells. Finally in 7th grade, my mom, stepdad, and half-sister moved from Japan to Irvine, and I was able to join them. Living with them for the first time was a difficult adjustment because of my stepdad’s authoritarian rule. I felt like I was walking on eggshells all over again, but only this time, it was in a bigger house, nicer neighborhood, surrounded by all the material things I could ever ask for.

In the eighth grade, my father, whom I would meet every other month for lunch, got into a terrible accident. I still remember seeing him lying on the hospital bed—half of his body paralyzed, his speech and memory capabilities having deserted him. I did not understand why such a thing had to happen to him. I did not understand why I had to face these circumstances as a result of the choices that the adults in my life had made. I became angry at the world and I became bitter and cynical at life. When I could no longer hold onto hope, I became depressed. My inner turmoil overflowed into my interpersonal and academic life, and I went from an honor roll student to a problem child with a 2.0 G.P.A. in high school

After my dad’s accident, my dad and stepmom not only had to suddenly sell their business, they had to come to terms with their irrevocably changed lives and different needs, expectations, and freedom in life. After their divorce, I decided to live in Burbank with my dad and finish my last two years of high school there—despite many family members’ reluctance. No number of phone calls and monthly lunches could have ever replaced living with him. It was the greatest blessing of my life—to have the chance to build a father-daughter relationship, to know that I have a lifelong friend in him, to have someone encourage me with warm and sometimes tough, encouraging words, and to finally forgive him after years of blaming him for my parents’ divorce. Under his love and care, I blossomed and became more confident. I became happy.  

When I met Jesus

When I moved to Burbank, my mom, sister, and step-dad moved back to Japan. My sister wished to attend college in the States, so she moved back to Irvine in middle school, and my mom asked that I transfer from UC Santa Cruz to another UC school closer to my sister. When I got my acceptance letter from UCLA, I cried. I knew it was a miracle from God even though I was a non-believer. After moving to L.A., I met devout Christians that showed me what it meant to be on fire for God. 

After much reluctance in going to church and preferring to sleep in on Sundays, I reached out to God during my last summer session in college. Wanting to finish on time and after switching my major at the last minute, I took on five English classes that summer. I knew I could not lean on myself or my dad but solely on God. That summer, I received the highest marks in my college life, and I learned that all things were possible through Him.

After graduating from college and being dissatisfied with working in the fashion industry, I had an intense desire to learn and to go back to school. I wanted to pursue a career that involved working with children. After quitting my job, I joined a small group at church called, “Your Beautiful Purpose,” as well as volunteered in the Children’s Ministry. I knew with an inexplicable certainty that everything was going to be okay—that God had good plans for me. During the last week of our small group, after much prayer and reading about God’s purpose for our lives, my prayer was answered. Since then, I’ve been walking toward the path of becoming a pediatrician. 

I met Jesus while serving in the Children’s Ministry. As a floater, I spent time with children with autism and children of all ages—from toddlers to elementary school. In every single child, I saw a little bit of myself or the type of adult I wished I had in my life when I was that age. When I saw a child hiding in the corner, a child hesitant to sing and dance during worship, a child acting up or disrupting other students in class, a child crying due to being placed in a new environment, I loved on them and encouraged them with a smile, rub on the back, or by talking to them, bending down at their eye level. I gained so much more than these children will ever know. I learned how to love and I experienced joy for the first time—the kind that can only come from knowing how much Jesus loved me. 


Life after Jesus

 During the journey and after becoming a Christ follower, I look at life differently—the past and present. I now know that despite my imperfect upbringing, my parents loved me. With the limited opportunities that they had, they did the best they could to provide me with a better life so that I can attend college, so that I don’t have to experience poverty and hunger, so that I can dare to have dreams and pursue them. I realized my aunt had loved me too, but the pain and bitterness from her past made it difficult for her to speak words of love and kindness. It was out of love that she was strict so that I don’t fill my parents’ absence with outside attention and affection. I am grateful to be in a place where I can embrace my past and continue to grow and love myself. I am grateful that because of my past experiences, I can be more compassionate and understanding. As the only Christian in my immediate family, I pray that my home can be my missionary field and that my mom, sister, and dad can come to know Christ and be reborn in Him. Writing this testimony reminds me how my words and action should reflect the ways and life of a Christian, and I pray that years from now, my life can be a testimony of how God has worked and is continuing to work in my life. 

Don’t Let the Fog Get in the Way (Peter Lee)

Peter Lee.jpg

According to travel.usnews.com, Grand Canyon is one of the top ten places to visit in the U.S.  Many of us have been there and is a spot where tourists are recommended to visit.  A few years ago, several relatives visited from Korea, and so my family and I, drove them to visit the Grand Canyon. 

I had already visited several times before and so I was excited for my relatives to witness the splendor and magnificence that was offered at the canyon. I already pictured which route to take and which stops to stop at for the best possible view.  I imagined the vast horizon that stretched beyond what we could see and the deep valleys that would take our breath away.  I couldn’t wait for my relatives to marvel at God’s creation.

As we reached our destination, the excitement in the car quickly turned to a sense of dismay.   We didn’t find the grandeur of the canyon in front of us.  There was no awesome view.  Rather, a thick, gray, soupy fog blocked the view of what was supposed to be there. 

Instead of being in awe and wonder, I left the canyon that day disappointed and thinking of the trip as a waste of our time.  I am sure this scenario resonates with some of us when it comes to our worship with God, both on a personal level and in a corporate setting. 

God’s nature and His attributes do not change.  Who He is, is enough reason for us to approach Him and be in awe of Him.  He is deserving of our praise and worship because He is worthy of it.  The splendor and glory of God is right before us. But blocking that view is the thick fog of unbelief, worries, pride, or sin.  Perhaps our circumstances create a fog that hinders our view of God and thus, affects our desire to worship and adore Him.

After spending a night at a nearby hotel, we returned to the canyon. The sun shined brightly that day as a light breeze kept us cool.  As we originally hoped for, the views were breathtaking.  This experience reminded me of a simple truth that I often forget.

However heavy the fog may be, the wind will eventually blow to break it up and we will be able to see the beauty of God revealed in Christ.  The important thing to remember is that God is always there.  God’s nature is always there and is unchanging.   We mustn’t let the fog determine our response toward God but to remember that He, in all His brilliance, is fully deserving of our praises.

One of my all-time favorite songs is a Korean song, that when translated says,

“Wherever You call me, I will worship. 

In whatever circumstance, I will worship.”

I pray that this would be the prayer and desire of our hearts as individuals as well as a church.  May every opportunity of worship we have be one where we are drawn to the beauty and goodness of the Lord and be near to Him, no matter the circumstance.